Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Prop. 98 is An Attack on Real People - Meet Donna Matthews!

Prop. 98 Is an Attack on Real People
Profiles of the types of people who will be harmed by Proposition 98 - the landlords’ deceptive attack on renters, rent control, and renter protections.

Donna Matthews, 83, lives in Plantation on the Lake mobile home park in Calimesa, Riverside County and is facing an eviction threat over a disputed trash bill. Donna’s original agreement specified that a garbage bin and trash pick up would be provided as a part of her rent. Out of nowhere, 22 years later, Donna received a bill for $73.80 claiming she was two months behind on her trash bill. But Donna has never paid rent late and the trash fee was part of her rent. The landlord gave Donna 10 days to pay the fee or leave the park. Under protest Donna paid the fee, but her landlord is still trying to evict her through the court process. Right now, Donna is protected by strong mobile home tenant protection laws which protect against unfair evictions. But if Prop. 98 passes, those protections are threatened, and the landlord will likely try to evict Donna again. Also, because Prop. 98 eliminates rent control once a tenant moves out, the landlord will have a new financial incentive to try to get rid of Donna so he can raise the rent. Donna is a fighter and she refuses to be intimidated by her landlord. The Prop. 98 threat has inspired Donna to fight the greedy landlords and inform the mobile home park residents of Calimesa to vote No on Prop. 98 in June.

“What people don’t realize is that both the mobile home parks owners and mobile home owners have an investment. Without rent control it will be one investor taking advantage of another investor. We won’t have the bargaining power or the money that the owners will have. The landlords will raise the rents as high as they want. The rents will be so high and nobody will be able to rent the space. We would lose the value in our homes. If we lose our only nest-egg, where will we go?” -- Donna Matthews, 83, Calimesa

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pasadena Star News
Advocacy groups denounce Proposition 98

By Fred Ortega, Staff Writer

PASADENA - A coalition of advocacy groups is denouncing a ballot measure it claims would eradicate rent control and throw thousands of low-income Californians onto the streets.

Members of the League of Women Voters, the Western Center of Law & Poverty and housing attorneys joined fixed-income renters at the AARP's Pasadena headquarters Wednesday to issue a "fraud alert" against advertisements promoting Proposition 98.

The proposition, which is being championed by a coalition led by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, is billed as an effort to keep government from handing property to private developers using eminent domain.

But opponents say that hidden within the language of the June 3 ballot initiative are provisions that would eliminate rent control in apartments and mobile home parks across the state, including for the more than 627,000 rent-controlled households in Los Angeles alone.

"The eminent domain argument is a Trojan horse," said Kathy Fairbanks, a spokeswoman for the AARP-led coalition. "About 80 percent of the funding for the `Yes on 98 Campaign' comes from landlords, and all they care about is eliminating rent control."

Much of the support the proposition has received has indeed come from landlord groups, said Kris Vosburgh, executive director of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

But he accused opponents in government of exaggerating the proposition's effects on rent control in order to secure their own ability to seize private property for redevelopment purposes.
"Parts of our measure would phase out rent control in a way that if a person under rent control leaves a unit, the controls on that unit would be eliminated," said Vosburgh, noting that the League of California Cities has gone on record opposing the measure. "So I would imagine in 40 or 50 years it might be eliminated, but it would not impact anyone currently on rent control."
Vosburgh added that the proposition would ban cities from using eminent domain to take land from a private owner and turning it over to another private entity.

"They would still be able to take it for public schools, roads and other legitimate purposes," he said. "But you can't take it because, say, a strip mall might bring more revenue than Ms. Jones' business, or Mr. Sanchez's house."

But rent control is not the only thing that would be jeopardized by Proposition 98, AARP Executive Council member Marvin Schachter said.

"We have inclusionary zoning here in Pasadena, where new developers are required to set aside a portion of construction for affordable housing, and that would be invalidated by this proposition," said Schachter, adding that the Pasadena City Council has gone on the record against Proposition 98.

An analysis of the proposition shows its provisions would end rent control for 1million Californians, said Greg Spiegel, a housing attorney for the Western Center on Law & Poverty.
"This would have a devastating effect on renters and undo centuries of landlord-tenant law," said Spiegel, adding that Proposition 98 would also do away with other renter-protection measures, such as notices for no-fault evictions and caps on what landlords can charge for credit checks.

"This is a doomsday measure backed by wealthy landlords and mobile-home park owners," added Larry Gross, executive director of the Coalition for Economic Survival, noting that condo-conversion protection and tenant relocation programs would also be affected by the proposition. "It is nothing but lies, lies, lies motivated by greed, greed, greed."

Schachter said his group wanted to alert people to the proposition early, especially those seniors who cast their votes via absentee ballot.

"There will probably be tremendously low turnout this election and that is part of the (Proposition 98) proponents' strategy," said Schachter, whose group is urging voters to support Proposition 99, a rival measure they say includes safeguards for renters.

"They will likely send out slate mailers supporting unchallenged candidates and incumbents like Adam Schiff and Carol Liu, and also urging a yes on 98 vote. It is morally indefensible, but it happens all the time."

Vosburgh countered by accusing the anti-Proposition 98 folks of using underhanded tactics.
"They are looking to inflame tenants by saying they are going to lose rent control, but a lot of the lying that goes on in politics is what you leave out," said Vosburgh. "They are not personally going to lose rent control. But at the same time, there are currently no significant restrictions on eminent domain in the state, and all you have to do is look at Baldwin Park, where they are pushing people out of their homes for redevelopment."
Los Angeles Daily News 4.24.08

Tenants fear loss of rent control

By Dana Bartholomew, Staff Writer

He's a disabled Vietnam veteran. She's a retired teacher who spends most of her pension on health insurance.

Arnie and Marilyn Bernstein are among an estimated 1million Angelenos with a rent-controlled apartment.

