Blogging Bayport Alameda

October 30, 2015

City of Emergency

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Lauren Do @ 6:00 am

As promised by the City on Wednesday afternoon they released all the documents in advance of the City Council special meeting on Wednesday regarding rising rents and what the City is going to do about it.  All in all, Staff did an excellent job of compiling as much information as they could and draft a proposed emergency moratorium in the case that the City Council wants to go that route to give the City more time to come up with more permanent solutions.   Today I’m just going to write about the information in the Staff Report itself and not the supporting documents because the Rent Study is a whole post for another day.  Good information and data there, also really good reading — if for anecdotal evidence alone — is the report by Renewed Hope which was positively heartbreaking though with one obvious troll attempting to muddy the waters in the open comments.

Important to note, the emergency moratorium requires four affirmative votes to pass, so we might be looking at this scenario on Wednesday night.  This moratorium goes a lot further than Tony Daysog’s proposed moratorium, it’s not clear if he would be open to a much broader and sweeping moratorium since he had the blue sky ability to really push the boundaries when he was making his own propositions.

From the staff report regarding the proposed urgency moratorium:

To that end, the City Council could consider adopting an urgency ordinance enacting a moratorium on rent increases (as well as notices of rent increases) and/or evictions except for just cause. Such an urgency ordinance must be supported by findings that amply demonstrate there is an urgent need for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety of Alameda residents. An urgency ordinance may be adopted at the Council’s November 4 special meeting but would require a 4/5 vote.

Staff has prepared an ordinance that sets forth the necessary finding for its urgency, i.e., it would take effect immediately upon its adoption and last no more than 65 days unless further extended by the City Council. As drafted, it would immediately prohibit property owners from increasing rents, from issuing notices of increased rents, and from evicting tenants except for cause as set forth in the Ordinance. City Council could adopt the Ordinance as drafted or could adopt just those portions that the Council feels are necessary immediately (e.g., prohibiting rent increases but not no cause eviction or vice versa). The urgency ordinance would give staff sufficient time to prepare the enabling legislation to enact the policy direction provided.

If the Council decides to give direction to staff to proceed with legislation for enhanced mediation and/or relocation benefits only, it is not necessary to adopt an urgency ordinance. The urgency ordinance is required, however, in the event the Council wants to move forward with rent stabilization and/or just cause eviction protections to preclude property owners from raising rents or evicting tenants for no cause in anticipation of forthcoming legislation to regulate rents and evictions. [Emphasis added]

So, technically there could be some negotiations at the City Council to make some members feel more comfortable with passing an emergency moratorium.  However, any modifications to what is a temporary stop gap to give renters breathing room and time for staff to come back with permanent solutions will be very telling about the commitment of that individual to helping more than 50% of Alameda’s population: renters.

The first section in the staff report details out the high level trends regarding Alameda’s rental housing market, nothing that most did not understand on a visceral level, but it’s good to see the data to back it up, there is much more detail about this in the rent study which I’ll write about on Monday, but here are the high level bullet points:

  • Population pressure on limited rental housing supply.
  • Rapid rise in residential rents.
  • Renters’ household income has not kept pace with the rapid rise in rents.
  • Increased rent burden has affected all household types, but has more acutely impacted the elderly and non-family households.
  • Alameda has a greater share of long-time renters than the County average.
  • Short-term rentals (such as AirBnB) are not removing units from the rental market.
  • [Need for] Affordable housing construction, preservation and expansion.

At the conclusion of the rent study there are a few policy options laid out that could help increase the affordable housing supply.  Personally only one of them is viable for creating and retaining permanently affordable housing stock which the staff recommends that the use of “boomerang funds” could help fund, from the staff report:

Boomerang Funds are those monies that previously went to the Community Improvement Commission (CIC), the City’s former redevelopment agency, that are now flowing to the City’s General Fund as a result of the dissolution of redevelopment in the state. Redevelopment dissolution legislation provides that former tax increment funds that are not needed for enforceable obligations flow to the taxing entities. The City is a taxing entity and receives a portion of these residual funds. It is projected that over the next 10 years, the City’s General Fund will receive approximately $16 million in Boomerang Funds.

