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Prop 10 Brings Rent Control Debate Boiling To The Surface

October 24, 2018 1:45 p.m.

Prop 10 Brings Rent Control Debate Boiling To The Surface

GUEST:

Tarryn Mento, Speak City Heights reporter, KPBS News

Related Story: Prop 10 Brings Rent Control Debate Boiling To The Surface

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

This KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. California's Proposition 10 would help clear the way for local jurisdictions to expand or implement rent control. PBS reporter Tarryn Mento examines both sides of the hotly contested ballot measure.

Fanny Morgan shuffles through a folder papers she's looking for monthly increase notices she unexpectedly received in April.

I think they are just saying that you know just because someone right now.

The petite 64 year old is on a fixed income after a brain aneurysm left her unable to work. Her spouse who later passed away founder when it happened I was getting ready to go to church because I had this saying. My deceased husband feels safe that are hollered out.

And that's all I remember. The 2005 incident put her on disability. She now resides at an affordable housing complex but says the cost of her one bedroom is rising. Documents show and her complex confirmed her rent increased 25 percent to nine hundred sixteen dollars in just seven months. Vago are having 960 at the. We. Have.

You.

Rafael Bautista of San tenants United says rent control will cap annual increases to keep people like Morgan in their homes amid the housing affordability crisis. The only thing that we can do to fight this policeman at this moment.

Is implement rent control at 2 percent.

Since San Diego San Diego doesn't have rent control and it's unclear whether it would impact subsidized housing. But he says the way to get there is Proposition 10 it doesn't implement rent control but it lifts the cost to Hawkin's law that limits how cities can craft policies. Bautista says Prop 10 will force San Diego officials to act on rent control though we've already been fighting for it for the last three years.

It will be more of a pressing them because now they can say oh well this costs the Hawkin's that limits it but Prop 10 opponents say rent control causes more problems than it solves.

That includes Ian Gibson who spends his days renovating his rental units in normal life. A lot of paintings lately.

He says he lives with his parents while fixing up and selling properties that he hopes will pay off over the long term.

The renovations to a studio he's working on will cost him eighty five hundred and also had cast iron plumbing that was rotted out.

It'll take more than a year to make that back. Even when he bumps rent from 13 50 to 9300 which he says the market will bear. It's different as National City complex that had cockroaches and lacked outdoor lighting when he bought it. He says he invested thousands per unit and raised rent there by about 400 dollars. He says rent control will stymie improvements like this in low income areas in need of investments will remain that way.

What are you getting for that less rental are you getting an unsafe place to live and you're getting a place that is not going to be well maintained and you're gonna get an absentee landlord that's not going to maintain their building.

Instead of restricting property managers like him who help improve communities he proposed increasing housing subsidies so low wage earners can benefit from the development. He says he'd even contribute to it.

This is everyone's problem. This isn't all we're going to we're going to find one. One person in the group we're going to say landlords is the issue with the landlords. You know this is a larger issue so everyone needs to contribute.

San Diego County Apartment Association spokeswoman Molly Kirkland argues lifting state rent control limits that exempt properties built after 1995 will exacerbate the housing problem. That's because developers won't want to build new units and landlords will take existing ones off the market.

We need to stay focused on supply and the market will naturally work itself out.

She also says rent control brings other regulations besides the annual caps. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office warned rent control may also impact housing supply and could affect property in income taxes paid by landlords. But it also says housing stability could increase tenants buying power and therefore sales tax revenue. Studies funded by opposing sides of the rent control debate both found it does provide housing stability but it causes other issues from lack of maintenance to last housing supply. But neither side found enough evidence to determine whether it affects new construction. Kirkland says The Apartment Association will work with tenant advocates to find a real solution.

If Prop 10 fails I'll follow up with you guys. Heck yeah. Taren mountain Cape UBS news.

Joining me is Speak City Heights reporter Taryn mento Taren welcome. Thank you. Tell us more about the person you first introduced us to Fannie Morgan. She says she won't have all the rent at the first of the month. So did she tell you how she is paying for the increase.

Well she kept using the phrase that she's taking from Peter to pay Paul. So she was kind of pulling from some areas to cover the others where she needed it and she was keeping meticulous log of how she spends her money when we first got there she was actually writing down a receipt in her hand on this clipboard of where all the money goes. But because her security payment arrives and two checks at separate times she was paying partial rent in the beginning of the month. Then the rest later with a late fee. But she did receive a notice earlier this month that she's no longer she can't do that any longer.

Now advocates of Prop 10 say that because of uncontrolled rent increases people are losing their apartments and becoming homeless. What do you know about that claim.

Well there is a report by UCLA that found a correlation between high housing costs and high rates of homelessness. But it also found that housing supply and median income were factors as well. And last year a data analysis by Zillow found a strong connection between rising rent and homelessness in some big cities like L.A. but not in others.

Now Proposition 10 if approved would repeal the Costa Hawkins Act. How does that state law restrict rent control.

So there are three main things. Rent control doesn't apply to single family homes so exempt single family homes and units built after 1995 in also cities that already have policies in place that exempted some units built after for example 1978 which is the policy and seven in L.A. that law the cost to Hawkin's law blocks you from updating that cost. Hawkins also doesn't allow a cap on how much a landlord can increase a units rent after a tenant moves out and under Prop 10.

Each city would be able to tailor its own version of Rent control is that right.

Right. If Prop 10 passes it would repeal the cost of Hawkins local law and so that means these restrictions go away and cities can expand like in L.A. if they want to increase the you know if they want to make it so that rent control doesn't apply to units. After 1995 or even later. And so you can just tailor it to however you want it.

The man fixing his property Ian Gibson that we heard in your report told you he'd support increasing subsidies to low wage renters to keep them in their homes. Is there any kind of organized move to do that.

Well right now it seems like the focus is on the debate over Prop 10 but the Apartment Association did say it would bring both landlord and tenants to the table. If Prop 10 fails so we'll see what happens after that we'll be following up with them.

Now that people opposed to Prop 10 say it will impact housing supply. How would you do that.

Right. So there were a couple of studies that I looked at that showed that yes when you talk about adding regulations landlords don't necessarily want to deal with that. So some actually convert their rental property to a condo and then sell that off and it becomes an owner occupied unit instead of a rental unit available. Right. And that removes more rental units from the market.

Approving Proposition 10 doesn't automatically mean San Diego would have rent control does it right.

No there would be a battle in San Diego after Prop 10 which just means it just removes restrictions on how cities can create policies. And so therefore then one actually has to be crafted and passed in the city of San Diego and one of my sources the housing advocate Rafael Bautista's said if Prop 10 does pass and the city officials still don't want to implement rent control he would fight to get that on the ballot direct control in San Diego on the ballot in the future.

But there is a rent control measure in one of the cities in San Diego County on the ballot coming up in November right.

That's it. Measure W and National City. Now that does actually implement rent control but because Pratten hasn't passed so we'd still do have cost the Hawkins in place it has to work within the limitations of that state law.

What would measure w actually do.

So it would provide annual rent increases that are set by a Rent Control Board and that will be no higher than 5 percent each year. And it creates a Rent Control Board which would be of five people in three of those seats would automatically be filled by tenants who are in one of these rent controlled units. And the board would be funded by fees that landlords would have to pay. And it would also protect tenants from being evicted unless in specific situations.

I've been speaking with KPBS reporter Tarryn Mento terrine. Thank you Maureen. Thanks.