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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Alameda landlords’ rent measure fizzles

Councilmember Tony Daysog said he is own rent
measure will also not appear on the November ballot. 
ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL |
A proposed Alameda ballot measure that would have banned rent control on the island will not appear on the November ballot, based on a random sample check of signatures performed by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.

The proposed measure, backed by various Alameda landlords, failed to gain a sufficient number of valid entries, the registrar said Monday. The measure, however, could conceivably be approved for the 2018 election or sooner.

Although, the landlords’ petition was found to have attained 102 percent of the 6,461 signatures needed for inclusion on the fall ballot, the figure fell within the range that requires the registrar to perform a complete check of all signatures. That range is within 95-110 percent. Conversely, the ballot measure enacting rent control qualified for the ballot last week with 113 percent of valid signature in its own random sample.

Furthermore, time is not the landlords’ side. The county registrar’s office said a complete signature check of the landlords’ petition could take up to 30 days. The deadline for finalizing the Nov. 8 ballot is Aug. 12, certainly scuttling the landlords' plans to provide voters with another option other than the renters' initiative. If the landlords' petition is ultimately found to have acquired enough valid signatures, they could revisit the rent control issue by placing the measure on the 2018 ballot, that is, if Alameda voters decide to approve rent control this fall.

The registrar’s determination is not entirely surprising. There was already some concern that the landlords’ petition would have difficulty getting approved after it turned in just 7,491 signatures—a figure that is well below the recommended target needed to safely account for invalid entries. Most petition-gathering campaign shoot for 25 percent over and above the minimum number required.

With up to four potential rent-related measures once on the table, clarity over the issue is moving quickly. The Alameda City Council on Tuesday night could vote to place its own measure on the ballot that would reaffirm the rent stabilization ordinance it passed in March. With the landlords’ measure off the table, the council’s measure may become more likely. The council could also, on its own, move Tuesday to place the landlords’ measure on the ballot. However, the act would be politically explosive. In addition, there does not appear to be three votes in favor of such a unilateral move.

A fourth petition aiming to tweak the council’s rent ordinance rolling back some restrictions on small-time landlords is going nowhere. Councilmember Tony Daysog conceded Monday that his petition will not have enough signatures this summer to qualify for the November ballot. However, he is still gathering signatures to possibly place the measure on the ballot in 2018.