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Home News + Politics The Agenda, Jan 8-16: A critical rent-control vote, and the power struggle at City Hall

The Agenda, Jan 8-16: A critical rent-control vote, and the power struggle at City Hall

Can a good tenant bill clear the state Assembly -- and who does the power structure want in the Mayor's Office?

Outside the State Building, tenants remind everyone that thanks to the state Legislature, the rent is too damn high

The most important and dramatic change in state rent control law in 20 years is up for its first hearing at a state Assembly committee Thursday/11– and the vote will probably be close.

Assemblymember Richard Bloom, who represents Santa Monica, Malibu and parts of Los Angeles, has introduced SB 1506, which would repeal the Costa Hawkins Act. That 1995 law banned cities from extending rent controls to vacant apartments – undermining effective limits on rent hikes and giving landlords and incentive to evict long-term tenants. It also banned rent control on most single-family houses and condos – and on any housing built after 1995.

Outside the State Building, tenants remind everyone that thanks to the state Legislature, the rent is too damn high

Assemblymember David Chiu, who chairs the Committee on Housing and Community Development, is a co-sponsor and has set the hearing. Although the committee has five Democrats and two Republicans, Democrats in Sacramento have not always been good on tenant issues, and the real-estate lobby is powerful.

Tenant advocates are rejecting any compromise; they want a clean repeal vote, which would (but not require) cities to pass laws that allow rents to remain stable after a tenant leaves.

Berkeley, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood passed so-called “vacancy control” laws in the 1980s, and they were effective tools to fight gentrification and displacement. But after trying and losing in court, the landlords got the Legislature to ban vacancy control in 1995.

San Francisco never had vacancy control – the Board of Supes actually passed a vacancy-control law in the 1980s, but then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein vetoed it.

Without vacancy control, landlords can raise the rent to whatever the market will bear when a tenant moves out; rent control only applies to existing tenants. That gives landlords a huge incentive to use fraudulent evictions, illegal pressure tactics, and any other tactic they can conjure up to get rid of long-term tenants whose rents are well below the market rate.

So the repeal of Costa-Hawkins is a huge deal for the tenant movement, and this committee is the first test. But the other Democrats on the committee are not so clear (and it’s not entirely clear who will be sitting on the committee Thursday, since some members are out of town). The bill needs four votes to advance.

Advocates say the swing vote may well be Ed Chau, who represents a district east of Los Angeles. Anyone who’s reading this who lives in the 49th District might want to give Chau a call. Anyone who knows anyone who lives there – get in touch, and have them call.

It also helps to call Chiu, to let him know that there is strong support for this bill.

We will have updates during the week as the hearing approaches.

The Board of Supes will not be voting on an interim mayor Tuesday/9 – but the issue is likely to come up the following week.

For the moment, London Breed is both acting mayor and president of the board. That’s a strange situation that exists because the City Charter puts the board president in charge when the mayor unexpectedly leaves the job – and Ed Lee’s death was entirely unexpected.

But the idea that one person could hold both jobs for more than a short period of time creates all kinds of potential problems. For example: The mayor of San Francisco will prepare a budget this spring for 2018-2019. That’s one of the most important things a mayor does in this town – the budget sets the city’s policy priorities.

The Board of Supes acts as a check on that power – the Budget and Finance Committee holds hearings, reviews the document, makes changes, and gives the public a chance to weigh in.

If Breed stays in both jobs – as she will, if the supes don’t appoint someone else – she will create the city’s budget. Then she will appoint the members of the Budget and Finance Committee who will review it. Then she will vote on it as a supervisor. Then she will sign it.

In other words, on person will completely control the $9 billion in public spending for the next year.

That happens nowhere else in American government – and for good reason.

Sup. Aaron Peskin is going to ask for a vote Jan. 16 on an interim mayor. That’s creating a massive, behind-the-scenes political scramble.

Breed, Mark Leno, Dennis Herrera, and Jane Kim have all pulled papers to run for mayor. Running as the incumbent would be a huge deal – nobody who has run as an appointed incumbent has lost in at least half a century.

