By Steve Levy
I Will Vote No on Prop 10Uploaded: Oct 5, 2018
Some residents locally and throughout the region have experienced very large rent increases in recent years. These increases often create emotional and financial hardship. Still, I think that Prop 10 (the repeal of current restrictions on rent control) is a bad solution and will be voting no on Prop 10 in November.
Three are three major reasons I oppose Prop 10.
The first reason is that Prop 10 does not add to the stock of rental housing and will probably have the opposite effect. The second reason is that Prop 10 does not reduce rents and will probably have the opposite effect.
The third reason, which I hope readers will comment on, is the ethical and implementation challenges of deciding whether to impose rent control on single family homes and small apartment complexes.
The incentive to build or retain rental housing will be diminished if Prop 10 is passed. Some prospective developers of rental housing may choose not to build or convert rental properties to condos if Prop 10 is passed depending on what is done about rent control for homes. I could see some owners who are thinking about adding ADUs reconsider if rent control is imposed. In no case do I see rental housing being increased as a result of Prop 10.
Rent control limits the future increases in rent. It does not roll back rents that are already out of reach for many. And it is likely that Prop 10 will put upward pressure on rents. This will happen if rent control takes rental units off the market through conversion to condos or discourages some new construction. Rents are high in the first place as a result of a shortage of rental housing so adding to the shortage is not a way reduce rent pressures.
And then there are the dilemmas poised by imposing rent control on single family homes and condos and small apartment complexes. On the one hand, why should renters in homes not be protected while renters in large complexes are protected? Many people do rent homes, particularly when groups of people get together to share the rent. So I see no rationale for creating two separate groups of renters depending on the type of structure they rent.
But the implementation challenges of monitoring rent increases in hundreds or thousands of small rental units seem difficult and intrusive and could by themselves discourage owners from renting. Is this something that the residents of Bay Area communities want to add to the workload of already stressed city staffs?
I do favor additional rental protections and policies to reduce the cost of building rental housing and will discuss these in a future column.