The Bay Area News Group, publishers of the San Jose Mercury News, the East Bay Times, and more than a dozen community newspapers and news websites with five million readers weekly, today became the latest editorial board to urge readers to vote no on Proposition 21.

In an editorial headlined “More rent control won’t solve California housing crisis,” the newspapers noted that the measure is “counterproductive” because it will worsen California’s affordable housing shortage, penalize property owners and “not very effective at protecting poor or vulnerable tenants.”

“The basic principles of economics haven’t changed in two years. That’s when 59% of California voters wisely rejected a measure that would have allowed cities to impose tougher local rent control restrictions,” notes the editorial. “However well-intentioned Prop. 21 might be, it’s counterproductive. Most economists agree that rent control reduces the quality and quantity of housing.”

Read the full editorial here: https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/08/07/editorial-more-rent-control-wont-solve-california-housing-crisis/

In addition to the Mercury News and East Bay Times, the Bay Area News Group includes the Marin Independent Journal, Walnut Creek Journal, Alameda Journal, Los Gatos Weekly Times, The Argus, and The Daily News plus local websites such as bayarea.com

The editorial comes just days after the Southern California Newspaper Group, publishers of 11 daily newspapers including the Orange County Register, Riverside Press-Enterprise and Los Angeles Daily News, also editorialized against Prop. 21, saying it would make California’s current housing crisis worse.

Congress of California Seniors, California Senior Advocates League Urge “No” Vote

The Congress of California Seniors and the California Seniors Advocates League, two of California’s leading senior citizen organizations, today announced their opposition to Proposition 21, the November ballot measure financed by Michael Weinstein and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation that would undermine the strongest statewide rent control and renter protections in the nation.

The groups say Proposition 21 would make it more difficult for seniors to find affordable housing by slowing the construction of new projects and reducing the number of properties on the market to rent. They also pointed to findings of the nonpartisan Legislative Analysts Office analysis of the initiative, which noted Proposition 21 will diminish property values and result in less revenue for communities. 

“Prop. 21 provides no protections for seniors and would hurt senior renters and homeowners alike. For those seniors relying on their single-family home for their retirement nest eggs or to help fund their care later in life, Prop 21 pulls the rug out from under them,” said Gary Passmore, President, Congress of California Seniors, an umbrella group which represents more than 100 organization. “And for senior renters on fixed incomes, Prop 21 would result in less affordable rental housing options. Seniors should vote No on 21.”

“For seniors on Social Security and fixed incomes, Prop. 21 could be devastating,” Marilyn Markham, Board Member, California Senior Advocates League. “This measure could force thousands of Californians out of their apartments and communities and make it even harder for older residents to find affordable housing.” A similar measure, defeated overwhelmingly by California voters in 2018, also was strongly opposed by senior and veterans’ groups.

Opponents Cite Three “False and Misleading” Statements, Ask Court to Strike

Opponents of Proposition 21 today filed suit today in Sacramento Superior Court seeking to strike and revise three different “false and misleading statements” made by the Yes on 21 campaign in its ballot statement.

The suit, filed by Los Angeles Realtor Malcolm Bennett against Secretary of State Alex Padilla and the signers of the ballot and rebuttal arguments, notes that State law expressly requires that the statements made in such arguments not be false or misleading. The Yes on 21 campaign’s signers are violating that law, argues the lawsuit, with information that has no foundation in fact.

The suit focuses on three false claims made by the Yes on 21 campaign and seeks to correct those statements in the official ballot arguments. Specifically, the Yes campaign falsely claims the measure “protects single family home owners” from new rent caps, when in fact millions of single family homes would be impacted by the proposal. The arguments also falsely claim Proposition 21 “encourages the construction of new homes,” when in fact affordable housing builders say the measure would make it even harder to construct the new affordable housing California needs.

“When California voters overwhelmingly rejected a similar version of this measure two years ago, they did so because they knew it would hurt the construction of affordable housing California desperately needs, lower property values for millions of single-family homeowners, and result in massive cuts in local and state budgets,” said Bennett. “Their ballot arguments, designed to confuse voters, are simply false. We are confident the Court will make this right so voters have accurate information about the devastating impact of this initiative on California families.”

The lawsuit seeks to revise and/or remove the following statements in the argument and rebuttal (in bold).

Proposition 21 “protects single-family homeowners”

Rather than “protect” homeowners, opponents say the measure, by referring to owners as “a natural person,” would make millions of the state’s single-family homes subject to Prop 21’s provisions because they are held in trusts. “These arguments seek to give the false and misleading impression that only large corporate landlords will be impacted by the measure,” says the lawsuit, when instead nearly one-third of the state’s single-family homeowners would be impacted by new restrictions that will devalue their property.

