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Saturday, October 16, 2021

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News + PoliticsLandlord forces lie to Richmond voters

Landlord forces lie to Richmond voters

People gathering signatures for rent-control repeal say they are working to improve rent control

A video calls out questionable practices of petitioners.
A video (watch below) calls out questionable practices of petitioners.

By Tim Redmond

SEPTEMBER 2, 2015 – Some of the people gathering petitions to overturn rent control in Richmond are telling voters that the repeal would actually promote tenant rights, videos sent to 48hills show.

It’s still not clear exactly who has hired the signature team. Bay Area Petitions, a San Francisco company, is involved at some level. Sources say a Southern California group and a Sacramento operation known as Discovery Petitions are also contracted, but a man who answered the phone at Discovery today denied any involvement and it’s not on the company’s vendor voicemail.

At any rate, somebody’s spending at least $75,000 to try to get the repeal on the ballot. And the people who are collecting signatures are, in at least some cases, utterly misleading voters.

There are only 10,000 people in Richmond who the measure applies to, one signature-gatherer says, and “we’re trying to cover all.”

The reason that not every building in Richmond is under rent control is because state law bans rent control on buildings constructed after 1979 and single-family homes.

The measure wouldn’t cover anyone at all; it would end all rent control in the city.

The person collecting the signatures says that it’s “backed by the mayor.” But the mayor isn’t paying the money; that, according to sources, is the California Apartment Association, a landlord group.

In the video, the signature gatherer says the petition is about “expanding rent control” and then calls her supervisor on the cell phone. The supervisor says “what we’re doing is amending the current city ordinance as of now. … we want to amend it at the City Council … to cover all of Richmond.”

One of the people being asked to sign wondered who wrote the petition. “Concerned Richmond citizens,” the supervisor says.

Another Richmond resident, Erin Frenzel, described how a young man came to her door and said that he had a petition to “expand rent control.”

“He didn’t tell us who he was with,” she says. “I honestly want my name off the rent control petition.”

The problem, of course, is that rent control is popular in Richmond, and if the people seeking to overturn it were telling the truth, they wouldn’t get many signatures. And the landlords are paying $12.50 a signature.

It’s no unusual for people who are paid to gather signatures to shade the truth a bit; they make a living collecting names, and in this case, there’s a fair amount of cash on the line.

But it’s illegal to outright lie to the voters. And to say that this referendum measure will expand or improve rent control is just wrong.


Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.
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  1. LOL, prick. Raising kids to have values beyond selfishness and greed + ‘controlling others’.

    You’re a total jackass.

  2. Then I’ve A: raised her wrong, and B: set up my trust / estate wrong.

    Luckily, some of us have values and morals beyond gimme gimme gimme, and pass them on to our children.

  3. Ok (hope this isn’t too rambling). You do know that 75% of today’s MR was 2012’s price. Do you require proof of 3x earnings (in excess of rent)? Did you have any hold-over tenants, and are they still there? How many new tenants have you let to? Don’t suppose you’ve ever had to evict someone (you know, for *their* bad behavior)? (Hope you don’t ever have to).

    Sorry for all the Qs. I too have a 4U, owner-occ. I’ve left two units vacant since 2001 & ’05. One was a certified nut case (lost her visa thank goodness, though the bounced checks weren’t far behind) (footnote – only accept checks from American banks). The other got pregnant and decided to move out after I wouldn’t sell the bldg to her (again, ahead of the late/bounced checks). The later was with me for 13 yrs – her attitude changed 180 when RC come in.

    You speak of ‘building relationships’ and thats fine. But its really a one-way relationship; they’ve got theirs, period. But, maybe your experience is different.

  4. 15 years, 4 units, and because it does provide a little income, and I live in one of the units. My trust dictates that it go to my daughter, and that she not let the rooms out above 75% of market rate.

  5. My bad.

    So, how long you own this bldg? How many units do you have? And, finally, why not just sell your bldg to a CLT (you know, in case of your premature demise)?

  6. I’d prefer to avoid certain investments – even hi-return ones, if I have an ethical concern. It may never pencil out as best ROI, but there’s the admonition to “first, do no Evil”. Thats good enuf for me.

    If you do it right the first time, then you don’t have to go back and fix it again.

    If I can grow opium poppies or cabbage & carrots, which one? ‘Profit’ sez ‘poppies’. But I can eat carrots; what do I do with opium? In fact, now I’ve got a problem on my hands.

  7. Renting at BMR is certainly possible, and makes one eligible for Home-style Hero.

    So. lets say you let a $3000/ unit for $1000/, making someone v v happy. Ok, so you’ve given it away. Now it belongs to … whosey; who can live there, they can have family come, they can have the legal per-BR # of occupants (despite what your lease states – but you probably don’t care about that). They can rent to others, and they’ll make a profit on ‘your’ unit. And of course, they never have to leave, no matter what they do (remember, you’re rent-controlled; you’re not the THC/Vishnu_Monestary/AAC who can simply ask/tell miscreants to leave). You pay their increased water bills, extra garbage, extra wear-n-tear, noise, and other risks. You may have been happy with one or two tenants, but now there are 3 or 4 or 5 or 6, who you don’t know and some are sketchy. Oh, the rent gets paid (who’d be a fool not to). But what you thought you’d created has morphed, and its out of your hands

    I understand. You may not be wealthy; you may just have enuf to meet your frugal needs. And that extra $1000 … gravy.

    And you don’t care about the eventual value of the prop, maybe cuz you inherited it, maybe cuz you bought low and have a few, maybe cuz you don’t live there,

    You have given … whosey … a gift of $25,000 a year. You could have given them $100,000, rented market-rate, and after 4 yrs you’d have your property to use as you see fit, or sell to support yourself, your retirement or your favorite charity. Is ‘whosey’ really worth $100K? I mean, you picked them out of a pool – you don’t even know them. Maybe. But people have this funny way of changing, pursuing their own interests, which often don’t correspond to your own wishes or values.

