The Apartment Owners Association of California has declared "war" and started a smear campaign labeling tenant advocates as "terrorists" and "suicide bombers." In its new 8-page newsletter, the AOA repeatedly refers to tenant advocates as "terrorists" and "suicide bombers" who are "terrorizing" apartment owners with "explosives" like rent control and 60-day eviction notice requirements. The newsletter calls on apartment owners to donate to the campaign to pass Proposition 98 on the June ballot, which it calls "the big bomb" that will eliminate renters' rights.
The rhetoric earned a sharp rebuke from Dean Preston, Executive Director of Tenants Together, a statewide organization for renters' rights in California. "We are appalled by the AOA's statements, and demand an immediate retraction. These landlords ought to be ashamed of themselves."
The following are excerpts from the AOA Newsletter.
Ever hear about the "suicide bombers" who are terrorizing owners all over the state? Of course, you have…. The bombs and explosives they are throwing at us are rent control, eminent domain, inspection laws, building codes, requiring 60-day notices so tenants can steal more time from you, eviction laws that allow tenants to live rent-free for several months, relocation fees, inclusionary zoning that drives up the price of housing so they have another excuse to justify even more laws (bombs and explosives)….
Folks, we are at WAR and there is only one way to stop these terrorists. Hit them with the big "bomb" - pass this California state constitutional amendment that will prohibit them from having their "explosives" that they use to destroy housing and housing providers. …
Join the WAR against these closet terrorists. …
These comments are part of the AOA's pitch for donations to the "Yes on 98" campaign. Prop. 98 on the June 3, 2008 ballot would prohibit rent control and other tenant protections. The AOA has contributed over $400,000 to pass Prop. 98.
Preston accuses the AOA of resorting to these attacks because Prop. 98 has failed to gain momentum with California voters. "Prop. 98 is a bogus eminent domain measure that is really about abolishing renter protections. The landlords behind this deceptive measure see that Californians aren't falling for it, so they have resorted to this kind of fear mongering. It's unconscionable."