Will A Repeal of Costa-Hawkins Get on the Ballot for November?

The deadline to qualify is June 25.  In April, supporters announced that they had gathered enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot.  It has not been officially certified as of yet.

Repealing the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act would allow California cities the option to expand rent control.  Right now, 15 California cities have rent control policies.

Costa-Hawkins right now protects a landlord’s right to raise the rent to market rate on a unit once the tenant moves out and it prevents cities from establishing rent control on units constructed after February 1995.

Last year, Assemblymember Richard Bloom introduced AB 1506 but it failed to get out of the Assembly Committee, losing 3-2.  He argued that even if Costa-Hawkins were repealed, it would not have a huge immediate impact, as cities would have to pass new rent control ordinances before the repeal would yield much impact.  However, he believes that getting rid of Costa-Hawkins would give cities increased flexibility in setting rent control policies.

Opponents worry about the impact of getting rid of Costa-Hawkins.  The LAO (Legislative Analyst’s Office) in 2016 analyzed the repeal.  They found that the state’s shortage of housing “presents challenges for expanding rent control policies.”

Proposals to expand rent control often focus on two broad changes: (1) expanding the number of housing units covered—by applying controls to newer properties or enacting controls in locations that currently lack them; and (2) prohibiting landlords from resetting rents to market rates for new tenants.

The LAO writes: “Neither of these changes would increase the supply of housing and, in fact, likely would discourage new construction.”

Meanwhile, proponents of the repeal believe that the law has not protected tenants and has allowed rents to reach unaffordable heights.

In a May 8, 2018 op-ed in the LA Times, Tracy Rosenthal argued, “By voting for the Affordable Housing Act ballot measure this November, Californians can restore the rights of cities to use a powerful tool to stop this escalating crisis: rent control.”

She writes: “At a time when shrinking state and federal budgets can’t provide enough government-subsidized housing to meet our needs, rent control doesn’t require government funding. It takes years to build subsidized homes and decades for market-rate ones to become affordable; rent control can be implemented immediately. By keeping rent increases reasonable and protecting tenants from eviction, rent control builds strong and stable communities.”

She argues that “Costa-Hawkins accomplished four things, each devastating to the affordability of housing in the state.”

First, it “exempted single-family homes from rent control, encouraging Wall Street speculation.”  Second, it “removed all vacancy controls, making once affordable homes expensive.”  Third, it “legalized price-gouging.”  Finally, it supersedes local democracy.

She notes that “the relative success of L.A.’s limited rent control shows the promise of its expansion.”

Ms. Rosenthal, a member of the LA Tenants Union, explains: “L.A.’s 1978 ordinance limits rent increases to around 3%-5% a year — this is why even without vacancy controls, Mayor Eric Garcetti compared having a rent-controlled apartment to winning the lottery. As a 2009 report by L.A.’s Housing Department made clear, the ordinance protects tenants from being priced out of their homes when ‘hot’ markets boil. It also gives landlords reasonable returns on their investments as well as allowances to pass on renovation costs.”

She concludes: “As rents spike and the unhoused population swells, we can return to local governments the right to deter price-gouging and speculating, by repealing the 20-year-old, landlord-lobby Costa-Hawkins law.”

In a January Sacramento Bee editorial, Erika Smith of the Bee writes: “If not rent control, then what? California renters can’t afford to wait.”

Ms. Smith writes: “Grandmothers are getting price-gouged and put out in the street with nowhere else to go but a tent under a bridge. Entire families have had to move to different counties, with kids switching schools and parents commuting hours just to get to work. One woman told me how she keeps the receipts for her groceries so she can return them, if necessary, to pay her escalating rent.”

But she pointed out, when asked about alternative solutions to help renters stabilize their lives now, rent control opponents had no suggestions.

They argued that, if AB 1506 had passed, “the construction of new housing would’ve slowed to a standstill and tenants newly comfortable with low rents would stop moving, further limiting the supply of apartments while demand skyrocketed along with prices.”

The problem, as Ms. Smith points out, is “for abused renters, of which there are many in California, that scenario doesn’t sound a whole lot different than what’s happening right now without rent control. It’s hard to see how things could get worse.”

Ms. Smith concludes: “Rent control is far from a perfect solution and ballot initiatives are crude policy-making tools, at best. Hopefully, developers and landlords will huddle with tenants’ activists in the coming months to hammer out a legislative compromise that will be effective and palatable to both sides.”

When asked about the repeal of Costa-Hawkins, most of the council candidates opposed it.  However, one who did support it was Eric Gudz.

