Legislative Day in Sacramento called a success

When it comes to supporting professionals in the rental housing industry, the San Diego County Apartment Association’s advocacy work is never done, whether it’s in our nation’s capital, state capital or closer to home.

After a productive trip in March to Washington, D.C., SDCAA headed to Sacramento in April for our annual Legislative Day, which was very successful.

SDCAA warmed up for the big lobbying day by hosting a well-attended reception April 8 for San Diego legislators. Our 14 SDCAA representatives got to know San Diego’s representatives at the Capitol in a relaxed setting.

The next day, SDCAA representatives held meetings at all of the offices in our region’s legislative delegation and with consultants to Assembly and Senate committees that often handle rental-housing industry legislation.

We were fortunate to have most of our meetings directly with lawmakers — including Sen. Mark Wyland and Assembly members Lorena Gonzalez, Rocky Chavez, Shirley Weber and Brian Jones — rather than only their staff members.

At back-to-back meetings we discussed several issues facing the Legislature that are of interest to SDCAA members. We also focused on issues beyond our region that can affect the entire rental housing industry.

We also arranged meetings with key committee consultants — staff members who review and write the analysis of bills for their respective committees. These worthwhile consultant meetings were a first for an SDCAA lobbying day.

We tackled several crucial bills, particularly legislation that affects the homeowners’ exemption and renters’ credit, the Ellis Act, and parcel taxes.

We support Assembly Bill 2097, which would amend the tax code to increase the homeowners’ exemption from $7,000 to $20,000 of the full value of a dwelling. Why does that matter to renters?

The state Constitution says that the legislature must provide a comparable increase in benefits to qualified renters, whenever the homeowners’ property tax exemption is raised. The qualified renters’ credit would jump from $120 to $340 for married couples, heads of households, and surviving spouses if their adjusted gross income is $50,000 or less.

We have our eyes on two measures, AB 1439 and AB 2405, which would weaken the Ellis Act. While the Ellis Act legislation is intended to address issues in San Francisco, SDCAA opposes the related measures because they can establish a dangerous precedent that would make it very difficult for rental housing owners to avoid bankruptcy by converting their rental units to for-sale units. This is a property-rights issue, and its aftershock would be bad news for all of the rental housing industry.

SDCAA representatives were fortunate to be present for AB 1439’s hearing in the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, where we continued to stress our opposition. While the measure unfortunately passed in committee, we are pleased to report that our voice was heard with San Diego-area Sens. Wyland and Ben Hueso, who did not support the bill. The battle is not over, as AB 1439 faces another Senate committee.

Another measure that we are working to protect our members from is SB 1021, which would create a “split roll” for parcel taxes imposed by school districts. Under a split roll, not all properties on the assessment roll are treated equally — businesses may be forced to pay property taxes at a rate higher than the rate imposed on homeowners. While this legislation passed in committee, SDCAA representatives will continue to educate lawmakers as the debate approaches the whole Senate.

SDCAA representatives saw a productive lobbying session during our time in Sacramento, promoting and protecting the interests of the rental housing industry. Our timing was crucial, because now legislators’ pace will increase dramatically as bill and budget deadlines approach. That means, too, that our work didn’t end in Sacramento — and is far from over.

Pentico is executive director of the San Diego County Apartment Association.

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