Beverly Hills City Council has endorsed Proposition 10 for the November ballot. If passed by voters, Proposition 10 would enact the Affordable Housing Act and thereby repeal the state’s Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. That legislation was Sacramento’s “gift to landlords” as one said because it ties the hands of any city that has enacted rent control. Our city’s endorsement is a statement of support for local control and self-determination. Indeed City Council voted unanimously to endorse Prop 10!
Landlords were completely taken by surprise by the City Council endorsement of Proposition 10. Indeed in year’s past it would have been unthinkable: Beverly Hills putting a thumb on the scale in favor of local rent control ordinances.
Renters Alliance brought the idea to the city’s legislative liaison committee that vets state and federal legislation for city endorsement, opposition or (most often) neutrality. It’s really about having a horse in the race: is the proposed legislation helpful or harmful to city interests?
In this instance, our two Council liaisons to the committee, Vice-Mayor John Mirisch and Councilmember Les Friedman, both agreed that any city should be allowed to decide for itself whether or not to adopt rent control — and how best to implement it. (Read the Proposition 10 staff report for more information about the endorsement agenda item.)
Why Repeal the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act?
Costa Hawkins was Sacramento’s successful attempt to preempt local control and it has stood for two decades. Nearly twenty-five years ago, Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act prevented localities from adopting stricter rent controls than what our Sacramento legislators thought proper.
But in the view of the proposition’s many endorsers, the law went too far. Repeal Costa-Hawkins would correct several wrongs:
- Costa-Hawkins today prohibits localities from implementing rent control for any single family home or condominium, or any rental property constructed after 1995;
- Costa-Hawkins today prohibits localities with some form of rent control from amending it to address the local impacts of the statewide crisis in rental housing availability and affordability;
- Costa-Hawkins today prohibits localities from allowing “vacancy control,” which means the unit remains rent-controlled after a tenant vacates; instead every unit returns to market rent.
A coalition of housing rights advocates forced the Affordable Housing Act onto the ballot to repeal it because our legislature would not do so.
Beverly Hills Endorsement: What Does It Mean?
Beverly Hills City Council had no difficult making the call. Upon approval from the legislative liaison committee, all five councilmembers then voted to endorse Proposition 10 on the November ballot. After all, self-determination and local control are reasons why cities incorporate in the first place. When legislators in Sacramento override local law or, worse, preempt a locality from even adopting a law, it tends to rankle the locals!
(While it came as a surprise to landlords, a sharp eye would have seen that Proposition 10 comports with this particular plank of the city’s legislative platform:
Support and pursue the repeal of state laws that affect local control on housing and land use.
Renters Alliance brought the endorsement idea to the legislative committee because it fit with the city’s legislative agenda. We are grateful for the support for local rent control.)
Should voters give the OK to repeal of Costa-Hawkins, it would allow Beverly Hills to make one important and overdue change in our law: We could end the current and future exemption for all post–1995 rental properties from rent stabilization. Today no household living in a post–1995 rental building enjoys our local tenant protections.
AAGLA is Hopping Mad!
The Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles (AAGLA) is foaming at the mouth at the prospect of Costa Hawkins repeal. It is sending ‘red alerts’ to landlords and scaring senior and veteran voters to defeat it. But this industry association cares nothing about local control but instead is focused on the property owners’ bottom line.
And it doesn’t hurt that AAGLA routinely shoots itself in the foot with misguided harangues of councilmembers and invocations of communism and the like. It’s a new ‘Red Scare’ for AAGLA when it comes to communications with its member landlords.
What happened to that hammer and sickle anyway?
Voters soundly said no to Proposition 10 and the Affordable Housing Act. It wasn’t even close. But the campaign was a reminder what we are up against: even with a deep-pocketed Aids Healthcare Foundation behind it, a lackluster campaign can’t gain much traction when landlords are willing to throw $80 million at saving Costa Hawkins.