BY DAVE PRICE
Daily Post Editor
High rents and the ability to find an apartment. Over the years, those seem to be the two problems renters have encountered.
So it was truly odd last Monday (Nov. 27) that the Palo Alto City Council, in the name of “tenant protections,” decided they would create a registry or list of apartments around town. Never mind the council passed similar legislation in early 2002 (See Muni Code 9.72.050), which has had no impact on rents and availability. But since it was so meaningless, what’s the harm of repeating it, right? Give the landlords more paperwork to fill out — that will show them! Power to the people! Harrumph.
An unintended consequence of such a registry (which would be subject to the California Public Records Act) is that landlords will use the list to see what their competitors are charging for rent, and adjust their rents upward to squeeze the most money from tenants.
When a tenant gets a big rent increase, the landlord will be able say “You’re just paying what everybody else in Downtown North pays.”
Gone will be the days of trying to find a cute, underpriced unit with a non-corporate landlord.
But council never explained how the registry would help anyone. How does more paperwork lower rents? Or how it puts more people into apartments? It doesn’t.
Passing the registry will allow council to respond to the idiots who are always complaining that council has to “do something” — even if that “something” is useless and potentially harmful.
A registry doesn’t solve the problems of high rents and supply. In fact, some landlords might take the registry as a sign that the city is heading toward rent control, and start taking units off the rental market to avoid having the city regulate that property.
Editor Dave Price’s column appears on Mondays. His email address is [email protected].