A barrage of mailers, newspaper ads, roadway signs and street corner rallies will assail Oceanside voters heading into Tuesday's election to determine whether the city will retain rent control in mobile-home parks and/or change the way it elects its officials.
By far, the most attention has been focused on Proposition E, which asks whether voters want to adopt an ordinance that would phase out rent control in the city's mobile-home parks.
A yes vote on Prop. E would put a gradual end to rent control. A no vote would keep in place the rent control ordinance the city's had since 1984.
Park owners and mobile-home residents have waged a fierce fight over the issue, with both sides urging voters to get to the polls and let their voices be heard.
Assistant City Clerk Holly Trobaugh said there's no way to tell how many of Oceanside's 77,056 registered voters will actually vote.
"I have no idea," Trobaugh said. "It's more difficult to tell with propositions."
What's fairly certain is that most of the voting will be done by absentee ballots, with 52 percent of the city's voters signed up to vote by mail rather than go to the polls on Election Day.
As of Friday, close to 30 percent of those who are registered to vote absentee had returned ballots, according to an unofficial tally.
As more voters choose absentee ballots, turnout in city special elections has been growing with each election cycle, Trobaugh said.
This is considered a special election for Oceanside because the city's next regular election ---- in which it will choose a mayor and two council members ---- isn't until November.
However, the City Council opted to put two propositions, E and F, on the state primary election ballot Tuesday.
Proposition F would require candidates for mayor, City Council, city clerk and city treasurer to receive a majority of votes cast to win.
If no one gets more than 50 percent of the votes, a runoff election would be required between the top two candidates for each seat. Council candidates also would be required to run for numbered seats.
Prop. E stems from a May 2011 City Council 3-2 vote to adopt a decontrol ordinance that would phase out rent control.
The measure would retain rent control for people who already live in rent-controlled spaces it but remove it when they leave or sell their homes.
Mobile-home residents stopped the decontrol ordinance from taking effect by collecting more than 15,000 signatures on petitions demanding that the council repeal it or put it on the ballot.
The last time the city had a special election, in June 2010, 44.3 percent of city voters cast ballots to adopt a city charter and fill a vacant council seat, Trobaugh said.
Both sides in the fight over Prop. E said a high voter turnout will be to their advantage, although Councilman Jerry Kern predicted only about 30 percent of voters will cast ballots.
Most city residents won't be affected by Prop. E, said Kern, who championed the measure.
"Nobody other than (mobile-home) park residents are highly motivated, highly interested," Kern said.
If turnout is light, Kern figures mobile-home residents will make up good bloc of voters.
If turnout is higher, Kern said more members of the general public will be voting and those are the voters Prop. E backers are going for.
"The people that supported it are generally middle-class people who understand rent control is wrong," Kern said. "If turnout stays under 30 percent, it would be very difficult for Proposition E to win. If it gets about 30 percent, if it gets to the 33 percent range, then Proposition E will pass."
Mira Mar Manufactured Home Community resident Jim Sullivan and Dana Corso, president of Alliance of Citizens to Improve Oceanside Neighborhoods, say the higher the turnout the better it is for them.
Sullivan, who helped organize the petition drive that ultimately led to Prop. E going on the ballot, figures a high turnout means mobile-home residents have gotten their message across to the broader public.
"The core group that are yes on E are very hard-core party members, political party members," Sullivan said. He said a low turnout could result in those "hard core" supporters having greater sway.
Sullivan said that a high turnout means those 15,000 people who signed petitions against decontrol are sticking with the cause and voting against Prop. E.
Corso, whose group is an umbrella organization of a variety of community groups, said a high turnout means that people who aren't directly affected by rent control are rallying behind those who are.
"I think a lot of neighborhoods have been effected by different things and people are fed up with the (City) Council majority," Corso said.
Meanwhile, Amy Epsten, whose family owns two Oceanside mobile-home parks, said she's hoping for a good turnout because it will show that park owners have gotten their message out.
"We've done everything we could," Epsten said.
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