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Gov. Gavin Newsom backs SF lawmaker’s rent control bill

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“It is long overdue in the state of California”

Governor Gavin Newsom in the middle of applauding. Photo by Jane Tyska/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images

On Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom voiced his support for SF-based Assemblymember David Chiu’s pending bill AB 1482, a measure that would essentially extend rent control protections across the state by capping annual rent increases at around ten percent.

Newsom was at an event Wednesday night promoting a new state fund to help California renters resist eviction. When asked about Chiu’s rent bill, the LA Times quotes Newsom as saying that the measure is “long overdue in the state of California” and that he hopes to see it on his desk soon.

The governor’s support is not a surprise but may provide some timely juice for Chiu, who pushed AB 1482 through the Assembly in May.

Now he has to maneuver the plan through the State Senate; AB 1482 cleared a big hurdle in July, exiting its first Senate committee on a 6-1 vote, but ended up kicked over to an upcoming Appropriations Committee hearing next.

That’s the same committee that smothered Sen. Scott Wiener’s SB 50 transit-housing bill earlier this year—and in fact the Appropriations Committee has a grim reputation as a place where difficult legislation can be quietly killed off without forcing lawmakers to take a vote on it.

Chiu is careful not to call his measure rent control, instead referring to it simply as a “rent cap” or an “anti-rent gouging” bill, although its effect would be pretty much the same thing.

In its current form, the law would prevent owners of most kinds of rental housing from raising rents more than seven percent each year plus the local cost of inflation, which most years would mean about 10 percent in cities like San Francisco and LA.

Chiu also complicated his course forward in July by merging his rent cap bill with another, previously dead measure that creates new anti-eviction protections for renters, reviving that complimentary plan but also potentially subjecting his own proposal to the same skepticisms that killed it off to begin with.

Even some renter advocates have assailed Chiu’s bill, complaining that ten percent is still too much—previously the cap was closer to seven percent before Assembly negotiations—and that the three-year limit on the cap waters it down too much.

But Chiu sticks by the plan, telling Curbed SF in June that any rent cap is better than none.