California’s Answer To The Housing Shortage? Anything But Housing

California lawmakers appear increasingly willing to advance every response to the housing shortage that does not entail building housing.

The latest example is legislation by Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, to cap rent increases across the state, which the Assembly took the remarkable step of passing Wednesday. The bill, AB1482, would limit annual rent increases for most occupied units to 7% plus inflation. California lawmakers have repeatedly rejected rent control, and only Oregon, under a bill passed in February, has limited rent increases statewide.

The measure, which now goes before the state Senate, is a moderate effort to address one of the cruelest consequences of the housing shortage — namely, excessive rent increases that can mean the difference between a home and homelessness for the most vulnerable Californians. It would be more equitable and targeted in its effects and less of a threat to housing production than traditional local rent control policies such as San Francisco’s, which could have been expanded under a ballot initiative rejected last fall and legislation that stalled more recently.

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