Rent Control Spreads From Pricey San Francisco to Suburbs

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Source:   —  April 03, 2016, at 8:45 PM

But this year, the 77-year-old retired city gardener will be knocking on doors in Alameda to persuade voters of this maritime city on San Francisco Bay maintain a citizen initiative to cap rent increases.

Charles Edwards is a merry self-described hillbilly from TN who knows much about Victorian-era railroads and not so much about political campaigning.

But this year, the 77-year-old retired city gardener will be knocking on doors in Alameda to persuade voters of this maritime city on San Francisco Bay maintain a citizen initiative to cap rent increases. Latest June, the rent on his one-bedroom flat increased twenty-four % to $1.300, leaving him $289 a mo for utilities, food and other expenses.

"Love I say, I don't love doing it, but I'm pushed in a corner, I perceive like," Edwards said.

Once upon a time, the concept of rent control was largely Ltd to costly, coveted cities such as San Francisco or NY where there were too many people and not enough apartments.

But tenant demand for protections is shifting to San Francisco Bay Area suburbs as priced-out workers flee to drowsy bedroom communities in look for of cheaper dwellings. The region known for a sizzling tech-fueled economy has added 440.000 jobs but only 50.000 new housing units, according to the business-sponsored Bay Area Council.

State legislation approved latest week to lift the state'south minimum wage to $15 an hr by two thousand twenty-two is expected to assistance tenants afford increasing rents, but can only do so much in a region where the median rent is $3.350, according to genuine estate data firm Zillow.

Zillow calculates that a single earner would necessity an hourly wage of $67, or $33.50 each for two, in order to reasonably afford the rent.

"At minimum you're taking a step in the right direction to address income inequality," said Zillow'south chief economist Svenja Gudell, but added that, "$15 doesn't move the needle all that much."

Latest year, a raucous city council meeting over rent control in Alameda, pop 75.000, resulted in two arrests. Farther north, city leaders of Sonoma County'south Healdsburg, pop 11.000, approved voluntary guidelines to hold rent increases to ten % or less.

Tenant activists in Alameda and Richmond — a waterfront industrial town of nearly 110.000 — are fighting to space rent control on municipal ballots this fall. So are residents of Burlingame, a pricey, leafy city of 30.000 on the San Francisco Peninsula.

The burst of Bay Area suburban squabbles doesn't astonishment analysts. The median rental price in the five-county San Francisco metropolitan area for Feb was $3.350, up 10.5 % from a year ago, according to Zillow. Wages, while high for Silicon Valley professionals, haven't kept pace for many other people.

Economists, landlords and developers declare rent control makes the situation worse by restricting supply, resulting in run-down apartments and driving market prices higher. Tenant advocates, however, argue that caps on increases and other renter protections are critical in a housing market that'south ousting seniors and families.

Runaway rents are an issue nationally as the gap between salary and housing prices broaden amid greater demand. Rent control is outlawed in thirty-fifth states, including WA where Seattle proponents have asked state lawmakers to overturn the ban. W Hollywood in Southern CA is the most recent city to pass a rent control ordinance that stuck — and that was in June 1985.

Advocacy grouping Tenants Together says a dozen cities have some form of rent control in California, including San Francisco and Los Angeles. Activists in Oakland and San Jose are also pushing beefed-up rent protections. A state law limits any rent restrictions on housing built after one thousand nine hundred ninety-five and exempts all single-family homes.

The three Bay Area ballot proposals would limit annual increases to the consumer price index or less, which would result in hikes in the low single digits rather than the double-digit ones that have renters clamoring for help. The measures also limit evictions to "just cause" so landlords can't simply throw someone out for another tenant who can pay more.

In August, the Richmond City Council narrowly approved a rent control measure. But after a lobbying grouping for landlords collected sufficient signatures to keep the issue to voters, the council repealed the ordinance. Activists are trying again.

On an overcast Saturday in Richmond latest month, several dozen people packed a community middle to memorise how to gather signatures for the new initiative. They munched on burritos and chips before fanning out with clipboards.

"Something has to change," said Gayle McLaughlin, a Richmond city council member and former mayor, "because we're going to be a nation of internal refugees, people without places to live."

The CA Apt Organization is trying to qualify a competing measure for the Nov ballot that'd prohibit restrictions on rental prices in Richmond. Landlords, such as Edwards', declare they necessity to recover costs to pay higher property taxes or for property improvements.

Thomas Bannon, the association'south chief executive, said he understands tenant concerns, but it'south not objective to ask landlords to shoulder the burden for a housing shortage.

"Rent control has never addressed that issue," he said. "At best, it'south been a temporary fix for a very tiny no of units."

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