Measure M Will Support Local Business

Measure M Will Support Local Business

November 2, 2018

I am a lifelong resident of Santa Cruz, a downtown business owner, and I support rent control. I have watched the cost of housing soar, and I have seen firsthand—as many of us have—the effects this has had on family, friends, and the community. I am now seeing the effects of this unprecedented rise in housing costs on local business.I have owned and operated Metavinyl Records for over five years. About the time I took over the business, I also moved into a two-bedroom home on the Westside. Fortunately, I am in the minority of renters who have not seen their rent increased over the past five years, a period that has seen the average price of rentals go up a staggering 52 percent. Paying stable, consistent rent—like Measure M will ensure—has allowed me to remain a part of my community, provide a safe and stable home for my son, cultivate a backyard garden (along with the other small but important things that make up one’s life), and to continue to run a local business that would not have been able to keep up with the rapidly rising cost of housing. Other local business owners are in a similar position.

Many of us depend on stability in our personal finances to ride what are sometimes razor thin margins. Sensible rent control like Measure M will provide protections to business owners that will allow us to keep our doors open and continue to offer goods and services that benefit the community and give Santa Cruz its culture and character.  Rent control will benefit customers. I often see customers stack up records only to put some back. I see them put records on hold until payday, and when the first of the month comes, others will sell back records to make rent. Many of my customers are struggling, and the number one financial complaint I hear from them is the cost of rent and the often-impossible challenge of finding suitable housing in their budget.

I wonder what it would be like if rent control were enacted five years ago, when the average $1,520-a-month unit still only cost $1,000 a month. How would this extra disposable income have been spent? For my regular customers, a large share of it would without a doubt be spent on records. And the rest? Perhaps they would buy that new pair of shoes they have been needing, go out for food and drinks more often, and in general infuse the local economy with disposable income and help the downtown and broader Santa Cruz business communities thrive.Instead, landlords continue to take advantage of market conditions to extract the highest possible rents and in so doing act as a siphon to deprive renters and the local economy of what would be disposable income. Property owners, property management companies, and real estate associations know that they stand to make millions from our community’s working-class renters, and this is why they have raised over $750,000 to oppose rent control in our city.The cost of rent further restricts the growth and success of local business by raising the livable wage of employees. I currently employ four people that work one or fewer shifts per week. My employees are all either full-time students or have other full-time employment that they rely on to pay their bills. I have to be my own full-time employee.I would love to expand my business with additional full-time employees, but with uncontrolled rents driving up the cost of living—and the cost of labor along with it—I am unable to do so.Measure M will provide immediate protections and relief for thousands of renters—business owners, employees, and customers alike—and it will provide long-term benefits that will strengthen our community and see local business flourish.

I would love to expand my business with additional full-time employees, but with uncontrolled rents driving up the cost of living—and the cost of labor along with it—I am unable to do so. Measure M will provide immediate protections and relief for thousands of renters—business owners, employees, and customers alike—and it will provide long-term benefits that will strengthen our community and see local business flourish.

Paul Speraw
Owner of Metavinyl

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