Tenants’ rights groups are ecstatic that two major rent-control bills have sailed through the Assembly’s Housing and Community Development Committee. Democratic supermajorities and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s blessing may assure the bills will become law, thus offering the latest affirmation of H.L. Mencken’s infamous quotation: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”
“We know that millions of tenants are one rent increase away from not being able to afford food, healthcare or even becoming homeless,” said Assemblyman David Chiu (D–San Francisco), author of one of the bills. He’s certainly right, but his “easy” solution will only make good housing harder to find and far costlier over the long term. He’s just pandering to voters angry about high rents.
But the housing crunch largely is the fault of the Legislature’s slow-growth land-use policies enacted over two decades, and local governments that have given in to the selfish demands of homeowners who are tired of congestion (and don’t want lower-income people living nearby in apartments). Instead of fixing the mess government created, lawmakers want to make private owners subsidize rents of their customers. It’s morally wrong and doesn’t work.
Related: Speaking slow-growth policies, Endangered Frogs Preventing Fire-Ravaged California City From Being Quickly Rebuilt.