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Devil's Slide One of Top 9 U.S. Tunnels

Pacifica Debates Rent Stabilization

City Press Release

S.F. Chronicle

S.F. Rent Wars

Cynthia Kaufman Op-Ed

Suzanne Moore Op-Ed

The above op-eds originally appeared as "My Turn" columns in the Pacifica Tribune, April 19 and March 29, respectively.

Rent Control Ordinance

News Story

Below is SAMCAR's letter to Pacifica residents (referenced in Comments below this post). On April 10, Pacifica City Council passed a temporary rent control ordinance. Council meets May 8 to discuss putting rent control on the November ballot.

SamcarRealtorsLetterApr32017

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Our town (and country) is clearly being targeted with renewed zest by a surging and exploitative real estate market, primarily benefitting the very rich, while those who earn money legitimately are squeezed out of affordable housing. Corporations believe themselves to be invincible at this point, as I witnessed at the last (4/24/17) City Council meeting when a rude and brazen campaign was launched to RECALL our beloved council member Sue Digre, who has been advocating for the people of Pacifica ever since she's been in office -- and THAT was their REAL reason for the recall. It will not work, I assure you. And I'm actually glad they revealed themselves to be the bloodthirsty monsters that they truly are. They are not concerned about our community, our economy, or our environment. They wish to claim control of our government for their own private benefit. That is theft. Purveyors of "alternative facts," aka lies, they cannot see past the dollar signs. Builders, developers, and realtors should not have an influence on the design and flow of our town. It is not their job. Their prosperity should come as a result of our abundance rather than feeding off us, exerting control over us and destroying our town called Peace. They do not see the value in keeping communities intact and, in fact, thrive on housing disruption. They are an unfortunate flaw in human evolution and we must not allow their myopic viewpoints to dictate the direction we take into the future.
Renter or homeowner, the people of this town are all that stand in the way of their dreams. Dreams that do not include us. They are displacing our renters with unlivable rent expectations, and the rest of us will be displaced by sale. But where do we go from here? "What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?" (Mark 8:36).
This land is your land, this land is my land. From California to the New York Island. From Mussel Rock to Pedro Point. This land was made for you and me. Please come to the May 8 City Council meeting. Pack the house with Pacificans. Stand your ground! Dante said: "The secret of getting things done is to act."

MAY 8 at SHARP PARK LIBRARY COMMUNITY ROOM, 5 - 9 P.M.: SELF-GUIDED INFORMATIONAL ART INSTALLMENT,
CRAFTS, REFRESHMENTS.
Do you have a tale to tell (either side)? (Email: bridgetofthebridge@gmail.com)
If you have a rent raise story to tell, especially if you experienced an increase in the past month, contact http://fairrents4pacifica.org

P.S. If we want to talk RECALL, let’s talk Sue Vaterlaus (see German translation), who did not bother to show up to half the public forums during the campaign and then swept the election because the real estate industry paid for so much google time no one in town could open their computer for a month without seeing her face. She has already cost the people of this town time and resources, which we don’t have, to rehash the widening of Highway 1, an issue that has been rejected over and over again by the people of Pacifica. The developers want to develop that land but cannot do it without rectifying the traffic issues.

Homeowners exemption from Pacifica's rent control ordinance -- safe for how long? It seems imperative that someone on the council impart clear information to the Pacifica electorate about the local effects on homeowners when the Costa-Hawkins Act is repealed. Clear information is needed because pro-rent-control advocates continue to put out information that the “single family home will be exempt from rent control.” I doubt this is true unless Pacifica writes into its rent control ordinances or rent control ballot measures the Costa-Hawkins protections.

Another clarification needed is that if the ballot measure fails, can Pacifica City Council continue to (ongoing) enact temporary rent control ordinances with a vote of 3-2?

Repeal News: Within one week the S.F. Chronicle has reported that:
1. “In a mother of all attempts to expand rent control statewide, a trio of Assembly Members (S.F. and Oakland) introduced a bill to overturn Costa-Hawkins, met with opposition have put the bill on hold." (S.F. Chronicle, Kathleen Pender 4/20/2017)
2. Democrat Rob Bonta, Assemblyman, East Bay, writes that the party platform -- AB1506 to repeal Costa- Hawkins is now slated for 2018. (S.F. Chronicle 4/25/17)

It is "voter beware" unless someone imparts clear non-partisan facts so that there is an understanding of the consequences of the rent control measure -- if it passes -- and the potential for ongoing temporary rent control ordinances if the ballot measure fails.

I write this with hope that someone can cull the impression that Pacifica City Council has turned on its homeowners and is moving to oppress property rights. Many of us consider our homes are our general fund bank account and our retirement.

