PROPERTY RIGHTS? WHOSE PROPERTY RIGHTS? | Libertarian Party of San Francisco


Legislation being approved by the current San Francisco Board of Supervisors should prompt property owners to ask themselves, “Who owns this building anyway?!”  Owners of residential rental property wouldGodessofProgress need to add a couple more question marks and exclamation points to that question.

District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim’s latest salvo, Eviction Protections 2.0 (Ordinance 171-5) was approved by the Board of Supervisors on September 29, 2015.  This amendment to San Francisco’s Administrative Code aims to “1) prohibit, with certain exceptions, rent increases based on the addition of occupants even where a pre-existing rental agreement or lease permits such an increase; 2) prevent evictions based on the addition of occupants if the landlord has unreasonably refused the tenant's written request, including a refusal based on the amount of occupants allowed by the rental agreement or lease; 3) require landlords, after certain vacancies, to set the new base rent for the next five years as the lawful rent in effect at the time of the vacancy.”  

By way of emphasis, we repeat, “…even where a pre-existing rental agreement or lease permits such an increase.”  Clearly, government’s traditional role of enforcing contracts freely entered between willing parties has disappeared into the rabbit hole of collectivism.

San Francisco embodies the soul of progressive politics and attracts new denizens comfortable with shared ownership.  Residents of all political stripes seem to have accepted that The City suffers from a housing shortage that simply grew like Topsy and cannot be remedied by the natural price mechanism.  Therefore, the economic concept of private property implied in the United States Constitution has given way to property as the divine right of Kings – the Board of Supervisors doles out to you certain property rights it chooses to dole out. 

Here is a good interpretation of the economic concept of private property vs. the notion of government doling out property rights.  

“The economic concept of private property refers to the rights owners have to the exclusive use and disposal of a physical object. Property is not a table, a chair, or an acre of land. It is the bundle of rights which the owner is entitled to employ those objects. The alternative (collectivist) view is that private property consists merely of a legal deed to an object with the use and disposal of the object subject to the whims and mercies of the state. Under this latter view, the state retains ownership and may at any time regulate or even repossess the property it temporarily cedes to individuals.

The Founding Fathers upheld the economic view of property. They believed that private property ownership, as defined under common law, pre-existed government. The state and federal governments were the mere contractual agents of the people, not sovereign lords over them. All rights, not specifically delegated to the government, remained with the people–including the common-law provisions of private property…

Prior to the rise of the English Whigs, the 'divine right of kings' had held that all rights, liberties, and properties actually belonged to the king. The king merely permitted his subjects to use their possessions. The king, however, might regulate the use or even seize these possessions outright at his whim. The people had no claims or rights which could be exercised against the sovereign. Their possessions were at the mercy of the government.”

Libertarian Party of San Francisco Chair Aubrey Freedman attended the Rent Board public hearing of November 10, 2015.  His testimony before the Board echoed that of many of the property owners in the room.  He would simply remove his property from the rental market if the forced addition of roommates ever came up in his case.