Prioritize the ‘Repeal Costa Hawkins’ Campaign

Proposed by: Refoundation Caucus and members of the Housing & Homelessness Committee

Summary: The adoption of a chapter-wide focus on Costa-Hawkins Repeal in the short term, and the prioritization of tenant organizing, rent control, and “housing justice” generally, in order to focus DSA-LA’s internal organization, political education, and overall orientation on a critical arena of the class struggle for the foreseeable future for the purpose of building working class power and socialist capacity in Los Angeles.

Whereas:

  1. The repeal of the Costa-Hawkins Act and the strengthening and expanding of rent control is a worthwhile political goal that would substantially increase the position of the working-class.
  2. The ballot initiative to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Act is achievable.
  3. Given the necessity of organizing on a neighborhood basis, this strategy would support the development of stronger ‘local’ committee work that is structured by geography.
  4. The strategy would necessitate and support the development of day-to-day practical organizing skills among all members, including canvassing, phonebanking, coalition-building, public-speaking, research, etc.
  5. The strategy would necessitate the political development of membership in order to speak fluently on all the issues involved in the campaign.
  6. The strategy would increase member activity by being able to offer immediate opportunities for local member engagement in hands-on political work beyond committee meetings.
  7. The strategy can be incorporated into most Committees’ and Working Groups’ work, in addition to Committees’ and Working Groups’ existing projects and campaigns.
  8. The strategy offers the best opportunity to continue coalition work with active and radical left-wing organizations in the city and to pursue an intersectional approach to housing justice that considers immigration, policing, race, disability, gender, health and the environment.
  9. There is opportunity for DSA-LA to pursue political positions to the left of coalition partners in order to lay the groundwork for a continuation of socialist political advances — from repeal of Costa-Hawkins to universal rent control, to neighborhood control, to workers’ control, etc.
  10. DSA-LA already occupies an advantageous position within the constellation of groups leading the movement for the repeal of Costa-Hawkins.

Be it resolved that:

  1. Leading up to the November 2018 election, DSA-LA will focus its organizing efforts on the ballot initiative to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act.
  2. DSA-LA will prioritize tenant organizing, eviction defense, rent control, and “housing justice” generally.
  3. After November, the Local will reorient its work around housing justice and expanding rent control in Los Angeles, and potentially, across California.

Component I

Description of the Chapter Resolution, including a detailed timeline, and Local resources required.

With 1.2 million rent-burdened tenants and 58,000 unhoused people in LA County, there is unprecedented urgency to address the housing and homelessness crisis with stronger renter protections, but the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act significantly limits local municipalities' ability to do so. DSA-LA has already enthusiastically endorsed Costa-Hawkins repeal through the ballot initiative, the Affordable Housing Act.

However, it will take significant resources from grassroots organizations to garner support at the ballot box this November. To that end, DSA-LA should commit to prioritize the campaign to repeal Costa-Hawkins and to build working-class power among one of the largest marginalized group in Los Angeles: tenants. In doing so, the Chapter will not only be part of winnable transformative campaign, but it will push the organization towards greater unification, a focus on neighborhood-based growth and retention, and the development of practical organizing skills chapter-wide.

The campaign also lays the groundwork for tenant organizing and housing justice measures beyond November. The majority of tenants in Los Angeles are not organized, so we have a great opportunity to articulate our socialist vision for the future (such as universal rent control, public housing and community self-determination) to a huge, disenfranchised base.

The resolution will require the following resources:

  • Monthly canvassing trainings to all members;
  • Mobilizer network and the nascent regional branches to engage members in the repeal of Costa-Hawkins and tenant organizing;
  • Neighborhood Hangouts to engage members in the repeal of Costa-Hawkins and tenant organizing, including facilitated discussions and canvassing;
  • ‘Power mapping’ projects related to housing and development issues;
  • Videos and other campaign materials related to rent control and housing justice;
  • Provide materials related to housing justice at all Local events, especially events focused on recruitment and outreach;
  • A short period of time at each Local meeting to report on housing justice work occuring within the Local;
  • Community forums to provide education on rent control, tenant protections, eviction defense and housing justice;
  • Translation of all materials to Spanish, at the minimum;
  • Chapter treasury funds for canvassing materials, renting community spaces, and other campaign-related expenses.

Timeline

  • May 2018 - Begin developing canvassing materials and trainings. Begin engagement with Neighborhood Hangouts and Committees to determine how their work can be incorporated into this strategy while remaining focused on their area of expertise. Convene a meeting open to all members to present strategies and solicit feedback.
  • June 2018 - Begin incorporating housing justice discussions into Neighborhood Hangouts. Launch expanded canvassing efforts, including first Chapter-wide canvassing training, data tracking software, and host first community forum on rent control.
  • July 2018 - Launch media campaign.
  • July - November 2018 - Organize direct actions and educational events. Organize members to attend events by coalition partners. Conduct ongoing trainings. Canvass!
  • September 2018 - Host second set of community forums on rent control, one of which will be in Spanish.
  • October - November 2018 - Engage with Committees and host community forums on what comes next after the campaign in order to reorient strategies based on member feedback.
  • November 2018 - Present to Chapter on housing-justice strategies for November - April and solicit member feedback. Convene chapter-wide vote.
  • November 2018 - April 2019 - Potentially: Lobby City Hall to expand the city’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance or develop stronger renter protections, research municipal ballot initiative, etc.

