Prioritize the “Repeal Costa Hawkins” Campaign

Result: PASSED

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.

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.