I think a lot of people think rent control basically involves what is fair for rental increases. But there is a whole lot more. If you have a rental and you just want to convert that back to personal use, like having a family member move in or just selling it, then you'll have to pay the tenant and a rent control lawyer upward of $75K just for that privilege of getting your rental back. Is this fair? Why do John Keener, Deirdre Martin, and Sue Digre think that is fair to Pacificans? And we're all up in arms and united about an equally unfair sewer tax, but this tax is okay? And this will soon affect not just apartments but also your own home when the Costa-Hawkins ban on single-family homes is repealed this year through the efforts of rent control lawyers. Be prepared for the day, and that day is coming soon, that your home is not only yours but will be "co-owned" by rent control lawyers who you'll now have to go through for any change in what you want to do.

Big Banker: If everything you say is true, then you have nothing to worry about from a rent stabilization ordinance. The people who need to worry are the ones who want to increase rents by huge amounts or who want to evict tenants for no reason so they can raise the rents by enormous amounts.

Once again, rent stabilization is not about solving the affordable housing problem. The fact that rents are high in the Bay Area has nothing to do with enacting rent stabilization. The reason to have rent stabilization is so that people don't have their rents doubled overnight or so they are not evicted for no reason other than that the landlord wants to greatly increase the rents.

Apparently, this concept is impossible for those opposed to rent stabilization to grasp. They keep bringing in all kinds of irrelevant arguments, red herrings, straw man arguments, and outrageous fearmongering. Rent stabilization will not bring about the collapse of Western civilization or the capitalist economy. All it will do is stabilize rent increases so they are kept from being horrendous and putting tenants out on the street. It won't solve the housing crisis, just as it won't bring peace in the Middle East or cure erectile dysfunction. It wasn't meant to.

If a a portion of a loan is "forgiven" then that becomes reportable income to the recipient, according to the IRS. So if property control includes a cap on rents that are BELOW the market rate, let's petition our legislative bodies to make the difference between market rate housing and below-market-rate rent taxable to the renter and a deduction for the property owner. That's fair, isn't it? Of course, it's free to say that fair or any other description varies by the individual and the beholder.

"Clearly the lawyer, the faith-based group, or any other of the same ilk ..."

Gad. I LOVE comments with the word "ilk." Sounds like "elk," only different.

The proposed "Rent control" ordinance is a sham. It's really about PROPERTY CONTROL. Components include Rent/Eviction/Relocation controls that are extremely severe. The proposal takes control of the property away from the owner and gives control to the city and the lawyers. Rental property providers could not manage their own properties and afford necessary repairs. Believe me, there are some bad tenants out there and there is virtually no way to get them out with this proposed ordinance. Here is an example:

I bought a 4-plex in Sharp Park and moved in. Across the street there were gang members. Intimidations and drug sales became daily routines. Very scary situation. I put Pacifica PD on my speed dial and reported it maybe 100 times. Police couldn't catch them (never did) because gangs had spotters and scanners. Finally PD asked me to get info on the renters from property managers, which I did.

Eventually, working with the property manager, police got the gangs moved out. Neighbors all thanked me because "children could now play outside again." With the proposed 25-plus-page Pacifica Rent Control Ordinance, I could have never protected the majority of great tenants in my building and neighborhood from these thugs.

I keep my Pacifica rental properties in great shape. Neighboring home owners thank me. That's history if Pacifica passes Property Control.

We need to stop this mess before it happens.

RISK! This one simple word has so much to do with the opinions regarding property control. There is so much expressed about the risk of the vulnerable (that is a label the progressives like to tag people with) as a way of expressing being a victim due to a myriad of reasons thrown out by those trying to push property control.
There is not one word mentioned about all the risk that a property owner assumes when investing in income property. For starters, who is responsible if there is an earthquake, fire, theft, vandalism, threats to neighbors, a sublet unit without background clearance, let alone the mundane like maintenance and so many other aspects of being a responsible property owner?
Clearly the lawyer, the faith-based group, or any other of the same ilk behind property control don't care. I state that simply because there is no mention by them about what it entails to be a property owner who assumes all the risk!
Idealism and socialism come together in the name of "housing is a right." That is a made-up right to inspire people into believing that just because someone lives somewhere means they should be able to do so under their terms even when they are not responsible for any of the risks. Nowhere does it say in our Constitution or the Bill of Rights that housing is a right! This is especially true when trying to control property that is not theirs -- just check the deed of trust -- and where the liens go if taxes aren't paid. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable rights, but not destroying one's hard work, and many times one's life savings, or whatever else one can say so that a private subsidy (ergo private welfare) becomes the responsibility of the property owner for a tenant. It is also a fallacy that one can necessarily live in the same town, eat at the same restaurants, buy the same clothes, or whatever, if economics change or earning power doesn't keep up with the cost of living in a certain fashion. That isn't realistic.
So in the end, property control will happen down the road to single-family homes, condos, you name it, if property control comes to Pacifica. Forget about things being better. It will just get worse. Just remember, it's the lawyers who win and that is all they care about. They feign caring for the "common person" but it is big-bucks business for them. Don't be fooled!!