The progressives will, of course, be divided; some will support Kim, some Leno, and some (possibly) Herrera, if he decides he really wants to run. But the Big Tech and Real-Estate powers that be – the folks who have been running this city for more than a decade – have apparently cleared the field for Breed.

Mark Farrell isn’t running. I would be shocked if David Chiu got in the race.

I’m not saying that Breed is in anyone’s pocket or that she has cut any deals with Big Tech and Real Estate. But if those interests were not comfortable with her, they would have found and would be pushing another candidate. That’s just how it works in this town: There’s too much at stake here, too much money to be made in San Francisco. Whatever you think about London Breed, it’s clear that the same people who supported Gavin Newsom and Ed Lee are perfectly okay with the idea of her occupying the Mayor’s Office.

If that’s what people want in the next mayor, then they will be happy with Breed. I think the voters want a dramatic change

Breed tweeted in her announcement that “I am not a partisan. I am not an ideologue.” That’s the start of her campaign – and it says to me that she’s not running to try to topple the existing power structure.

I’m an old-fashioned leftist, I guess, but I have to wonder: How can you not be a partisan or have some ideology when the city is facing the worst wave of displacement in modern history? How can you not be furious when some 400,000 San Franciscans have left the city and income inequality has put San Francisco on the level of a Third World county under the past administration?

How can you say, as she does, “I believe in a San Francisco where we succeed as one” when this town is deeply riven by class warfare? We are not “one.” We can’t become “one” unless the tech and real-estate lords are dislodged from their thrones.

I know these are just words, but when Kim ran against Scott Wiener for state Senate, her campaign theme was about “fighting.” She made it clear that there were people running the system who did not share most of our interests. She stood with Bernie Sanders. Her approach set a tone that allowed people to frame the race (and if Wiener hadn’t had millions in outside money that attacked Kim viciously in the final months, she would have won).

Breed’s final line, “Together, there is no problem we can’t solve,” is a carefully crafted political slogan that rings an old historical bell for me. The last time a mayoral candidate used it, John Molinari was running against Art Agnos in 1987. Molinari was the downtown candidate, and his slogan was “Together, there’s nothing we can’t do.” Agnos ran as someone who promised to fight the power and support the grassroots movement against downtown developers. He won, pretty handily.

This time around, ranked-choice voting makes the whole thing hard to predict. And the vote Jan. 16th will make it even more tricky.

Since the filing deadline for mayor is Jan. 9, by the time the supes vote, they and everyone else will know who is in the race. That cuts two ways: Some think that the only way a candidate who is going to upend the existing political power structure can win is if somehow six members of the board can choose a candidate other than Breed who can then run as the incumbent. The only two candidates I see who can possibly count to six are Leno and Herrera – and in both cases, it would require the five progressives on the board (one of whom is running) to stick together, and one of the board moderates to go along.

That would mean Kim voting for one of her opponents. Or else something really weird happening.

Then there’s the “caretaker” discussion. With Kim in the race and four of her colleagues (including moderate Ahsha Safai) having endorsed Leno, the motivation to have a mayor who can’t run as an incumbent is strong.

That palace intrigue will be dominating all local political discussions until next week.


  1. “Can a good tenant bill clear the state Assembly” The answer this year is NO.

    Thursday the bill failed in committee by one vote with two Democrats abstaining. Clearly, the vote was brokered to fail while minimizing electoral consequences. Political kabuki

  2. See one of the links above in reply to Geek. Or you can Google the title below and find a free PDF version.

    The results show that vacancy control regulation contributed to lower
    rents and longer tenure by tenants. However, there were also fewer new
    rental units created in these areas than in the comparison areas and
    apparent conversion of a portion of the housing stock from rent to ownership.


  3. How does SF’s in-flow out-flow compare to other Bay Area counties and cities?

    One could argue that around 10% were “displaced;” 1 or 2 percent move (not necessarily out of the City) because of eviction/foreclosure and another 7 or 8 percent move for cheaper housing. But even if someone moves because of divorce, one or both may not be able to afford a place in SF on their won. There are also renters who become owners but could not afford to buy something acceptable in SF.