    But, maybe your hate (or sense of Justice) sustains you more than the money. Maybe you should just give your prop to the CLT. Would be less headache!

  8. A ‘hollow’ neighborhood is one where the units are not completely occupied per their intended purpose.

    So, vacancies of various types existing of course. But then – and it could depend on the ‘hood, but – homes that had children who then grew and moved; or flats which had roommates but level rents, which are not refilled over time since the rent is low enuf and income increases to afford that convenience.

    Both are natural enuf phenom anywhere; but are exasperated by Prop 13 and RC, where the penalty of moving cements residents in place.

    Not sure what you’re referencing in “micro data” (thought you linked to it, but that dead-ended and I can’t find another ref). The various tables (H3, H4, H5 …) provide various perspectives, but is there a way to cross-reference them? So that figures for, maybe, post-80 units and 1-unit un/detached could be separated. 2013 gives 188k renter-occ in pre-80 2+apt bldgs; when its often quoted that RC units number in the low 170Ks; yeah, strike TI & Presidio but that doesn’t make up the gap.

    How does one find ‘micro data’?

  9. And yet you cannot refute my arguments, resorting instead to insults, thereby indicating your inability to counter anything I say.

  10. When only luxury is being built, it’s time to change the incentive structure. A progressive tax seems the most apt, ideally one that goes negative to subsidize modest, dense development.

  11. History doesn’t back this up. If segments reflected only supply, no working person would ever have lived in a once-luxurious Victorian, nor any top earner bought an earthquake shack.

  12. You overlook the fact that a non-subsidized new home requires no subsidy, but a subsidized home does. So you will always see more of the former than the latter

  13. Sure I could do that. But I don’t want to and do not need to.

    I’d rather just make big rent and give a percentage to charity if I feel like being all noble and all

  14. Idiot. You read some emails. You pick a half dozen to interview. You pick one of those to lease to, you run a credit report, and if it looks good, you offer the lease.

    You’re a true moron, so I really don’t care if you believe me.

  15. If only Mercedes were being built, and they were price-controlled, then yes. The ideal, however, is to provide cars across all tranches of the market (OMIGOD I’m not the pinko commie you paint me to be! I believe in a (well-regulated) market!!!). Then the affluent can drive their $85k Teslas, and Chevys are available for teachers and plumbers to purchase.

    HOWEVER – when only #LUXURY is being built, it’s time to price-control.

    You would have to be a true idiot to not understand these things.

  16. Science (insofar as economics can be regarded as a science – many doubt that) may theoretically be the same everywhere in the sense that gravity is.

    But economic policy (which is what we are talking about here) definitely and obviously varies. A policy that works in France (e.g. their wealth tax) might not be viable in the US because many Americans find that to be abhorrent. It would also be unconstitutional here.

    Likewise Vienna’s housing policy might not work in Houston.

    Personally I’d like to see the policies of the Vienna school of monetarism and hard money here in the US, but we don’t all get our way.

  17. Economics is different in different countries. Just look at the differences in economic policy even within the EU where the prudent protestant north conflicts with the more profligate and socialist south

    Differences matter. If you want Austrian housing policies you should move to Austria

  18. People respond the same way everywhere. If country or cultural effects were significant, there would be a different economics in each cultural region. Instead, economics is universal.

    This division of labour.. is not originally the effect of any human wisdom, which foresees and intends that general opulence to which it gives occasion. It is the necessary, though very slow and gradual, consequence of a certain propensity in human nature, which has in view no such extensive utility; the propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another.

    Adam Smith

  19. Sure, and one of the problems with RC is that it leads to so many differing outcomes. As you note, many LL’s do fine because they have turnover. And in fact the nastier LL’s often get more turnover while the nice ones do not.

    But that leaves a certain percentage of LL’s who get stuck with a building full of low-rent tenants who never move. And that of course is why we see Ellis.

    So either RC works well for owners (and I have made far more money from RC than I could have done without it) OR the buildings get Ellis’ed.

    And to the other, yes, even more recent tenants see some gain. But they are now having to pay very top dollar and will never have the deal that the boomer tenants had and have. Meanwhile the percentage of tenants who benefit at all from rent control declines every year because of all the rentals lost-79, SFH’s, condo’s, live-work’s etc. And they have no good reason to vote for rent control. In fact, it makes them envious and resentful about it.

  20. Sure. But when the census appears to state things like (assuming wcw is reading the numbers correctly – I haven’t checked) that the number of RC units is increasing (barely credible) or that rent-controlled units do not elicit any different behavior in landlords than non-controlled units (ditto) then I smell a statistical rat

  21. Different country, different people, different influences, different culture, different expectations, different history, different everything.

    Cairo is cheap too. Should we copy them? How about Mogadishu – it’s dirt cheap there

  22. Oh, and I would assume that by “hollowed out neighborhood”, Pete means a case like I described yesterday where over a period of 20 years, my block went from being almost all controlled long-term rentals to a mix of owner-occupied TICs and condo’s, Airbnb’ed units and developer specials.

  23. That still doesn’t tell you what percentage of pre-1979 buildings are (still) controlled, what percentage of the controlled units are rented short-term, and how many of those units are not rented out long-term in favor of owner-occupation.

    It would also not distinguish a case like I had a while back where I chose to live in my TIC unit and rent out my condo, rather than the other way about, so that I could avoid having a controlled tenant.

    What we really need to resolve this is to compare otherwise similar units, and show how being controlled or non-controlled breaks when looking at how the owner made his decisions about rent versus OO, and short-term rents (not controlled) versus long-term lets (controlled). The best example would be TIC versus converted condo, but of course you have no data on TICs

    Finally you’d need to understand how many controlled units are removed from the long-term market every year which would otherwise not be.

  24. The city can’t even determine which units are being rented short-term, so I don’t have a lot of confidence in any other data they claim to have.

    It would be a very invasive process to do what you suggest and the libertarian in me would be opposed. it might resolve a few disagreements on figures here but I am not sure what the public policy advantage would be.