Peter: We have managed probably a couple of thousand doors over the past 20 years. Do you know how many evictions we have done? Zero. Do you know how many tenants we have turned into home owners? Hundreds. Our tenants are carefully screened and they know the rules and regulations before they move in. Leases I have signed in January and February are below market rents. Also, I would much rather have $1,500 a month rent than keeping a unit empty waiting for $1,800 or $2,000.

We also have the problem of people doubling up, tripling up, and I have heard one home in Park Pacifica has five families living at the residence.

The reason why rents are so high in Pacifica is simply that we haven't added any apartment stock in 30 years. Find me five-plus units in Pacifica that have been built in the past 20 years. I can think of two. One on Palmetto and the small apartment complex by the golf course. Every project that comes along. The quarry is off-limits; the parcel in Pedro Point is off-limits.

Seeing the kind of quick-exiting employees the city hires makes you think that some clerk at a cubicle can perform duties on a rent control board. Where is the city going to find the money to start a rent control board? Who is going to make decisions regarding rent control?

Oh, the horror stories about renters. I have a couple of my own -- the first property I ever owned at age 21 was a commercial building on the highway in downtown Yreka, California. The rest of the story is irrelevant. So are horror stories about individual landlords. So are the stories about individual scumbag renters. Go see the movie "Pacific Heights" if you delight in seeing the the pain caused by such creeps. So are the warnings about the horrible situations in rent-control cities, virtually all of which have seen property values skyrocket and rents go up, way up, over the years.

Rent control is not about increasing the amount of affordable housing -- that is simply misdirection by the ones who object to it. Pacifica is already overpopulated, anyway, unable to sustain the population it has with the land and resources in the city. More people of any sort will just make the situation worse. Like all cities and most other places in the badly overpopulated U.S., it needs to work rapidly toward a steady-state economy if it is to have any long-term future with a decent quality of life for its citizens at all levels of wealth.

Rent control is not about freezing rents, either. It is about controlling them so people toward the caboose on the overpopulated gravy train are not screwed. Income property owners set rents to cover their nut -- mortgage, upkeep, taxes, plus all the other ownership costs -- with some left over for the "income" part of the picture. Because the property loan payment does not increase over the term of the loan (and sometimes can even be refinanced downward when interest rates are low) and because property tax rates are controlled and predictable in Prop. 13 California, the other costs of rental property are the real consideration for future rent increases. In a totally free-market rent scene, the percentage of "profit" for landlords on older properties can go way up over time because property owners are enjoying cost control in the form of set interest rates and property taxes.

So the real task of any rent control measure in a place that is already built out is fairness to poorer renters, especially those on fixed incomes, being priced out by free-market practices in a limited situation where those who can pay the most get the rental units. The wording of the rent control measure is the key to fairness for all -- renters, landlords, and the rest of the community.

Hi, Ian: We knew that, but thanks for bringing it up. There is a calculation to add on these fees that makes the rent increases minor as it is spread out over years. The two major points I was trying to enter into the conversation were that the landlord loses complete control over his/her own building (except for expenses), and I believe the majority of Pacificans would get behind this if the smaller buildings were not included. I have not heard any horror stories regarding the smaller buildings. I agree with Peter that I certainly don't want anyone being heartless on their approach to rents. Perhaps longevity of tenancy can be factored in somehow into this rent thought process.

Big Banker: I've been a landlord for many years. I've also been a renter and I own a property in San Francisco. You've got some horror stories about tenants in S.F. We've got horror stories about landlords right here in Pacifica – landlords doubling and tripling rent and evicting tenants so they can charge much higher rents. They don't give a damn what happens to tenants who are forced out on the street and may become homeless. What do you think ought to be done to prevent landlords from doing those things? If your answer is "nothing" then that's the problem we have. I'd like to do something about it. You want landlords to be able to do anything they damn please and make enormous rent increases that put people out on the street. That's heartless. We can do better.