    But not being able to find something suitable or desirable in the City one can afford is not a death sentence. People leave the City all the time for bigger, better, nicer surroundings, etc. Leaving generally improves one’s standard of living.

  4. Koin, your comments contribute nothing useful to any discussion. But if they make you feel better, you’re welcome!

  5. Thanks for the link. Tim writes fast and loose .. that’s his thing. I’m just trying to figure this in/out migration stuff.

  6. That thread is way too long for me to find what part “substantiated the 50% claim”. The Census migration data is available at https://flowsmapper.geo.census.gov/map.html. The “View County Statistics thing will give you a nice summary box. Annual outmigration for the 2011-2015 dataset (Ed Lee) is 3% higher than the annual outmigration for the 2006-2010 (Gavin Newsome) dataset.

    Now that I reread what Tim wrote I see what he’s doing.

    “How can you not be a partisan or have some ideology when the city is facing the worst wave of displacement in modern history? How can you not be furious when some 400,000 San Franciscans have left the city”

    400,000 is about the number you would get to if you summed the annual outmigration over 6 years. Tim wants you to infer that all of these people were “displaced”, as I did, because the “displacement” of almost 50% of San Francisco would be something that surely we would all want to stop. The idea that every person who moves out of San Francisco is “displaced” is absolutely absurd: people move for a variety of reasons that are not involuntary economic ones. That outmigration has only increased 3% from the depths of the Great Recession to the peaks of the current economic boom is strong evidence that most moves out of SF are not caused by rising rents or evictions. Tim doesn’t mention that, of course.

    This is excellent propaganda. I’m not even mad, I’m impressed.

  7. I honestly don’t know for sure. She suddenly disappeared about the same time several others did. AndroidsAreForPoorPeople was one who also vanished. So, she MAY have been booted. I am pretty sure he was, as were a few others. I do recall that she rather hysterically accused me of “stalking her,” which was pretty funny since a) I had no idea who she was, and b) had no idea where she lived. And then, in an even more bizarre move, she made a couple of posts under her real name, and dropped a huge number of hints about where she lived. I don’t know if she was trying to “bait” me, or what, but she started letting me know, again, ironically, that she knew information on me. I think that is what go her booted. She made a couple of posts that I received in email, that contained private information, and then she clearly immediately edited them so the information could not be “traced” to her by Disqus. I reported that, as it was quite disturbing. I value my privacy, and I don’t like people nosing into it for the purpose of threatening or intimidating me. So, it was probably not a matter of “running her off,” so much as she got herself booted.

    And thanks for reminding me about her. Some idiot on either SFGate or the Chronicle, claimed I had “stalked someone’s daughter,” which made no sense. I forgot that nut case made that claim. It amounted to her posting about her daughter, an me pointing out that she had made so contradictory statements. Again, I have no idea who her daughter is, or any such information. I have actually been cyberstalked, eventually having to contact the police once. I don’t do that sort of thing, and I don’t appreciate being falsely accused.

  8. Zhoosh upvoted you but also substantiated the 50% claim in the comments of Calvin Welch’s piece. Zhoosh has not responded to me whether he is the same person who wrote under the moniker Playland, but it is looking highly likely. If it’s true, then Playland is singing a different tune then he was last month (regarding the same statistics).


  9. Vacancy control won’t solve the “problem” of the demand exceeding the supply. Price controls almost always reduce the supply. It will solve the affordability issue. The State measures “crisis” by the percent of income spent on housing. By that measure, San Francisco has less of a crisis than other Bay Area counties. SF is not in the top ten percent, Alameda, Contra Costa, and Santa Clara counties are.

    With price controls more landlords will get out of the rental business and covert rentals to owner occupied. That already happens with rent control to a small degree. And depending on how the law is structured it could mean fewer rentals and more condos being built. Which may have the positive effect of more ownership opportunities.