But if voters kill rent control in a June ballot measure, the Bernsteins say, their monthly payment would jump from $876 to $1,300 - a 48 percent increase.

"We couldn't afford another apartment," said Marilyn Bernstein, 62, of Canoga Park, who has lived in the one-bedroom unit for 21 years. "We'd be living under a bridge - like `Tent City, here we come.' The possibility of lifting rent control would be devastating."

Critics of Proposition 98 say it is billed as stopping government from seizing property for private use, but really aims to abolish tenant protections statewide because it also contains language to phase out rent control and gut laws that protect renters from unfair evictions.
Safeguards for mobile-home residents also would be imperiled, they say.

"Proposition 98 is a wolf in sheep's clothing that would roll back key environmental and tenant protections," Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti said. He authored a city resolution against the measure last week.

He supports a rival ballot measure, Proposition 99, "which would protect Californians from government taking property that should remain in private hands, but wouldn't negatively impact other important environmental and tenant laws," he said.

Jarvis group's measure

Proposition 98 is a statewide ballot measure sponsored by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association that would limit the ability of governments to seize private commercial property and homes and turn them over to private developers.

Proposition 99 is supported by the League of California Cities and would protect only homeowners from having their property seized for private use.

Big money has already streamed in to support both campaigns.

Of the $3.9 million for Proposition 98, critics say 80 percent has come from interests connected to owners of mobile-home parks and apartment buildings.

Most of the $7.1 million funneled in for Proposition 99 has come from a coalition of government associations, environmental groups, businesses and labor unions.

Supporters of Proposition 98 say it would prevent governments from taking homes and businesses through eminent domain and transferring it to a private owner, possibly to build a shopping mall or a business park.

The measure would also restrict government's ability to seize private property for water projects and would grant new compensation to owners when their property is taken.
They say it would also put a stop to government's power to set the price for which owners could sell or lease their properties.

Jon Coupal, president of the Jarvis association, has maintained that the measure was ultimately designed to give the strongest protections to property owners, including landlords.
But he also has said the initiative would continue to protect tenants living within the state's dozen rent-controlled cities.

"It doesn't make it easier to evict anybody," Coupal said. "All the protections under existing law remain in effect. Only when that unit is vacated can anybody raise rents.
"We actually take the existing protections against evictions and make them part of the California Constitution."

Naysayers insist, however, that the landlord-backed measure would essentially end rent control in California.

Evictions feared

While rent ceilings for tenants of a housing unit would stay in place until they moved, the initiative jeopardizes restrictions against evictions, critics say. Easy evictions mean easy vacancies. New vacancies allow higher rents.

And once a tenant living under old rent-control laws moves out, rents can be hiked at any time for succeeding tenants.

That could have huge consequences for Los Angeles, where 61 percent of residents rent. Of the 1 million rent-controlled units in California, 627,000 are in Los Angeles, with 46,000 more of them in West Hollywood and Santa Monica, according to the Coalition for Economic Survival, a pro-tenants group.

"This city will be the hardest hit, as well as this entire region," said Larry Gross, executive director of the coalition and a Southern California leader of the campaign against Proposition 98 and for Proposition 99.

"Renters will wake up one day in June, if (98) passes, and they will wake up defenseless, and their landlords could put them out on the street," he said.

Opponents of the initiative include AARP, the League of Women Voters of California, the Western Center on Law & Poverty and former Gov. Pete Wilson.

AARP and the League of Women Voters held a news conference Wednesday in Pasadena to bring awareness to what they say are "deceptive and shameful" radio ads supporting Proposition 98.

Supporters include the California Association of Realtors, Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles and numerous taxpayer associations and farm bureaus.

Abida Sheikh, who owns a Northridge apartment building with six units, said she could charge tenants hundreds more a month without rent control. But she said insurance and property taxes, which suck up four months worth of rents, are harder to take.

"I'm with rent control," she said. "It's not hurting us. It's the property taxes and insurance that is killing us - and bad tenants. They don't want to pay the rent, and they say, `Come back tomorrow."'

Arnie Bernstein said his landlord has been trying to drive him and his wife out for years to jack up rents. Without rent control, they'd be forced to leave the state.

"All these landlords think they are getting shortchanged because they can't get market value," said Bernstein, 64, who lives on Social Security. "But many of them aren't worth market value.
"Where I live, you can hear people fornicating next door. The plumbing is bad. If I first came to L.A. and they offered me this place for $1,300, I would about-face and walk away."

dana.bartholomew@dailynews.com 818-713-3730
Stop the Landlords’ Attack on Renters
Prop. 98 Is an Attack on Real People - Meet Helen Gourley

Helen Gourley is 85 years old and spending her retirement years living in the Contempo Marin mobile home park in San Rafael, where she has lived for the past 34 years. Helen has seen her rent increased from $150 a month to $800 a month, and is fearful it might be raised soon to $1925 a month. Helen barely survives on a fixed income and has been forced to sell many of her valuables. Helen is afraid her park owner is trying to squeeze out residents by raising rents dramatically so they can convert the park into privately-owned condo spaces. Park owners know very well that mobile homes are not truly “mobile” and seniors like Helen cannot afford to move their units, nor buy the lots they sit on. Park owners hope seniors like Helen will abandon their units because they can no longer afford the rent. The owner of Contempo Marin is a contributor to Prop. 98 who has been fighting to overturn the local rent control ordinance for years. With her two children living out of state, Helen is concerned that if Prop. 98 passes she will have no place to go. This fear of being homeless has Helen actively working to inform anybody who will listen to vote ‘no’ on Proposition 98.

