Street Cars: Trump Delays funding on Sacramento’s next White Elephant


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white elephant (def)  a possession that is useless or troublesome, especially one that is expensive to maintain or difficult to dispose of.

 

 2015, Supporters of  Sacramento’s measure B told us.  Sacramento would  benefit all our neighborhoods by improving mobility between midtown, downtown, and West Sacramento with an affordable transit system that is authentically Sacramento.   Measure B would improve our economy. Streetcars create a vibrant local economy, which means more small businesses and more jobs in downtown and midtown.  The streetcar project will help create 12,000 jobs and $2.5 billion in economic development over 20 years and will allow seniors, students, visitors, workers, and central city residents to go car-free.

Those opposed to Measure B said, the streetcar project would operate at an enormous annual loss. Ticket sales are expected to cover about 20% of cost of operation; the other 80% will require a subsidy.  The shortfall will likely come from the City’s General Fund, reducing local services such as parks, bike lanes, street repairs, the homeless, and police.  It runs on, or near, the same Streets served by existing light rail and buses.

November 2015: Measure B, didn’t receive the required ( two thirds) required to pass the tax increase.

Despite its failure, Mayor Steinberg and other city leaders continued to press on. The voter rejected project received funding from the state and a 100 million dollar  commitment from Congress.  The Riverfront streetcar project grew in size, from 3.3 miles to 4.4 miles ending at West Sacramento’s City Hall.

The arguments against the project in 2015, continues to be true in 2018.  The proposed route continue to be served by buses and light rail.   While there are more housing along the routes, no one has identified need.

What we do know!

If completed, the route will require a subsidy.   Regional Transit, is looking for riders.

In the last 12 months, Regional Transit has seen more than 2 million fewer bus and light-rail trips compared to the year before, a 10 percent loss. That adds up to a more than $800,000 deficit in fare revenue.  The hope was the Golden 1 Center would attract more customers, but a year after opening and a year after rate hikes, RT just isn’t seeing the impact (CBS Sacramento January 2018)

Nearly four years ago, Regional Transit opened the Green Line from Downtown to Richards Boulevard (Township 9)   Today the line carries fewer than estimated 200 passengers a day is a drain on RT.

Sacramento along with Albuquerque, Dallas, El Paso, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City, Orange County, Reno, Seattle, Gary,Indiana, St. Petersburg ,Florida and Tempe Arizona.  Recently learned, the funds approved by Congress in March is being held up by President Trump’s Federal Transit Administration.

Thank you, Donald?

It isn’t clear why the Trump’s administration halted transportation funding. If his administration re evaluated the methods used for cities to qualify for funding, then this is a positive move for tax payers.   If the project is completely funded, Sacramento’s Riverfront  street car line will be a financial drain on Sacramento and the cities served by RT on day one.

Its only taxpayer money, the project doesn’t have to make fiscal sense.  Fiscal independent studies aren’t important, history or profitability isn’t important (Sacramento Convention Center) If Des Moines have one, well our city should have one too.

CityFella

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Legal Chinese Discrimination in Sacramento


 

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The Story is the same, individuals immigrating to the United States with the hope of having a better life.

Immigrants from China were unique, unlike other groups where families immigrated to the United States most of the Chinese immigrants were single males.  They were considered cheap labor, because these workers didn’t utilize hospitals and schools.  Chinese workers were often sought out because they would work for less.   At one point in California, Chinese men represented nearly a quarter of all wage earners in the state.

Some people believed Chinese workers  were taking jobs from white people.  Starting in the mid 1880’s there were laws created to exclude Chinese immigrants.  Communities throughout the west created statutes designed to drive out Chinese immigrants.   In 1882, President Arthur signed the Chinese Exclusion Act, this law prevented  immigration of Chinese laborers.

Shortly after the law passed some citizens took matters into their own hand to drive out Chinese immigrants.  Hundreds of Chinese were killed throughout the west.   The goal was to intimidate the Chinese so that they would return to China. With the law intact, many employers illegally hired Chinese workers.

In Sacramento, mysterious fires were set in Chinatown to drive them away.  Local newspapers wrote stories suggesting the Chinese brought disease to Sacramento.  Sacramento’s Chinatown was located on I Street between 2nd to Sixth Street.  The city was mostly successful in dismantling  Chinatown.  The Railyard covers most of what was  Chinatown.

