It’s Damn Expensive Being Poor In Davis

By Sean Raycraft

Who is most hurt by the Davis housing crisis? As far as I can tell, its the most vulnerable. The unhoused, the working poor, and students. Over the last few months, I have been collecting stories, listening to friends, coworkers and community members about the housing crisis in Davis.

I work at a unionized grocery store, where I serve as shop steward. The economic class of my members ranges from working poor all the way to middle class homeowners in other parts of the region. But no matter who you are in my industry, you can’t afford to live near your work. Here are a few stories I have collected over the last few months.

C.S. (Not his real initials) is a co-worker who got a job working nights at my store to pay some bills after struggling academically to make the transition from Junior College to UCD. C.S. is in his mid-twenties, black, and from the east bay. He ended up owing the University over $2,000 in missed tuition payments and fees. Soon, he found that one retail job was not enough to make ends meet, much less make a dent in his debts, so he took another retail job at Target. He now works 40-60 hours a week and still can’t really get ahead. He walks 40 minutes each way to both of his jobs because he does not have the money for a car. He ended his gym membership so that he could save 50 bucks a month. Why? Because he was too exhausted to work out after his shifts, and who can reasonably blame him? He wears the same, broken glasses to work every day, because he can’t afford new ones, and he has long since run out of contact lenses. Recently, he put off going to the doctor for a full week with terrible gut pains because he could not afford the copays for an urgent care visit, and couldn’t afford to take a shift off and still make rent.

Until recently, C.S. rented a room in a south Davis three bedroom apartment for a reasonable rate of $525 a month plus utilities. He had many roommates, and someone crashing on the couch in the living area who was paying a portion of the rent. That was until he found out his share of the rent for that apartment was going up by $200 a month, starting September 1. This was sometime in early June. Paying $725 a month in rent for a room was not going to work for C.S., so he tried hard, every day, all summer to find a place to rent that would fit his price range, especially considering that the landlords did no improvements to the apartment. They just simply, arbitrarily decided to charge more for the same, because they can.

Everywhere he went, he ran into roadblocks to securing housing. Some apartments demanded two years of pay stubs to prove income, some just took his money for applying and never got back to him. Others ran credit checks (that they charged him for) and denied his application, saying he owed too much money, or didn’t have a sufficiently high credit score. Most prospective landlords demanded first and last month’s rent, plus 150% of the monthly rent in a security deposit, UP FRONT. Needless to say, my friend C.S. doesn’t have thousands of dollars sitting in a bank account for such an occasion. How many unhoused people have 2,000 dollars in their checking accounts?

As of the time of me writing this, C.S. is couch surfing, looking for a place to rent, in a city with a 0% vacancy rate. He is looking at living in parts of West Sacramento or Woodland. I asked him, “How are you going to get to work? You can’t afford a car, and you can’t walk that far, and biking at night is dangerous.’ (C.S. doesn’t own a bike either). He said “I’m going to have to take a Lyft to work and back every single day.” “Isn’t that going to cost you more than ten bucks each way?” Him: “What else can I do?” It’s damn expensive being poor.

C.S.’s case may seem extreme, but if you are to ask around town, you will find stories of students crammed into mini dorms, declining quality of life for all citizens, skyrocketing rents and abusive, greedy, absentee landlords.

I have another co-worker, who has worked at the other Safeway for years, makes a strong Journeyman clerk rate of 21.90 an hour plus benefits. He and his wife have lived in Davis for more than a decade, have two small children and two incomes. His wife works for a municipal government in the bay area, where she makes a comparable amount. They have lived in the same apartment for many years, but this year, the management team wanted to replace their kitchen counters. What the management team did not tell them was that the rent for their modest two bedroom apartment was going up $400 a month, from $1,150.00 to 1,550.00 per month. He and his wife are suddenly having to make hard choices about if they can afford to live in Davis, and raise their children here. I’m sure he would love to have his scuffed counters back at this point.

