Here are the key housing and rent control bills state lawmakers are debating

The Assembly and Senate are considering bills that would add tenant protections, cap rents and open the door for development, as property owners battle against the measures

Aug.August 21, 2019 02:09 PM
From left: Governor Gavin Newsom, Assemblymember David Chiu, Senator Holly Mitchell, and Senator Nancy Skinner (Credit: Getty Images)
From left: Governor Gavin Newsom, Assemblymember David Chiu, Senator Holly Mitchell, and Senator Nancy Skinner (Credit: Getty Images)

California lawmakers have less than a month to vote on stronger statewide rent control and other tenant protections before this legislative session ends, and as property owners continue to voice their opposition.

Although housing advocates are working on a new version of Proposition 10, its failure at the statewide ballot last November — after strong lobbying against it from the real estate industry — led local several municipalities to create their own temporary rent control measures. Prop 10 would have opened the door to rent control if it has passed. Now, as an increasing number of local governments statewide adopt tenant protection measures, some landlords have been pushing back by raising rents on tenants while they still have the chance.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has said one of his top priorities this legislative session is to help lobby for the proposed statewide cap on rent hikes so he can sign it into law. The governor also gave support to a bill that would suspend local restrictions on developments, helping drive the measures to the end of the session. He said he would support even stricter regulations than some of the proposals currently being debated.

Here are the important housing and rent control bills now under consideration in the Assembly and state Senate. Sept. 13 is the final day any statewide bill can be passed.

Assembly Bill 1482
This is the rent control bill that everyone is watching.

If approved, it would limit rent increases each year to 7 percent plus inflation, or 10 percent, whichever is less. When Assemblyman David Chiu announced the bill in March, he said millions of Californians were one rent increase away from becoming homeless.

According to a study released this month by UC Berkeley, 1.2 million additional homes in Los Angeles County would benefit from rent control if this bill was approved. That includes about 374,100 units in L.A. alone.

Assembly Bill 1481, which would have required landlords to provide an approved reason to a third-party before evicting a tenant, died in May. But legislators added the provisions of that bill to AB 1482. The added provisions would address the increasing number of evictions: approximately 160,000 families appear in eviction court each year.

TheCalifornia Apartment Association — which represents property owners — opposes both measures. It say eviction protections make it harder for landlords to remove bad tenants, and will give investors more reason to move their projects out of the state.

Senate Bill 330
Newsom, who has called for the creation of 3.5 million units of housing in the next seven years, said he supports the proposal to suspend some local development restrictions.

SB 330, or “The Housing Crisis Act,” is aimed at lowering the cost and barriers to permits and construction in hopes of speeding up new housing in the state to help the affordability crisis.

If approved, the bill would suspend for 10 years any local restrictions and regulations that have become obstacles to new housing. It would enact a moratorium on “downsizing” neighborhoods, where the number of units has added limits at the municipal level, and it would prohibit local housing moratoriums and housing caps.

The bill would also impose a ban on raising housing fees, increasing or enforcing parking minimums, or enacting new design standards. It would establish a 12-month timeline for processing all housing permits, and cap the number of public hearings related to a new housing development to a total of three.

Senate Bill 329
Similar to laws recently approved in cities like L.A. and Santa Monica, SB 329 would prohibit the discrimination of Section 8 voucher holders.

Low-income tenants say it has become increasingly difficult to get access to housing because landlords favor higher-paying renters. According to a report by the Urban Institute, 76 percent of landlords in L.A. County with units affordable to voucher tenants refused to accept them, and nearly half the people who received Section 8 vouchers in L.A. saw them expire in 2017 before finding a place to live.

The Senate bill would prohibit blanket bans on vouchers and discrimination against people using vouchers to pay for rent by adding protections to the Fair Employment and Housing Act. Landlords would still be able to screen tenants for suitability, but they wouldn’t be able to refuse a tenant solely on the basis that the tenant intends to use housing assistance, according to state Sen. Holly Mitchell, who represents L.A.

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