Hous­ing cri­sis so­lu­tion elu­sive

Ten­ants’ rights ad­vo­cates want mora­to­rium on rent in­creases

The Mercury News - - Front Page - By Katy Mur­phy kmur­phy@ba­yare­anews­group.com

Vot­ers in traf­fic-choked, rent-strapped Cal­i­for­nia gave mixed re­views to a wide ar­ray of pro­posed fixes that ap­peared on state and lo­cal bal­lots, from cre­at­ing more af­ford­able hous­ing for the poor and en­act­ing price caps on rents to pay­ing for road re­pairs and tran­sit.

Cal­i­for­ni­ans in vir­tu­ally ev­ery county soundly re­jected Propo­si­tion 10, the mea­sure to ex­pand rent con­trol, de­spite the hous­ing cri­sis grip­ping the state, and vot­ers in Santa Cruz were de­feat­ing a lo­cal mea­sure to make rent con­trol per­ma­nent in that city. But vot­ers re­fused to re­peal the gas tax and the more than $5 bil­lion it gen­er­ates an­nu­ally to shore up the state’s ag­ing roads and bridges.

“Cal­i­for­ni­ans de­cided a long time ago that their trans­porta­tion needs had reached cri­sis pro­por­tions and now they’ve come to the same con­clu­sion about the lack of af­ford­able hous­ing,” said Dan Sch­nur, a for­mer Repub­li­can strate­gist who is now a lec­turer in USC’s An­nen­berg School for Com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

“What they haven’t yet seen is a so­lu­tion to ei­ther prob­lem that they’re com­fort­able sup­port­ing.”

In San Jose, a mea­sure to pay for af­ford­able hous­ing con­struc­tion in one of the na­tion’s prici­est mar­kets, was fall­ing short Wed­nes­day of the two-thirds ap­proval it needed. But Propo­si­tion 1, a statewide bond mea­sure to raise $4 bil­lion per year for af­ford­able hous­ing, in­clud­ing for home­less vet­er­ans, eked

out a vic­tory.

Carl Guardino, pres­i­dent and CEO of the Sil­i­con Val­ley Lead­er­ship Group, spent months cam­paign­ing for Prop. 1 and other state mea­sures.

“I re­mind folks — I gave seven speeches to­day alone — we have 10,000 home­less United States vet­er­ans who bravely served our coun­try and now are brav­ing the el­e­ments

ev­ery night. We’re bet­ter than that,” he said Tues­day night, long af­ter the polls had closed. “When peo­ple un­der­stand that th­ese are real peo­ple that need our help, it res­onates.”

The idea that oth­ers should pay was an eas­ier sell. Lo­cal vot­ers in San Fran­cisco and Moun­tain View agreed to tax busi­nesses to pay for home­less ser­vices and to ease traf­fic con­ges­tion, re­spec­tively.

San Fran­cisco’s Mea­sure C, backed by Sales­force CEO Marc Be­nioff and his com­pany

and op­posed by the mayor, other tech bil­lion­aires and big busi­nesses, would gen­er­ate $300 mil­lion a year to help ad­dress the city’s grow­ing home­less cri­sis by levy­ing a tax on gross re­ceipts. Mean­while, Moun­tain View’s pro­posed “head tax” would raise about $6 mil­lion a year, more than half of that from the city’s largest em­ployer, Google.

Both mea­sures re­flected a broader phe­nom­e­non, rooted in the be­lief that the Bay Area’s boom­ing tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies should

pay more taxes to help cities bat­tle ev­ery­thing from the grow­ing home­less­ness cri­sis to ter­ri­ble traf­fic.

And in the East Bay, Oak­lan­ders said “yes” to tax­ing the own­ers of va­cant prop­er­ties $6,000 a year to fund home­less ser­vices and clean up il­le­gal dump­ing, a grow­ing prob­lem in the city.

“I think the re­sults on hous­ing and rent con­trol re­flect the de­gree to which vot­ers were over­whelmed by con­tra­dic­tory mes­sag­ing,” said Melissa Michel­son, a pro­fes­sor of pol­i­tics at

Menlo Col­lege in Ather­ton. “Folks are wor­ried about hous­ing prices and ris­ing rents, but they weren’t sure how vot­ing for Prop. 10 or th­ese other lo­cal bond mea­sures would help.”

Even as they con­ceded de­feat, ten­ants’ rights ad­vo­cates quickly called upon the gov­er­nor-elect, Gavin New­som, to place a mora­to­rium on rent in­creases un­til the Leg­is­la­ture re­peals the state law at is­sue in Prop. 10, the Costa-Hawkins Rental Hous­ing Act.

New­som op­posed Prop. 10, and a bill to re­peal CostaHawkins failed in its first com­mit­tee hear­ing ear­lier this year. But some leg­is­la­tors have ex­pressed in­ter­est in amend­ing the law, rather than re­peal­ing it.

Mean­while, ac­tivists vowed to keep the is­sue alive. “We go into 2019 with a much broader coali­tion and tens of thou­sands of fired-up ten­ants who want some re­lief. We’ve just be­gun,” Walt Sen­ter­fitt, a found­ing mem­ber of the Los An­ge­les Ten­ants Union, said in a state­ment.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.