The housing crisis is not confined to the working poor and lower middle classes. A friend of mine, who is a single mom of two, with a young autistic child and a teenage girl recently lost her housing after her landlord decided to sell the unit, and was promptly served a 30-day notice by the new owners. Try as she might, she could not find housing in Davis. She is a unionized nurse at UC Davis Medical Center making good money. A few months later, a similar thing happened to her mother, and now they both live in Woodland…. together. IF you ask DJUSD teachers about finding housing in Davis, they will tell you it’s near impossible to do so on their salaries. Teachers are backbones of our communities. I could continue with stories of homeless students living in cars and showering at the gym and the horrors of mini dorms, but I think you get the point.

Davis is a great place to live, and people want to live here. In the grand scheme of things, this is a great problem to have as a city, but its also a problem that needs to be addressed by our elected officials and the community as a whole. Unscrupulous, greedy landlords are sucking the life out of students and the working poor of our community, engorging themselves on student loan debt, and seasoning their Lucullan feast with the tears of students and the working poor.

No matter who you are, no matter how much you or your family makes, the housing crunch will affect you and your community, and not in a good way. Over the next several years, UCD will be adding thousands of students, and not coming close to providing enough housing for them. I fear this will make an already bad situation worse, forcing students to live off campus, exacerbating the high rents, abusive landlord practices, mini dorms and overcrowded apartments.

The recent passage of the housing bills will help, but it’s certainly not enough. Let’s hope our elected officials are up for the challenge.

Sean Raycraft is a lifelong Davis resident and Shop Steward.



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72 thoughts on “It’s Damn Expensive Being Poor In Davis”

  1. Tia Will

    Hi Sean,

    Thanks for the article. I am usually more optimistic than this, but I do not feel that the city is likely to have much success in addressing these needs in the near future even if we were to adopt a “grow as fast as we can” strategy.

    Why not ? Because the couple’s story you related about the rent increase was exactly what my daughter and her partner encountered in Sacramento a year ago. They had a lovely one bedroom apartment in a converted 1900 ( ish) house in which the landlady had held their rent the same for 4 years. For personal reasons, she had to sell. New owners were going to raise their rent by $ 400/mos in 30 days, but with a huge catch. They were going to completely remodel the building starting within a few months making the apartment unavailable. Again, I stress in Sacramento.

    They started looking for apartments and could find nothing for even close to what they had been paying. We decided to expand the search to homes for sale. That was when we discovered the real scope of the problem. Homes within biking distance of  UCDMC were being scooped up faster than you could have a realtor show them. The home we eventually bought together had been purchased the previous year for cash by a couple fleeing the costs of the Bay Area. They subsequently put my daughter’s house on the market because they found another house they liked better. They paid cash for that one too. At the time we saw the house 3 days after it listed, they already had four bids. We made our decision same day and got “lucky” by bidding up.

    I think it is obvious that people who do not have incomes in the range of doctors are not going to have a chance of being competitive for housing given this dynamic, and that the situation is regional, at least in the most in demand spots, not local. I do not have any idea how to address this problem, but I do know that it remains inextricably tied to the financial dynamic of the Bay Area.

  2. Don Shor

    From a comment on Davis Wiki about one of the older apartment complexes in east Davis:

    2017-06-27 01:13:55   I have lived here 2 years and am moving out. New owners have raised the rent from $995 to 1500/mo on the one bedrooms that are only 480sqft and from $1095 to $1800 for 2 br that are only 700sqft. They say they are putting in nice porches and cleaning up the place and remodeling, but don’t tell you that they will be charging $100/mo extra for you to have you own parking spots in your complex and not paying water sewer or garbage that’s now extra as well. Do not move here without looking elsewhere first you can get a lot more for your money. —Xspeedracer

     

  3. Richard C

    ….but its also a problem that needs to be addressed by our elected officials and the community as a whole.

    What do you propose that our elected officials do?

    1. Richard C

      If I was a betting man I’d put my money on ‘rent control’.

      Perhaps someone can explain how ‘rent control’ is going to create housing for the thousands of additional students the University will bring in over the next few years.

