PSAR is recommending a “No” vote on California Proposition 21, a rent control ballot proposition known as the “Rental Affordability Act.” The Governor and Legislature have already passed rent control into law. This Proposition goes too far and has too many unintended negative consequences.
If approved, Prop. 21 would change state law to allow cities to apply new rent control ordinances and/or expand existing ones. New laws could be enacted affecting homes at least 15 years old. Prop. 21 exempts single-family homes owned by landlords with more than two properties.
Proponents claim cities should be allowed to approve additional limits on rent increases to protect California families who are one rent hike away from being driven out of their neighborhoods by landlords. They further claim this proposition will stop homelessness and gentrification.
The fact is that Prop. 21 would make it less desirable for builders to construct more housing, affordable or otherwise, at a time when California has a massive housing shortage. It would also decrease revenue for city and state governments, already cash-strapped by the fallout from the Covid pandemic. It would reduce the number of housing units in the state and allow bureaucrats to add fees on top of base rent, thereby increasing the cost of living at a time when Californians can least afford it. In fact, only two years ago, in 2018, Californians made their decision about rent control at the polls.
In 2018, voters in 56 of 58 California counties overwhelmingly rejected a statewide rent control measure by a 20-point margin. Why is this subject being revisited so soon? Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation and its President, Michael Weinstein, funded a signature collection drive that once again put the measure on the ballot. This appears to make this issue a special interest one.
Last year, state legislators passed a new law that set a 7 percent ceiling on yearly rent increases. CalMatters, a public interest journalism venture, concluded that the action by Sacramento lawmakers in 2019 was an effort to ward off another statewide rent control ballot measure by Weinstein and company that clearly was unsuccessful.
According to CalMatters, Prop. 21 opponents include Governor Gavin Newsom, California Apartment Association, California Seniors Advocate League, Essex Property Trust and Prometheus Real Estate Group. Prop. 21 supporters include the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Eviction Defense Network and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.), Apartment Association of Orange County and Californians to Protect Affordable Housing, a coalition of housing advocates, renters, businesses, taxpayers and veterans encourage a “NO” vote on Proposition 21.
Other organizations opposing Prop. 21 include the California Council for Affordable Housing, California Community Builders, the California State Conference of the NAACP, Si Se Puede, Congress of California Seniors, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council.
A CalMatters headline stated “Proposition 21 rent control will discourage construction of affordable housing.” A CalMatters opinion writer asserted: We must protect small property owners who, in contrast to corporate landlords, often are natural affordable housing providers, operate on small margins, give applicants a chance if they don’t meet all of the rental qualifications, and help maintain the integrity of a community. The state of California is facing a new economic challenge, and families across our state are struggling. What we need most is new investment in our housing market, not an extreme measure like Proposition 21 that will further destabilize it.”
The San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper editorial board wrote: “Expanding rent control will make the California housing crisis worse. Rent control is the wrong way to help Californians struggling with housing. Lawmakers who are juggling a lot during this pandemic need to not lose sight of that. The long-term solution is listening to experts and building new houses.”
The San Francisco Chronicle newspaper editorial board described Prop. 21 as “a rent control retread unimproved by age.”
The Press Democrat newspaper in Santa Rosa, Calif. said Prop. 21 is a proposed “rent control law that won’t end the housing crisis.” Its editorial resource stated: “California voters soundly rejected rent control in the November 2018 election for a good reason: It won’t alleviate the state’s housing problems. In fact, economists almost universally agree that imposing rent control would be counterproductive. State lawmakers voted in 2019 to cap rent increases anyway, while requiring landlords to show `just cause’ for evictions. Yet, here we are again, barely a year later, asked to decide another rent control initiative. Voters should once again say no.”
The headline in the Orange County Register read, “Rent control is the horrible idea that won’t go away.” Its editorial stated: “California’s housing affordability isn’t that complicated. There is high demand and inadequate supply. If the goal is to expand the accessibility of housing, it is necessary to increase supply. Rent control is incredibly effective at backfiring on that front. Research has shown that San Francisco’s rent control policies resulted in many landlords removing housing units from the market. Renters in non-rent-controlled units, meanwhile, faced even higher rents than would otherwise be the case.”
For more information about the campaign against Prop 21, visit www.noonprop21.org.
Our Mission is to empower Realtors to flourish while being accountable to each other
our clients and our community.
Since 1928, the Pacific Southwest Association of REALTORS® has played a significant role in shaping the history, growth & development of the Real Estate industry in San Diego County. This program is only open to REALTORS® and PSAR Affiliate Members. There is no cost for attending this program.