Vote for affordable housing, yes on B-17

July 26, 2017

Stew Jenkins

“YES” on Measure B-17 = Repeal of the rental inspection ordinance. “YES” on Measure B-17 = More affordable housing.


This week, San Luis Obispo city residents are getting mail-in ballots. A “Yes” vote will permanently repeal the invasive and discriminatory “Rental Housing Inspection” ordinance adopted by an out-of-touch city council. A “Yes” vote will, for the first time in city history, forbid discrimination in city housing policies, practices and ordinances based on “age, income, disability, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual identity, or inability or ability to own a home.”

Does anyone remember a time when more than three times the number of voters needed signed up to put an initiative on a city ballot? Do you remember a time when the city committed such a blatant overreach that liberals and conservatives rose up together to gather so many signatures?

I’m Stew Jenkins, one of the three proponents and authors of Measure B-17. I am one of the 9,200 citizens who signed the petition. I am a home owner, not a landlord.

Proponent Dan Knight is a tenant and proponent Dan Carpenter is a homeowner who owns no residential rentals. Tenants donated the great majority of funds needed to qualify the initiative so citizens can take control over housing policy.

The reason the city is fighting this initiative so hard is that THE RENTAL INSPECTION ORDINANCE IS ONLY MOSTLY DEAD. Institutional city management is already working on bringing back “Rental Inspection Program 2.0” as soon as they can after your votes are counted. More about that in tomorrow’s commentary.

City council members, folks working in non-profits dependent on city council members voting them grants, and institutional city management have generated a slick whisper campaign urging a “No” vote against the initiative. Their “talking points” are (1) the “Rental Housing Inspection” ordinance is dead and gone, (2) the initiative’s simple NON-DISCRIMINATION IN HOUSING ordinance will destroy affordable housing and mobile home rent control, and (3) adopting the NON-DISCRIMINATION IN HOUSING ordinance will get the city sued.

Each city “talking point” is false.

Today’s column debunks the smoke and mirrors in the city’s false claim number two, that ending discrimination in housing could end affordable housing or mobile home rent control.

Reading the initiative’s non-discrimination in housing ordinance reveals that adopting measure B-17 makes housing more affordable, not less, and protects mobile home residents’ rent control.

Discrimination against people “based on age, income, disability, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual identity, or inability or ability to own a home” is outlawed by your “YES” vote.

Think about that simple provision.

Assisting or requiring the creation of affordable housing is not outlawed.  In fact, the wording was carefully drafted to protect folks in mobile home parks. Existing limits on park owners’ ability to raise “space rent” is not outlawed by your “YES” vote.

By omitting “developers” from the initiative’s description of protected groups, existing ordinances requiring “developers” to build affordable units for rent or for purchase are all preserved by your “YES” vote.

The initiative nowhere prohibits a homeowner from adding a secondary (granny) unit, or renting out part of their home.

One snark the city management has tried to fool folks with is their claim that ending discrimination against renters would prevent the city from forbidding renters building a secondary unit behind the home the rent. What renter would want to pay the $50,000 in permit fees to improve their landlord’s property? And what rental landlord would ever allow a tenant to add on a secondary unit?

Don’t be fooled by city management’s false fears.

Truth is, that by voting “Yes” on B-17 you will prevent skyrocketing rents on existing houses, which will lower the prices landlords can charge in new developments.

It was the rental inspection ordinance’s yearly registration fees, repetitive inspection fees and nonsense fines being passed on to tenants that fueled increasing rents.

Mail in your “Yes” vote today on Measure B-17 to put a permanent spike in the heart of the invasive rental inspection ordinance that drives up the price of rents. This guarantees that voters will have a say in what the city proposes in future.

Mail in your “Yes” Vote today to adopt the city’s first, ever, anti-discrimination law.

Two easily understood sentences that read: “The City of San Luis Obispo shall not discriminate against any person based upon age, income, disability, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual identity, or inability or ability to own a home, by imposing any compulsory program, policy, intrusion or inspection applicable to any residential dwelling unit. No determination to conduct an inspection of any dwelling shall be based substantially on any occupant’s age, income, disability, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual identity or status as an owner or renter of such dwelling.”

Restore equal dignity in San Luis Obispo with your “Yes” vote.

Stew Jenkins is a San Luis Obispo County Liberal Democrat who supports the rights of working people to organize unions, growing the local economy through project labor agreements, the right of all people to health care and equal dignity.

He is an attorney practicing in San Luis Obispo since 1978. Jenkins’ handles tax payer suits, municipal law, estate planning and family law.

Jon Tatro

As a landlord in SLO but not a resident, I am unable to vote for B-17 or to vote out the incompetence at city hall. The city is swimming in a sea of debt and onerous rules and regulation and soon “Happy Town” will become “Broke ass town”.


Why do you think the city council is bending over backwards and kissing the a$$ of every developer, simply they need the money, big, big, big pension payment are due soon and without that money they have no clue on how they will make the payments. Certainly cutting salaries, benefits and pensions is not an option they want to consider.


The effect of Measure B-17 is that if the City government wishes to discriminate against people, or wants a new inspection ordinance, then the City government must first explain to the voters why it is a good idea, and then get the voters to support it at an election.

