Rent Control -Should Facts Matter?

I recently wrote a post about being on different planets. The moral of the post“in spite of wanting the same end result different ideals make it impossible seeing eye to eye in attaining the desired result.”

Of course, it is ok to have a different ideology but when facts get altered that’s when things get ugly and it becomes not ok. And as it relates to rent control (IMO) not only should facts matter but pushing a false narrative that threatens the future of a city and rob property owners and their rights to a free enterprise is just insane. I go on record saying “facts matter.” And I also believe that folks pushing a false narrative to the masses (especially when an entire city is involved) should be held responsible for their actions.

In my last post, I explained that Jordan and I had different ideals. Where I feel rent control is legalized theft against landlords, Jordon is of the opinion that somehow rent control isn’t legalized theft. Where I feel it’s not right to squash the right of property owners to a free market, Jordan somehow conveniently feels it’s ok to trample over property owners right to free market. Where I feel the landlord has the right to fair negotiations of a contract, Jordan doesn’t. Where I feel it isn’t the private sectors (landlords) responsibility to subsidize housing for the disadvantaged, Jordan sees it completely differently.

Jordan and I see things very differently, and I’m fine with that, but when a false narrative starts to come into play, that’s where I draw the line in the sand and want to speak up. Having different ideals about economics and politics is understandable but pushing a false narrative (such as Jordan’s boss Josh Butler did the other day) on live radio is sinful disgraceful and (IMO) should be criminal.

Josh Butler heads up the small advocacy group pushing the rent control initiative in LB. Josh recently went on the radio and lied as he lobbied for rent control in LB. Here’s part of Josh’s transcript from the radio show: “We’re seeing a lot of rent-gouging going on. People are getting, six-hundred, seven-hundred-dollar rent increases.” (I’m sorry, folks, that is completely untrue and false) Besides that lie on the radio, the group is also lying when they say rent control creates affordable housing for new tenants. ALL DATA states otherwise, rent control hinders new rental opportunities and shrinks the available rentals in any given market. And the small group even lied in their submitted initiative to the city. In black and white, their very first paragraph states that they ensure landlords a “fair return on their investment.” (I’m sorry, but that is such a lie.)

At this point, I also want to include the expressed opinions of our Councilmembers regarding rent control. Whether you agree or not, here’s what our city leaders had to say during the last Council meeting:

Eighth District Councilmember Al Austin said the housing crisis is not a “black and white issue,” and that it takes a multi-faceted approach to solve the problem. “I’ve been looking at the 15 cities in California that do have rent control, and I’m not convinced it’s a panacea for our housing crisis,” he said. “I was talking to an elected official in San Francisco. They have rent control there, and [the official] said the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is close to $4,000 to $5,000 per month. Santa Monica has very high rents, and so do Beverly Hills, Berkeley and West Hollywood. Those are cities that have rent control. The rent in Long Beach is well below [the rent] in those cities.”

Austin suggested focusing more on building more housing and creating jobs. “I don’t think we can wait three, four, five or six years for housing to be developed. It needs to happen now,” he said. “We need to focus on creating great jobs. That’s what’s going to bring the incomes up and that’s what’s going to put people in a better position to afford quality housing.”

Third District Councilmember Suzie Price also shared her reservations regarding rent control. “I don’t believe rent control will be beneficial . . . but I’m one voter,” she said. She added that more than 2,000 units of additional housing are planned in her district over the next 30 years.

Other councilmembers mentioned measures the city has already undertaken to develop more housing. These include passing the Land Use Element, which calls for the construction of 7,048 residential units by 2021. And, according to Lena Gonzalez, who represents the 1st District, Downtown Long Beach has more than 1,700 affordable housing units. Gonzalez also cited the city’s efforts to ensure rental property owners are complying with building, housing and sanitation codes. “We know that some of the conditions people are living in are below quality of life. It doesn’t speak to all landlords, but it speaks to the very small percent we know can do a lot better,” she said. “In our first year in office, many of us [councilmembers] put together a 120-day [non-compliant] violators list and posted it on the development services website. I’m working to make that more transparent so people know which landlords aren’t playing by the rules when it comes to quality-of-life issues.”

In his closing comments, Mayor Robert Garcia clarified that rent stabilization has existed in the city for about 40 years, and that Long Beach currently has about 6,500 units with stabilized rent. “Every time there’s a new project, we expand the number of rent-stabilized units,” he said. “These units that have existed for decades have covenants. The city has invested millions in keeping them. We’ve voted on putting resources on keeping those rents stable and affordable.”

The Mayor also reiterated that housing production is key to closing the gap. “The single best way to getting out of this crisis, and not just in Long Beach, is housing production. You have to build housing of all types to get us out of where we are right now, which is essentially a math problem: the population has grown, but housing production has not. That’s why you’re seeing these pressures across California and Long Beach.”

To end, as I said before, this is a complicated issue. But complicated or not, facts should matter. And those lying and pushing a false narrative should be called out at the very least. I would even argue, that because of the severity of their false claims, they should be prosecuted.