The Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act has been a disaster for California renters. A special-interest law backed by the real estate industry that passed in 1995 statewide, Costa-Hawkins ties the hands of cities when it comes to protecting tenants from landlords who charge runaway rents.
Californians are living in overcrowded, uninhabitable conditions and are paying more than half their income in rent. Meanwhile cities primarily produce luxury market-rate housing (if they produce any at all), lack basic anti-displacement policies, and code enforcement departments don't prioritize the needs of tenants.
We need to change our priorities to protect people first, not profits. Instead of housing policy for the few, we propose these guiding principles to inform state and local legislative solutions:
If you don't think landlords have a right to unlimited rent increases and to evict tenants for any reason, then you believe in rent control to curb rents and just cause to prevent unfair evictions.
We're blown away.
“I’m paying $950 [for rent per month] there, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed [that it doesn’t go up],” said Cat Mendoza on August 26. She lives off of 44th Street in City Heights, just a couple blocks away from the “Know Your Tenants Rights/Conozca sus Derechos de Inquilino” meeting that she attended with three others.
“It’s increased from $700 [per month],” said Mendoza, 32, “and it’s comparatively lower than certain areas — but we still have a lot of stuff that needs to be fixed.”
“Now you’ve pissed off grandma.”
“Correct the folly! Reinstate rent control.”
“No loophole! Rent control.”
So read some of the mostly hand-made signs held aloft by a couple dozen senior citizens and veterans gathered in front of Vallejo City Hall on Monday in protest of the city’s inaction in re-instating a rent stabilization ordinance accidentally repealed last year.
People like Sandra Wickers, 83, who has lived in a Vallejo mobile home park for 28 years, and Marie Dunham, 84, who has made the same park her home for 40 years, were there Monday.
National City residents called for rent control laws and demanded more affordable housing Thursday.
Community groups, tenants and other allies launched a campaign for local rent control and just cause eviction protections, according to the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.
The group met at the 130 block of East 8th Street at noon to call for change in their city.
As Bay Area residents continue to face high housing costs, tenants and community activists are calling on corporate landlords to stop rent increases and for support in broadening rent control legislation.
Merika Reagan, an East Oakland resident who owns a pet care and dog walking business, is part of Housing Now! — a statewide coalition of more than 50 tenants rights groups, labor unions, community organizations, housing advocates and small landlords — who are fighting to make housing more affordable.
Nearly a decade after the housing market’s collapse, California’s real estate market has bounced back — and then some. The median price for a two-bedroom rental in San Francisco, depending on what report is used, ranges from roughly $3,000 a month to well over $4,000. The median home-sale price in the state, says the California Association of Realtors, is over $536,000.
At a packed meeting Tuesday night, the Fremont City Council backed off from pursuing rent control measures after weighing options and hearing from dozens of landlords and tenants.
While Councilman Vinnie Bacon said he favors aggressive rent control and eviction protection measures, he was alone. Councilmen David Bonaccorsi and Raj Salwan said they would prefer to strengthen the city’s existing resolution program, which mediates rent increase disputes between landlords and tenants.