Prop 98: Eliminates Rent Control

Should We Eliminate Rent Control in San Francisco

The Public Policy Institute of California did a survey on March 26 of this year to see how Californians feel about the what would effectively eliminate rent control. This would seriously impact the cost of renting in San Francisco. Two of the initiatives in the California primary this June 3rd, Prop 98 and Prop 99 are about eminent domain.

Wikipedia: Eminent domain. The inherent power of the state to seize a citizens private property, expropriate property, or rights in property, without the owner's consent. The property is taken either for government use or by delegation to third parties who will devote it to "public use" or in some cases, economic development. The most common uses of property taken by eminent domain are public utilities, highways and railroads. Some states require that the government body offer to purchase the property before resorting to the use of eminent domain.

The PPIC Survey:

71 percent of likely voters believe this power needs major (38%) or minor (33%) changes, but they are much more in favor of Proposition 99 to do that job. One reason may be that besides blocking state and local government from taking private property to transfer it to another private party, Proposition 98 also prohibits rent control.

53 percent of likely voters believe that rent control is a good thing (39 percent think it’s bad). Proposition 98’s rent control limit may help explain why only 37 percent of likely voters would give it a yes vote (41 percent would vote no). In contrast, at least half of likely voters (53%) would vote yes on Proposition 99, which confines itself to barring government from taking an owner-occupied home to transfer the property to another private party. Republicans (45%) are more likely than Democrats (29%) and independents (36%) to favor Proposition 98, but they are also even more likely to support Proposition 99 (Republicans, 58%; Democrats and independents, 50% each).

Should We Eliminate Rent Control

We understand that the burden of of rent control is placed on the investor when it should be the task of society, not the individual, to assure reasonably affordable housing for all. If rent control is eliminated then the burden would pass to the government. In the case of San Francisco that would mean the transfer of the cost to city agencies which are clearly unable to bear the cost. The resulting chaos that would arise from people getting 30 or 60 days to leave their rental with no affordable alternative is impossible for the city or state to bear.

Until there is a safety net in place that can shift the burden without harm then Im in favor of rent control. We should be looking to create a safety net that protects our housing needs before we uproot the only system in place that keeps a roof over many of us.

A better approach would be to find ways to better equalize the problem that doesnt harm some of our most vulnerable citizens, rather than just pull out all the plugs.

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