Los Angeles

Garcetti Throws Support Behind Rent Control Initiative

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Monday endorsed a proposed ballot initiative that would repeal limits on rent control in housing- starved California.

Garcetti and City Councilman Mike Bonin joined several dozen housing advocates, labor leaders, community activists and other officials to endorse the "California Local Rent Control Initiative" during a news conference and rally outside City Hall.

The proposal would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Act, which prohibits local communities from setting limits on rent increases for residences either built after 1995, or after a city enacted rent control, which the city of Los Angeles did in 1978. It would cover single-family houses and multi-unit buildings.

"I've always believed that those who live closest to a given block or a street know what's best. Local government should have control over their own city," Garcetti said.

More than 565,000 signatures reportedly have been collected -- more than enough to place the issue before voters.

"This ballot measure will pour gasoline on the fire of California's affordable housing crisis. It will do exactly the opposite of what it promises - - instead of helping Californians, it will result in an affordable housing freeze and higher costs," said Tom Bannon, CEO of the California Apartment Association.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation has donated $1.7 million to the initiative - - nearly 99.9 percent of the funds backing the fight to repeal the Costa Hawkins Act, according to state records.

On the other side, Californians for Responsible housing has donated about $3.56 million to defeat the initiative, according to state records and Ballotpedia.

The Los Angeles news conference mirrored a planned march and demonstration at the state Capitol, as well as a demonstration and news conference in Oakland.

Bonin said every day there are people and families being displaced by rising rents in the city.

"This is a crisis of epic proportions in Los Angeles, and people come to us, they come the mayor, they come to the members of the council and they sorely wish that we could wave a magic wand and make this stop. We do not have a magic wand, and in so many cases we have a toolbox that is missing an essential tool, and we need this tool back from the state of California," Bonin said.

The Costa Hawkins Rental housing Act was passed in 1995 by the state Legislature and signed into law by then-Gov. Pete Wilson. Prior to this law, local governments were allowed to enact rent control, provided that landlords would receive just and reasonable returns on their rental properties.

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