    There was a study of four cities with vacancy control before the law was passed. The results show that vacancy control regulation contributed to lower rents and longer tenure by tenants. However, there were also fewer new rental units created in these areas than in the comparison areas and apparent conversion of a portion of the housing stock from rent to ownership.

  10. I agree, overbuilding negatively impacts the quality of life.Vacancy control will solve the housing crisis for renters; there will be no need to build more rentals. However, it won’t stop the building of units for sale. If the affordable percent requirement is raised will help by slowing development, however. If raised to 50% it should all but stop development.

  11. Hi Don, can you say more about how vacancy control will alleviate the need for more housing? And why would more rental units be converted to owner occupied? Thanks.

  12. Yes, not having to pay over $40 for 24 hours access is definitely a bit better. I’ll get back to you when I have had time to read it.

  13. Depends. Small-l libertarianism is basically desire for freedom. It’s a philosophy of live and let live, which is not a bad thing. What I’ve come to realize, is that when you apply that philosophy to the economic sphere, you greenlight systems of exploitation. If a government were to pass a law saying that everyone will have socialized medicine, that increases freedom because workers have more liberty to change jobs , start businesses, follow their dreams, whatever. If a government passes a law saying that you can’t fire people without due process, that too actually increases freedom for the many (even though it decreases freedom for the few). etc.

    Now along come the Republicans who have perverted the idea of libertarianism, and apply it ONLY to the economic sphere. They don’t want to let people do drugs, give sex workers rights, or give people the right to privacy from government surveillance. But they want to give the bosses the right to exploit other people at will. They’ve forgotten the “let live” part of “live and let live.”

  14. A better link to the pdf version


    Allan Heskin is Professor of urban planning at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of Tenants and the American Dream (Praeger, 1983), a book about the tenant movement in Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Ned Levine is director of Ned
    Levine & Associates of Annandale, VA. He is the author of studies on rent control, growth control, community security, and spatial statistics and has published numerous times in the Journal of the American Planning Association. Mark Garrett is an attorney and Ph.D. student in urban planning at the University of California, Los Angele

    The Effects of Vacancy Control (PDF Download Available). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/249051872_The_Effects_of_Vacancy_Control [accessed Jan 08 2018].

  15. Are you trying to be funny? Why are you avoiding providing a valid citation? Afraid of what I will do with it? Like show it is clearly bogus?

  16. You made an absolute statement. There was no qualifications. You said, given a specific occurrence, another occurrence WILL happen. Not “might,” not “could,” not “possibly,” and not even “probably.” You said “will.” A lie, since it is not certain, but is stated as a certainty.

  17. I said a citation. You provide what could well be a made up bit of drivel. A proper citation includes the publication it appears in, or the publisher if it is a book. Or other information. You apparently don’t want me to be able to evaluate the veracity of the claim. Last chance, provide a CITATION or admit you are a liar.

  18. Besides creating more owner occupied units, the benefits of vacancy control include a solution to the housing crisis without building more housing. Also the extra income of renters will create more service jobs and support more restaurants.

  19. The results show that vacancy control regulation contributed to lower rents and longer tenure by tenants. However, there were also fewer new rental units created in these areas than in the comparison areas and apparent conversion of a portion of the housing stock from rent to


  20. The was a study of vacancy controlled cities that supports the prediction. It will happen over time.

  21. That will be true over time. A study of vacancy control cities before the law was passed found an increase in owner occupied units. That will be a positive aspect of vacancy control, plus give renters more money that will provide more service jobs.

  22. The upside is that more rentals will be converted to owner occupied and condos rather than rentals will be built. Also the extra income of rent control beneficiaries will support restaurants and provide more service jobs.

  23. With vacancy control there will be no need to build more housing to solve the housing crisis and more rental units will be converted to owner occupied, and there will be more condos than rentals built.

  24. Vacancy control is a good idea. A study done of cities with vacancy control before Costa Hawkins found that vacancy control increased ownership. More owners should improve the City. Also, vacancy control will solve the housing crisis without the need to build more housing. And the extra income of rent control beneficiaries will help the restaurant business and employ more people who will provide services to high income renters with extra money to spend.

