Did you know? Bonnie Donovan
After receiving many calls this week, Did You Know? has read the memorandum dated Nov. 15, 2021, to Acting City Administrator Rebecca Bjork from Mayor Cathy Murillo and Councilmember Oscar Gutierrez with the subject line Advancing Tenants Protections.
Mayor Murillo (who’s on her way out), along with Councilmember Gutierrez, asked Ms. Bjork to place an item on the Santa Barbara City Council agenda as soon as possible that would cap annual residential rent increases at 2%.
In 2020, California voters overwhelmingly defeated Proposition 21, which would have given the local government the right to enact rent control. But after the state legislature passed a law capping annual rent increases at 5%, our local social justice warriors decided they could do even better.
Anytime council members have to have an item placed on the agenda, they must provide a reason that it is within the jurisdiction of the city council to consider that matter and why it is important to do so.
Here’s Ms. Murillo and Mr. Gutierrez’s justification:
“Our city council is responsible for the well-being and housing security of our residents, many of whom are renters. The General Plan’s Housing Elements defines goals related to protecting housing stock and residents who rent their homes.”
I must have missed the part in the City Charter where it says that the city council is responsible for the “housing security” of all residents. In any case, such a radical policy will bring with it a host of new intrusions into our lives.
For starters, a “rent registry” that tracks the current price of every rental unit in the city will have to be established. Who will pay for this rent registry? Will they start a new multimillion dollar department to handle it? Will they put a change on the landlords to pay for it? Would such a charge allow an equivalent increase to the rent on the units, or will the landlord simply have to absorb the cost?
Weren’t they supposed to have a report on the AUD rentals before taking further action in this complicated field? Will there be any privacy concerns? Will this rent registry include room rentals?
If so could anyone do a public records request to see what a son pays his mom for living in her house? Or a sister that rents a room from her sister? If they are receiving a break will they only be able to raise the rent to the new person that rents that room at 2%, if their relative ever leaves?
If the son is renting a room or a home to his parents at a low rate because he wants to give them a break — when they pass away, can he only raise the rent by 2%?
The same people who vote to increase our electrical, water, and trash rates, with no percentage limits, are happy to impose much more drastic restrictions on the citizens who pay their salaries.
The city council also voted that you must renew leases forever or pay three times the rent in moving expenses to compensate the renter.
California already enacted the Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (AB 1482 – 5% plus CPI rent cap and just cause). Mayor Murillo and Mr. Gutierrez acknowledge this as they mention it in their memorandum.
We need to see the rent increases on city-owned properties — for example, the Art Pavilion at East Beach.
The city of Santa Barbara ended the lease with the hamburger shop for the renovation project, also known as upgrades. Then when it was completed, the city increased the rent to the new tenant. Why? Did they increase it by more than 2%? Where is their example of how they want residential landlords to operate?
The two bringing this to council on Tuesday should announce what they pay for rent at the meeting! Since they don’t believe it’s a privacy issue to know about every renter in Santa Barbara, this shouldn’t be a problem. And a final reminder: When you ran for office and won, you took an oath to represent all the residents of Santa Barbara, landlords and tenants alike, not just your cause.
In the U.K., the national government established rent control that was in place for more than 70 years. It was ended in 1988 by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who wanted to develop a property-owning democracy.
As part of this objective, she made all homes owned by the national and local governments available for purchase by their tenants, at significantly below-market prices. Many were sold to families who had never before owned any property. It became clear that those that became privately owned, were much better cared for than those that remained under government ownership.
During the 70-year period of rent control, the market for private rental housing completely dried up, except in the very high-priced rentals in the exclusive parts of London.
Once the government gained control of houses for rent, the owners basically lost all control, even to the extent of not being able to sell their property, because of restrictions on evictions. If a tenant did move out, most owners took their house off the rental market and either moved in themselves or sold it for owner-occupation.
Government rent control inevitably leads to other controls and a massive bureaucracy to monitor, administer and add features to the control over private rental housing, effectively managing it out of existence.
This should not be brought to council until we are allowed back into chambers where they can see us! If Santa Barbara County can have 80 people, twice a day showing up for jury duty selection for the past three weeks, in one room, with no social distancing, why can’t we be in the city council chambers with a mask on?
They have already lined up their team to call in and it will be a long meeting. You need to join this Zoom meeting on your computer to be able to speak. How fair is this for the older mom-and-pop landlords? Are they even on computers?
We don’t see anything in this memorandum showing any appreciation for the landlords who haven’t raised rents on long-term tenants. We don’t see any appreciation for the landlords that go in every six months and replace filters, batteries, light bulbs and check for leaks to maintain quality rentals.