Most of the candidates showed up to a morning candidate’s forum at the Odd Fellows Hall, put on by the Yolo County Association of Realtors. Ezra Beeman however, was unable to make it, and Colin Walsh sat in for the second time for him. Larry Guenther also could not make it.
The second question was about localized rent control legislation.
Colin Walsh (for Ezra Beeman): Stanford University recently released a study on rent control that found that it benefited current renters at the expense of future renters. It works to reduce the supply of rental housing – so if you’re there before the rent control sets in – you’re a winner. If you come in after, you’re a loser. I’m talking about this whether or not there’s Costa-Hawkins in place. Ezra is an economist, and because of the economic principles involved, is opposed to rent control.
Gloria Partida: I agree if you are in a unit before the rent control goes in, then you are a winner and if you’re out, you’re a loser. We turn over so quickly in Davis that it doesn’t make any sense here. I see a lot of losers here over rent control. But I do believe that we have to something to help the renters that are in Davis. My cousin is having to move out of his unit because they’ve raised the rent and as he’s looking for another place to rent, they’re asking for each adult in the house to make three times the rent. That really makes it tough for families. If you are a couple of college students, then I could see putting that limitation on. But if you’re a family and maybe have one person who stays home half the time with kids, and you’re asking each adult to cover the rent three times, it makes it impossible. We do have to look at the burdens that we are placing on our renters in town.
Mark West: I absolutely oppose rent control. I was a student at Berkeley when it was implemented there. Overnight, the double-occupancy market rate apartments became single occupancy bedrooms. So it cut the inventory in half, raising the rent – doubling the rent for people in the process of looking for places to stay. Berkeley also spends $5 million a year managing their rent control program – Davis doesn’t have $5 million that it can throw away on a program like that. It’s just silly. What we need to do is just increase our inventory – by having more inventory rents will stabilize, start coming down. That would benefit everybody. Rent control is just bad policy.
Dan Carson: I also think rent control is a bad idea. I’m completely sympathetic to the students and the working poor in this town who are struggling to pay their rent. But I don’t think rent control is the answer either in the short term or the long term. In the short term, the cost for all of that regulation will get passed through from the landlords to the tenants. You could see significant short-term rent increases. In the longer term if we don’t build additional housing, because rent control will deter that construction of additional rental housing, you could see very serious disruption of the market. As a newspaper man in my youth I covered the rent control debate in San Diego, I went up to Santa Monica to see what happened up there and it was rental housing chaos. Including folks illegally demolishing apartment units in the middle of the night because the local authorities weren’t going to allow demolition permits. They lost housing. It isn’t the solution we need. Rent control will diminish property values. For local governments, property taxes are an extremely important source of revenue, that means in the long term we could lose the money we need to support our city government if rent control was enacted. It’s a bad approach.
Linda Deos: I don’t see how rent control is going to “fix” our problem of housing here in Davis. The issue here is we don’t have enough housing. We don’t have places for people
to live. Anything that is going to create disincentives to create the housing, I’m – I don’t think is the right direction to be going into. I fully understand the frustrations of trying to make rent and trying to keep up with rent going up and up and up. It’s happening not only here in Davis, it’s happening regionally from the Bay Area up through Sacramento and all around rents are going up. A lot of that has to do with the lack of housing stock. I don’t just mean single family homes. I mean multi-unit housing stock. We need to look into ways we can incentivize that going forward. We’re never going to be able to solve our housing crisis, whatever we may or may not be able to do. People still like California, people are moving here. People want to be here. We need to provide housing for folks – that’s why I want to push for smaller homes being built – again the affordable housing by design. We need to look at creative ways to create more housing. Rent control I don’t think is the way to do that.
Eric Gudz: Two reasons I can’t support rent control at this time. One being the concerns, first and foremost for students – the ones who would be mostly impacted by the turnover rate. As a renter myself, as somebody who has had to endure the astronomical increases in rent the last couple years in the city, as somebody who has had to pay a $4000 security deposit for a two-bedroom. There’s definitely a crisis, definitely a problem. It’s to a point where we’re losing like scores and scores of families that are no longer interested in helping out and being a part of the Davis community. It’s definitely a serious issue, but until we fix Costa-Hawkins or until we repeal Costa-Hawkins, until we address some of the other fundamental issues with some of our larger housing dynamics and policy at the State Capitol, that program will simply not benefit our community in the long term. Thinking about rent stabilization and some of the ways we can control rents with our commercial real estate. Obviously we need to be thinking about our housing stock where people are living, but we also have a very serious issue downtown with some of the rents skyrocketing. That’s putting a lot of pressure on our turnover. It’s preventing a lot of small businesses to survive and thrive downtown. I think we need to be taking a serious look at that as well.
Mary Jo Bryan: When I started looking at rent control a bit more, I thought of Prop. 13. I had a Prop. 13 house, but I stayed living in my house for over 40 years. I really benefit from it. The family that moved in after me is paying a huge amount of property tax. This is the kind of way about how rent control also works. We have such a turnover in students, it just would be horrible for an increasing rent on them. What the landlord gave up, he’ll get back. I’m also thinking of our housing market and housing stock. Basically we have allowed so many student dorms into Davis proper – not on campus – and that restricts a multi-unit family kind of housing. I am happy to hear Will Arnold say, let’s get away from that a little bit. A little bit too late – my feeling. I had to struggle with Sterling Apartments and the demolition of FamiliesFirst for a student dorm apartments. I think that we have to get away (from) that, and the next proposal that comes up will probably be Pacific Standard, and that will be back to traditional multi-unit apartments and I’m happy to vote for that.
Luis Rios: Davis, we pride ourselves on being a quality community. I always receive emails from students, let me just read this quickly. This is from a UC Davis student: ‘Every time rent goes up, in Davis, students have to scramble for new housing and financial pressures increase. IF Davis wants to keep its welcoming reputation, we need to (e)nsure all members of the community are having their needs met. This does not mean the university should not be held accountable. But the city should have more motivation to cooperate particularly regarding housing.’ We need to elect the right people. We can’t be going into the same direction year after year after year. We need smart housing. We need to build more homes. I know a lot of young families who (rent) apartments because they want their children to be educated in our public schools. Now they’re raising money to buy a starter home. Or maybe they rent a home and then move onto a starter home. That’s been the process for years and years. We’ve got to think smart and build. Rent control may not be the right answer right now but we need to elect the right people and build homes for everybody – middle class people, working class families, and grow the right way.
—David M. Greenwald reporting