  25. I never said it did. Of course neither does yours. But, you did not refute his point. In the context in which it was said, it is quite accurate. Sort of like the person on another thread who tried, desperately, to trash Tim for exposing Conway’s remarks at Lee’s private funeral. When I responded, she claimed it was about journalistic integrity, and it was out of line because it used an unnamed source. I pointed out that this was legitimate given Conway’s history of revenge on those who cross him. At that point she pretty much lost it. Her reaction was totally out of proportion, and clearly she is a shill for Conway (or, perhaps, Breed). You seem a bit too obsessed with a quite reasonable statement.

  26. If landlording is so ridiculously profitable, why aren’t YOU (or other actors) getting into the game? They could charge less, take all the tenants, and leave the greedy high and dry with no one to fill their properties.

    Or people could pool their funds and go all non-profit and give the product away.

    Ya know, the govmint has a lot of money. Why don’t they create, like, a ‘Housing Authority’ which would build and own housing units, maintain them, and rent them out to people who can’t afford housing. Any rent they get would be … pure profit!

  27. Mark Leno is endorsed by 12 state senators, 3 supervisors, Scott Wiener, Phil Ting, Kamala Harris, CA’s secretary of state and CA’s controller and yet London Breed is the one endorsed by the city power structure. Kim and Herrera are progressives and London Breed is a moderate but Leno, the front-runner, is whatever will get him into office. Seems like he’s the one who paid for by special interests and the powerful.

  28. If you think Snaps… is posting your personal information, you can report it to disqus asking to remove his account. Posting personal information is one the categories that merits a account to be removed. You report it using a link on Snaps… profile page.

  29. Facts are not generally written in the form “if *thing that hasn’t happened yet* then *other thing that hasn’t happened yet*”. But you do you.

  30. You are assuming that saying a person might be a communist is bad. Your ideological prejudices are showing. You have still not demonstrated your credibility. You’re just repeating accusations Repetition does not make truth. You showed no flaws in my statements. I accurately quoted from the individual in question. Although you are succeeding in wearing me out. Could you make somewhat more amusing or interesting arguments? ‘Cause otherwise, I may have to do more interesting things, like wash my hair. A great social media sin is being boring, and you’re boring me.

  31. Based on false presumption, and presented as FACT. You made a totally absolute statement, with no qualification. That is, quite simply, a false statement, or a lie. To then claim, “It’t a prediction,” is a further lie.

  32. You mean like “Your geekdom does not appear to extend to logic or reason.” Or accusing someone of being a communist. Or, “And of course you haven’t shredded anything, except perhaps your credibility,” Or “Perhaps you are just projecting.” I did not simply sling words around. I showed the flaws in your claims. And YOU then resort to ad hominem. You have offered no real arguments at all. Clearly, you have no actual response to logic and reason, except to ignore it, and try to deflect.

  33. No, Geek, what you’re doing is making ad hominem attacks. Simply slinging words around is not sound argument. You’ll notice that your definition of ideology made no reference to facts. Religion is also a system of ideas and ideals. I continue to express no hate toward his position. Perhaps you are just projecting. And of course you haven’t shredded anything, except perhaps your credibility, if you had any to begin with. I’ve seen no particular evidence of any. Anyway, this isn’t forensic debate, it’s just social media back and forth between two people who obviously don’t have enough useful stuff t do.

  34. Listen jerk, we are NOT on a first name basis. Apparently you think you can intimidate me in that manner. No, you won’t get all hot and bothered, because you think you can pick on some woman, and scare her into submission. Not a bright idea. No, I am simply angry, I don’t like bullies, and I tend to make them sorry they tried.

    Now, on to the holes in your argument. In most cases, landlords are charging far more than their costs in rent. If, as is often the case, the property is owned outright, then the rent is close to pure profit. And don’t be so cocky. A lot of people own, and find that the bank they use is as greedy as any landlord. If you have a mortgage, you might find yourself facing real problems. Especially if you have a sudden loss of income. Remember, pride goes before a fall.

