With the elections just around the corner, and all the focus on former Vice President Biden and President Trump, many are forgetting another crucial part of the elections — the California props. That’s why LA Loyolan reporter and junior environmental science major Cristobal Spielmann decided to start a new Election 2020 mini-series called Prop Quiz.
In his inaugural piece, Spielmann dives into the pros and cons of Prop 21, a proposition to enact rent control on housing. Here, Opinion Intern Caroline Thoms and Asst. Opinion Editor Veronica Backer-Peral go head-to-head on Prop 21.
“Seasons of Love” brings to mind the iconic lyrics of “five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes." Rent, the 1996 Tony Award-winning musical, portrayed the woes of struggling artists who are ultimately trying to, you guessed it, pay their rent. This rock musical defined a generation with its catchy songs, but real talk: paying rent has a big impact on an individual’s life.
Proposition 21, a new ballot measure that replaces the previous Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, is attempting to amend the current legislation on rent control within California. The ballot “amends state law to allow local governments to establish rent control on residential properties over 15 years old," according to Ballotpedia. So why is this important?
Rent-controlled apartments place a set limit on how much a landlord can ask from a tenant each month, and if the cost increases, it will be at a lower margin compared to traditional rent increases. This steady price provides renters with a sense of how much their residence will cost them over a year and doesn’t allow landlords to unexpectedly hike up the price of rent.
Midst the pandemic, many households have lost their main sources of income. This has resulted in many tenants not being able to pay their rent, thus across the nation, we are facing a housing crisis. Last year California passed legislation to alleviate the affordable housing crisis. This was pre-COVID, and now more than ever having a safe and affordable place to reside is at the forefront of many individuals' minds.
According to The New York Times, “Homelessness has come to dominate [California’s] political conversation and prompted voters to approve several multibillion-dollar programs to build shelters and subsidized housing with services for people coming off the streets.”
California is known for its large population of homeless individuals who seek more affordable housing options. NPR reported that the National Low Income Housing Coalition, "calculated that just to afford market rent in Los Angeles right now, one has to make at least $32 an hour."
Rent-controlled apartments aim to lessen the amount paid per month, in turn making a housing unit more affordable. A neighborhood that is presented as desirable is still someone's home. Gentrification can be great, but at what cost?
NPR reported on the original concerns raised with previous housing Proposition 10. "As in a lot of booming cities, residents of Los Angeles are watching as whole blocks are demolished to make way for luxury homes and big, fancy apartment complexes advertising amenities like pools, libraries and tennis courts."
The New York Times reported that “studies show that rent-control policies have been effective at shielding tenants from evictions and sudden rent increases, particularly the lower-income and older tenants who are at a high risk of becoming homeless.”
The purpose of Prop 21 is to aid tenants with the cost of housing. This year the effects of the pandemic have resulted in thousands of Americans being evicted from their apartments because the cost of their lodging has become too high to pay. No one is saying that Proposition 21 will fix the housing crisis in California. This bill aims to rent control apartments so that vulnerable tenants can afford their housing. This proposition is not an all-encompassing solution, but provides options for individuals who don't want to constantly worry about whether or not they can pay their rent.
This is the opinion of Caroline Thoms, a sophomore English major from Chicago, Illinois. Tweet comments @LALoyolan or email email@example.com.
I know. The words “rent control” and “fiscal policy” probably sound like your cue to turn the page (or in this case, click a new link). But the reality is that economic policies like those proposed in Prop 21 have a real impact on all of us, especially college students looking to enter the real world in the next couple of years.
Yes, rent prices in cities like Los Angeles are reaching exorbitant prices, but placing an artificial ceiling on rents is proven to be completely counterproductive in the long run. Increasing rent prices in cities reflect increasing demand to live in that area. It’s what has allowed neighborhoods like Silver Lake to transform from traditionally undesirable areas to upscale and fashionable communities. This encourages investors and homeowners to invest in new construction and upkeep of existing homes.
Rent control would effectively mean taking a sledgehammer to this growth. A study conducted in Cambridge showed that when the city got rid of its rent control measures, property values rose by $2 billion over the course of 10 years. In contrast, in New York, the creation of new rent control regulations was correlated with a 51% fall in rental-apartment building sales in the third quarter. When this happens, mobility slows, development halts and supply falls in the very areas that could have the most demand.
And the cost of rent control is not paid only by homeowners and landlords. Studies show that more than half of the burden of rent control is paid by the communities surrounding rent-controlled apartments. That means that even if Prop 21 is only directed at “housing that was first occupied over 15 years ago,” it will still have a negative impact on all of California.
But the fact of the matter is that California already voted on this. Two years ago, Proposition 10 gave Californians the option to end rent control limits, and Californians decisively rejected the proposition with 59% of the vote. This time around, there is no reason for these numbers to change.
This is the opinion of Veronica Backer-Peral, a junior film and television production, history and computer science triple major from Pasadena, CA. Tweet comments @LALoyolan or email firstname.lastname@example.org.