This article was posted on Sunday, Dec 01, 2019

The Economist, one of the most respected publications in the world, published an opinion in its September 21, 2019 edition on the subject of rent control.  The authors cite a shortage of rentals as the source of many of the challenges facing renters and owners today.

An editorial in The Washington Post drew a similar conclusion. The shortage of rental housing is fueled by NIMBYism and, to the surprise of none of us, rent control.  The editorial describes existing and proposed restrictions on rents around the world, but the poster child and focus of the article on bad housing policy is San Francisco.

As our local policies became more and more onerous and affected owners jumped ship and sold their buildings as ownership properties, available rentals decreased by 15% citywide.  The immediate result was an overall rent increase in San Francisco of 5%, with more to follow. Many of those who remained in the business could not afford to maintain buildings on severely limited revenues.  Older renters stayed put longer, or forever, locking out young renters and causing generational resentment.

Exploiting these tensions, vote-seeking politicians exacerbated the situation by passing more of the bad laws that created the problem in the first place.  More restrictions and more taxes led to fewer rentals. 

As we all suffered the consequences of bad legislation at the local level, just last year our state legislators ignored all reason and the will of the people by voting to force the scourge of rent control on the entire state by passing David Chiu’s AB 1482!  Our local laws are already more stringent than those that will be inflicted on the rest of the state, so we’ll see less immediate impact here. But owners and renters in currently unregulated municipalities will soon begin to feel the same repercussions as San Francisco.  In reaction, the politicians will legislate more shortages by placing more restrictions on private rental properties. They’ll smile as us politely and claim they’re fighting for “tenant protections against rent gouging.”

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It is critically important that we vote in the November 5th election.  The quality of life in San Francisco has deteriorated to a point where distressing and often frightening occurrences have become commonplace on our streets.  We need a city government that will get people off the streets and placed in housing, hospitals or jail, as appropriate. Please vote for the candidate for District Attorney who will act as a real prosecutor so our police can respond to street crimes confident that their arrests lead to real consequences for perpetrators.  The election for supervisor in District 5 is a no-brainer, even if both leading candidates boast of their tenant protection creds. Every vote will count in D-5!

We are very saddened by the death last month of our board member, Danny Wang.  At his funeral, friends and family remembered him fondly with anecdotes about his kind nature and goofy sense of humor.  We, at SPOSFI, also remember his dedication to helping owners with sound advice, often given without charge. He was a much-appreciated voice of clarity and legal propriety at our board meetings.  We send our gratitude and affection to his wife and family.

Reprinted with permission of the Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute (SPOSFI) News.  For more information on becoming a member of SPOSFI or to send a tax-deductible donation, please visit their website at or call (415) 647-2419.