Costa-Hawkins Repeal on November Ballot – It’s Complicated!

nine-county-coalition – excerpt

California voters will see Proposition 10 on their ballots on November 6, 2018.  Proposition 10, The Affordable Housing Act of 2018, a voters’ initiative, aims to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act of 1995.  Costa-Hawkins was sponsored by Senator Jim Costa (D-Fresno) and Assembly Member Phil Hawkins (R-Bellflower), became Assembly Bill 1164 which passed both chambers of the California Legislature, and was signed into law by then California Governor Pete Wilson.

Proposition 10 is the latest battle in the ongoing war between California renters and landlords.  The 1970s were plagued with “stagflagtion,” stagnant wages in the midst of inflation.  In response, cities passed rental controls in an attempt to keep housing prices down.  Then came Proposition 13 in 1978, and the hope that landlords would share their property tax savings with renters thus significantly lowering rents.  When that did not happen, renters started to organize in earnest. But so did landlords, and the result was Costa-Hawkins, which prohibits imposing rent controls on new construction, single-family homes, condominiums, and vacant housing units.  Controls were thus limited by Costa-Hawkins to rental buildings in existence at the time cities passed their rent control ordinances, and limited to the period of time each tenant occupies each unit.

The animosity between renters and landlords over rent control is especially remarkable because at present there are only 15 municipalities (cities and towns) out of California’s 482 with some form of rent control….

Although the populous progressive coastal cities in California will likely expand rent control should the repeal of Costa-Hawkins occur, they could also provide sufficient incentives to avoid bringing construction of rental housing “to a halt.” Dialing down the current focus on construction might actually be helpful to residents not happy with all the stacking & packing going on. Hopefully, city leaders will comment between now and November.

Voters opposed to state-wide mandates such as the recently demised Senate Bill 828, could consider capitalizing on all the talk about repealing Costa-Hawkins in order to bring decisions on rent control back to the cities. The downside of that approach is that if those same voters are also opposed to expansion of rent control, it will take some effort to prevent expansion in their cities… (more)

Please read this most excellent article that explains the facts of how we got here and where we might be going with and without the repeal of Costa-Hawkins. We appreciate authors who take the time to show us the facts and let us decide after careful deliberation.

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Axis Development abruptly abandons proposed 117-unit Folsom Street project

By Julian Mark : missionlocal – excerpt

A potential 117-unit residential project at 2675 Folsom Street will not be moving forward in its proposed current form, Mission Local confirmed today. Its developer, Axis Development, has put the fully entitled site up for sale, Axis Managing Partner Theo F. Oliphant said Thursday.

“I have no comment beyond that,” Oliphant told Mission Local. He declined to name the development company’s desired price and why he is not moving forward with the plans.

This is a surprise move following a fierce battle between community activists and the developer to offer more affordable housing and community benefits. It was resolved last May after District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen brokered a deal between the developer and activists.

With that deal apparently dashed, the land could potentially yet house a 100-percent affordable structure — and the Mission District’s affordable developers are already beginning to queue up… (more)

Upzoning property to raise the value of real estate appears to be a national past time for wealthy government officials of both parties. Neither party cares about protecting affordable housing for working class Americans.

The real reason for upzoning is not to build more housing. The real reason for upzoning is to raise property values and this project a prime example of how that works. For a closer look at the national trend under the current administration and how this program is being sold to to California read the New York Times article linked here.

Ben Carson, is the HUD secretary. He was recently sued for his part in raising rents of HUD-managed properties. His aides are quoted as saying, “…he is focused less on federal solutions than on prodding local governments to ease barriers to construction. He has ordered his policy staff to come up with proposals to push local governments to reduce zoning restrictions on new projects, especially low-cost manufactured housing. HUD will also begin working with landlords around the country to come up with ways to make housing vouchers more attractive and more inclusive, aides said.

Stop state overreach! Find out what you can do to stop SB 828 and similar bills attempting to remove local jurisdiction over zoning and development decisions from local communities. livablecalifornia.org

RELATED:
HUD Secretary Ben Carson to be sued for suspending Obama-era fair-housing rule
Complaint filed against HUD Secretary Ben Carson

As Affordable Housing Crisis Grows, HUD Sits on the Sidelines

By Glenn Thrush : newyorktimes – excerpt

Mr. Carson (the housing secretary), continues to prioritize his push to reduce, rather than expand, assistance to the poor.

WASHINGTON — The country is in the grips of an escalating housing affordability crisis. Millions of low-income Americans are paying 70 percent or more of their incomes for shelter, while rents continue to rise and construction of affordable rental apartments lags far behind the need.

