Rent control in California could expand dramatically under a possible 2018 initiative
The Wilshire Valencia apartment complex at 1515 Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles. (Gary Leonard / Astani Enterprises)

California’s cities and counties would be able to dramatically expand rent control under a potential 2018 statewide ballot initiative filed Monday.

The initiative would repeal the landmark Costa-Hawkins Act, a 1995 law that barred rent caps on single-family homes and apartments built after that year. If it passes, local governments would be able to implement rent control on newer properties.

“Rent in California is out of control,” Ismail Marcus Allgood, a South Los Angeles resident and a leader with faith-based community organization LA Voice, said in a press release announcing the measure. “I moved here in 2013, and have already moved four times due to my rent being raised. That is just ridiculous. The homeless problem in L.A. is only going to get worse if we don’t repeal Costa-Hawkins right now.”

The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, a nonprofit community organizing group, is the primary backer of the initiative. In a release, the organization said it had the support of major tenant groups up and down the state and Michael Weinstein, the leader of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. That organization has funded numerous state and local ballot measures, including an unsuccessful effort earlier this year to limit growth in the city of Los Angeles.

Apartment developers and landlords are strongly supportive of the Costa-Hawkins Act, which tenant groups have long fought. Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) introduced a bill last year to repeal the law, but he pulled it before a committee hearing, citing stiff opposition. Bloom has vowed to bring back his bill in 2018.

After the proposed initiative receives an official title and summary from the Attorney General’s Office and a financial analysis, organizers will have to decide whether to collect signatures to place it on the November 2018 ballot.

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