An effort to expand rent control in California won't move forward this year after the lawmaker behind it cancelled a planned public hearing Thursday, saying his plan needs more work.
Assemblyman Richard Bloom, a Santa Monica Democrat, has tried unsuccessfully several times to expand rent control, which is severely limited by a 1995 law that bans rent control on apartments built after that year and all single family homes. An effort to repeal the law failed at the ballot last November.
Bloom said on Twitter he pulled his bill "so we can continue to work toward reasonable reforms" and "deliver meaningful protections to the millions of California renters who are struggling to remain housed."
Top news of the day
While Bloom's bill did not move ahead, a key Assembly committee approved a bill to put a cap on rent increases. Democratic Assemblyman David Chiu's bill would cap allowable annual rent increases at the consumer price index plus five percent, though he indicated that number could change. It's aimed at preventing sharp rent spikes while allowing landlords to make a profit.
Chiu's bill would not apply to housing in communities that already have more restrictive caps or other rent control measures. Several Democrats who supported the bill in committee said it needs changes to win their approval on the Assembly floor.
California is in the midst of a housing crisis, with many renters paying at least a third of their salary toward housing. But fixing the problem has proved vexing for lawmakers, with solutions pitting tenants against landlords and homeowners.
Opponents of rent control argue it will stifle badly-needed building, but proponents say something must be done immediately to keep Californians from facing eviction or unsustainable rent hikes.
Bloom's bill would have given local governments the authority to enact rent control on housing built more than 20 years ago and on single-family homes if the owner has more than 10 buildings. It would not have required any local government to enact more rent control.
Wealthy businessman Michael Weinstein, who financed last year's failed rent control ballot measure, has pledged to go back to the ballot in 2020 if lawmakers don't act.
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has urged lawmakers to bring him a "renter protection package" and applauded the committee's passage of Chiu's bill.
"I am grateful that members of the Assembly voted today to continue moving forward on one piece of the housing affordability solution," he said.