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California Renter Power 2017 Statewide Assembly Meets

Tenants Together is co-hosting a two day weekend conference in Alameda this Saturday and Sunday, September 23-24 (8:00 am – 5:00 pm both days). The CA Renter Power 2017 Statewide Assembly seeks to have renters and renters advocates come together to join forces to increase the renters rights in the state of California.  Here is the agenda for this Saturday and Sunday, where hundreds of attendees will meet:

The other main conference topics are:
“Building a Base and a Campaign”
“Connecting the Moment and the Movement”
“Lessons from the Movement”
“Costa-Hawking Repeal Discussions with Legislative Aides”
“Costa-Hawking Campaign Strategy & Building the Housing Justice Movement”

Key on the target list is the repeal of the Costa-Hawkings Rental Housing Act which put severe restrictions on rent control throughout the state in the 1990s.

From Wikipedia:
The Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act (“Costa-Hawkins”) is a California state law which places limits on municipal rent control ordinances. Costa-Hawkins so legislates in three ways:[1] first, it prohibits municipalities from establishing rent control over certain kinds of residential units (e.g., single family dwellings, and new construction, which are deemed exempt); second, it addresses when rent may be increased on a remaining subtenant (hence again preempting municipal rent control law); and third, it prohibits municipal “vacancy control”, also called “strict” rent control.

Dean Preston wrote an article about the “Lessons from Round One of Costa Hawkins Repeal” (attempt)

“Earlier this year, three California Assemblymembers — Richard Bloom, David Chiu & Rob Bonta — took Sacramento by surprise, introducing AB 1506 to repeal the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act ”

“Costa Hawkins is the gift that keeps on giving for landlords and real estate speculators. It is probably the single biggest reason we face runaway rents in so many California cities. A special-interest state law backed by the real estate industry that passed in 1995, Costa-Hawkins ties the hands of cities when it comes to protecting tenants from landlords who charge exorbitant rents. “

Not everyone is thrilled with Rent Control and Rent Control Boards. Ted Edlin wrote an opinion piece called “The Consequences of Repealing Costa Hawkins.”  Here he talks about some of the bureaucratic failings and costs of Rent Control in Berkeley.

“The Alameda grand jury wrote a damning report about the Rent Board operations several years ago and the Board blew it off and changed nothing.”

“A sitting tenant in Berkeley has saved at least $300,000 in rent payments since the inception of rent control. When they are carried out of the unit they will leave the owner with a unit that will need new plumbing/electrical/kitchen and bath upgrades to say nothing about replacing windows and heaters, refinishing floors, sheet rocking ceilings and walls and repainting. From an owners viewpoint it is  as if the tenant ate the seed corn. Try retrofitting the apartment on $900 a month rent.”

Sean Barry wrote an opinon article entitled  “With Costa-Hawkins repeal shelved, let’s find other ways to lower housing costs”

“Withdrawing the bill was the right outcome for Berkeley because repeal risks returning us to a time when overly restrictive rent control reduced the city’s housing stock and population, with a select few left to benefit from below market-rate units. With hope, the authors of AB 1506 will come back with a more tailored solution that encourages new housing while helping those struggling with high rents.”