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In the upcoming November 6th midterm election, the rent control debate will be decided in Santa Cruz, CA. Santa Cruz has been known for their single-family homes right on the open waters of the Pacific Ocean. In recent years, the Santa Cruz area has seen a 5.2 percent population change from 2010 to 2017, due to both baby boomers and working class professionals moving into the surf city. As of July 2017, the population is at a record high of 275,897 residents. 57 percent of Santa Cruz residents are renters

The migration of residents has equated to a spike in both home and rental prices as well. Median rent in Santa Cruz measures in at $3,400 a month with around 115 rentals on the market as of September 2018. The Median sales price measures in at $920,000 with 174 homes sales as of September 2018. With the new changes in the housing market, many Santa Cruz residents have petitioned for a rent board to be appointed by the City Council.

On November 6th, 2018, Santa Cruz residents will be voting on whether or not this “Measure M” rent board will be enacted. Let’s take a closer look at the provisions of Measure M and how it affects you as a homeowner or renter.


What is Measure M

Voting “Yes” for Measure M means: amending the city charter to establish a rent board to enact rent control and eviction limitations in the city.

Voting “No” for Measure M means: against amending the city charter to establish a rent board to enact rent control and eviction limitations in the city.

Source: Ballotpedia 


Measure M will enact seven major changes:

  1. New rent board: A rent board will be appointed by the city council to settle petitions, approve or repeal amendments, and mandate rent control. 7 members will be appointed in the rent board. The board members will decide their own salaries and will demand money from the City General Fund for financing. The rent board will not report to the City Council or City Manager as they are a purely independent organization.
  2. Maximum annual rent increase by landlords: Measure M will cap the Maximum annual rent increase to equal the annual increase in inflation, calculated by the Consumer Price Index. The CPI has risen about 2 percent per year in the past two years. Rent increases cannot exceed 5 percent annually.
  3. Rent rollback: Section 6 of Measure M will roll back rents to effect on October 19, 2017. Starting forward, future rent increases will be limited to the CPI starting from this date.
  4. Just cause evictions: Measure M will introduce just cause evictions for landlords and tenants. This will prohibit landlords from evicting tenants without a specific reason. Valid reasons for eviction are a failure to pay rent, nuisance, need for substantial repairs, owner moving back in, or to remove property off the rental market. Landlords cannot evict tenants for the reason of moving in a relative.
  5. Tenant Relocation: In the instance of an eviction unrelated to the tenant’s actions, the landlord is required to pay a minimum of six months to the tenant to assist in relocation.
  6. Subleasing policies: Measure M prohibits landlords from evicting tenants for subleasing rental units as long as the primary tenant lives in the unit and is paying rent.
  7. Exempted properties from Measure M: Hospitals will be exempt from Measure M. Single-family homes, condos, and new units constructed after 1995 will be exempt, except for just-cause-eviction policies.

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What is the Public Opinion for Measure M?

Santa Cruz Together – opposes Measure M

Santa Cruz Together believes the vast majority of Santa Cruz residents will lose due to the negative effects of Measure M. An imbalance of supply and demand will occur due to the low incentive for homeowners to rent their home. This will increase demand and decrease supply. The shortage of supply will drive up prices and is estimated to make the area less affordable.

They also claim homeowners who are currently renting their home will lose control of their home and make it more difficult to evict tenants. It is also stated that the renters living in apartments built before 1995 plan to stay in the same apartment for the rest of their lives. Due to the increase in migration in recent years, the renters in apartments before 1995 make up a small population of the total Santa Cruz population.

A level of concern has also rose regarding student housing. Since students of the University of California, Santa Cruz actively rent off campus, they are not immune to the effects of Measure M. It is estimated that they are receiving rent increases of up to 10 percent per year. With a shortage of housing, they may struggle to find off-campus housing. Students could benefit from the just-cause eviction protections of Measure M.

Santa Cruz Rent Control– approves Measure  

Santa Cruz Rent Control claims Measure M will strengthen renter protections and give renters greater economic security. Low-to-medium-income renters can spend more locally, thus helping local businesses from increased commerce.

“Renter protections are also beneficial for employers in Santa Cruz, who are more hard-pressed than ever today to recruit and retain good employees, given the unaffordability index, and rent control will make it easier for more good workers to afford to live in the city where they work. 

They have also stated there is a possibility that some landlords will favor renters who are students, and therefore disproportionately hurt long term residents.

Santa Cruz Mayor, David Terrazas– opposes Measure M

Santa Cruz Mayor, David Terrazas, signed a ballot argument against Measure M. He claims that a rent board will waste millions of dollars and reduce city funding to parks and libraries, make the housing shortage worse, make it harder and more expensive for the working residents, and threatens neighborhood peace as it eliminates expiration dates in lease agreements.

“I’m committed to families here in Santa Cruz. This measure will have the impact if reducing the rental supply in the city. For working families, this will cause some immediate impacts.”

David Terrazas
Mayor, Santa Cruz, CA

Poplar Homes would like to open the discussion to the audience regarding if rental housing would be improved through Measure M. Renter protections has a history of being successful in some areas and failures in others. Whether or not Measure M can be successful in Santa Cruz can be theorized by economists, but ultimately is decided by the residents of Santa Cruz.

Voice your opinion to your community, the Mayor, or with Poplar Homes.


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