How Prop 21’s Rent Control Initiative May Affect Isla Vista
Proposition 21 – a rent control initiative in this year’s California poll – has supporters saying it could stabilize California’s expensive real estate market, and detractors saying it could stifle real estate development. In Isla Vista, some believe that this could potentially be the difference between keeping Isla Vistans housed or evicted.
the proposal, if passed into law, would change the rules for how local governments adopt rent control by trying to stabilize the extent to which landlords are allowed to increase rental prices. If passed, Proposition 21 would replace that of 1995 Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which prohibits rent controls on dwellings first occupied after 1995 and on titled units such as single-family homes.
The proposal would not make it possible to control the rents of buildings that have received their “residential occupancy certificate”, a document attesting that a building complies with the code, over the past 15 years. This means that buildings 15 years old and younger cannot be subject to rent control. However, the majority of the housing stock in Isla Vista is older than that, according to Jonathan Abboud, general manager of the Isla Vista Community Services District (IV CSD).
Speaking in a personal capacity, Abboud noted that about 3,000 of the approximately 28,000 people living in IV are low-income families who, unlike students, tend to live in one place for long periods of time. As a result, landlords take advantage of IV’s high rental turnover rate by attempting to raise annual rental prices to drive out low-income residents and replace them with students, who tend to be more affluent, a- he declared.
“Rent control keeps prices stable because rising prices are a way for landlords to move,” Abboud said.
The IV CSD does not have the power to enact rent control if the bill is passed. Instead, since IV is an unincorporated area, the Santa Barbara County Supervisory Board would vote on implementing rent control, according to Spencer Brandt, chairman of the IV CSD board.
“Should he pass, as is the practice for many [sic] Statewide voting initiatives, we would analyze the effects of the regulations for unincorporated areas of the county, including IV, ”said Gina Fischer, a representative of the 3rd district office, in an email. addressed to the Nexus.
The proposal would also allow landlords to increase the price of rent to future tenants by up to 15% for three years after the previous tenant leaves.
If Proposition 21 passes, local property management firm Wolfe & Associates has said it will focus on administrative measures to ensure it complies with potential rent control rules, said Ron Wolfe, president of the company, in an interview with Nexus.
Wolfe said the 15% cap on how much they can raise in rent if a tenant moves – and the majority IV student body tends to move often – is higher than they’ve ever charged and that he does not expect the measure, if adopted, to significantly affect his business.
Brandt supports the proposal because he believes it could stabilize the housing market and help the Isla Vistans stay in their homes for the long term, rather than being forced to move elsewhere.
“I think this is truly one of the most prominent social justice issues of our time, because as this process continues it is the poor, mostly people of color, who are slowly being driven out of our community. because they can’t afford to rent the unit, ”Brandt said.
California had the second highest median rent of any state – $ 1,429 per month – from 2014 to 2018, according to the United States Census Bureau.
Most economists oppose rent control because it restricts prices despite market demand. Andrew Plantinga, professor of economics at UCSB, argues that rent controls discourage market incentives to increase the supply of housing, which leads to inflated prices.
“Homeowners are discouraged from building as well as maintaining their current properties, which compounds the problem that Proposition 21 might attempt to solve,” Plantinga said.
Addressing the California housing crisis, Plantinga said he believes there are more reliable solutions than capping rent prices.
“The fundamental problem is that people in California don’t have enough income when the prices go up. Target groups might benefit better from subsidized housing, which would not affect the market and homeowners as a whole, ”Plantinga said.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has publicly opposed Prop 21 despite its expansion of rent control through Assembly Bill 1482, separating from the California Democratic Party and many other progressive groups.
Assembly Bill 1482 imposes a ceiling on rent increases, which is a form of rent stabilization. Homeowners can still raise prices but not above the 5% plus inflation threshold allowed by Newsom’s signing.
The probability of success of Proposition 21 is doubtful – only 37% of voters survey conducted by UC Berkeley researchers said they would vote yes. In 2018, 59% of voters rejected Proposition 10, a rent control initiative that would have allowed local governments to adopt rent controls on any type of rental housing.
Whether the proposal passes or not, Brandt stressed the importance of voting and urged students to vote as soon as they can.
“This is our home. And there is so much at stake in the ballot,” Brandt said.
“If you have not yet voted, go to your polling station, either on [I.V.] Community center or the dorms of Santa Catalina and vote. If you haven’t registered to vote, it’s not too late. You can still proceed with voter registration on the same day. Be part of democracy and this historic election, ”he said.