I wouldn't be living in San Francisco anymore it weren't for rent control. As it is, I've seen apartments like my first apartment, a one bedroom, mouse infested unit on Haight and Webster Street go from $625 a month to $1800 and even $2200 a month.
Thanks to my last landlord who, in the middle of the dot com boom, rented an entire three bedroom Excelsior District house to my wife and me for only $1250 a month, we were able to save enough money to put a down payment on a fixer upper house a few blocks away. We couldn't have done it without our landlord's generosity and understanding.
I'd like to think that our landlord's sense of responsibility is the norm. Unfortunately, many tenants have a completely different experience. For them, rent control is a necessary tool to ward off unfair rent increases, unfair evictions and building code violations that all too often make their units unsafe, unhealthy and uninhabitable.
Enter Prop 98, a doomsday ballot measure to end rent control and environmental regulations in California --all under the guise of eminent domain reform. We've seen such trojan horse deceptions on the California ballot but few propositions compare with how this measure would devastate communities throughout the state. Overnight unscrupulous landlords would be able to raise the rent to any level they see fit. In San Francisco, long-term tenants who have enjoyed the protections that rent control has provided would suddenly find themselves on the street.
Prop 98 could very well be California's Katrina.
I stopped by the Tenants' Convention on Saturday to offer my support against Prop 98. In the coming weeks I will be campaigning hard to turn out the vote against this measure. It's quite clear San Francisco will be on the right side of this one, but we're going to need every vote we can get to neutralize the votes in other parts of the state. San Francisco and other big city homeowners can play a critical role in this effort. We must consider how Prop 98 would hurt us all, tenant and homeowner alike.