Plain and simple -- rent control if passed will lead the city into bankruptcy. The city is in the red $700,000. Expected to be $1,700,000 in the red by the end of this year.
And Daniel Sayer is no hero. He cares not about affordable housing. He just wants his political agenda passed through the state. Look at rent control cities (San Francisco, Berkeley, East Palo Alto, Santa Monica). Has rent control increased the stock of affordable housing in these cities? NO. It never does. There is also no income qualification as to who gets the rent control units, either. Do you know that in S.F. there are 40,000 vacant rental units sitting off the market because of rent control?

Chris, your mom should be able to pass on the cost of the earthquake repair. From SF Rent Board fact sheet: "Seismic work that is required by law may be passed through to the tenants."

My mother owns a five-plex of flats in SF Golden Gate Heights with enclosed garages. All units are two bedrooms except one. The highest rent paid is $1,600 due to rent control. My mother was just hit with an earthquake repair to the building of $150,000+. The worst part of the situation for her is that she has three grandchildren that would love to live in the building, but she cannot ask the tenants to vacate to house her own family without paying them a minimum of $75,000. One of my nieces finally got in because we caught a former tenant who allowed another couple to move into her vacated flat, was charging them $3,000 a month rent and writing my mother a check for $1,450. It was just by accident that we caught this, but my mother, the landlord, was certainly not gouging anyone, but tenants were making more than the owner. This is my exposure to rent control. I also have a townhouse I rent out, which I know will not be covered under rent control, but the rent I charge is far less than $2,000 a month, when I have seen rental ads for the same size unit at $3,500 a month. My tenants are longtime tenants who take great care of the property and accordingly I like to take care of them. I saw many of the landlords who have smaller apartment complexes in Sharp Park on TV at the rent control City Council meeting the other Monday night. Most of these landlords have longtime tenants and reasonable rents. It just seems like the uproar started with Pacific Skies Estates and the larger apartment complexes in upper Pacifica (closer to Daly City). It would be much easier to support any type of rent control for complexes of 15 or more units that are more likely owned by commercial businesses as opposed to individual landlords.

Peter:

You have to realize each coin has two sides. I noticed you did substantial improvements to your home. You put your hard-earned money into improving your property, and I must say it looks really nice. Do you want some cubicle jockey at City Hall dictating the terms of what you charge for rent, or if you can evict a non-paying or obnoxious tenant? Would you want a drug dealer or meth lab in your property? Do you realize what kinds of games people play under San Francisco's rent control? People making false allegations just to get in front of the rent board to plead their cases? I heard one case where the tenant had been in the apartment for 20+ years and was rubbing charcoal on the ceiling to try to make it look like mold. One tenant tried to claim mold just to stop paying rent while they argued in front of the rent board. Landlords are subsidizing tenants' rent while taxes and ownership expenses are constantly rising.

Sue Vaterlaus explained it in quite simple terms. It's supply and demand. When was the last 5-plus-unit apartment building built in Pacifica? The vast majority of Pacifica apartment stock was built in the 1950s and 1960s. If you moved and rented your home, you would want market rents. It's human nature. Maintaining your property, giving tenants a safe, clean, up-to-code place to live should be required by landlords. Some tenants have the "it's not my house" mentality and won't lift a finger to do a thing.

On April 18, the City of Pacifica held a Study Session on its 5-year plan. At that meeting, they acknowledged that the City of Pacifica is already $700,000 in debt and that that number will increase to $1,700,000 next year. This is prior to accounting for the cost of a rent control measure.
What say you proponents of helping drive the City to ruin? Do you think all of this will help our city?! Do you think that this is just another ruse by property owners as stated earlier? These are the facts.

Oh my goodness, the stories that come out all of a sudden, when large sums of money are involved. I thank the storytellers for their fables.

I am the president of an organization of small landlords. However, I want to talk about my own neighborhood under rent control. I live, since 1974, in the Fillmore in San Francisco, formerly a low- to moderate-income area. Although housing sales prices have skyrocketed here, there are still some of us old-school owners and renters around. Within a block radius of my house, though, there are over 20 vacant (by choice) units held by owners who do not want to deal with a tenant with lifetime "rights." The largest building has 14 vacant units. There is a vacant two-unit Victorian owned by a judge who has been very active in civil rights struggles. The guy across the street bought a 4-unit place for his family and his mother-in-law. In order to force one tenant, who actually was subletting in violation of his lease, to leave, he had to use the Ellis Act and clear out all the renters, though he didn't want to. One man, a retired welder, lives in his house with 5 vacant units and declares that he will "only rent to a second cousin of Jesus."

The units that are rented are stuffed with people because the law allows it. They sit on the steps and smoke and drink, because their places are so crowded. Many of the owners and tenants are offering vacation rentals (like airBNB), and the vacationers like to party late and loud. When my own tenant in the other unit of our Victorian left, we planned to keep the unit vacant, but now have family staying there for a while.

