an apartment vacancy sign on the westside of los angeles
An apartment vacancy sign on the Westside of Los Angeles. (Photo by Christina Kelley)

An initiative to expand local governments’ authority to enact rent control on residential property has qualified for the November ballot, Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced Monday.

What backers have dubbed the “Rental Affordability Act” would allow local governments to establish rent control on residential properties over 15 years old. It would also allow rent increases on rent-controlled properties of up to 15% over three years from previous tenant’s rent above any increase allowed by local ordinance.

The initiative exempts individuals who own no more than two homes from new rent control policies. In accordance with California law, the measure provides that rent control policies may not violate landlords’ right to a fair financial return on their property.

“With the defeat of the deeply flawed SB 50 in Sacramento last week and now the certification of our Rental Affordability Act ballot measure signatures, the affordable housing revolution has begun,” said Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s the initiative’s sponsor.

“Housing affordability and homelessness are the most pressing social justice and public health emergencies in our time, especially in California. We’ll face a tough road ahead but are ready for the fight and victory for all Californians and for housing affordability in November.”

Weinstein was a proponent of Proposition 10, the failed initiative on the November 2018 ballot which would have repealed the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which bans local rent control on single-family homes and any housing units built after 1995.

The initiative “is not the answer for California’s complex and expensive housing woes,” said Sid Lakireddy, president of the California Rental Housing Association, which represents rental housing owners throughout California and advocates in the best interest of the industry. “We need solutions that will bring more affordable housing to California.”

Valid signatures from 623,212 registered voters — 5% of the total votes cast for governor in the 2018 general election — were required to qualify the measure for the November ballot, Padilla said.

A measure can become eligible via random sampling of petition signatures if the sampling projects that the number of valid signatures is greater than 110% of the required number. The initiative needed at least 685,534 projected valid signatures to become eligible by random sampling, and it exceeded that threshold Monday, Padilla said.

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