Friday, July 29, 2016

Alameda landlords' measure to ban rent control falls short of valid signatures

ALAMEDA | In a development that leaves just two rent-related initiatives on the ballot in Alameda this fall, a competing measure backed by landlords failed to gather enough valid signatures for inclusion in the next election or beyond.

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters notified the city Thursday that the landlords' initiative fell 533 valid signatures short of qualify for the Nov. 8 General Election.

The landlords' initiative, created to oppose a renters' backed measure enacting rent control and other tenant protections, was found to have gathered 5,928 of the 6,461 minimum number of valid signatures.

The landlords' initiative delivered 7,491 signatures to the city clerk's office in June. The number was already perceived by many as low and potentially flirting with the outcome that eventually arrived this week. Signature-gathering campaigns typically strive for over 25 percent more of the requisite number of responses to account for errors and signers who do not live in the city or who are unregistered.

The tenants' initiative, organized by the grassroots Alameda Renters Coalition, qualified for the ballot earlier this month following its own signature-gathering campaign. It will be joined on the fall ballot by an Alameda City Council measure that aims to reaffirm its own rent stabilization ordinance, passed last March.

The results of the registrar's full count of signatures was triggered after a random sample earlier this month found the tenants' initiative's received 102 percent of the requisite number of valid signatures. But the number fell within the range that, by state law, called for an exhaustive examination of all 7,491 signatures.

Thursday's announcement is also far-ranging for the renters' movement in Alameda and result in landlords' group shifting resources toward the council-backed initiative this fall.

Meanwhile, the real possibility of the landlords' initiative qualifing with enough signatures, but failing to miss the Aug. 12 deadline for the November election, had been debated by some who believed even if the rent control initiative succeeded at the ballot box, the landlords' initiative to ban rent control could have benefited from a much smaller off-year election in 2018.

Under the same scenario, the landlords' could again thwart any rent control efforts in 2018, except, now they will be forced to start their signature-gathering campaign all over again.


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