The Great Vacancy Rate Debate – California News

The Great Vacancy Rate Debate – California News

Paul Wellman

Tenant advocate Frank Rodriguez frequently crossed swords with landlord representative Laura Bode over the size and scope of Santa Barbara’s housing woes.

Landlords Ask: What Housing Crisis?

Precious little ground was gained last Thursday in the inaugural effort of a new landlord-tenant task force convened to address Santa Barbara’s housing crisis. The group, in fact, barely made it out of the starting gate, with the landlords demanding more accurate information about vacancy and eviction rates, and suggesting the problem itself is far less severe than the public has been led to believe.

City-appointed mediator John Jostes, a former planning commissioner who’s successfully brokered peace agreements at the regional and national levels, began the meeting hosted at the Franklin Center by attempting to adopt a general problem statement for all parties to agree on: rents are high, the vacancy rate is low, and tenants are being evicted with increasing frequency. That’s where the discussion stalled.

Laura Bode, director of the Santa Barbara Rental Property Association, who spoke most frequently and vociferously on behalf of landlords, interjected that the 0.6 percent vacancy rate cited by Jostes was inaccurate. She insisted that the figure was closer to 3.5 percent but declined to name her source. “We need facts,” Bode said…

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