Message to Landlords: Big 'No' on 98

Friday, June 6, 2008
Larry Gross
City Watch

LA Times: Californians on Tuesday rejected a state ballot measure that would have phased out rent control and barred government agencies from taking homes, businesses and farms for private development.

While Proposition 98 was falling short, voters approved Proposition 99, a more narrowly drawn competing measure that prohibits government agencies from using eminent domain powers to force the sale of owner-occupied residences for private projects.

The backers of Proposition 99 declared victory and the backers of Proposition 98 conceded defeat, but appealed to the governor and Legislature to expand homeowner protections.

California voters provided a tremendous victory for those who are committed to preserving and producing affordable housing, protecting our environment, controlling development in neighborhoods and ensuring that we have an adequate supply of clean drinking water.

There is no doubt that the voters in this state have sent a very loud and strong message to landlords, mobile home park owners and even elected officials that Californians believe in and fully support rent control and tenants' rights.

This is a defining moment for tenants' rights in this state. Voters were not tricked by the landlords' deceptive scheme and rejected this out and out attack on renters.

We celebrate the recharging of a tenant movement which can claim as partners: senior & disabled groups, labor unions, homeowners and many other community groups in future efforts to win economic justice.

In addition, by passing Proposition 99, voters have enacted true and responsible protections against the misuse of eminent domain. Hopefully, Proposition 99 will squash any future thoughts of putting forth deceptive and devastating ballot measures like Proposition 98 and, before that Proposition 90.

We will build on this victory and continue to organize. We will be even stronger the next time these landlords come knocking on our doors.

But for now we rejoice in knowing that "the voters in the state, said NO to 98! (Larry Gross is the Executive Director of the Coalition for Economic Survival and an occasional contributor to CityWatch .)

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