Tenants rights groups say they're turning in more than enough signatures today to put a measure on the state ballot to repeal a law limiting residential rent control. Organizers for the Affordable Housing Act say they’ve gathered 588,000 signatures, which still have to be verified by the state.
If they succeed, everyone expects a high-stakes, expensive battle in the runup to the November election.
Hundreds rallied in Oakland, Sacramento and Los Angeles today in support of the measure.
It would repeal the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which allows landlords to raise the rent to market value when a tenant moves out, exempts single-family homes and condos from rent controls, and prohibits cities from imposing restrictions on units built after 1995.
Amy Schur, the campaign director for the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, says more rent control is critical as the affordable housing crisis explodes across the state.
“Folks are saying the rents are too damn high and we need to act now to keep rents from skyrocketing and keep families in their homes,” Schur says.
Supporters of the ballot measure say because the current law allows landlords to raise rents to market rate when a tenant leaves or is evicted, previously rent-controlled units are now unaffordable. This has pushed lower-income residents deeper into the suburbs.
The measure would impact the 15 cities in the state that currently have some sort of rent control, including San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Fremont and San Jose.
A coalition of landlords and developers has already formed an opposition campaign known as Californians for Responsible Housing.
“This ballot measure will pour gasoline on the fire of the housing crisis,” says the group’s spokesman, Steve Maviglio. The result, he says, would freeze construction of new housing and raise costs.
Organizers have submitted 200,000 more signatures than required.