Mayor Robert Garcia and seven councilmembers stated in writing when they first ran for their current office that they opposed rent control, and two councilmembers verbally confirmed their opposition to rent control, according to the Pacific West Association of REALTORS® (PWR). At the Business Journal’s request, PWR sent documentation backing up its claim.
PWR caused quite a stir last Friday when it issued a press release stating, “An organization that is largely funded with money from outside the city is attempting to place rent control on the ballot in Long Beach . . . We would also like to thank our locally elected city officials who have opposed this misguided policy. Mayor Garcia and the entire Long Beach Council have expressed to us verbally or in writing their opposition to rent control.”
When each of the city’s elected officials first ran for their office, PWR provided them a “local candidate questionnaire” to complete. One of the questions read: “Should Government regulate rental rates (rent control)?” Responding to the question in 2014, Mayor Garcia simply stated, “No,” as did Councilmembers Daryl Supernaw in 2015 and Dee Andrews in 2016. Councilmember Jeannine Pearce, in February 2016, wrote on the questionnaire: “No. I do not believe in rent control.”
Several councilmembers shared additional thoughts on their questionnaires. In 2016, Councilmember Al Austin responded by writing: “No. I believe the most effective tool for government to provide affordable housing is to ensure there is adequate housing stock at different income levels.” In 2014, Councilmember Stacy Mungo wrote: “No, the market should regulate the price of rental rates.” Also in 2014, Vice Mayor/9th District Councilmember Rex Richardson wrote: “The government should regulate rental rates when it owns or is subsidizing the property. We should explore incentives to explore affordable housing stock.” Councilmember Suzie Price, in 2014, answered: “I believe that the market needs to dictate rental rates . . . Rent control programs can lead to abuse and poor property maintenance.”
PWR spokesperson Tim Shaw e-mailed the Business Journal that in 2014, Councilmembers Lena Gonzalez and Roberto Uranga provided the group a “verbal commitment to oppose rent control.”
The PWR press release went on to state: “Rent Controlled cities are typically the most expensive in the country, and the policy prescription of a government controlled price will harm the very people that were supposed to be helped. While trained economists often differ, they are unanimous in agreeing rent control is a flawed policy.”
As of today, the Long Beach city attorney’s office is still finalizing the ballot statement and summary, which is required to collect signatures to place a rent control measure on the ballot this year. Signatures cannot be collected until the city attorney’s office has completed the statement/summary and the city clerk authorizes the petition filer, Josh Butler of Housing Long Beach, to move forward.