San Francisco landlords were getting heated Friday in protest of a State Assembly bill that would repeal limits on rent control that have been in effect since 1995. AB 1506, at least in its current version, which was introduced at the end of last month, would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act of that year, a law that made units built after '95 free from rent control restrictions, exempted single-family dwellings from rent control, and allows landlords to raise rents to market rates between tenants.

San Francisco and San Jose landlords protested at an Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee meeting on Friday, Bay City News reports, since some say the bill would put them out of business and could remove housing units from the market. At the helm of the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee as its chairman is David Chiu, a State Assembly Member and former San Francisco supervisor. Chiu is also a lead author of AB 1506.

As such, he's drawn the ire of the California Apartment Association. That group explains that the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act is a baseline for all California cities and towns: "While cities and counties continue to maintain the ability to implement local rent control laws, they must follow the parameters established in the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act." But that's exactly the problem, critics like Chiu maintain.

Tenants Together, for example, a San Francisco-based group, is fully in support Chiu's AB 1506 attack on Costa-Hawkins. "The Act unfairly ties the hands of cities that are attempting to deal with runaway housing costs at the local level," the group claims.

But the Apartment Association, which is highly pro-landlord, aims to defeat AB 1506, calling attention to developers who might be motivated by high market-rate rents. "If cities are permitted to impose rent control on new construction, investors are certain to abandon plans to build," the CAA worries. "Instead of exacerbating the state’s housing shortage with deterrents to development, lawmakers should work to boost the state’s housing supply."

"These are not easy conversations," Chiu admits to Bay City News. "If we don't work together, we're going to be stalemated, and what we'll be left with is the highest rents in the country and the highest housing costs." Chiu is also quick to point out that AB 1506 is just one of many more efforts to address affordability and homelessness — more than 100 bill relating to those areas have been introduced in the legislative session this year.

According to the office of Rob Bonta, another lead author of AB 1506, the bill is likely to be assigned to the Housing and Community Development Committee. Bonta points out to IndyBay that there are seven members on that body and a four-person majority is needed for it to pass.

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