Recently, while waiting for an event to start, I chatted with the woman sitting next to me; a small property owner. I described SPOSFI and she sniffed, “Why join something like that? We’ve never had any trouble with our rental.” “We’ll be there when you need us,” I replied, as I moved to another chair.
She doesn’t realize that she has needed us for years, as we’ve worked on her behalf. There would probably be strict rent control (if there were no Costa-Hawkins); the Rent Board might be elected rather than (marginally) balanced and appointed; and we probably would be forced to register each of our rentals and report the rental amount, as is required in many other jurisdictions. It is absolutely essential that every rental property owner belong to AT LEAST one supportive organization. Naturally, we’d like to have every rental owner be a part of SPOSFI. Please promote the benefits of joining us or another organization, even if the owner has only one rental.
In one of our bi-weekly meeting with the CalRHA, I learned that Tenants Together, a nonprofit tenant advocacy group, is working toward a voter referendum to institute rent control statewide. In the state legislature, a new group of 22 far-left Democrats (“Bernie-crats”) promoted the idea at the recent Democratic State Convention and got it approved.
We speculate that some tenant advocates have become frustrated with our very limited successes with legislators in thwarting efforts to weaken or abolish Costa-Hawkins and the Ellis Act and believe they may have better success going directly to the electorate. A referendum would cost Tenants Together and allied groups millions of dollars. We need to know where they’re going to get their funding. Why? Because we may decide as individuals that we don’t want to support businesses or non-profits that knowingly contribute to the downfall of the rental business, especially that of small property owners and cause even more hardship for people seeking rental housing. Finding this information in public records is time consuming. Is there anyone out there with the time and interest to take on part of the research?
The push for rent control has resulted in controls being placed on rentals in municipalities in the East Bay and down the Peninsula. In nearby Pacifica, the City Council approved various property controls, but residents have pushed back, gathering 3,760 signatures (about 10% of the population) in favor of placing the issue on the ballot rather than allowing property controls to become law with hardly anyone realizing it.
Paul Krugman on Rent Control
Tenant advocates’ stubborn insistence on expanding rent control was succinctly described by Paul Krugman, Nobel Laureate in economic science: “Advocates of rent control literally don’t want to know. Every time a study of the causes of San Francisco’s housing shortage is proposed, a firestorm of opposition from tenant groups ensues. They argue that even to study the situation is a step on the road to ending rent control. They may well be right, because studying the issue might lead to a recognition of the obvious, that rent control is a failed policy that neither leads to lower rents nor more affordable housing.”
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 www.smallprop.org or call (415) 647-2419.