Proposition 21 “encourages the construction of new homes”

It is well-known that rent control laws have the opposite effect, a fact that has been recognized in findings by the Legislature, by the courts, and including a recent study by the nonpartisan California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO). The suit also notes Prop 21 repeals provisions of the state law that guarantee that any newly-constructed rental housing is exempt from local rent control in perpetuity.

Proposition 21 “provides reasonable and predictable rent increases”

Opponents say this is untrue because the measure “does not affirmatively or directly impose any limits on rent increases whatsoever.” In addition, the enactment of the initiative itself would not do that; it would be up to local communities.

Bennett has been a real estate broker and owner since 1975. He twice served as President of the Southwest Los Angeles Board of REALTORS, the only African American Board of REALTORS in the city. In his commitment to the housing industry, he founded the Minority Apartment Owners Association in 1987 and has led the organization’s efforts to provide knowledge, training and legislative involvement for its members.

A decision by the court must be made by August 10th.

Although much is being written by renters impacted by COVID19, there hasn’t been much attention paid to the “mom and pop” owners of the overwhelming majority of rental properties in California that are being hard-hit by COVID19 – the same property owners who will be adversely affected by Proposition 21, the November ballot measure that affordable housing experts say will result in a “housing freeze.”

The  National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) and UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation released a survey this week that shows these property owners are suffering from the impact of the pandemic. Growing numbers of renters are not paying their rent, while property owners still are being required to pay taxes, maintenance costs, and mortgages. That’s resulting in a lose-lose situation for small property owners who are staring at the increasing likelihood of foreclosure and the wiping out of a lifetime of savings.

Of interest in the survey is that most of the surveyed landlords (67%) expect to derive at least one-fourth of their retirement income from their rental properties. More than one-third expect to get the majority of their retirement income from these properties. And those managing 5 to 19 units were most likely to see their properties as a source of retirement income. Of those landlords, 87% expect to get at least one-fourth of their retirement income from their rental properties and most (52%) expect to get more than half.

Proposition 21 would result in more economic pain for small property owners as well as millions of owners of single-family homes. According to the nonpartisan LAO, the ballot measure would reduce property values. That, in turn, would result in “high tens of millions” of cuts at the local level for community services – including those that would benefit renters.

This survey shows how fragile California’s housing market is, and reinforces why Proposition 21 is bad for small property owners, single-family homeowners, and renters alike.

Six leading California affordable housing builders and groups today announced their opposition to Proposition 21, the November ballot measure financed by Michael Weinstein and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation that would undermine the strongest statewide rent control and renter protections in the nation.

The California Council for Affordable Housing, the California Housing Consortium, AMCAL, and the Community Revitalization and Development Council all announced their opposition, joined by developers Highridge Costa Housing Partners of Gardena and The Pacific Companies, one of the state’s largest builders of affordable infill housing.

The groups say the measure would damage the ability to finance and construct the affordable housing projects California needs. 

A similar measure, defeated overwhelmingly by California voters in 2018, also was strongly opposed by affordable housing groups.

“Proposition 21 will make it harder for Californians to access housing—making unnecessary changes to state law a year after the Legislature-approved unprecedented renter protections that have only just gone into effect,” said Ray Pearl, executive director of the California Housing Consortium. “This measure is a distraction from the real solutions needed to address our state’s housing crisis, including permanent funding for affordable housing and regulatory reforms that make it easier to build the affordable housing our state’s lowest-income residents desperately need. Proposition 21 is not the answer to California’s housing problems. It will only make our housing crisis worse.

“For years, California has failed to build housing we need to meet demand,” notes Pat Sabelhaus, Executive Director, California Council for Affordable Housing. “The result has been a housing crisis that has put affordable housing out of reach for too many Californians. Local restrictions and regulations have created a statewide shortage of affordable housing – a shortage that would only increase under Proposition 21. This initiative would make it harder to build new housing, and drive up rents in cities across California. Proposition 21 will hurt California renters and make it harder for those looking for housing to find a safe, affordable place to live.”

The affordable housing groups and builders join a growing coalition of labor, business and veterans groups opposing Proposition 21. For more information, visit www.NoOnProp21.vote and follow us on Twitter @VoteNoOnProp21.

Several news reports on Prop 21 suggest that this year’s version of the measure that was overwhelmingly defeated by California voters two years ago has been “tweaked” to eliminate rent control on single-family homes.

That’s what proponents are saying. One problem: it is not true.

According to the language of the initiative, the exemption only applies if the home is in the name of a “natural person.”

That excludes any single-family home owned as a partnership, family trust or otherwise.

 All told, there are 2,157,436 single family homes are held in trust in California (out of about 7 million total) or roughly 31 percent.