        1. Sean Raycraft

          Im curious to hear what solutions to the housing crisis others have. Because while the issue goes unaddressed, people are suffering. People are becoming homeless. PEOPLE WITH TWO JOBS ARE NOW HOMELESS! Im not advocating for any one housing policy, but for f—- sake we *have* to do something.

          [moderator] edited

        2. Richard C

          Im curious to hear what solutions to the housing crisis others have.

          I suggest that you focus your energy on getting the University to build more student housing on campus.  As you know, the increase in the student population without a sufficient increase in housing is largely driving the low occupancy rate and the high cost of housing in Davis. This is resulting in the situation you are seeing where retail and service employees in Davis are finding it very difficult to find housing they can afford in Davis.

          1. Don Shor

            focus your energy on getting the University to build more student housing on campus.

            Nobody in Davis has any leverage whatsoever over the university.

        3. Jim Hoch

          “I suggest that you focus your energy on getting the University to build more student housing on campus.”

          People have been doing that for more than a decade with nothing to show for it. Why do you think it will lead to near term results now?

        4. Richard C

          People have been doing that for more than a decade with nothing to show for it. Why do you think it will lead to near term results now?

          Since Sean says that “we *have* to do something” it would seem that the best place to start is by pressuring the University Administration to provide more student housing.  I doubt that it would produce near term results; but I don’t see anything else that would produce near term results either.

  4. Alan Miller

    These stories are gut wrenching.

    However, I read into it a hidden message between the lines, don’t I?

    “Rent Control”

    The above is no panacea.  Rent is determined by market forces, and the market forces are pretty awful right now.  The fact is, Davis is an expensive place if you don’t own, and it’s going to get much worse, and there’s very little anyone can do about it.  It sucks.

    Rent control puts a bandage on a broken arm, and it’ll be good for some people who rent long-term, and really hurt investment in the town.  It doesn’t magically lower rents.

    1. David Greenwald

      I agree that Rent Control is not a panacea, but as I suggested last week, this issue is coming because it is one tool among many that we have to contain costs.

    2. Sean Raycraft

      Davis is an expensive place if you don’t own, and it’s going to get much worse, and there’s very little anyone can do about it.  It sucks.

      This is true, but what is lost by trying to make the situation better? I for one am tired of seeing people suffer, just so some landlord can have a third luxury car.

      1. Jim Hoch

        Sean, do you have a particular landlord in mind? If you were to get reality based for a minute you would realize many rental properties are owned by REITs and REITS are a popular investment class for, wait for it, union pension funds!

        For example Calpers https://www.calpers.ca.gov/docs/real-estate-strategic-plan.pdf

        So next time you want to see a greedy landlord look in the mirror.

         

        1. Howard P

          Actually, Jim, as someone who has mutual fund investments in REIT-type funds, they generally look for long-term results, not short-term opportunities… they abhor volatility…

          Davis would not even be a ‘blip’… they also focus on commercial and some MF… they try to stay away from the latter due to potential liabilities… REIT’s generally lend money to property owners… they rarely own, manage, or get involved in ‘trivia”, such as rental rates…

        2. Jim Hoch

          Howard, Many REIT focus on MF and they either manage them or hire someone like Tandem to do so. They can produce both operational and investment gains though usually investment gains are the bigger share. Sean’s demonization of landlords is absurd and I’m surprised he did not post a graphic of the tycoon from Monopoly.  Most landlords are either small operations with a few properties or large corporations.

          There were several set up after the meltdown that bought huge numbers of properties though i’m not sure how many still hold those. Natomas and Elk Grove saw a lot of action but not so much in Davis.

  5. Mark West

    Sean does an excellent job of describing some of the impacts of our housing policy here in Davis. According to the City’s website, 55% of residents live in rental housing, which means that the majority of residents in town are potentially subject to housing insecurity issues similar to those described here. Unfortunately, most do not have the personal or family resources available to simply buy a house when the rental situation becomes unreasonable.

