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Proposed California rent control expansion returns

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After nearly a year on the shelf, repeal of 1995 Costa-Hawkins Act to have first public hearing Thursday

A photo of the Capitol Building in Sacramento.
California capitol cuilding in Sacramento.
Photo by Victoria Lipov

In February of 2017, San Francisco Assemblymember David Chiu and two other California lawmakers introduced AB 1506, a bill that would repeal the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Act, a California law that stops cities from imposing rent control on new construction.

That was almost the end of the story for AB 1506, as California landlords reacted with such umbrage that the bill’s principal author, Assemblymember Richard Bloom of Santa Monica, put it on hold for a year.

Legislation that isn’t moving forward has a shorter shelf life than farmers market produce most of the time, so it seemed the rent control expansion might die a quiet death on the back burner. But the proposal has, improbably, survived. And it’s slated for its first public hearing in Sacramento on Thursday, January 11.

The bill is the sole agenda item for the Assembly’s Housing and Community Development Committee this week. AB 1506 still has the exact airtight, no-frills wording as when lawmakers first introduced it last year:

“The Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act prescribes statewide limits on the application of local rent control with regard to certain properties. This bill would repeal that act.”

Naturally, landlords and those who look after their interests are still firmly against repeal.

“If local rent control ordinances are allowed to regulate rents on new construction and single-family homes, new private investment into rental housing will come to a screeching halt,” Tom Bannon, CEO of the California Apartment Association, told Capitol Weekly last October.

Coit tower rising on a hill behind some San Francisco apartments. Photo by Tupungato

Nevertheless, renters and tenant groups who have long chafed at Costa-Hawkins maintain their time has come. Also, last October the tenants’ group ACCE filed paperwork for a ballot measure that would also do away with Costa-Hawkins.

In fact, 48 Hills reports that the Housing Rights Committee has a bus leaving from the Civic Center at 6 a.m. on Thursday, ferrying San Franciscans to the state capitol to speak about the proposal.

The hearing is scheduled for room 4202 at the Capitol Building, 9 a.m. sharp.