By Rafael Bautista / San Diego Tenants United
San Diego is the fourth most expensive city in the United States. It is considered the second worst city for renters in the country and it is the largest city in California without rent control. Rents are increasing four times faster than incomes and the economic downturn actually created an upward spike in rental prices. According to Rent Jungle, as of March 2017, one bedroom apartments in San Diego rent for $1771/month on average and two bedroom apartment rents average $2197/month.
One full time minimum wage worker can’t even pay rent with their entire, pre-tax, monthly income. Thus, in America’s Finest City, two incomes are needed to live a life of mere subsistence. The truth is that too many working people are only one to two pay checks from being homeless. High rents, low incomes, a housing shortage and substandard living conditions are part of the 12 year housing crisis and the explosion in our homeless population.
Displacement and gentrification in District 4, District 8 and District 9 — aka “affordable” communities — is taking place at alarming rates. The economic depression and the foreclosure era turned San Diego into a city of renters. Many tenants’ lives are impacted or controlled by landlords and some slumlords. Whether it’s through neglect or other displacement tactics, such as untenable rent hikes and intimidation, a few wealthy landlords are abusing San Diego tenants, our neighbors. Tenants are treated as cash cows by corporations and other capitalist slumlords.
San Diego’s top 20 corporate landlords own nearly a third of all apartment rentals. In Linda Vista, slumlord Michael Contreras is an example of a system that gives all the control to the owner. He is a licensed real estate broker, making much of his behavior unethical. From ignoring multiple live mold infestations and leaks to employing physical intimidation via his managers he has also employed direct retaliation against tenants who organize and complain.
He attempted to increase rents for at least 12 tenants and their families at the Parkview Apartments, which also apply to Astro Vista Apartments, two of the several large complexes that MC Properties own and manage. He hikes rents $500/mo on families that he knows could never afford it. The Apartment Management Association (AMA) is fighting to allow these types of abuses to continue and City Council will not stop them because the AMA is too powerful.
Incessant organizing, protesting and marching forced MC Properties to make changes.
The only way to stop fascists and abusive capitalists is through direct actions of resistance. Mass direct actions aimed at the heart of the capitalist beast. We must come together to fight for Rent Control and for a better future for all San Diego residents. We have witnessed recent Rent Control victories in Northern CA and wish to replicate them in an effort to begin to solving this 12 year issue.
Building more units will not work, alone. We need to stop the 8 percent average rent increases, unless we are ready to increase incomes by the same rate or higher. Sign the petition for Rent Control and support the campaign for Rent Control in San Diego.