Rent control advocates claim to have enough signatures for November ballot measure

Richmond group renews push for rent control, seeks November ballot initiative

Rent control advocates announced Wednesday they have enough signatures to qualify their rent control and just cause for eviction ordinance for the November ballot.

The coalition behind the proposed ballot measure, called Fair and Affordable Richmond, said it would submit more than 5,000 signatures for verification at the Richmond City Clerk on Thursday. It is hosting a news conference at 12:30 p.m. Thursday at Richmond City Hall, 450 Civic Center Plaza.

Officials with the Richmond City Clerk and Contra Costa County have 30 days to determine whether at least 4,198 signatures — the minimum needed to qualify the rent control ordinance for the November ballot — are verified.

The Fair and Affordable Richmond Coalition includes Tenants Together, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Richmond Progressive Alliance, SEIU 1021, AFSCME Local 3299 and the California Nurses Association.

The group says rent control is needed in order to stem rising rents brought upon by the Bay Area technology boom. They say lower-income residents are being displaced from their homes.

Opponents of rent control, which include Mayor Tom Butt, who wrote this piece in opposition, and the California Apartment Association (CAA), which represents landlords, point to majority opinion among economists that rent control doesn’t work to keep rents down. They say that’s the reason rent control policies haven’t been adopted by another jurisdiction in decades. Butt has also pointed out that current Bay Area cities with rent control policies — San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley — also share an unfortunate reputation for having the highest rates of skyrocketing rents.

An attempt last year to pass a rent control ordinance failed following opposition by the CAA, three members of a divided City Council and residents.

Photo: Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE)