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Opinion

Readers React: With 20% of people living in poverty, California needs stronger rent control

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A “For Rent” sign is posted outside an apartment building in Sacramento on Oct. 6, 2018.
(Rich Pedroncelli / AP)

To the editor: Californians and legislators in Sacramento considering potential support for a set of bills introduced last week to improve tenants’ protections and amend the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act of 1995 should consider two facts.

First, in 1995 — when Republicans held both the governor’s office and a majority in the Assembly — the then-as-now hotly contested Costa-Hawkins bill passed by a margin of just one vote.

Second, addressing an assertion from landlord groups that “California voters have spoken” regarding last November’s defeat of Proposition 10, which would have repealed Costa-Hawkins outright: That $100 million race became one of the most expensive in state history, with opponents vastly out-raising — and out-spending — our supporting campaign by a 3 to 1 margin in order to persuade (I would also argue, fear monger and confuse) just six out of 10 voters into voting no.

Due to runaway housing costs and other basic necessities, nearly 20% of Californians live in poverty today. Legislators are wise to seek changes and improvements in California’s rent control and stability laws.

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Ged Kenslea, Los Angeles

The writer is senior director of communications for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the primary backer of Proposition 10.

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To the editor: It was nice to see the L.A. Times editorial board admit a truth: “Rent control is not the answer to California’s affordability problem.”

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What was not said is that studies show that the cities with the strongest rent control regulations have the the lowest turnover rates and the biggest affordability problems. Rent control reduces apartment turnover as tenants are loath to leave their underutilized but below-market units.

Hence, not only does rent control not help solve the affordability problem, but it also aggravates the situation in any area where it is implemented.

Michael Ernstoff, Los Angeles

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