What Will S.F. Do If Costa-Hawkins Is Overturned?

by Nuala Sawyer : sfweekly – excerpt

The rent is too damn high, but the biggest tenants’ rights bill in decades comes before voters this November.

“Let me start by offering my and my client’s condolences on the loss of your wife,” the letter begins. “We know this must be a difficult time for you and we sincerely wish you well. Due to her passing, the ownership has the right to establish a new rental amount for your unit under the state law known as the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. With regret, this letter serves to provide you with the attached notice … which establishes the rental amount to increase by $1,146.15 due on Dec. 1, 2018. We are confident the long period of time between the date of this notice and the date when the new rent takes effect will be helpful to you.”…

“We have moved in a direction where a ruthless economy that benefits few has taken over the common welfare of the greater community.”…

This November, California voters will decide if cities can get those rights back. But what San Francisco legislators would choose to do with such newfound freedom remains to be seen. San Francisco prides itself on being progressive, and when it comes to social issues — gay marriage, safe injection sites, immigrant rights — it is. But the city has historically leaned more moderate on issues that involve corporations, and with money from developers pouring into political campaigns, the likelihood of S.F. smoothly adopting tenant-focused legislation in the wake of a Costa-Hawkins repeal is slim at best…

Under Costa-Hawkins, any city housing stock built before 1995 was deemed eligible for rent control, unless a prior date had been set. San Francisco’s was at 1979 when Costa-Hawkins passed, so that’s where it’s stayed for 39 years. The law exempted all single-family houses and condos from rent-control and banned vacancy control altogether…

The cumulative effects of high rents, rampant evictions, and a dwindling rent-control stock have created a population of landlords who hunger to evict tenants in rent-controlled units so as to raise their monthly income, and renters who live in near-constant fear of losing their homes… (more)

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