The problem of rent control – it divides our community
By Bob Walsmith Jr.
Santa Barbara Association of Realtors
The Santa Barbara City Council is trying to make renting even more difficult. The intent of rent control is noble, but historical data and facts prove that rent control does not help, but rather hurts those it intends to protect. According to a report from the Economic Forecasting Project released earlier this year – Rent control is not the answer: it never has been, it never will be – history and data show us that “more a century of proof [of rent control] cities around the world shows disastrous results”.
When over 90% of economists agree that rent caps reduce the quality and quantity of available housing, why are we still having this conversation? We have a number of federal, state and local laws regulating rental housing and over the past few years during a global pandemic we have had to deal with new laws on just cause evictions, rent caps, COVID moratoriums -19, the mandatory offers. a one-year lease and relocation assistance. Instead of letting these new laws work and measuring their effectiveness, rent control is being pushed because it has become an emotional and political issue instead of a larger discussion about what really help the community.
In addition to the discussion on rent control, Tuesday, April 19and, the Santa Barbara City Council will consider whether it wants to spend $200,000 of its shrinking budget on whether Santa Barbara should have a stricter rent cap than what the state already imposes (5% + CPI). They will also decide if they want to create a multi-million dollar rental registry “to collect data”. The city says the registry is necessary “to enforce state laws designed to protect tenants in Santa Barbara,” but the state law they refer to, AB 838, specifically states “beginning on 1 July 2022, […] a city or county that receives a complaint of an unsanitary building or lead hazard violation” must be inspected. So what is this database really for?
It becomes impossible to be a housing provider. People want stability in the rental market, but rent control is not the solution. These measures discourage housing providers from continuing to operate and will reduce the already low rental housing stock. Instead of punishing those who provide housing in our community, our city council should prioritize education. As the old saying goes “what you don’t know, you don’t know”. We must ensure that both private parties (tenant and housing provider) understand their rights and responsibilities. This will allow everyone to have open conversations and resolve differences. We should empower all members of our community instead of creating victims and villains. We need to focus on positive solutions instead of dwelling on policies that just don’t work.
Bob Walsmith Jr. is a Southern California native and Realtor® at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties in Santa Barbara. During his work with the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors, Bob has served on the CORE Committee, the Education Committee, served as Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee and the Multiple Listing Service Committee. He is also a member of the board of directors of the Alpha resource center in Santa Barbara. Bob lives in Goleta with his beautiful wife Julie. When he’s not working, Bob enjoys golfing, tasting fine wine, eating well and walking our beautiful coastline. Bob can be reached at 805.720.5362 and/or [email protected]