Proposition 21, Rent Control: No

Rent control is an interesting idea. It exists here in San Francisco, where I live and rent, yet where I live is not subject to rent control. And like Proposition 13, rent control rides the back of sympathy for people who are priced out of their homes.

But rent control is neither a good not an effective long-term solution to the problem of not enough housing. Housing itself is complicated. Here in San Francisco, where rent control exists, an increase in housing stock would help drive down rents, yet various factions routinely opposed the building of new housing, sometimes going so far as to put their opposition in the ballot.

If only we could vote on NIMBY control, rather than rent control.

This proposition is not helped by its primary sponsor, The AIDS Healthcare Foundation and its President, Michael Weinstein. Weinstein heads an organization that has routinely and stridently opposed initiatives that we know would benefit many communities. This has the feeling of tapping into a visceral issue that will give him power and prestige, not one that is good for the state.

And let’s be clear: This would not be good for the state. It is estimated that state and local jurisdictions will lose tens of millions of dollars a year.

If only we could enact real solutions, such as building lots of housing near transit. Well gee, that’s been in front of the legislature for the past couple of years, and it’s been defeated every time, mostly by NIMBY communities who don’t want “that kind” of housing anywhere near them.

That’s the problem that needs to be solved. Rent control doesn’t touch it.

In fact, rent control has a number of negative consequences for communities. Property owners have little incentive and less money to maintain their properties. Neighborhoods descend into slums. Slums debase cities.

Proponents say “keep families in their homes,” but systemic issues allow rents to rise so quickly, issues that won’t be fixed with the dime-store bandage of rent control.

This is utterly misguided, advocated for by a huckster, and deserved to be roundly defeated. Vote No.

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