Chinese immigrants played a major role in developing the Western United States, from the Intercontinental Railroad to Sacramento Valley Levees.   The Exclusion Act was remained law until its repeal in 1943.

This was an ugly period in America.  Lets hope we’ve learned from it.

CityFella

 

 

 

 

 

Sex under the Capitol Dome: State Senator Tony Mendoza resigns


 

 

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The Me Too\We Said Enough movement is rocking the Golden Dome of California’s State Capitol. Last October a letter circulated by lobbyists, female lawmakers and legislative staff members and some political consultants cited a pervasive culture of harassment in the capitol.  Sexual harassment is common and sexual assaults have taken place in the Capitol.

While some staffers have come forward, many are still afraid to name to harassers as others experienced retaliation after filing formal complaints with the Legislature. 

Unlike state employees and your employer, legislative workers have no civil service protection.

Bills to provide them with whistle blower protection against retaliation has died in the Legislature four years in a row.

Under a new process instituted this year, the Assembly Rules Committee refers complaints deemed valid to an independent law firm — legislators say they believe that will speed the process of assisting victims.

Ten allegations of sexual harassment are pending before the Assembly, according to Speaker Anthony Rendon’s office.

A wave in the dome is in motion and slowly building strength.

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In November, Los Angeles Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra resigned after six women came forward with stories of aggressive attacks by Bocanegra dating back nearly 10 years.  In 2009, Bocanegra  had been disciplined by the Legislature following allegations that he had groped a fellow legislative staffer. In 2010, he forcibly kissed and groped a woman at the MIX Nightclub in Sacramento. http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-bocanegra-accusation-harassment-20171120-story.html

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A week later, Assemblyman Matt Dababneh representing Woodland Hills resigned. After Sacramento lobbyist Pamela Lopez came forward.   Lopez claimed in 2016, Democratic Assemblyman Matt Dababneh followed her into a bathroom in Las Vegas, masturbated in front of her and urged her to touch him.

Another woman, Jessica Yas Barker, alleged that Dababneh routinely spoke of his sexual exploits and made disparaging comments about women while she worked as his subordinate office from June 2009 until December 2010.  Dababneh said, both allegations are false.

In an interview Dababneh said,”My stepping down isn’t out of guilt or out of fear. It’s out of an idea that I think it’s time for me to move on to new opportunities”

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Allegations are growing for Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia from Bell Gardens.  Garcia is one of the faces of the #MeToo movement in government.  Garcia, who is currently on a voluntary unpaid leave of absence as the Assembly investigate the charges.

In 2014, Daniel Fierro told POLITICO as a 25-year-old staffer to Assemblyman Ian Calderon, he was groped by Garcia. He said she cornered him alone after the annual Assembly softball game in Sacramento as he attempted to clean up the dugout. Fierro, who said Garcia appeared inebriated, said she began stroking his back, then squeezed his buttocks and attempted to touch his crotch before he extricated himself and quickly left.

Fierro is not the only one claiming improper advances by Garcia. A prominent Sacramento lobbyist says she also accosted him in May 2017, when she cornered him, made a graphic sexual proposal, and tried to grab his crotch at a political fundraiser. He spoke to POLITICO on the condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisals.

The lobbyist, who represents a major industry association, said that Garcia appeared to have been drinking heavily at a fundraiser hosted by Governor Jerry Brown for state Senator Josh Newman at the de Veres bar in Sacramento. He said he was heading out the door in part to avoid the assemblywoman — who had been increasingly “flirtatious” and had called him on a few occasions before for late night drinks which he repeatedly declined.  She spotted him and said,“Where are you going?” the lobbyist said.

“She came back and was whispering real close and I could smell the booze and see she was pretty far gone,’’ he said. “She looked at me for a second and said, “I’ve set a goal for myself to fuck you.”

At that point, Garcia “stepped in front of me and reaches out and is grabbing for my crotch,’’ he said. That was “the line in the sand,” according to the lobbyist, and he stopped her. “I was four inches from her, eyeball to eyeball — and I said, ‘That ain’t gonna happen.’”

But his account of the groping incident was corroborated by another high profile political operative in Sacramento, who declined to be named for publication. She said at the time the lobbyist was both angered and “humiliated” by the encounter, and disturbed that his sexual rejection of Garcia could have implications for his industry.

Both she — and the lobbyist — believe it may already have.

