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KPBS Midday Edition

Limits On Rent Control Would Disappear Under Proposition 10

A sign points to the leasing office at the newly-constructed 444-unit Verge apartment complex on Mission Gorge Road in San Diego, Sept. 16, 2016.
Susan Murphy
A sign points to the leasing office at the newly-constructed 444-unit Verge apartment complex on Mission Gorge Road in San Diego, Sept. 16, 2016.

In California, rent control has been limited since 1995.

That's when the legislature passed the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act restricting cities' ability to pass laws controlling rent increases.

Costa-Hawkins exempted single-family homes, condominiums and newly constructed apartments from rent control. It also banned "vacancy control," where cities could limit rent increases for new tenants.

California's Proposition 10, on the ballot in November, would repeal Costa-Hawkins, allowing cities to create their own rent control policies.

The extreme lack of affordable housing across the state, exemplified by rapidly rising rents, is the impetus for the initiative.

RELATED: A Place To Live

A late-September poll from the Public Policy Institute of California shows Proposition 10 lagging, with an approval rate of just 36 percent of voters.

Paola Martinez-Montes, director of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, challenged Proposition 10 opponents on KPBS Midday Edition Wednesday and in an op-ed in the San Diego Union-Tribune. She said, unlike what challengers of the measure say, rent control doesn't slow construction of new housing.

One of those opponents is Alan Pentico, executive director of the San Diego County Apartment Association. He'll share his side Thursday on Midday Edition.

Limits On Rent Control Would Disappear Under Proposition 10
Why The San Diego County Apartment Association Opposes Proposition 10 GUEST: Alan Pentico, executive director, San Diego County Apartment Association
Rent Control Limits Will Disappear Under Proposition 10
Rent Control Limits Will Disappear Under Proposition 10 GUEST: Paola Martinez-Montes, director, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment

One of the propositions California voters will be deciding on next month is Proposition 10 which would allow cities to propose stricter rent control measures. Right now the ability of cities to enact rent control measures is limited by a state law called the Cost Hawkins Act. Prop 10 would among other things enable local jurisdictions to enact what is called vacancy rent control which would determine how much landlords could increase rents in between tenants. Supporters of Prop 10 say allowing cities to fashion their own forms of rent control would do a lot to ease the housing crisis. Opponents say it would decrease the number of developers willing to build new housing. Today we're hearing from a supporter of Prop 10 Paolo Martinez Montez is director of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment and Pallo welcome to the program. Thank you very much. Now just about everyone agrees we're in the middle of a housing crisis in California. How do you think the passage of Prop 10 would help prop 10 will help by protecting renters. Right now we have you know after the 2008 housing crisis a lot of homeowners are no longer homeowners or renters and so they're out the will of their landlords. And there's very little protection statewide. What does would allow for their already existing rent control laws in cities where they exist and also give us the ability to expand and create new rent control policies. We don't have any in the city of San Diego or in the county really. So it would allow for us to start thinking about rent control as an option for us. What's the rental market like in San Diego County right now. It is rough out there. It's really hard to find a unit to move into. The requirements are much stricter you need three times the rent to three times your income to pay the rent. The average you know 1300 dollars. So families that are making minimum wage are nowhere near close to making that. And in cities like National City you know rent went up sixteen point six percent from 2015 to 2016. It's much harder on them to you know continue to pay their rent or even get into a unit. Proposition 10 will repeal the cost Hawkins Act which puts limits on municipal rent control ordinances. So what kinds of limits does it put in place water and what's in place now. Yes all right now with Costa Hawkin's we're not able to include single family homes condos or new constructions under rent control policy so anything Belad after 19 1995 is excluded from rent control policies and it rolls back even further in cities that already had them. So cities like San Francisco and L.A. that had them since 1978 1979 anything built after that is excluded from rent control. The biggest piece is not being able to control vacancy which means that if there is a person living or a family living in a unit and they move out even when there's rent control in their cities the landlord could potentially increase that to market rate and if they were at a thousand dollars and now the market rate is 1400 dollars like it is here they could increase rent by eight hundred dollars from 110 until the next. In a recent op ed in support of Prop 10 you wrote about a really staggering statistic that affected Santa Santa Monica after Costa Hawkin's went in about the amount of people who could afford to rent there right. And what we're seeing is that our seniors are being hurt much more than I mean everybody is being hurt by this. But seniors on fixed incomes with no policy no protections in place are virtually one rent increase away from being homeless. Now one of the reasons we're in this housing crisis according to some is that there are too many regulations on developers and property owners. They say rent control regulations are a disincentive for the kind of building that we need. How do you answer that. Yeah so what we've seen is that in cities where rent control policies already exist like in the Bay Area in Los Angeles we've been building more and faster than in cities with no rent control. So them arguing and saying that rent control stops development is totally false and that's been proven time and time again. Most rent control policies exclude new constructions. But even if we were able to include new construction you can set your rate initially so if the developer is saying that they need to charge forty four hundred dollars. Like the complex over on Oklahoma Boulevard and Texas street that's 4400 dollars is what they're charging for. I believe a two bedroom. So if that's what they're setting out rent control would start there and then it would you know whatever the cap would be. Rents would start going up from there. But their fair rate of fair return is protected under the California Constitution. So one of the things you mentioned in the op ed was that the year for Prop 10 because even if we get new housing it's going to take a while to develop. And you say people are in trouble now. Absolutely. We are seeing folks being displaced at an enormous rate right now. We need immediate solutions to the housing crisis. There is no doubt. We strongly believe that we need to create more housing. We need to secure more funding for affordable housing. But that is going to take many years and we need an immediate solution so that folks aren't being displaced out of their homes right now National City also has a rent control measure on the ballot. It's National City proposition w what's in that measure measure w would do is it would provide no more than five per cent cap on rent increases once a year. It would also it also coupled with just cost protections because right now without being able to control vacancy cost Hawkins landlord agent are incentivized to evict their tenants to be able to move someone in to pay a higher rent. And it would also create a five person appointed board to help with funding what the rent increase would be a year and also provide another avenue for landlords and tenants to handle any disputes. What kind of support has Prop 10 gained from organizations across the state. We are over 200 organizations. We've gotten the endorsement of the Democratic Party. We've gotten the endorsement of the state Labor Federation. We've gotten the endorsement of League of Women Voters Costa Hawkins has been a huge barrier in housing for housing advocates for a really long time for decades and this is the first time that we have a real shot to make this happen. I have been speaking with Pamela Martinez Montez director of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. Paula thank you. Thank you. We'll hear the argument for opposing Proposition 10 in our show tomorrow.