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Rent Control on the Ballot in Five Bay Area Cities

Wednesday, October 26, 2016  
Posted by: Jim Lofgren
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Organizers collected enough signatures to place rent control measures on the November 8 ballot in five Bay Area cities – Alameda, Burlingame, Mountain View, Richmond, and San Mateo. In addition to restrictions on future rent increases, the various measures require rents to be rolled back, place restrictions on evictions, establish rent oversight boards, require payment of expensive relocation costs, and establish new fees to fund the oversight boards.


Under current California state law, the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act places some restrictions on local rent control ordinances. In general, single-family homes and condominiums are exempt from rent control. Apartments built after February 1, 1995 are exempt as well. In addition, rent can be raised without restrictions whenever the original residents vacate a unit. Beyond these few restrictions, local ordinances passed by city councils or voters can impose strict rent controls and sweeping regulations.


Voters in the City of Alameda face two rent control measures. Measure L1 was placed on the ballot by the City Council as a reasonable alternative to the more onerous Measure M1, which was qualified for the ballot after advocates collected over 7,000 signatures. Measure M1 requires owners to roll back rent to their May 2015 level. Thereafter, it limits annual rent increases to only 65% of the annual consumer price increase (CPI), which means rents will never keep up with inflation. The measure also limits the reasons for ending tenancies, requires relocation expenses up to $18,300 per tenant, and creates an elected Rent Control Board (estimated annual operating cost of $3.3 million) funded by fees on rental properties.


In Burlingame, passage of Measure R would require owners to roll back rents to March 2016 levels. Future rent increases are limited to just once per year based on the CPI, but never higher than 4 percent without government approval. A five-member Rental Housing Commission, appointed by the City Council, would set the fees to cover its operating costs. Relocation assistance to displaced tenants must equal at least three month’s rent for a similar unit. Restrictions on ending tenancies would apply to all rental properties, including single-family homes and condominiums.


In Mountain View, Measure V requires owners to roll back rents to October 2015 levels. Later increases are limited to the CPI rate, but never more than 5 percent without government approval. A board would be established to administer and enforce the law as well as set the annual Rental Housing Fee assessed on rental owners. Evictions by nearly every rental owner would be limited to nine specific reasons.


In Richmond, passage of Measure L would limit rent increases to the annual CPI rate. An annual Residential Rental Housing Fee would be charged to rental owners by a rent board appointed by the city council. Evictions by nearly every rental owner would be limited to eight specific reasons.


If voters approve Measure Q in San Mateo, rents will roll back rent to September 2015 levels, increases will be limited to the CPI with a cap of 4 percent, strict evictions controls will be imposed, and a new commission will be established funded by a fee on rental owners.


All of these measures are opposed by the California Apartment Association Political Action Committee (CAAPAC). RHA is monitoring these measures as well, and recently established a task force to assess the potential of similar measures in the Sacramento region and raise PAC funds just in case.



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