When addressing the issue at the Davis Downtown forum, Eric Gudz explained, “Before we even start talking about rent control, before we start talking about rent stabilization.  There are a few things that have to happen at the state level first.  A repeal of Costa-Hawkins is on the chopping block here.  I do support the repeal of Costa-Hawkins.  I think that’s a good first step for us to begin to open up the conversation and a bit more productive dialog.”

They added, “I don’t think a San Francisco style rent control is going to work here. A couple reasons for that, one is because of Costa-Hawkins. But second because we have a very active turnover within our population. We have a lot of students that are coming in and out, as we all know.

“What that does create is a lot of friction and tension when folks are coming in and out of housing. The cost of the increase in that rent is going to be borne through that changeover. While it does benefit greatly a lot of folks that are here for the long haul in the community, it does kind of present an acute issue, especially in the short term, especially when our vacancy rate is 0.4 percent.

“I think discussions need to happen with our rent stabilization. Discussions need to happen with ways in which we can incentivize the additional buildout of our supply, with our stock and university housing. I think there are a lot of things we can do to incentivize affordable by design units and units that are more accessible for folks who need a place to live in Davis.”

Is increased supply enough to overcome the need for rent control?  That could be a huge part of the debate for the fall, should the measure qualify for the November ballot.  We will find out in the next ten days.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Jim Hoch

    NIMBY (an acronym for the phrase “Not In My Back Yard”), or Nimby, is a pejorative characterization of opposition by residents to a proposed development in their local area.


    “rent control builds strong and stable communities”

    Both policies are highly reactionary “A reactionary is a person who holds political views that favor a return to the status quo ante”

    1. David Greenwald

      First of all, I don’t think using pejoratives is conducive for good public policy discussion. Second, I believe you’re straining to make the definition fit into a slot for which it was not intended.

      1. Jim Hoch

        I let the definitions speak for themselves and compare behavior to definitions.  I’m not sure what your reference to “pejoratives” refers to. While “reactionary” may be a dirty word to people whose self image is “progressive” in many cases their behavior is an attempt to return society to a real or imagined past and therefore “reactionary”. 

        “A reactionary is a person who holds political views that favor a return to the status quo ante, the previous political state of society, which they believe possessed characteristics (discipline, respect for authority, etc.) that are negatively absent from the contemporary status quo of a society”

        Therefore someone who believes that the previous state of society in Davis was preferable and we need to to return to that state is a reactionary.

  2. Ken A

    To answer Tia’s question the reason for 1995 was that Costa Hawkins actually passed in 1995 and it is easier to get a bill passed that only covers stuff built in the future (so an opponent to the bill can’t bring an old lady to Sacramento and say someone is taking her rent control away).  Historically all rent control (that I know of) on both the west and east coast has “only” covered older housing since you can’t get a loan to build any new rental homes or apartments when there is a law that limits the landlords ability to raise rents (needed to make monthly loan payments to the lender).

    If people think things are bad in Davis now adding rent control it will make it even harder to rent a place.  It will become practically impossible for any families to rent (I wonder if Eric knows this?) since no one wants to rent to anyone who may stay long term and risk getting killed financially since maximum allowable rent increases are usually less than increases in a landlords other expenses (click the link below to see the SF historical allowable rent increases with so many low numbers that it looks like a chart of Davis historical vacancy rates).


    P.S. I always wondered why people stopped with “rent” control and didn’t try to control other prices and make other local business like the grocery store, coffee shops and gas stations limit annual price increases to 60% of CPI…

      1. Ken A

        The “logic” of price controls for groceries, coffee and gas for long term residents would be the same as it is for rent control (buying votes) and the “math” would be the same raising the price for others to subsidize the people that have the below market prices.

        1. Ron

          It does not necessarily raise the price for others.  It might just cut into potential profit margins, instead.

          You’re putting forth the same type of argument that some use to oppose Affordable housing. And, it’s not necessarily true there, either.

        2. Ron

          Craig: Do you mean that it limits rental price increases?  As it’s done for some folks that I know of?

          Check out Ken’s link, above.  I haven’t done so, because I already know that it’s true (regarding keeping rent in check).

        3. Howard P

          You are opposed to profit, Ron?  Businesses should convert to ‘charities’?

          Think deeply, did you not “make a profit” when you sold your services in your job(s)?  If not, good luck in retirement…

          Oh, and stay out of stocks and mutual funds… no sense investing in things that make no “profits”…

          A distinction… I believe profits are good, but an extreme example of when they are wrong was the epi-pen guy, who having a big corner on the market could only see “the gold”…

    1. Ron

      Ken:  ” . . . since no one wants to rent to anyone who may stay long term and risk getting killed . . .”

      A repeal of Costa Hawkins would not address that concern.  Cities can enact rent control right now (under current law), to protect long-term renters from excessive increases in rent.

