The 23-year-old limits on local rent-control regulations in California will remain in place, based on preliminary results from Tuesday's statewide election on Proposition 10.
Backers say that sending the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act of 1995 packing would help those who are spending half or more of their household incomes on housing and give local governments flexibility to tailor solutions to economic conditions in their areas. Opponents say it would make the state’s “housing crisis worse” by discouraging construction and encouraging conversions of rentals to for-sale dwellings.
With Prop. 10 apparently headed toward defeat, a local supporter of it and past local rent-control efforts said the campaign has raised awareness about affordability of housing in the state.
"We are very excited that in the halls of power across California, from local jurisdictions to Sacramento, renters are having their voices heard in spaces that are otherwise echo chambers for landlord and real estate interests," said Davin Cárdenas, co-director of North Bay Organizing Project. "There is a vibrant movement of affected renters that is growing in our communities, and they are responding to the housing crisis with courage and conviction."
Cárdenas was a supporter of last year's Measure C in Santa Rosa. That rent-control law failed to get enough votes, and a campaign this past spring to get such a measure on the November ballot fell short of getting enough signatures.
An advocate of more housing construction as a solution to affordability is Scott Gerber, managing director of San Rafael-based Bradley Commercial Real Estate. He specializes in multifamily investment properties and owns some himself. He opposed Prop. 10 and Measure C, and he has backed voluntary arrangements between local governments and property owners to limit rent growth.
"The people of California are not interested in short-term Band-Aids," Gerber said. "The election result sends a message that there is only one way out of the housing crisis, and that is to build more housing, not destroy or over-regulate the housing industry into extinction. Our politicians will need to build consensus in our communities and open the doors to creating more homes for Californians."
California rent-control rules are constrained by the Costa-Hawkins law in three basic ways. Rules apply to multifamily housing occupied before Feb. 1, 1995. Owner can raise rent on a unit to market levels when that renter leaves. Single-family homes, condominiums and townhouses currently are exempt.
Prop. 10 was written to repeal Costa-Hawkins, allowing local governments to enact rent-growth limits on newer housing and include other types of homes. It would lift restrictions on existing local rent-control measures such as those passed since 2016 in Richmond, Mountain View and Alameda and measures on Tuesday's ballot in Berkeley, National City and Santa Cruz.
As of tallies late last week, the Berkeley measure was passing with nearly 76 percent, well above the two-thirds vote threshold to be approved. But those in National City and Santa Cruz had a majority of votes in opposition.