Reinstate rent control?

Supporters say the measure could help those choosing to pay for a place to sleep or something to eat

Jesse Seo

Jesse Seo, Contributing Writer

Both supporters and opponents of Proposition 10 can agree that rent is “too damn high” in California.

The state ballot measure would allow local governments to adopt rent control on any type of rental housing.

Supporters say residential rental prices have skyrocketed in recent years and median rents are higher in California than any other state in the country, according to the ballot measures text. Some opponents such as homeowners and landlords agree that housing is too costly, but they need to charge enough to pay their bills. A sweeping 1995 state law limited local rent control efforts.

There are even disagreements about the measure within families, where the measure is debated around dinner tables.

For instance, Nathan Johnson, a landlord in South Los Angeles and his cousin Audrey Murray, had a recent exchange about the measure.

Rent control is necessary in California. Many of us, and some who have children, are pushed into these shockingly congested apartment complexes because we cannot afford to aspire for a better living situation,” said Murray.

Johnson had a different perspective.

“The money I get from renting out some of my units is what helps me stay financially stable. I understand not everyone can afford rent but it’s my property and I also have bills to pay.”

Some homeowners and landlords don’t want more government bureaucracy that can dictate what they can and cannot do with their own private property. In addition, the measure could result in the state losing an estimated millions of dollars in revenue, according to the state’s non-partisan Legislative Analyst. This possibly could result in reduced new home construction, and possibly causing thousands of well-paid construction workers their jobs.

If approved, the proposition would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which does not allow the local government to impose rent control laws on units built after February 1995.

Supporters of the measure say three times as many Californians live in overcrowded apartments as compared to the U.S. as a whole and many families spend over half their income on housing. Living paycheck to paycheck makes it difficult for these families to make ends meet.

For instance, Edith Gonzalez, a student at Los Angeles Southwest College, said the measure could help her significantly.

“I moved closer to school in hopes I would save money, but seeing as rent is at an all-time high, I might have to move back home and deal with the commute. Rent control would benefit so many students who are struggling to pay tuition, rent, and groceries.”