Why You Need to Do More Than Just Vote on Prop 10

If you’ve been keeping an eye on the news or on the side of the road while driving, you may have heard about Proposition 10. It may sound more familiar to you as “the rent control proposition.” The California Official Voter Guide online summarizes Prop 10 as the proposition to “repeal state law that currently restricts the scope of rent control policies that local jurisdictions may impose on residential property.” Voting “yes” on the prop would allow local governments to take charge of rent control laws, while voting “no” would keep state law regarding power to enact rent control as it stands. Though I’ve seen many online editorials about why you should vote “no” on Prop 10, I’ve also seen my fair share of signs pleading with voters to vote “yes.” It’s important to consider the pros and the cons of this prop, because regardless of how the vote goes, this is a growing issue in California that needs to be addressed.

For many college students, rent control sounds like a dream. And in a sense, Prop 10 is also the “Anti-Gentrification” proposition. Capping rent could prevent people from being forced out of their neighborhoods because they can’t afford it. If you ask me, this also sounds quite dream-like. That being said, it doesn't seem like Prop 10 is the prop that’s truly going to fulfill these dreams. For one, it may not even pass. I’ve seen much more negative media coverage than positive, and a lot of that is justified. The proposition is full of flaws—both blatantly, and in the details.

Big picture, Prop 10 leaves room for local governments to impose their own taxes. It is more or less a gamble of whether it’ll make the housing crisis better or make it worse. Rent control as a whole is an interruption of capitalism. Investment in property is usually operated on the assumption that equity will increase over time and the owner will profit, but rent control essentially caps the value of one’s property. It also removes incentives for landlords to maintain their property, resulting in reduced property value, and property tax revenue that would go towards school funding and public services. While a little bit of this could certainly help “undo” gentrification in places like San Francisco, as well as lift up displaced and disadvantaged communities, it’s a slippery slope.

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If applying this prop to a college town like Davis, we could see a more stabilized housing market where students could afford to have somewhere to sleep without skipping meals (a wonderful luxury which many statistics unfortunately prove is not a reality for many). A controlled rent rate could also incentivize further housing development to maintain or increase tax revenue. It’s easy to see why Prop 10 appeals in towns like Davis, but we also need to remember how it could affect other towns and the entire economy as a whole.

While there is good in Prop 10, it comes with a heap of uncertainty that could cause major damage to homeowners and economies. This is why Prop 10 cannot end at the polls and the conversation must go on to influence future propositions. Don’t let this just be a question with an answer, but a question that sparks a debate. Talk about it. Tweet about it. Lobby your representatives in whatever way you can to let them know that this issue, regardless of how the vote goes, it is an important one that isn’t going to go away.

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