    While there are both regional and State-wide conditions that add to the problem, the severe shortage of housing in Davis was primarily created by the policy decisions of our own community. We created the local shortage when we chose to limit the expansion of new housing to a rate that was much slower than the rate of population growth. We exacerbated the problem further when we stopped building new apartments of any kind for the better part of a decade, leading to our current 0.2% apartment vacancy rate instead of the 5% rate more typical of a ‘healthy’ rental market. While the desire to reduce urban sprawl is rational and environmentally sound, the decision to stop building rental housing was not.

    The obvious solution then is to increase the supply of housing in the local market in concert with the expanding need. To do so, while also protecting farmland, we need to be building high-density multi-family apartments, townhouses, and condominiums as infill projects spread throughout the core and existing neighborhoods. The opportunity for secure, appropriate housing, located in the community where you work or go to school is something that should be available to all the residents of Davis, not just to those with the means to own land.

    The siren call of rent stabilization regulations (aka rent control) will result in the loss of rental housing in the community and will consequently only exacerbate the current problems of housing insecurity. Regardless, it is clear that rent control is likely to become a factor in the upcoming City Council election.

     

     

    1. Ron

      Mark:   “We created the local shortage when we chose to limit the expansion of new housing to a rate that was much slower than the rate of population growth.”

      What “rate” of population growth?  The University’s?

      Mark:  “We exacerbated the problem further when we stopped building new apartments of any kind for the better part of a decade . . .”

      “We” did no such thing.  The recession (caused by the previous housing bust) reduced apartment proposals everywhere.

      Mark:  ” . . . we need to be building high-density multi-family apartments, townhouses, and condominiums as infill projects spread throughout the core and existing neighborhoods.”

      Mixed-use developments are exempt from Affordable housing requirements.  Any new housing is not going to be “affordable”, unless it’s subsidized.  (Especially throughout the core and in existing neighborhoods.)

      1. David Greenwald

        ““We” did no such thing.  The recession (caused by the previous housing bust) reduced apartment proposals everywhere”

        Thats not a really accurate comment

        1. Ron

          David:  That’s not what I’ve been reading.

          But, I think Mark’s statement that “we chose to limit the expansion of new housing to a rate that was much slower than the rate of population growth” is inaccurate.  (That’s the crux of his argument, as well.)

          I’m not even sure what it means. (Compared to what – UCD? the region? the state? the country? SACOG requirements?) Or, can one compare it to the actual rate of increase of Davis, itself?

        2. Ron

          David:  You’re not answering my question (which was actually a challenge to Mark).

          You already know the answer to the question you’ve asked (at least, regarding market-rate apartments). We can speculate, regarding the reason for that.

          Sterling is not what I’d call a traditional market-rate apartment. (It’s student housing.)

        3. Ron

          David:  My challenge to Mark was based upon his statement:  “We chose to limit the expansion of new housing to a rate that was much slower than the rate of population growth.”

          There was no timeframe, baseline, or comparison provided.  (I had assumed that he was at least partly referring to the period in which the country experienced an extended recession, caused by the last “housing crisis”.)

          Regarding your question, answer it yourself (if you so desire).  You already know the answer, better than I do.  (But, we can only speculate, regarding the reason.)

          If your point is that Davis should only approve housing developments which meet a particular “mix” (e.g., single-family, townhomes, mixed-use, Affordable (rental/sale), traditional apartments, student apartments, etc.) to match some (undefined) rate of population growth, then I’d say that you’re creating unrealistic (and unattainable) goals.

           

           

           

        4. David Greenwald

          You said: ““We” did no such thing.  The recession (caused by the previous housing bust) reduced apartment proposals everywhere”

          I’m challenging that.

        5. Howard P

          As David said, and glad he said it first, that is not quite true… and compared to other communities locally, in CA, in the US, flatly untrue… the Davis ‘downturn’ was pretty much single digits… investors knew that … they were waiting to buy low, sell high… increasing profit.

          Have no clue what you have been reading… feel free to share, particularly if it has to do with Davis… would be interested to see the source and ‘where published’…

          Rate of population “demand” (people who wanted to live here, who worked or studied here) is different than ‘actual population growth’ based on availability of housing… so, you are correct, as to growth in population, given same # of people/unit… but, as evidenced by Sean’s account, market forces have driven up the costs and nature of the ‘arrangements’, including couch hoppers’ and min-dorms… and commuters…

          More people/unit, and more cost per person and/or per unit.

