San Luis Obispo voters have rejected an effort to permanently bar the city from establishing a rental housing inspection program. According to preliminary election night results, Measure B-17 was defeated by a wide margin: 71 percent of voters said no, with 29 percent voting in favor of the initiative.
Measure B-17 asked San Luis Obispo voters to repeal the city’s already-defunct rental housing inspection program (RHIP) and replace it with an ordinance preventing mandatory inspection programs in the future without voter approval. Despite the city council voting unanimously to end the existing program in May, county officials were required to hold the special election because the citizen-led initiative process was already underway at that point.
Proponents claimed city-mandated inspection programs are unconstitutional and cause rent increases.
“By voting yes, we can reduce skyrocketing rent increases. The ‘Rental Housing Inspection’ ordinance’s expensive registration and inspection fees would otherwise be passed by landlords on to tenants,” read the argument in favor of B-17. “False fears peddling the ‘dangers’ of treating all people with equal dignity collapse under the weight of the opponents’ own tortured reasoning. The city’s desire to raise revenue never justifies unconstitutional ordinances."
Opponents of the measure said it was misleading and harmful to existing affordable housing programs.
“This ordinance would dismantle any hope of affordable housing programs in SLO. This may not have been the intent, but it will most certainly be the result,” said opponents of the measure. “The writers of this ordinance will argue that it “locks’ into place the end of the RHIP. But the RHIP is already dead and gone, we already have anti-discrimination protections, and this ordinance could instead kill off all the city’s housing programs. If you think San Luis Obispo is expensive now, wait until these programs are taken away.”
The county's election office sent out over 28,000 ballots in late July. As of Tuesday night, 7,160 ballots were returned and counted. An update to preliminary results is expected Thursday, and official election results posted by late next week, said San Luis Obispo election official Tommy Gong.