Rent control can be “useful tool” for cities to address CA housing: report

UC Berkeley study argues against developers who say Prop 10 would worsen crisis

(Credit: San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center-Indybay, Charlie Nguyen)
(Credit: San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center-Indybay, Charlie Nguyen)

Developers in California have railed against the Proposition 10 ballot measure that would give cities the ability to cap rent increases, claiming that more rent control will worsen the state’s housing crisis.

But a new study by a UC Berkeley professor concludes the opposite, arguing rent control can be a useful tool cities can use to “address the immediate needs of California’s renters,” Curbed reported.

The policy brief, by UC Berkeley’s Haas Institute, is the latest salvo in the debate over Prop 10, which would roll back the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act, empowering cities to cap rent increases on condos, single-family homes, and apartments built after 1995.

Last month another UC Berkeley expert, economist Kenneth Rosen, published a paper concluding that rent control policies have exacerbated the state’s housing shortage, and that Prop 10 would exacerbate the crisis further.

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The Haas Institute’s policy brief does not mention Proposition 10 and defends rent control policies more broadly. The authors dispute the argument that rent regulations constrain the supply of housing in cities by discouraging new development, which leads to higher prices in the long run.

Since 2000, development of new apartments in the largest California cities with rent control—including Los Angeles—has actually outpaced the rate of construction in surrounding areas, the Hass researchers noted.

California needs 1.8 million new units of housing by 2025 to keep up with it projected population growth, according to the state’s housing department. Estimates put Los Angeles’ affordable housing needs at more than 568,000 units. [Curbed]–Alexei Barrionuevo