The Cristina Garcia sexual-harassment scandal expanded when J. David Kernick then a field representative to Garcia,  engaged in a night of heavy drinking and urged about a half-dozen staffers to play spin the bottle, the game in which players end up kissing.

Garcia “was seemingly not critical of [Kernick’s] work until after he questioned the appropriateness of her suggestion that after a fundraiser at a whiskey bar that [he] sit on the floor of her hotel room and play spin the bottle,”

In  his complaint to the State Fair Housing and Employment. Kernick said that after “protesting this sexual harassment,” he was written up for insubordination and fired. Kernick said the write-up prevented him from finding another job in politics.

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Yesterday, Democratic State Senator Tony Mendoza representing Los Angeles resigned hours before a possible vote to expel him .

Senator Mendoza’s has denied the accusations made by six women and said the investigation was unfair, illegal and racially motivated.  He say’s he intends to sue.

The Attorneys conducting the investigation concluded that Senator Mendoza “more likely than not” engaged in behavior such as offering a 19-year-old intern alcohol in a hotel suite at a Democratic event, suggesting a young woman in a Senate fellowship take a vacation with him and rent a room in his house, and asking several women about their romantic lives.

The investigation found that Mendoza likely engaged in unwanted “flirtatious or sexually suggestive” behavior with six women, including four subordinates, a lobbyist and a young woman in a fellowship with another lawmaker.

He is the third California lawmaker to resign over sexual misconduct allegations since the #MeToo movement erupted nationally last fall, leading millions of women to share their experiences on social media.

The events surrounding the 46 year old married Senator sounds more like “Dynasty” than the Real Housewives.   

Three of Mendoza’s aids were fired after meeting with  the Senate Rules Committee staff and detailed allegations that Mendoza engaged in a pattern of inappropriate behavior with his district director Ava Perez.
Multiple sources told The Sacramento Bee that Mendoza,  invited the young woman back to his place to review resumes, including hers, on the night of a party at the Mix Nightclub Downtown. The woman, Ana Perez worked as a fellow in his office through a prestigious Sacramento State program that places graduates in legislative offices for 11 months
At least two of his aides complained about the way Mendoza’s district director, Perez treated them. One questioned why she was even working for the Senate given her felony record for lying to a grand jury to cover up campaign finance fraud in Commerce, sources said.
Mendoza has repeatedly denied firing the aids for complaining.  As for Perez and her criminal background, he believes in second chances.  As for the outstead aids, they are silenced by confidentially agreements.  Its not uncommon for aids to sign such agreements.

I’m leaving, but not QUIETLY!

In a Richard Nixon-esk exit.   Mendoza went after the leader of the Senate and former roomate  Kevin de Leon in his resignation letter.

“Its clean that de Leon will not rest until he has my head on a platter to convince the MeeToo movement of his sincerity in supporting the cause.

He wrote, that he wasn’t able to see the evidence against him and was ordered to remain silent about the allegations. He said he couldn’t get a fair hearing with so many of his fellow Democrats running for higher office and thinking about their own political futures.   He called the Senate’s process farcical and  “more likely than not” was a low standard of proof that didn’t merit a penalty as high as expulsion.
He said, he might run for his seat in the fall

 

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Hear the stories, plan your defense,see the letter Click on the link below

 https://www.wesaidenough.com/home

 

 

 

Greed: Sacramento


 

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If your a renter in Sacramento, you more than a bit worried these days.  The rumors are true.  Rents  are on the rise in a big way.  Not in small increments but several hundred dollars a month.   Gia lived in her Pocket area apartment with her daughter for 15 years, re-signing her lease was a simple formality until last October. Her landlord would only agree to a month to month lease.   Her rent increased $150.00 a month and by December it was raised from $1220 a month to $1445.    She is currently in the process of moving to Woodland, her new landlord agreed to a one year lease.

There are many Gia’s in Sacramento, many are worried.   In many cities, with rent control or rent stabilization, landlords are only permitted to raise the rent significantly if there are major capital improvements, otherwise they are limited to a percentage.

Sacramento, isn’t Santa Monica, San Francisco or New York.  There are no laws preventing rent gouging, allowing landlords to increase rents to the moon and beyond.

