Lessons from Round One of Costa Hawkins Repeal

Earlier this year, three California Assemblymembers — Richard Bloom, David Chiu & Rob Bonta — took Sacramento by surprise, introducing AB 1506 to repeal the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act. Recent grassroots organizing by tenant groups laid the groundwork for this important legislation. Since 2015, numerous cities have been organizing for rent control, and in that time tenants in Richmond, San Jose, Union City, and Mountain View have already won new protections. There is a tenant movement gaining strength, and we have our eye on rolling back state restrictions that stand in the way of strong local rent control.

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No Free Ride for Airbnb

Companies like Airbnb are exacerbating California’s affordable housing crisis, but lawmakers in Sacramento want to give the company a free ride.

A new study from the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy suggests that in the metro Los Angeles area alone, more than 7,000 units have been removed from the rental market to be used as short term rentals for tourists and business travelers. The result? Fewer people have permanent housing and rents are rising even more.

Airbnb and similar web companies are fueling the explosion in short term rentals. The site encourages property owners to connect with customers that want to rent lodging for less than 30 days instead of long term renters.

Airbnb: Pay Your Fair Share

In many California cities, there are laws against converting scarce housing resources to tourist use. Using political influence, Airbnb has engaged in a systematic campaign to dismantle those laws and avoid paying any taxes to offset their impact. Now, they are taking their lobbying efforts to the state level, and a new bill has been proposed that would make Airbnb rentals exempt from local taxes.

Tell your Assemblymember to support affordable housing, not tax giveaways to AirBnB: reject AB1220!

It’s bad enough cities are losing valuable rental housing stock. The least AirBnB and other short term rental corporations can do is pay their fair share.

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Landlords Secretly Fund Anti-Rent Control Candidates to Stop the Inevitable Rise of Rent Control in New Cities

With rising demands for rent control, landlords have taken to hidden campaign funding to promote anti-rent control candidates.

Despite gobs of money and faux experts trying to convince the public that rent control is a “failed policy,” the public continues to support rent control by a large margin. Tenants know that rent control preserves affordability, especially in expensive markets.

Landlords know that the only way to prevent Bay Area cities that are struggling with huge rent increases from adopting rent control is by secretly funding anti-rent control candidates.  If they do it publicly, their efforts will backfire, as voters receiving a mailer explicitly from a landlord group would vote for the rent control candidate.  So they fund other shell groups that then back anti-rent control candidates.  Welcome to the world of unlimited Independent Expenditures (IE). 

Here's what happened in November in the Mountainview, CA, a city of 60% renters:

According to disclosures filed with the state last week, the California Apartment Association — which represents landlords and is involved in local politics — funneled $90,000 through the "Neighborhood Empowerment Coalition," a mysterious political action committee (PAC) that sent out an unusual number of mailers in support of three candidates opposed to rent control during the election: Pat Showalter, Ken Rosenberg and Ellen Kamei. (Landlords Hid Big Election Spending, Mountain View Voice, Feb 6, 2015)

Usually, Big Real Estate gets away with this stuff without any scrutiny. Kudos to Daniel DeBolt of the Mountain View Voice for uncovering the shadowy campaign money in the recent election.  His article is a must read for anyone concerned with tenant rights.

Billions in Unanticipated Revenue -- Fund the Renters' Rebate

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office is estimating that tax revenue is several billion dollars higher than anticipated, leaving Governor Brown with absolutely no excuse for failing the restore funding to California's renters' rebate program. This critical lifeline provides an annual payment of up to $347.50 for low-income, senior and disabled Californians. 

Citing budget deficits during the recession, then-Gov. Schwarzenegger eliminated all funding for the program. To date, Gov. Brown has not restored the funds. Eliminating these cuts was unfair to begin with, but continuing to do so in light of the budget surplus is totally indefensible.  Please sign our petition today demanding that these funds be restored.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/#storylink=cpy

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