      A repeal of Costa Hawkins might more accurately be described as “vacancy control”, since it would prevent massive price increases for units when a tenant moves out.  In other words, it would keep prices in check for both short, and long-term renters.

      1. Ron

        And again, rent control would only be enacted if a city chooses to do so (with, or without a repeal of Costa Hawkins). Either way, rent control is not likely to be enacted outside of expensive areas.

        It’s also not likely that cities would apply rent control to new construction.

  3. Ron

    Money will flow in to ensure that this proposal is defeated. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stand a chance. Not enough renter/voters in expensive areas statewide, to get it passed.

    If the vote was limited to places like San Francisco/Berkeley, it would pass.

      1. Howard P

        Which is fine… do you realize Pacifica has one of the highest suicide rates in CA?  Not related to rental costs… lots to do with the number of days per year without sunshine, have heard…

        1. Keith O

          My son lives in Pacifica with a view of the ocean and State Beach. Almost every time I visit the weather is quite nice.  Years ago Pacifica was known for its foggy days but after talking several times to locals they say the weather has changed for the better, call it global warming or what not but things seem to have changed there.

      2. Ron

        I’m not surprised.  Wherever it’s proposed, there’s fierce battle (which is well-financed, from one side).

        Santa Rosa also recently voted down rent control, after such a battle.

        Those trying to repeal Costa Hawkins face a formidable and well-financed opponent.

        I used to be somewhat against rent control, or perhaps indifferent. As I learn more, I’m starting to view it in a more positive light.

        In reality, landlords/developers are the only ones who truly gain in a housing market that’s rising significantly. “Regular” homeowners don’t directly benefit, unless they sell their house and then move to a less-expensive area.


  4. Howard P

    The flip side of rent control, long term… if revenues cannot increase, what incentive does a landlord have to expend money on maintenance, repair, enhancements, to older structures?

    And, will rent control prohibit landlords for passing on increases in utilities costs, property/parcel taxes, etc.?

    Just asking, do not have the answers…

    1. Ron

      Howard:  Those costs are generally accounted for, within the allowable annual rent increase.  Also, I recently read an article stating that landlords can (also) pass on the cost of some repairs/improvements to tenants, depending upon how local ordinances are written.  (I don’t recall the details or where I read that, at the moment.)

      I’ve only recently started looking into this issue (rent control, Costa Hawkins, etc.). But, the more I learn about it, the more I like it.

      1. Howard P

        I know I passed on City utility increases when we were landlords… phone, PG&E, CATV were in the renter’s name/account. We actually didn’t fuss over changes in prop tax, etc., as the house was Prop 13’d, and we were not in it as an investment, per se… it was the home we built a family with, and held on to it, thinking we might want to “empty nest” there… yeah, also made sure we ‘covered our costs’… mortgage, insurance, basic taxes, maintenance, repair, etc.  We didn’t want it to be a “loss”, but the main ‘profit’ was actually quite nominal, after taxes… had 3 ‘families’ rent from us… the rents were very ‘stable’ but did increase over time…

        I have not studied the details of ‘rent control ordinances’, but know of our concerns…

        Did turn out to be a reasonably good investment… even tho’ that wasn’t our intent… stuff happens… quite frankly (although I’m not him), have actually done better (after taxes) with mutual funds.

        Although, our investments are having a “hit” today due to some things spouted by a prominent resident of DC… fortunately, no biggie, as we don’t anticipate drawing on those resources, until after I anticipate he’ll be long gone…

  5. Alan Miller

    Hey, I have an idea!

    Let’s solve a problem by making it much worse for some people, much better for others, and overall worse as a whole and even worse as time goes on.

    1. Howard P

      Think you “are onto something”, and reflect what others are saying (and adding the logical consequence of making everything overall worse)… BRAVO!

      Thank you for articulating what others seem to be saying, in an honest way…

      I get you point, here.  Je d’accord.

  6. Jeff M

    Another chapter in the liberal malady of eventually running out of other people’s money.

    In this case the “money” is owned real estate.

    Liberals reject the building of more housing and in the name of every pet “save the world and save the little people” program they can dream up, drive up the cost of development for everything else.

    Every now and then they get smart and implement programs like RDA… but as they continue to run out of other people’s money, they rob those programs too.

    And with a shrinking inventory of resources to serve the little people, liberals dream up new rules to more “fairly” apportion them… thus causing even more shrinkage of resources and a corresponding increase in the population of little people as the fall from economic security due to the lack of available resources.

    It is an interesting dilemma.  Mention these truths to a liberal and they will call you a racist and scream and the Vanguard editors to silence you.  Instead of listening to any discussion about the alternative of an abundance mindset serving the human condition to reduce the population of little people and make more resources available for all, they irrationally increase their energy in pushing for more “fairness” rules to live by that result in the opposite.

