Soon after becoming governor, Gavin Newsom unveiled a plan to speed housing construction — but at the expense of the landmark California Environmental Quality Act, which has acted as a check on development for 50 years. Newsom crafted his blueprint with input from builders and the largest construction union. Prominent environmental groups were excluded, however.
More than 100 tenants in 39 rent-controlled apartment buildings have sued the owner, Veritas Investment Inc., for behavior they allege is designed to push them out in favor of new, higher-paying residents. The $3 billion company denies the charges, alleging the lawsuit is a money grab.
As Californians battle this fall over a ballot measure to allow cities much wider leeway to impose all sorts of rent control, both sides of the debate throw around citations to academic papers, economic studies and seemingly compelling statistics. But a review of the available research shows that both sides are wrong.
Veritas Investments owns nearly 200 buildings in the city. It’s been a target for tenant advocates, who accuse the company of building a business model that relies on pushing tenants out of rent-controlled units so they can be re-rented for much more. Veritas disputes the accusations that is “hostile or negligent” toward tenants.
Amid San Francisco’s growing housing crisis, some now see mediation as an alternative to nasty, expensive court fights to keep tenants housed and property owners content. For more than 20 years, that approach has staved off evictions in the capital of Wisconsin.
In their 2018 mayoral campaigns, former state senator Mark Leno and Supervisor Jane Kim emphasized the role of speculators in driving gentrification and displacement in San Francisco. A tax or lawsuits would target ‘flippers’ to protect tenants and rental housing. A 2014 measure failed. But S.F. voters may again be asked again whether speculators should be taxed.
Is an abundance of vacant units worsening the Bay Area’s housing crisis? That’s what some politicians have suggested. Their solution: a new tax on landlords who leave residential and commercial properties unrented. Oakland will vote in November and an S.F. measure is being planned for 2019. Vancouver, Melbourne and Paris already levy such taxes.
Cities would regain power to regulate rental housing if Proposition 10 passes in November, repealing Costa-Hawkins. But would that help or hurt the affordability crisis?
Angela Alioto points to 10-year plan to abolish chronic homeless she crafted in 2004 as a model of success that the city needs to revive. She blames the late Mayor Ed Lee for letting the plan wither and siphoning away money for other programs. Third in a series analyzing the mayoral candidates’ records and pledges on housing and homelessness.
District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim represents the city’s wealthiest and poorest ZIP codes. She has focused much of her political energy on inclusionary housing — programs mandating a percentage of apartments in new developments be set aside at below-market rates — and set a new standard by securing higher-than-normal affordability ratios on several mega-projects. On homelessness, she says that if elected mayor, she would treat it more like a public health crisis than an economic problem. Second in a series analyzing the mayoral candidates’ records and pledges on housing and homelessness.