real estate and property management consultants

Articles & Reports

 

Michael St. John writes occasionally for the Berkeley Property Owners Association Newsletter and for the WMA Reporter. He also prepares reports and gives talks to owners' groups about rent control. A few of Michael's articles and reports are included below:

 

  • "Balanced Space Rent Guidelines" is a comprehensive statement about justifiable space rent increase rules for communities with mobilehome space rent control. read on...
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  • "Achieving Space Rent Increases under Mobilehome Rent Control" sets out the strategy most likely to be successful in achieving maximum space rent increases in rent controlled jurisdictions. read on...
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  • "The Distributional Impact of Restrictive Rent Control Programs in Berkeley and Santa Monica, California" is a paper reporting on research using 1980 and 1990 Census data to examine the demographic impacts of the restrictive rent control programs in effect in Berkeley and Santa Monica, California throughout the 1980's. read on...
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  • "Rent Control 101" is the outline accompanying a 2009 lecture series on Berkeley's rent control program. For the stories that make these notes come alive, one has to attend the lectures. read on...
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  • "Marina Mobile Home Report" is a report commissioned by the Marina City Council on the mobilehome market and mobilehome residents in the City of Marina. read on...
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  • "Balanced Housing - A Proposal" is a policy piece suggesting that the housing mix in Berkeley is out of balance - that there should be more owner-occupied housing and relatively less rental housing. Berkeley's current housing policies push to widen the gap between rental housing and owner-occupied housing, to the detriment of the community and of renters themselves. read on...
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  • "Time for A Paradigm Shift" talks about Berkeley's condominium policy. The City's housing policies have for several decades favored low-income tenants. What is needed today, in contrast, is ownership housing for middle-income residents. One way to achieve this shift is to allow condominium conversion of the rental housing stock.
    read on...
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  • "Council Considers Condominium Conversion Policy" highlights the root issues behind the debate on condominium conversion and the genesis of the major change crafted by the City Council in May, 2005. read on...
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  • "The Sublet Issue and the Cobb Decision" is another Berkeley-only article. This one gives the background behind the strange rule that "replacement tenants" must be the subtenants of the "original tenants" if owners' rights to vacancy decontrol are to be preserved. read on...

     

  • "A New Window Is Opening" is an economist's take on Berkeley's decision to allow conversion of limited numbers of rental units to condominiums. read on...
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  • "Market Downturn - The End Is In Sight" reflects on the 2002-2005 dip in market rents in Berkeley - a mainly local phenomenon having to do with the end of restrictive rent control in 1999 and the end of the dot-com boom. read on...
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  • "Can Nothing Be Done About Low Rents?" discusses the current situation under Berkeley rent control, where some 25% of the units are still under "old style" rent control, whereas most units are now close to market because of the impact of vacancy decontrol. read on...
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  • "Getting Reimbursement for Capital Improvements" describes the manner in which Berkeley rent control handles (some would say "denies") reimbursement for capital improvement projects. read on...
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  • "Fair Return and the California Courts" is a report on the concept "fair return on investment" as articulated in rent control ordinances and as handled in practice in California rent control jurisdictions. The report brings an economist's perspective to the topic, clarifying the relationships between inflation, property value, and fair return. A hands-on, practical tool, the report informs administrators and policy makers about those applications that make economic sense and those that don't. The report clears the confusion surrounding these topics and puts to rest several myths about investments in real estate. The report is amply documented from California case law. (145 pages) read on...
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  • "Rent Control in Perspective - Impacts on Citizens and Housing in Berkeley and Santa Monica Twelve Years Later (August, 1993)" is the report on a major, Census-based study that compared Berkeley and Santa Monica - two cities that had similarly restrictive rent control programs from 1980 through 1990 - with ten northern and ten southern California cities of roughly similar size. The study found that these programs were associated with a reduction in the stock of rental housing of 14% in Berkeley and 8% in Santa Monica. In contrast, no comparison city lost rental housing. There were also, in Berkeley and Santa Monica, significant reductions in the numbers of persons and households in the subgroups targeted for assistance by those cities' housing policies: low income households, college students, elderly persons, families with children, and disabled persons. In contrast, the numbers and percentages of persons and households in these groups grew during the 1980s in most of the comparison cities. The report concludes that restrictive rent control programs create tight and shrinking rental housing markets in which economically advantaged persons and households succeed more consistently than disadvantaged persons and households in securing controlled rental housing and the subsidy that accompanies it. It appears to be the case that rent control, paradoxically, contributes to accelerated gentrification of host communities. (432 pages in two volumes) read on...

 

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St. John & Associates

BERKELEY

2115 West Street

Berkeley, CA 94702-1947

510.845.8928

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MENDOCINO

P.O. Box 338

Mendocino, CA 95460-0338

707.937.3711

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Fax 510.845.1813

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