    Can anyone guess what the impact would be to future developers knowing that the rental property they would invest in would have even stronger rent controls placed on it?

    1. Craig Ross

      The more I read you, the less I believe you actually know – particularly about the left.  It’s not the left devaluing other people’s money that’s the problem here.  It’s the ownership class has profited by limiting the amount of housing units available to renters, creating artificial scarcity and driving up the price.  That’s not the left, it’s the money.  Stop artibuting to ideology what is better explained by class.

      1. Alan Miller

        The more I read you, the less I believe you actually know – particularly about the left.  

        While his “not making friends / not influencing people” approach is not particularly useful, Frank Lee (because he is) is not wrong on this.  About the “left”, yes, in that he is lumping everyone into the worst offenders and calling everyone that, which is just Rush Limbaugh tactics ho-hum.

        It’s not the left devaluing other people’s money that’s the problem here.  

        Government devaluing other people’s assets, yes.

        It’s the ownership class has profited by limiting the amount of housing units available to renters, creating artificial scarcity and driving up the price.  

        In Davis, that’s called Measure R.

        That’s not the left, it’s the money.  Stop artibuting to ideology what is better explained by class.

        Ideology, class.  Labels don’t change economic realities.

      2. Jeff M

        The more I read from you, the more I think you put your head in the sand.  It is absolutely ideologically-driven.

        If you disagree, then provide me one example of a Republican-dominated area, state, city, county that has restrictive development policies and rent control.

        Stop attributing to class what is better explained by ideology.

        1. Craig Ross

          Except for one problem Jeff, look at some of the key apartment owners in this town – guys like Jim Kidd, Dan Dowling, Greg McNese – all right wing Republicans, all opposed to Nishi.  Why?  Limiting new apartments means they can jack the renters with their sub-par housing.  You’re focusing too narrowly on rent control – the real issue is rent jacking.  republicans do it really well.

        2. Keith O

          Oh please, there are plenty of Democrats who do the same thing in this town that is around 85% left leaning.  Quit trying to make it political.  Next you will be blaming Trump.

        3. Craig Ross

          Bingo!  Thank you for making my point for me. As I wrote earlier: “Stop artibuting to ideology what is better explained by class.” I never once mentioned Trump.

        4. Jeff M

          Except for one problem Jeff, look at some of the key apartment owners in this town – guys like Jim Kidd, Dan Dowling, Greg McNese – all right wing Republicans, all opposed to Nishi.

          Craig.  I don’t know these three well enough to agree that they are right-wing Republicans.  But one thing I do know about Republicans in business is that they fully exploit the laws to their full extent to increase returns… even as they would vote to overturn those laws as being wrong.

          If you are a liberal and lament taxes being too low, do you pay more tax than you have to?

          It is like you are blaming the kids for playing in the sandbox and ignoring who made the sandbox and pushed them into it.  We see this type of thing all the time… the trade policies implemented by past politicians pursuing a liberal global new world order mean that the US has no textile industry, yet Trump is blamed for his branded ties being made in China… while Trump also blasts our past trade policies that destroyed our textile industry.  That is not hypocrisy any more that the liberal failing to pay more taxes than he owes is hypocrisy.

          While I agree in the basis of your response that landlord money-making pursuit crosses ideological lines, it is the system that these landlords operate that is ideologically designed, implemented and driven.  The rents are higher in liberal land.  That is a fact.

          The bottom line for me is that we cannot effectively solve any problems unless we understand the root causes of the problem.  And with respect to high housing costs in Davis and CA in general, it is liberal orthodoxy.

  7. Ron

    Alan:  “Let’s solve a problem by making it much worse for some people, much better for others, and overall worse as a whole and even worse as time goes on.”

    “Honest” question:  Who, exactly, does it make it ” much worse for”?  Landlords/developers?  Non-residents?

    I already know who benefits, from it. (Existing resident renters.)

    (I am not referring to the problem created by UCD, with this question.)

      1. Ron

        In general, young adult residents who move around a lot would be the biggest beneficiaries, if Costa Hawkins is repealed.

        Also, if they “don’t move around a lot”, they would benefit from rent control even if Costa Hawkins is not repealed. For example, if there is one long-term leaseholder in a unit, I understand that other tenants can move in/out without causing a rent increase. (At least, that’s my understanding.)

        1. Ron

          Once again, trying to edit (within the time allotted, after posting).  My 9:42 a.m. posting above shows that rent control could help those who DO move around a lot, as long as there’s at least one long-term leaseholder.  Even if Costa Hawkins is not repealed – at least, that’s my understanding.  (I’ve heard of situations like this.)

        2. Jim Hoch

          “as long as there’s at least one long-term leaseholder.”

          Then that person becomes the landlord and they can charge whatever they like for rooms.

