Some 20,000 housing units in the Mission continue to be vulnerable to steep rent hikes, in the midst of a housing and homelessness crisis in California. 

But AB-1482, a bill introduced by Assemblyman David Chiu, could enforce a state-wide rent cap linked to the Consumer Price Index, capping rent increases at 10 percent annually. The bill is meant to protect tenants who face displacement, especially in cities without rent control or buildings not covered by rent control even in cities where it exists.

Chiu told Mission Local that there are two main points to his bill: One, it would prevent “rent-gouging” for tenants who live in buildings that are not under San Francisco rent control. This would include single-family homes, condos, and buildings built after 1979. 

The second point includes “just-cause protections,” meaning landlords would be required to list a fair cause for eviction. Right now, Chiu said, “It is legal to evict them for no cause at all.” 

On Tuesday night, the bill passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee. But, opposition from major donors in Sacramento leaves its future unknown as it heads to a forthcoming hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee.  

But Chiu and his staff are hopeful. 

Opponents to the bill include the California Apartment Association and the California Association of Realtors, among others. 

If this bill were to pass, it would put a rent cap on 10,984 multi-family units in the Mission that don’t already have rent control, including 2,258 single-family homes. 

Still, another 7,859 units wouldn’t be covered by the rent cap. And 35,343 units will remain rent controlled by local ordinance, since it’s higher than the proposed rent cap. This information comes from a report published by the Terner Center for Housing Innovation.

Chiu has put limitations on the bill: the rent cap would only cover units that are 10 or more years old. And the bill would also sunset, i.e. automatically terminate, at the end of three years, while exempting single-family homes owned by small property owners. 

Opponents of this bill, however, have invested heavily in our current legislators. Since 2014, the California Association of Realtors has donated $3.4 million to California legislative candidates. In the same period, the California Apartment Association donated more than one million. 

Debra Carlton, a spokeswoman for the California Apartment Association, told Mission Local, “The legislature has to pass legislation that will force cities to keep their housing supply in line with their jobs.” 

She emphasized that the rent cap will not help with housing development, which she cites as being the better long-term solution to the housing crisis. 

Of the limitations put on the bill, Chiu said, “To get it off the Assembly floor, we had to make a compromise.” Chiu is referencing the California Association of Realtors. He said that despite concessions, they’re still opposed to the bill. 

A representative from the California Association of Realtors did not comment and directed us to the California Apartment Association. 

“Helping people stay housed where they are is of paramount importance,” said Chiu. He continued, “We have to do everything we can to help keep people in their homes for many years.”