    Moreover I don’t really need a study to tell me that property owners behave differently according to whether their units are controlled or not. I regard that as a self-evident.

  25. The microdata have a when-moved field, a rent paid field and a rented/owned field. About one in eight units in San Francisco is a ten-plus year tenancy in a pre-’79 multifamily building. The 25th and 75th percentile rents are $660 and $1,300.

    What is a ‘hollow’ neighborhood?

  26. Population down over 10,000 from 2001 to 2004 and adding 10,000 units through 2006 likely had the larger effect.

    The microdata have building size and rent/own, but not legal subdivision data that captures condo conversions. Pre-2000 census microdata files are not available for download.

  27. Well, for one, it would give us a count (probably declining, per Madhatter & me, but ). Second, we may be able to distinguish other factors like Length in Occupancy, Paid Rent (how much/what levels). And by comparison, the extent or count of TIC/owner-occ units in formerly-RC rental spaces.

    To the extent we can drill down on the figures, we may discover some interesting (or not) data on vacancies. But also the density factor and what effect RC has there (my assumption is that it hollows neighborhoods out).

    While I would luv to have the data that would come with detailed registration, the cost and imposition (on me, of course, as a LL) are not worth it. It would probably be one of the few ways that roommates might gain equity vs master tenants – as the data would be public and challengeable.

  28. From one angle 2006 was a high-vacancy period. That was the era of the ‘Liar Loan’ – people were buying housing and moving away from renting.

    Is there a filter for multi vs SFH, tenant vs OwnOcc., and a breakout of decades?

  29. I realize that SF does not have great data on housing or rentals. But I bet there are other locales (Berk? Santa Monica? NYC? ??) that have more-n-better data that could then be cross-referenced – to give validation to some of the standard sources.

    I think Berkeley reqs the registration of every unit – controlled and not-controlled. I’ll bet SM does. And NYC has such a lambryth system … maybe too complicated for good comparative anal.

    … just a thought …

  30. As a partisan participant, I’d luv to think that ‘millions’ of unworthy, lazy, hoarding tenants are out to make my life miserable.

    But available data suggest that those who really have a sweet deal ($500 for a 3BR apt) are in the last quintile of tenants. Still, I have my own experience and what I know, and from that I must know a lot of folk from that bottom quintile.

    But for RC to remain, it only has to benefit someone who moved in Dec ’13 (or ’14!) who realizes that. with no restrictions, their rent could go up three-digits, instead of the RC (low) two-digits. Saving $50/mth is enuf to ensure a loyal voter base. Which then cements in the ‘hoarder’ stock which – from a demand perspective – is not the last quintile but the bottom 4.5 quintiles

  31. Right, the Bay Area has sprawl. Antioch is cheaper than SF.

    There are two million people in Vienna. A 1000sf apartment downtown there might set someone back $1,400 a month.

  32. Yeah but … its probably as accurate as most other types of polling (exit polling, telephone polling, “how many sex partners have you had (man/woman)”.

    There’s the assured ability of people to lie or speak to what the quesitoner wants to hear; there’s incomplete response, and purposeful sabotage.

    But I think given similar questioning – over time – some of those factors tend to be controlled. Polling has had a lot of research over the last 60+ yrs.

  33. Not that I know of since TIC’s don’t need to be recorded. TIC is a form of ownership and not a sub-division. Data lover wcw cannot account for them either, or at least has not done so yet.

  34. Is there any source of data for determining TIC formation? MLS? County Recorder?

    The squishy figures for Vacancies are at least substantiated by Censur polling, which although probably not accurate in any particular instance, are at least probably accurate as a delta over time.

  35. SF has sprawl too – it’s just outside the city limits. SF housing is much cheaper than otherwise because 500,000 of the city’s workers are housed outside the city.

    Can’t say that for medieval Vienna, along with many other differences of course

  36. Why only count condo’s for the last ten years? Condo conversions have been going on since at least the 1970’s that I know of, and often at a much higher rate back then since quotas and lotteries were a later invention.

    Also you need to add in where the pre-79 building is now designated as live/work, or is owned by a public agency or non-profit.

    And that only accounts for units formally de-controlled. It says nothing about de facto de-control e.g. TIC formations, OMI/RMI evictions and other owner-occupied “controlled” units.

    Again, how does your tenancy count allow for short-term lets where there might be dozens of “tenancies” in a year? Or cases like the one I saw last year where one property had 12 different tenancies – one for each bedroom?

    You have a long, long way to go before you sleep. Come back to me when you have better numbers. The good news is that you’re getting better, grasshopper.

  37. Right, both Vienna and Houston offer excellent models for development and relative affordability. Rent control, land use regulation and public housing is one path; sprawl is the other.

    Sprawl makes housing cheapest, but it is the ugliest possible solution. Careful regulation of land use produces more livable places, not to mention more productive cities.

  38. That’s the Bay Area CMSA. Rents in the whole Bay Area have been going up relative to rents nationally since 1960.

  39. Controlled units make up the vast bulk of the pre-79, multifamily stock. There were 6,000 condo conversions the past ten years, a little over 3% of the controlled housing stock.

    For-rent and rented-but-not-occupied vacancies dropped over 6,500 units from 2006 to 2013. At 2.3-person occupancy, that accounts for the entire increase in controlled tenancy.

    Gödel did beautiful math, but he didn’t know much about data.

  40. Many of those tech companies were already here. They just moved from, say, SOMA to mid-Market. That was certainly the case with Twitter

    And even if Twitter had moved to Brisbane, many of its workers would still live in SF and commute, presumably by a Twitter shttle.

    If tech goes into a slump then we’ll see less jobs. Rents will fall but we’ll have other problems instead, 2008 was no picnic.

  41. Well, something is driving a lot of tech employment in SF. The Twitter tax break, which brought some large companies here, is an obvious factor, but perhaps there are others.