“My kids live far away from me and I’m having a hard time paying $800 a month. When I needed some money, fortunately I had my crystal to sell. There are people that live here that aren’t as fortunate. Some of these people only eat one meal a day. Can you imagine only eating one meal a day? How can you be so rotten? I can’t even begin to think about what I will do if my rent is increased to $1925. I will do what ever I can to make sure Proposition 98 does not pass. It’s my life I’m fighting for…It’s my life.”
- Helen Gourley, San Rafael, 85

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Stop the Landlords' Attack on Renters - Meet Juanita Bradbury

Stop the Landlords’ Attack on Renters!!!
Profiles of the types of people who will be harmed by Proposition 98 - the landlords’ deceptive attack on renters, rent control, and renter protections.

Juanita Bradbury (66) retired from her job at the San Diego Wild Animal Park and is living in the Rancho San Marcos mobile home park in San Marcos. Mobile home owners own their homes, but rent the space on which they sit. Currently, Juanita and her neighbors are facing intense pressure and intimidation from the management of her park to sign a 15 year lease. Many people in the park are seniors who may need to change their living situation sooner than 15 years. If Prop 98 passes, Juanita and other residents are in significant jeopardy of losing important renter protections provided under current law, making it easier for landlords to force people to sign lengthy leases, or simply kick them out of the park if they don’t agree to the terms. Additionally, Prop. 98 prevents laws that would prohibit or slow down condo conversions whereby park owners can force residents to leave, or to buy the space under their units for hundreds of thousands of dollars per unit. This is a serious concern of Juanita. She believes she could be left without options, without a voice, and without a home. This fear has inspired Juanita to walk door to door in her community to encourage others to vote no on 98.

“I have been here ten years and I love this community. I don’t want to see anything happen to the people who live here. The abusive strong-arm tactics of the park owner and manager have created a great deal of stress and anxiety that has taken a toll on the health and well-being of myself and others. People have actually been threatened to be thrown out onto the streets if they don’t cooperate and sign the lease. That’s no way to treat residents, especially veterans and the elderly. If Prop. 98 passes it will jeopardize my financial security, my home value and my peace of mind.”
- Juanita Bradbury 66, San Marcos

Friday, April 4, 2008

Voters Start Voting In One Month – Get the Word Out Today!!

While the June 3rd election is two months away, "vote-by-mail" voters begin receiving their ballots – and could start voting – the first week in May. We need your help to make sure people know that Prop. 98 is a deceptive scheme full of hidden agendas, funded by wealthy landlords that attacks renters, our environment, and jeopardizes water quality and supply, and our economy. And, that Prop. 99 is powerful, honest reform that would protect our homes from eminent domain abuse. It contains no hidden agendas and no adverse consequences. Get the word out today!

Link to our web site http://www.no98yes99.com/ – the more people who link to us, the more chance we have of coming up in internet search engines.

Send an e-mail to all registered California voters in your address book.

Put a newsletter article (PDF) in your organization’s newsletter so everyone in your organization knows how to vote on 98/99.

* Write a Letter-to-the-Editor to your local paper. Sample Letters (PDF files):
Yes on 99
No on 98: Renters
No on 98: Water
No on 98: Environment

* If you rent, put this letter under the door of every apartment in your complex.

* Forward this email to a friend.

* Make a plan to handout literature the weekend right before absentee ballots hit – handouts available here.

* Volunteer to get involved in activities in your region, including press conferences, precinct walking, and more. E-mail info@no98yes99.com

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Prop. 98 is an attack on Real People! Meet Robert Potter!

Prop. 98 Is an Attack on Real People
Stop the Landlords’ Attack on Renters

Profiles of the types of people who will be harmed by Proposition 98 - the landlords’ deceptive attack on renters, rent control, and renter protections.

Robert Potter is an 80 year-old retired U.S. Army veteran proud to be born and raised in San Francisco. Potter is a third-generation San Franciscan who has lived in the same rent controlled studio apartment for 30 years. Rent control is the only reason Robert and thousands of seniors like him can even afford to live in the city. Proposition 98 would strike a devastating one-two punch for all San Francisco renters, including Robert. First, 98 immediately eliminates important renter protections like laws protecting renters against unfair evictions. Second, Prop. 98 eliminates rent control. Since the renter protections will be outlawed, landlords can kick out tenants like Robert for no good reason and eliminate rent control on that unit forever. Robert is an outspoken critic of Prop. 98, participating in No on 98 rallies and urging his friends, neighbors and anyone who will listen to turn out to vote on June 3 and defeat Prop. 98.

“I hope we vote 98 down so we can keep rent control because the rent in this city is too high. People who will suffer most are seniors, the youth and veterans that live on fixed incomes. I tell people that we all need to come out and vote. The landlords are so greedy, we stand to lose everything.”

- Robert C. Potter, U.S. Veteran, 80, San Francisco

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

CalChamber OPPOSES Prop. 98

California Chamber of Commerce Votes to Oppose
Proposition 98 on the June Ballot

Sacramento, CA --
The California Chamber of Commerce voted to oppose Proposition 98 at its March 14 Board of Directors meeting. In particular, the CalChamber board cited concerns about Prop. 98's potential impact on needed water infrastructure projects and our state's economic growth.

Prop. 98 on the June 2008 ballot will jeopardize water infrastructure projects, destroy land use planning, encourage NIMBY lawsuits and eliminate rent control.

The Chamber joins a broad and diverse coalition including AARP, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, League of California Homeowners, League of Women Voters of California, National Wildlife Federation, California Teachers Association, California Police Chiefs Association, California Fire Chiefs Association and many others. For a complete list of Prop 98 opponents see below or click here.

The CalChamber did not take a position on Proposition 99, also on the June ballot.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Landlord Watch - Follow the Funding!!!

Landlord Watch!!!
Exposing the Wealthy Landlords Behind Proposition 98 and Their Deceptive Attack on Renters.