Component II

Organizational Priorities with which this proposed resolution is aligned and motivation for the resolution.

We believe that this resolution and its proposed strategy is aligned with a number of overlapping Organizational Priorities laid out in DSA-LA’s mission statement:

  • “Build organizational structures that can support and manage anticipated growth of the chapter…”
  • “Build an organizational culture that embodies our socialist ideals, and a welcoming community that supports all members to engage in collective work to dismantle systems of oppression, in accordance with our shared values...”

In the immediate sense, the Costa Hawkins repeal campaign will require canvassing and phone banking operations, a focused internal political education plan, forums and other public events to both raise consciousness about the centrality of housing and to mobilize the broader masses of working people outside DSA’s current audience.

  • “Forge and maintain intentional, deliberate and reciprocal relationships as well as share resources with other organizations who share our broad political goals…"
  • “Build respectful relationships which allow DSA members to both contribute to the broader movement as leaders, and as allies, as appropriate...”

The Costa-Hawkins repeal campaign puts DSA-LA in coalition with the LA Tenants Union, Eviction Defense Network (EDN), Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), California Nurses Association (CNA), LA Community Action Network (LACAN), Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE), LA VOICE, Gamaliel CA, North Bay Organizing Project, Housing Long Beach, Inquilinos Unidos, Black Community Clergy & Labor Alliance (BCCLA),Crenshaw Subway Coalition, Southern Christian Leadership Conference-Southern California (SCLC), and more — not to mention the other DSA chapters that have endorsed it

  • “Work to develop partnerships with other organizations to challenge and transcend the stratifications that divide Los Angeles…"
  • “Develop internal capacity to recruit, engage and retain our members across the racial and socioeconomic divisions of Los Angeles, and connect members to each other regionally, while also challenging instead of reifying those divisions…”

The demographics of our DSA chapter are not emblematic of those throughout Los Angeles county. This is an area of work which can help us transcend this chasm in a way which is both material and meaningful. This strategy presents an opportunity to recruit more non-white members and working class members via work that directly affects all of our lives in order to build solidarity and power across racial, socioeconomic and geographic lines.

Component III

Across all applicable Committee and Working Group platforms, identify relevant goals which this resolution supports and advances.

The prioritization of the Repeal Costa Hawkins campaign in the immediate, and a strategic orientation toward Housing/Tenant organizing overall, will support and advance the stated goals of the following committees and working groups:

Climate Justice

We hold that land use and resource decisions should be democratically decided. We advocate for an urbanism based on human need rather than profit.

Electoral Politics by attempting to establish DSA-LA as a significant organization in LA politics, with a broad base of support, an army of talented spokespersons and organizers, and a sophisticated approach to building bridges from the street to the halls of power;

As coordinated and committed activists with some of the resources of Los Angeles’s culture industry at our disposal, we are capable of applying public social pressure to achieve our goals... A failure to engage with electoral politics in Los Angeles, California, and the nation at large is a failure to engage seriously in the struggle for a better future free from the depredations of capitalism.

Healthcare

We will work in coalition with a broad spectrum of the working class ... In addition, we will fight for all people under current systems who are faced with negative, disproportionate health outcomes - including, but not limited to: communities of color, womxn, LGBTQ+ people, undocumented immigrants and low income individuals/families.

Housing & Homelessness — by virtue of its explicit focus on affordable/accessible housing and expanding the legal parameters of tenants rights;

We therefore intend to not only curb the negative effects of gentrification through expanded rent control and tenant protections, but to build tenant power and take control of the future of our communities.

Immigration Justice

Working class immigrants need to be the center of the immigration justice movement.  As such, this committee will organize inside coalitions led by working-class immigrant communities and engage in rank-and-file organizing and mutual aid to genuinely increase our membership and reflect the values of working class immigrants.

Labor through its approach to raising working class subjectivity by attempting to organize the LA community at large, and tenants in particular, as workers;

Show solidarity with workers in their fight for a better quality of life.

Reintroduce socialist politics into the labor movement through a rank and file strategy.

Prison Abolition

We work toward building well informed and researched alternatives [to prisons] that foster a fair and equal society that come in many forms: rehabilitation, medical and mental care, health care in the form of food, housing, physical and community support.

Agit-Prop

We will work with DSA-LA Committee and Working Groups to provide the materials they need both for external and internal outreach. We will work alongside them to conceptualize media ideas that will boost their campaigns, help spread their message, and win public support.

Membership

Create opportunities for engagement and expansion of the local in an effort to build a membership body that reflects the diversity of the City and County of Los Angeles.

Mutual Aid

To create lasting connections between organizers, outside communities, and other activist institutions; these connections will form networks of support that address the needs of communities neglected by a disconnected elite class.

NOlympics

History has shown that the Olympics will increase an already-growing homeless population (now nearing 60,000), but City Council and the Mayor have done nothing to quell this fear ... While stopping the Olympics alone will not solve the problem, we refuse to let our city play host to a spectacle of this magnitude when there are so many people without safe accommodations and equal access to urban life and processes.

Political Education through its emphasis on an analysis of how 21st century US capitalism functions today, the relationship between production, reproduction, and consumption, and the nature of urban development and gentrification.

We will work in partnership with all other DSA-LA committees and working groups to develop educational resources and programming which introduces the broader public to socialism, raises our own membership’s level of participation and knowledge, and expands ownership of our collective struggle for the fullest possible imagining of freedom, liberation, and power for all people.

Members in support