There is a ballot measure in the June election that seeks to (in a backdoor manner) eliminate rent control in California. Needless to say, this is an incredibly bad idea, unless you are rich. Although, I really didn't even have to look at the bill to be againstit. It fell under the Howard Jarvis rule. Anything supported by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, I am automatically against (I've never forgiven them for Prop 13, the worst thing to happen to California. It destroyed our tax base.)
The measure is ostensibly a control on eminent domain, but tucked away in the language is a section that would "ban government-imposed limits on what landlords can charge tenants." This would have a massive impact on tenants in several cities in California. Often times, rent control is the only thing that makes living in these cities possible (of course, Patrick would probably suggest they should just move…)
Of course, the Jarvis folks see this as a beautiful opportunity for capitalism to work it's magic yet again! See, without rent control, landlords would actually charge less, according to them. Yeah, I see that happening. "There's no longer this huge incentive or fear that he will set the rent too low; he can price it low and raise it later if necessary," said Jon Coupal, the President of the HJTA. Yeah, I'm sure that the lions share of landlords won't immediately jack rents up as soon as they can.
Now, in fairness to good landlords, some actually do keep their rents low. Mine, for instance, wants tenants to stay long term, and charges a below market rate to keep you there. However, I can tell you that that is not the usual drill. Rents in the Bay Area are ridiculous, and rent control is one of the few things that help poor families here. For instance, a rent controlled apartment in SF averages $1094 a month, while the market rate is $1350.
As if eliminating rent control wasn't good enough, the measure would potentially allow landlords to sneak around just cause laws (that make evicting tenants frivolously quite difficult) and evict folks just to raise the rent (although, that would be a fairly wide interpretation of some of the wording..) Not necessarily a done deal, but still not the sort of loophole we want to be opening up.
So, there's the sneak preview of my annual how am I voting piece. I'm definitely against prop. 98.
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