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Election results 2018: Voters reject rent-control expansion

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Proposition 10 trounced nearly 2-1 at the ballot box

A pile of buttons that read “Vote.” Photo by 3dfoto

California voters soundly rejected Proposition 10 on Tuesday night, electing to preserve the state’s 1995 Costa-Hawkins Act and its profound restrictions on local rent control laws.

The California secretary of state’s office reported Tuesday night that an estimated 64 percent of California voters voted no on Proposition 10, which if passed would have allowed city governments to potentially expand rent controlled housing stock for the first time in over 20 years.

Although polls closed only a few hours ago and less than 40 percent of precincts have reported in, the current margin of almost 1.2 million votes against Proposition 10 makes the prospect of passage virtually impossible.

The Yes On 10 campaign conceded the race with a statement just before 10 p.m.

“Californians have shown in poll after poll that they support rent control—putting reasonable limits on rents,” Christina Livingston, director of the tenant group Alliance of Californians For Community Empowerment [ACCE], said via email.

“The burden to act returns to the governor and the legislature,” Livingston added.

Livingston is correct that pre-election polls showed that voters seemed to like the idea of expanding rent control. But, paradoxically, that never translated into actual support for Proposition 10.

In San Francisco, voters favored Proposition 10 by a small but significant margin of three percent in late Tuesday/early Wednesday tallies. But this makes SF an outlier on the issue.

Photo by Alex Lozupone

Tom Bannon, CEO of the the California Apartment Association and a big No On 10 backer, issued his own statement earlier in the night:

“Anti-housing activist and Prop. 10’s financier, Michael Weinstein and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation [AHF], now have spent more than $80 million across the nation on losing ballot initiatives,” Bannon said.

Throughout the race the “no” team seemed curiously preoccupied with Weinstein, dropping his name frequently and rarely failing to point out that his AHF non-profit provided virtually all of the funding for Proposition 10’s campaign.

The various anti-Prop 10 campaigns out-raised AHF by about three to one, with the largest contributions coming from some of California’s biggest landlords and property companies, including out of state and Wall Street firms.

Earlier in the year, California lawmakers from the Bay Area attempted to overturn Costa-Hawkins in the legislature, but that bid failed as well.

Groups like ACCE are now calling for presumptive Governor-Elect Gavin Newsom to consider plans for a statewide rent freeze as their next move instead.