Wealthy apartment and mobile home park owners spent millions to get Prop. 98 on the June 2008 ballot. Prop. 98 is a deceptive scheme that would wipe out rent control and eliminate important renter protections like laws requiring the fair return of deposits. Prop. 98 is the worst kind of special interest proposition there is: It benefits a few wealthy landlords at the expense of millions of Californians. Landlord Watch is a periodic publication intended to expose the landlords behind Prop. 98 and their attack on renters.

Landlord Watch:

Tatum-Kaplan Financial Corporation
Total Contributions to Prop. 98: $200,000.00*

Tatum-Kaplan owns or operates more than 20 mobile home parks throughout California. A news search of Tatum and Kaplan uncovers dozens of news articles painting a troubling picture of landlords with a history of mistreating tenants and neglecting their properties. The company has been sued, fined or cited numerous times for...

Operating Slum-Like Conditions

In Mira Loma, Kaplan and Tatum were accused of operating a ‘slumlike’ mobile home park.

“…more than 100 residents at Swan Lake have accused the partners in court of allowing their property to deteriorate. Park residents contend… that owners and managers neglected the Swan Lake electrical system, which caused blackouts."

“They also said the park had an inadequate septic system that allowed raw sewage to back up into homes…”

“Other complaints about maintenance have been made in lawsuits filed by tenants in several Kaplan-Tatum parks, including Tokay Manor in Fontana. Conditions there prompted city officials to declare the park a public nuisance...”

-Source: Riverside Press Enterprise, “Rent Control Foe Pushing Prop. 199”, February 18, 1996

Rent Gouging
In 2000 a Santa Clara County Judge ordered Kaplan and Tatum to pay a $1.2 million judgment for “improperly inflated space rents well in excess of the city’s rent control regulations.”


“After a five-year delay, prosecutors went to trial… accusing the owners of two mobile-home parks of rent gouging and running an intricate sham to skirt San Jose’s rent control ordinance.”
“The companies… are managed by Thomas Tatum and Jeffrey Kaplan.”

“Santa Clara prosecutors claim that… park operators manipulated 90 prospective tenants…”
-San Jose Mercury News, Prosecutors Accuse Mobile-Home Park Owners of Rent-Gouging, January 8, 2000

*CA Secretary of State filings as of 2/22/08: http://cal-access.sos.ca.gov/Campaign/Committees/Detail.aspx?id=1296303&view=late1. Individual contributions from Donna Kaplan = $33,333.34; Jeffrey Kaplan = $66,666.66; Thomas Tatum = $75,000; Claudia Tatum = $25,000.00

Meet Real Renter Janelle Longwell!

Profiles of Real People Who Would be Affected By Prop. 98 - Meet Janelle Longwell!

Janelle Longwell has struggled with epilepsy most of her life. Janelle lives in a small Los Angeles area apartment protected by rent control – the only way she can afford a roof over her head. Because of her disability, Janelle struggles with normal daily living, cannot drive, and has to live close to her daughter and a friend of thirty-seven years in case of emergencies. If Prop. 98 passes, many individuals like Janelle are worried about where she would go if her landlord wanted to force her out. Prop. 98 will make it easier for landlords to evict tenants with no notice and no just cause. She also worries about Prop. 98’s impact on her Section 8 voucher that she waited 10 years to receive. If rent control is phased out, many Section 8 recipients may have to pay more out of their pockets toward their rent, leaving them with less money for basic necessities like food, prescriptions and utilities. Defeating Proposition 98 is paramount to the survival of many renters like Janelle.

“A lot of these landlords are just plain heartless, and they would stop at nothing to evict people like me. Some of us are barely making it financially with rent control, and I have no clue how we would survive without it. It’s shameless that these landlords would try to deceive California voters -- just to put money in their pockets at the expense of renters like me!”
- Janelle Longwell
Los Angeles

Monday, March 10, 2008

Prop. 98 Is An Attack on Real People! Meet Larry Jackson.

Prop. 98 Is an Attack on Real People! Meet Larry Jackson.

Profiles of the types of people who will be harmed by Proposition 98 - the landlords’ deceptive attack on renters, rent control, and renter protections.

Larry Jackson is an ex-Peace Corp member who lives in a mobile home park in Riverside with his wife Jean. After working his whole life, Larry is now out of retirement and working part time at Castle Park amusement park to make ends meet. If Larry’s mobile home park was not protected by rent control, the Jacksons would not be able to afford to live in their home.

Larry also worries that if Prop. 98 passes, mobile homeowners will face extreme difficulties selling their homes. Once buyers learn rent control will be lifted on the space as soon as the unit is sold, they will no longer be interested and the unit will be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars less. Prop. 98 will devastate home owners like Larry by eroding the equity he’s spent years building in his home.

“Everyday we see attacks from wealthy landlords to maximize their profits on those who can least afford to defend themselves. My wife and I are concerned about our survival if prop 98 passes. We continually ask our representatives, what is rent stabilization all about? If not to protect seniors and low-income families then who is rent stabilization meant to protect? Affordable housing will be just another cliché if we lose to prop 98.” -- Robert Fleak, Rohnert Park

Friday, March 7, 2008

No on Prop. 98 Coalition Disappointed in Judge’s Ruling to Keep “Rent Control” Out of Prop. 98 Title

In Legal Filings, Both Judge and Attorney General Acknowledge that Rent Control is Major Component of Prop. 98.

Sacramento, CA – No on 98/Yes on 99 coalition members today expressed disappointment in Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley’s decision to leave the Proposition 98 title & summary unchanged. Plaintiffs argued that Prop. 98’s rent control provisions were a principle point of the initiative and, as such, should be referenced in the title.