Gia isn’t out of her old apartment, 15 years is quite a challenge.   She loved her old apartment, it was a 10 minute drive to her job in Elk Grove.   On this day she is bitter and angry. As she cleared her dining room, her landlord moved in new counter tops, new linoleum and a new dishwasher,something she asked for five years ago, she says its more than a slap in the face .

Its clear, there are people who can afford sixteen hundred dollars for a one bedroom apartment.  New apartments are opening in midtown every month with new tenants paying upward of $2300 a month.  Between 2016 and 2017 Sacramento had the highest year over year rent increases than any city in the nation.

These rent increases have displaced many Sacramentians and is contributing to the cities homeless population.  Throughtout the city, owners are increasing rent by 40% and higher, adding no more than a can of paint. Simply because they can. Welcome to the new gold rush. Greed: Sacramento.

 

CityFella

 

 

 

2018 Women’s March Sacramento : The Cap is off the bottle and will NOT be replaced


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Signs of the times

 

January 20, 2017, the nation was stunned.  Donald Trump, a man accused by several women of sexual misconduct was now President of the United States . The signs a year ago was about women’s health, the uncertainty about the ACA, and anger and frustration about the new president.

2017

 

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   20,000 Participants

2018

In 2018, the theme is Women taking control.  Women empowering other women to run for office.  Voting, registering other women  and making a real difference in this years midterm elections.   If you listened, and read the signs.  There wasn’t an endorsement of a political party.  But the overall message was vote!! There where many men supporting  “MeToo”  movement

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36,000 Participants

Showtime for John Saca


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His family has Sacramento in its DNA.  He went to Sacramento State.  His family’s “Filco” stores has been a part of Sacramento for decades.

He’s ambitious, a formative salesman and for a brief moment, he was the prince of Sacramento.

His project “The Towers on Capitol  Mall with two, fifty three story condominiums would have Image result for Northwest corner of 10th and j sacramento  changed the face of and quite possibly the image of  Sacramento.

 This massive  (500 million dollar) project would have been the most expensive in the city’s history.   In contrast, the Golden 1 Center was less than 600 million.  Before one support piling was shoved into the ground, one tower had completely sold out.    Financing for the project collapsed and CalPers reportedly the giant lot at 3rd and Capitol.

The collapse of the Capitol Tower, may have been a good thing for Saca. As the nations real estate market south, selling out the second tower and the rest of te complex would have been a challenge.   Less ambitious projects in midtown struggled for years.

In 2014, nearly seven years after the Capitol Towers project. John Saca said he would build the another Condominium/Hotel project at 10 the J Streets. “The Metropolitan” like the Capitol Towers project,  would be the largest and tallest building of its kind in the city .

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While this is John Saca’s vision for 10th and J Streets

This is what it looks like today

The block on J Street between 10 and 11 is arguably the worst block in downtown Sacramento.  As both sides of the street is filled with vacant boarded up buildings.

One side of the street is Saca’s property on the other side is the former Copenhagen Furniture Store and several other closed and boarded up stores. Copenhagen closed after a fire in the ninties and relocated across town.

Thirty to forty percent of first time visitors to Sacramento, travel down J street to the Convention Center or the Memorial Auditorium. Visitors staying at the popular Citizen Hotel pass by those empty boarded up buildings on route to the convention center.   Finally, after more the twenty years, the city has said enough to the owners of those properties.

Last week the City told Saca, he had until July to move forward with his project or he risks losing his rights to build on that site.   In other words, he would have to start over and reapply.

There are many of us rooting for John Saca, the local boy with a dream.

A former Sacramentian, now living in San Diego resently said about her home town.

 I think it’s safe to say Sacramento is the single most stagnant city on Earth. If New York City is “The City that Never Sleeps,” Sacramento is “The City that Only Gets Up When it Has To.”

Julianna Ress

The tallest single use condominium in Sacramento is the 14 floor Capitol Towers built in the sixes.    While there are several condo projects  on the drawing boards, none are under construction.  Including a smaller mixed used project on the site of  former Saca project at third and Capital.

The newest project atop the new Sawyer hotel adjacent to the Golden One Center has has sold more than half of the condominiums in less then four months.  The units are range in price from $600,000 to 4.1 million. The first homeowners should move in a few weeks

Other cities similar in size to Sacramento have several projects in the sky.  Our leaders in Sacramento, often get it wrong.   They propose expanding a convention center that has never been profitable.   Many cities planted seeds to get the first large projects off the ground.  They saw the benefits of bringing  empty nesters and the well healed back downtown.  Sacramento’s leadership isn’t quite there..

