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Santa Rosa Voters Defeat Rent Control at the Ballot Box

Rent Control

The passage of rent control initiatives in the San Francisco Bay area last November emboldened tenants’ rights organizations. Out of five measures, three—East Palo Alto, Mountain View and Richmond—were approved by voters in 2016. To build on last year’s success, these tenant groups set their sights on Santa Rosa, and organized for the rent control ballot initiative known as “Measure C.”

Tenants’ rights organizations, environmental groups, and labor groups such as SEIU played a major role in the Santa Rosa effort, and attempted to mobilize their supporters to turn out and vote “Yes on C” for the rent control referendum as they did in the other three cities; however, they faced significant opposition from the “No on C” campaign. The Santa Rosa Press Democrat, business organizations, real estate groups, and homebuilders coalesced around their mutual opposition to rent control.

Ultimately, tenants’ rights and labor groups were defeated at the ballot box during the special election in June, thanks to a robust coalition of local media, business and real estate organizations. Measure C, also known as “Resolution NO. RES-2017-033” was defeated with 52.5- percent voting against it, and 47.5- percent voting for it.

The shortage of housing is the primary issue for Santa Rosa citizens, and price controls won’t do anything to alleviate this issue. As Santa Rosa City Councilman Tom Schwedhelm pointed out, “[Rent control] is a distraction from the real problem—building more housing.” This sentiment was shared by more than 14,700 voters who voted against the measure. One resident, Sandi Mazza, who voted against Measure C, summed up the general view of voters best by saying, “I don’t feel the measure did anything to generate any new affordable housing, which is what we need.”

If you are aware of a state bill or local proposal addressing rent control, please contact Robert Melvin, Manager of Government Affairs.