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Calls for Rent Control in Silicon Valley

Original post made by nyt reader, College Terrace, on Jun 11, 2016

From today's NYT:
Web Link

Comments (9)

6 people like this
Posted by Big business Propaganda
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 11, 2016 at 12:25 pm

The NYT article ends with the assertion that "economists" almost uniformly criticize rent control as not addressing the real problem of more demand than supply. But that is not the oroblem rent control seeks to address. It addresses the value of saving existing renters from the exploitation by some landlords of the rigged government-created market and the outright ouster of those renters from the area. Rent control is simply one of many forms of land use control. Think about it.

16 people like this
Posted by Too Many Jobs
a resident of University South
on Jun 11, 2016 at 1:51 pm

Google needs to pull up and move east. There are just too many jobs in the area.

8 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Jun 11, 2016 at 3:49 pm

@Too Many Jobs

Might I suggest that you think about doing so? It's not only actually feasable, but entirely within your control. While I've heard many calls for tech companies to completely relocate somewhere else, I have an odd feeling that the world's most successful businesses may know may know a little better how to operate than anonymous internet commenters...

26 people like this
Posted by Palantir
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 11, 2016 at 5:02 pm

Palantir already has long-term leases on 20 buildings(!) in Downtown Palo Alto. They're not going anywhere in the short-term, and it's in their interest to increase the housing supply for their employees, as well as other local tech workers. Unfortunately, as the article indicates, one of the consequences of rent control is a decrease in housing supply.

12 people like this
Posted by Spies
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2016 at 7:21 pm

Pals tie should never, ever have been allowed to take up so much space downtown. If they need that much space, they can build their own building in a non-retail area outside of Palo Alto.

5 people like this
Posted by Big Picture
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2016 at 8:51 pm

This article brings to mind another article a few years back, about the Palo Alto Housing Corporation's Below Market Rate Program. While it can be a lifesaver for many, and I'm not knocking that, the article brought up the consequences down the line to people who had literally become trapped in the system. The people who were being honest about their regrets were lambasted for being ungrateful. But the flip side to not making the extreme sacriices to own - living in substandard conditions (certainly not in Palo Alto), renting every room in your house for years to make ends meet, having no spending money for anything like luxuries (eating out, ever, taking vacations, ever, having a smart phone, etc) - is that you never develop the kind of equity that eventually results in some kind of economic stability, if you continue to live here. This isn't just Northern California, it's SoCal, too.

We only own a home locally because we realized that the only way to have stable housing was to own, and the only way to do that in a desirable area is through long-term, major sacrifice - unless you are very rich, which is really not what I see among most of my friends who are homeowners. I have been there, where I could have qualified for assistance even though I had a tech job. All the same debates, the rent control, everything, it's all being rehashed, every time there is a boom, none of this is new. The friends I was about to talk into understanding the depth of sacrifice they had to make and why they had to if they wanted to stay here - they are homeowners. Not all in Palo Alto (might be Milpitas, the East Bay, and in PA). Those I could not, they are in a pickle.

The trouble with development is that - especially in California where new means exorbitant tax - it means very expensive. Older housing stock is made suddenly desirable, displacing existing residents or worse, making it desirable for demolition and redevelopment.

People regularly make the decision to move away, or not to come here because it's too expensive, and that's not the end of the world. It's what so many of our friends have done, and what we will do when the time comes, too. It's not possible or desirable to move the whole nation here into an area with serious water limitations, for one.

The point being made about moving jobs really is a better solution - it's easier, and less emotionally charged. Companies move for financial reasons all the time. Some companies pick up stakes or make decisions about where to base themselves based on political reasons having nothing to do with short-term costs.

Given that the urbanization trend globally is what is new, it really is time we began thinking about what is best for our nation in the context of these problems, and to stop being reactionary (serving no one but developers' short-term interests). As more people decide to move into cities, expanding the number of desirable cities is ultimately a more sustainable long-term way to go. (Expanding them before the currently desirable cities become ruined by excessive and reactionary development is even better.) I have heard complaints about loss of jobs and workers from hard-hit areas of the country where they would love the development dollars - it wouldn't take much to create several national magnets where people looking for better working conditions, wages, or cheaper housing would only be too happy to move. We also need redevelopment in once-great cities like Memphis that are crowded but could really use the investments and jobs. If that creates low-wage worker shortages here, the companies will have to raise their wages. Look at what plumbers make - we need plumbers, paying them what they're worth is a better long-term solution than creating a system in which they must live in a subsidized subclass their entire working lives.

That said, I do think some protections against sudden and preciptious rent increases are prudent and humane, and won't hurt landlords in the long run.

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Posted by Big Picture
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2016 at 8:54 pm


The friends I was ABLE to talk into understanding the depth of sacrifice they had to make and why they had to if they wanted to stay here - they are homeowners. Not all in Palo Alto (might be Milpitas, the East Bay, and in PA). Those I could not, they are in a pickle. (Yes, I make an effort to share the benefit of our hard-earned experience here with loved ones.)

3 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2016 at 9:21 pm

Will this predilection for rent control finally force Palo Alto's real-estate industry to wake up to the hazard of allying themselves with these neo-bolshiviks to further their Machiavellian schemes to hoodwink Palo Altans into sacrificing their quality of life on the altar of "low-cost" high density housing?

2 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 12, 2016 at 9:36 pm

Rent control is bad policy because it fails to address the root cause of exorbitant rents: A lack of supply. Building additional housing is the way to fix the problem. Since available land is limited, the way to address this issue is by building up. So why has this not been done?

Many of the Bay Area politicians and politically connected are also landlords. The status quo is very profitable for them and they have little reason to change it. Opposition to development is largely driven by selfish profit motives, not quality of life issues. It's all about the money, folks.

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