California’s top legislative analysts: Measure V a death sentence for Humboldt’s low-income housing

Measure V, in THC’s opinion, is a well-meaning attempt to protect affordable housing for the elderly. And that’s great, because it’s sure becoming apparent that the powers that be aren’t keeping an eye out for them.

But in the long run – and especially when one considers the inefficacy of similar rent control policies elsewhere in California – it seems pretty certain that Measure V will accomplish the exact opposite of the intended goal.

Take THC’s go-to authority on the housing crisis in California, the Legislative Analysts Office (LAO). We’ll link you straight to their most relevant piece here: California’s High Housing Costs: Causes and Consequences.

But since it’s a Saturday and you’re probably aching to get to all those projects around the house while you’re cooped up in the rain, we’ll also summarize for you:

  • Housing in California is expensive as f***
  • Not building enough housing leads to a high demand and low supply of housing
  • Overly-burdensome construction and/or housing regulations (example: rent control!) means less people will build.
  • Rent controls, renter’s assistance, low-income housing subsidies benefit a very small portion of the California population, and doesn’t help vast numbers of Californian’s who struggle with housing costs.
  • Housing construction needs to increase in coastal areas (that’s us!)
  • Closing fact: California needs to build more housing – roughly 200,000 thousand units per year –  in order to meet demand and avert a total disaster.

Now, back to Measure V. Measure V is going to severely restrict people’s willingness and ability to build new mobile home parks (which, according to Measure V-er’s, provide around 10% of our area’s total housing) by making it financially unfeasible to do so. Why build anything if it’s going to be at a loss? Sure, it may save some folks from arguably* “unfair” rent increases. But the effects are short-sighted, and will cripple our area’s ability to provide low-income housing to others.

*We say arguably because from what we’ve read, the “unfair increase” claim is total bullshit – but we invite you to educate us.

So how would a measure which would severely limit, if not completely eliminate, the future construction of a critical affordable housing element in our County be beneficial for everyone? Well, surprise! It wouldn’t.

In fact, it would further discourage people from building such crucial housing developments than our local policies already do. Measure V is short-term half-measure that would benefit a pretty darn small number of Humboldt’s residents, while potentially jeopardizing the future of key low-income development in the future.

Measure V passes? Say good-bye to lots of low-income housing. Say hello to higher and higher housing costs for everyone, as well as continuing the trend of housing stagnation.

What it boils down to is that California – and Humboldt County – are in dire need of increasing available low-income housing. Measure V makes it even more certain that developers won’t have any incentive to provide it.

We know that we’ve told you all about the LAO’s position on rectifying the housing crisis in the past, but just in case, here is your very own refresher course on THC’s take on the LAO’s teachings:


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2 Responses to California’s top legislative analysts: Measure V a death sentence for Humboldt’s low-income housing

  1. Uri Driscoll says:

    You are right about how hard it is to build “affordable” housing at least here in Humboldt. The headaches are ridiculous. It costs $40K just to hook up new service to McVille sewer. That’s before any construction.
    Seems like the only “affordable ” housing is subsidized. We all know that is not sustainable.
    I am going to stick by measure V though because it does work for mobile home parks. People are still buying parks that have such controls so I don’t totally buy the argument that it is not profitable. I think it works because the house owners are themselves contributing significantly to their own homes leaving the park owners just the responsibility for the grounds.
    I think mobile home/tiny home parks are a good model for addressing housing needs. Regulation and permitting process’s need streamlining.


    • Doug Johnson says:

      Uri, I saw you once at a Arcata City Council meeting — you gave me your card when you were running for county supervisor. Why are you “sticking” with Measure V? Didn’t you read the Arcata Mobilehome Affordability Strategies Study that came out last month? It found that rent control is not only ineffective and costly, but that it actually harms the neediest residents among us. If every voter goes to and reads the independent study in full, they will Vote NO on Measure V.

      Below are just a few direct quotes taken from the study:

      “The private market has maintained rents consistent with or below inflation.”

      “For cities that do not have in‐house counsel, such as Arcata, the cost of litigation has been tremendous.”

      “Very‐low and extremely low income individuals would benefit more from a rental assistance program, long‐term lease, MOU, or government rental subsidy.”

      “Rent stabilization ordinances are not means‐tested, meaning that all mobilehome owners benefit regardless of economic need.”

      “The City should work with public and private partners to develop a rental assistance program to aid those in greatest need.”


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