          Rent control is like  unlimited street parking. After awhile the street becomes full of derelict vehicles because it’s the cheapest place to store them. Since it’s full of broken down RV’s and boat trailers there is no place to park.

        3. Ron

          Jim:  “Then that person becomes the landlord and they can charge whatever they like for rooms.”

          I’m not sure that’s legal, and/or could be prohibited by lease agreements. Seems like landlords would not be too happy, if someone else was collecting part of “their” rent.

          I’ve also heard of situations (over time) where the original leaseholder leaves, but is (somehow) replaced with someone who arrives later.  (Not sure if/how that occurs, or even where I heard about it, but it might be best described as a “shenanigan”.)

          Of course, if Costa Hawkins is repealed, then this wouldn’t be an issue anyway. (As you can see just from the postings on this page, that effort is going to have a challenging road ahead.)

        4. Ron

          And again, I’m not sure why you (and others) keep insisting that some repairs and improvements aren’t allowed to be charged to renters (in addition to annual, allowed increases).  I just read an article, which stated that landlords can pass such costs to renters, in rent-controlled cities. (I do not recall all of the details.)

          I can probably find that article, if you don’t believe it (or trust my recent memory).  Perhaps more than one article.  (Or, you can search for that information, on your own.)

        5. Jim Hoch

          When did I say that?


          “And again, I’m not sure why you (and others) keep insisting that some repairs and improvements aren’t allowed to be charged to renters (in addition to annual, allowed increases)”

        6. Ron

          Jim:  It seems implied in your comment, here:

          Jim:  “After awhile the street becomes full of derelict vehicles because it’s the cheapest place to store them. Since it’s full of broken down RV’s and boat trailers there is no place to park.”

        1. Ron

          Craig:  See my 9:51 a.m. post, above.

          But again, I am not trying to address the problem created by UCD, here. We all agree that more student housing is needed somewhere, and/or UCD shouldn’t be pursuing increased enrollments without taking responsibility for it. (Especially full-tuition, non-resident students.)

        2. Ron

          As a side note (and not to belabor the point), UCD could effectively ensure real “rent control” for all of the rentals on campus (for the benefit of its own students, as well as any of their faculty/staff living there), if it was so inclined. (Or, perhaps if it was part of an agreement, as mentioned in the city’s proposed mitigations to the EIR for the LRDP.)

          That possibility seems much less likely among landlords who operate within the city, especially in the absence of a local rent control ordinance.

        3. Ron

          Just reviewed the city’s proposed mitigations, and it looks like it’s actually not in there.  (My apologies.) I was probably thinking of this, instead:

          Proposed Mitigation Measure #3 – The University will commit to housing students of all incomes, and will incorporate innovative affordable housing models, including cooperative housing.

          But, there’s nothing preventing the possibility of some type of rent control, in a future agreement. (I recall that Don once provided an example of a university (a UC, I believe) which ensures that its rental housing is kept below market value as part of some kind of agreement. Perhaps he could clarify, and repost that.)

        4. Howard P

          So, Ron, who will pay for the subsidization of housing costs on campus?  UCD is a “not for profit”, ostensibly… so if the cost of building, maintaining, repairing housing on campus isn’t reflected in the costs charged to students, who makes up the difference?

        5. Ron

          Well, for one thing, how about those full-tuition, non-resident students who pay them in excess of $42,000/year?  (The same ones that UC has been more aggressively pursuing, in recent years.)

          Where is that money going, now?

          I can repost some highly critical state audits of the UC system, if you’d like. (But, I’m sure that you’ve already seen them, since I’ve posted them in the past.)

          Also, it’s not like they would receive “no” rent, even if increases were kept in check.

        6. Craig Ross

          “Where is that money going, now?”

          Rich administrators?  It’s not like they have huge amounts to spare, hence the aborted threat to raise tuition.

        7. Ron

          I recall someone once posted the compensation of UC administrators.  (And frankly, some faculty probably do all right, as well.)

          Tough to know what’s “fair”. But again, there’s been some highly critical state audits. Those tend to carry more weight, and are not as personal in nature. No one wants to see their compensation posted, publicly. I can’t blame them, for that.

    1. Alan Miller

      Make much worse:  new renters, moving renters, owners of rental property (including one) in rent control areas.

      Overall:  Government involvement, sucking resources from the whole.

        1. Jim Hoch

          When did I say that?


          “And again, I’m not sure why you (and others) keep insisting that some repairs and improvements aren’t allowed to be charged to renters (in addition to annual, allowed increases)”

        2. Alan Miller

          > Already addressed those points, elsewhere on this page.

          So what?

          Your having addressed something doesn’t make you right.

          Your arguing with every person who doesn’t believe your world view doesn’t make you right.