  42. Yeah, wcw loves his census data, presumably because he thinks their data supports what he personally believes. But I share your cynicism about it. Nothing in my interactions with the census indicates that it is either complete or accurate. Moreover those who do not co-operate with the census, or give bad information, are probably the ones who are seeking to conceal activities that therefore continue undetected.

  43. It has been, but it does not follow from that that the Twitter tax break is the cause. The drivers are much more broad-based than that, and in fact I don’t think the Twitter issue made much difference.

  44. Yes, a medieval city in eastern Europe is exactly the same as a modern American urban area.

    In particular, Houston exists. Isn’t this fun?

  45. Your source is not SF exclusively. I don’t have hard data, but intuitively, based on what I read, I’d say the pace of increase has been higher in the past couple of years.

  46. There are more things in heaven and earth, Sam, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. In particular, Vienna exists.

  47. As Pete notes, you are conflating controlled units with pre-79 homes. They are not one and the same thing. Controlled units are a subset.

    If no new controlled units are being created, then the number of them must decline. Data can be wrong, misleading or misunderstood. Logic can never be wrong.

    The only other explanation would be new in-law units, which I doubt. Or landlords suddenly deciding to rent out units that they had been keeping vacant or living in. Possible, but you have provided no data to show that.

  48. You are supporting my premise and the premise of those seeking relaxation of ent control in Richmond. Rent control benefits those lucky enough to have snagged a controlled units, but harms everyone else.

  49. There aren’t a lot of new in-laws, not least because that then confers rent control not only on that unit itself, but also the attached SFH.

    wcw confuses data about occupants, tenancies and turnover with (the harder to determine) data on the number of AVAILABLE controlled units. He also doesn’t allow for cases where a controlled unit is owner-occupied or otherwise not available for rental.

    When those additional factors are included, it is clear that the city must be losing hundreds of controlled units a year, and very possibly a couple of thousand or so. A simple count of condo conversions, TIC formations, Airbnb’ed units, units left vacant and OMI/RMI evictions (along with Ellis except where that would lead to double counting) indicates a small but steady erosion of the controlled base that is actually available for rental.

  50. Off topic. My point was that your linear approach to discussions reminds me more of a research analyst than a PM.

  51. OK, looks like the total units is up abt 32k, and the pre-79-occupied units are up abt 14k. But that doesn’t delineate for RC units.

    So, a SFH or condo could be renter-occupied, but not under RC (well, the ‘price-control’ of RC).

    While its said that “no new RC is being created”, thats not entirely true. In-law units (legal or “undocumented”) turn a SFH into two (or more) RC units. I understand removing those in-laws is becoming increasingly difficult, and the way we’re headed (D-3 & D-9), a small portion of those will come online in the future. But I don’t imagine there’ be a significant increase in the # of RC units as currently configured.

  52. Here are the numbers from 2005 and 2013 for renters (and owners) of all units. If you filter the microdata for multifamily properties, the pattern is the same: pre-’79 occupants are up.

  53. I am a bit leary of Census data. Having seen a neighbors responses – which were partial and not quite truthful – some crimping’s just par for the course.

    Also, I filled out a long form 15 yrs ao, and was truly purplexed as to what some of the correct data was supposed to be. for my situation. No one personally followed up, and there’ wasn’t anywhere to ask questions.

    However, its the only game we got, right?

  54. Could you explain how pre-79 rentals could increase by 10%, when its said the # of RC units (pre-79) has been steadily dropping?

    Maybe the number used refers to the total occupants of pre-79 units; which would make sense to the extent that people are adding more roommates. Though that only happens when units become decontrolled, and market rents require additional people to fill the bill. I highly doubt those with low rents are adding roomies.

    No, I should take that back. Someone was bragging last week how he pays his $1600/ rent by charging his roomie $1300/, and renting out “his two garages”(?) for $300 each – making a profit off his RC apt. and living for free. For renters who are following the law, I doubt that kind of sharing is worth the price (but, I could be wrong, many are desperate and will use every means to make a buck).

  55. Post your book, big man. Impress us.

    To pick a well-known name out of a hat, John W. Henry looked unbeatable for two decades. Ten years later, he closed up shop. All he’s got left are his sports teams.

  56. It’s a rational choice. Some people choose to invest ethically. I prefer to invest unethically if it is more profitable, and then use some of the profits to do good works.

  57. The tax benefits weren’t all that, mostly amounting to a 5-year break on the payroll tax on stock options (which no other city in the US has anyway AFAIK),

  58. It wasn’t the extreme greed of landlords and speculators. It was the tax benefits Ed Lee handed out to the tech industry. The extreme greed of landlords and speculators followed and rewarded Ed Lee.

  59. You and I went through this recently, and as I recall, the 7K new units and a reduction in the vacancy rate covered the 50K new residents. What is your point here besides the usual (“build more units”)?

  60. They are not “up”. The number of tenancies might be up, but that is entirely possible if there are less controlled units available, simply because the length of the average tenancy is declining.

    Apples and oranges.

  61. Wrong because, given the low mobility rate of controlled tenants, those tenants who are looking have to pay higher rents and, in many cases, have to take uncontrolled rentals because nobody is leaving the controlled units.

    An increasing percentage of rentals in SF are exempt from rent control.

  62. Yeah, and it’s the same approach I take to so-called “ethical” investing. Far better to invest for the biggest profits and then give some of the profit to charity if you feel guilty

  63. I’m not running 150 credit reports. Nor do I need to. If you want to, knock yourself out. There might be something I care about less but right now I can’t think of it

    Not that I believe that you are really a landlord even for a minute.

  64. How do you lower profits?

    Of course, rent control tries to achieve that. But all it really succeeds in doing is deterring supply, and thereby driving up rents and profits

    Try again.

  65. So Soros and Buffett are lucky?

    If I showed you my trades you probably would not be able to understand what the other side of them was, let alone profit from them.

    Anyway, my point is that back-room research geeks are typically not allowed to manage money, and there is a good reason for that.

  66. OK, so you cannot refute any of my points? Got it.

    If rent control is so great, why are tenants constantly whining?

