Prop 10 Fails, Measure Y Passes

The repeal of Costa-Hawkins has not passed on the state ballot this midterm election.  Proposition 10 would have repealed the statewide Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which sets restrictions on rent control legislation throughout the state. It exempts buildings built after 1995, single family homes, and condos from rent control.

The opposition to Prop. 10 was funded by a whopping $74 million from real-estate companies. The top three funders were: California Association of Realtors, Essex Property Trust, Inc., Blackstone Property Partners, L.P.

The repeal also failed passage when it was an assembly bill introduced by Assembly Members Rob Bonta, David Chiu, and Richard Bloom in January.
A post from statewide tenants rights organization Tenants Together on Wednesday reads: “We want to thank the hundreds of organizations and allies statewide who came together to support Prop. 10.  Labor, faith-based organizations, community groups, and political leaders came together in a broad, unprecedented coalition to stand up to the real estate industry. We’ll be back.”

But Tenants Together is celebrating some victories on the local level.  In Oakland, voters approved Measure Y, which removes the exemption for owner-occupied duplexes and triplexes from Just Cause eviction regulations.  They also approved Measure W, which taxes vacant properties to earn $10,000,000 annually for 20 years to fund homeless services and resources to address illegal dumping.

In Alameda, Measure K failed to pass, which would have removed the sunset provision on the city’s rent control law and required changes to the law to pass by voters instead of City Council.  The current temporary rent control law allows no-cause, no-fault evictions with financial settlement. An opinion piece published in East Bay Times by Denise Sicat Wong and Brad Hirn before the election read, “If Measure K passes, no-cause evictions and burdensome rent increases will become permanent.”



  1. Gavin R. Putland

    10 November


    Dear conservatives: You say you believe in jobs. But jobs require affordable housing. Jobs can’t be created unless (i) employers can afford business accommodation, and (ii) worker can afford housing within reach of their jobs, on wages that their employers can pay!

    Dear employers: Did you get that? Lower rents make it easier for you to pay your workers enough to live on.

    Dear retailers: Lower rents mean your customers have more money left over to spend at your store!

    Dear renters: Sure, rent control might protect you against being forced out by rising rents. But if you need to move out for any other reason, you won’t be able to get another rent-controlled dwelling, because investors won’t build new housing unless it’s exempt from rent control. What you really need is not protection from the market, but a reduction in *market* rents.

    Dear developers: You say the solution is to build more housing. But are you really going to build so fast that you reduce rents and prices, and therefore reduce your profits? Of course not — unless something forces your hand!

    SOLUTION: Oakland shows the way: Put a punitive tax on vacant lots and unoccupied buildings (except properties waiting for permits), so that the owners can’t afford NOT to build accommodation and seek tenants. By increasing supply and reducing owners’ ability to tolerate vacancies, a vacancy tax strengthens the bargaining position of tenants and therefore reduces rents (and forces landlords to expedite any necessary repairs in order to attract tenants). It yields both an *immediate* benefit, by pushing existing dwellings onto the rental market, and a *long-term* benefit, by encouraging construction.

    Dear Realtors: A vacancy tax increases your income, through rental-management fees for properties coming onto the rental market, plus commissions from owners who decide to sell vacant properties to owner-occupants (who of course don’t pay the tax).

    Dear politicians: The need to avoid the vacancy tax would initiate economic activity, which would expand the bases of other taxes, allowing their rates to be reduced, so that the rest of the city/state/country would get a tax cut. Can you sell a tax cut?!

    My chief concern about Oakland’s Measure W is that it might not be heavy enough to do the job.

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