Prior to its dissolution, redevelopment was the second largest source of affordable housing funding in the State behind the Federal government. The State has yet to identify a funding source (such as a Statewide affordable housing trust fund) to replace the loss of these funds. As a result, many local jurisdictions have created a dedicated funding source for affordable housing by earmarking a percentage of Boomerang Funds for affordable housing. Alameda County has created an Affordable Housing Trust Fund, funded with Boomerang Funds, as have several other jurisdictions in Alameda County and throughout the Bay Area. The City has already benefitted from the County’s program as it has received funding from the County for the Stargell Commons project, a 32-unit affordable housing project at Alameda Landing, set to begin construction in December 2015.

In another section, staff discusses Rent Stabilization ordinances, per the Rent Study — despite the handwriting over Costa Hawkins limiting the efficacy of rent stabilization programs because it excludes certain types of rentals — 71% of Alameda’s rental housing stock would be subject to rent stabilization.  That’s 11,872 units, nothing to sneeze at and would protect a substantial proportion of Alameda renters if enacted.  Rather than considering the units that wouldn’t be protected, the City Council has an opportunity to protect 11,872 households from being unreasonably burdened.

From the staff report:

A key facet of rent control is the amount of the allowable annual rent increase for in-place tenants.  For example, in San Jose, rent increases are limited to 8% a year, or 21%, if the rent has not been increased in the prior 24 months.  Several other jurisdictions also use a flat percentage.  Often, however, the percentage annual rent increase is tied to a formula, such as a Consumer Price Index (CPI) for a particular region, or a percentage of that CPI.  (Sometimes these allowable increases are referred to “cost of living” increases.)  Exhibit 3 is a table that shows the range of allowable annual rent increases for a variety of jurisdictions (along with other information about each jurisdiction’s rent stabilization program).

So long as the formula allows a housing provider a fair return on investment, these formulae have been upheld by the courts.  Such formulae often include provisions that allow the housing provider to apply for a rent increase to recover the cost of significant capital improvements, as opposed to ordinary repairs and maintenance.  These costs, plus interest, are spread out over a number of years and collected from the tenants.

Rent increases to recoup the cost of significant capital improvements, or ensure a fair rate of return on investment, as opposed to the automatic rent increases, require local government approval following a procedure that allows a housing provider to petition for additional rent.  Generally, the procedure involves an evidentiary hearing before a board or a hearing officer who renders a decision as to whether the increase is necessary in order for the housing provider to receive a fair return on investment.  That decision may be a final one (subject to judicial review) or, in some jurisdictions, the decision is advisory and the elected officials make the final decision, subject to judicial review.  The courts have vested great discretion in how a local agency makes a determination regarding whether or not an increase is necessary for a property owner  to receive a fair return on investment.

There is also some discussion on the make up of oversight boards (how other cities do it), just cause evictions, and relocation payouts.  Additionally staff attached “Exhibit 4” which is a policy pro and con document drafted by the County of San Mateo in September.  It’s helpful to understand the “other side” of the issue if you fall into one camp or the other.

On Wednesday night the City Council has the ability to make some real change if they want.  They could opt to pass the urgency ordinance.  That night they can direct staff to tackle policy initiatives like strengthening the RRAC to make it stronger.  Balancing out the RRAC by changing the composition from one homeowner, two housing providers, two renters to something that would skew more in favor of the party (the renter) who is coming in from an inferior bargaining position to begin with.  The City Council can also change how the RRAC is seated rather than leave it in the hands of the Mayor.  The City Council can move forward with directing a policy around a rent stabilization ordinance that actually protects renters.   The City Council can also move forward with directing policy around affordable housing creation.

The TL; dr wrap up:  City Council has the option to

  1. Initiate a temporary pause
  2. Protect current rental housing stock
  3. Create new affordable housing stock

While it won’t fix everything, it will do more than what is currently being done today.