All this is because rent control not only controls rent; it also controls property, rather than the owner's being able to take care of his home/investment. Is this what you want in Pacifica?

Blatant fearmongering by landlords, property managers, and realtors, based on nothing but extremist baloney, tells you everything you need to know about their opposition to rent stabilization. They want to double and triple rents. They want to evict tenants and jack up rents to many times what the evicted tenants were paying.

For property owners, the rule of the day is be careful as you time your exit if this becomes a reality. For older properties, it's the land that is most valuable. A developer will be happy to make use of it albeit at a buyout price that is less than the good ole days of yesterday. It will cause property owners to evaluate value, headaches to come, and meager increases that don't keep up with inflation or maintenance.
Who wins? The lawyers at all these nonprofits that rake in huge donations from corps that are almost obligated to do so given our existing social system. Stupid is as stupid does and this holds true for Pacifica and all the other cities that think rent control and eviction restrictions will help their cities. It won't! Just watch the cesspool grow in about 5 years as buildings get run down. Long live gentrification as a way to get eyesore areas upgraded. I don't think this is what Pacificans want, but it will be what they get if they believe the "we will make your life better" shoveled out by Community Legal Services in EPA and Faith in Action. Just say no!

"Who do you think wrote the rent control measure that has been proposed and is trying to influence the Pacifica City Council? An out-of-town law firm from East Palo Alto headed by Daniel Saver."

That's good news, as Mr. Saver is a very idealistic young lawyer devoted to helping working people stay in their homes, unlike our real estate posters who would gladly evict them for more money.

Read the Mercury News article on his work:

http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/03/09/step-by-step-attorney-daniel-saver-battles-for-affordable-housing-in-bay-area/

Some folks have complained about out-of-town people showing up to City Council meetings to make the case against rent control. Who do you think wrote the rent control measure that has been proposed and is trying to influence the Pacifica City Council? An out-of-town law firm from East Palo Alto headed by Daniel Saver. He has a political agenda to take away property rights throughout the whole state. He is not about increasing the stock of affordable housing. He wants to further his political agenda.

Putting aside for a moment the arguments on whether rent control measures do anything to increase the supply of affordable housing (past history in S.F., Berkeley, East Palo Alto has shown they do not), there is the matter of the weak financial status of the City of Pacifica and what a rent control measure if passed would do to the city's finances. The city has projected that it would cost $700,000 to run and maintain a rent control board plus another $150,000 to $250,000 in litigation costs. Don't believe them. In S.F. last year they spent $7,000,000 to run their rent control board. In Berkeley they spent $4,500,000 to run their rent control board. Think what these kinds of costs would do to the City of Pacifica? They are very likely to push the city toward bankruptcy. My wife and I lived in Pacifica in a beautiful house. We liked living here, but we sold our home last year and one of the big reasons we did so was our concern about the sorry financial status of the city government. The infrastructure is falling apart. City Hall is crumbling. Not only will rent control not solve the problem of the lack of affordable housing, but if passed, a rent control measure would bankrupt the city.

I rent a rancher house in Linda Mar, not far from the beach. I am not a drug dealer, criminal, or welfare mom. I pay a slightly discounted market-rate rent. I take good care of my home, landscape, and garden, and have lived here for seven years. Many of my next-door neighbors who owned their homes have moved. So much for the stability of ownership. Many of the neighbors who own their homes in my neighborhood do not, for whatever reason, care for them. The curtains of three homes in my immediate neighborhood are literally disintegrating on the windows, and I know for a fact that these homes are owned by the occupants. Chain link fences are everywhere. Hard-bitten yards with no landscaping, rusting vehicles, and trash piles are everywhere. In San Francisco, where maligned rent-control policies have been in effect for decades, property prices soar and houses are neatly maintained.

"At the same time, they insist that all new housing stock needs to be built anywhere but in their own backyard. This causes more and more people to have to commute for hours, adding immensely to pollution, global warming, etc. because of their selfishness."

I'm curious if Mr. Smith actually lives in Pacifica. The infill housing idea is largely being touted near mass transit: BART, Caltrain, etc. Stack-n-Packs are what we call them. Cramming more people onto Highway 1 will be "adding immensely to pollution, global warming, etc." We don't have the mass transit available here, so the idea that more housing is somehow going to lower costs and make things better is a real estate-induced fiction. SamTrans is slow, and its bus to BART is about all there is in Pacifica. Hardly a 21st-century solution. This is the reality that most people here know well, and why the recent land-use measure was soundly defeated.

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