          Mark is correct on that aspect… we have not kept up with housing based on the number of people who work and/or study here.  Which is a different number than ‘population’… separate statistics…

           

        6. Ron

          O.K. – I conducted a quick search.

          From article, regarding housing construction in Sacramento:

          On the other hand, the situation is worse for multi-family construction. Multi-family starts peaked in 2004 with just over 2,800 units built that year. 2014’s performance of 750 multi-family units started is a vast improvement over the 25 units started in 2014. However, some progress needs to be made before reaching a stable multi-family re

          http://journal.firsttuesday.us/sacramento-county-housing-indicators/44438/recovery.

           

        7. Ron

          Howard:  ” . . we have not kept up with housing based on the number of people who work and/or study here.”

          Based upon commuting patterns recently cited in the Vanguard, “other” cities (such as Sacramento) haven’t “kept up” with the number of people who work there (but are “forced” to live in Davis, or other nearby communities).

          (Actually, parts of Sacramento aren’t exactly inexpensive.)

           

      2. Don Shor

        What “rate” of population growth? The University’s?

        The university is certainly responsible for the major portion of local population growth, yes. When Chancellor Katehi announced in 2011 that they would be adding 6000 students and 3000+ faculty and staff to a city with a population of about 60,000, I think it’s safe to say that is the largest factor. There have been a few other new employers as well.

    2. Howard P

      Mark… your first paragraph.. that 45/55 has remained surprisingly constant over the last 35+ years…  but if you have a mortgage, and unless you were dumb enough to take out an ARM and keep it, you re pretty “housing secure”.

      The rest of your comments seem to agree ~90% with mine…

    1. Ron

      Jim:  This article is about the “working poor”, who might (or might not) be students.

      Rent control can help long-term renters.  (Generally not students.)

      Davis isn’t going to “build its way” to affordability (for anyone). (Even if a certain senior mobile home park is “razed”.) (However, I believe the current real estate market is headed for a correction.)

      Some are still trying to ensure that UCD builds sufficient housing to accommodate its own plans (in the only location that can legally be reserved for students).

       

      1. Richard C

        it seems the article is the opening salvo in a rent control based run for city council.

        You might be right; however, the article does not mention ‘rent control’ and the comments here have pointed out that rent control really does nothing to create more housing.

      2. Howard P

        Rest assured, if it looks like ‘rent control regulations’ are seriously considered, most if not all landlords (who do it as a profession rather than just renting out their former SF house) will notify tenants of significant rent increases, above and beyond the ‘status quo’… regardless of the outcome of the measure (hey need to lock in an increased profit!)… that will perhaps raise the vacancy rate due to those who cannot afford the increases… people will be displaced, landlords will get more profit (regardless)… it is what it is…

        1. Tia Will

          it is what it is”

          Sorry Howard, but this is one of my least favorite expressions. The truth is that “it is what we allow it to be”. We through our individual actions and votes for our representatives create “what is”.

          Now before I get jumped with the “so what is your solution” comments, I have already conceded ignorance the same way you might if I asked you which type of hysterectomy would be best to perform.

          But the phrases “it is what it is” and its “market forces” rely on ignoring the obvious that this conditions are human created and thus subject to human change given the will to do so. I suspect that is what we do not have since we are such a profit driven society, by choice, not necessity.

        2. Howard P

          Damn straight it is legal… basic principle… government cannot pass ex post facto laws.

          For an entity that is not currently under a rent control ordinance, a landlord in that entity merely needs to go on written record that the terms of the next lease will provide for a XX% rent increase.  In the mortgage industry, analogous situation is a “lock”.

          Any ordinance introduced or passed after that, and certainly after the new lease goes in effect (perhaps by not renewing for current tenants), the ordinance cannot apply, retroactively…

          In the past when gun control legislation appeared imminent, there have big upticks in purchase of weapon and ammunition.  Same principle.

