I do some work for No on 98. The Field Poll (PDF) on the statewise propositions came out this morning. Prop 98 is down 33% Yes-43%No, while Prop 99 is up 48% Yes, 30% No. The splits across almost every line oppose Prop 98. Homeowners, renters, poll voters, mail voters all oppose Prop 98. The exception? Why, it is Republicans and conservatives, of course.
However, given the variability of turnout for the election next Tuesday, nothing is certain. From Janis Hiroshima of the League of Women Voters:
Despite the millions being spent on deceptive ads, the numbers show voters are smarter than the landlords think. They are rejecting Prop. 98 as a landlord scheme and supporting real eminent domain reform in Prop. 99. Our focus now is on making sure all these people actually vote on Tuesday.
Turnout is important for these statewide initiatives as well as local races. You can be sure the streets of areas with contested primaries will be flooded with canvassers and visibility operations. I'm sure the tenant activists will be out in force.
UPDATE: The Capitol Weekly has a story about Thomas Coates dropping about a million into the Yes on 98 campaign. Coates is a real estate investor who would dearly love to reap the windfall that he would see if rent control were eliminated. The landlords certainly don't think this is over.
UPDATE 2: Video of LA Protest at Apartment Association of Greater LA over the flip.
PPIC unleashed their latest statewide survey late last night, and the numbers are showing improvement for the progressive positions on a number of issues. Prop 98 is going down 37-41, and 99 is up 53-27, and both Democratic nominees are beating McCain. But for this post, I’ll focus on revenue:
Nearly all Californians (94%) see the state budget situation as at least somewhat of a problem today. With the reality of state spending cuts hitting home, concern about the effects has grown dramatically. Today, 56 percent of Californians say they are very concerned about the effects of spending reductions in the governor’s budget plan, up 20 points since January (36%).
The upshot is that Californians are now apparently more willing to consider tax increases as part of a solution to the budget crisis. When asked how they would most prefer to deal with the state’s budget gap, 42 percent of Californians choose a mix of spending cuts and tax increases, up from 36 percent in December. And fewer seem to view spending cuts alone as an option (down from 42% in December to 30% today). Democrats and Republicans remain wide apart on budget solutions-but they have edged closer. Most significantly, Republicans today are less likely than in December to support dealing with the budget gap mostly through spending cuts (down from 61% in December to 50% today) and are more likely to support a mix of spending cuts and tax increases (up from 25% to 35%). One thing all sides can agree on? Majorities of Democrats (66%), independents (67%), and Republicans (69%) believe major changes are needed in California’s budget process.
I added the emphasis there. Just 30% percent of Californians think that we should deal with our budget deficit through cuts alone, and even half of Republicans think that we should be looking at revenue increases. Yet the Republicans continue to fight for the privileges of yacht owners, or oil companies, or other large corporate interests over what is best for Californians. These numbers bear out the fact that the GOP delegation in the legislature no longer represents their constituents. They represent the Club for Growth. They represent the corpse of Howard Jarvis, but they do not represent real, hard-working Californians.
Flip it, please.
Another number that jumps out at you there is the strong support for budget reform. Now, there’s a loaded question if I ever heard one. To Entitled McClintock and his ilk, that means that the legislature should have less power over how to deal with the finances, and letting a minority of the state thwart the democratically elected representatives of the people. While he’s busy taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from the state to make sure his Ventura Cty. gardens are well maintained and attacking the Governator for his mathematics abilities, he’s still got plenty of ideas on how to “fix” the budget on his blog. But, McClintock’s ideas are out of touch with the sentiments of Californians. Californians want their state government to be responsive, rather than endlessly debate the revenue problems without doing anything. Why do 63% of Californians think that the state is run by a few big interests? Probably because they only need a small minority to block the passage of the budget. It’s just too easy for the Chamber, and the HJTAs (Howard Jarvis Tax Association) of the world.
The ABC affiliate in SF did a story about one of the mobile home parks in San Rafael tripling rates after San Rafael’s rent control ordinance was overturned. You can view the story here. Unsurprisingly, the landowner, Sam Zell’s Equity Lifestyle immediately almost tripled the rents at the Contempo mobile home park. The decision itself is probably bad law as other courts have found rent control to be a valid exercise of a city’s power, but that doesn’t change the consequences for many of Contempo’s residents.
