LA mayor backs proposed statewide initiative to expand rent control

Anabel Munoz Image
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Garcetti backs statewide rent control expansion
EMBED <>More Videos

Mayor Eric Garcetti (right) and tenants organizations spoke in favor of a plan to expand rent control in California.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Most people can agree rent in Los Angeles is high. How to fix it is what folks can't agree on.

Monday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced his support for a proposed ballot initiative that would repeal the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. If repealed, it would give Los Angeles and other state municipalities the option to expand rent control.

"Our hands right now are tied. For 15 years people have asked me, 'Would you like to have that control?' This isn't anything new for me. I've said, 'absolutely,' " said Garcetti.

"We need this tool back from the state of California. This is our choice, not Sacramento's choice," said Councilmember Mike Bonin.

Garcetti and Bonin were joined by tenants, housing advocates and labor leaders.

"It has just been a torture every two years wondering what rent is going to be like," said one tenant.

In Los Angeles, rent hikes are limited in apartments built before October 1978 and Garcetti said that's like winning the lottery.

"If you're not lucky to win that lottery and it's something built in 1979, you do face zero protections and that seems to be unjust," said Garcetti who also told reporters he's open to limiting rent increases in newly built apartments.

Opponents argue it will discourage developers from building in Los Angeles, hurting property owners and tenants.

"Rent will most definitely go up. You're going to have property owners that will not elect to stay here. You're going to have mass problems," said Candice Graham, who interrupted Monday's news conference.

The state Legislative Analyst's Office says the initiative could cause significant decreases in state and local tax revenues and potentially increase local government costs up to tens of millions of dollars annually, adding it would likely be paid by fees on owners of rental housing.

You can read the California Attorney General's summary here or the full report here.

"Our record speaks for itself. We're going to continue, we're in a building boom and we're going to continue. And every single thing that we've ever done, people say the sky is falling and yet there's more and more interest," said Garcetti, adding there is a need for supply as well as a need to protect tenants who live in apartment buildings.

Proponents say they've gathered enough signatures to get the Affordable Housing Act initiative on the November ballot.