  67. That the pool of big winners is small is no evidence of skill.

    Since you ask, my immediate thought is to hope fervently that you’re on the other side of my trades.

  68. In 1970, a Victorian built for some swell in [fill in any once undesirable neighborhoods] was priced like a rusty Yugo; now a grotty fixer is priced like a condo with luxury finishes.

    Market segments reflect demand far more than supply.

  69. Without aggressive building, future tenants compete for fewer vacancies precisely because rent control works, and keeps more existing tenants in their homes. Competing for fewer vacancies raises rents. Higher rents hurt future tenants.

    Rent control coupled with aggressive public building and in the ideal case with luxury taxes on high rents, by contrast, protects existing tenants and mitigates the effect on future tenants.

  70. A direct personal connection is hard to match, sure.

    Breaking the cycle of greed sounds like something you’d have to do mostly with good, old-fashioned regulation. Otherwise, those not willing to engage get pushed out by those who are.

    Still, say it works. There are strong arguments that some restraint on top salaries after WW2 was imposed by social mores, not fiat. If property owners refuse to charge high rents, what happens to folks who can’t find an apartment?

  71. Rent control helps existing tenants, hurts landlords and, if not paired with aggressive public building, hurts most but helps a few future tenants.

  72. Lie. Build a $3M condo with luxury finishes and a far smaller segment of the population can afford it. Also, fucking price controls.

    It’s called tranches. It’s this funny little thing that complicates “The Market” too much for simple supply and demand to apply (among other factors).

    By your reasoning, if we shut down Ford, Honda, Toyota, et al, and just have Tesla building $85k cars, there shouldn’t be a problem. Oh, what? You mean a teacher can’t afford a Tesla? But surely there are ‘just cars’ and if we build enough Teslas, the price will come down enough for a janitor working 60 hours a week to afford to be able to drive to work!

    Unregulated free market principles are naive, simplistic, and dangerous. Their proponents are ignorant, stupid, or liars who stand to profit.

  73. 1 – you’re genuinely wrong
    2 – it doesn’t, hostile LL’s eager to evict so they can raise rent causes that atmosphere
    3 – you bought the building knowing you’d rent it out? And they there are laws governing that economic activity? Then fuck off.

  74. I think that’s an apples and oranges question. For one, totally depends on the charity you picked. Benefit of renting out below market is that I build relationships and help the immediate community that I live in.

    I mean, bang for the buck on individuals effected would be something like a $100 well in Africa to provide a town with fresh drinking water, sure. But these things aren’t mutually exclusive, and you can’t let the great be the enemy of the good. I personally believe that if we break the cycle of greed destroying our own communities, this town can improve drastically.

  75. Oh you poor thing, so hard to ask a few questions and then run a credit report! You poor, feeble-minded thing!

  76. It’s whittling them down from 150 to 6 that takes all the time and effort.

    Easier to change the rent to market and get a sensible number.of applicants, and a more credit-worthy bunch.

  77. PM is probably the biggest meritocracy I know. Over time, luck evens out but it is a relatively small number of PM’s who really make bank.

    Understanding the world just a little better can lead to disproportionately higher rewards. The very best guys aren’t just smarter. They are quicker.

  78. Portfolio management is about being lucky, too, when the PM doesn’t even know if the sign on the number matches his thesis.

  79. Rent control is about being lucky. Or nasty. It rewards the tenant who can survive and the landlord who can get rid of his tenants

  80. honestly, Gary, the older I get, the more I realize the truth of this Alice in Wonderland world we live in, where up is down and down is up.

  81. Especially when taxes are considered. CGT rates are much lower than income tax rates, and losses and depreciation can mean tax-free gains

  82. That is a good question. I will give you my take, as a landlord.

    I do not mind control of rents. If you are shrewd, you can make more money from a rental in a controlled city, because rent control pushes up the marginal rent on vacant units. Rent control rewards aggressive tenants but it also rewards aggressive landlords.

    My objections to rent control are:

    1) I genuinely believe that it does not help most tenant

    2) It creates a hostile atmosphere between LL’s and TT’s

    3) It takes away control over who lives in your building

  83. There is no such thing as housing the majority can afford. There is just housing. If you build far too little, it will be unaffordable.

  84. Building housing that people can afford requires no increase in taxes. Building artificially cheap housing requires a sugar daddy

  85. that’s exactly what I used to think, but I have found through difficult experiences, it doesn’t work that way, especially in a city where property values are high. Property owners, especially in RC areas would rather increase values to financially leverage their holdings.

  86. That’s stupid, and likely a lie. I offer my rental at well below BMR and have the same experience. You know what I do? I find a half dozen to interview and then pick one! Poor baby Madhatters’ inbox filled up! Boo freaking hoo!

  87. There are more tax advantages to not renting since losses can be offset against other income.

    That said, I’d agree that it is safer to rent long-term now because rents are so screamingly high that the landlord is highly unlikely to end up being stuck for decades with a poet/artist/activist tenant whose entire life is based on their ability to desperately cling to a controlled deal

  88. Clarification – we have very high rents because we have built too little housing that the majority of people can afford.

  89. I will say it again, if rent control *actually* hurt tenants, like Free Market idiots disingenuously claim, these associations wouldn’t be fighting so hard to repeal it!

  90. If owners have followed basic logic and pulled units from the rental market, why are rented units in pre-’79 buildings up?

  91. Some landlords are focused on the monthly rental return, not the property value, which seems to go up and down more than rents. And they should rent their vacant unit when the rental market is like it is now. Plus there are tax advantages, no?

  92. @Gary, an owner wishing to increase the value of their property during a market boom, will pull it off the rental market because tenant occupancy in rent controlled units will have similar effects as a lien.

  93. the market was down, it didn’t serve landlords to pull them off the market. when the market goes up, having renters lowers the value of the unit (not unlike a lien). owners then pull the units to increase property value. Pretty basic logic if one stops to look

  94. Tenants who are artificially motivated to never move obviously contribute to the low vacancy rate. I am surprised that you cannot understand that connection.

