Podcast: The strange politics behind California’s rent cap bill

Sep 15, 2019 | Politics

ByMatt Levin, CalMatters

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Late last week, Democratic leaders including Gov. Gavin Newsom announced they had reached a deal on a bill that would limit how much a California landlord can raise the rent.

AB 1482 by Assemblyman David Chiu, Democrat from San Francisco, would cap annual rent increases at 5% plus inflation. The bill would also require landlords to list a “just cause” before evicting a tenant, extending renter protections to millions of California households.

To the surprise of many, the California Apartment Association, the primary advocacy group for landlords in the Capitol, announced they would no longer be opposing the bill shortly after Newsom announced the deal.

On “Gimme Shelter, the California Housing Crisis Podcast,” Chiu said concessions that exempt new housing construction and clarify new rules for evicting tenants were key to convincing the powerful landlord lobby to back off.

Looming in the background is a possible 2020 ballot initiative sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation that would attempt to expand a stricter version of rent control across the state.

“As I’ve been telling my colleagues and the public, if our legislature fails to act this year, voters will have to have another conversation about this,” said Chiu. He added that during his negotiations with landlord representatives, there was never any discussion about support or opposition for the 2020 initiative.

In this episode of “Gimme Shelter,” Matt Levin of CalMatters and Liam Dillon of the Los Angeles Times discuss the shifting politics and policy of Assembly Bill 1482, and its prospects for becoming law.

CalMatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.

The author wrote this for CALmatters, a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s Capitol works and why it matters.


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