Weighing in on two state-wide measures on the Nov. 6 ballot, the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday endorsed Proposition 10, which would give local governments more leeway to enact rent control laws, and rejected Proposition 6, which would cancel the recent gas tax increase.
Prop 10 would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which bans rent control on single-family homes and units built after 1995, and also prohibits laws that limit rent increases for new tenants. Costa-Hawkins also froze local rent control laws at the year of their passage, which was 1978 in LA.
A resolution in support of the measure authored by Councilmen Mike Bonin and Marqueece Harris-Dawson says "local governments throughout the California have the greatest amount of influence in solving the housing affordability crisis, and Proposition 10 provides the tools necessary to make the greatest impact."
The Legislative Analyst's Office has estimated that rent in California is 50 percent higher than other states and concluded that the passage of Prop 10 and related rent control legislation would likely lower rents, but also reduce new construction and lower property values. The impact would depend on how many municipalities enact rent control laws and how strict those laws would be.
The City Council resolution in support of Prop 10 was approved on a 13-1 vote without any discussion. Councilman Mitchell Englander cast the dissenting vote.
In a related move, Councilman Mitch O'Farrell and Council President Herb Wesson introduced a motion that would direct the Housing, Community and Investement Department to evaluate the city's Rent Stabilization Ordinance and report back with recommendations on how to offset the reduction in available RSO units.
"We need to look at all possible options for policymakers at the local level to include more units under the city's Rent Stabilization Ordinance," O'Farrell said. "With a balanced approach that provides certainty to tenants while recognizing the need for property owners to make a reasonable return on their investments, we can begin to bridge the gap in availability of housing while continuing to build responsibly and with an eye on the future needs of all Angelenos."
The motion says that an estimated 24,000 RSO units have been removed from the L.A. market since 2001.
"We have a moral obligation to make living more affordable in Los Angeles," Wesson said. "By taking a fresh look at the RSO, we have the opportunity to do right by our city's residents, property owners and next generations."
Prop 6 would cancel a 12-cent a gallon gas tax, a 20-cents-a-gallon increase on diesel fuel, and some new vehicle registration fee signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last year. The tax is expected to raise $5.5 billion annually for transportation and maintenance projects across the state.
Repealing the tax has been a cornerstone of Republican John Cox's campaign for governor and is supported by a number of other GOP leaders in the state. They argue the tax costs a family of four more than $500 a year and hits working families and the poor much harder than the wealthy.
"Let's make no mistake about it, passage of Proposition 6 would be a disaster for Los Angeles and its residents. This year's budget includes $67 million in gas tax funds that are in jeopardy right here in Los Angeles," Councilman Bob Blumenfield said before the vote.
The resolution in support of Proposition 6 passed on a 13-0 vote, with Councilmen Mitchell Englander and Jose Huizar absent for the vote.