In his ruling, Judge Frawley acknowledged rent control was a key component of Prop. 98, writing: “If the proposition is approved, the proposition would prohibit any new rent control measure…” However, the judge ruled that there is no distinction between the title and the summary and since the prohibition on rent control was already the second bullet in the summary, the Attorney General had substantially complied with the law. However, in oral remarks today during the hearing, Judge Frawley also acknowledged that if he had been tasked with writing the title and summary he might have written it differently.

In pleadings filed in connection with this lawsuit, the Attorney General also acknowledged that rent control is a primary provision in Prop. 98, writing: “The Attorney General agrees with petitioners that the prohibition on rent control is one of the chief points and purposes of Proposition 98”. But the Attorney General refused to mention rent control in the title.

Plaintiffs in the case respond to the ruling:

Dean Preston, Executive Director of Tenants Together in San Francisco and a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit said: “Today’s ruling is a disappointment. The only reason Prop. 98 was put on the ballot is to end rent control, pure and simple. We strongly believe that some reference to rent control should be reflected in the title. Eighty-five percent of funding for the Yes on 98 campaign – more than $2 million – comes from landlords and the organizations that represent them. Millions of people in rent controlled communities will be negatively impacted, as will more than 14 million California renters who will lose renter protections if Prop. 98 passes.”

Nan Brasmer, President of the California Alliance for Retired Americans and co-plaintiff said: “Regardless of the ruling, we’re moving full steam ahead to educate voters about the hidden provisions and dangers of Prop. 98. We know voters strongly oppose Prop. 98’s provisions that would abolish rent control and renter protections. Voters are smart, and we’re confident they’ll see through the landlords’ smokescreen and vote No on 98 on Election Day.”

Background: The No on 98/Yes on 99 coalition filed a lawsuit February 25 in Sacramento County Superior Court asking the court to change the official title of Proposition 98 to include mention of the measure’s rent control provisions. The official title of the measure prepared by the California Attorney General’s Office only informs voters of the measure’s eminent domain provisions, and excludes any mention of eliminating rent control, which is one of Prop. 98’s main provisions. The summary itself includes mention of rent control as the second point, but not the title.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Californians Against Proposition 98 - The Landlords' Attack on Renters
Campaign Video Contest: Win a $1,000 Prize


What: The No on Prop. 98 Campaign is hosting a statewide contest to expose Prop. 98's devastating flaws and its potential negative impacts for California renters. We are looking for short videos that explain to voters why they should vote no on Prop. 98. The best entries will be profiled on the campaign web site and with the press. The winning entry will receive a $1,000 prize.

Video Profile / Outline of Content:
* Videos must be no more than 1 minute in length.
* All videos must be submitted no later than March 28, but are welcome before that.
* Winning videos will focus on Prop. 98's hidden rent control provisions and will: Highlight Prop. 98's disastrous impacts on renters, such as seniors, widows, young families, students and others; and/or
* Expose the wealthy mobile home park and apartment owner landlords who have spent more than $2 million to get Prop. 98 on the ballot. For a list of Prop. 98 funders, visit http://calaccess.sos.ca.gov/Campaign/Committees/Detail.aspx?id=1296303
* Creativity and thinking outside the box is encouraged. While Prop. 98 is serious, humor and light-hearted submissions are encouraged.

Submission Instructions:
They should be posted on You Tube, with a link to the video sent to mcallahan@bickerassociates.com.
Please include your name, phone number and e-mail address with your submission.
Any questions should be sent to mcallahan@bickerassociates.com or kpalmer@bickerassociates.com.

Background on Prop. 98: Prop. 98 on the June 2008 ballot would eliminate rent control in California and is an attack on other important renter protections that protect ALL renters against unfair landlords. Proposition 98 will strip away important renter protections, allowing landlords to pursue unjustified evictions of renters just so they can raise rents as soon as that tenant moves from the unit. Once rent control is lost, it is gone forever. Prop. 98 would jeopardize other laws for all renters, like laws requiring the fair return of rental deposits. Behind Prop.98 are wealthy landlords and mobile home park owners who are trying to pass Prop. 98 for their own financial gain. California Secretary of State records show that more than 85% of funding to put Prop. 98 on the ballot came from wealthy landlords and organizations representing them. These landlords are trying to trick voters into believing Prop. 98 deals with eminent domain. But these landlords don't care about eminent domain - they only care about provisions in the initiative that get rid of rent control laws and other important renter protections at the expense of seniors, veterans, single moms and working families. Prop. 98 is an attack on all existing and future renters in California. Visit http://www.noprop98.org/ for more information on the initiative.


Children under age 18 must have a parent or legal guardian's written permission to submit their material and such permission must accompany the material or it will not be considered.

Employees (and their immediate families and household members) of the No on 98 Committee and its parent, subsidiaries, divisions, and affiliated entities are not eligible to submit material.

By submitting your material, for good and valuable consideration, the sufficiency and receipt of which you hereby acknowledge, you hereby grant to the No on 98 Committee and its affiliates a non-exclusive, perpetual, worldwide license to edit, telecast, rerun, reproduce, use, syndicate, license, print, sublicense, distribute and otherwise exhibit the materials you submit, or any portion thereof, as incorporated in any of their programming or the promotion thereof, in any manner and in any medium or forum, whether now known or hereafter devised, without payment to you or any third party. You represent and warrant to the No on 98 Committee that you have the full legal right, power and authority to grant to No on 98 Committee the license provided for herein, that you own or control the complete exhibition and other rights to the materials you submitted for the purposes contemplated in this license and that neither the materials nor the exercise of the rights granted herein shall infringe upon or violate the right of privacy or right of publicity of, or constitute a libel or slander against, or violate any common law or any other right of, any person or entity. This license shall be governed by the laws of the State of California.

The No on 98 Committee has the right to edit and/or alter any submission. The No on 98 Committee reserves the right not to use the material you submit at all and/or as little of the material as it chooses.

