By Joel Fox
Proposition 10 on the statewide ballot that would have allowed local governments the power to establish broader rent control laws was defeated decisively with 60% of the voters saying no. With such an overwhelming defeat, that means the issue is buried, right?
Not necessarily. Supporters for stronger rent control measures say they will be back. And, they may look to Los Angeles County’s so-called “rent freeze” ordinance as a model or precursor to pursue another statewide effort.
A week after the general election, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on a 4 to 1 vote passed an interim measure to cap rent increases at 3% for six months at the point they existed on September 11, 2018. The measure applies to the unincorporated areas of the county where approximately 200,000 renters reside.
A final vote is expected to put the rent freeze trial in place but supervisors supporting the plan have bigger ideas. They want to put a more permanent rent control measure in place after the interim period is up.
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl brought the measure to the board. She argued it was needed to prevent further homelessness in the county when renters are unable to keep up with skyrocketing rents. “If we want to stem the tide of people falling into homelessness and be sure our seniors, as well as other renters, are protected from eviction, we have to curb unrestricted growth in rents,” Kuehl said.
The board ignored the concerns of mom and pop landlords who said their business and property maintenance would suffer under the rent freeze. BizFed, the Los Angeles County Business Federation, complained that there was no fiscal analysis of the proposal so that economic factors could be considered. As with the campaign against Prop 10, opponents of the rent freeze raised the issue of reduced apartment construction because of the rent regulation.
With the defeat of Prop 10, the LA County measure can only cover buildings constructed before 1995 and unlike the provisions found in Proposition 10, the LA proposal would exclude condos and single-family homes.
If made permanent or extended beyond the six-month trial period, the LA County rent measure would undoubtedly be used as an example of the effects of rent control. The question is which side will find the results of the experiment more useful in pushing their arguments?
If nothing else the move by the LA County supervisors will keep the issue of rent control alive despite the overwhelming voter rejection of Proposition 10.
This article was originally published on Fox and Hounds