          Your never letting go doesn’t make you right.

          All you need do is state your point of view and stop.  Arguing with everyone ad naseum doesn’t advance the dialog one bit.

  8. Mark West

    If your goal is to limit the production of more rental housing inventory, then rent control is a great tool. If your goal is to see the current inventory of rental housing deteriorate due to lack of maintenance and reinvestment, then rent control is still a great tool. If you really want to damage the quality of life for renters, and thereby limit the number of renters ‘fouling the waters’ of your little corner of nirvana, repeal Costa-Hawkins, pass rent control and renew Measure R, the combination will be unbeatable.

    If, on the other hand, your goal is to provide an opportunity for appropriate housing for all residents of Davis while improving their quality of life, get rid of Measure R, support Costa-Hawkins and reject rent control.

    1. Ron

      Mark:  “If your goal is to see the current inventory of rental housing deteriorate due to lack of maintenance and reinvestment, then rent control is still a great tool.”

      Me (from above):  “. . . I recently read an article stating that landlords can (also) pass on the cost of some repairs/improvements to tenants, depending upon how local ordinances are written.”

      (You can probably research/verify this on your own, if I don’t have time to find that article again.)

      I also read another article, which stated that even if Costa Hawkins is repealed, it’s not likely that cities would apply rent control to new construction. (See San Francisco, for example.)

      1. Ron

        (The San Francisco reference was typed at the last moment, in error.)  But, the point still applies – it’s probably not likely that even cities such as San Francisco would apply rent control to new construction, if Costa Hawkins is repealed.)

    2. Ken A

      Ron asks ““Honest” question:  Who, exactly, does it make it ” much worse for”?”

      Don mentions people who move a lot (go to Craig’s List and look at San Francisco and Santa Monica rents if you don’t believe Don).

      Mark mentions other people in the city who have to look at run down property since no one wants to pay for a new roof or a paint job if rent increases are capped at 5% to cover capital items and it takes 20 years to get your investment back.

      Other people that it will make it worse for is ALL other taxpayers since it will reduce the tax increases related to improving rental property since a lot less people with do it when it takes 20 years to get your investment back.  Many people don’t know that if I spend $100K to add a carport and covered beer pong patio to make my rental property more attractive to students that the county adds the $100K to the assessed value of the property and the taxes go up.

      1. Ron

        Ken:  It’s kind of a waste of time to participate, if you’re not going to read or respond to points that I’ve already addressed (such as my 9:30 a.m. comment, above).

  9. Jim Hoch

    The one good thing about rent control with no vacancy decontrol is that it devalues small multifamily buildings enough that it becomes attractive to buy them for cheap and kick out the renters. While a cheap redo leads to an odd configuration you can get a lot of square feet very reasonably that way. Old North Davis would be prime hunting.

    This was very popular in Santa Monica before 1995.

    1. Ron

      Seems to me that it’s becoming increasingly difficult in such areas to “kick out the renters”.  (Even if owners intend to occupy it, afterward.)

      The only actual argument I can think of against real rent control is that it infringes upon the “right” of others to make a profit, via development and rental real estate. And, one can then argue if that right is more important than other factors (keeping development and rent in check, for example).

      1. Howard P

        Nice double entendre (or, two edged sword)… makes it more difficult to expel the renters who are toxic/destructive/irresponsible, makes it more difficult to “play” good renters who should have stability.

        Two-edged sword…

        As I said, I pretend not to know “the answer”… we did decline to renew the lease for a problematic tenant… took a bunch of renovation (largely due to the renter… we had been doing maintenance and upgrades) to make it ready for a family who wanted to make it their own, and we sold the property.

        Some renters are absolute jerks… the neighbors next door to us (back when) were renters (yes, students, but that wasn’t the problem, they were jerks!), parked a car on their front lawn, and rebuilt an engine (think oil, grease, etc.) in the ‘family room’… needless to say, the damage they caused was not covered by the ‘security deposit’… landlord did not realize until complaints were filed by neighbors…

        When my spouse and I were renters, including our student years (no spousal relationship then), we never thought about treating our units the way a significant minority of renters do…

        For what it’s worth…

        Rent control to prevent outright ‘piracy’/exploitation of tenants is one thing… rent control to exploit owners/landlords is quite another.

        End thought…TNSTAAFL…

      2. Ron

        Howard: “Nice double entendre (or, two edged sword)… makes it more difficult to expel the renters who are toxic/destructive/irresponsible, makes it more difficult to “play” good renters who should have stability.”

        Not necessarily.  I was referring to the ability to kick out tenants in order to move into the property (as per Jim’s example). There are restrictions regarding that, which might also be strengthened in some localities.

