Proposition 10: California’s rent control ballot measure, explained

Proposition 10 would give cities the ability to expand rent control, including potentially to more buildings. It would do that by repealing the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act, a state law that limits how cities can apply rent control. Right now, in the city of Los Angeles, for example, only buildings constructed before 1978 are rent controlled under Costa Hawkins. Costa Hawkins passed in 1995; at the time, Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters referred to it as an “anti-rent control law.” There are three main ways it softens rent control. Under Costa Hawkins: Landlords have the right to raise rent on a rent-controlled unit to “fair market value” every time a tenant moves out. Cities are not allowed to apply rent control to units built after February 1995. For cities that already had rent control on the books when Costa Hawkins was passed, the cutoff is backdated. In the LA area, the dates are even earlier: October 1, 1978 for the city of Los Angeles; April 10, 1979 for Santa Monica; July 1, 1979 for West Hollywood; and February 1, 1995 for Beverly Hills. Single-family homes and condos are exempt from rent control restrictions. These provisions would be overturned if Costa Hawkins were repealed, giving cities more freedom to decide how to implement rent control.
Who’s behind it? November 2018 Voter Guide This explainer is part of our voter guide for the November 6 election. Study up on California’s other ballot measures: Proposition 1 Proposition 5 Proposition 6 Proposition 10 The initiative was drafted by three people, including Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. The Hollywood-based nonprofit has made a foray into housing, homelessness, and development issues, going so far as to spend more than $4.6 million trying (unsuccessfully) to get Los Angeles voters to temporarily halt major development projects citywide in 2016 through Measure S. The other two are Elena Popp, a Los Angeles attorney who represents tenants facing rent hikes and evictions; and Christina Livingston, who helms the LA-based Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, or ACCE Institute. (Popp serves as president of the ACCE’s board of directors.) The backstory There’s a shortage of housing in California, and it’s driving up the cost of rent and helping fuel a homelessness crisis. The cost of rent in the Los Angeles metropolitan area has jumped at least 3 percent every year from 2012 to 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (Low inventory is a big culprit behind the high prices, though Los Angeles is finally making progress on that front). Estimates vary, but the median-price of a one-bedroom in LA is now $1,690, according to CoStar. Housing costs are so high that when factored in with other basic necessities, nearly one in five Californians lives in poverty, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. The soaring cost of rent, along with sky-high housing prices and low household incomes, are significant factors driving the state’s homelessness epidemic, according to a June report authored by UCLA economist William Yu. It makes “perfect sense,” Yu wrote in the report, “that a state with higher rent will make rentals less affordable and increase the probability of becoming homeless,” he concluded. Another 3 percent increase in the Los Angeles metro area’s median rent, according to Zillow, would leave an estimated 1,180 more people homeless. What impact would it have on Los Angeles? Repealing Costa Hawkins wouldn’t mean immediate changes for renters, and it would only affect the 15 cities in California that have rent control. It would give those the cities the option to decide whether to amend their local rent control and rent stabilization laws. (Los Angeles technically has rent-stabilization, though it’s colloquially referred to as rent control). It will be up to local lawmakers to decide how to change LA rent control laws. For example, the City Council could choose to limit rent increases whe
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