Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act reform

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California Assembly hearing for AB 1506 Costa Hawkins repeal
The California Local Rent Control Initiative (original title, Affordable Housing Act) is a 2018 California ballot initiative to repeal the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act which places limits on municipal rent control ordinances. It was filed on filed 23 October 2017 by Michael Weinstein, Elena Popp, and Christina Livington. 

A similar measure was proposed as legislative bill AB 1506, filed in 2017, but this failed to pass out of the housing committee in a vote on 11 January 2018. 

Text of Initiative (from Ballotpedia). 


Michael Weinstein 

co-signer of filing letter. Director of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Los Angeles.  

Elena Popp

co-signer of filing letter. 

Christina Livington

co-signer of filing letter. 

Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment

"The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action is a grassroots, member-led, statewide community organization working with more than 10,000 members across California. ACCE is dedicated to raising the voices of everyday Californians, neighborhood by neighborhood, to fight for the policies and programs we need to improve our communities and create a brighter future."

LA Voice

Damien Goodmon / Housing is a Human Right project (AIDS Healthcare Foundation)



California Apartment Association 

California Association of Realtors

Costa Hawkins Act terms

  • The Act exempts single family dwellings, and new construction.[37] 
  • It prohibits local government "vacancy control" in most situations.[38] 
  • For the five cities with "vacancy control" the Act is phased-in.[39] 
  • It situates government contracts with owners about rent charged, and the effects of a notice of violation, e.g., about health or safety.[40] 
  • Costa-Hawkins also addresses subtenancies,[41] and other issues.[42]
  • The Act was amended in 2002 to close a loophole related to condominium conversion.
    It prevented owners of apartment buildings, who obtained a certificate for conversion, to avail themselves of the Act's exemption to rent control law, without actually
    selling any of such apartments as condominiums.[43]


Single-family homes exclusion

New buildings exclusion 

Issues / Concerns

Problems with using intiative process

Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), sponsor of AB1506 repeal bill: 

“At the same time, while I understand why some want to put this change on the ballot, it is never ideal to address a complicated issue like this through the initiative process,” Bloom said.  “First and foremost, the initiative process is a simple up or down vote that does not allow for any public input, shuts down dialogue amongst stakeholders, and prevents anyone from making changes to address any concerns raised by those impacted by the proposal. “Secondly, if there are unintended consequences down the road that need to be fixed, it will require a 2/3 vote of each house of the Legislature – a threshold not easily achieved.  For these reasons, something this complicated is better left to the legislative process. AB 1506 remains a vehicle for responsible dialogue and, I hope, legislation that will ease the economic burden that is affecting so many Californians.”
 - quoted in 


what's the point of repealing C-H if landlords can just convert to condos?

Kenneth Stahl‏ @kookie13 12:20 PM - 11 Jan 2018
what's the point of repealing C-H if landlords can just convert to condos?
Don't we need to amend the Ellis Act to limit condo conversion before repealing C-H?


Alternative reform proposals

Rolling rent control 

(make rent control apply to buildings only after a certain time - 10, 20, 30 years.)

“providing a rolling definition of what ‘new construction’ is.”  - Rob Bonta, at Jan 11 2018 hearing. 

@housingforLA supports. 


Means-tested rent control 

Paavo Monkkonen‏ @elpaavo 10:34 AM - 11 Jan 2018
"also, why don't people talk means-tested rent control. obvs more complex but would remove key argument against"

Henry Fung‏ @calwatch 10:39 AM - 11 Jan 2018
Replying to @elpaavo
"Would discourage rentals to poor, create cliff effects, etc. If you wanted this, then broaden rent subsidies and fund it with general taxation."

Shane Phillips‏ @shanedphillips 11:07 AM - 11 Jan 2018
Replying to @elpaavo
"One big challenge would be landlords -- seems like it'd give VERY strong incentive to avoid lower income people, since the savings to renters come out of the owners' pockets."

Pedro‏ @peterpedroson 12:08 PM - 11 Jan 2018
Replying to @elpaavo
"I think means testing would remove the middle class as a constituency for maintaining RC"

Combine rent control and upzoning

YIMBYwiki @YIMBYwiki 5:19 PM - 10 Jan 2018
Replying to @ebarcuzzi @MattRegan10 and 2 others
"@TommSciortino another possible angle is to bundle/trade  #CostaHawkins reform with major housing-creation support like #SB827"

Victoria Fierce, legal anarchist‏ @tdfischer_ 9:31 AM - 11 Jan 2018
"CAA witness says developers are afraid of uncertainty with AB 1506... May I suggest tying this to SB827 as a grand bargain.

Paavo Monkkonen @elpaavo 9:44 AM - 11 Jan 2018
instead of arguing about which approach is better, do both!

Paavo Monkkonen @elpaavo
I meant upzoning + rent control, both would be free! and one would even generate $$$

Dragonfly on Deck @IDoTheThinking 1:25 PM - 11 Jan 2018
"Tie the #RepealCostaHawkins bill with SB 827 so that they can work off each other. Subsequent votes."

this socialist blocks parvenus @TribTowerViews 1:33 PM - 11 Jan 2018
Replying to @IDoTheThinking
"Amend SB827 to add relocation payments, right of return and prevailing wage.
Amend CH to allow RC on existing units and new construction after (x) years."

Brian Hanlon  @hanlonbt 1:47 PM - 11 Jan 2018 
Replying to @TribTowerViews @IDoTheThinking
"SB 827 is going to be hard enough to pass as it is. Tenant advocates couldn't even get Costa Hawkins reform out of the policy committee chaired by its coauthor. SB 827 dies if we pair CH reform with it."

Victoria Fierce, legal anarchist‏  @tdfischer_ 1:59 PM - 11 Jan 2018
Replying to @hanlonbt @cjg2127 and 2 others
"This yimby also would love nothing more than pair CH with SB827 in a way that addresses all of the concerns about housing supply brought up in committee today such that everything passes and the fauxgressives get peeled off of the leftist/nimby nightmare coalition."

Dragonfly on Deck‏  @IDoTheThinking 2:32 PM - 11 Jan 2018
Replying to @tdfischer_ @hanlonbt and 2 others
"Pair them only in the sense that they both are voted on within close timeframes. It wouldnt be wise to actually couple those bills into 1 legislation. Right wing Homeowner associations are stronger than crazy peeps with blogs."

Housing For LA  @housingforla 12:53 PM - 11 Jan 2018 
More Housing For LA  Retweeted Matt Levin
"California Apartment Association doing exactly what I wrote in my article yesterday (open to negotiating on 1995 provision). There is a grand bargain package out there. Californians will figure it out together."

Matt Levin @mlevinreports 12:53 PM - 11 Jan 2018
"Bloom making point that after committee vote you can still change bill in debate. CAA says it may be open to negotiating on 1995 provision."