As city and state officials and members of both parties clamor for the federal government to help, Mr. Carson has privately told aides that he views the shortage of affordable housing as regrettable, but as essentially a local problem…

For his part, Mr. Carson publicly acknowledges the crisis in most of his speeches. “Alarmingly high numbers of Americans continue to pay more than half of their incomes toward rent,” he told a House panel in October. “Many millions remain mired in poverty, rather than being guided on a path out of it.”

But he is focused less on federal solutions than on prodding local governments to ease barriers to construction. He has ordered his policy staff to come up with proposals to push local governments to reduce zoning restrictions on new projects, especially low-cost manufactured housing. HUD will also begin working with landlords around the country to come up with ways to make housing vouchers more attractive and more inclusive, aides said.

“Subsidies are a piece of the puzzle,” said Raffi Williams, a spokesman for Mr. Carson, “but we must also address the regulatory barriers relative to zoning and land use in higher-cost markets that are preventing the construction of new affordable housing. This is not just a federal problem — it’s everybody’s problem.”… (more)

Inclusionary Zoning: Everything You Need to Know – CityLab

By Benjamin Schneider : citylab – excerpt

You’ve seen the term. But do you really know what it means? Here’s your essential primer.

If you’ve hung around the CityLab site, sat through a City Council meeting, or hobnobbed with a housing developer, you’ve probably run across the term “inclusionary zoning.” You might even think you know what it means. But wait, do you? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Welcome to the pilot edition of “CityLab University,” a resource for understanding some of the most important concepts related to cities and urban policy. If you like this feature, have constructive feedback, or would like to see a similar explainer on other topics, drop us a line at editors@citylab.com (more)

 

Tenant Troubles: My washer broke — should I sign a lease?

By Dave Crow : 48hills – excerpt

In San Francisco, if you don’t have a lease it may be harder for the landlord to evict you…

Do I need a written lease? If so, what tricks/clauses/loopholes should I watch out for?

It may seem like the distant past now, but as the US Congress for the Rich continues to push for more banking deregulation, we could easily see more real estate investment financed by junk bonds, credit default swaps abetted by derivatives. And once again tenants and regular working people will be required to bail out the institutions that aided and abetted the landlords who harassed and evicted them. For a great take on the Lembis and real estate investment circa 2009,  take a look at “War of Values,” by my friend Danelle Morton.

I tend to agree with the Tenants Union on this one. Why? Because you’ll be presented with a 20+ page lease, like the San Francisco Apartment Association lease, in which several clauses come close to being void as against public policy and others may weaken your rights under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance…

Generally, I only recommend that tenants sign new leases that may modestly increase the rent for single family dwellings, houses or condominiums… (more)

 

Sanctuary amid housing crisis

By Wendy Lee : sfchronicle – excerpt

…With no end in sight to soaring housing costs, several Bay Area faith organizations have become a sanctuary of sorts — not just channeling donations and distributing food, but also offering a safe place for people living in cars or RVs. The arrangement has sometimes grated on neighbors, but for pastors, it’s simply an extension of their mission to serve humanity.

“We know it’s just a Band-Aid,” said Brian Leong, a pastor at Lord’s Grace Christian Church in Mountain View, which is hoping to offer a handful of spots for people living in RVs. “We realize that sleeping in your car, whether it’s your lot or anywhere else, is not great. It’s not what anyone wants for themselves or their families.”...(more)

 

It’s time to put community before money

By Brandon Yan : sfexaminer – excerpt

As Mayor London Breed takes office, San Francisco faces an unprecedented affordability crisis.

The median home price is $1.61 million. A family earning $117,000 now qualifies as low-income. Thousands are leaving The City by the Bay, and many more are considering the same.

Where did things go wrong? Unemployment is low, and incomes are rising. The median wage in the San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco region did rise 16 percent from 2011 to 2017.

However, that’s just 6 percent growth after adjustment for inflation.

In contrast, the average cost of renting a San Francisco apartment rose 39 percent, or 27 percent after inflation, in the same period. In 2017, the average monthly rent for a San Francisco apartment was $3,734 — or 17 days’ worth of income for a median wage earner working full time.

These numbers are based on my analysis of San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco wage data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and San Francisco apartment rental price data from Rent Jungle.

Simply stated, wages can’t keep up with the rising cost of living, and the situation appears worst for low- to middle-income families. While the 75th and 90th percentile of hourly wages increased by $4.92 and $7.82, respectively, the 25th percentile saw only a 59-cent increase in real terms from 2011 to 2017….

The good news is that rental prices appear to be leveling off. The average San Francisco apartment rent has fallen slightly since 2016. Unfortunately, there’s still a long way to go for working-class wages to catch up, and this is the biggest challenge facing our new class of city leaders.

Born and raised in San Francisco’s Portola, Brandon Yan is an incoming medical student at UCSF, a recent graduate of Duke University with a bachelor’s degree in public policy, and a research analyst at the UCSF Institute for Health Policy Studies... (more)