While is original vision did not come to fruition.   To his credit, Saca convinced quite few hundred people in a city with low aspirations. to share his vision.    That says a lot about his abilities as a salesman.

Despite his best efforts, he fouled out.  Locating a lender willing to take a risk on a large project could be daunting.

I am unashamedly a fan.   There are a quite of few of us ,who wants the local guy to put his signature on Sacramento’s bleak skyline.  To believe in Sacramento and people here.  But, everyone starts from START.  I hope he pushes ego aside and secure financing on a smaller project,say,  20 story condo on that site.

If he is the salesman he was in 2006, he will have his sky shattering building in the sky in few years.    The city will work with him, he still has few fans in high places in the city but they are waning.  The Sac Bee reports, neither he or a representative attended the zoning meeting last week  We are  often judged is by our actions.  Can he bring this project forward or is he man with dreams and renderings?

News At 11

CityFella

Sacramentians Must Demand Rent Control !


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Building Boom:  Many new apartments on 16th Street Midtown

“Rent Control in Sacramento?”

Every day renters in the State of California are waking up to 30 day notices on their doors or in the mail notifying them of rent increases of 20% to 50%.  Landlords, aren’t making capital improvements to their properties, or facing major tax increases or fees.  Its simply greed. No where in California is rent increasing faster than the Capitol City.  In fact there are only two other cites in the nation where rents are increasing faster than Sacramento, Arlington Texas and Reno Nevada.

There is currently a shortage of housing and construction workers in the state.

Sacramento’s Mayor Darrell Steinberg says he has “significant concerns” about rent control, saying the city should focus more on finding money for affordable housing and giving tenants additional notice when rents increase. Steinberg said he isn’t outright dismissing rent control, but he’s worried about the “unintended consequences” of discouraging developers from building housing.   Steinberg said much of the issue stems from the fact that Sacramento “is not building enough housing.” “We need to change that and be very aggressive about it,” (sacbee)

The reality is,citizens need relief yesterday.   Locating funding for affordable housing could take years or decades.  High rental costs will only increase homelessness in the city effecting the quality of life for all Sacramentians.

Basics in Bold Print

As of July 2017, average rent for an apartment in Sacramento, CA is $1439 which is a 14.18% increase from last year when the average rent was $1235 , and a 0.14% increase from last month when the average rent was $1437. 

One bedroom apartments in Sacramento rent for $1275 a month on average (a 15.45% increase from last year) and two bedroom apartment rents average $1507 (a 13.27% increase from last year). (source Rent Jungle. Com)

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Wage Growth in Sacramento  5%

Minimum Wage in Sacramento $10.50

Minimum Monthly Income Required for a one bedroom Apartment in $3094.00 or $19.33 an hour.

Maximum Rent for an individual earning Minimum wage $693

(Source: https://www.zillow.com/rent-affordability-calculator/)

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Every night, more than 3,600 people are homeless in Sacramento County, a statistic that’s 30 percent higher than it was in 2015. (SacBee)

Many homeless individuals are employed .According to a 2002 national study by the Urban Institute, about 45 percent of homeless adults had worked in the past 30 days. About 3.5 million people experience some kind of homelessness every year, and about a quarter of them are employed at the time (National Coalition for the Homeless) 

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What is Rent Control?

Rent control is a special set of laws that particular cities adopt. It generally includes rent increase limits and eviction restrictions. Some cities’ rent controls require relocation assistance to be paid to tenants under certain circumstances, and interest on security deposits.

These laws do not apply to other cities, nor to every rental unit in the city. One of the most commonly misunderstood ideas by tenants is that they were under rent control, when they weren’t.

 Los Angeles passed rent control in 1978 amid cries from the landlords that rent control would prevent future apartment construction, so Los Angeles exempted any structure built after October, 1978 as a political compromise. Newer structures [built after 1978] in Los Angeles are not under rent control, at all.

Under the “Costa-Hawkins” law, when a tenant voluntarily leaves or is evicted for most reasons [ie, not 30-day notice, nor after change of a term, for that term], the landlord can raise the rent to ANY AMOUNT for the new tenant, whose rents are thereafter locked into the rent control limits [3% or whatever].  Any rental unit built after 2/1/95, as well as houses and condos, are not under rent restrictions.  Even where these rent restrictions do not apply, eviction protections do continue.