        Tenants can still be kicked out for the reasons you mentioned.  It has nothing to do with rent control. (Although a separate topic, the trend seems to be making it more difficult to evict, in some localities.)

      3. Ron

        Jim might also be referring to the example in which an owner evicts tenants in order to “temporarily” move into the property (and subsequently rent it out again, after significantly raising the rates under the current law, in rent-controlled areas).

        Again, it’s difficult to do.

        1. Jim Hoch

          I meant what I said. For example if you have a fourplex under rent control over time the rents no longer keep up with the value of the asset plus the carrying cost. Therefore the value falls and it becomes more attractive to take it out of rental via the Ellis act and just live in it as a SFR.

        2. Ron

          C’mon Jim – I know that you didn’t mean to say that about me!  🙂

          Actually, I did expand upon your posting, and mentioned another situation in which owners may attempt to evict tenants to “move in”.

          But, I think I’ve responded to the scenario that you presented, as well. (Also, your post would refer to situations in which an owner-occupied dwelling is feasible. Not likely to be a large apartment complex, for example.) But, I’m sure it occurs, after owners of smaller rentals go through quite a bit of hassle.

  10. Howard P

    Another thought… rent control is something like Measure J/R… some folk want to control other people, and their property… as if it was theirs… violates principles in the Constitution, and they often “mask” that with ‘societal’ arguments… rape isn’t about sex, it’s about power/control, vast majority of the time…

    1. Ron

      Yeap – “complete and total freedom” to gouge others – it’s the American Way!

      Now, if we can only get rid of those pesky zoning ordinances, as well.

      1. Howard P

        Davis Zoning Ordinances are archaic… the chapter has not undergone a thorough revision in ~40 years… provisions often conflict, but “life happens”, and staff, appointees, and electeds have to deal with that… the Davis Zoning Code can best be compared to the IRS codes… ‘byzantine’.  Made like sausage.  Whim of the day.  So, we should treat them like tablets from Sinai?

        I think not.  Fish or cut bait…

    1. Ron

      Pointing this out for what reason, exactly?

      How many of these were in response to someone telling me that I was essentially full of crap?  (Despite the actual information I provided, in response to their challenges?)

      I had no intention of engaging in a “campaign” on here, regarding this issue.  But, I don’t like letting b.s. go unchallenged.


        1. Ron

          My sense from your postings is that you’re often searching for a motivation that isn’t there.  Whether it’s “seniors for senior housing”, students for student housing”, etc. In other words, it doesn’t necessarily work that way.

          Regarding my interest in rent control, it accomplishes two things:

          1)  It keeps rents in check, in a rising housing market. (I realize that renters are the most vulnerable to rising prices. Homeowners lock in their price/payments when they purchase a house.)

          2)  It removes some motivation for developers to constantly push for changes to existing planning (to take advantage of a rising market), while putting forth fake arguments that prices will be reduced (while simultaneously recruiting the same people that they’re already gouging).

        2. Howard P


          1.  perhaps you’ve never heard of ARM’s… historically, no certainty there.

          2.  don’t understand where you’d believe developers should not pay attention to market conditions, nor why someone would oppose a re-zone just because it is a request for a re-zone… many properties in Davis were “dumbly” (not allowed to use the s-word… offends some folk) zoned for uses that either never been realistic, or have, by passage of time, and/or changed needs/conditions, are obsolete, leaving them to be targets of weed abatement…

          There is the concept of “highest and best use” that transcends existing zoning… like it or not… it is both a planning and legal principle…

  11. Ron

    Don:  Thanks, but you missed one (reported, now).

    If folks are going to start referring to the number of my postings (in some kind of attempt to undermine me), they may recall (and are attempting to “add to”) the apparently erroneous posting that you initiated the other day.

    It’s unfortunate that this occurred, and wasn’t set straight at that time.

    1. Moderator

      Since you insist on bringing this up over and over again, I will tell you that my comment — that you post more than another commenter — was, in fact, correct. It was not erroneous. This was after you had criticized that other commenter for making so many posts. So, bluntly, you started the whole thing that you are now complaining about. It is perfectly appropriate for Craig Ross to note how you have dominated this thread. It is much as you have done on other threads many, many times on the Vanguard in the last many months. But other than that, this is off topic, so we’re done with it here. The topic is repeal of Costa-Hawkins, and rent control.

      1. David Greenwald

        I’m going to add this: I have received several complaints via email that you (Ron) are dominating the conversation and misrepresenting other people’s viewpoints to the point where they don’t wish to further participate in this. This is not the purpose of the comments thread here. Everyone should be entitled to have their say and not feel that they have to spend all day on here in order to get their point across. And then you (Ron) complain when people get frustrated and respond in kind. (PS, I’m stating this once and do not intend to have a back and forth on this).

