Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said Thursday he opposes a rent control ballot measure being pushed by the powerful Service Employees International Union labor union and is instead drafting an ordinance with protections for renters he plans to bring to the City Council this summer.
SEIU, other unions and renter advocates have been circulating petitions this spring trying to qualify the measure for the November ballot. It would cap annual rent increases on older apartments at 5 percent, force landlords to provide thousands of dollars in financial assistance to tenants evicted for certain reasons and create a nine-member elected housing board that would set maximum rent increases each year.
But Steinberg is meeting with labor and business representatives to draft an ordinance that avoids a rent control ballot measure. The mayor announced earlier Thursday he will seek to raise the city portion of the sales tax to 1 percent on the November ballot, and he said he wants to avoid a "$7 million firefight on the ballot at the same time (as the sales tax measure)."
"The SEIU initiative, while well-intentioned, I think is overwritten and if it passes would harm our ability to build more affordable housing," the mayor told The Sacramento Bee. "The issues raised by SEIU and the housing advocates are very real, but I want to work hard to maximize the chance that this doesn't go on the ballot."