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    Barry's Avatar
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    Rent Control on June 6th Santa Rosa elections - Articles from PD

    Here are links to 3 articles the PD recently ran about the Rent Control measure on the June 6th ballot in Santa Rosa.

    Rent control: A primer on Santa Rosa’s Measure C
    THE PRESS DEMOCRAT | May 27, 2017, 7:33PM

    Santa Rosa voters face a decision June 6 on whether to adopt rent control in Sonoma County’s largest city. Here are answers to some of the most frequent questions about Measure C.

    What happens if voters approve Measure C?

    If voters approve the measure, the rent control and just-cause for eviction rules passed by the City Council in August would go into effect. They have been suspended pending the referendum vote.

    Who would be affected by Santa Rosa’s rent control law?

    Anyone living in an apartment built before Feb. 1, 1995, would be covered by rent control and just-cause eviction rules. People who rent single-family homes, duplexes or owner-occupied triplexes would not be covered.

    How many people is that?

    The city has an estimated 11,076 apartments that would be affected, or about 18 percent of the city’s 67,000 housing units. With an average household size of 2.6 residents, that’s about 26,400 people.

    How much would the program cost and who would pay for it?

    Santa Rosa estimates the program would cost up to $1.4 million per year. The program would be funded by a fee of about $113 per year, half of which could be passed on to tenants. Opponents have been accused of misleading the public by saying the measure “will cost taxpayers $1.4 million annually.” But they point out that landlords and renters are taxpayers.

    How long would rent control last?

    The law contains a sunset provision that calls for the City Council to reconsider the law — but not necessarily rescind it — if the current 1 percent vacancy rate increases above 5 percent. City Councilman Tom Schwedhelm said he doubts a future council would ever rescind rent control for political reasons.

    Would rents be rolled back?

    If approved, rents would be rolled back to what was in effect on Jan. 1, 2016. The measure was inserted to dissuade landlords from increasing rents on tenants before the measure took effect.

    Could rents be increased more than 3 percent annually?

    Yes. Landlords could request steeper rent increases based on a number of factors, including the right to receive a “just and reasonable return” on their property, including rent increases to recoup the cost of certain capital improvements.

    Could rents revert to market rate?

    Units covered by rent control could be reset to any amount whenever a new tenant moves in; after that, rent increases would be covered by the 3 percent cap.

    What reasons for eviction constitute “just cause”?

    Landlords seeking to evict residents would need to give a reason, such as failure to pay rent, a pattern of habitual late payment of rent, violation of the terms of the lease or creating a nuisance.

    What if the tenant has done nothing wrong?

    There are still some situations that can cause a “no-fault” eviction, such as an owner or family member wanting to move into a unit, or renovations as part of an approved capital improvement plan or a landlord withdrawing the units from the market. If any of those happen, the landlord would need to pay relocation expenses.

    How much would that be?

    Relocation expenses would be calculated as three months of rent plus $1,500. Based on unit averages, the city estimates it would cost from $6,114 for a one-bedroom unit to $9,888 for a four-bedroom unit.

    Measure C opponents see unintended consequences in rent control
    THE PRESS DEMOCRAT | May 27, 2017, 7:23PM

    As the owner of DeDe’s Rentals, one of the largest property management firms in Sonoma County, Keith Becker has been one of the most consistent voices opposing the city’s effort to impose rent control and just-cause for eviction rules.

    He has addressed the City Council publicly on numerous occasions over the past 18 months, imploring members not to make what he views as a fundamentally misguided public policy decision.

    “Making such a dramatic and severe change to our housing ecosystem has the potential, it actually has the probability, of predicating an entire series of unintended consequences,” Becker told the council a year ago as it was moving toward a rent control decision.

    His main objection is that the City Council never seemed to take a collaborative approach to the issue. It rejected a call for a task force to explore the issue. It proposed a rent moratorium that caught most landlords and property managers unawares. And it ultimately wrote the ordinance in a way that seemed to fundamentally distrust landlords, he said.

    Continues here

    Measure C supporters seek stability for Santa Rosa renters

    THE PRESS DEMOCRAT | May 26, 2017, 8:09PM

    Marlina Martarano has been a renter in Santa Rosa for 42 years, and in that time she’s lived in her share of dumps.

    One place had a mold infestation that made it into her bed and couch. Another had sewage that backed up into her bathroom.

    But the 64-year-old retiree from a variety of odd jobs put up with the substandard conditions because she didn’t feel comfortable speaking up. She worried that if she asked the landlord to make repairs, she’d be viewed as a problem tenant and ousted.

    With her meager income and federal housing voucher, Martarano knows where that would leave her in today’s rental market.

    “With a 1 percent vacancy rate and being on HUD, an eviction would translate into homelessness for me right now,” Martarano said.

    Which is why she’s supporting Measure C in the June 6 election.

    Martarano views the city’s rent control and just-cause for eviction rules — suspended unless a majority of voters approve them in the special election — as a way to give her and other low-income residents like her much-needed protection and some peace of mind.

    It gives her some comfort to know that increases to the $950 rent for her modest cottage-style unit would be capped at 3 percent per year under normal circumstances.

    At the moment she pays $246 of her rent, with her federal housing voucher covering the remaining $704. If she were required to pick up the entire 3 percent increase allowed under rent control, Martarano would see her rent rise by $28.50 per month. With Social Security payments of just under $1,200 a month as her only source of income, that would sting, but she could manage, she said.

    Continues here
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