By Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer
Two years ago, California voters overwhelmingly rejected a ballot measure that would have made our housing crisis worse. The proposal would have opened the way for radical rent control measures across the state and dried up funds to build the new housing California needs to help those struggling to find a safe, affordable place to live.
Now, the proponents of this failed measure are at it again, hoping to scare voters into adopting the same bad policy they rejected during the last election. As the state struggles with the economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Proposition 21 would only deepen our housing woes, cost local governments millions of dollars, and give new powers to unelected bureaucrats in cities across California.
Here in San Diego we are leading the way in encouraging smart residential growth, decreasing homelessness, and cutting red tape that increases rents and home prices. But Prop. 21 will obstruct these efforts and move us backward.
Prop. 21 does nothing to increase the supply of housing for families, veterans or people who have lost their home. In fact, it discourages the construction of new units and will dry up existing housing stock by prompting rentals to be taken off the market. This means fewer affordable and middle-class homes and higher rents for many Californians.
Prop. 21 is a one-size-fits all approach that does nothing to guarantee that those who receive help are actually the people who need it. Under Prop. 21, high-income renters could receive thousands of dollars a year in artificially subsidized rent. Incentives like this make it less likely that those renters move, making it even harder for people looking for new housing to find an affordable place to live. In fact, it allows landlords to raise rents on the lowest income Californians by more than 15 percent while doing nothing to prevent evictions.
Prop. 21 would also give government agencies new control in the lives of millions of Californians. It would create new bureaucracies across California charged with overseeing and micromanaging rents. These agencies will be allowed to add fees onto monthly rents that could be passed on to tenants — costs that could add up to tens of millions of dollars every year.
Prop. 21 is the wrong solution aimed at the wrong problem. It will do nothing to help the tens of thousands of Californians who are currently facing homelessness. Instead, it will lower property values and thereby impact revenues for cities and counties, cutting into resources local governments need to tackle homelessness and other critical issues facing our communities.
This is the same bad policy that California voters rightly rejected in 2018, and we should oppose this flawed measure once again. That’s why a I’ve joined a broad coalition of Californians from across the political spectrum to oppose Prop. 21. Everyone from statewide elected officials, to veteran groups, to senior advocates, to the California and San Diego Regional chambers of commerce are urging a “No” vote.
California voters have a lot on their mind this year and this election season. They should not be fooled by Prop. 21’s false promises. It was bad policy two years ago, and it is bad policy today. Let’s focus on real solutions that increase housing and reduce homelessness. Please join me in voting “No” on Prop. 21.
Kevin Faulconer is Mayor of the City of San Diego.