Rent Control Is Not the Answer

I noted with interest in The Independent‘s “The High Price of Renting in Paradise” a quote from Bob Bartlein wherein he states that compared to San Francisco, “the rents in Santa Barbara are considered dirt cheap.” While I live and own property in Santa Barbara, including residential rental property, I also rent and have rented, for over seven years, an apartment in San Francisco. Mr. Bartlein is absolutely correct; compared to San Francisco, rent in Santa Barbara is “dirt cheap.”

I also noted, with interest and dismay, the quote from the “anonymous city official” who stated “some form of rent control is probably one of the few ways that the large increases in the rents are going to stop.” I urge the anonymous city official to spend some time educating themselves on the impact of rent control.

Today, San Francisco is one of the most expensive rental markets in the United States. San Francisco adopted a rent control ordinance over 30 years ago. That rent control ordinance, for reasons that are beyond the scope of this letter, has exacerbated virtually every problem discussed in your article, including poorly maintained rental units, a dwindling supply of rental units, sky-high rental rates, and more.

Then of course with rent control comes yet another governmental agency necessary to administer the ordinance with its employees, retirement and health-care plans, offices, vehicles, etc. which, in the case of San Francisco, is the San Francisco Rent Control Board. If you think administering rent control is inexpensive, take a look at the number of employees the San Francisco Rent Control Board has and review their budget.

If history is any teacher, rent control leads to the very problems your article suggests renters face in Santa Barbara. Rent control does nothing but exacerbate those problems together with the added burden that comes with yet another governmental agency in need of funding.

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