About St. John & Associates
After working for several years for the federal government in Washington, D.C. and for several more as a general contractor here in California, Michael St. John was appointed to the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board in 1981 by city council member Leo Bach – an appointment, as it turned out, that has defined his career ever since. Michael served on the Board for two years, developing a reputation as a strong advocate for basic fairness in the application of the law. During his tenure on the Board, Michael served as chairperson of the Annual General Adjustment and Individual Rent Adjustment committees and began investigations into the economic basis for rent control. Those investigations led to a doctoral dissertation (“The Impact of Rent Control on Property Value”) and several articles and reports on the impact of rent control on property owners, tenants, and communities.
After leaving the Board in 1983, Michael began consulting with Berkeley property owners on rent control topics. He has pursued this course ever since, supported by his partner Maria Teresa Alvarez. Together, in 1985, they established St. John & Associates - Berkeley’s first and most comprehensive property management consulting business. Thereafter, Michael received his doctorate in economics at UC Berkeley, developed expertise in mobile home park rent control, and has served as an expert witness in rent control cases in jurisdictions throughout California. Maria Teresa is a certified residential property manager, a bookkeeper, our research assistant, and specializes in preparing condominium conversion applications.
In 1993 Michael authored a report on the socioeconomic impacts of rent control based on 1990 Census data. This report "Rent Control in Perspective: Impacts on Citizens and Housing in Berkeley and Santa Monica Twelve Years Later" has been credited with contributing to the 1995 decision of the California State Legislature to allow vacancy decontrol statewide. He is also the author of “Fair Return and the California Courts”, a study of the principle of fair return as it has been applied in residential and mobile home rent control cases in California.
Observing over the years that landlord-tenant disputes are often unnecessarily acrimonious, based more on how people treat each other than on actual harms, Michael has turned his attention to ways that landlord-tenant and other interactions can become more peaceful and less costly emotionally and financially. This intention led to training in NonViolent Communication (NVC), to the Mediate Your Life program based on the principles of NVC, and to formal mediation training with RECOURSE Mediation Services. Michael is now a volunteer mediator with RECOURSE and offers mediation as part of his consulting work.
St. John & Associates' mission is to bring basic fairness to the highly regulated field of housing. We believe that all participants deserve to be treated with respect, and that the dignity of all participants should be preserved even when the topics are contentious and the issues difficult to resolve. We believe that the outcomes that flow from restrictive housing regulations are not obvious on the surface, that self-interest is likely to color the positions people adopt, and that a collaborative approach is more likely to serve the best interests of both parties than formal, conflict-based adjudication.
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St. John & Associates
2115 West Street
Berkeley, CA 94702-1947
P.O. Box 338
Mendocino, CA 95460-0338