        3. Howard P

          So, Tia, you would have us repeal the US and State Constitutions, (also retroactively), because you don’t like the concept of “it is what it is”, in the very narrow context where I used the term?… IMHO, that is a “fool’s errand”.

          I was talking about the retroactive aspect… and the ways folk can skirt the concern of having rent control imposed on them…

           

  6. Greg Rowe

    The commenters who said that rent control is not the answer have a point. I recently met a woman who has lived in the same rent controlled apartment in San Francisco for many years.  I asked her if the owner makes repairs and upgrades.  She replied that he does not. His explanation to her is that he does not derive sufficient rental income from her unit and the other units in the building to justify the cost of upgrades.  Nothing will change in her unit until she leaves.  Having recently retired, she’s now planning to move out of SF. The new tenant will get an upgraded apartment, but of course at a higher rent.

    And of course, UCD’s explosive enrollment is a big part of the problem. As I mentioned at the Vanguard conclave last week, UCD’s 3-quarter average enrollment when I moved to Davis in 1999 was 22,364.  The 3-quarter average during the 2016-17 was 33,391.  That’s an increase of about 11,000 students–or 50%–in just 18 years.  In contrast, the population of the City of Davis only grew from 60,308 in April of 2000 to 68,740 on January 1, 2017, or about 14%. The net result is that 63% of UCD’s current enrollment lives off campus in Davis and another 8% are filling rental space in other cities such as Dixon, Winters, Woodland, West Sac and Sacramento.  Another aspect is the acquisition of single family homes by well-off individuals so that their kids can live in them while attending UCD.

    1. Jim Hoch

      The biggest downside for students is that rent control induces people to stay in units longer than they would otherwise. This lowers the number of units for rent and increases the price. Try renting an apartment in Santa Monica sometime. There are very few places available and all of them at very high rents. It also incents landlord to leave units vacant longer while asking for a higher price. Since they may not be able to raise the rent for a decade or more they want to get the highest base rent each time a unit is vacant.

      1. Mark West

        The other impact is that landlords choose to limit occupancy per bedroom as a method of reducing expenses. When rent control was implemented in Berkeley while I was a student, many apartments that had allowed two residents per bedroom changed the lease to only allow one per room, an effective 50% reduction in available beds and 100% increase in rent per tenant.

      2. David Greenwald

        I’m not really understanding the logic behind this statement. Assuming there is a constant in available rentals, people staying in one space rather than moving around should not affect supply or availability.

        1. Jim Hoch

          If you have a Renoir painting and you donate it to a museum then you have just increased the value of the other Renoir paintings because anyone who might want to buy one has fewer to choose from. Since lots of people would like to have  Renoir painting, and he is not longer in production, reducing supply raises prices.

          With rent stabilization (thanks Darryl) people are encouraged to stay in their units longer so there are fewer available for rent. With increasing numbers of students and fewer units each year it will be a classic squeeze. Try renting an apartment in Santa Monica for example.

          Students will not see any benefit from rent stabilization as they will not be there long enough. This policy is so student-hostile that it may an fact motivate them to vote.

  7. Sean Raycraft

    Well, I think you all are missing the point. That being, the status quo is *totally* unacceptable. We have a situation where people are literally having their lives destroyed by astronomical rent increases.

    In C.S.’s case, what is he getting for his 600 more a month? Is he getting a nicer place? Is he getting some furniture? A gym membership? Maybe a zip car? Access to a pony? Or maybe the landlords just magically incurred 600$ a month in additional expenses? Fact is that its none of these things. Hes getting the same freaking apartment, one year older. Its greed. Its cynical opportunism, excessive extraction of rent, its heartless exploitation of the vulnerable. The students, the poor, people on fixed incomes. They are demanding 600 more a month, because they can, they want that third sports car, a new boat and a new wardrobe, and frankly, that pisses me off.

    While we quibble about what minor tweaks to policy we can make, peoples lives are being destroyed, through no fault of their own. Maybe yall can be perfectly happy with comfortable lives perfectly oblivious to the suffering of others, but I cant. I see it every day, and I feel compelled to actually do something about it. The housing crisis is negatively affecting our community, at all levels, no matter who you are, that is, unless you happen to be a professional landlord.

