Rent Control Gains Traction Amid Housing Crisis in Bay Area

Like a monster that’s been hiding in the basement for decades, rent control is rearing its head in the Bay Area. Whether it is an ugly countenance or a smiling face is a matter of perspective.
While the Bay Area has struggled with housing shortages and rising rents for the past decade or so, it has become evident that no amount of development will, in the near term, bring rents back down to manageable levels for residents earning median incomes and below. As tech jobs have made Bay Area residents more wealthy, and attracted newcomers flush with cash, landlords in unregulated cities have tried to cash in by raising rents and even evicting incumbent tenants. 

Therefore, over the past year, cities have again turned to what is, in many ways, the tool of last resort to preserve affordable housing.
“A year ago we had the wild west,” said Eric Strimling, spokesperson for the Alameda Renters Coalition, of Alameda’s rental market. “There were pretty much no regulation at all. Evict at will, raise rents at will.”

»   Please Login or Subscribe to view this article.

Redevelopment Cleanup Bill Sparks Relief, Outrage Among Cities

For many cities that have endured the painful process of dissolving their redevelopment agencies, the bloodletting has begun anew. 

Insight: California Needs More Housing -- But It's Not As Simple As Supply and Demand

Amid all the alarming news about housing in California, here’s the one piece of information that really stands out for me: 

The average home price in the United States is about $180,000. The average home price in California is about $440,000. Not just in San Francisco, or Oakland, or Los Angeles, or Orange County, or San Diego. The entire state.

As the Legislative Analyst’s Office reported last year, California has always been somewhat more expensive that the rest of the country. In trying to understand the housing price gap, the LAO’s office took a very long view – charting the increase over the past 75 years. And the gap’s been getting worse for decades. In 1970 – the year, incidentally, that the California Environmental Quality Act passed – California housing was about 35% more expensive than the nation. By 2000, that gap had doubled, to about 76% more. And now it has doubled again, to about 144%.

»   Please Login or Subscribe to view this article.

Renters vs. Tenants: A Distinction with a Difference

Like 45 percent of other Californians and 52 percent of other Angelenos, I live in a home owned by a stranger. It’s not quite the American dream. Nationwide, 65 percent of households own the units they occupy. But it suits me fine.

The question I’ve asked myself lately, though, is, am I a renter or am I a tenant? I happen to be both, so the point is moot. For renters and who aren’t yet tenants, or who want to be someone else’s tenant, the difference is more important than you might think.

A few months ago I spoke on a panel on affordable housing, sponsored by Enterprise Community Partners. The panel included Larry Gross, the executive director of the grimly named Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) and longtime Los Angeles-area housing advocate. I contended, based on study and anecdote, that relief from the city’s crushing rental rates will come only from increased housing production – for residents of all socioeconomic strata.

CP&DR News Briefs, May 23, 2016: Rail to Santa Monica; Loss of Natural Lands; High-Speed Rail Delay; and More

Marking a major expansion of Los Angeles’ rail network, Phase II of the Exposition Light Rail Line, from Culver City to Santa Monica, officially opened Friday, May 20. The extension realizes a long-sought goal of connecting downtown Los Angeles to the beach; the two combined phrases make the trip in 46 minutes. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and other backers hope that the line will attract commuters who would otherwise travel on the heavily congested Interstate 10. It is also hoped that by reaching into the region’s affluent Westside the line will attract discretionary riders. Metro estimates that 64,000 riders will use the line daily by 2030. Built at a cost of $1.5 billion, Expo Line Phase II is one of several rail projects underway in Metro’s current construction plan. the design of the line has drawn criticism for having too many at-grade street crossings – 29 – and for not having signal priority in the City of Los Angeles. With the opening of Expo Phase II, Metro now operates over 100 miles of subway and light rail lines. (See prior CP&DR coverage here and here.)

CP&DR News Briefs, May 16, 2016: Budget Revise Addresses Housing; Coastal Commission Politicking; Prop 84 Parks Spending Analyzed; and More

Gov. Jerry Brown’s “May revise” (pdf) of the $122 billion 2017 state budget includes significant provisions meant to address homelessness and promote the production of housing. It calls for a $2 billion bond, supported by Prop 63, to proving up to 14,000 units of housing for mentally ill homeless people, plus support for the CalWORKS jobs program.

CP&DR News Briefs, May 9, 2016: Coastal Commission to Vote on Banning Ranch; Feds May Aid Salton Sea; Housing Group 'Sues the Suburbs;' and More

In a reversal of a previous recommendation, the staff of the Coastal Commission has recommended approval, with conditions, of a controversial development for Banning Ranch, a 401-acre parcel in Newport Beach. The new staff recommendation increases the amount of developable land from 19 ares to 55 acres, with most of the remaining land set aside as a nature preserve.

Google Boss Sees Housing Crisis Through 3-D Glasses

BEVERLY HILLS, May 2, 2016 – As the saying goes, when you’re holding a hammer, the world looks like a nail. What if you have a 3-D printer instead of a hammer?

If you’re Eric Schmidt, you build houses. 

CP&DR News Briefs, May 2, 2016: HSR Business Plan; San Diego Stadium Initiative; Federal Inquiry into Water Tunnels, and More

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) has approved a new two-year business plan. It includes an agreement to add more than $1 billion in costs to connect the City of Merced to the initial operating segment and to invest $2 billion to improve existing rail services in Southern California.

CP&DR News Briefs, April 25, 2016: San Jose Rent Freeze; San Joaquin River Endangered; L.A. 'Megadevelopment' Lawsuit, and More

The San Jose city council voted, 6-5, to reduce annual rent hikes in a third of apartments, which is a move to stabilize rent in one of the nation’s most expensive cities. The city has 44,000 rent-controlled units that can raise rents only 5 percent per year instead of 8. The city’s housing department suggested tying annual rent to inflation like other CA cities while Councilman Peralez pushed for only 4 percent increase annually. The council approved another housing item: an anti-retaliation ordinance that would protect renters against requesting repairs and being evicted. The Council also approved, 7-4, to eliminate a program that allowed landlords to pass debt off to renters unless they were “major improvement costs.”