Two new additions to LA Rent Control are worth noting. Ordinance 175130 [3/5/03] now prohibits the landlord from changing terms of tenancy [other than legal rent increases and government required terms] without mutual agreement of the tenant. Ordinance 174501 prohibits landlords from raising the tenant’s portion of rent [eg, beyond the legal 3%] after terminating a rental assistance program, like Section 8; the landlord can get out of the program, but gives up all the assistance money if he does.

Another exclusion applies to single family dwellings: a rented house by itself on a lot is not under rent control, but a duplex or “two on a lot” houses would be under rent control [if built before 1979]. There are other exclusions like college dorms, motels, and hospitals.

Cities that have rent control provide call-in numbers where you can find out whether the area you live in has rent control and whether your unit is registered under that rent control.

    Normally, rent can be increased with a 30-day notice.  However, due to the current wave of rent hikes, effective January 1, 2001, newly revised Civil Code Section 827 requires a 60-day notice if the rent increase will make that year’s increases exceed 10%.  The idea is to give tenants the ability to adjust to gouging rent increases, but not to stop them. The calculation is a little weird; it doesn’t have to be a large rent increase at once, but just the total of increases over a year.  This new law will mostly affect the expensive rentals, which also tend to have proportionately much bigger hikes.  Also, it does not affect yearly leases, but only month-to-month [or shorter] tenancies. This law expires automatically in 2006, unless the Legislature extends the time or makes it permanent.

    For example, if last year in January you were paying $500, and the landlord already raised the rent $25 in July, an increase for more than $25 this January would require a 60-day notice, because the total of increases for the year would be more than $50, 10% of $500. If the increase total was 10% or less for the year, all you get is the 30-day notice. If the year’s rent increases already total 10% and the landlord then wants to increase rent by one dollar, it has to be by 60-day notice, to mitigate the impact.

    The new law also adds 5 days for mailed notices of change of terms of tenancy. A mailed 30-day notice is effective 35 days later; a mailed 60-day notice is effective 65 days later.

How Can We Get Rent Control?

   Rent control is really only necessary where the vacancy rate in the area is below about 5%, because at about that point, landlords don’t worry about having a vacancy by raising the rent or neglecting repairs, and you don’t have much of a choice when you look around. Consequently, rent control is a law passed by cities where the housing market is tight and rents are going up just because landlords are in control of a necessity of life that is in short supply.  Rent control is not likely going to be a state law, because the problem is local.

   There are two ways to get rent control. The easiest but weakest is for your City Council to enact it, as Los Angeles did. The hardest but strongest is where tenants organize and put rent control on the ballot by getting petition signatures [and then the voters approve it], like Santa Monica did. Both of these require tenant voting clout, that a large number of tenants are registered to vote, do vote in the local election, and all vote together. If the City Council enacts it, it would be an ordinance [city law], but the voters can make it a Charter Amendment [a city constitutional change, more powerful].

    Your first step would be to go to the City Council meeting, and during the Oral Presentation portion [or whatever public input is called there], you tell them about the problem and ask if they are considering enacting rent control [like Beverly Hills, Palm Springs, San Francisco, Santa Monica, and other high class towns have], or at least Just Cause Eviction, like Glendale [a notoriously conservative town] has. You want to mention these towns in your presentation, since their first knee-jerk reaction is that “rent control destroys cities,” but they can hardly say that about those cities.

    They say whatever publicly, but you then make an appointment with them individually to see where they personally stand and how far they would go. You might find that Just Cause Eviction is not objectionable, and that they might even agree with paying relocation assistance for tenants of buildings being demolished or going through major rehabilitation or termite fumigation. Avoid being confrontational with them. They don’t want to offend the landlord contributors to their campaigns, but may be sympathetic enough to put their political toe into the water. If you get a majority of them to privately approve of something, one of them has to introduce the idea in public discussion.

   If the City Council is going to enact something, they want to be heroes for doing it, even if it’s short of rent control. While they are getting ready to take that step, you’ll want to be in touch with the local newspaper to talk about your plan to organize tenants for better legal protections. Once you’re in the news, other tenants will start to contact you, and you can form a group that can all go the City Council and amplify what you have said. This public clamor then triggers the City Council’s response to take action, and you’re on your way.  The group thanks the City Council for their concern and they get to see the public reaction to that.  If it’s a good reaction, they are encouraged to do more.

