"People are really starting to come out of the woodwork and realize there are more of us working on the same thing."
  • "People are really starting to come out of the woodwork and realize there are more of us working on the same thing."
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A group of activists seeking a rent-control ordinance and other tenant-protection measures gathered in Ocean Beach on Saturday (June 4), circulating a petition they hope will convince the city council to open a dialogue concerning their grievances.

"We're trying to raise awareness of the need for housing justice in San Diego, and that comes through a triangular platform involving either rent control or rent stabilization, better code enforcement, and wise investment in communities that doesn't displace residents who've been there for years," explained Rebecca Schulman of San Diego Tenants United, a collection of individuals organized via social media that has also participated in organizing protests against alleged substandard living conditions at a Linda Vista apartment complex.

"The people we're targeting are really unscrupulous," Schulman continued. "The private, owner-occupied buildings, those people usually have a conscience and care about the conditions their tenants are living in. The people we're targeting own large numbers of units…maybe they don't even live in the state, they have no idea what kind of condition their property is being kept in."

Schulman said she had spoken to landlords both locally and in other California cities where rent-control laws are in place, and most are supportive of a structure that places an annual cap on rent increases for existing tenants and has strong language requiring maintenance of buildings. Other property owners, however, have drawn the attention of activists for alleged wrongdoing.

"Michael Mills has…been paying cash for multi-unit buildings around O.B. and, after 60 days, raising rents," charged Schulman. "Some of the tenants who've remained in these buildings say they're half empty now, and though he's coming in and putting a little paint on, some flooring, but if you look at the properties he owns they're really some of the gnarliest, most run-down buildings in O.B.”

A Facebook page set up specifically for Mills’s tenants has garnered 49 likes but has seen little activity. A public records search based off one address indicated five buildings in the Ocean Beach area are owned by the same trust, though none appear to have been purchased within the past two years. Such a search, however, may not be indicative of a group's total holdings, as separate trusts, limited liability corporations, or other structures may have been set up to hold title to more recent acquisitions.

Meanwhile, Schulman says her group's activities are continuing to gather momentum as others around the county catch word.

"I'm getting messages from people all over — Escondido, Santee — who want to start rent-control petitions. So, people are really starting to come out of the woodwork and realize there are more of us working on the same thing."

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jnojr June 6, 2016 @ 7:11 p.m.

"Michael Mills has…been paying cash for multi-unit buildings around O.B. and, after 60 days, raising rents..."

And? So go buy the property yourself!

Rebecca Shulman is a parasite, a grifter. She doesn't want to take on the expenses and taxes and maintenance and depreciation and repairs associated with owning property... no sir, she expects someone else to swallow all of those costs so she can skate through life. She is EXACTLY one of those types of tenants I have to watch out for. I can't afford to have bottom-feeders like her living on my dime.

Can't afford San Diego? Move to Oklahoma. Rents are lower, prices are lower, and the minimum wage is the same. You'll be better off.


AlexClarke June 7, 2016 @ 6:30 a.m.

But if you do move to Oklahoma better hang on to your hat. Tornados you know. Also I believe that Oklahoma used the Federal Minimum Wage not the California minimum wage.


surfbex June 7, 2016 @ 7:30 a.m.

I know it's easy to sit behind your computer and call people names. However if you channeled some of your hateful energy into learning what is happening in the rest of the country you would quickly realize there is a housing crisis in the ENTIRE country. Moving is a CAUSE of poverty not a cure for it. But apparently yor simple mind cannot comprehend complex scenarios that effect working people that have lived in one place their entire life. Yeah, you sure have all the answers, you should really run for public office since you care about people so much and have such great solutions!


hwstar June 7, 2016 @ 9:06 a.m.

I see you are at it again Jnlohr. Not all people are going to be able to own property, or even rental property in this country. (If everyone did, then there would be no need for landlords) Maybe you should show a little more empathy for those who are less fortunate than yourself.

Renting housing unit means that the tenant don't have to worry about taxes and maintenance. It should be baked into the monthly rent. If you can't make a profit on your rental units, then get out of the business!

Disclaimer: I own a rental property, so I'm aware of what it takes to be a landlord. Personal attacks on tenants complaining about rent control and the poor conditions of rental units are not my modus operandi.


AlexClarke June 7, 2016 @ 6:34 a.m.

Owning a rental property is expensive. There is little per unit profit even at the high San Diego rental rates. It only takes one bad tenant to wipe out all the profit. Rental units near the beach have a higher turnover and much higher maintenance costs. Been there, done that. Got out of the rental business as it was more often than not a break even deal.


Ponzi June 7, 2016 @ 12:54 p.m.

I think some people need to take a course in economics. Price floors and price ceilings are inefficient. To someone ignorant of economic reasoning, rent control seems like a great policy. It appears instantly to provide “affordable housing” to poor tenants, while the only apparent downside is a reduction in the income flowing to the fat-cat landlords, people who literally own buildings in major cities and who thus aren’t going to miss that money much.

The most obvious problem is that rent control immediately leads to a shortage of apartments, meaning that there are potential tenants who would love to move into a new place at the going (rent-controlled) rate, but they can’t find any vacancies. At a lower rental price, more tenants will try to rent apartment units, and at a higher rental price, landlords will try to rent out more apartment units. These two claims are specific instances of the law of demand and law of supply, respectively.

In the long run, a permanent policy of rent control restricts the construction of new apartment buildings, because potential investors realize that their revenues on such projects will be artificially capped. Building a movie theater or shopping center is more attractive on the margin.


zack June 9, 2016 @ 8:35 a.m.

The answer, for OB at least, is fairly straightforward. Increase supply. If you increase supply, rents naturally fall.

The easiest way to increase supply? Limit vacation rentals and air bnb’s etc. These transactions suck a large fraction of OB housing out of the rental availability market, which makes it harder to find a reasonably priced unit to live in.

Would likely also likely increase the quality of life in the OB area.


elvishasleftsandiego June 9, 2016 @ 9:21 a.m.

I lived in OB for 5 years. I never wanted to leave. But the rents went up so high I had to move. When I moved to the beach in '96, my 1 bedroom apartment rented for $525.00/month, which was reasonable. I was a working RN, so I could afford the rent. AND the rent stayed the same for about 3 years. As the market changed, the rent started creeping up, with increases about every 3-4 months. However, when maintenance needed doing(termite control, plumbing repairs, etc) the apt owner was no where to be found. My cozy little apartment turned into a hovel and I decided enough was enough. I moved to Nevada and I've never looked back. I love San Diego. I always will. But I don't think I'll ever go back.


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