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53 Comments

  1. The Mayor, City Council, renter community and Alameda citizens at large should be thankful for information like the post above. While the LWV and others have pushed for a seven day posting period prior to a CC meeting, the infrequent paper media cycle as well as their inability to actually go beyond the details in a press release make Blogging Bayport a true community resource. Despite numerous attacks of claims of being a carpetbagger, defamation lawsuits and being a hypocrite, the presentation of factual information with your POV added have allowed a greater in depth discussion of the issues facing the city.

    Comment by Mike McMahon — October 30, 2015 @ 7:35 am

  2. Here, here!

    Comment by Li_ — October 30, 2015 @ 9:00 am

  3. In other words, if you ignore Mark Irons, BC, and BMac comments, you can still learn a lot from BBA.

    Comment by vigi — October 30, 2015 @ 9:27 am

  4. Vigi, you forgot to list yourself in post #3.

    Comment by John P. — October 30, 2015 @ 9:39 am

  5. This seems like a good action to take, while the council figures out a better long-term policy. There’s been lots of talk and little to show for it so far. This might focus the council’s attention.

    3. What I like most is that this is a welcoming forum for the ostensibly deranged.

    Comment by BC — October 30, 2015 @ 10:31 am

  6. The big thing is that the moratorium requires four votes, while all the other policy options on the table now and after more staff crafting from council direction will only need three votes.

    I’m on record as saying Frank is an almost definite NO on the moratorium as crafted, for what that is worth (one Spin! Pizza). I think we could end up with a situation where a majority of the council is prepared to move forward with some form of a stabilization ordinance with teeth. Be it soft rent control with a 5-10% cap on increases or a strict version closer to CPI, it would be a shame to send staff away with directions to craft an ordinance for the December meeting without some level of moratorium protecting landlords from acting during the interim w/ a headstart on policymakers.

    If the moratorium doesn’t have four votes as is, hopefully they can preserve the just cause eviction protections and a compromise on rent increases during the interim (5% anyone?).

    Comment by BMac — October 30, 2015 @ 10:43 am

  7. Reading through “Exhibit 2 (other data received)” it is depressing to see how many people are paying way more than 1/3 of their income after taxes on rent– and how many live in places where maintenance/upkeep is sorely lacking, even though they are paying extremely high rent. I know there are “good landlords” in Alameda, but the testimony here suggests there are a bevy of really dishonest, greedy ones too. Well, their greediness might very well come back to bite all landlords– the good, the bad, and the ugly– on the ass. Ye reap what ye sow…

    Comment by Kristen — October 30, 2015 @ 1:28 pm

  8. The pie chart from Renewed Hope was interesting. It says that 87% or respondents had either no rent increase or up to 10%, including 38% who had had none, which was the largest sub set. That doesn’t indicate “crisis” to me, or am I missing something?

    Comment by dave — October 30, 2015 @ 2:00 pm

  9. 8. see 7.

    Comment by MI — October 30, 2015 @ 3:06 pm

  10. 9

    The survey by a pro-rent control group indicates that rents are not galloping in the way a few vocal people says it is. One might fairly ask why this is called a crisis when numbers don’t indicate one.

    Comment by dave — October 30, 2015 @ 3:59 pm

  11. dave: I see your point about the pie chart. What you are missing is data. That is, the number of responses used for the pie chart was 223. The Bea report, on the other hand, indicates there are 16,518 rental households in Alameda (p. 20). Assuming that the 223 are all rental households, the Renewed Hope sample includes only 0.013% of rental households. That’s a completely inadequate sampling size yielding very unreliable figures.

    Comment by John K — October 30, 2015 @ 7:59 pm

  12. Fair enough, small sample size makes sense.

    Comment by dave — October 30, 2015 @ 8:13 pm

  13. I went back and looked at chart, did not see the data. Is it buried in footnotes?

    Comment by dave — October 30, 2015 @ 8:17 pm

    • The 223 number is on page 1 of the Renewed Hope Survey below the opening paragraph and above question no. 1.

