Repeal of Costa-Hawkins Will be a Life Saver for LA Tenants

TENANTS RIGHTS--Los Angeles, Homeless Capital of the Nation, is a city in which 64% of its residents are renters and a majority of those renters are paying unaffordable rents. That’s why I support the passage of Assembly Member Richard Bloom's AB 1506 repealing the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act: it will address the problem of Vacancy Decontrol on rent-controlled housing in California. 

LA is the most unaffordable city in the nation for renters with tenants paying the highest percentage of their income to rent in the nation. We have the highest poverty rate in the country at 26%, meaning one out of every four households lives in poverty. 

We have the most over-crowded conditions; seven out of the top ten zip codes with the most over-crowded housing conditions are here in LA. 

We are the homeless capital of the nation. How can this be if we have rent control? Two answers: the Costa-Hawkins Housing Act and the Ellis Act, which provide landlords the ability to leave the rental market and evict tenants. 

The Costa-Hawkins Act ties the hands of local governments to adequately address their housing needs. It is the reason LA cannot pass an inclusionary housing ordinance to obtain more affordable housing units the City so desperately needs. 

The Costa-Hawkings Act puts a bullseye on the back of every long term, low rent tenant in every rent-control jurisdiction in the state. That's because landlords know if they can get those tenants to move, either by legal or illegal means, they can jack up rents without limits due to mandated vacancy decontrol. 

This is the reason why 64% of Angeleno renters are paying unaffordable rents. If we are ever going to adequately address our affordable housing crisis we must let local municipalities have the flexibility to develop policies to address the particular needs of their communities. 

This is why we fully support the repeal of the Costa Hawkins Housing Act and why AB 1506 should be passed by the State Legislature.


(Larry Gross is Executive Director of the Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) and an occasional contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.