Last week a friend emailed that he’s planning to move back to San Francisco after living in NYC for more than 5 years. He was shocked about the shortage of suitable units available for rent and the sky high prices. And remember he was moving back from NYC.
So, I started wondering why rent control board has been so ineffective. After all, the mission of San Francisco Rent Board is “to safeguard tenants from excessive rent increases and, at the same time, to assure landlords fair and adequate rents consistent with Federal Anti-Inflation Guidelines.” The charter for San Francisco Rent Board is to :
The Rent Board is authorized to:
- promulgate Rules and Regulations to effectuate the purposes of the Rent Ordinance;
- hire staff, including administrative law judges; and
- conduct rental arbitration hearings, mediations and investigatory hearings on Reports of Alleged Wrongful Eviction.
So, if there is rent control board, why the San Francisco rents are some of the highest in the nations? Part of the answer is in the fact that the number of existing rent-controlled apartments has been reduced by demolition or conversion to sale as private homes, like condominiums. “There’s a serious and steady depletion of housing rental stock,” According to Ted Gullicksen who is the executive director of the San Francisco Tenants Union.
Protecting that dwindling supply from further erosion has become a “ferocious” battle, said Sara Shortt, executive director of the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco, a tenants’ advocacy group. So even determining the exact number of rent-controlled units is difficult. The city’s last comprehensive research, undertaken in 2000, found that one-fourth of households in rent-controlled apartments earned more than $100,000 a year — a revelation that prompted I-told-you-so rhetoric from some landlords.
In addition, the City lacks the number staff to enforce the rent control laws that could potentially inspect the units that have been subject to evictions by owners who claim they will occupy them but they never do.
What is the answer to out of control rent hikes in San Francisco and Silicon Valley? In fact, the shortage of affordable rentals extends to San Jose, Campbell, Los Gatos and Saratoga as well. The short answer is more affordable housing, which is no where in sight