      Comment by John K — October 30, 2015 @ 8:26 pm

  14. #10 Dave – I saw that as well. Someone explained to me that while they had not received a rent increase, they were living in fear of receiving one. The fear of receiving a rent increase that they could not afford was creating the crisis.

    The study says the majority of the large rent increases are coming from apartment buildings with 50 units or greater. Rents remained flat from 2007 to 2011; however, since 2011 the larger marker rate rental properties (50 units or more) have risen 52%.

    This explains why Tony’s proposal was focusing a lot on the larger apartments which were giving the highest rent increases.

    I appreciate that the study also addresses part of the root cause of the crisis – Alameda’s Measure A prohibits construction of multi family apartments and in the last 15 years we have only built 1.49 units per thousand residents compared to the Bay Area’s 20 units per thousand residents. This is what I’ve been saying all along that this is a “supply and demand” issue, and we need to do much better.

    It’s also interesting to learn that just under half of the housing providers in Alameda are Alameda residents; only 3% are out of state landlords. So it’s important to get landlords and tenants to work together on these issues. So please no name calling!

    I personally like Tony’s definition of excessive rent being greater than 10% as a threshold, especially if there hasn’t been a rent increase in two or three years (remember many of the small and pops haven’t been giving rent increases – the survey confirms this), and then caps somewhere between 5% and 10% depending on the last rent increase or the number of increases over a given period of time. I think if we move in the direction of a moratorium it should be only for excessive rent increases. In my opinion, penalizing everyone for the deeds of some – is not fair! This is why the RRAC plays such an important role to help mediate when necessary.

    I can’t speak for everyone, but it seems to me that If we can agree on the caps, families can plan better and it would reduce some of the fear that people are feeling and landlords can budget and plan for their repairs and maintenance costs, their capitalized costs (costs that exceed $5K), and the looming school tax increases, and apartment fee increases that may be coming down the pipeline).

    Clearly there are a number of people living on fixed incomes that need assistance. What ever the solution, it needs to address the housing shortage, and it needs to include a plan to build more affordable housing.

    I need to read more of the other ideas being proposed, but from a quick glance there are some really good ideas on the table to consider.

    Comment by Karen Bey — October 30, 2015 @ 11:01 pm

  15. 15. “I think if we move in the direction of a moratorium it should be only for excessive rent increases. In my opinion, penalizing everyone for the deeds of some – is not fair!”

    Put yourself on the other side of this equation and the same argument holds. Tony’s plan, the one you endorse here, would allow landlords who have been raising rents 10% or more each of the last several years to lock in another 10% increase during the moratorium (on the backs of their already stressed renters) in order to preserve the option for the landlords who have not adjusted their rents recently.

    I agree that for some landlords, the ones who haven’t been jacking rents fast and furious in the last 2-3 years (the years the study largely doesn’t have much data on), the moratorium will be “unfair.” However, a moratorium w/ 10% allowance would be unfair for those renters who have already faced large increases in recent years, of which we are MANY. As a policy decision, who can better handle some unfairness in this situation and what is in the best interests of the public peace, health or safety of Alameda?

    Pick your poison.

    Comment by BMac — October 30, 2015 @ 11:56 pm

  16. To be clear, I like portions of Tony’s proposal; the rest of his proposals I’m still processing. Again, here’s why I think if we go in the direction of a moratorium, that it should not penalize landlords who haven’t been giving excessive rent increases. The survey shows that 38% of those surveyed had not received a rent increase in the past 12 months, and 27% received rent increases ranging from 1% – 5%. That’s 65% that didn’t receive excessive rent increases. Only 13% of those surveyed received rents over 10%, including 1% that received rents over 30%, and the study suggests that those are the larger apartment owners.

    To enact Just Cause Evictions, a moratorium on all rent increases, and relocation assistance on all landlords in order to punish the few landlords that give excessive rent increase isn’t fair either.

    I’m concerned that a one size fits all approach isn’t fair to the large percentage of landlords – especially the small mom and pops who have given minimal rent increases or no rent increases at all – which based on the survey I believe are many.

