Leaving the Housing Rent Cap Where It Is– At What Cost?

By: Clarissa Lopez

 

SACRAMENTO, CA––Sunny California is commonly known for its bright and warm days, active beaches that attract tourists, and the notorious Hollywood sign that beckons from the hills. But for longtime residents, California is known for its rising costs of living year after year. 

 

Assembly Bill 1482, also known as “The Tenant Protection Act,” was approved by Governor Gavin Newsom in October 2019 and offered a number of tenant protections. This included protection from eviction without just cause, the granting of relocation fees for no-fault evictions, and, most alluringly, limits on rent increases. The rent caps limited increases in rent from rising above 5 percent plus the percentage change in the cost of living, or 10 percent of the previous rent; whichever was lower. 

 

The introduction of Senate Bill 567 in February of 2023 was authored by state Senator María Elena Durazo, (D-Los Angeles) and sought to extend these protections on a number of fronts. 

 

Whereas AB 1482 exempted single-family rentals and mobile homes, SB 567 sought to be more inclusionary of the previously exempted groups, close loopholes that allowed for the abuse of the no-fault just cause evictions, and lower the rent cap to just 5 percent. Ultimately, SB 567 aimed to strengthen protections put forth by AB 1482 that would have eased the burden on Davis residents in particular––given the high volume of renters found in the student body living in the college town.

 

However, by April 17, with its final revisions, SB 567 was passed without the rent cap being lowered to the originally proposed 5 percent and the continued exemption of single-family and mobile homes from the existing rent caps from 2019. This version of the bill was passed with 9 yeas and 2 nays, leaving tenants with existing caps from the original AB 1482. 

 

The frustrations of such a decision are felt by the Davis campus, as concerned citizens look to the lively student body to hear the pressing concerns and sign petitions for lower rent caps. To this end, the week of April 24th saw active engagement on both the petitioners’ and student body’s parts. Given the increasing housing scarcity and rising student homelessness, rent concerns are a growing issue for many Davis students. 

 

In fact, as a response to this unsettling trend, Aggie House opened in 2020 to provide transitional housing for residents of UC Davis who needed it so that they may “focus on academic and professional development, mental health, and personal well-being.” The program partners with the nonprofit organization Students 4 Students in order to support and fund this endeavor. 

 

Organizations such as Aggie House are only one example of the need to control the rising cost of living. Given the recent string of stabbings that began April 27, the victims of which were primarily homeless, the news that SB 567 failed to strengthen previous provisions has students in Davis increasingly concerned. The passing of AB 1482 offered signs of relief in rent but left many disappointed when it did not go further in SB 567 as initially thought. 

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2 Comments

  1. Ron Oertel

    Tenant groups will never convince the legislature to overturn Costa Hawkins, ultimately for the same reason that the legislature has promoted YIMBYs:

    They work for the moneyed interests which helped them get elected. And that means landlords, developers, business and labor groups – not tenants.

    The state’s rent cap was an attempt to derail efforts to enact more meaningful rent control.  For the most part, they are not working on behalf of tenants.

    And so far, statewide initiatives have failed.

    For now, tenant groups would be better-off working with individual cities (Davis has no rent control, other than the state cap).  This would help long-term renters in particular, but could also ensure that individual student renters don’t have their rents raised above the cap during their time in Davis, if they elect to live within the city. And yet, no discussion whatsoever by the council, regarding that.

    The legislature could, however, ensure that funds are distributed for on-campus affordable housing.  Looks like Newsom wants to reduce/delay that funding:

    https://calmatters.org/education/higher-education/2023/03/student-housing-budget/

     

    1. Ron Oertel

      And for all of the talk about “preventing homelessness” (due to rising costs), rent control would do much to prevent that.

      Though truth be told, the average person living in a tent probably has a lot of other problems, as well. Most “normal” people would just find another place to live – even if it meant moving somewhere (*gasp*) cheaper than San Francisco, for example. Probably most of whom weren’t from there in the first place.

      Or, they would have taken steps to increase their income – in advance.

      The only people who get “charged” for living outside are those who camp in state and national parks. You can live outside for free, in the most-expensive big city in the country. Right in front of city hall, for that matter.

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