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Rent Control Flops in Pacifica

Photo: Eric Cheng

Measure C, which would have established rent control on an estimated 2,288 apartment units in Pacifica was rejected yesterday with a convincing 62 percent of the city’s electorate voting “no”. 8,253 total votes were cast.

The ordinance, entitled the Pacifica Community Preservation, Rent Stabilization, and Renters’ Rights Act, was modeled on rent stabilization ordinances of other California cities. It would have set allowable rent increases on stabilized units equal the the San Francisco Bay Area Consumer Price Index (CPI), and capped at five percent annually if the CPI rose above that.

“While Pacifica’s population has increased by 5.4 percent from 2010 to 2015, the number of total housing units available in Pacifica only increased by 1.6 percent during that same period.” – Pacifica City Attorney Michelle Marchetta Kenyon and Planning Department Director Tina Wehrmeister, May 8, 2017

Alarmingly, city staff reported that monthly rents at Pacifica apartment complexes had risen by 51 percent from 2010 to 2015, while incomes had risen only 2.7 percent over those five years.

City staff estimated that the ordinance would cost an estimated $497,000 in on-going annual costs to enforce, to pay the salaries and benefits of two program analysts and one administrative assistant. These costs would be paid for by an annual per-unit fee assessed on landlords.

Although the Pacifica City Council voted 4-1 in May 2017 to place the rent stabilization ordinance on yesterday’s ballot, a majority of the council does not support it. The City Council may proceed in 2018 with renter protections excluding regulation of rents, such as a just cause eviction ordinance.