    To address your concerns about past rent increases, I do agree that past rent increases need to be factored in, and perhaps some formula that takes past rent increases in account is something we can agree on. Also, this is part of what the RRAC does as part of the mediation process is look at rent history.

    Comment by Karen Bey — October 31, 2015 @ 9:02 am

  17. Bey, you are making all of the same old arguments that got us nowhere, or rather, got us to where we are today. Don’t want to punish landlords, but they need to be regulated so that things are fair for everyone. Do you think $300, $500 and even $1000 rent increases are fair? Or, that we shouldn’t concern ourselves with those kinds of increases because only ‘a few’ landlords do that? How many families need to be evicted for no reason or receive exorbitant rent increases before you blink? Since when does the market take priority of family, community and human values? This needs to happen if Alameda politicians want us to believe they support housing stability for all residents.

    Comment by John K — October 31, 2015 @ 9:29 am

  18. what a rats nest. The reality is as complex as the physical status of each building combined with rents. What is the maintenance history of the building and the costs? It’s too micro managey for RRAC to actually review all this but in fact the actual costs and profit derived from a building is the only way to really know which landlords are taking advantage. Roofs are really basic long term maintenance which when they come due are expensive. Paint is less critical but also basic and if paint has been deferred long enough a full on exterior can cost some money, especially with current lead abatement standards. Interiors are a little different. Having decent bathrooms and Kitchens etc. are really important to the relative value of rental units. From this perspective it is easy to understand the anxiety of conscientious landlords about having rents capped, but the other side of that coin is that even real mom and pop are in a social and economic class above their tenants and nobody forced them into this business.

    Comment by MI — October 31, 2015 @ 10:05 am

  19. This! +1

    From this perspective it is easy to understand the anxiety of conscientious landlords about having rents capped, but the other side of that coin is that even real mom and pop are in a social and economic class above their tenants and nobody forced them into this business.

    Comment by Lauren Do — October 31, 2015 @ 10:07 am

  20. John K, I appreciate your arguments and I am looking at the survey and the study to learn where the large increases are coming from. I just believe a targeted approach directed at the problem will be more effective, rather than punishing all landlords.

    From 2007 and 2011, rents were largely flat based on the study which confirms the survey results that says 65% received zero rent increases or between 1-5% in rent increases. This shows that we have some pretty good landlords in this town – and that is important to recognize.

    In my opinion the RRAC does a great job in mediating excessive rents (that is their main function), and Tony’s proposal to add more teeth to the RRAC to address mass evictions, etc. is something I’m sure will be considered.

    Finally, I believe that we need more housing, both market rate and affordable to address the lack of supply, but in the interim a cap of some sort is a way to bridge the differences.

    Comment by Karen Bey — October 31, 2015 @ 10:20 am

  21. 21. “From 2007 and 2011, rents were largely flat based on the study which confirms the survey results that says 65% received zero rent increases or between 1-5% in rent increases. This shows that we have some pretty good landlords in this town – and that is important to recognize.”
    No, what it actually shows is that in 2007 we were heading full-speed toward an economic slowdown which nearly became the second great depression, and in 2011 the economy had yet to recover in a significant way. Any savvy landlord or property management company knew they couldn’t raise rents by more than 5% then. But we are living in different times now, and sadly, many of those same landlords/companies are taking advantage. Not “all” landlords, but enough to cause the crisis we see today.

    Comment by Kristen — October 31, 2015 @ 10:44 am

  22. I have one more comment on how we got here:

    We got here because the economy is growing and we have not built enough housing to keep up with demand. Per the study, in the last fifteen years, we issued 1.49 multi- family permits for every 1000 residents compared to 20 multi family permits issued for every 1000 residents in the surrounding bay area. That’s like 110 units in fifteen years??

    I think it’s important to recognize how we got here – so we make sure that we correctly address the problem.

