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A City Club Committee Says Portland Should Explore Rent Control—And A Lot of Other Strategies

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Dirk VanderHart,

…In a report released Wednesday, an 11-member research committee for the City Club of Portland recommends the city take an array of new steps to address its burgeoning housing affordability crisis… …here’s a brief rundown [of] strategies the committee is calling for:

  • An end to the state’s preemption on rent control,so that local officials can consider policies that might help stem the tide. In particular, the committee seems intrigued by “rent stabilization” a sometimes-controversial strategy… that limits how high landlords can jack up rents…

We Respond & Your Comments

First we ask “Why is it the city’s business how much an owner charges for use of his private property? You don’t tell a grocer he can’t raise the price of carrots or a gas station owner he can’t raise the price of gas.”

Then we’d give these brainiacs a lesson in economics…

In 1994 Santa Monica, CA had a major earthquake. This “Progressive” city, concerned for “the little guy,” had long ago initiated rent control. Guess what? Apartment owners compensated for their inability to raise rents by skimping on maintenance and repairs.

Come the earthquake. Guess what crumbled like a stale cookie? You got it – the “little guys’” apartments – sometimes with “little guys” inside them.

The takeaways: a) people don’t just stand by while governments pick their pockets – they find  ways to replace lost revenue; b) they react to financial incentives. In this case they skipped repairs. How’d that work out for “the little guy?”


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