Voters reject Proposition 10, halting effort to expand rent control
SACRAMENTO – California’s Proposition 10, a ballot measure to expand rent control in the state, was decisively rejected by voters Tuesday in a victory for the state’s top landlords who spent millions to defeat it.
The campaign was one of the most expensive initiative battles in California history with more than $104 million in total fundraising. With Proposition 10’s failure, a statewide ban on most new forms of rent control remains in effect.
The campaign to expand rent control was pitched to voters as housing has become less affordable in the state. About 9.5 million renters – more than half of California’s tenant population – are burdened by high rents, spending at least 30 percent of their income on housing costs, according to a University of California, Berkeley study.
To address the issue, tenant advocates decided to go after the Costahawkins Rental Housing Act, a state law passed 23 years ago that blocks cities and counties from imposing rent control on single-family homes and apartments built after 1995, among other prohibitions. After a bill to repeal Costa-hawkins failed in a legislative committee in January, groups turned in signatures for a ballot measure, Proposition 10, that would have done the same thing. Had the initiative passed, local governments would have been free to add new restrictions on rents, something Los Angeles, Berkeley and other cities were considering.
But polling showed Proposition 10 never really caught on with voters. A September survey from the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California revealed just 36 percent of likely voters backed the initiative. A month later a poll from the same organization showed support had decreased to 25 percent.
That drop came amid a blitz of TV advertisements from opponents who, as of Friday, had raised nearly $80 million to defeat Proposition 10. They argued that expanding rent control would increase the state’s housing shortage, exacerbate overall affordability issues and hurt the investments of single-family homeowners. Much of the funding for the No on 10 campaign came from national real estate investors with large apartment portfolios in California.