You acknowledge and agree that by submitting your material you are not entering into an employment relationship with the No on 98 Committee and that no relationship is created other than licensor/licensee.
Prop. 98 Is an Attack on Real People
Stop the Landlords’ Attack on Renters!

Profiles of the types of people who will be harmed by Proposition 98 - the landlords’ deceptive attack on renters, rent control, and renter protections.

Elizabeth (77) and John (79) Cirica, who live in the Summerset MHP in Alviso, a community in the City of San Jose, narrowly avoided losing their home four years ago when the owner of their park tried to increase everyone’s rent by $620 dollars per month -- more than doubling their rent payments. That effort was defeated by San Jose’s strong rent control ordinance which protects seniors like the Ciricas against unfair massive increases in their rent. Elizabeth, who recently lost a leg due to diabetes, worries that Proposition 98 will strip away important renter protections, allowing landlords to pursue unjustified evictions of tenants just so they can raise rents. Prop. 98 would also make it easier for landlords to raise rents on seniors like Elizabeth and John.

“We bought this home so John and I could live the rest of our lives peacefully in a safe and secure environment, and remain close to our grandchildren and great grandchildren. With rent control we can budget the yearly increase, but there is no way we could afford to pay rent in the amount these Park Owners demand as their due.”
- John and Elizabeth Circa, Alviso, California

Monday, February 25, 2008

Coalition Opposed to Proposition 98 Files Lawsuit to Ensure Title & Summary Accurately Reflects Measure’s Rent Control Provisions

Today, members of the No on 98/Yes on 99 coalition filed a lawsuit in Sacramento County Superior Court, asking a judge to change the official title of Proposition 98 to include mention of the measure’s rent control provisions. Currently, the official title of the measure prepared by the California Attorney General’s Office only informs voters of the measure’s eminent domain provisions, and excludes any mention of eliminating rent control, which is one of Prop. 98’s main provisions. The summary itself includes mention of rent control as the second point, but not the title.

By law, the official title of an initiative is supposed to summarize the principle provisions of a measure. The lawsuit also contends that principle provisions in Prop. 98 would interfere with local land-use and environmental laws and regulations, and should also be included in the Title and Summary. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include the California Alliance for Retired Americans and Tenants Together. To read the press release, click here.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Prop. 98 Is an Attack on Real People!

Profiles of the types of people who will be harmed by Proposition 98 - the landlords’ deceptive attack on renters, rent control, and renter protections.

Conny Caruso Hutchinson is a 77 year-old senior citizen who has to work a job at a local movie theater in order to supplement her fixed (retirement) income. Conny lives in a modest apartment in Park La Brea. Were it not for rent control, she wouldn’t be able to afford to live in Los Angeles. In addition to phasing out rent control, Proposition 98 eliminates important renter protections, like laws against unfair evictions. Landlords would have a huge financial incentive and much more legal leeway to get rid of tenants and their rent control. Once rent control on a unit is gone, it’s gone for good. That means tenants like Conny and millions others could never move – without facing devastating rent increases. Prop. 98 is an attack on renters – renters like Conny.
"I am 77 years-old and have to work part time in my golden years just to make ends meet. If it weren’t for rent control, I wouldn’t be able to afford a place to live. I hope voters reject Prop. 98 to protect people like me.”
- Conny Caruso Hutchinson, Los Angeles

Wealthy landlords and mobile home park owners are trying to pass Prop. 98 for their own financial gain. California Secretary of State records show that more than 85% of funding to put Prop. 98 on the ballot came from wealthy landlords and organizations representing them. These landlords are trying to trick voters into believing they wrote Prop. 98 to reform eminent domain. But these landlords don’t care about eminent domain – they only care about provisions in the initiative that would phase out rent control laws at the expense of seniors, veterans, single moms and working families. Prop. 98 also guts important protections for all renters, like laws requiring the fair return of rental deposits and laws protecting tenants from unfair and unjust evictions. Prop. 98 is an attack on all existing and future renters in California.
Visit www.no98yes99.com to find out more.

Monday, February 11, 2008

No on Proposition 98 Campaign Releases Diverse List of California Organizations Opposing Proposition 98 – the Landlords’ Attack on Renters

Organizations Representing Millions of Seniors, Teachers, Public Safety Officials, Renters, Farmers, Business, Environmentalists and Labor Oppose Prop. 98

Sacramento, CA –The No on Prop. 98 Committee announced Friday the most recent additions to the diverse coalition of organizations opposed to Prop. 98 on the June ballot. Nearly 100 prominent organizations representing seniors, teachers, public safety, business leaders, organized labor, renters, religious groups, farmers and environmentalists have come out in formal opposition to Prop. 98, dubbed the “Hidden Agendas Scheme” by opponents.

Prop. 98 is a deceptive measure. California Secretary of State records show that more than 85% of funding for the measure comes from wealthy landlords and organizations representing them. These landlords are trying to trick voters into believing Prop. 98 deals with eminent domain. But these landlords don’t care about eminent domain. The landlords only care about their Hidden provisions in the initiative – ones that would wipe out rent control laws and other important renter protections. Prop. 98 also would gut environmental protections, threaten new public water projects and decimate local land use planning.

A complete list of organizations opposing the Hidden Agendas Scheme can be found here. The new organizations to recently announce their opposition to Prop. 98 are listed below:

California Police Chiefs Association
California Teachers Association
League of Women Voters of California
Silicon Valley Leadership Group
National Wildlife Federation
Western Center on Law and Poverty
California Church Impact
Black, Asian, Minority and Ethnic Renaissance, CDC

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Los Angeles Times Exposes Motives of Wealthy Landlords Funding Prop. 98 Campaign, Highlights Human Impact of Eliminating Rent Control

Today's Los Angeles Times article on Prop. 98 exposes the real motive of the landlords funding the ballot measure: to eliminate rent control and renter protections. As pointed out by The Times, eliminating rent control would impact more than 1 million California renters, including hundreds of thousands of retired seniors on fixed incomes, widows, single mothers, veterans and others who would face skyrocketing rents and could potentially lost their homes.

