Vote yes on B-17, end the rental inspection ordinance

“YES” on Measure B-17 = Repeal of the rental inspection ordinance. “YES” on Measure B-17 = More affordable housing.


This week, San Luis Obispo city residents are getting mail-in ballots. A “Yes” vote will permanently repeal the invasive and discriminatory “Rental Housing Inspection” ordinance adopted by an out-of-touch city council. A “Yes” vote will, for the first time in city history, forbid discrimination in city housing policies, practices and ordinances based on “age, income, disability, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual identity, or inability or ability to own a home.”

Does anyone remember a time when more than three times the number of voters needed signed up to put an initiative on a city ballot? Do you remember a time when the city committed such a blatant overreach that liberals and conservatives rose up together to gather so many signatures?

I’m Stew Jenkins, one of the three proponents and authors of Measure B-17. I am one of the 9,200 citizens who signed the petition. I am a home owner, not a landlord.

Proponent Dan Knight is a tenant and proponent Dan Carpenter is a homeowner who owns no residential rentals. Tenants donated the great majority of funds needed to qualify the initiative so citizens can take control over housing policy.

The reason the city is fighting this initiative so hard is that the rental inspection ordinance is only mostly dead. Institutional city management is already working on bringing back “Rental Inspection Program 2.0” as soon as they can after your votes are counted. More about that in tomorrow’s commentary.

City council members, folks working in non-profits dependent on city council members voting them grants, and institutional city management have generated a slick whisper campaign urging a “No” vote against the initiative. Their “talking points” are (1) the “Rental Housing Inspection” ordinance is dead and gone, (2) the initiative’s simple Non-Discrimination in Housing Ordinance will destroy affordable housing and mobile home rent control, and (3) adopting the Non-Discrimination Housing Ordinance will get the city sued.

Each city “talking point” is false.

Today’s column debunks the smoke and mirrors in the city’s false claim number two, that ending discrimination in housing could end affordable housing or mobile home rent control.

Reading the initiative’s non-discrimination in housing ordinance reveals that adopting measure B-17 makes housing more affordable, not less, and protects mobile home residents’ rent control.

Discrimination against people “based on age, income, disability, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual identity, or inability or ability to own a home” is outlawed by your “YES” vote.

Think about that simple provision.

Assisting or requiring the creation of affordable housing is not outlawed.  In fact, the wording was carefully drafted to protect folks in mobile home parks. Existing limits on park owners’ ability to raise “space rent” is not outlawed by your “YES” vote.

By omitting “developers” from the initiative’s description of protected groups, existing ordinances requiring “developers” to build affordable units for rent or for purchase are all preserved by your “YES” vote.

The initiative nowhere prohibits a homeowner from adding a secondary (granny) unit, or renting out part of their home.

One snark the city management has tried to fool folks with is their claim that ending discrimination against renters would prevent the city from forbidding renters building a secondary unit behind the home the rent. What renter would want to pay the $50,000 in permit fees to improve their landlord’s property? And what rental landlord would ever allow a tenant to add on a secondary unit?

Don’t be fooled by city management’s false fears.

Truth is, that by voting “Yes” on B-17 you will prevent skyrocketing rents on existing houses, which will lower the prices landlords can charge in new developments.

It was the rental inspection ordinance’s yearly registration fees, repetitive inspection fees and nonsense fines being passed on to tenants that fueled increasing rents.

Mail in your “Yes” vote today on Measure B-17 to put a permanent spike in the heart of the invasive rental inspection ordinance that drives up the price of rents. This guarantees that voters will have a say in what the city proposes in future.

Mail in your “Yes” Vote today to adopt the city’s first, ever, anti-discrimination law.

Two easily understood sentences that read: “The City of San Luis Obispo shall not discriminate against any person based upon age, income, disability, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual identity, or inability or ability to own a home, by imposing any compulsory program, policy, intrusion or inspection applicable to any residential dwelling unit. No determination to conduct an inspection of any dwelling shall be based substantially on any occupant’s age, income, disability, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual identity or status as an owner or renter of such dwelling.”

Restore equal dignity in San Luis Obispo with your “Yes” vote.

Stew Jenkins is a San Luis Obispo County Liberal Democrat who supports the rights of working people to organize unions, growing the local economy through project labor agreements, the right of all people to health care and equal dignity.

He is an attorney practicing in San Luis Obispo since 1978. Jenkins’ handles tax payer suits, municipal law, estate planning and family law.