Proposed repeal of Costa-Hawkins Act on hold for 2017

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For the remainder of 2017, lawmakers have shelved a bill that would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, landmark legislation that’s protected California from extreme forms of rent control for more than 20 years.

Amid strong opposition from the California Apartment Association, legislators this week decided to make AB 1506 a two-year bill, meaning the Legislature won’t consider a repeal of Costa-Hawkins this year but could take it up again in 2018.  The author will instead host a series of public hearings to determine what can be done on this topic.

Under the Costa-Hawkins Act, apartments built after 1995 are exempted from local rent control laws, as are single-family homes. Costa-Hawkins also allows a property owner to set the rent at the market rate once a tenant moves out and a new tenant moves in – known as vacancy decontrol.

Applying rent control to new construction and vacant units would have brought construction of rental housing in California to a halt, exacerbating the state’s existing housing shortage.

“We certainly appreciate the fact to move the bill and make it a two-year bill,” said Debra Carlton, senior vice president of public affairs at CAA, said in this Los Angeles Times story. “Rent control builds no new housing and that has to be our focus in the Legislature.”

AB 1506 was introduced Friday, Feb. 17, the last day to propose bills in the California Legislature for 2017. Assemblymen Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica; Rob Bonta, D-Oakland; and David Chiu, D-San Francisco, authored the proposal with Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, as a co-author.

“Looking at the entirety of the legislative process, the right thing is to step back and do additional work with various constituencies,” Bloom told the Los Angeles Times.

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