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Rent control headed for the ballot in California, again

Voters in California will, once again, have the opportunity to decide if landlords should face new limitations on how much they can increase rent.

Supporters of a statewide rent control measure have gathered enough signatures -more than 600,000- to put the issue on the 2024 ballot, California’s Secretary of State announced this week.

Voters overwhelmingly rejected similar measures in 2018 and 2020.

The initiative seeks to repeal a nearly three-decades-old state law, the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which prohibits cities from placing rent control limits on certain types of residences, namely single-family homes and apartments built after 1995.

Groups endorsing the initiative include Veterans’ Voices, the California Nurses Association, Housing is a Human Right, and The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights.

At a virtual news conference on Thursday, Michael Weinstein, who bankrolled the signature drive, said he believes the third time will be the charm.

“The situation has gotten so extreme and dire and catastrophic. Rates of homelessness are going up,” said Weinstein. “Where are people going to live? That’s the question.”

In 2019, the California State Legislature passed AB 1482, which limits rent increases to 5% plus the rate of inflation. Some municipalities, including Los Angeles, have also enacted their own rent “stabilization” ordinances and eviction moratoriums, which were largely triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supports of the Justice for Renters Act believe those limits don’t go far enough.

“This is the root cause of the homeless and affordability crisis in California,” Weinstein said. “The California dream is dying.”

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