Shelter Shorts

California tenants save rent control with major grassroots effort

In a major, hard-won victory for tenants, the Senate Judiciary Committee defeated AB 1320 (Costa), the primary rent control preemption bill of the year, only to see it resurrected a month later. Landlords and developers view 1994 as their best chance to enact a preemption bill, because Senator Roberti stepped down as Senate President, and Pete Wilson may be replaced with a Democratic Governor.

Tenants undertook an unprecedented grassroots mobilization against the bill with constituent meetings, direct mail, phone banks, press conferences, research and fundraising. When the vote was taken, landlords fell one vote short. The author asked for and received reconsideration. The bill was reconsidered on August 16 and once again lost.

With rent control an endangered species in all of the few states it is in, this vote marks a major victory for tenants.

Information provided by Christene Minnehan and Marc Brown of California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation and Capitol Gains magazine. 916-446-7904.

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