  95. Ho, ho, ho! I remember last time you pulled out that chestnut. You were still “Sam” then. My favorite claim was that the San Francisco low vacancy rate, 2% (p. 5) or 1% (p. 7) —must be due to evil rent control.
    Incidentally, that was published in 1997, when the first dotcom boom was filling every vacancy from San Jose to San Francisco, after many years of availabilty, despite decades of rent control.

  96. As I explained to you earlier, the reason that the number of tenancies is increasing is because landlords are going for shorter-term deals, for obvious reasons. How do your turnover numbers account for an Airbnb conversion of a home, where there might be 100 tenants a year?

    But yes, and thankfully, most tenants are actually reasonable people and do not desperately cling to their units. But sadly there are enough of those to make life miserable for some owners. The big LL’s can absorb a few losers – Fox Plaza has dozens of them but it doesn’t matter. But if you have a 2-4 unit and a couple of lifers, it’s grim.

    Data, smdata. Your googling is no substitute for those whose income depends on a real world understanding. I used to hire researchers back when I was a portfolio manager. Grunt work is useful. Comprehension is more important. No client of mine ever wanted to hand their investment dollars over to my research analysts

  97. The number of rental tenancies in multifamily, pre-1979 buildings in San Francisco is up, not down, from 2006 to 2013.

    The biggest beneficiaries of rent control have already vacated their units. Fewer than 50,000 units in San Francisco have been occupied over ten years in multifamily, pre-1979 buildings.

    People always respond to incentives. What does that have to do with assertions that are controverted by the available data?

  98. You clearly haven’t understood anything I said, preferring to hide behind dubious alleged statistics rather than seek to understand the real world. I wasn’t talking about so-called in-law units at all although they do not contribute to the decline of controlled units since they are relatively easy to get a demo permit for.

    You need to understand only one statistic. For every vacancy that is created in a controlled unit, what percentage of them is re-offered for rent long-term? I note that you have so far not provided that number.

    That is key because that is the point where rent control alters landlord behavior, and not in a way that will help the good people of Richmond. The issue is always the same – why do we pass laws to supposedly protect tenants that have the effect of property owners choosing other uses for their units?

    And a ryder. What is the future of rent control as the biggest beneficiaries of rent control, boomers, die off or go into care, thereby releasing tens of thousands of low-rent units back to owners who have been hanging on for exactly that windfall?

  99. Legalizing nonconforming units adds to the legal supply, though the number of such units added is even closer to zero than the number of demolitions and condo conversions.

    Rent controlled units occupied under a decade outnumber long-term tenancies by more than two to one. If a small number of long term tenancies sways elections, it has already happened.

  100. Not true. First, we know the supply is declining since no new controlled units get created. So the only question here is the rate of that decline.

    You can claim that that rate is “dwarfed” by the total number. But as the number declines, it becomes less and less dwarfed.

    Your mistake appears to be that you think that “supply” means the physical units. That is true but trivial. I’d agree with you that the physical number doesn’t decline by much because it’s hard to do mergers and demolitions.

    But you really need to include any controlled unit that is withdrawn (one way or another) from the housing stock that is available for rent..

    These include Ellis, OMI, RMI and condo evictions, as you appear to understand.

    But it also includes TIC formations (with or without Ellis). Any unit that becomes owner-occupied. And any unit where the use is changed away from long-term rentals, e.g. short-term rentals.

    Also although no-fault evictions get all the attention, there are far more at-fault evictions. And even more vacancies due to natural turnover. You need to get to the bottom of what happens to all those units before making credible claims that the supply is declining very slowly.

    I’d put it at a few thousand a year and, after a decade or two, that could be enough to sway elections

  101. Paris has over 55,000 people per square mile. San Francisco with a million people would have under 22,000.

    Paris is a pretty nice place to live.

    How did the extreme greed of landlords and speculators get 50,000 people to move to San Francisco the last four years?

  102. The supply of controlled units is close to static. Condos, demos and substantial rehabs (minus) and legalized nonconforming units (plus) are dwarfed by existing supply.

  103. Nancy, rents are not high because landlords are greedy. Landlords are simply offering their places at a price that tenants are willing and able to pay. Ultimately tenants set rents. A landlord can only get what someone agrees to pay.

    Interestingly I once tried to not be “greedy” and offered a place at a low rent, just to see what happened. I was feeling charitable and wanted to help someone worthy.

    My phone rang off the hook, my voicemail filled up, I got 150 emails in a day and I had to abandon the whole idea.

    Even if a landlord wants to ask only a low rent, he gets overwhelmed and cannot do it.

  104. San Francisco has very high rents because of the extreme greed of landlords and speculators; San Francisco was never meant to house nearly 1 million people – it is too small a space

  105. Again, I’ve never responded to a census form and there was no follow-up that I know of. You may be correct that the surveyor might just guess.

    I also never respond to jury summons either. No problem. It’s amazing how little follow up there is on many official requests.

    What is your estimate for the number of units that were rented out long-term in, say, 2000 which no longer are? Explain your assumptions and show your working

  106. Because turnover rates vary because of all kinds of factors. The turnover rate could increase even while the number of units is declining.

    My guess would be that landlords are getting better at picking tenants who won’t stick around and/or preferring shorter lets over longer lets.

    The number of controlled units MUST decline each year, because no new controlled units are created and we know that some number each year change their use.

    Data without understanding is noise.

  107. In a normal year response rate is around 98% in California.

    If controlled unit loss is thousands per year, why were 10% more units rented in multiunit pre-1979 buildings in 2013 than 2006?

  108. Census interviewers make personal visits to sample units. They interview landlords, owners or agents or, if none is available, knowledgeable neighbors. If the interviewer cannot find anyone he completes the case by observation as a last resort.

    An Airbnb unit likely would be coded rented, if occupied when sampled, or vacant for seasonal or occasional use if not.

  109. Your faith in the census is touching. It’s good at counting the kind of people who respond to surveys. I have never responded to one.