    Comment by Karen Bey — October 31, 2015 @ 10:49 am

  23. Kristen: can you please say which study your are referring to regarding “65% received zero rent increases?”

    Comment by John K — October 31, 2015 @ 12:37 pm

  24. 23. Yes, that is how we got here. We need a heart and lung transplant(tens of thousands more units in the area), but there is no surgeon here, just a corpsman with some morphine (rent control) to ease the patient’s pain in the meantime. Do you wanna give it to him, or not? That is the question on the table today.

    Comment by BMac — October 31, 2015 @ 12:42 pm

  25. I am really tired of landlords, developers and pro-development activists (that’s you, Karen Bey) thinking that we all just need to agree a little bit harder. ‘Going along to get along’ has accomplished nothing – it’s time for the City of regulate landlords. If you see it as punishment, I can’t help you with that.

    The RRAC is nothing more than ‘rent control for landlords’ because it guarantees 10% annual rent increases. 10% annual rent increase are catastrophic for many renters – where’s the fairness in that? There’s so much wrong with the RRAC, too much to detail here. I’ll just say it like this: there is a truism in politics that says that if both sides of an issue are unhappy with an outcome, the legislators probably got it right. Right now, the landlords are very happy with the RRAC while the tenants definitely are not. What does that tell you?

    Comment by John K — October 31, 2015 @ 12:49 pm

  26. John K — she’s referencing the survey taken by Renewed Hope that shows that 38% of the renters surveyed received zero rent increases, and 27% received rent increases between 1% and 5% . The sum is 65% of the renters surveyed had received rent increases that were less than 10%.

    Comment by Karen Bey — October 31, 2015 @ 1:13 pm

  27. Bey: okay, I see. Really, that pie chart is bogus, here’s why. The sample size for the Renewed Hope pie chart is 223 responses. In the Bea report at page 20, it shows the number of rental households in Alameda to be 16,518, making the Renewed Hope sample too small to be reliable. Renewed Hope’s sample is only 0.013% of renter households making the pie chart conclusions completely unreliable. I mean, I could go stand on the corner of Willow and Santa Clara, which is a neighborhood that is 70% renters, ask 223 people and get a totally different outcome. The Renewed Hope sample is too small to be reliable or credible.

    Comment by John K — October 31, 2015 @ 1:33 pm

  28. 19 & 20:

    How about capping building contractors’ income while allowing it to shrink because nobody forced them into this business?

    But both Lauren & Mark are in the well off property owning class, quite above the renters they advocate for. When the time comes for them to sell their homes they will surely welcome a law that cuts a quarter or a third off their sale price in order to keep home prices lower. That would be fair, nobody forced them into property ownership.

    Comment by dave — October 31, 2015 @ 2:38 pm

  29. 24. Another commenter must have quoted that figure, not me.

    Comment by Kristen — October 31, 2015 @ 2:51 pm

  30. 29. I build shelter not exploit it. If I try to price gouge nobody will hire me so it is sort of self regulating. I have competition. There is no shortage of contractors but affordable housing seems to be in short supply. Even when building is booming people can wait for a new kitchen, but tenants who are priced out have to out of the community.

    Comment by MI — October 31, 2015 @ 8:03 pm

  31. Your livelihood is sacred, another person’s is “exploitation.” Got it.

    Now please tell us how your property wealth is just but another person’s isn’t.

    Comment by dave — November 1, 2015 @ 8:18 am

  32. If I try to price gouge nobody will hire me so it is sort of self regulating. I have competition.

    ———————————————————-

    IS this not true of housing providers?

    Comment by dave — November 1, 2015 @ 8:19 am

  33. All I’m seeing here are the two sides of an obsolete coin yelling that each one is “right”. What none of you seem to want to address is the fact that the entire “coin” needs to be trashed and reconstructed from the ground up. The model of “providing housing for profit” needs to be competely discarded. The duality of “landlord” and “tenant” needs to be done away with an a new way of thinking about it ultimately needs to occur.

    I have friends whose lives have been deeply and irrevocably changed because of the situation going on in Alameda. There are the slightest rumblings of “decent landlords” telling the greedy ones to stop being greedy, but “officially” there is nothing going on thus far, simply because the people “elected” are seemingly having their strings yanked by someone. None of the “someones” who are yanking the strings appear to be the people who voted for and elected them.