  12. Ron

    For the record, Don and David are not allowing me to respond. I believe they are mistaken on several points, which I did address.

    Perhaps they’ll leave this comment up, not sure.



    1. Ron

      I do apologize, however, to anyone who believes I misrepresented their views.  (That was not my intention.)

      I did not even intend to become very involved in this discussion, but was primarily trying to respond to comments made in response to mine (either directly, or indirectly). And, since I was the only one trying to “defend” rent control and Costa Hawkins repeal, I had my hands full.

      1. Ken A

        Ron have pushed back on a couple of my posts today and I’m unsure if he is just trying to confuse people or really does not understand how landlords can get paid back for capital improvements in most cities with rent control.  If you want to make a building look better in SF after spending a lot of time with the rent board getting what you want to do “approved” (that is totally separate from the time and money that you will spend to get the work approved and permitted by the city) it will often take more than twenty (20) years to get paid back for the work and why rent control landlords often do nothing to improve the “curb appeal” of a property and make the neighbors look at a place that seems to be abandoned (the flats across the street from my SF condo had way below market rents and looked abandoned)…

  13. Howard P

    Some of the comments got me thinking… will have to see the actual measure… if it makes a distinction between General Law cities (like Davis), and Charter cities (like SF)… bet some lawyers are “licking their chops” either way… not sure if the current law makes that distinction, either…

  14. Keith O

    That’s something I never understand Ron is people complaining about other’s posts or claiming they don’t post on here because of them.  I think that’s all a bunch of hooey.  First of all nobody is forcing them to read another’s comment and secondly I feel they’re only mad because they don’t agree so they claim foul and cry to the moderator or David.

    1. Ron

      Point noted.

      I guess we all have to question whether or not it’s worth participating, before we even start commenting. I am reconsidering my ongoing participation, now. Seems like it doesn’t accomplish anything, except to create online enemies and bad feelings. (What for, exactly?)

      I think I did make a mistake today, in taking/assuming the side of “defending” Costa Hawkins repeal and rent control, by myself.  Ironically, not even an issue that I feel that passionate about.

      Given some of the unexpected (and downright hostile) responses from one or two others, it seems like I touched a nerve, today.

      1. Keith O

        Funny thing is Ron I disagree with you, I strongly dislike rent control.  But that said I found nothing you’ve written today deserved the wrath that came your way.

        1. Ron

          Thanks, Keith.  Like I said – you’re a good guy, who had defended me more than once.

          Just goes to show that differences of opinions do not have to impact personal integrity. Perhaps I’ll meet you, someday.

          I sincerely appreciate it. (But, I’m still thinking that participating on the Vanguard isn’t such a good or healthy activity, at this point.)

    2. Howard P

      What you describe is true, Keith… reminds me of an old movie… seem to recall it was “Days of Whine and Neuroses”… but might be mis-remembering… starred someone name Lemon, and one named Remark, but might be wrong on that as well…

      Back to topic… does anyone know when we can expect the Secretary of State to certify the measure signatures?  The measure’s text?  Will also be interested (if it qualifies) in seeing the analysis of likely economic impacts.  Will also be fun to read the pro/con arguments, and the rebuttals… but we’ll need to be patient, as those won’t be out until late Sept/early Oct.

      Assuming the SOS verifies the signatures… might be moot…

  15. Moderator

    I have pulled a bunch of comments. The topics here are Costa-Hawkins repeal and rent control. If your comment isn’t about one of those topics it is likely to get pulled without notice.

    This seems like an important topic. It would be good to have an actual conversation about it, though at this point we’ll probably have to start over on another thread. Please don’t go off the rails again.

  16. Jim Frame

    I don’t think rent control is a good solution for our local housing problems, and I’ll probably oppose any such proposal.  However, I’m not convinced that rent control is inappropriate in all circumstances, so I’m inclined to favor repeal of Costa-Hawkins rather than continue to tie the hands of other communities in which I have neither detailed knowledge of their specific conditions nor any personal financial interest.

    Rent control is one tool in the toolbox.  It may be a bludgeon, but sometimes a bludgeon is the right tool for the job.

    1. Howard P

      Am in basic agreement… you are correct… using a hammer to drive a screw isn’t smart… using a screwdriver to set a nail, isn’t either… yet, you want to have a hammer and a screwdriver in your toolbox… time, place, manner, situations… good guidelines… IMHO…

      Good to have a variety of tools in the toolbox… like the analogy…

      1. Howard P

        Thinking more, not so sure on the “bludgeon” part… the rest I agree on… I have a lot of tools, but have no bludgeon… but I suspect you were trying to drive home your main points… evaluate the situation, and use the right tool to fix problems…

        If I am incorrect, feel free to set me right…

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