If we Prop 98 passes, the advocates say, the old tenants will be grandfathered in. That’s true, but only so long as they stay in the house. In addition to permanent vacancy decontrol, Prop 98 eliminates much of the protections against evictions. So, landlords can just evict long-standing tenants and rent the unit at the higher market rents and poof there goes rent control for those renters. We can see how this traumatizes a community, just for the sake of a few landlords.
As I said Monday, June will be a low turnout election. We need to make sure the progressive voters turnout to save rent control and tenant protections.
UPDATE: I neglected to include information about the case. It is MHC Financing Limited Partnership v. City of San Rafael. Apparently MHC likes to challenge rent control in California, as they also challenged the City of Santee’s rent control ordinance. The Court of Appeal for the fourth district overturned a trial court decision striking down Santee’s rent control ordinance. But, MHC did not give up. Nope, they sued San Rafael too, and won in the trial court. Now let’s see if they can get the federal circurit court to agree with them too. If so, it would be a disaster for tenant rights.
The Yes on Prop 98 released their financial data, and not a lot of shockers in there. Guess who is financing the campaign. Really, guess, because I’ll bet you will get it right.
If you guessed landlords, you get a gold star! Good job! The Yes on 98 campaign loves to talk about how it’s all ’bout eminent domain, and destroying tenants rights is just a happy coincidence. It’s funny how the money never lies: Prop 98 is all about ending rent control and tenants rights. Of the approximately $2.7 million raised for Yes on 98, almost $2.2 comes from landlords. 83%! A quick breakdown of where that’s coming from, and you can see that the apartment and mobile home park owners really, really want to see the end of rent control:
$1,009,918 from apartment owner interests, including $291,329 from the Apartment Owners Association PAC, $183,450 from individual apartment owners and managers, $124,164 from local apartment association organizations and PACs and $410,974 from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. The Jarvis Association has long historical ties to apartment owner interests, including three current board members with direct ties to the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles.
$1,252,852 from mobile home park owner interests, including $1,006,832 from individual mobile home park owners, $204,020 from the Western Manufactured Housing Communities Issues PAC, and $42,000 from the Manufactured Housing Education Trust.
These landlord interests are betting tenants and pro-tenant voters won’t bother to show up at the June primary. Heck, Jon Coupal, head of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, aka the Prop 13 people, out and out says it at one of their meetings that I found a clip of online. We have to make sure that every progressive voter in SF, LA, and the rest of the tenant-heavy communities shows up and votes on June 3 (or before by using their VBM ballot). Check about 50 seconds into the clip where he talks about the “other good thing”. Yup, for conservatives, low turnout is always a good thing. We simply cannot have Prop 98 passing for a litany of reasons, many of which have been spoken here before. But, just in case, here are some links here, here, here, and here.
I don’t often get to praise the CA Chamber of Commerce, but today is that lucky day. The California Chamber of Commerce has voted to go NO on the landlord scheme, Prop 98. Prop 98 eliminates rent control, other protections for renters, and could harm our ability to protect our environment.
Given that the main supporters of this initiative has been the nutso Howard Jarvis Association, which actively campaigned for Prop 98 at the CRP convention, this endorsement should eat into the Republican support for Prop 98. While the Chamber stayed neutral on Prop 99, the coalition against Prop 98 and for Prop 99 has grown further.
Check the flip for the full list.
UPDATE: Also, I hear some folks will be picketing an Apartment owners meeting in Oakland this morning. You want to join them? I’m sure it will be a rocking good time. Dean Preston of Tenants Together will be joined by leaders for seniors and other tenants groups. Political blotter link here.
Dozens of seniors, tenants and community rights activists from Oakland/Bay Area will protest and march outside the Rental Housing Association of Northern Alameda County (RHA) convention on Saturday, March 15 at 11:00AM, 4700 Lincoln Ave, Oakland (in front of Greek Orthodox Church on the sidewalk.)
* California Chamber of Commerce (only oppose Prop. 98)
* San Marcos Chamber of Commerce
* California National Organization for Women (only oppose Prop. 98)
* Strategic Actions for a Just Economy
* National Lawyers Guild – Los Angeles Chapter
* Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) – Southern California Chapter
* Endangered Habitats League
* Progressive Jewish Alliance
* People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER)
* Homeowners Acting Together H.A.T.
* South Asian Network
* Sonoma County Mobilehome Owners Association
* St. Peter’s Housing Committee
* Los Rancheros Association, Inc.
