Assemblymember Rob Bonta at a Housing
and Development Committee hearing 
Thursday in Sacramento.

Assemblymember Rob Bonta, and throngs of rental housing advocates from Oakland, Alameda and across the state, were ready for a fight Thursday in favor of an Assembly bill that would have repealed a more than two decades-old state law that restricts rent control on single-family homes.

In a short video posted on Bonta’s Twitter feed, the East Bay assemblymember seemingly broke out of his capitol office and marched to Thursday morning’s Assembly Housing and Development Committee hearing.

His exuberance and that of a significant overflow audience in Sacramento were diminished after the committee failed by a vote to move along Assemblymember Richard Bloom‘s Assembly Bill 1506, which sought to repeal the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act.

The decision is a stinging blow to renters advocates who believe the act exacerbates the state’s housing crisis and takes away local control from communities to restrict exorbitant rent increases for its residents.

“We’re in a state of emergency–we just are–and we have to acknowledge that,” said Bonta, who is a member of the standing committee and co-author of the bill. “

“We have to recognize the deep pain and hurt and harm that is occurring to Californians throughout the state. And when we’re in a state of crisis we need all hands on deck, and we need all tools in the toolbox,” he added.

AB 1506 does not mandate jurisdictions do anything in regards to rent control on single rental homes. In fact, the bill contains just one sentence, merely calling for the repeal of the law. “We ought not deprive our leaders of a tool that they can use to protect their tenants and constituents,” said Bonta.

San Francisco Assemblymember David Chiu, one of the main co-authors of the bill, said, “Without any new ideas, we need to move forward with this bill.” Earlier Chiu had quizzed a representative from the powerful advocacy group, the California Apartment Association, for a solution, but didn’t receive one to his liking.

But, clearly the bill’s chances for successfully moving out of the committee were predicated on a slim margin for error. After Southern California Assemblymember Ed Chau indicated he would abstain, followed by a no vote by North Bay Assemblymember Jim Wood, the repeal bill was dead.

Wood, a Democrat, quickly left the meeting room after the vote, just as rental housing advocates begin loudly chanting and demonstrating inside and outside the room.