NO ON PROPOSITION 10
By Ron Bassilian
Candidate for U.S. Congress, California 37th District
With only a month to the election, Proposition 10, the “California Local Rent Control Initiative,” is waking up as the sleeper issue of the state.
Prop 10 is a repeal of the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which protects home and property owners from overarching rent control laws. Costa-Hawkins has three main protections: it exempts single-family homes, duplexes, and condominiums from rent control, it grants the right to raise rents on vacant units to market rates, and it exempts any building erected after 1995 from rent control. Prop 10 does away with all of that, allowing municipalities to adopt whatever rent control laws they wish.
Supporters are already flooding the airwaves and internet with ads raising the alarm of the “housing crisis” and the lack of “affordable housing.” Ads for Proposition 10 are calling property owners “Wall St Landlords,” “Trump donors” and “parasites,” “the 1%.” Their ads are full of blatant falsehoods about “predatory landlords” and “price gouging” and a “homeless crisis spawned by Trump donors.” Let’s clear the air:
- 80% of landlords are small landlords, no different from homeowners. They’re generally owner-occupiers with four or fewer units, hardly the 1% which enjoy political power along with immense wealth. Ironically, prop 10 supporters are the ones with this kind of wealth.
- Democrats run California, not Republicans, not Trump donors. The homeless crisis – which is, in fact, a vagrant crisis, and comes with thieves, drugs, and prostitution – is only a couple years old. It’s a direct result of Democrat legislation – Props 47, 57, and AB 109 – which have left police powerless to deal with vagrants and drug addicts. This lack of consequences has allowed them to spread like wildfire.
- “Rent gouging” is an extremely rare exception to the rule. It generally happens when someone buys a building with unnaturally low rents and then wants to flip it. To say this is a regular occurrence is a lie. Existing rent control statutes already protect against this in many cities.
On a basic level, rent control does not work because it doesn’t account for supply and demand. At the very best it helps a few existing renters by keeping their rents artificially low. It does so by locking down existing stock, leaving new renters scrambling for what little is left.
On a more fundamental level, this is a state power grab for our homes disguised as a humanitarian measure. It does nothing to change the housing situation. It will allow cities more power over your home, your condo or duplex, no matter when you bought it or what you do with it. Even if you decide to rent your property through Airbnb, or rent out a room to a friend, a Yes vote on Prop. 10 will leave you vulnerable to rent control laws.
You would think the supposed “fat cats” who oppose this proposition would be well placed to finance its defeat. However, their funds are being eclipsed by its supporters. The wealthiest foundations and most powerful political brokers in our state are all organized behind this proposition. Eric Garcetti was instrumental in getting this initiative on the November ballot. In one giant $10 million commitment, AIDS Healthcare singlehandedly matched every single opponent combined. They are a private foundation with no visibility into their funding. Other foundations like Liberty Hill and Mercy Housing are also behind this. Fortunately, Mercy Housing does reveal their list of donors, which reads like a who’s who of the biggest real estate forces in the state: Kilroy Realty, Cahill Contractors, Hathaway-Dinwiddie Construction, the list goes on.
As they say, follow the money. This proposition will collapse the small housing market – and that’s the intention. By making small operations untenable, big developers can buy people out, raze their modest holdings, and replace them with the behemoths we’ve seen all over town. It’s all part of an agenda by the biggest developers and the most established Democrats to consolidate the economy into the hands of a privileged few.
Keep in mind this proposition isn’t coming at us in a vacuum. State legislators have already been busy trying to repeal Prop. 13, which restricts property tax hikes. If this proposition passes, there is a high probability that Prop. 13 will be next on the chopping block. Other measures abound that make it increasingly harder for small owners to operate in this state. In the end, only those with a deep war chest and political connections will be able to own property in California.
I implore you to keep your eyes open this election season. A lot of big money is floating around pretending to be the champion of working people. Beware of politicians bearing gifts – vote NO on Proposition 10 to save your homes.
Ron Bassilian is the GOP candidate for the US House of Representatives in California’s 37th district, which includes Culver City and Crenshaw. You can learn more about his campaign at ronfor37.org, and more about Prop 10 at http://ronfor37.org/costahawkins. You can reach Ron at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on his cell phone at 310-347-8255, day or evening.