As we plunge into 2016, the California Apartment Association is building on a strong foundation of government affairs victories from the past 12 months, both at the state and local levels.
To help put the year gone-by in perspective, CAA’s public affairs team has selected the following successes as the Association’s Top 10 Legislative Victories of 2015.
Many of the issues described below will remain important topics in the year to come. Read more about CAA’s forecast for 2016 here.
In 2015, CAA proudly:
1. Led a petition drive to overturn Richmond rent control ordinance
The Richmond City Council — the first to approve rent control in California in more than three decades —rescinded the policy in response to a signature-gathering effort spearheaded by the California Apartment Association. The council’s unanimous vote in November came after Contra Costa County’s Elections Division certified more than 5,000 signatures collected during the CAA-led petition drive. Learn more
2. Defeated a bill that would have limited criminal-background checks on applicants
CAA helped derail legislation that would have made running background checks on prospective tenants overly complicated and a magnet for unwarranted lawsuits. In May, Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles, withdrew this year’s efforts to pass AB 396, which got as far as the Appropriations Committee. Learn more
3. Stifled legislation that would have weakened the Ellis Act
Under opposition from CAA, a bill that threatened to undermine a landlord’s right to leave San Francisco’s rental housing business stalled in April during its first committee hearing. The Senate Transportation and Housing Committee voted 6 to 5 against SB 364 by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco. The bill would have forced many rental property owners in San Francisco to wait at least five years before removing their units from the market, even if operating at a loss or needing to leave the business for family reasons. Learn more
4. Sponsored successful bill to prevent subletting through home-sharing sites
Sponsored legislation which will require that short-term vacation rental websites such as Airbnb to provide disclosures to tenants. SB 761 authored by Sen. Isadore Hall, aims at ensuring that tenants check their rental agreements before subletting their apartments via short-term home-sharing websites. Learn more
Listen to the audio story on SB 761, which includes testimony from the Senate floor and an earlier committee hearing.
5. Turned mold bill from threat to win for the industry
As initially introduced, SB 655 would have encouraged tenants to make frivolous claims of mold in their units, a common scheme to delay evictions. The original bill, which added mold to the conditions that make housing substandard, was amended at CAA’s request, however, and now provides that a landlord has no obligation to repair a dilapidation related to visible mold until the owner is notified of the problem. The bill also holds the tenant responsible for mold that is caused by the tenant’s poor housekeeping and provides that a property cannot be declared substandard unless a code enforcement officer confirms that visible mold endangers the occupants. Learn more
6. Persuaded Mountain View to reject rent control on 5-2 vote
During a pair of public hearings in October, the Mountain View City Council scrapped a number of bad rental housing proposals. This past fall, the council rejected a moratorium on rent increases, rent control and just-cause for eviction. The 5-2 decision came after nearly seven hours of presentations, public testimony and council discussion. Learn more
7. Averted just-cause eviction in Burlingame
Despite repeated demands from renter groups over the past year, the Burlingame City Council in July declined to move forward with an eviction-for-cause ordinance. The ordinance was one of several proposals being considered during a study session. Learn more
8. Thwarted just-cause eviction in San Mateo County
After hearing from landlords about the pitfalls of rent control, San Mateo County supervisors in March expressed unease regarding the policy. Reluctant to pursue this approach, supervisors asked staff to return with more information on how rent control works. Learn more
9. Prevented housing moratorium in Menifee
CAA in August helped defeat a proposed ban on apartment construction in Menifee, a policy proposal that would have undercut the city’s economy, taking away construction jobs, sources of property tax revenue and places for working folks to live. Learn more
10. Averted rent control for seniors already on rent control
CAA helped thwart a proposal to establish the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program, which would have been implemented in the counties of Alameda, Ventura, Santa Clara and San Francisco. The program, part of AB 1229 and carried by Assemblywoman Nora Campos, would have permitted senior citizens in a rent-controlled property to apply to the local agency, such as a rent control board, for a 12-month exemption from rent increases. Learn more