Extreme rent control and anti-housing activists have begun collecting signatures in hopes of qualifying a statewide ballot measure that would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act.  

Signature gatherers, bankrolled by anti-housing-rent control activist Michael Weinstein and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, hit the streets earlier this month after the Attorney General’s Office issued a title and summary for the “Justice For Renters Act.” The proposition is targeted for the 2024 general election.   

The measure seeks to overturn 1995’s Costa-Hawkins Act, allowing local governments to impose rent control on single-family homes and newer apartments. The measure also would eliminate the state’s ban on vacancy control, allowing cities and counties to regulate rents between tenancies, keeping rental rates artificially depressed in perpetuity.

“With vacancy control, landlords lose any hope of ever charging fair market value for their investment,” said Tom Bannon, chief executive officer of the California Apartment Association. “There is little incentive to keep the unit on the market, let alone invest in improvements.”

In addition to repealing Costa-Hawkins, the “Justice For Renters Act” would prohibit the state from limiting the right of local governments to maintain, enact or expand residential rent control.   

The California Apartment Association has twice before defeated statewide propositions, also spearheaded by Weinstein, that sought to repeal or greatly weaken Costa-Hawkins — namely Proposition 10 in 2018 and Proposition 21 in 2020. The association is preparing a campaign to defeat this latest attack as well.