People Are Angry
I have spoken to many people who are feeling the hardship of high rents. The people of San Francisco express frustration and anger at the impotence of City Hall against soaring rents. Repealing the Costa-Hawkins law would give cities all over California the option to implement rent control laws to protect citizens from out-of-control rents.
What is Costa-Hawkins
Costa-Hawkins is a 1995 law which hamstrings city legislatures in two ways. It prevents cities from creating rent control laws on certain homes. It also outlaws vacancy controls which allow a city to set the limit for market rent on a vacant unit. Curbed has a more in-depth explanation here.
San Francisco Is Different
San Francisco had already created its own rent control law prior to 1995 law. Rent control in San Francisco covers apartments located in apartment buildings built before June of 1979. It doesn’t cover condos or single family homes because of Costa-Hawkins. The map above shows where and how many units would be under rent control if the state ballot initiative repeals Costa-Hawkins. Over 100,000 units would be subject to current SF rent control laws. Most of these units are located in the west and south of the city. This would be a relief to many renters who fear their annual rental increase.
No More Bullying
The repeal would also remove the bully tactic of using extreme rental increases to force a tenant out, avoiding the relocation fees. Normally, when an owner evicts a tenant they must pay relocation fees that can run 10’s of thousands of dollars. A way around this is by raising rent so high that it’s impossible to pay rent. As a result, the tenant is forced to move. Unscrupulous landlords are basically evicting people without paying the relocation fees. Case in point here.
How Can The Assessor Help?
I am determined to push the envelope on the responsibilities for the position. The Assessor’s main job is to find all property eligible for taxation, fairly assign a tax and let the person know of their tax responsibilities. But this limited scope of responsibilities is the minimum that the Assessor/Recorder does. I plan on taking the position several steps further.
I plan on cleaning up and improving our understanding of our housing stock. Currently, the information/data on our housing is so bad our city agencies who rely on it have to get additional data elsewhere. Imagine having an office that has a thorough understanding of how many homes, bedrooms and living space San Francisco has.
The second way I plan to help our citizens during the housing crisis is to start a public information program where property owners can effectively understand and predict their tax increases if they install/legalize an In-Law unit in their home. Empowering property owners is a top priority with my campaign.
I will work with City Hall to start a program of property tax forbearance. This would allow property owners who choose to install an In-Law and rent it at below market rates to not incur the property taxes of the new In-Law.