The opposition to B-17 wants to preserve the power of 3 people on the council (who are usually elected with less than a majority of the votes) to favor some at the expense of others.

Is there not still a plaque at the entrance to the City Hall which proclaims: “Liberty, Equality, Toleration”? What is about “equality” that the City Council does not understand?


I was surprised to read the city council argument against B in the ballot pack I got yesterday. What a dumb, manipulative and untrue argument. I’d been on the fence how to vote, but after reading how they’re trying to deceive us and spread fear fear fear, I now know who to vote against. B will do no harm, and might do some good since as Stew writes, we can all assume Lichtig will come up with yet another inspection ordinance if the power to enact one isn’t turned over to voters, as B would do.


Poorly written law. The city already has repealed rental inspection. I say vote no on B-17. Not a fan of the current council but this is not going to help. I am certainly suspicious of some of the backers.


A big government guy for less government intrusion. Shocking, but good for him!


The city certainly won’t fire or reduce the staff hired to support this ordinance, surely that is part of the reason ordinance 2.0 is just around the corner. Maybe City Manager Lichtig or others in high places have friends or family in that staff need to keep them feeding off the taxpayers.


City Attorney Dietrick has a brother-in-law with absolutely no government experience and he was temporary hired in different departments at the City (Planning, Administration, and other “desk” jobs so he could get experience but then he keeps failing the exam which is a surprise but they just move him to another position).


Everyone should be glad that there are people who are willing to fight city hall. A man’s home is his castle and the government should not have the right of entry into your home. Although city hall not only wants to enter your home but they want to charge you a fee to do it. That in itself shows you the extent of the abuse of power that they are attempting. Anymore it only seems that increases in fees and taxes is the primary concern of these folks. I guess they are fishing for any funds that they can get for all of the benefits and that enormous unfunded retirement package that they have. They are now up to $40 for a parking ticket, that’s a half days work for a local laborer. They want affordable housing for these folks well how about affordable fees, taxes and fines?


Forbid discrimination on the basis of “Income, inability or ability to own a home” What the Hell does that mean anyways? If I have a room to rent and someone shows up with no job and no money, am i legally required to rent to them?


Ability to pay (credit check) or willingness to pay is one of the only things you can use to determine whether or not to rent to someone. Sometimes it is not based on income but on how they do their finances. Doctors are notorious for making money but not keeping their own books well. Good credit means good payer.


No, of course you can select your tenants. The nondiscrimination requirement is against the CITY’S DISCRIMINATION, not yours. Read the actual text online, or if you’re a voter, in your ballot packet.


Come on now! Let’s use some common sense here…

What is usually used as a base line for the ability for a person to pay rent is the archaic (and found no where in the law) notion that rent should only take up 1/3 of their income. In SLO that means most of the work force that supports SLO cannot even qualify for the median priced rental (anywhere from $1,100 to $1,600 a month according to what study you choose to believe).

Here in Oregon, especially in Medford, there is a need for housing period. There are only enough rentals available to house 1% of those needing them. Also, charging whatever they want for deposits (I’ve seen pet deposits as high as $1,000.00 PER pet) is a huge obstacle.

Here’s the insidious thing though, and I wonder if it’s not occurring in California; property management firms are charging upwards of $50 for a background check, non-refundable by-the-way! It has been found that these PMF’s make more money in this market area by NOT renting properties while taking tons of applications for available rentals with the non-refundable background check charge. Win-win for them too! Don’t rent it, take fifteen or twenty applications a week without the inherent risk of what can happen to a rental. I have an acquaintance that is more than qualified without any problems in his past and to date he’s spent over $500.00 in non-refundable background checks without finding even a nibble.

No, you don’t have to rent a room to anyone you don’t want to (just be careful how you word who you would or wouldn’t rent to) and if you only rent to one person in the home you live in you’d come under California Civil Code Section 1946.5 “Single Family Lodger”.


The response to rescind the Rental Inspection Ordinance was overwhelming!!!

The added pork of your Anti Discrimination caveats,not so much:(

Why did Stew and his crony’s have to interject their personnel bent of a non issue into the mix, I guess they can’t help themselves:(

Looks like a change in dictatorial policies, long live the king!!!


The king is now the voters. It had been the city council and Lichtig.


“Why did Stew and his crony’s have to interject their personnel bent of a non issue into the mix, I guess they can’t help themselves:(”

Get your head out of the sand there Boldguy! That kind of shit happens DAILY in SLO town, I lived there remember? I was born there and I know for a fact just how prejudice on all things not WASP SLO can be.

Every time someone Hispanic is arrested the consensus before the fact(s) is of course he or she is from south of the border and a gang member! Every time anyone is arrested they are guilty! Anyone homeless is in that predicament by their own choosing! Anyone mentally ill isn’t really, they’re just playin’ the system! Anyone abused and or killed by the hands of your law enforcement agencies probably had it comin’! All of those things are based on prejudice, a “preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience”. To think that doesn’t flow over into your housing market is not only stupid but irresponsible.

Overpricing a rental, or the home for sale, so the common blue collar working class man or woman can’t afford to live in it is a form of discrimination that predominately affects those of color and is as insidious as what I described above! You got that?!!

Just fuckin’ build your POtuS type wall around your community and stop with the bullshit already, it’s gettin’ old!