* County Mobilehome Positive Action Committee
* San Marcos Mobilehome Residents Association
* Mountain Springs Homeowners Association
* San Rafael Mobile Home Estates Homeowners Association
A while back, I mentioned a lawsuit against AG Jerry Brown regarding the ballot title for prop 98, “EMINENT DOMAIN. LIMITS ON GOVERNMENT AUTHORITY.” You see, that really doesn’t clearly articulate what Prop 98 does. But, let’s just think about the amount of people this actually impacts. Eminent domain? A few hundred per year. Rent Control? Several hundred thousand.
So which one should be in the ballot title? Hmmm. Nonetheless, the judge ruled that Brown, while perhaps wrong, didn’t actually overstep his authority. Under the law, being wrong isn’t enough, but rather you must be super-wrong. So wrong that you didn’t have authority to be that wrong. So, when you get that June ballot in the mail, for prop 98 it will say “Eminent Domain. Limits on Government Authority.” despite the fact that it will impact far more people through its rent control provisions than through eminent domain.
You know, the thing that I don’t get here is why Brown wouldn’t include it. After all, it’s pretty clear he has designs on reliving the 80’s by running for governor again. You’d think he wouldn’t try to intentionally mess with the tenants organizations. But, alas, the enigma that is Jerry Brown continues.
So, this could be some serious good time fun. The No on 98 Campaign is planning on running a little video contest, with the winner getting $1,000! The object will be to make light of some of the nasty, nasty stuff that Prop 98 will do to the state of California (like eliminate rent control) or just highlight some of the crazy shenanigans going on in the Yes on 98 campaign. And if you choose the latter, well, let’s just say I’d take a look at Capitol Weekly, the Save Rent Control blog or some of the other great news sites around the state.
The goal is for YouTube videos of about a minute in length. They’ll be judged by the crack Yes on 98 Video Team (a lofty group I assure you) and some great videos will be highlighted on NoProp98.org. It will be a blast, I’m sure. For full details, check out the No 98 website here.
Today, a lawsuit was filed in Sacramento to change the ballot title for the Bad Prop 98. The ballot title as circulated was “Government Acquisition, Regulation of Private Property. Constitutional Amendment.” For the ballot, as it stands, it will get “EMINENT DOMAIN. LIMITS ON GOVERNMENT AUTHORITY.” Yikes, that’s a cheery sounding name for a not-so-cheery initiative. That’s why today several tenants organizations have filed the suit:
“By far, Proposition 98’s greatest impact will be the provisions abolishing rent control and renter protections,” said Nan Brasmer, President of the California Alliance for Retired Americans. “Currently, more than 1 million renters are protected by rent control, and this initiative will negatively impact millions of renters in the state. When voters read the title – which is all that many voters read – they should be informed up front that Prop. 98 abolishes rent control. It’s a principle point of the initiative. Voters have a right to know.”
Now, I know many of us read much, much more than just the title, but that’s not the case universally. For many voters it’s how they vote. “EMINENT DOMAIN. LIMITS ON GOVERNMENT AUTHORITY.” doesn’t mean a whole lot to most voters. And if it’s confusing doesn’t “limits on government authority” sound kinda ok, especially in the age of warrentless wiretaps? The trouble is that the Bad Prop 98 does so much more.
The interesting thing is that there’s some evidence on intent. According to plaintiff’s they have a document that indicates that the real purpose of the initiative is to eliminate protections for millions of California’s renters. Not only the over 1 million Californians who reside in rent-controlled units, but also renters who just want their security deposit back in a timely matter. The thing is that this proposition is really hard to quantify in 6 words or less. It’s a beast of a proposition that does many, many things, and “EMINENT DOMAIN. LIMITS ON GOVERNMENT AUTHORITY.” just doesn’t really make it clear that the intent of the funders was aimed at renters.
“The overwhelming majority of funding behind Prop. 98 comes from landlords. The only reason they’re funding this measure is to abolish rent control and other renter protections,” said Dean Preston, Executive Director of Tenants Together. “Even the proponents’ own ballot arguments list rent control as a principle provision of the initiative. We’re simply asking that the title reflect the primary provisions so voters can make an informed decision.”
I’m thinking perhaps something along the lines of “Sticking it to the Renters. Freeing Developers to Pillage California. Constitutional Amendment.” I suppose I could settle for something in the middle though.