    Right now, landlords are more likely to re-rent long-term simply because the rents are so high that rent control becomes moot. For example one landlord biddy of mine just for 5K a month for a 1-bedroom flat.

    Not only is that a stonkingly good rent, but there is little chance that the tenant will stick around – only a high-value achiever can afford that, and the guy will probably buy after a year or two.

    But prior to now we had 15 years of property owners often deciding not to re-rent. To estimate that, add up all the Ellis, OMI, RMI, and condo evictions, add in TIC formations where there are no eviction, unit mergers and demo’s, 70% plus rehabs and add in a few thousand for Airbnb-type short-term lets. Then factor in a few thousand units that are vacant and not offered for rent.

    You will start to get a much more accurate picture of the true loss of controlled rental units than by extrapolating census guestimates

  110. Storytelling is a natural way people communicate, but a terrible replacement for a good survey. There is a deep literature on surveys and sampling. There is no science behind an anecdote.

  111. The turnover numbers derive from actual responses. A census form delivered to a building with no residents will not be responded to.

    Also what do you think a census form delivered to an Airbnb’ed home will reveal?

  112. Yes, SF landlords get very very good at figuring out which tenants will move on and which will linger for years.

    I only have one long-term tenant. I’ve had over 100 in total. The other 99 all moved on – I’ve only done one Ellis and one OMI.

  113. I have zero faith that the census is accurate, based on my own interactions with it. The voter register is probably more accurate, but even that is way off

  114. We know there are about 5,000 short-term lets in SF through Airbnb alone. There are probably at least that number again through other sources. The law is not enforced as you know, and many believe that it should not be.

    Leaving a unit vacant can increase profits in a number of ways:

    1) Because of rent control, LL’s are stuck with the original base rents. When rents are rising, as they have been for a few years now, it can pay to wait. A unit that rented for 2K in 2010 is probably at 4K now.

    2) If you want to sell a building, you will get a LOT more for it if the units are vacant and unencumbered. Many owners may plan to sell within 5 years and the extra sales price is more than the forsaken rent AND is taxed at a lower rate.

    3) You can do short term lets. I’m seeing a lot of 1-6 month furnished lets that target Europeans or Tech employers who are bring new staff to the city. That is the sweet spot between Airbnb-type lets and controlled lets

  115. TICs cost 50% more per square foot than multifamily rentals; the financial incentive is to TIC and sell. If not sold, the incentive is to select tenants who are more likely to move sooner.

  116. You have no data either. That’s a red herring.

    But I am offering real-world experience and not just speculations from behind a keyboard

  117. Short of citing actual addresses and showing you that the census is wrong, there is not much I can do to persuade you that the census is wrong. But it is.

    Your turnover rates sound about right. It would be instructive for you to try and estimate how many units are not re-offered for long-term rent upon a vacancy. I can tell you that on my block there are currently 9 units that were not re-offered for rent in the last 2-3 years.

    Maybe that a freak number. Maybe not. How would you know?

  118. “I have lived on my block for a long time, I know most of the fellow-owners and talk to them. . .”

    In other words, you have no data to back up your ridiculous claims.

  119. The Census Bureau counts all vacancies. From 2010 to 2013, vacancies dropped over 14,000 units. Supply is up, not down.

  120. I have lived on my block for a long time, I know most of the fellow-owners and talk to them, and I am also in the SFAA and so talk to a lot of other landlords and owners. Pretty much every discussion I have with these other owners goes the same way – discussions about alternatives to being stuck with lifer controlled tenants.

    If rent control is such a good deal for tenants (and clearly you believe that it is) then why would it surprise you if owners vote with their feet and switch their units to other uses?

    I’d add that I don’t know too many people who buy a building with the express purpose of evicting the tenants. It’s more a slow process that starts with wide-eyed optimism about being a landlord, and ends up with a cynicism and a desire to get out. Some then sell, others evict, some get lucky with turnover.

    The system is broken.

  121. The Census. Mover rates in SF and NYC are indeed low, both around 11%. For context, Portland is 22% and Seattle 24%.

  122. Only if they are going to have illegal short term rentals. Otherwise, the financial incentive is to rent a vacant unit at the current market rate.

  123. “In other words, rent control has caused the removal of about 50 units of housing from the rental sector. May not be typical of everywhere in the city, but it’s not nothing either.”

    Please provide data that demonstrates that all of the building owners sold because of rent control. In North Beach, the have been a lot of protests because a landlord died and her niece inherited the building and evicted everyone so she can sell via TIC.

    Because nobody ever had a business plan to purchase a building, evict the tenants and sells the units as TIC making a huge and somewhat immediate profit.

  124. Rent control means that it is far from “idiotic” for a property owner to decide to not rent out his units long term.

    Rent control creates a massive financial incentive for a landlord to avoid long-term tenants.

    True idiocy is staying in a flat that you hate and that is ill-maintained, just because it is artificially cheap

  125. Let me fix it for you: Rent control doesn’t reduce the supply. A handful of idiot, ideological landlords of rent control units do.

  126. Here is my anecdote. Twenty years ago only one building on my block was owner-occupied. The rest were all rented long-term.

    Now only one building is rented out. The rest are mostly owner-occupied (either as a TIC or converted to condo). Two buildings have been vacant for 2-3 years. Two more units are Airbnb’ed.

    As they became vacant (a mix of Ellis, OMI, at-fault evictions, payoffs and natural turnover) they were not re-rented long-term.

    In other words, rent control has caused the removal of about 50 units of housing from the rental sector on just one block of SF. Maybe not be typical of everywhere in the city, but it’s not nothing either.

    Why does the city pass laws that directly lead to this?

  127. I didn’t deny anything. I asked you for the source of data to back up what you wrote.

    Here’s my anecdotal observation: For decades, I’ve lived in a neighborhood that is mostly rent controlled buildings and the turnover in tenants, until the last two years, was constant.

