In a groundswell of discontent over rapidly escalating rents, a rent-control group known as San Diego Tenants United held a march late last month in Point Loma. The march was a show of force advocating for affordable rent and against so-called “slumlords.” That protest march was conducted against a Linda Vista apartment complex owned by a landlord living in Point Loma.
SDTU is a group fighting for affordable and safe housing promoting implementation of rent control. The group's spokesperson, Rafael Bautista, explained why rent control is needed now in the Peninsula — and throughout San Diego.
“We're a tenants-rights organization that becomes a tenant's union in force,” said Bautista. “We're fighting to establish rent control in San Diego, having gathered 10,400 signatures on a petition.”
The rent-control petition SDTU is promoting is on Change.org at bit.ly/2abGppN.
Bautista said protest marches are just the start of rent-control protest citywide.
“Our initial push is for the City Council to do something about this 13-year housing crisis in San Diego,” he said. “We want the city to implement some form of rent control, so that landlords don't gouge people, though we think the best method of change is through a ballot initiative.”
Bryan Pease, an attorney and District 2 candidate best known for his animal-rights advocacy, concurred with SDTU that the time is ripe for rent control in San Diego.
“Other similarly situated cities have rent control, and it is a needed measure to stop the large-scale displacement happening in San Diego in which people are being priced out of their homes,” said Pease. “Rents in San Diego are astronomically high. With the cost of living rising and wages lagging, we need rent control, which would allow landlords to have reasonable rent increases to keep pace with inflation, but would also prevent the gouging of people, just because San Diego is lagging behind in producing affordable housing.”
“I support [District 1 Councilmember] Barbara Bry in advocating for no rent control,” said District 2 candidate Daniel Smiechowski. “I support incentives to landlords and the building industry and not prohibitions. Rent control in other cities is often manipulated by well-connected and financially upper class people in order to game the system.”
Bautista of SDTU claims San Diego is the fourth most- expensive city in the nation to live in. He noted America's Finest City is considered the second-worst city for renters in the country. He also claimed San Diego is California's largest city without rent control, saying rents are presently increasing four times faster than incomes.
Of the status of the San Diego rent-control battle, Bautista, said: “[Next year] is the year of rent control — there's no other way around it. We can't build ourselves out of this hole. This is the 13th year of the housing crisis, and we have a 170,000-plus shortage in housing.”
Pointing to rent-control victories in Northern California, Bautista, said: “We must come together to fight for rent control and for a better future for all San Diego residents. We need to stop the 8 percent-average rent increases, unless we are ready to increase incomes by the same rate or higher. Sign the petition for rent control and support the campaign for rent control in San Diego.”
Bautista said he felt a 2 percent cap on annual rent increases might be a more reasonable, and fair, annual rent increase to shoot for with San Diego rent control.
Learn more about rent control at https://www.facebook.com/SDTenantsUnited/ or follow on twitter @SDTenantsUnited.