Written by Sid Lakireddy
With the pressing need to relieve the housing shortage, there has been multiple legislative proposals to address this growing crisis. Some proposals are bold and challenge the norms — such as SB 50 by Senator Wiener — while others continue to repackage failed decades-old policies that have not resulted in more accessible and affordable housing.
Two bad ideas that were presented in Sacramento are rent control and just cause eviction policy. While the just cause legislation did not advance, the rent control bill was voted by the State Assembly and advances to the State Senate.
Just cause eviction policies exist in 17 of the state’s 482 cities and has harmed law-abiding tenants, increased costs, and discouraged additional housing. In San Francisco alone there are about 30,000 empty rental unit properties. We can point to harmful policies like just cause eviction as part of the reason these units are not on the market. The current eviction process on average takes four to six months and costs $35,000 or more in legal fees, not to mention the loss of rental income if the tenant is not paying rent.
As a result, law-abiding renters are left in the position of having to live with difficult neighbors, who may even create a hostile community. This is a violation of law-abiding renters’ rights and would have been made worse by a statewide Just Cause law.
Further, it would not help the residents in the 17 cities that have enacted a just cause eviction policy. We look forward to further conversations at the state and in our communities on how to create housing for everyone. Key elements of a solution should include:
- Permanent shelving of decades-old policies that do not work like just – cause and rent control.
- Creation of more incentives for California property owners to offer properties for rent .
- Embrace bold policies that encourage more housing around transit and where people work.
- Encourage new innovative housing concepts that address the growing middle income and workforce housing shortage.
We have the opportunity to end the housing shortage with better policies. We are encouraged with the Legislature’s actions to reject some of the failed policies that harm the housing supply. Now it’s time to support policies that seek to encourage it.