On April 3rd of this year, members from our organization convened in Sacramento to meet with Legislators and their staff about the approximately 200 bills related to housing being discussed by the California State Legislature. As you may have heard, many of these bills relate to statewide rent control, repealing Costa-Hawkins, statewide just cause provisions, and many other attempts to address the housing shortage. This is not a shocking development. We have been telling people a shortage is coming for years due to increases in production costs and regulations from the local and state government. Yet, here we are in 2019 and little has been done to address these long-standing challenges. Which is why our advocacy day was so important to our industry, and to our members.
The narrative in the California State Legislature is that the housing shortage exists because of how we allow people to rent. To many, the solution is a reset of the very infrastructure that has existed in this country for decades upon decades. And, it does not make sense. We know regressive policies like rent control exacerbate the existing housing problems and only push out the quality tenants that we have come to cherish over the years.
Over the course of two days and a dozen meetings, we made clear that focusing on the mom and pop owners in California would only drive out local investors and owners, bringing added cost pressures to the local community. By highlighting that our members are the backbone of small businesses, we made sure Legislators knew that these proposed restrictions would significantly harm us compared to rental corporations. We then took it a step further and offered results-oriented solutions, proving we are trying to be a part of the group resolving the shortage.
Having our members in Sacramento voicing their perspective ensures the Legislators hear from us directly that a one-size fits all approach fails in a state as geographically diverse as California. The truth is that the Capitol can become like Facebook … an echo chamber where everyone appears to, and all voices, sound like your own personal beliefs. And, as we all know about social echo chambers, they are not changed until someone is willing to loudly and substantively dissent. And, that’s all it takes. In fact, just hearing stories from our members about their experiences with their tenants and the community they foster helped several members change their minds about the best approach to addressing the housing shortage.
Which is why we must always be mindful of the old adage: silence equals concession.