PRESS RELEASE: City Leaders Call for Costa Hawkins to be Suspended

LOS ANGELES - Six Los Angeles City Councilmembers called for a state law on rental prices to be suspended during the coronavirus pandemic today, citing unprecedented unemployment and increasing debt as the May 1st rent due date approaches. Costa Hawkins, passed in 1995, limits California cities from being able to control rent increases. The law has kept California cities from passing broad measures to freeze rents in place, even during an emergency.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  

April 29, 2020

Contact for Councilmember Ryu: Mark Pampanin | mark.pampanin@lacity.org | 213.407.7616

Contact for Councilmember Blumenfield: Jake Flynn | jake.flynn@lacity.org | 213,473.7003

Contact for Councilmember Bonin: David Graham-Caso | david.grahamcaso@lacity.org | 213.473.7011

Contact for Councilmember Huizar: Laura McKinney | laura.mckinney@lacity.org | 213.703.0980

Contact for Councilmember Koretz: Alison Simard | alison.simard@lacity.org | 213.473.7005

Contact for Councilmember Wesson: Sophie Gilchrist | sophie.gilchrist@lacity.org | 213.473.7010

City Leaders Call for Costa Hawkins to be Suspended

LOS ANGELES - Six Los Angeles City Councilmembers called for a state law on rental prices to be suspended during the coronavirus pandemic today, citing unprecedented unemployment and increasing debt as the May 1st rent due date approaches. Costa Hawkins, passed in 1995, limits California cities from being able to control rent increases. The law has kept California cities from passing broad measures to freeze rents in place, even during an emergency.

“Costa Hawkins has kept cities like Los Angeles from protecting our tenants for too long,” Councilmember Ryu said. “In a pandemic, this is the least we can do. No one should face a rent hike during this emergency. The Governor has shown incredible leadership during this crisis, but it’s time to do more for our tenants. It’s time to suspend Costa Hawkins.”

"Costa Hawkins is a law that has eliminated thousands of affordable apartments from the market, and left thousands homeless," said Councilmember Paul Koretz of the Fifth District. He further asserted that, "In the economy we face now, we must put a halt to this legislation before so many more of our residents wind up on the street. Decades of harm done by this heartless law must end now."

"The rent was 'too darn high' prior to the pandemic and the thought that the 1 million Angelenos out of work due to COVID-19, let alone everyone impacted by the virus struggling to keep a roof over their heads, could be subjected to a rent increase is horrifying," said Councilmember Bob Blumenfield. "Costa Hawkins stands in the way of the City preventing further hardship and therefore the State needs to take action by temporarily suspending it."

“An unintended consequence of the pandemic has been skyrocketing unemployment,” said Councilmember Jose Huizar. “As millions of Angelenos are unable to work and struggling to pay rent, we must do all we can to help them. The last thing they need is to face a rent increase, which is why we are asking Governor Newsom and the State Legislature to take the necessary temporary actions that will allow us to implement a universal rent freeze to ensure that no rents in the State will be increased during this unprecedented emergency.”

“While we are focusing on our health crisis, we’re seeing an economic crisis unfold, and God forbid furthering a housing crisis as well,” Councilmember Herb Wesson said. “When over half of LA County is unemployed, now more than ever is the time to act. We need statewide renters relief and we cannot do this effectively with our hands tied behind our backs due to Costa-Hawkins.”

“This crisis demands action, and Costa Hawkins is a roadblock to action,” said Councilmember Mike Bonin, author of several of the City of Los Angeles’ most aggressive and progressive renter protections. “We need every tool possible to help protect tenants and prevent homelessness, and we urge the legislature to give us that tool.”

The letter, addressed to Governor Newsom and leaders in the State legislature, contends that no Californian should see a rent increase during this pandemic. The letter cites data showing that by May, more than 2.8 million jobs will disappear from Southern California, and that last year, 721,000 households in Los Angeles County were spending more than half of their income on rent.

Last Thursday, following a City Council meeting in which a broad rent freeze motion was narrowly voted down, Councilmember Ryu sent a letter to Governor Newsom urging him to suspend the law. Today’s letter continues that call, with more Councilmembers joining the effort.

Read the letter here.

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Assistant City Council President Pro Tempore David E. Ryu represents Los Angeles’ 4th Council District which includes Griffith Park, Sherman Oaks, Toluca Lake, Hollywood, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Miracle Mile, Hancock Park, Windsor Square, Larchmont and portions of Koreatown and Van Nuys.


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