Voters Reject Rent-Control Expansion in California, Leave Options Open in Illinois

California voters roundly rejected Proposition 10 during yesterday’s midterm elections, voting nearly two-to-one against this latest attempt to expand rent control in California. The defeat came at a price, however. Nearly $104 billion was spent on educating voters and fighting the initiative, which supporters of Prop 10 touted as a potential to the state’s affordable housing shortage.

“The stunning margin of victory shows California voters clearly understood the negative impacts Prop 10 would have on the availability of affordable and middle-class housing in our state,” said Tom Bannon, CEO of the California Apartment Association, early this morning.

Had the initiative passed, it would have repealed the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which prohibits cities and counties from placing rent-control restrictions on single-family homes and apartments built after 1995. This would have allowed local governments to pass new rent restrictions in their municipalities. Interestingly, at its peak “popularity,” only about a third of likely voters said they would support a move that would lift rent control restrictions. That number fell precipitously less than a month later.

California voters may have rejected rent control resoundingly, but Chicago-area residents are not necessarily opposed to increased regulations of this nature. Illinois currently has a ban on rent control, but in three wards in Chicago, more than half of all voters said the state should repeal the ban. The ballot question was a “non-binding referendum,” meaning it does not automatically repeal the state’s Rent Control Preemption Act passed in 1997, “but it does show city and state officials during election season what Chicago voters in those wards think about introducing rent control in Illinois,” observed Block Club Chicago reporter Alex Hernandez.

Lillian Osborne, a field director for one local alderman and member of the group Democratic Socialists of America, said her group will now “lobby state senators…to approve [legislation] that would reverse the ban on rent control while also putting into place a County Rent Control Board in every county in the state.”

Is rent control good or bad in your book?