November Editorial: The High Cost of Regulation

Written By: President Jeff Carlton
Published: November 4, 2019

Recently, the California Legislature passed bill AB 1482 and Governor Newsom promptly signed it into law, establishing rent control for all of California. Once the law is in effect on January 1, the state will begin to regulate how much Californians’ rent can increase every year, limiting it to 5 percent, plus the local rate of inflation.  Rent control will be applied mostly to apartments and other multi-family buildings—with some exceptions—along with some single-family homes. Condos and single-family homes will be exempt unless owned by a corporation or real estate investment trust. Duplexes, where the owner lives in one of the units, will also be exempt.

How will this recent legislation impact agriculture?

First, some background information. Directed by the State Water Board, the Regional Water Board passed new regulations regarding TMDL’s (Total Maximum Daily Loads) for pathogens in the Russian River Watershed and the Petaluma River Watershed is next on the list. This will impact any parcel within 600 feet of the mainstream or any tributary, which is expected to be over 7,000 parcels. The regulations include runoff monitoring and costly septic upgrades depending on whether or not you’re impacting a waterway.

The main problem lies along the lower mainstream of the Russian River where there is a high concentration of houses and septic systems. Many of those homes are rentals. So, who pays for the increased costs? Is the owner supposed to just eat it? Just like other numerous things in life, costs must be passed on. How can they be passed on if there is rent control?

When it comes to taxes, fees, regulations, or labor, a farmer or rancher cannot be expected to absorb each and every cost. It baffles me that every time a politician in Sacramento questions the high cost of living here, they never look to themselves as a source for many of the high costs.

Too often, unelected bureaucrats overreach and create regulations that are far too costly and unnecessary. Farm Bureau was at the table and had a positive impact on the countywide on-site water treatment systems to determine the impacts. Farm Bureau will also be at the table for the TMDL’s as well. As past president Bob Muelrath would tell me, “Anyone who has a well or septic system should be a Farm Bureau member.” For all of us who are members, it is important for us to communicate the benefits of Farm Bureau membership to our friends and colleagues who are not.

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