Proposition 10: Rent Control aims to repeal a law that currently prevents city and county governments from enacting rent control. Known as the Costa-Hawkins Act, the law prohibits rent control on single family homes, new housing built after February 1, 1995, or when tenants first move into a unit. If passed, Proposition 10 would restore authority to city and county governments to determine whether they should enact rent control policies and limit how much landlords could raise the rent each year.
Supporters contend that California renters currently pay 50 percent more than counterparts in other states, straining households’ ability to cover the costs of other necessities such as food, childcare, education, transportation, and healthcare. A policy brief from the Urban Displacement project concludes that the proposition would be beneficial to Bay Area renters, particularly in terms of preventing displacement. It found that including single family homes in rent control ordinances, a policy not permissible under Costa-Hawkins, could have significant impact because they make up an increasing percentage of the area’s rental stock.
However, the brief also highlights the potential unintended consequences of repealing Costa-Hawkins. In particular, the brief addresses the possibility of units being removed from the rental market. A Terner Center brief highlights other possible consequences, including the possibility of slowing already lagging production. Housing construction in California has not met growing demands, and the report notes that further shortfall would only exacerbate the housing crisis.
The Terner Center brief also highlights a more nuanced perspective: Proposition 10 aims to increase tenant protections, a necessary action given the housing crisis, but those protections do not have to be implemented in a way that affects production. Instead, they suggest modifications to Costa-Hawkins, including an “anti-gouging” rent cap and further incentives for developers to include affordable units in their market-rate developments.
Estimating the true effects of Proposition 10 is difficult due to a lack of data surrounding rental units, landlords, and tenants. Additionally, Proposition 10 allows local governments to adopt rent control, but does not require these provisions. As such it is difficult to predict the specifics of the policy across the state. However, the repeal of Costa-Hawkins and implementation of rent control has some potential to negatively impact affordable housing. If Proposition 10 passes, careful consideration will need to be given to the development of specific local policies to truly protect California’s vulnerable communities.
Jennifer LeSar, President and CEO, has more than 30 years of experience in the real estate development and investment banking industries, and brings a diverse background to her work in community development and urban revitalization. Her technical expertise spans from policy and program development to comprehensive strategic planning for top executives and executive teams to the origination and underwriting of complex investments in equity funds, multi-family portfolios, historic, and low-income tax credit properties utilizing federal and state financing programs. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.