Socialist Campaign Launches Rent Control Initiative at City Heights

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Nov 20, 2015 (San Diego) We have many organizations that are now speaking about rent control and fair housing in the County. This is part of a trend to start organizing around social justice issues. The latest in these groups to join the fray is the Socialist Campaign, based on District 9 in City Heights. They started work a few months back, but yesterday they launched a formal campaign to show City Hall they mean business. On the agenda is rent control.

The goal of this first meeting was to “introduce a campaign for rent control in San Diego.”

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Rafael Bautista


Rafael Bautista defined rent control as “keeping a limit on the increases that landlords can mark up rents by.” He also said that in California there is a limit on rent control which is determined when units were built.

Indeed the State of California has this to say about rent control:

Some cities have boards that have the power to approve or deny increases in rent. Other cities’ ordinances allow a certain percentage increase in rent each year. Because of recent changes in State law, all rent control cities now have “vacancy decontrol.” This means that the landlord can re-rent a unit at the market rate when the tenant moves out voluntarily or when the landlord terminates the tenancy for nonpayment of rent.

Some kinds of property cannot be subject to local rent control. For example, property that was issued a certificate of occupancy after February 1995 is exempt from rent control. Beginning January 1, 1999, tenancies in single family homes and condos are exempt from rent control if the tenancy began after January 1, 1996.102

The site is also good to explore your rights as both a tenant and an owner.

Bautista added that rents are increasing anywhere from 5 to 6 percent a year in San Diego. He added that it is expected that this will continue for the next 5 years. When combined with the recent electric and water rate increase, it is making life in San Diego less and less affordable for working class people, as well as those on fixed income, like senior citizens. Neither of these two groups can afford these increases.

According to Rent Jungle , an industry site, the average rent in San Diego currently stands at $1878 dollars with a single room going for $1634 and a two bedroom apartment for $2033, which is way beyond the affordability level for people on or near the bottom of the earning scale.

This is about preserving the community and preventing the effects of gentrification. One of the effects is that it forces people out as they can afford less and less rents and they move to outing areas, in the case of San Diego to El Cajon for example.

That said, rent control does not address the housing crisis we have lived though over the course of this decade. This crisis has been ongoing for over ten years with no end in sight. The first of these emergency declarations was issued in 2002.

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Estela de los Rios

Estela de los Rios, a housing advocate put it in these terms. “Those rent prices are high.” She blamed the developers and the politicians, partly “becuase nobody stands for the rights of people.”

She added, “there are different facets of housings and everything is interconnected. But if we get rent control, everything else will fall into place.” She mentioned among the problems that high rents are one of the causes of homelessness.”that is why a lot of people become homeless, because they cannot afford the rent.”

She also said that if a landlord wants to increase the rent by 10 percent, all they need to do is give a 60 day notice. Less than that in this county, all they need is a 30 day notice. She also mentioned that in the City of Santa Rosa people went to City Council, just as they are going to do in the City of El Cajon on December 8. Tenants did go before City Council and spoke about these  issues In Santa Rosa, they brought kids with signs as well. They got the city council to listen.

The Press Democrat reports on this

The Santa Rosa City Council agreed to explore a wide range of fixes for the affordable housing crisis Tuesday, including a rent control ordinance that some housing advocates worried would be passed over in favor of efforts to boost housing inventory.

The council sought the midyear shuffling of its priorities to get city staff working more deliberately on solutions to the skyrocketing rents that are displacing many renters in the city and countywide.

De los Rios also reported that some of the signs that were brought read “no rats, no rent,” which leads to the other issue we are also seeing quite extensively in San Diego. This is not just about the rent, but also the living conditions many of our residents are forced to live in. We detailed the conditions of Maria Villegas home in a previous article.

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Maria Villegas

She is not alone and we have more stories that will be forthcoming. Suffice to say that Villegas spoke tonight She spoke of how the landlord has fixed a lot of the issues. She was desperate before this campaign was her also her cause. Now the home is in far better shape and that has helped even with her self confidence. Living in more humane conditions is also better for her children.

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Veronica German

Another woman that stole tonight was Veronica German. She spoke of a tick and bed bug infestation that has only gotten worst for the last 3 years. It is not as if she can afford to move.

German stated “I cry out of anger. I cry out of sadness.” The landlord picks up the rent on the second of the moth, but does not listen or do anything to fix the problems. “I have told him about the ticks and bedbugs that have bitten my grandson, and he asks that we poor people are dirty.” She has gotten rid of her sofas three times. The last were new, but she cannot afford to buy new ones, and she does not dare to bring in used ones.

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Sandra Galindo

Sandra Galindo, who is also running for District 9, spoke about what this is doing to the community. People are forced to live in condition of deep poverty. They are told they have these infestations because they don’t clean. The problem in City Heights is not about traps. It is about infestations that need an exterminator. It is about poor code enforcement and about a city political structure that does not care about the fate of poor communities of color.

How deep is the crisis of income? Galindo gave an example of what happens during the holidays. Next week children will not be in school for the full week due to the Thanksgiving holiday. “”What are we going to feed them? These are 15 more meals.” Children who depend  on school lunches, and who are poor, complement their meals with them.

They get a box of crackers to bridge this, “we appreciate the help, but what we need is a wage of $15 an hour, that we are treated with dignity, becuase wether they like it or not, we are at the base of this country.” She also mentioned that when people go to apply for things like CAL-FRESH, they get their identity checked and are treated like criminals including finger printing. This is humiliating to people who have no other choice.

When people enter a poor area, they can see residents hiding their faces at the food banks where they get food to supplement their food, since their checks do not go far enough to pay for the rent, and all the food they need. .

The Center for Policy Initiatives spoke of $13.09 for a single person in San Diego to barely make it, Nothing luxurious, or grand. Just enough to pay the rent and buy food. These are families with children, Galindo said. Families with children who’s bread winners have to work 2 and 3 jobs to just barely stay afloat. They work more than 40 hours a week, and they cannot make it in the fourth most expensive city in the United States.

Galindo also demanded from Council Member Marty Emerald to do something regarding these issues before she leaves office. It would be a legacy. She also demanded the Mayor pays attention to the poor among us, not just pay lip service.

The campaign intends to gather 10,000 signatures to take to city hall as well, to emphasize the point that this is a real issue as well. They want change.

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2 replies

  1. As a special education teacher in Chula Vista I cannot afford to continue to pay this ridiculously high rent! I know teachers that have been forced out of the city due to not being able to afford to live here. What will schools do if they don’t have teachers working for them because they can’t afford to live in the city that they work in?

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