By Bob Walsmith Jr.
2022 President
Santa Barbara Association of Realtors

The Santa Barbara City Council is trying to make it even harder to rent.   The intention of rent control is noble, but the historical data and facts prove that rent control does not help, but instead hurts those it means to protect.  Per an Economic Forecast Project report released earlier this year – Rent Control is Not the Answer: Never has Been, Never Will Be – history and data show us that “over a century of evidence [of rent control] from cities around the world points to disastrous outcomes”. 

With over 90% of economists agreeing that rent ceilings reduce the quality and quantity of available housing, why are we still having this conversation?  We have a number of federal, state, and local laws regulating rental housing and in the past few years, during a worldwide pandemic, we’ve had to manage new laws on Just Cause Evictions, Rent Caps, COVID-19 Moratoriums, Mandatory Offers of a One-Year Lease, and Relocation Assistance.  Instead of letting these new laws work and measure their effectiveness of them, rent control is being pushed because it has become an emotional and political issue instead of a broader discussion of what will really help the community. 

In addition to the discussion of rent control, on Tuesday, April 19th, the Santa Barbara City Council will determine if they want to spend $200,000 from their diminishing budget to find out if Santa Barbara should have a more stringent rent cap than what the State already mandates (5% + CPI).  They will also decide if they want a create a multi-million-dollar rental registry “to collect data”.  The City states the registry is required “to enforce state laws meant to protect Santa Barbara tenants”, but the state law they are referring to, AB 838, specifically states “beginning July 1, 2022, […] a city or county that receives a complaint of a substandard building or a lead hazard violation” needs to be inspected.  So what is this database really for?

It is getting impossible to be a housing provider.  People want stability in the rental market, but rent control is not the way.  These measures are discouraging housing providers from continuing in the business and it will reduce the already low rental housing stock.  Instead of punishing those that provide housing in our community, our City Council should be prioritizing education.  As an old adage goes “what you don’t know, you don’t know”.  We need to ensure that both private parties (tenant and housing provider) understand their rights and responsibilities.  This will allow each to have open conversations and resolve disputes.  We should be empowering all members of our community instead of creating victims and villains.  We need to focus on positive solutions instead of dwelling on policies that just don’t work. 

Bob Walsmith Jr. is a native to Southern California and a Realtor® with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties in Santa Barbara. During his work with the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors, Bob has served on the CORE Committee, Education Committee, been Chair of the Budget & Finance Committee, and the Multiple Listing Service Committee. He also is on the Board of Directors of the Alpha Resource Center of Santa Barbara. Bob lives in Goleta with his beautiful wife Julie. When not working, Bob enjoys playing golf, fine wine, fine dining, and walking our beautiful coastline. Bob can be reached at 805.720.5362 and/or


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