Who should fix the housing crisis? California voters send a mixed message

Voters in traffic-choked, rent-strapped California gave mixed
reviews to a wide array of proposed fixes that appeared on state
and local ballots, from creating more affordable housing for the
poor and enacting price caps on rents to paying for road repairs
and transit.

Californians in virtually every county
soundly rejected Proposition 10,
the measure to expand rent
control, despite the housing crisis gripping the state, and voters
in Santa Cruz were defeating a local measure to make rent control
permanent in that city. But voters
refused to repeal the gas tax
and the more than $5 billion it
generates annually to shore up the state’s aging roads and
bridges.

“Californians decided a long time ago that their
transportation needs had reached crisis proportions and now
they’ve come to the same conclusion about the lack of affordable
housing,” said Dan Schnur, a former Republican strategist who is
now a lecturer in USC’s Annenberg School of Communication.

“What they haven’t yet seen is a solution to either problem
that they’re comfortable supporting.”

In San Jose, a measure to pay for affordable housing
construction in one of the nation’s priciest markets, was falling
short Wednesday of the two-thirds approval it needed. But
Proposition 1, a statewide bond measure to raise $4 billion per
year for affordable housing, including for homeless veterans,
eked out a victory.

Carl Guardino, president and CEO of the Silicon Valley
Leadership Group, spent months campaigning for Prop. 1 and other
state measures. “I remind folks — I gave seven speeches today
alone — we have 10,000 homeless United States veterans who
bravely served our country and now are braving the elements every
night. We’re better than that,” he said Tuesday night, long
after the polls had closed. “When people understand that these
are real people that need our help, it resonates.”

The idea that others should pay was an easier sell. Local voters
in San Francisco and Mountain View agreed to tax businesses to pay
for homeless services and to ease traffic congestion,
respectively.

San Francisco’s Measure C, backed by Salesforce CEO Marc
Benioff and his company and opposed by the mayor, other tech
billionaires and big businesses, would generate $300 million a year
to help address the city’s growing homeless crisis by levying a
tax on gross receipts. Meanwhile, Mountain View’s proposed
“head tax” would raise about $6 million a year, more than half
of that from the city’s largest employer, Google.  Both
measures reflected a broader phenomenon, rooted in the belief that
the Bay Area’s booming technology companies should pay more taxes
to help cities battle everything from the growing homelessness
crisis to terrible traffic.

And in the East Bay, Oaklanders said “yes” to taxing the
owners of vacant properties $6,000 a year to fund homeless services
and clean up illegal dumping, a growing problem in the city.

“I think the results on housing and rent control reflect the
degree to which voters were overwhelmed by contradictory
messaging,” said Melissa Michelson, a professor of politics at
Menlo College in Atherton. “Folks are worried about housing
prices and rising rents, but they weren’t sure how voting for
Prop. 10 or these other local bond measures would help.”

Even as they conceded defeat, tenants’ rights advocates
quickly called upon the governor-elect, Gavin Newsom, to place a
moratorium on rent increases until the Legislature repealed the
state law at issue in Prop. 10, the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing
Act.

Newsom opposed Prop. 10, and a bill to repeal Costa Hawkins
failed in its first committee hearing earlier this year. But some
legislators have expressed interest in amending the law, rather
than repealing it.

Meanwhile, activists vowed to keep the issue alive.

“We go into 2019 with a much broader coalition and tens of
thousands of fired-up tenants who want some relief. We’ve just
begun,” said Walt Senterfitt, a founding member of the Los
Angeles Tenants Union, in a statement.

Source: FS – All – Real Estate News 1
Who should fix the housing crisis? California voters send a mixed message