Real estate firms dig deep to fund fight against rent control measure

Proposition 10 would repeal Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act

Essex Prop 10 CEO Michael Schall, Aids Healthcare exec Michael Weinstein (Credit: iStock)
Essex Prop 10 CEO Michael Schall, Aids Healthcare exec Michael Weinstein (Credit: iStock)

In the fight against rent control, real estate firms are not holding back.

Opponents of the Proposition 10 measure have contributed over $21 million to fight a November ballot measure that could expand rent control across California, Curbed reported.

Western National Group, an Irvine-based real estate investment firm, contributed over $3.7 million. Essex Property Trust, based in San Mateo, has donated more than $2.4 million. Chicago-based Equity Residential donated about $1.7 million, while the California Association of Realtors added $1.5 million.

The real estate industry contributions are badly outpacing spending by supporters of the ballot measure, including its main backer, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. 

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The foundation, led by fiery housing advocate Michael Weinstein, announced Friday it would be contributing $10 million to fund the measure. So far, supporters have only raised $2.5 million.

Proposition 10 would repeal the 1995 Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which limits the rent control policies that cities can enact. Single-family houses, duplexes and condos cannot qualify, and landlords can also reset the price of a unit once a tenant voluntarily moves out.

Opponents of the measure say it would exacerbate the housing crisis by deterring new construction, and lead to higher prices. Supporters, meanwhile, argue it’s a necessary measure to tackle the state’s affordability crisis.

Housing prices in the county have been rising for nearly a decade. Since 2010, they have grown nearly four times as fast as incomes. A recent report by the California Housing Partnership found that more than 800,000 households qualify for affordable housing, yet there are fewer than 300,000 available across Los Angeles County. [Curbed] — Natalie Hoberman