OPINION – In Sacramento, nearly one in five people live in poverty. Homelessness is a systemic problem that only seems to get worse. And affordable housing remains unavailable for many, especially low-income families.

Add to this the plight of unequal justice facing Black citizens, the Covid-19 pandemic and the threat to lives and livelihoods from climate change-driven wildfires, and it’s hard not to become discouraged about the future.

But we have the opportunity take concrete steps to improve lives and create a better future for Sacramento by building more affordable housing. This will help low-income families striving to move into the middle class. It will help middle-income families who want to build for the future. It will help seniors, veterans and others find the secure housing they deserve. And it will create new opportunities to provide housing for the homeless.

Unfortunately, there is an obstacle to this progress. It’s called Measure C—the Sacramento rent control measure on the November 3rd ballot.

Sacramento has an affordable housing crisis. Measure C is not the solution.
Measure C does nothing to address the shortage of affordable housing that is at the core of the housing crisis. In fact, it exacerbates the problem by imposing a new tax on rental units and discouraging new construction.

The construction industry is a vital source of jobs and apprenticeships for people trying to work their way out of poverty. Measure C will eliminate many construction and related jobs and make it even harder to find good jobs with a future.

It gets worse.

Measure C creates a new, elected Rent Board that will cost millions of dollars to operate, can determine its own budget, and take funds away from vital city services like parks, which low-income residents, seniors and others especially depend on. The board will have the power to hire staff, impose fees, issue subpoenas, and accept campaign contributions.

If Measure C passes, our neighborhoods will be less safe by protecting problem tenants at the expense of responsible renters. It makes it harder to remove tenants engaged in criminal activities like dealing drugs. Property owners will be required to undergo a lengthy judicial process to remove a problem tenant. Tenants who put the safety and security of their neighbors at risk can stay in their units for months or even years.

Flawed as it is, Measure C is also unnecessary, since Sacramento last year passed the strongest rent control and tenant protections in its history.
And, Measure C is illegal. A court has ruled Measure C violates the law and usurps the role of the mayor and city council. The Rent Board represents a powerful new branch of government that operates without transparency and with little accountability. If Measure C passes, you can be sure there will be more lawsuits and court fights. Add this to the taxpayers’ tab.

Measure C will threaten to deplete the hard-earned nest eggs of many working and retired people who have managed to scrape together enough savings to invest in a rental property. That’s part of the American dream and a way to finance retirement. Measure C will raise the cost of maintaining properties and impose onerous fees and a tax on rental units. Faced with rising costs, many mom and pop owners won’t be able to cover the monthly mortgage and utilities payments; some properties will be forced into foreclosure.

Fortunately, opposition to this misguided proposal is strong and growing. Opponents have built a broad coalition that spans the community, from Mayor Steinberg and the entire City Council to the Urban League to veterans, business leaders, labor unions, and affordable housing advocates. This cross-section of the community is united in opposition to Measure C.

On November 3, voters should reject this flawed ballot measure and the community should turn its attention to creating more affordable housing.
To learn more about the facts behind Measure C go to www.cthefacts.org.

By Joshua Wood

Joshua Wood is CEO of the Sacramento Region Business Association.