National News

California Midterm Results: Funding for Affordable Housing and a Rent Control Defeat

Posted November 8, 2018 11:31 a.m. EST

More money for subsidized housing and a resounding defeat for rent control and activists: That was the message Californians seemed to send to state and local governments on Election Day. Housing issues were scattered across Tuesday’s ballot, including a pair of bond measures that would raise billions for subsidized affordable housing and a much-debated rent control measure that landlords spent heavily to defeat.

The bond measures both passed, as did Proposition C, a San Francisco initiative that will vastly increase the city’s homeless spending (if it survives a legal challenge). Voters also defeated Proposition 5, a proposal that would have allowed homeowners to take lower property taxes with them when they move.

At the same time, Californians voted overwhelmingly against expanding rent control by rejecting two local measures and a statewide initiative that would have allowed cities to broaden tenant protections.

Activists were also out. In San Francisco, Matt Haney, a member of the local school board, crushed the insurgent campaign of Sonja Trauss, a housing activist, in a race for a seat on the board of supervisors. But across the Bay in Oakland, Buffy Wicks, a former staffer for President Barack Obama who pushed a pro-housing platform in a run for a state Assembly seat, defeated Jovanka Beckles, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. Proposition 10, the statewide rent control law that lost Tuesday, was a key issue in that race. Beckles supported the measure; Wicks did not.

Where does the California housing debate go from here? More of the same, but with different details.

Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom campaigned on the outlandishly high goal of building 3.5 million new homes by 2025, and Wicks’ platform included a number of tenant protections such as an anti-gouging rent cap that would be a less radical version of the defeated rent control expansion on Tuesday’s ballot.

In the meantime, state Sen. Scott Wiener has at various times said he intends to reintroduce a modified version of a statewide housing streamlining bill that was killed in the state Senate last year.