  128. You’re too hooked on semantics. Whether we call it “hoarding” or something else doesn’t change the reality. Both landlords and tenants are incentivized to behave in an un-natural way that has the effect of reducing the number of units that are available for rent, and that increases rents.

    The vacancy rate doesn’t have much to do with the number of units that are vacant. The vacancy rate is a measure of the number of units being offered for rent as a percentage of the total number of rental units. Units that are empty but not offered for rent are counted in the total number (obviously) but not in the vacancy rate.

    You have no way of knowing how many units are vacant and not offered. And then of course there are all the former controlled units that are occupied but not rented.

    Your last sentence is half correct. Let me fix it for you:

    “Rent control without significant building raises rents for vacant units because it increases demand while reducing supply”

  129. Like Prop 13, rent control distorts incentives. That does not explain how living in a rental unit stores it up or hides it away.

    Vacant properties are vacant; they add to the vacancy rate. The vacancy rate is, however, minuscule. Any effect from owners sitting on vacant units must likewise be minuscule.

    Rent control without significant building raises rents for vacant units because it increases demand without matching supply.

  130. Are you seriously denying that rent control rewards tenants who decide to stay in the same place for decades?

    Or are you denying that that has any effect on people who are looking for a place? Or on asking rents at the margin?

  131. Source of data please. Or is this a conversation you heard at the barbershop?

    And comparing renters in a city to the US is wrong. Comparing San Francisco renters to other urban rental markets such as NYC or Chicago is appropriate.

  132. People who rent non-controlled units tend to move at the same rate as elsewhere in the US – every 5 to 7 years or so.

    Controlled tenants cling to their unit for as long as possible, often long after the place meets their needs any more, for purely financial reasons.

    Rent control causes distortions and hoarding is just one example.

  133. Both types of hoarding happen.

    A tenant is rewarded for staying in his rental for decades even though he might want ideally to move.

    An owner (can be) rewarded for leaving a unit vacant rather than deal with rent control.

    Both contribute to the minuscule vacancy rate. That is how rent control drives up rents

  134. wcw was arguing that tenants do not try and stay in their units for as long as possible. but if that were true, then evictions would not be a big deal since the tenants would move after a few years anyway

  135. Hoarding in this instance means a tenant maintaining in good standing their contract with their landlord in a rent controlled unit.

    Or something equally idiotic.

  136. “The fact that tenant advocates bemoan evictions is further support for that.”

    Do you even read the shit you write? WTF are tenant advocates supposed to do, celebrate evictions?


  137. It is uncontroversial that price controls increase demand. That was not the assertion however, but that the entire stock of controlled rentals is being hoarded. The word hoard means to store up and hide away a supply. In what way does living in a rental unit store it up or hide it away?

    If owners often chose not to re-rent vacant rent controlled units, rented units in pre-1979 buildings would drop. Instead, from 2006 to 2013 rented units in such buildings increased 10%.

  138. The Mission Moratorium sifnature gatherers were lying about their cause too. Where is your outrage on that, Tim?

  139. I suspect all the petition signature gatherers are lying because I have heard so many reports about it. Every one is saying that it will expand rent control or it will bring rent control to the city.

  140. Yes, in the broader sense, a big part of the expense of SF housing is NIMBYism and the barriers that are put in place that deter the building of homes. My comments here were restricted to the impact of rent control on affordability since that is the topic.

    I do not think it is any secret that tenants in SF have a massive incentive to remain in the rental home they are in rather than move. The way rent control works makes that inevitable. That is what I mean by “hoarding” i.e. the artificial immobility that rent control rewards, thereby crimping the vacancy rate, reducing turnover and driving up rents at the margin for those looking to rent.

    The fact that tenant advocates bemoan evictions is further support for that. While their complaints against TIC’s, condo’s and Airbnb lets all show that owners refusing tor e-rent long-term is also a significant factor.

  141. San Francisco has very high rents because it has built too little housing for people. There are 50,000 more people in the city than in 2010, while there are only 7,000 more units.

    Anecdote is not data. Where is the evidence for significant ‘hoarding’ (whatever that means) or significant vacancies stemming from owners holding units off the market?

  142. Yes, February 1, 1995, to be precise. That was approximately the data of the state law. The local law was passed in 1979, hence that deadline.

    Since no new controlled units can be created, the percentage of units covered by rent control declines each year simply because of new build. That trend is increased by the removal or change of use of many controlled units to TIC’s, condo’s, short-term lets, and owner-occupancy.

    So rent control will effectively repeal itself in the long term. It will just take another two or three decades, accelerated by the fact that the baby boomers will be dying off or going into care at increasing rates, creating vacancies that will either be re-rented at a very high rent, or not re-rented at all.

    So perhaps it doesn’t matter whether rent control is formally repealed or simply allowed to wither on the vine.

  143. SF has the highest rents in the nation despite (or rather, because of) rent control. Anyone looking for a rental home in SF has to pay far more because the entire stock of controlled rentals is being hoarded. And because property owners often choose to not re-rent when they get a vacancy.

    That is exactly the situation that the cited article predicts. Rent control creates a few fortunate winners, but condemns the entire rental sector to be dysfunctional and expensive.

    Sounds like instead you want to blame the people who provide this most valuable service. And that is another part of the problem.

  144. You’re joking… right? Oh… you’re NOT joking. You’ve been drinking the Cato CoolAid and think that referencing a frankly idiotic paper written in 1997 by an ideological hack will convince SF renters to drop their pants and bend over to the landlords.

    Is there something about the word “landlord” you’re not getting.

    Land… possession thereof, enforced by the courts and sherrifs, the only form of govt. libertarians like because without institutional, “legitimized” force where would your property rights be? Lord… as in feudal lord, or rentier, i.e. someone profiting from controlling by the mailed fist the basic needs of others to abode.

    Begone troll!

  145. State law bans control on units with certificates of occupancy after January 1995. In San Francisco, another provision of the law extends that to 1979.

  146. Lying and paying big bucks – it’s the only way that moneyed interests have a chance at winning. Same in San Francisco.

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