In addition, if you own three or more homes, you also would be subject to the provisions of the initiative – no matter how they hold the title.

Both provisions are different from Assembly Bill 1482. That sweeping rent law, signed by Governor Newsom, only applies to homes owned by large corporate owners.

So what’s the bottom line here? Millions of California homeowners would be affected by Prop 21, reducing the value of their property. That, experts say, would likely lead to the removal of many of these properties from the rental market, making California’s housing crisis even worse as we weather COVID19.

SACRAMENTO – Twenty major and regional California business groups announced their opposition to Proposition 21, the November ballot measure financed by Michael Weinstein and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation that would undermine the strongest statewide rent control and renter protections in the nation.

The groups say the measure would damage the state’s economy at a time when it is at its most vulnerable, hurting affordable housing projects and small property owners. A similar measure, defeated overwhelmingly by California voters in 2018, also was strongly opposed by business groups.

The groups include: the California Chamber of Commerce; California Mortgage Bankers Association; Bay Area Builders Exchange; Bay Area Homeowners Network; Central City Association Los Angeles; Davis Chamber of Commerce; Los Angeles County Business Federation (LA BizFed); Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce; Nevada County Contractors’ Association; North Coast Builders Exchange; Orange County Business Council; Pasadena Chamber of Commerce and Civic Association; Placer County Contractors’ Association, Inc.; Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce; Regional Chamber of Commerce – San Gabriel Valley; Sacramento Regional Builders Exchange; San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership; San Ramon Chamber of Commerce; The Silicon Valley Organization; and Valley Industry and Commerce Association.

“California’s housing crisis has long been a focus for our state’s business community,” says Allan Zaremberg, President and Chief Executive Officer of the California Chamber of Commerce (CalChamber). “California’s high housing costs and limited supply put California businesses at a competitive disadvantage when trying to hire workers. Unfortunately, this flawed initiative, which is virtually identical to one rejected by California voters just two years ago, would do nothing to increase California’s housing supply, and could actually end up hurting the very tenants the measure aims to protect. It will have a chilling effect on housing construction, and further distort California’s broken housing market.” 

“Expanding rent control will result in higher housing costs, less housing being built, and make it harder for renters to find an affordable place to live,” added Stuart Waldman, President, Valley Industry & Commerce Association (VICA). “That is why California voters rejected a nearly identical proposal just two years ago, and why businesses throughout the San Fernando Valley oppose this latest flawed rent control initiative. We need to find ways to make housing more affordable. California’s housing market is broken, particularly in the Valley, where demand dramatically outpaces our existing supply of affordable places to live. In the midst of an unprecedented economic crisis, this proposal is the wrong solution to the wrong problem, and would make it even harder to build the affordable housing California desperately needs.”

SACRAMENTO – Fourteen major California veterans groups today announced their opposition to the November ballot measure financed by Michael Weinstein and the AIDS Health Foundation that would repeal significant portions of the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act, and undermines the strongest statewide rent control and renter protections in the nation.

The groups include: American Legion, Department of California; AMVETS, Department of California; AMVETS Service Foundation, Department of California; Association of the U.S. Army, Northern California Chapters; Association of the U.S. Army, Southern California Chapters; Cesar E. Chavez Sacramento Chapter of the American G.I. Forum; Filipino-American United States Marines Association; Jewish War Veterans, Department of California; Marine Corps Veterans Association; Military Officers Association of America, California Council of Chapters; Reserve Organization of America, Department of the Golden West; Scottish American Military Society – California Chapters; Vietnam Veterans of America, California State Council; and the Women Veterans Alliance.

The groups say the measure would hurt existing homeowners, and those who are struggling to find affordable housing – including many men and women who served in the armed forces. A similar measure, defeated overwhelmingly by California voters in 2018, also was strongly opposed by veterans groups.

“Veterans already face difficulties securing stable and affordable housing, and measures like the Housing Freeze promise to deepen veterans’ housing affordability concerns. American Legion, Dept. of CA looks for balanced solutions that keep veterans in their homes without compromising construction of new housing. That’s why we opposed the nearly identical Proposition 10 in 2018, and why we urge our veterans to once again vote no on this initiative in November.” – Ed Grimsley, Commander, American Legion, Department of California

This measure would make the state’s housing crisis worse, and create new hurdles for veterans, seniors and other vulnerable populations, housing experts say.

Housing affordability is still a major concern for veterans—over a third of veterans pay too much for their housing, and nearly two-thirds of homeless veterans in California are living unsheltered, the highest numbers in the nation. Over 70% of veterans are homeowners and will suffer reduced property values of up to 20% should this initiative pass; senior veterans on fixed incomes that rent out their homes for supplemental income will lose their ability to decide their own price for their property. The Housing Freeze does nothing to help our most vulnerable populations because it fails to target those most in need, say experts.

