More on the Oct. 14th Council Hearing on Rent Control Reform:

COUNCILMEMBERS GRAHAM AND CHEH NAIL IT, BUT THE QUESTION REMAINS, WILL THE COUNCIL HELP PRESERVE AFFORDABLE HOUSING? NOT IF THE RENT ADMINISTRATOR HAS HIS WAY: HE SAYS CONSULT THE LANDLORDS FIRST, SO THEY CAN WRITE RENT REFORM OUT OF EXISTENCE - - BUT THEY ARE THE ONES WHO DID JUST THAT BEFORE: ENACTED THE LAW THAT HELPED DEVASTATE AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND RENT CONTROL - - WITHOUT CONSULTING ANYONE! The Rent Administrator testified that the current rent control reform bills introduced by Councilmember Graham are bad - -for landlords - - because the real estate lobby was not consulted. But WE MUST REMIND EVERYBODY, no one consulted tenant groups or anyone else really, when they forced through the legislation that has devastated much of rent control and the affordable housing stock. They passed it over the objections of the housing committee chairman with a majority taking the issue to the floor by-passing committee. Now what’s wrong with turning the tables, saving affordable housing, passing legislation that will enable landlords to still turn the millions in profits they always did - - just not tens and scores more than the current scandalous amounts on the backs of the poor, the elderly, students, the disabled, and middle class that is the backbone of any city. But that is greed. WE SAY, IF YOU CAN ENACT LEGISLATION DEVASTATING LONGTERM RESIDENTS, THE LOW-INCOME, ELDERLY AND THE MIDDLE CLASS, WITHOUT CONSULTATION WITH THESE GROUPS, SURELY YOU CAN ENACT LEGISLATION TO SAVE AFFORDABLE HOUSING WITH LITTLE COST TO LANDLORDS, WITHOUT WHICH HAS GREAT COST TO THOSE AFFECTED, THE IMPETUS OF WHICH IS TRULY RUINOUS GREED. Councilmember Graham also observed, noting in the spirit and motivation of the times, in his own words, that the Rent Administrator's needle is consistently pointed toward landlord. This in a position that is supposed to decide disputes about rent increases fairly, judiciously and wisely. Shame! Councilmember Cheh also hit the nail on the head when she reminded a landlord witness at the hearing that there are special constraints on housing as a “commodity.” She noted that housing serves a vital public interest as such a basic necessity that overriding factors such as health, well-being, safety and peace of mind impose special restraints on housing providers, and so must be regulated (contrary to popular one-percent belief about regulation). We need to remind ourselves the landlord mentality that we “have the right to do what we want to with our property” has by law essentially been legislated out of existence: they must offer tenants first right to buy, must abate infestations, keep their property in good shape, keep it safe and secure, must not let it run down (so they get it condemned, tenants kicked out and sold for high profit - - which we have seen many times) and a myriad of other requirements, as should be. So, as restaurants must provide food “fit for human consumption” so landlords must provide housing that is safe, decent and healthy. A nation of homeowners (the ownership society so promulgated by our last president) must accustom themselves to these concepts which seem refreshingly new in a country where the one percent is ascendant in all things.