    Leaders are supposed to “lead”…doing lip service with ultimately meaningless “ordinances” that fall WAY short of any sort of true solution (the adoption of a new way of doing things) is only going to lead to more of the same. Business as usual. And ‘business as usual’ is pretty damned inhumane and abusive when it comes down to it. To all the “Let the market decide” trumpters, all I can say is “Wait til YOU’RE on the wrong side of “the market” and it does to YOU what it does to everyone else.

    Comment by StartOver — November 1, 2015 @ 11:34 am

  34. At a sub 2% vacancy rate in Alameda, I would say that there’s very little competition out there. It’s a landlords’ market and we all know it.

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 1, 2015 @ 2:50 pm

  35. Vacancy rates seldom rise much, prices typically fall to fill that demand, as landlords need revenue, even if renting at a loss (which is common) it’s still more than zero.

    Is it a sellers’ market now? Arguably yes. Rents are rising but cap rates on buildings have plummeted. But the point is that it isn’t always, and hasn’t always been. Instituting rent controls during a short term trend will have very bad log term consequences for future renters.

    Look at rent history and vacancy data here:

    http://thealamedan.org/news/rents-blog-market-rates-rentals-jump

    But I’m really interested in hearing how much you’ll cut your selling price (when that day comes) so that your home is more affordable to its next owner. Since you’re calling for housing providers to cough up a chunk of their property value, surely you are willing to do same, yes?

    Comment by dave — November 1, 2015 @ 3:26 pm

  36. reading these posts, I see Mark and Lauren saying yes I’ve got mine, but I would somehow like to help others, Dave says I’ve got mine and the rest of you are on your own, its your own fault if you don’t have what I have. Sleep tight Dave.

    Comment by John P. — November 1, 2015 @ 9:58 pm

  37. What I see is Lauren & Mark saying that others have to surrender a chunk of their incomes and property values, yet exempting themselves from that duty. Slept tight, thanks.

    Comment by dave — November 2, 2015 @ 5:37 am

  38. Owning ones home vs owning someone else’s home is slightly different. A housing provider’s property value does not diminish by simply asking that there be some consideration to the process that rent increases are doled out.

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 2, 2015 @ 5:43 am

  39. If you think that rent control doesn’t affect the value of a rental property, this conversation should end.

    Comment by dave — November 2, 2015 @ 6:12 am

  40. And until the “I’ve got mine and screw you”s are displaced from the top of this lopsided heap, the heap will stay lopsided, neither side will EVER address the real issue (none of you seem to even have considered it, just more jabbing at one another) will remain unaddressed. Pitchforks and torches used to work in the old days…

    Comment by StartOver — November 2, 2015 @ 8:26 am

  41. From Berkeleyside:

    Rent-controlled properties are not immune to market pressures. While the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board controls the amount landlords can increase rents each year (In 2015, they went up 2%), vacancy decontrol lets landlords increase rents as much as they want after tenants move out. California legislators adopted the Costa Hawkins law allowing vacancy control in the 1990s. It went into effect in 1999.

    Bates said that 85% of the rents in rent-controlled housing in Berkeley have been increased to market rate. Those tenants may still be paying lower rents than tenants in new buildings, but rents are high.

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 2, 2015 @ 8:50 am

  42. Which makes me wonder how many of those 85% were families kicked to the curb by 60-day notices….

    Comment by StartOver — November 2, 2015 @ 9:02 am

  43. 42

    That is a mis-use of the word “market.” Here is what immediately follows your cut/paste:

    ——-
    “The market rent is the amount that the landlord and tenant agree upon at the outset of the tenancy,” said Traylor at the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board.

    This has led to enormous discrepancies between tenants’ rents in the same building.

    In one rent-controlled building in Berkeley, you will find one tenant is paying $1,400 a month for a two-bedroom apartment while next door, in an identical apartment, the occupiers are paying $2,700 a month and are having to take in roommates to make it work.

