Proposition 21


With Election year comes a new catalog of Propositions that the citizens of California must cast their votes for this election. This year is no different, so here is a rundown of one of the propositions on the ballot this year, Proposition 21. 

What is Proposition 21? 

Before 1995, cities and counties could enact their own rent control laws, but then came Costa- Hawkins. Proposition 21 would change the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which allowed local governments to enact rent control as long as landlords receive reasonable returns on their rental properties. Now some may be asking, “ What is rent control ?” Technically, the term “rent control” means that a tenant’s rent is almost completely frozen indefinitely. But in reality, “rent control,” often means “rent stabilization,” which establishes a small, set percentage by which landlords can increase rent each year. Costa-Hawkins allowed local governments to use rent control, except on housing that were occupied after February 1, 1995, and housing units with distinct titles. Proposition 21 would allow local governments to adopt rent control on housing units. Prop 21 would require local governments that adopt rent control to allow landlords to increase rental rates by 15 percent during the first three years following a vacancy. Proposition 21 is supported by Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, California Democratic Party, Eviction Defense Network, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Against are California Apartment Association, Gov. Gavin Newsom, Essex Property Trust, and Prometheus Real Estate Group, California Seniors Advocates League.

Who will Prop 21 effect? 

California renters typically pay 70 percent more than renters in other states. If you live in the Bay Area, you are familiar with its notorious high rent prices and expensive cost of living. Prop 21 will expand the option for all cities to enact tougher rent control and would also cap any rental increase on vacant units. Prop 21 would theoretically protect the renter from wrongful evictions and protect new renter from rent hikes. This will help decrease homelessness and gentrification, but with good comes the not so good. Opponents of Prop. 21, like The Bay Area Housing Action Coalition, claim that if passed Prop. 21 will “put brakes on the recent push to build more housing in California because it will add additional rent control burdens and create an unstable market”. The Coalition also warns Prop.21 will unintentionally force small landlords into foreclosure because their earnings will be capped, making it harder for landlords to stay in business. 

Coming this November, you all have to choose YES or NO. While I can’t vote in this upcoming election, I recommend you vote with not only your interest in mind but with the interest of the future of California in mind as well.