Bill to ex­pand rent con­trol dead for the year

The Tribune (SLO) - - Insight -


An ef­fort to ex­pand rent con­trol in Cal­i­for­nia won’t move for­ward this year af­ter the law­maker be­hind it can­celed a planned pub­lic hear­ing Thurs­day, say­ing his plan needs more work.

As­sem­bly­man Richard Bloom, a Santa Mon­ica Demo­crat, has tried un­suc­cess­fully sev­eral times to ex­pand rent con­trol, which is se­verely lim­ited by a 1995 law that bans rent con­trol on apart­ments built af­ter that year and on all sin­gle-fam­ily homes. An ef­fort to repeal the law failed at the bal­lot last Novem­ber.

Bloom said on Twit­ter he pulled his bill “so we can con­tinue to work to­ward rea­son­able reforms” and “de­liver mean­ing­ful pro­tec­tions to the mil­lions of Cal­i­for­nia renters who are strug­gling to re­main housed.”

While Bloom’s bill did not move ahead, a key As­sem­bly com­mit­tee ap­proved a bill to put a cap on rent in­creases. Demo­cratic As­sem­bly­man David Chiu’s bill would cap al­low­able an­nual rent in­creases at the con­sumer price in­dex plus 5%, though he in­di­cated that num­ber could change. It’s aimed at pre­vent­ing sharp rent spikes while al­low­ing land­lords to make a profit.

Chiu’s bill would not ap­ply to housing in com­mu­ni­ties that al­ready have more re­stric­tive caps or other rent con­trol mea­sures. Sev­eral Democrats who sup­ported the bill in com­mit­tee said it needs work to win their ap­proval on the As­sem­bly floor.

The state’s housing cri­sis has many renters pay­ing a third of their salary or more to­ward housing. A fix has been elu­sive, with so­lu­tions pit­ting ten­ants against land­lords and home­own­ers.

Op­po­nents of rent con­trol ar­gue it will sti­fle badly needed build­ing, but pro­po­nents say some­thing must be done im­me­di­ately to keep the state from fac­ing evic­tion or un­sus­tain­able rent hikes.

Bloom’s bill would have given lo­cal gov­ern­ments the author­ity to en­act rent con­trol on housing built more than 20 years ago and on sin­gle-fam­ily homes if the owner has more than 10 build­ings. It would not have re­quired any lo­cal gov­ern­ment to en­act more rent con­trol.

Wealthy busi­ness­man Michael We­in­stein, who fi­nanced last year’s failed rent con­trol bal­lot mea­sure, has pledged to go back to the bal­lot in 2020 if law­mak­ers don’t act.

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