The state’s legislative analyst and leading economists from UC Berkeley and USC have warned that passing restrictive measures like this could lead to more housing being taken off the rental market, cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in lost property tax revenues and slow the construction of new development to meet our state’s need for more units. Local governments’ revenue loss impacts the services that veterans and seniors rely on – such as programs run by the County Veteran Service Officers, who are funded by local county revenue.

Here’s what other veterans groups are saying about why they are opposing the Housing Freeze initiative:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created economic pain for millions of Californians, and has hit veterans particularly hard. California voters have already spoken out on this issue. Our state’s housing crisis needs real solutions, not the false promises contained in this initiative. The Weinstein initiative will make housing less affordable for all Californians and make it harder for veterans to find housing for themselves and their families.” – David Black, State Commander, AMVETS, Department of California

“Just like his nearly-identical initiative that was overwhelmingly rejected by voters two years ago, the new Weinstein initiative will make housing less available and less affordable for veterans and all Californians. It will create chaos in our housing market and reduce property values for homeowners robbing them of their nest eggs they are relying on for retirement. It’s the wrong solution for the wrong problem and a bad deal for veterans and for California.” – Melissa Washington, CEO & Founder, Women Veterans Alliance

SACRAMENTO, May 28, 2020 – More than 45 labor groups from throughout California today announced their opposition to a measure slated to appear on the November ballot that repeals significant portions of the state’s rental housing law (Costa Hawkins) and undermines the strongest statewide rent control and renter protections in the nation.

Labor opposition to the measure has grown substantially after voters overwhelming rejected a previous version of this initiative that appeared on the ballot in 2018. This year’s version is substantially similar.

Robbie Hunter, President of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California said: “This initiative will only further the economic pain created by COVID-19 that is hurting working families across the state, including the men and women of the building trades. It will stifle housing construction and increase housing costs while killing thousands of good-paying union jobs our economy needs to emerge from this unprecedented crisis.

“Two years ago, California voters soundly rejected Proposition 10, Michael Weinstein’s deceptive initiative that would have made our state’s housing crisis even worse. Now he’s back with a nearly identical measure that would inflict more damage on a state that is already in an economic freefall brought on by the pandemic. We need to defeat this measure that will limit affordable housing, kill blue collar jobs and reduce funding for state and local services.”

The labor groups include: State Building and Construction Trades Council of California; International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Shipbuilders, Blacksmiths, Forgers & Helpers AFL-CIO; International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Shipbuilders, Blacksmiths, Forgers & Helpers AFL-CIO; California State Pipe Trades Council; California District of Iron Workers; California State Association of Electrical Workers; Building and Construction Trades Council of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties;  IBEW Local Unions 6, 11, 47, 234, 302, 332, 413, 428, 477, 551, 595, 617, 684, 952; Insulators & Allied Workers Local Union 16; Kern, Inyo and Mono Counties Building Trades Council; Los Angeles/Orange County Building & Construction Trades Council; Northern California Carpenters Regional Council; Plumbers & Pipefitters UA Local #477; Plumbers & Steamfitters UA Local 159; S.M.A.R.T. Sheet Metal Workers’ Local 104; Sacramento-Sierra’s Building and Construction Trades Council; San Diego Building & Construction Trades Council; Santa Clara and San Benito Counties Building and Construction Trades Council; Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, & Transportation Workers Local Union No. 105; Southern California Pipe Trades District Council 16; UA Local 114 Plumbers & Pipefitters; UA Local 230 Plumbers, Steamfitters, HVAC & Refrigeration; UA Local 345 Landscape/Irrigation Sewer, Storm Drain Underground Industrial Piping; UA Local 364 Plumbers, Steamfitters & Refrigeration; UA Local 38 Plumbers and Pipefitters Union; UA Local 398 Plumbers & Steamfitters; UA Local 460 Plumbers & Steamfitters; UA Local 467 San Mateo County; UA Local 484 Plumbers & Steamfitters; UA Local 582 Plumbers, Steamfitters, Welders, & Apprentices; UA Local 62; UA Local 709 Sprinklerfitters; UA Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 403; UA Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 761; and UA Plumbers Local 78.

It’s been a few months that AIDS Healthcare Foundation qualified its ballot measure for the November ballot. Here’s an update of the state of the campaign and some housing trends affecting it.

On the housing front:

For the latest news, follow us on Twitter: @CA4RespHousing.

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Paid for by No on Prop 21: Californians for Responsible Housing, a coalition of seniors, veterans, affordable housing advocates, labor & social justice organizations, sponsored by California Apartment Association. Committee Major Funding from Essex Property Trust and Affiliated Entities; Equity Residential; and AvalonBay Communities.
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