Former Assemblymember Sandré Swanson, who is running for State Senate District 9, is examining the way state laws undermine the availability of affordable housing in the East Bay as he campaigns to become an elected senator in November.
Swanson says he is committed to tackling the California housing and displacement crisis, which especially impact Oakland, Berkeley and Richmond.
He says he has concerns about the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, a 21-yearold state law that prohibits cities from adopting rent control on rental properties built after 1983.
“We have to address Costa-Hawkins at this point forward,” said Swanson in an interview with the Post, referring to cities such as Oakland’s skyrocketing rent prices.
“With 60 percent of Oakland residents renting, it’s quite a challenge today for people to live in the communities they were born in, and people who want to stay should have a right to do that,” he said.
Swanson says that if he is elected to the State Senate, his office will be involved in facilitating public forums about the state’s rent law and bringing community voices to the state level so that legislators can begin to make necessary changes to the existing law.
According to Swanson, cities across the state have reacted negatively to Costa-Hawkins, as is evidenced by untamed rental markets and cities and counties pushing bond measures to address their local displacement crises.
“I think that we have too many properties exempt (from rent control), and that is a very critical aspect of the problem,” he said.
Last month, the Oakland City Council voted unanimously to support a resolution urging state lawmakers and Governor Jerry Brown to repeal or modernize Costa-Hawkins.
And in 2013, legislators voted to change the law, but the bill was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Brown.
Swanson wants to ensure that everybody’s voice is heard in the rental law conversation, recognizing that many small mom-and-pop property owners are protected by their exemption from Costa-Hawkins.
“The purpose of the forum and open discussion is to air the pros and cons of this housing law,” said Swanson.