   Meanwhile, you do need to find other tenants who are both motivated to do something by their own situation and willing to put in some time to do it. Senior groups, somereligious institutions, teachers, firemen, labor unions, the local Democratic Club or similar liberal group, some liberal organizations, and a lot of local business owners, can help in various ways to get the word out and help you form a political group. There are a lot of talkers, but few doers, so you want to get volunteers into project-based committees, which naturally filter out the talkers. Here’s a helpful explanation for the new people.

   If you have to get rent control by petition, you might as well have the strongest possible law, since the landlords are not going to fight you any less if the law is weak. They fight dirty all the way, and always have. Election fraud is their main tool. Propaganda, false information, and misleading arguments are all you hear from them. They have the money to buy millions in political advertising, while you’ll be lucky to get out one mailer to the voters.  They will have celebrities and public figures telling the public that Rent Control will bring crime to your city, turn it into a slum, drive down their property values, steal from the landlords, prevent the landlords from being able to pay for repairs, run up millions in taxpayer expenses, and force landlords to evict all their tenants. Here’s some common rent control myths. None of these are true, of course, but unquestioning voters will be persuaded.  On your side, you have public controversy, newsworthiness, talk shows, newspaper stories, TV coverage, and pathetic stories about landlord abuses of vulnerable tenants. The political battle is not over the wording of the law, at all, but over emotional and philosophical issues in general.

   The technical wording of the rent control law requires a lawyer to write. It needs to be constitutional, not prevented by State laws, cover all the loopholes, and effectively create the kinds of protection you want. It has to be clear and organized, so that it can be easily followed and doesn’t end up in court for years. When it is circulated for signatures, there are specific laws that must be followed as to procedure, format, timing, and public information, and you should have a lawyer’s help to make sure that those things are done. This website CAN provide some of that assistance, but as a practical matter, local legal advice is necessary. For a start, here is a draft of a rent control law that you might want to circulate by petition in your city. It can be modified to some extent, easily, but major changes would require a re-drafting because so many things are interconnected within it. [Rent Control Draft]

   Tenant voter registration is an important part of this process. Tenants are so used to not having a say, not having their views considered, not having any power to change their lives, that voting seems inconsistent with how they’ve come to view themselves. Only about 5% of tenants actually vote in local elections. Tenants are truly a politically disenfranchised majority. Landlords are only 2% of the population, but seem to run things, because they leverage their money and power. A 10% tenant voter turnout could change the history of politics in your town. Politicians would stop saying they’re against rent control, and start expressing concern for the abused tenants who need their help. It’s a numbers game, to be sure.

   If you are really sincere about wanting to take action, there are groups like ACORN that will help, for a percentage of your donations. There may already be a tenant group formed in your town, which the local reporters or city clerk might know about, and you can join them. You aren’t the only one thinking like this. (source: http://www.caltenantlaw.com/rent-control/)

In San Francisco:Annual Allowable Rent Increase March 1, 2017 – February 28, 2018 = 2.2%  Most tenants are covered by rent control. This means rents can only be raised by certain amounts per year and the tenant can only be evicted for “just causes.” In addition, some rental units have restrictions on how much the landlord can charge the new tenant due to previous evictions. Tenants who do not have rent control can have their rent increased by any amount at any time with a proper written notice.

Rent control is administered by the San Francisco Rent Board. The Rent Board website has extensive information and you can download the San Francisco Rent Ordinance and Rent Board Rules and Regulations or come to our counseling clinic for more information.One of the more unjust parts of rent control is the capital improvement passthrough. Capital improvements are improvements for the building, the landlord’s investment, which tenants mostly pay for through a passthrough. Not only can the landlord get the tenants to pay for increasing the value of his or her investment, the landlord can then write the cost of the improvements off in their taxes. Capital improvements are things like new windows, a new roof, painting of the exterior of the building,  and other similar improvements to the property which add substantially to the life or value of the property as opposed to routine maintenance. Landlords must complete the work, petition the Rent Board and win approval of the rent increase before the cost can be passed on. Tenants can contest the increases at the hearing on certain grounds, like that the work was never done, or was not necessary, or was done to gentrify the building, but it is difficult to stop such a pass through in its entirety. (Source; https://www.sftu.org/rentcontrol/)