Why California Doesn't Have Real Rent Control

Tenant advocates publish report on the "Cost of Costa-Hawkins"
Dyan Ruiz, Joseph Smooke | 07/30/2018


Dyan Ruiz, Reporter, [people. power. media]

A San Francisco tenant rights coalition released a report today that shows the impacts of a California law that limits rent control throughout the state. 

The Anti-Displacement Coalition authored the report called, “The Cost of Costa-Hawkins.” 

Under Costa-Hawkins:
- single family homes can’t have rent control,
- only buildings built before 1995 or earlier can have rent control, and
- landlords can raise rents when a tenant moves out.

The last part, also called vacancy decontrol, means that many long term tenants are paying a lower rent than what new tenants would be asked to pay. So these long term tenants are being forced to leave their homes. 

Fe Soledad, San Francisco Tenant

Costa-Hawkins makes me, my son, my roommate candidates for eviction and harassment… this law protects investor interests not tenants.

Dyan Ruiz, Reporter, [people. power. media]

Fe Soledad is a tenant of a building owned by the biggest private landlord company in San Francisco, Veritas. You can tell the buildings they own by these Rent SF signs. Advocates say that corporations are taking advantage of the loopholes enabled by Costa-Hawkins.

Fred Sherburn-Zimmer, Director, Housing Rights Committee San Francisco

When they take out loans, they say they will evict a majority of the tenants and that's the only way they can pay their mortgage. That is their business model. These are speculators, and we see speculators are eating up San Francisco. They are eating up the entire state. And we're saying no more.

Dyan Ruiz, Reporter, [people. power. media]

Without rent control, tenants are seeing huge rent increases, like Cindy Salazar who lives in a single family home. Her’s was among the stories highlighted in the report. She was asked to pay an increase of $1,200 a month, then the following year, another $1,500 a month.

Cindy Salazar, San Francisco Tenant

[Translation: Costa-Hawkins causes the eviction of families by raising the rent to a level that one cannot pay. We cannot pay the rent increase in October and we are afraid of being evicted and ending up on the street especially now with a newborn baby and my mom who has a disability. This is inhumane.]

Costa-Hawkins causa el desalojo de familias por parte de incrementar la renta hasta una nivel que una no puede pagar. Nosotros no podemos pagar el aumento de renta en Octubre y tenemos temor de ser desalojadas y quedar en la calle especialmente por una bebé recién nacida y mi madre discapacitada. Eso es inhumano.

Dyan Ruiz, Reporter, [people. power. media]

A measure is on the ballot for this November election in California. Proposition 10 will repeal Costa-Hawkins enabling cities to pass real rent control.

In response, a statement by the No on Prop 10 campaign, which is a project of the California Apartment Association, says that “Prop 10 will hurt the very people it falsely claims it will help” and will worsen the affordability crisis.

No on Prop 10, A Project of the California Apartment Association

There's a reason that both candidates for Governor, affordable housing experts, veterans and seniors groups oppose Prop 10: it will make California's affordable housing crisis even worse. Just yesterday, the nonpartisan Legislative Analysts Office noted that local governments could lose up to "tens of millions of dollars per year" and the state could lose up to "hundreds of millions of dollars per year" if Prop 10 goes forward. It also noted the value of rental housing would decline and that rental units also would likely be sold and no longer available for rentals. Prop 10 will hurt the very people it falsely claims it will help.

Dyan Ruiz, Reporter, [people. power. media]

The author of the Cost of Costa-Hawkins report says that other factors, not rent control, are causing housing prices to skyrocket.

Molly Goldberg, Author, "Cost of Costa-Hawkins"

Corporate greed is causing our affordability crisis. The limitations, loopholes on rent control are causing our affordability crisis. And a lack of commitment to housing as a human right is causing our affordability crisis.

Dyan Ruiz, Reporter, [people. power. media]

In San Francisco, average market rate rent for a 2-bedroom apartment is $4,600 a month, which is unaffordable for working class and middle income people.

Molly Goldberg, Author, "Cost of Costa-Hawkins"

When we’re talking about market-rate housing, or rents, we’re talking about what the richest people in the city can afford.

Dyan Ruiz, Reporter, [people. power. media]

The report states that rent control units are the largest potential source of affordable housing in San Francisco. The approximately 173,000 rent-controlled units in the City are triple the number of affordable or price-restricted housing units. 

It’s available at bit.ly/CostaHawkinsReport.

The rally was part a statewide day of action for the Yes on Prop 10, Repeal Costa-Hawkins campaign.

This is Dyan Ruiz for People Power Media.

Community Engagement

We don’t just report on people power efforts, we believe in people power.

Our work includes participating in the community-based, grassroots efforts that we report on. Joseph Smooke is currently the Program Assistant and was previously the Program Director since October 2015 at Housing Right Committee of San Francisco. HRCSF is a member organization of the Anti-Displacement Coalition.

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