Many state that they have never seen Pacifica more politically divided than it’s been during the past few months. “Yes on C” or “No on C” signs have taken over the city, and can be found everywhere from Sharp Park Road, Highway 1, Manor Drive, to Linda Mar Boulevard. These campaigns have even colonized our YouTube advertisements. So it begs the question: what is Measure C?
To sum it up in two words: rent control.
Affordable housing has always been an issue in the Bay Area, but in the last ten years it has come to the point that individuals and their families have been displaced due to the unpredictable and unexpected rent increases. The situation is no different in Pacifica.
Daniel Saver, a senior staff attorney of the housing program at Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, described Pacifica’s situation as a place where “corporate landlords and outside real estate come into town, purchase buildings, and evict the tenants.” He explained that for several years now, Pacifica has seen renters experience massive rent increases as severe as a $300 increase or a $600 increase all at once, which for many families is the equivalent of an eviction notice.
Unfortunately, the effects Mr. Saver described are very much relevant to people who are part of our school community as well. One OHS student described how their family has been forced to move over four times in the past few years because of rent increases. When asked on how this made them feel, they said, “It makes me feel angry to know how so many people choose to ignore the wellbeing of families and how some apartment owners choose to ignore the disproportion between the way people’s salaries have risen and the way rent has risen. So even though my mother works from 3 in morning to 7 in the evening to make that rent, even with me working right now, it’s frustrating to know that one day it won’t be enough.”
This where Measure C comes in.
According to the official document of Measure C (will be linked at the end of this article), Measure C is an ordinance created by Pacifica’s city attorney to promote rent stability and affordability for renters in Pacifica by “controlling excessive rent increases and protecting tenants from arbitrary, discriminatory or retaliatory evictions.” Additionally, Measure C only applies to apartments in Pacifica that have at least 3 units and were built before 1995.
This ordinance is to be voted on by the citizens of Pacifica on November 7th, 2017. It has been estimated by the city that if this ordinance passes, it will protect over 2200 units in Pacifica– units that consist of your families, neighbors, teachers, classmates or even the person sitting next to you.
Another thing that is important to clear up is how Measure C will be paid for. First and foremost Measure C is NOT a tax. A few weeks ago, the City of Pacifica created an FAQ page on their website, regarding Measure C, in order to clear up any misconceptions of this ordinance, one them being that Measure C is not a tax. They also confirm it will not cost 2 million dollars. It will be completely cost-neutral to the city meaning that the city does not have to pay anything for Measure C. Instead, this measure will be paid for by a fee that apartment owners pass down to their tenants, calculated to be $19 per month. However, an additional $6 will be implemented in the first year to help with the start up costs.
In an interview with Ambika Nuggihalli, an Oceana High student, she said that despite having parents who are apartment owners, she is for Measure C: “I believe housing is a human right, and everyone deserves it, and if we [her family] get less money for it, then so be it. Rents need to be affordable and equitable to all.”
Now that you know what Measure C is, it is important to discuss how it will impact our school.
According to Suzanne Moore, long time Pacifica Resident and coordinator of the Fair Rents 4 Pacifica Team, since 2008, the Pacifica School District lost over 1000 students due to affordable housing issues. And while there is no known statistic of Oceana yet, it is absolutely pertinent to recognize that our school’s funding depends on the number of students who go to school here. And if students and their families move away due to high, unpredictable rent increases, it will lead to a decline in enrollment rate, which will ultimately lead to a decline in our school’s funding. And anybody who goes to Oceana can without a doubt say that we cannot afford to lose anymore of it.
A statement from an Oceana High School teacher further illustrates the effects on both students and teachers by saying that “with teachers being displaced, students are left without qualified educators. Students would have inconsistencies with what they’re learning. Students would not be learning what they’re supposed to be learning and it would just cause a lot of problems.”
It is essential to understand that Measure C isn’t just any other piece of legislation but that the outcome of this Measure will ultimately have a direct or an indirect effect on the lives of the people who live here, who go to school here, who work here, and who are a part of this school community. A wise man once said that when talking about social issues, “it is fairly easy to talk about the numbers and the statistics, but once you put a human face on the issue, especially a face you know, it is a completely different story.” And Measure C is no exception.
The full, official and complete text of Measure C:
FAQ Page on the City Of Pacifica Website: