By County Supervisor Sue Frost
I voted against the proposed emergency ordinance that would have blocked landlords from legally evicting tenants – and I wanted you to know why.
I voted against the ban on “no fault eviction” because it’s a false promise that does nothing to address the core problem and actually might make it worse.
The problem is simple – we don’t have enough housing, and scarcity drives up costs and reduces options.
The situation has received a lot of media attention about the emotion involved – and I do not diminish the stress a person who needs to find a new place to live must feel. But the coverage hasn’t done an outstanding job of explaining the facts.
What they are terming “no fault eviction” is actually when a property owner doesn’t offer a renewal at the end of a tenant’s lease. Typically the property owners give tenants two months’ notice – and most of the time, the tenant chooses to leave and find a new place to live. But sometimes they refuse to move out, and the owner is forced to evict them.
So why is there so much fervor? Because one apartment complex decided not to renew lessees for a large group of tenants that were on month-to-month leases.
I have great sympathy and compassion for the renters who were impacted by this isolated situation, and I do not condone the actions of this particular apartment owner. After this incident happened, financial assistance was negotiated for the tenants who received termination notices. These tenants will receive $2,500 in relocation or rent assistance plus the return of their full security deposit from the current owners. In addition, several tenants with Housing Choice Vouchers may be able to stay at the property after its sale to the new owners.
This proposal, as well as state-wide Rent Control that is coming January 1st, both suffer from the same misguided notion that renters will be better off with government controls on rent. Nothing is further from the truth.
Economists across the world, as well as everyone with basic knowledge of economics, understand that this is simply not the case. While price controls do hold down costs in the short-run for current tenants, in the long-run, it decreases rent inventory and affordability and creates blight in the surrounding neighborhood. In short, it increases housing costs, discourages construction of more affordable units, and reduces housing options.
Laws like rent control and bans on “no-fault evictions” are barriers to building the housing and apartments we desperately need. They create economic pressure for landlords to convert their properties to different uses entirely.
My supervisorial colleague, who has been so publicly critical of my vote, should review the results of similar policies in areas like San Francisco and Los Angeles. Then he needs to ask himself if he would consider either of those cities affordable.
In 2019 the National Apartment Association conducted a survey of firms that build multifamily housing. The results showed that the Sacramento metropolitan area is one of the hardest places to build multifamily housing in the entire country. Nationally, our region ranked 56 out of 58 for the most barriers to building multifamily housing. Meaning it is more difficult to build apartments in the Sacramento area than the surrounding areas of Honolulu, New York, or San Diego.
This is unacceptable to me – and for anyone who honestly wants to deal with the housing shortage and price inflation. We have to do better. That’s why I will hold a series of meetings with county staff, apartment owners, builders, and tenants’ rights groups. Together, we will find out what can actually be done to solve the problem and reduce barriers preventing us from building new multifamily and affordable housing in our County.
I want real solutions, like offering tax incentives to property owners who keep rent low and build new units. Or allowing housing projects to get the same incentives and environmental exemptions sports facilities get.
I do not have all the answers; however, it is clear to me that we cannot continue to pass half-baked policies that feel good but in reality, make the situation significantly worse.
Thank you for reading – and as always, if you want to contact me call me at 916-874-5491, or e-mail me at SupervisorFrost@saccounty.net.
Sue Frost represents the 4th District, which includes all or part of the communities of Citrus Heights, Folsom, Orangevale, Antelope, Rio Linda, Elverta, Gold River, Rancho Murieta, North Highlands, Carmichael, Foothill Farms and Fair Oaks.