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Rent Control Proposition Officially Makes the 2020 November Ballot

California voters will decide on statewide rent control only two years after voting down Proposition 10.

By Evan Symon, February 5, 2020 2:36 pm

‘This is making sure we can afford rising utility and property tax costs. Maintenance prices are also going up.’ ~ San Diego Landlord


Statewide rent control is heading back to the ballot in California in November.

The ‘Rental Affordability Act’ proposition

Earlier this week Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced that the “Rental Affordability Act” ballot initiative received enough verified signatures to make the November ballot. Almost 1 million signatures had been gathered last year, nearly 400,000 more than the necessary 623,212 needed.

Under the new proposition, cities can place rent control on homes and in buildings at least 15 years old. Landlords would also be capped at rent increases for vacated apartments at 5% a year for the first three years before rent control comes into effect. Landlords who own two or fewer homes would be exempt from the proposed rent control law.

Supporters of the new “Rental Affordability Act” proposition, led by Los Angeles based AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein, have backed the measure in response to the housing crisis, higher rents, a rising homeless population, and the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which makes it difficult for local governments to put rent control measures in place in buildings made after 1995.

“Housing affordability and homelessness are the most pressing social justice and public health emergencies in our time,” said Weinstein in a statement after the proposition was verified. “We must take action to stop it now.”

Two years after the failure of Proposition 10

The new proposition will come two years after Proposition 10 in 2018. Prop 10, which would have enacted similar statewide rent control laws, was voted down by California voters 60% to 40%. It was also a notoriously bitter fight between affordable housing and landlord groups, with both sides of the proposition raising over $100 million and launching so many ads that some TV stations had constant complaints of Prop 10 ads running.

Since the failure of Prop 10 there have been some strides for more rent control around the state. In September, Sacramento passed a citywide rent control measure, capping rent increases at 6% a year plus inflation. AB 1482 was also passed that month, capping rent increases of the majority of California buildings at 5% plus inflation, along with making evictions more difficult.

Landlord and rental lobby groups

While Weinstein, tenant groups and other supporters are now gearing up for a big push to November, landlord and rental lobbying groups are preparing for their own battle.

“I have a feeling it’s going to be Prop 10 all over again,” said Max Salazar, who leads a landlord group in a San Diego neighborhood. “We’re all worried about it. Contrary to belief this isn’t about profits for us. This is making sure we can afford rising utility and property tax costs. Maintenance prices are also going up. If we’re capped and then suddenly a new development boosts land values, we may not be able to meet property taxes from rents. It limits our ability to be flexible when we absolutely need to be.”

“We’re also afraid of our land losing value. For many apartment owners who only own a few rental properties, these are our nest eggs. They’re our investments. And we can lose them like so many people lost their retirement s in the recession ten years ago.”

“It’s that dire.”

With landlords and rental owners fearing a large loss, and many renters and people needing affordable housing facing eviction or having to give up some needs to simply make the rent, the new proposition has already garnered so much support on both sides that it’s already being labeled ‘Proposition 10: Part II.’

The new proposition will appear on the ballot during the general election in November.

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