Landlords, Tenant Rights Groups Flood Capitol Building

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Photo from Tenants Together.

Photo courtesy of Tenants Together.

By Sarah Carpenter

A bill to repeal statewide restrictions on rent control is dead in the water.

The Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act was passed in 1995, prohibiting cities from establishing rent control for single family homes or any newly constructed buildings (anything built after 1995).

After being stalled for over a year, the bill to repeal those restrictions (AB1506) was given its first public hearing on Thursday, January 11. The bill was one shy of the four votes needed to move forward.

About a thousand people from the public showed to voice their opinions on the bill, packing the hearing room and wrapping around the hallway in line to speak either for or against the repeal.

Many of those speaking were landlords opposing the bill, claiming it will bring new development to a halt.

Aimee Inglis, associate director of statewide tenants’ rights nonprofit Tenants Together, characterized this talking point as “a flat out lie.” She said that areas with rent control actually have the most development.

Another landlord talking point was that AB1506 did nothing to build new housing.

This argument, however, hardly relates to the bill at hand. AB1506’s sole purpose is to lift statewide restrictions against rent control, allowing cities to establish their own rental protection policies.

Renters and tenants rights organizations from across the state showed to express their support for the repeal bill. Nonetheless, the bill to repeal Costa Hawkins was not passed.

Assemblymembers Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) and Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) declined to vote last Thursday, which Inglis said was “highly disappointing.”

“After the vote, we felt we hadn’t been listened to and we felt we hadn’t been represented,” she said.

Those in favor of AB1506 stayed in the hearing room, chanting, before marching near Speaker Anthony Rendon’s office. Inglis said those fighting for tenant’s rights are dissatisfied with Rendon’s efforts to push this bill through.

Assemblymember Rob Bonta, who represents Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro, voted for the repeal of Costa Hawkins last Thursday, along with Santa Cruz Assemblymember Mark Stone and San Francisco Assemblymember David Chiu.

After the hearing, Bonta tweeted: “I’m disappointed we came up one vote short on AB 1506 to repeal Costa Hawkins but I’m grateful for the strong show of support at today’s hearing. Every great movement has a beginning, middle and end. We are in the middle!”

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