A Sacramento Superior Court judge ruled Friday to pull a citizen’s initiative charter amendment from the ballot after the City of Sacramento sued to remove it. The ballot measure, which would have enacted rent control in Sacramento if approved by voters, was validated by over 50,000 signatures from Sacramento residents. The measure was supported by a coalition of grassroots labor and tenant groups including Tenants Together, the Sacramento Tenants Union, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021, Public Advocates, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), and DSA Sacramento.
In 2019, this coalition gathered signatures and submitted a measure to cap rent increases at 5% and set up a rent review board modeled after other cities with rent control, like San Francisco. In response, the Sacramento City Council passed a weaker, temporary measure which capped rent increases at 6% plus inflation, to expire in 5 years, with no rent review board. The City then moved to strike the citizens’ measure from the ballot, despite it having legally qualified.
The legal strategy pursued by the City of Sacramento’s attorneys, who argued that a city charter should not be changeable by citizens’ initiative, Friday’s ruling could have serious repercussions for other citizens’ initiatives in charter cities across California.
“This ruling denies the people of Sacramento their right to enact legislation via the ballot, as many other cities around the state have done for over 40 years,” said Lupe Arreola, executive director of Tenants Together. “It is disappointing that the Court and the Sacramento City Council sided with real estate interest, but it is unacceptable for them to support the disenfranchisement of Sacramento voters, especially during an election year. Tenants Together is proud of the grassroots coalition that brought this measure forward. We will keep working with our coalition partners and the people of Sacramento to win permanent tenant protections.”