Excerpts from the story are below, and to read the entire article, click here:

“More than 100 owners and operators of apartment buildings and mobile home parks spent nearly $2 million to put an initiative on the June 3 ballot to phase out California's rent control laws.”

“About 1.2 million people statewide are covered by such laws. Los Angeles, which has 626,600 rent-controlled residential units, could be affected more than any other city if the measure passes.”

“Having toiled in machine shops during World War II and worked for decades in other manual jobs, 84-year-old Mary Kubancik felt entitled to live out her years in a pleasant mobile home park in Sylmar. Instead, the frail Kubancik is preparing to move out after 19 years. Her $919 monthly Social Security check won't cover her essentials and the $702 that her mobile home space will cost when the latest double-digit increase takes effect in April. ‘I worked since I was 14 years old, and this is all I have,’ she said, tears vying with anger in her eyes. ‘I had to sell. And this was supposed to be my golden years.’”

“Tenant-rights advocates say that if rent control is phased out, many poor and elderly people will have no place to live. ‘It would literally take the roofs off most tenants' heads who live in rent control jurisdictions,’ said Larry Gross, executive director of the Coalition for Economic Survival, a tenants' rights group in Los Angeles. ‘Los Angeles would be hit the worst,’ Gross said. ‘Landlords would resort to any action, legal or illegal, to get those tenants out.’”

"‘Homeowners want true eminent domain protections but will not be duped into enacting harmful and deceptive provisions that have nothing to do with eminent domain,’ said Ken Willis, president of the League of California Homeowners.”

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Homeowners Protection Act Qualifies for June Ballot

Today the Secretary of State officially qualified the Homeowners Protection Act for the June Ballot, ensuring that voters will be able to enact real eminent domain reform. Read the press release here. Of course, the Landlord's Hidden Agendas Scheme will also be on the ballot and they are hoping voters won't notice the provision in their measure that eliminates rent control. But we will be working to make sure voters know this is really an attempt by greedy landlords to line their wallets on the back of seniors and working families.

Last weekend in San Francisco, over 200 people attended a meeting focused on saving rent control and defeating this dangerous "Hidden Agendas" measure. Similar efforts are happening all over the state. To get involved, contact the campaign at http://www.eminentdomainreform.com/.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Landlords Hidden Agendas Scheme Qualifies for Ballot, Time to Save Rent Control is NOW!

Today the landlords Hidden Agendas Scheme qualified for the June ballot. This deceptive measure would abolish rent control and renter protections upon which over 1 million California families rely. California renters will not take this lying down – we are organized and ready to fight this deceptive measure. Ted Gullicksen with the San Francisco Tenants Union highlights their efforts to beat back this dangerous measure:

San Francisco Bay Guardian 1/16/08

Imagine San Francisco without rent control
If we lose rent control, we'll lose not just our homes but also our city

If you think the mortgage foreclosure crisis is big, imagine what would happen to San Francisco if rent control were repealed.

With 180,000 rent-controlled apartments currently housing more than 350,000 San Franciscans, the end of rent control would be disastrous. Literally hundreds of thousands would be forced from their homes and forced to leave the city.

The pain and suffering people would face as they lost their homes would be immense, making the foreclosure problem seem insignificant by comparison. Maybe even worse, repealing rent control would destroy forever the soul of San Francisco, eliminating altogether the city's character and diversity and leaving it nothing more than a wealthy enclave affordable only to the very rich.

Envisioning the loss of rent control and the effect that would have is not fantasy. A statewide ballot measure this June would abolish rent control in San Francisco and all across California.

The measure would also abolish requirements that developers include affordable housing in their projects. That means we could wake up on June 4 this year with all affordable housing in San Francisco gone — unless we all work as hard as we can to save our rent control and our affordable housing.

In 1979, rent control was adopted in San Francisco, and it was accomplished only because thousands of San Francisco tenants made it happen. People collected signatures, made phone calls, walked precincts, packed City Hall hearings, and demonstrated and marched. Through collective grassroots activism, rent control became a reality. Now many of us think of rent control as something we've always had and a law that will always be there.

But we need to face reality: in five months, all limits on rent hikes could be gone. It won't be easy to save rent control, and we need to begin our work now. The fate of rent control will largely be up to voters in San Francisco and Los Angeles, where most California renters live. Los Angeles tenants are organizing and mounting a strong campaign there. We need to do the same in San Francisco.

The San Francisco campaign to save rent control will kick off Jan. 19 with a citywide mobilization of tenants and allied organizations to plan and begin our work. If we're going to save rent control, we need the same level of grassroots activism we had when we fought to get rent control in 1979, and we need tenants to come to the Save Rent Control Convention and begin the hard work to keep our homes.

This will be a working convention: following an overview about the measure, we will map out strategies and plans for fundraising, voter registration and education, media strategies, Web site development, rally organization, and all of the other components that make for a successful grassroots campaign. The tasks are many, and there's not much time.

If we lose rent control, we'll lose not just our homes but also our city. Saving rent control is not a fight people can sit out and hope someone else will do something about.

Ted Gullicksen

Ted Gullicksen runs the San Francisco Tenants Union.

