Sep 12, 2019

California approves statewide rent control bill

A "for rent" sign is posted in front of a house on June 15, 2012 in Richmond, California.

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Californian lawmakers approved legislation Wednesday that caps rent increases at 5% after inflation and expands protections to some 8 million tenants, according to the bill's author, Assembly member David Chiu (D-San Francisco).

Why it matters: Per the New York Times, this is the biggest step yet in a surge of initiatives to address a nationwide affordable-housing crunch. California in particular has been struggling with chronic housing and homeless crises, AP notes.

  • The rent bill won the support of the California Business Roundtable, representing leading employers, and was unopposed by the state’s biggest landlords’ group — an indication of how dire housing problems have become, the NYT notes.

The big picture: Per Reuters, California is the third state to impose statewide rent controls; Oregon enacted a measure in March to limit annual increases to 7% plus inflation and New York passed rent controls in June.

  • Trump administration officials visited sprawling homeless encampments in Los Angeles just days ago, AP reports.
  • The bill will go to Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) to sign into law. Newsom has made tenant protection a priority in his first year in office, the Times notes. He said in a statement after the bill passed 25-10 that the action was "the strongest package in America."
"These anti-gouging and eviction protections will help families afford to keep a roof over their heads, and they will provide California with important new tools to combat our state’s broader housing and affordability crisis."

The other side: Politico reports that the California Association of Realtors fought the bill because the group said it would hurt construction — a sentiment echoed by Republicans who rose in opposition, including Assembly Minority Leader Marie Waldron (R-Escondido).

"We all know California has an unacceptable housing and unaffordability crisis. Unfortunately, this bill will only pour fuel on the fire."
— Assembly Minority Leader Marie Waldron
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