    Unquestionably, housing and land use issues will be campaign issues for next years council race.  Its also certain that the status quo is unacceptable, and unless things are done differently, the quality of life for Davis citizens is going to decline.

    Some commenters have mentioned an opening salvo. Well yeah, it is. I plan on fighting on housing justice issues next year. We cant wish these problems away. If you all care about these issues, I suggest you get involved, its the only way anything will ever change.

     

    1. Richard C

      Maybe yall can be perfectly happy with comfortable lives perfectly oblivious to the suffering of others, but I cant. I see it every day, and I feel compelled to actually do something about it.

      OK, so what exactly do you suggest that our elected representatives “do something about it”?

      1. David Greenwald

        That is the critical question – there is a clear problem that is quite serious – people in this community seem to be either be: unaware of the severity of the problem, unwilling to do something about, unsure as to what to do.

        1. Don Shor

          Increasing the supply of rental housing for young adults would reduce the rate of rent increases. If the university would phase out their master leasing of private supply, that would make an immediate difference. Improved transit options from nearby communities. Expanded rent subsidies. Higher-density zoning, higher-density development.

    2. Tia Will

      Sean

      I could not agree with you more that this is a greed based issue. Unfortunately the kind of sweeping changes that would be needed to adequately address the issue such as a UBI / universal health care uncoupled from employment / affordable higher education / little affordable housing, are national not community issues and will take generations to address which is of small comfort to those suffering today.

      I freely confess to being amongst those who are basically paralyzed not by lack of awareness, or lack of caring, but by lack of any concept of how to realistically approach the problem without substantially harming another vulnerable group since it is always, always the most vulnerable who end up harmed.

      1. Keith O

        When my kids returned to CA after college they moved to Woodland to save on rent until they found an affordable duplex in Davis.  I saw no evidence that their lives were destroyed.

    1. Jim Hoch

      So-called “YIMBYs” are mostly just developer front groups. The best known is Yimby Action and if you look at their BoDs you see:

      Sam Moss

      Executive Director of Mission Housing, a Non-profit Affordable Housing Developer

      Laura Fingal-Surma

      Small Project Developer

      Victoria Fierce

      Engineer

       

      Not really surprising that developers would want to present themselves as a grassroots group.

       

  8. Darryl Rutherford

    Just a few tidbits on rent control:

    It’s illegal under Costa Hawkins…what cities enact is rent stabilization which allows landlords to raise their rent a certain percentage or based on a percentage of the CPI
    It can only be enforced on multi-family units built prior to 1995 (when Costa Hawkins was passed). Single family homes are exempt. Housing built after ’95 is also exempt.
    Property owners can pass along the costs of repairs and maintenance to renters under rent stabilization, although they may need to do so more gradually than they would w/o rent regulation. If a jurisdiction has a strong Proactive Rental Housing Inspection Program than habitability issues are addressed through that program

    I’m glad to see these conversations take place here in town. With the recently signed state laws, the City of Davis should be seriously considering updating their housing policies. We will be presenting a housing platform that I hope candidates for CC will seriosly consider and debate.

     

  9. Tia Will

    Howard

    My comment was a criticism of the phrase and attitude, not of you.

    I have no idea how you made the leap to changing the constitution. What I would suggest is that we gradually, one individual, one family at a time accept our personal contribution to the problem of uncontrolled greed. Not all societies are based on material acquisition. We have chosen this as the basis for ours. We could also “unchoose” it.  A few years ago a previous poster had written a series of very practical articles on how to live a more simple, less wasteful life. This more minimalist approach is attainable and in the long run would help alleviate many of our problems. But it involves asking how can I help in my own life rather than what can I acquire in my own life. We could do this as individuals and eventually as a society if we chose to do so. So far we have not at vast material harm to our society and our communities and our planet.

    We are the only species that has the ability to consciously choose wisely, and yet we abdicate this responsibility in ways great and small.