The Save Rent Control Convention will be Jan. 19, 1–4 p.m., at Centro del Pueblo, 474 Valencia (at 16th St.), SF. For more information on the rent control repeal measure, see www.saverentcontrol.net or www.sftu.org. For more information, call (415) 282-5525.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Ventura County seeks to protect mobile home tenants

Ventura County board seeks to better control park conversions.
By Gregory W. GriggsLos Angeles Times Staff WriterJanuary 10, 2008Seeking more control over mobile home park conversions, Ventura County supervisors took steps this week to tighten the rules to better protect tenants and prospective buyers.The board Tuesday directed its staff to devise an ordinance modeled after Sonoma County's -- one that recently withstood a court challenge -- to oversee subdivision of mobile home parks. Within the county's jurisdiction are 22 parks, which collectively house more than 2,000 residents."There is no other instance in county government where we don't have the ability to review subdivisions," said Supervisor Steve Bennett, who, along with Supervisor Kathy Long, proposed the ordinance. "These are old mobile home parks. They are really at the edge in terms of their infrastructure."A growing number of park owners in California are converting their properties to condominium-type associations in which residents can buy the land beneath their trailers. With senior citizens and people on fixed incomes making up the majority of park residents, many tenants fear they would not be able to afford to buy a lot or to pay large rent increases, and would be left with no place to park their coaches.In Ventura County, tenants would not have to purchase their spaces after a conversion. State law gives park owners relief from rent-control provisions, except for low-income residents.The proposed ordinance would require that owners notify the county and park tenants before converting their parks. It would also require that tenants be surveyed to determine how many were interested in becoming owners.Park owners would have to analyze how a conversion would affect existing tenants and rents. In addition, the analysis would have to outline the potential to relocate coaches to other parks in the county, determine space availability and estimate costs.Before a park could be converted, property owners would have to provide a comprehensive report on the condition of streets, lighting, water, fire protection, storm water, sewer systems and other infrastructure, and a proposal for funding improvements."This isn't just about rent control. This isn't just about maintaining affordable housing stock in this county, but it's about helping keep people in their mobile home parks," Long told her colleagues before the vote. "It gives the board the ability to look at subdivision requests and to make sure that we protect the public."Supervisor Peter C. Foy, elected board chairman at Tuesday's meeting, cast the only dissenting vote. He said forcing investors in mobile home parks to refurbish a park's entire infrastructure before allowing any sales puts them at a disadvantage."If I want to buy an apartment building, I can just buy it as it is," Foy said. "I believe this is very discriminatory against all [park] owners and anyone who wants to buy their lot."David Evans, representing the Western Manufactured Housing Communities Assn., said park owners oppose any local measures that interfere with the ability to sell land to those tenants who desire to become property owners."We believe this is an area that is governed by state law rather than local ordinances," Evans said. The association "is opposed to any local ordinances that would impede the progress of mobile home park subdivisions."Ventura County planners were instructed to prepare an ordinance for the county Planning Commission's Jan. 31 meeting. If the ordinance is approved, the Board of Supervisors could take up the matter by mid-February.

East Palo Alto council freezes rent hikes

By Banks AlbachBay Area News Group

In a bold move sure to prompt a legal challenge from the city's largest landlord, the East Palo Alto City Council on Tuesday passed an urgency ordinance freezing rent hikes for the next six months.
The unanimous decision, which takes effect immediately, was prompted by roughly 1,300 rent hikes brought on by Page Mill Properties on Dec. 1 and due on Feb. 1. Most of the increases ranged between $36 and $150. But some rents peaked much higher, including one tenant who received a 47 percent increase for a two-bedroom townhouse that was severely undervalued, the company's development director Jim Thompson said.

The council called a special meeting last Thursday to explore passing the ordinance, but the absence of Councilman David Woods made it impossible. Under state law, urgency ordinances need a four-fifths vote, so it was put on hold after Councilman Peter Evans abstained last week, citing numerous irregularities and fear of litigation.

Instead, the council passed a normal ordinance that would have taken effect a week after the rent increases are due.

Woods made it clear early on which way he was swaying.

"To not pass it as an emergency ordinance would be detrimental to the tenants," he said before voting. "I think it's very important we treat this as an emergency."

The city is contending that the increases are illegal under East Palo Alto's longstanding rent stabilization program, which caps rent increases at around 3.2 percent per year, a cost of living adjustment. But the city's rent control, which regulates about 2,500 units, 1,600 of which are owned by Page Mill, also runs on a system using certificates of maximum rent, which the city issues annually.

Over the last several years, the actual rent for hundreds of units has dropped, while the city continued to adjust the certificates at a higher rate. Page Mill based the rent increases off the higher of the two numbers, a discrepancy that has left hundreds of tenants in a tight squeeze between an outdated city ordinance and Page Mill.

"This more than a legal issue, this is a moral issue," Loma Eaves, a Page Mill tenant, told the council. "I ask you to support this moratorium tonight."

Page Mill's attorney, Chris Griffith, of the firm Ellman, Burke, Hoffman & Johnson, told the council it is in violation of numerous laws, and after the decision Mill's CEO David Taran said he plans to sue.

"We have no choice," Taran said. "When we bought those properties, the city told us the certificates were the law," Taran said. "If anyone's been tricked, it's us."

Griffith is claiming that the city may have acted illegally in how it passed the ordinance, that it violated state election law by passing the moratorium, which effects an ordinance passed by popular vote and can only be altered the same way, and that Councilman Ruben Abrica may have a conflict of interest because his name is on a 10-year-old Page Mill lease.

Abrica's possible conflict of interest was one reason why Evans abstained from last Thursday's vote.

Abrica defended his position, however, claiming he only recently moved into the unit six months ago and pays his brother 30 percent of the rent. City Attorney Michael Lawson told the council that Abrica's share of the 7 percent increase set to take effect on Feb. 1 is not enough money to mark a conflict of interest.

The big question - which could be answered in court - is how much was Page Mill allowed to raise rents. If the certificates reflect numerous years that had no increases, can Page Mill bank those amounts and combine them in a single increase?

Outgoing City Attorney Michael Lawson, along with outside counsel Rick Jarvis, are confident the answer is no; Griffith is banking on Page Mill's right to raise rents to the limit on the city-issued certificates.