On July 26, the California Secretary of State announced the third rent control initiative sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in four election cycles had qualified for the Nov. 2024 ballot. Californians defeated the two other initiatives in 2018 and 2020.
The 2024 initiative would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which prohibits rent control on single-family homes and houses completed after February 1, 1995. The initiative would replace Costa-Hawkins with a law that allows cities and counties to limit rent on any housing and limit the rent for a first-time tenant and prohibits the state from limiting “the right of any city, county, or city and county to maintain, enact or expand residential rent control.” Any local laws currently inoperative under Costa-Hawkins would take effect upon its repeal.
“In recent years, we joined a broad coalition of pro-housing groups in soundly defeating similar measures…we will prepare to fight this latest proposition,” said Mike Nemeth, a spokesperson for the California Apartment Association.
California currently has one of the highest housing costs in the United States.
The final random sample count concluded that 616,823 of the 813,112 signatures filed were valid. The initiative had a 75.9% signature validity rate. In California, initiated state statutes need 546,651 valid signatures (5% of the votes cast in the 2022 gubernatorial election) to qualify for the ballot.
Justice for Renters, the campaign sponsored by AIDS Healthcare Foundation, reported $2.4 million in contributions through May 1.
The 2018 and 2020 initiatives would have also repealed Costa-Hawkins and authorized different local rent control policies. AIDS Healthcare Foundation contributed $63.1 million in support of both initiatives. Opponents reported $155 million in contributions for both initiatives.
“The situation has gotten so extreme and dire and catastrophic…. We can never give up, that’s the bottom line,” said Michael Weinstein, the controversial head of the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
Eight ballot measures have qualified for the ballot in California in 2024. One of the measures also relates to housing. The state legislature voted to send a constitutional amendment to repeal Article 34 of the state constitution, which requires local voter approval via a ballot measure for federal and/or state government-funded housing projects classified as low rent. It is set to appear on the March 5 primary ballot, but the state legislature is considering a bill that would move it to the November ballot.
Between 1985 and 2022, an average of nine measures appeared on statewide ballots in California. As of July 27, there are 13 initiatives filed with the Secretary of State for the 2024 ballot—four have been cleared for circulation and nine are still pending official review.
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