Citing a severe deficit of affordable housing, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will consider adopting a temporary rent stabilization program for unincorporated communities under its land use authority at its meeting on July 31.

The motion, which comes from Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis, would instruct county staff to return to the Board within 60 days with an interim ordinance that would cap maximum rent increases in unincorporated areas at 3 percent annually, except for those that are statutorily exempt from rent control.  The proposed ordinance would last for a term of six months, with options to extend it as deemed necessary.  Base rents for the six-month period would be set as they exist on July 3, 2018.

The County Development Commission, Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, and Chief Executive Officer would also be instructed to provide a cost estimate and recommendations on how the proposed interim ordinance could inform future permanent tenant protections that the Board may adopt in the future.

The motion cites a need for 568,255 additional affordable units simply to meet existing demand in Los Angeles County.  A recent study from the California Housing Partnership Corporation found that over 800,000 renters in the area would qualify for affordable housing if it were available, but less than 300,000 units are available at sufficiently low price points.

Housing prices in Los Angeles County have grown four times faster than incomes since 2010, with inflation-adjusted median rent up nearly 25 percent between 2000 and 2012, despite inflation-adjusted incomes declining by 9 percent over the same period.  Consequently, the number of rent-burdened households - those paying over 30 percent of their incomes on rent - have skyrocketed in Southern California.  Many households earning less than half the median income spend over 70 percent of their income on rent.

The County has taken several actions to address the growing housing crisis over the last three years, including the creation of an affordable housing trust fund in October 2015, and the establishment of Tenant Protections Working Group last year.  The working group is expected to report on its recommendations in the late summer.

The Board of Supervisors also instructed the drafting of four ordinances earlier this year to both preserve and spur new affordable housing in unincorporated areas.

This debate at the local level is playing out as California voters prepare to consider a ballot measure in November which would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which if passed would give jurisdictions across the state the freedom to adopt new rent control policies.  Current law prohibits rent control on buildings constructed after 1995, though already-adopted policies were left in place for older structures.\

Update: The vote has been continued to a later meeting, according to a representative of Supervisor Kuehl.