Advocates for rent control and housing for the homeless get support from Sacramento

State Loosens Grip on Housing for Homeless and Tightens It on Rent Control

2019 Editions Featured Front Page More News News October

By Bill Hendrickson

In Northeast Los Angeles, where rising rents and rising homelessness go hand in hand, a pair of bills passed recently in Sacramento attempt to tackle both. Assembly Bill (AB) 1482 would establish statewide rent control. AB 1197 would make it easier for developers to build housing for the homeless in Los Angeles.

Governor Newsom has said he will sign AB 1482 by the signing deadline on October 13. And on September 26, responding to the unanimous support from the legislature for AB 1197 – as well as encouragement from Mayor Eric Garcetti, state and local advocates for the homeless and the Los Angeles Times – he signed AB 1197.

Here’s what’s at stake:

Rent control:

Activists with the Coalition for Economic Survival marched earlier this year for housing protections. Source: cesinaction.org

Starting January 1, 2020, AB 1482 will cap annual rent increases in the state at 5% per year plus local inflation. It will also greatly expand the number of rental units that are subject to rent control.

In L.A., which already caps annual increases in rent-controlled buildings, the biggest impact from AB 1482 will be in the number of rental units that gain rent-control protection. 

Currently in L.A., most apartments and other multi-family buildings constructed after 1978 are exempt from the city’s rent caps and other rent-control policies. Under AB 1482, only such buildings constructed in the previous 15 years would be exempt. In 2020, for example, rent control would apply to buildings constructed between 1978 and 2005. In 2021, rent control will apply to buildings constructed in 2006 and earlier, and so on.

In the city of Los Angeles, AB 1482 is expected to bring nearly 375,000 more units under rent control, according to estimates compiled for Curbed LA by the UC Berkeley Terner Center for Housing Innovation.

Another layer of tenant protection in AB 1482 is that landlords will need to have “just cause” to evict tenants, such as nonpayment of rent or other lease violations.

NELA’s State Assembly member Wendy Carrillo, a co-author of AB 1482, voted for the bill, as did NELA State Senator Maria Elena Durazo.

Housing for the homeless:

Photo by dailynews.com

Under AB 1197, housing for the homeless in L.A. that is built on government property and/or with government funding would be exempt from review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The aim is to prevent those who oppose homeless housing projects in their neighborhoods from suing under CEQA to delay or stop such developments.

Developers would still have to meet the city’s many zoning, land use and building and safety rules. But they would no longer be vulnerable to legal challenges based on CEQA.

In NELA currently, there is only one project in the pipeline for homeless supportive housing using funds from Proposition HHH, the anti-homelessness bond measure from 2016. Similarly, none of the city’s proposed temporary bridge housing projects for homeless families are slated for NELA.

Supporters of AB 1197 believe that a CEQA exemption will loosen the logjam that has held up planning and construction of homeless housing in L.A. If that’s the case, developers, elected officials and residents may begin to look at available public property in a different light, and even NELA, with its dearth of housing options for the homeless, could become home to those most in need of shelter.

State Senator Maria Elena Durazo and Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo voted with their colleagues in the legislature to unanimously pass AB 1197.



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