The rallying cry was heard over and over, throughout the San Diego Convention Center, at the California Democratic Party Convention last week: “The rent! The rent! Is too damn high!” Waving signs and banging drums, tenants and activists demanded that Democrats strongly support the repeal of Costa-Hawkins, the anti-rent control law that hurts working people.
With Californians struggling under massive affordable-housing and homeless crises, Housing Is A Human Right, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, members of the Democratic Socialists of America, and other activists went to the convention to send a clear message to local and state Democrats — they must improve tenants’ protections, preserve existing affordable housing, and produce truly affordable housing.
Activists especially made it plain that Democrats must back the repeal of Costa-Hawkins, the state law that handcuffs local officials from enacting stronger rent-control protections for tenants. The grassroots movement to repeal Costa-Hawkins through a statewide initiative recently hit the major milestone of gathering 25 percent of the signatures needed to place the measure on the November ballot.
At the convention, State Senator and U.S. Senate candidate Kevin de Leon, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Lt. Governor candidate Gayle McLaughlin, State Assemblyman Rob Bonta, State Senator and Insurance Commissioner candidate Ricardo Lara, and California gubernatorial candidate Delaine Eastin all endorsed the repeal of Costa-Hawkins.
To the disappointment of activists and tenants, Democratic gubernatorial candidates Gavin Newsom, Antonio Villaraigosa, and John Chiang continue to be non-committal.
By the end of the convention, however, the California Democratic Party adopted a solid “affordable housing” platform that essentially backs Costa-Hawkins repeal. Democrats vowed to “support allowing local communities to create strong tenant and affordability protections against displacement, speculation, rent increases, and evictions without interference from state law.”
The highly visible presence of housing justice and tenants rights activists — chanting “The rent is too damn high” — undoubtedly made an impact, and journalists from Cal Matters, the Sacramento Bee, KNBC in Los Angeles, and other news outlets took note.
“With housing prices soaring across California,” Cal Matters political reporter Laurel Rosenhall wrote, “supporters of a ballot measure to end limits on rent control are making themselves seen and heard all over the state Democratic party convention this weekend in San Diego.”
The signature gathering effort to repeal Costa-Hawkins only shows signs of growing support among voters and elected officials.
Join the movement to repeal Costa-Hawkins.