Protesters Call Out 'Fraud' of Santa Rosa Rent Control Petitions

Thursday, September 22, 2016
Kevin McCallum
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Protesters picketed the offices of the California Apartment Association in Santa Rosa on Thursday to call attention to what they say are fraudulent efforts by petition gatherers trying to overturn the city’s new rent control law.

About a dozen people carrying signs gathered in the parking lot of the association’s office on Round Barn Boulevard in the city’s Fountaingrove area. Protesters briefly blocked a section of the building’s parking lot until police ordered them to move. They said they were symbolically “evicting” the association from its home, voicing hope that their actions would highlight efforts by the association representing landlords to block the city’s rent control and just-cause eviction policies.

Davin Cárdenas, lead organizer for the North Bay Organizing Project, said the move was prompted by numerous instances of people being misled by signature gatherers who are either twisting the truth or lying to voters in an effort to get rent control overturned.

More than 100 people have asked the city to remove their signatures and claim they were misled into signing one of the petitions, which call for the council to repeal its new rent control and just-cause eviction law or put the issue before the voters.

“We’re calling out the fraud,” Cárdenas said.

He said the picket was part of a nationwide effort dubbed the National Renter Day of Action involving demonstrations in 48 cities around the nation.

Mallori Spilker, vice president of public affairs for the California Apartment Association, said protesters should direct their energy into pushing local officials to expedite the development of new housing.

“Without a doubt, renters are having a tough time in today’s market as the construction of new housing has failed to keep pace with the tremendous job growth we’ve seen in the Bay Area,” Spilker said in a statement. “Building more homes, and especially apartments, is key to bringing renters relief, and it needs to be a core part of any plan to solve California’s housing crisis.”

Opponents of the city’s rent control law must gather signatures from 8,450 registered voters by Sept. 29 to block the ordinance from taking effect.

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