Los Angeles

Group Seeks to Repeal California's Restrictions on Rent Control

The debate over how to get relief from skyrocketing rents in California is likely to go before the voters in November.

A campaign to lift restrictions on rent control says it now has enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot. Signatures were collected by the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE). The group claims the housing crisis needs to be fixed, and rent control is the answer.

Vanessa Bulnes of ACCE has lived in Oakland for more than 30 years and says renters need relief now.

"Its heartbreaking," she said. "So many people of color get displaced in the city of Oakland that they helped build, and I've seen that rents are so high, those people can't afford to live here and end up in tent cities."

The group will hold a rally outside Oakland City Hall at noon Monday. Rallies also are slated for Sacramento and Los Angeles.

Oakland Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan said the new ballot measure would protect hard-working people like teachers and nurses who are being "forced" out of neighborhoods.

"California can do better, and we need immediate change to stop this wave of displacement to keep people in their homes," she wrote in a news release.

Those fighting against repealing the existing law call the rent control effort short-sighted and say it will actually hurt renters in the long run.

"We have a housing crisis in California, and this would throw gasoline on that," said Steve Maviglio of Californians for Responsible Housing. "But this will halt the construction of new housing for the people who need it most."

Bulnes argued that building new housing will take a long time, and putting caps on how much rents can go up will give renters faster relief. She said landlords will still be able to capitalize on their investment.

One thing both sides can agree on: Rents in California are skyrocketing. An apartment list survey released this month found that Bay Area suburbs have the highest prices for two-bedroom rentals in the nation, with many leasing for more than $5,000 a month.

Under California law, single-family home rentals cannot be subject to rent control.

The ACCE's measure would ask voters to repeal a decades-old law, known as Costa Hawkins, that makes it illegal for cities to apply rent caps to any properties built after 1995. The law also bars cities from passing rent control ordinances on rented condominiums or single-family homes.

The group has collected more than 565,000 signatures, and if nearly 366,000 are verified, the issue will go before the voters in November.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

Contact Us