    ——-

    Comment by dave — November 2, 2015 @ 9:18 am

  44. How about you think about it this way. You’re in favor of government controls to protect quality of life by limiting development (Measure A). Look at rent stabilization efforts as a way of protecting the quality of life of renters. Perhaps it will be more palatable that way.

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 2, 2015 @ 9:22 am

  45. How would you feel about a law that limits your salary? Would that feel like quality of life?

    Comment by dave — November 2, 2015 @ 9:31 am

  46. Our property taxes went up by $4,000 this year…if it was a rental this would be passed on to the renter, plus maintenance, plus higher utilities. I know it is a matter of perspective, you need to realize landlords are paying more also, it isn’t all roses for them.

    Comment by Jake — November 2, 2015 @ 10:02 am

  47. If you want to relabel the term “landlord” with “housing provider” to make it seem softer and fuzzier as though you’re providing some great service then perhaps an examination of that term is in order. It’s “housing provider” and all that comes with the responsibility of providing shelter for human beings, not “kid shaking as much money out of the piggy bank as possible.”

    If you want people to view your rental units as your investment to make as much money as possible then quit with the “housing provider” nonsense. You’re not in the business of providing housing, you’re in the business of maximizing your investment. “Investment maximizer” would be the most appropriate label.

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 2, 2015 @ 10:10 am

  48. I use the term “housing provider” because it is more accurate than “landlord” which can mean commercial or agricultural. If “investment maximizer” pleases you, then feel free to use that.

    To own & rent residential real estate (is that terminology acceptable?) is a business. It provides a good in exchange for money. Like any business, its aim is profit. Such profit is the owner’s income, no different than your job is what produces your income. Do you favor a law that limits your salary? Have you ever asked for a raise? Have you ever turned down a raise?

    Comment by dave — November 2, 2015 @ 10:37 am

  49. Dave, the fundamental difference is that many people believe that the business of housing human beings is a particularly special business and that market deserves special treatment to protect it from normal market forces. Everyone basically believes this, to varying degrees. If you accept this, you will realize that your repeated attempts at comparing it to other markets is mostly not productive and will never get you anywhere.

    Comment by Bmac — November 2, 2015 @ 12:16 pm

  50. dave…maybe you’re in the wrong business, yaknow? Being a “housing provider” requires a bit of humanity and empathy you seem incapable of.

    Comment by StartOver — November 2, 2015 @ 8:03 pm

  51. Karen, Dave, and others: A 5% or 10% rent increase may seem quite reasonable to you, but what about the folks–probably Unlike you–who are on fixed incomes (retirement, pensions, Social Security, SSDI, etc.) or who are only getting by on lower-paying jobs that offer a 1% pay increase every year? How fair is it to get hit with a 5% or 10% housing cost increase every year?

    How much wailing and gnashing of teeth would we hear if homeowners’ “fixed” mortgages were raised by “only”10% per annum under a “reasonable” cap?

    If you are lucky enough to OWN a home you can have a fixed housing cost for 30 years: no renter has that security or ability to plan. On top of that, working-class incomes have stagnated for 40 years, unlike the incomes of the investor class.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — November 3, 2015 @ 10:30 am

  52. Spangler:

    There are 2 sides to every coin:

    Maintenance & repairs can add a whole lot more than 10% to a homeowner’s costs and are often unpredictable.

    I can’t speak for others, but my property taxes are up about 50% in the last 5 years. No wailing/gnashing, in fact I have worked for increasing those taxes because they make a stronger community.

    Renters have a greater flexibility to plan than homeowners because it’s far easier for them to leave, whether for a new job, cheaper housing elsewhere etc

    I am well aware that many peoples’ incomes have stagnated. Mine has fallen sharply the last 2 years; again, no wailing/gnashing or blaming others.

    You ask what is “fair.” All of the above are fair. What’s also fair is that things change, markets fluctuate. Rents have fallen in recent memory, and stayed flat for a decade. That, I suspect, you would label as “fair.” The current situation is just as “fair,” your dislike of it notwithstanding.

    Comment by dave — November 3, 2015 @ 11:30 am


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