This article was posted on Thursday, Feb 01, 2018

The below article was written by Joani Weir, Founder, Better Housing for Long Beach.

We’ve seen the dark clouds of the rent control war gathering on the horizon for some time now in Long Beach, and on January 12th the battle for free market housing in California’s seventh largest city finally arrived.

The leadership of the pro-rent control Housing Long Beach organization, close allies of Los Angeles rent control campaigner Larry Gross and his Coalition for Economic Survival (CES), filed a proposed rent control ballot measure with the aim of gathering approximately 27,000 signatures and putting it on the November ballot.  They are known to be well-funded by statewide interests angling for control of the far left wing of the California Democratic Party.

As all landlords paying attention to the rising tide of statewide interest in rent control are aware, the push for it here was inevitable.  With rent control already in place in four of the state’s eight biggest municipalities, we have lived with this threat.  Now it’s real.  And now we need that old concept from the labor movement to save us in the business of free market capitalism:  Solidarity.

The reality is that rent control is not just a threat in Glendale or Long Beach or the Bay Area, where it passed again recently.  It’s a clear and present threat to every single landlord, whether the mom and pop who live in their own small building, the corporate manager or investor.  And just as equally, it is a threat to the entire commercial real estate and property management industry, including the vast network of service providers that industry and community supports.  We are all united by this attack, fueled by the politics of demagoguery and victimhood, as well as economic ignorance and scapegoating.

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They have already begun by demonizing every single one of us – no matter how hard we work to provide quality, well-maintained, economically viable housing – as slumlords.  They will accuse us all of being greedy, cigar-smoking fat cats on permanent vacations.  And they will caricature and defame us as an ilk of heartless evictors of poor, innocent, defenseless widows.  They will take that message to both the renters and the sympathetic, uninformed segment of homeowners alike.

The struggle will come down to the hearts and minds of homeowners, in particular, as well as of many responsible renters.  Our goal must be to educate them to the evils of rent control, not just for property values and neighborhoods near negatively affected rental housing, but indeed to the entire California economy:  History proves rent control very simply is the worst thing one can do in the middle of a state housing crisis, with its potentially devastating effect on the existing housing stock.  The truth, which we must impress upon them, is that the pro-rent control forces simply have no regard for the many people they will displace, for the jobs they will eliminate, nor for the investment they will drive out.

But getting the message out that the economics of rent control are bankrupt won’t be easy.  Economic concepts don’t fit on a bumper sticker.  Pressing our message will require a dedicated campaign waged by a united front of landlords, property managers, realtors, brokers, other real estate industry service providers, and pro-business advocates, with those on the local level here in Long Beach supported and reinforced by our allies throughout California.

Some of us remember the way this unfolded during the first California rent control war four decades ago.  After the passage of Proposition 13 the payback came in the form of a rent control movement which expanded all across the state, beginning the slow crippling of communities, particularly in lower income sections in Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and elsewhere.  Even wealthier cities like Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and Palm Springs were included in the line of dominos.  They all fell in quick succession between 1978 and 1980.

But in 1980-81, it was none other than Long Beach, along with Pasadena and San Diego, which stood athwart the rent control onslaught and forced it back.  We rejected it at the ballot then, and with the sole exception of West Hollywood, the expansion of rent control ended right then and there.  That is, until now.

In 2015, Richmond became the first California city to adopt rent control in three decades.  In 2016, Mountain View passed rent control and Richmond reaffirmed it at the ballot.  In 2017 a proposed ballot measure was filed in Glendale and a Los Angeles County supervisor proposed it for trailer parks.

The good news is that just days ago, a coalition of landlord and anti-rent control organizations, including Better Housing for Long Beach, came together in Sacramento and defeated repeal of Costa-Hawkins, which protects against extending rent control to newer buildings, in the Assembly Housing Committee.  The bad news is that now the rent control forces are going for the state ballot.

Their goal is clear:  They want statewide rent control on all buildings.  Everywhere.  Period.

Trash the Trash Monopoly with a Ballot Initiative

David Hernandez, the lead proponent and candidate for Lt. Governor, has put together the necessary proposal to stop the Trash Monopoly.  This initiative will repeal the Mayor’s and City Council’s new Trash Monopoly … if we can gather over 62,000 signatures and then win at the ballot box.

Since the judge would not stop this trash ATROSITY, the voters will have to do the job.  You can do your part by taking two steps:

  • Download the Ballot Initiative by clicking HERE and follow the instructions. We need your signature if you are a registered voter.
  • Donate at least $100 or $10 for every individual unit of housing you own.  We need over $250,000 to cover the cost of getting this on the ballot. Thank you for your support!

Please support Better Housing for Long Beach (a tax deductible 501(c)(3) non-profit for public information about rent control, and support the Save Long Beach No Rent Control pack (political advocacy campaign against rent control) to make Long Beach the Gettysburg for the current California housing war, just as it was for the last.  Standing together, there’s no doubt that we can turn back the tide and defeat rent control in California.