  35. Nope, just read another interesting and rage-filled comment from you on the Chron. We both read the same sources, interestingly enough.

  36. Yeah, around 1.6% to 2.2% per year – which doesn’t even cover inflation much less the increasing cost of maintaining a unit.

    But that’s OK Jennifer, get yourself all hot and bothered. I won’t, because I’m not worried about the outcome. Either way, I’ll be fine. I own, I don’t rent any properties and my future is secure. I can tell from the angry way you write that you’re quite the opposite, scared and full of fear for yourself. I truly hope 2018 leads to a more positive outcome for you. All that rage is toxic, honey.

  37. Yes, that is my name. But again, we are not on a first name basis. Apparently you think basically engaging in stalker like behavior will intimidate me.

  38. First off, it is Geek_Girl. We are not on a first name basis.

    Second, his arguments based on facts, and logic.

    And third, and finally, you are simply wrong. The definition of ideology is a system of ideas and ideals, especially one which forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy. Nope nothing about being independent of facts, or relating it to religion. And the fact that you are resorting to deception, or ignorance, to make an argument indicates that that you are quite hateful towards his position. Now, I have just applied logic and reason, to completely shred your claims. It’s called forensic debate.

  39. Well, no, Geek. He said, “I think my natural inclination is libertarianism.” Nothing about selfish. That’s your odd mind-reading. And, once again, you’ve made a personal attack on me. What does that accomplish, except perhaps to make you feel better? In which case, you’re welcome! I mentioned communism, because he wants to “upend the capitalist model” and said “capitalism is a terrible system,” combined with wanting to redistribute wealth and goods regardless of merit or worth. As for his allegedly “espousing regulation,” he only espouses regulation that meets his ideology. For example, he rejects regulation in the form of means testing.

  40. No, they would simply not be allowed to make absurdly huge profits. Making money is one thing. Making money that one has not properly earned is another. Just because you can, does not mean that you should.

  41. Wow, that comment is just….weird. And devoid of anything remote logical. You don’t like what I say, but you cannot actually put together a cohesive argument, so you simply throw out a bunch of words, and hope no one notices that they are worthless.

  42. Okay, so he effectively said, “My natural inclination is to be selfish.” Which is true of all human beings. But some are able to overcome their base inclinations. And, again, you have very poor reading comprehension. You have taken one statement out of context, and ignored the fact that he has rejected libertarianism, and is NOT claiming to espouse that, nor is he espousing Communism, or more properly, Marxism. He is espousing regulation.

  43. No, Geek, what I said has nothing to do with what you said. The argument goes like this: Ideology is a belief structure independent of facts, sort of like religion. There was nothing in what I said that constitutes hate, and nothing I said that contradicts reality. Your geekdom does not appear to extend to logic or reason.

  44. She loves trolling people, especially if they disagree with others, not even necessarily herself – exactly what happens here.

  45. Geek, your opinion does not determine reality. It’s just your opinion, particularly when not backed by evidence of any kind.

  46. Right….sort of like someone who expresses views of white supremacy saying that they are not a racist. Saying you are not something, and then acting as though you are, is kind of, well, absurd.

  47. You clearly have poor reading comprehension. He has REJECTED libertarianism, and rightly so. Libertarianism is immoral.

  48. Which is a rather dishonest way of saying, “Damn, your arguments are strong, and I cannot refute them, but I hate them, and will not accept reality.”

  49. If vacancy control were passed and upheld by the courts every building in San Francisco will be TICed.

  50. Why would anyone rent a property out to tenants in a city that practiced vacancy control? If you were forced to rent an apartment in 2018 on Nob Hill for the price you rented it in 2005, you’d never make any money. And making money is the point of being a landlord. Part of me hopes Costa-Hawkins is overturned, so someone files a lawsuit claiming vacancy control is an illegal “taking” under the US Constitution and it goes to SCOTUS, where all rent control laws, nationwide, will be struck down.