    1. Howard P

      Sorry…  given the parsing of my reading from your post, yeah, I took it as a personal comment…

      That said, you’re preaching to the choir here… the only rent increases we did, for a SF rental we had, was to cover increases in property tax, repair due to tenant neglect, and City Utilities… over a 13 year period.  Ending lease was $1950/month of a 1350 sf, 3BR 2 Ba house in a nice neighborhood close to schools.  Replace heating/air and roof in that time.

      We had lived in the home, outgrew it, and rented it to keep our options open as a place we were considering down-sizing to… it was held as an ‘investment’, not a ‘cash cow’… @ damn near money market rates, given the expenses… our long-term plans changed, and sold it to a young family who had been renting a similar house.

      At the current value of our current home, no way we could afford to buy its like again, in Davis.  We bought it @ ~ $100/sf.

    1. Howard P

      You know, Keith, as I no longer have skin in the game, we should do a 5 year pilot rent control ordinance… can be repealed after 5 years, or extended… we’ll then see the effects of rent control in Davis, and have quantifiable data… if it “works”, folk who support it will be “saints”… if not, those adversely affected know who to run out of town.

      We’re home to a University campus… I’m game with trying an ‘experiment’ here… let’s do it!  Time’s a-wasting!

      If nothing is done, those in favor can continue to assert it would have ‘made things right’… let’s give them a chance to “put up or shut up”… I’ll vote for that… if they’re right, will acknowledge… if wrong, the soapbox will be kicked out from under them… win-win…

       

        1. Jim Hoch

          And how much do you think it will cost to set up the administration of this?

          The earlier dumb ideas of a kiosk in city hall and mediators, and public reviews of properties did not cost too much to humor people with. Of course since it seems to be the same brain trust why not go back to those and see how much good they are doing? Past performance is important.

          Setting up rent control will require a lot more and count on numerous lawsuits. Howard, your five year pilot, how much do you estimate it will cost with legal fees?

      1. Howard P

        I don’t care… I want to “call the question” and try a pilot thing… I think it will fail miserably… you raise a good point… any City costs… drafting the ordinance, processing it, enforcing it… every nickel and dime should be kept track of to measure it…

        City costs have not been part of the discussion thus far… you make a damn good point in raising that, and where will the money come from?  I can see it now… stick landlords with rent control then charge them fees to enforce it!

        Let’s let the proponents of RC answer that… I can’t be trusted to… I’m an opponent… maybe the proponents will get together and fund those costs, which might be refunded if it is a success… or continued so that it is revenue neutral to the City…

        But I am getting tired of this philosophical/theoretical discussion of whether it is right or wrong (been there, done that, several locales)… let’s just do it as a pilot project… 5 years.  Then, those proposing it as a solution, or significant part of the solution will either have to put up (with favorable results) or shut up…

        1. Jim Hoch

          Santa Monica is currently charging ~$200 per unit per year which the landlord can pass through to the tenant. I’m not sure if this fully covers it or not but this is for an existing program and not likely covering the startup costs.

        2. Jim Hoch

          The Rent Control registration fee of $198.00 per unit per year finances the services provided to administer the Rent Control Law. Registration fee bills are mailed to property owners each year by July 1. Any owner who has not received a registration fee bill for their property by the second week of July should contact Rent Control to obtain another copy of their bill.
          For 2017, payment is due no later than August 1.  Property owners who pay the annual registration fees on time may, with proper written notice, recover a portion of the registration fee from tenants.  Starting September 1, 2017, if registration fees were paid on time for a rental unit the owner may include an additional $8.25 in the monthly rent charged to tenants.

          [moderator] rescued from spam filter, link might have been a problem.

  10. Mike Hart

    Rent control is a fantastic way to create a new kind of landlord- “the tenant landlord” which is where a long-time tenant in a rent controlled unit then finds people who pay grossly inflated rents to become their sub-tenant and they pocket the difference. The landlord then has to play this game of chasing them constantly to determine if there are sub-tenants and try to evict the lot of them for violating the rental agreement. It is common practice in SF and NYC where rent control has created illegal wealth and no actual rent relief.

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