  51. Why the personal attack, Koinsf? Also, we (hopefully) live in a democracy where the rights of minorities are protected. In this case, the minority appears to be small property owners who thought we lived in a society where property rights mean something. As I’ve noted, the root issue is a need for more affordable housing. So why isn’t the City government using the huge developers’ fees to build more? And why are progressive advocates opposing building five and six story apartment buildings in the Mission?

  52. San Franciscans have a right to decide what kind of a city we want. And we want long time residents to stay here, not be forced to Redding. You might feel more comfortable there however.

  53. Well no, Greg. A person saying they’re not an ideologue does not mean they’re an ideologue of any sort. They may or may not be.

  54. Well, no, Greg. What you’re espousing is something like communism, not libertarianism. If you were a libertarian, you wouldn’t believe in any kind of rent control or regulation. Your position is not based on empirical evidence, since means testing in SF rent control has not been tried.

  55. Everyone has an ideological framework, ESPECIALLY those who claim to have no ideology.

    The difference is that with me, you have it backwards. My ideology is based on empirical evidence. I used to be a libertarian. I grew up in a right wing household, and I think my natural inclination is libertarianism. I still have a strong streak of that when it comes to personal freedoms. But I’ve seen over the years that it simply doesn’t work. It simply doesn’t produce good outcomes for people. If it did, I’d probably still believe in that ideology.

  56. The real myth is that we can build our way out of the housing crisis. The fact is that in order to satisfy all the demand, we have to build so much housing that it will put an unbearable strain on the city’s infrastructure and utterly destroy the quality of life in the city. The traffic is already outrageous compared to 15 years ago. If you want both affordable housing and quality of life, there’s no short cut -you have to have strict rent controls. And really, you have to start thinking about price controls. Yes, it would totally upend the capitalist model, which is exactly the point. Capitalism is a terrible system to deal with scarcity in the market.

    As for means testing, that’s an awful idea which should be opposed for a number of principles.

    First, rent control should not be seen as a benefit to the needy. It should be seen as a necessary regulation to ensure market fairness. Landlords make enough profits. The government’s just stepping in to make sure they’re not obscene. Everyone is entitled to the right to not be gouged. I don’t care if you’re a millionaire. You still have the right to fair housing. A landlord shouldn’t have the right to gouge someone just because their victim can afford to be gouged.

    That’s the principle. In practice, if you institute means testing for rent control, it just encourages landlords to rent to wealthy tenants only. It will accelerate the gentrification of the city, making it even more of a city for homogenous techies.

    Third, means testing is an ugly, transparent ploy by the landlord lobby to get rid of rent control completely. With any public benefit, the more people who are invested in receiving the benefit, the more support it has in the population. If you means test it, then you create classes of tenants who are ineligible -precisely the ones with wealth and clout. You divide and conquer tenants in order to facilitate the eventual complete complete repeal. Means testing is a means to an end -the end being the end of rent control.

  57. It always grates when I hear someone say they’re not an ideologue. That means they’re an ideologue of the worst sort -they want to preserve the status quo that allows the top 1% to accumulate wealth unchecked.

    Repeal of Costa Hawkins will be amazing. I’ll believe it when I see it, especially since it’s coming from Chiu.

  58. Still no source for the ridiculous claim that 50% of San Francisco was displaced during the Lee administration.

  59. Rent control in SF is already very strict, and there is no means testing, so many people who could afford market rate rents get the benefit of rent control when they don’t need it. Small property owners should have some rights also. The overall need is to build more affordable housing; that’s what should be emphasized, rather than more limitations on small property owners. The City of San Francisco should use the huge developer fees it collects to build more affordable housing, rather than stick the money into the General Fund. Local progressive advocates should not oppose building five and six story apartment buildings in the Mission; these buildings result in more apartments, and are required to have at least 20% affordable units. There is a myth, perpetuated by this article, that tenants are being kicked out and not compensated. In reality, the going rate to buy out a tenant is now $140,000. That’s more than enough to buy a two bedroom two bath house on two acres in Redding.

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