Yes on 21: Big Real Estate Loses Lawsuit to Suppress Voter Guide Ballot Language - ‘The Truth Hurts!’

·6-min read

Fat cat billionaire and Wall Street opponents of Proposition 21 sued Calif. Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s office seeking to suppress the ballot argument in support of the Rental Affordability Act (RAA)

Backers of Prop. 21 countersued over the ‘No’ campaign’s ballot argument claim that Prop. 21 "Offers no protection for renters…" the court issued a ruling striking that falsehood from the ‘No’ argument

Housing justice advocates and backers of Yes on 21, a November 2020 state ballot initiative that will allow for the expansion of rent control throughout California, today cheered an uncontested tentative court ruling yesterday upholding language and wording of the ballot argument in support of the measure that will appear in voter guides being sent to the state’s 20.6 million voters in the coming weeks.

The ruling, from the Superior Court of California County of Sacramento (Case No.: 34-2020-80003443) became final Thursday when the judge issued a minute order today ordering Attorney General Xavier Becerra to prepare a formal judgment.

On July 30, Big Real Estate opponents of the initiative—fat cat billionaire investors, developers, Wall Street hedge funds and investment firms—filed a lawsuit against California Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s office seeking to suppress three statements in the ballot argument for Proposition 21, also known as the Rental Affordability Act (RAA). These statements—which Judge Laurie M. Earl upheld in her ruling—include backers’ statements in the ballot argument that:

  • Proposition 21 "Protects single-family homeowners"

  • Proposition 21 "Encourages the construction of new homes"

  • Proposition 21 "Provides reasonable and predictable rent increases"

"At a time of massive unemployment, a public health pandemic and a looming eviction ‘Armageddon’ likely to force hundreds of thousands of Californians out of their homes, Big Real Estate is terrified of the growing groundswell of support for our initiative and sued because the truth hurts," said René Christian Moya, campaign director of the Yes on 21 campaign and director of Housing Is A Human Right. "They attempted—and failed—to suppress basic information on the measure from California voters in order to continue their gluttonous real estate profiteering. We thank the court for its ruling."

After opponents filed suit to block the ballot argument in favor, the Yes on 21 campaign countersued, challenging claims the ‘No’ side asserted in its own opposing ballot argument language. In a similar uncontested tentative ruling (Case No.: 34-2020-80003448), Judge Earl ruled that one of the statements challenged—that Prop. 21 "Offers no protection for renters…" be amended. In her uncontested tentative ruling, expected to become final Friday when the judge issues a minute order ordering the Attorney General to prepare a formal judgment, Judge Earl ruled:

"The opponents argue that Proposition 21 ‘does not, by itself, cap rent for a single solitary renter. It merely authorizes local governments to do so.’ This is a distinction without a difference. Proposition 21 does offer protection for renters, and thus has protection for renters, should local governments pursue them. The Court thus agrees with Petitioners and will amend these arguments…" striking the word ‘renters’ from opponents’ ballot argument against.

Prop 21 has the endorsement of an ever-expanding list of federal and state elected officials, local city councils, and social, housing, and racial justice organizations to support the fight for housing justice in California. Supporters include the CA Democratic Party, Senator Bernie Sanders, Congresswomen Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters, California Senate Pro Tempore Emeritus, and LA. City Councilman-elect Kevin de León (CD-14), labor and civil rights icon Dolores Huerta, Reverend Al Sharpton and the National Action Network, and a suite of California's tenant advocacy and social justice organizations, including the statewide Housing Now! California coalition (which consists of over 100 labor and housing justice organizations), Courage California, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Inquilinos Unidos, the Urban League of Los Angeles, and the Eviction Defense Network (EDN), as well as major labor unions, such as UNITE HERE Local 11. The Campaign has also secured the endorsements of every elected rent control board member in the state. (See the full list of endorsements here).

When passed, Prop. 21 will remove current state law restrictions, giving cities and counties the power to implement and expand rent control policies that limit how much rents can increase each year. It would allow local communities to:

  • Expand rent control to more buildings while exempting newly constructed buildings

  • Exempts single-family homeowners who own up to two homes

  • Allow limits on rent increases when a new renter moves in

The Yes on 21 ballot measure is sponsored by Homeowners & Tenants United, with significant funding by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. To date, small donors have also raised $46,617 in 3,638 individual donations for an average donation of $12.71.

"Just follow the money: the ‘No’ campaign has raised over $20 million across four committees," added Yes on 21’s Moya. "And the average campaign contribution for one—Californians for Responsible Housing sponsored by the CAA, which is the main committee—was an eye-popping $76,098."

Big Real Estate, Investment Firms Spend Big to Suppress ‘Yes on 21’

Here are some of the largest contributors to the ‘No’ campaign to date (July 24)

Totals:

Californians for Responsible Housing sponsored by the CAA:

$16,665,632.14

Californians for Responsible Housing - General Purpose Committee:

$3,099,823.00

Californians for Affordable Housing sponsored by the California Rental Housing Assn:

$50,359.00

Californians to Protect Affordable Housing:

$563,516.40

The total amount raised by all four committees thus far:

$20,379,330

Top 10 Contributors to ‘Californians for Responsible Housing sponsored by the CAA’ include some of the biggest institutional investor landlords. Prop. 21 would apply to any of these companies that own more than two homes:

1.

Essex Property Trust:

$2,850,000

2.

Equity Residential:

$2,250,560

3.

AvalonBay Communities:

$1,757,700

4.

Californians for Responsible Housing - General Purpose Committee:

$1,012,219.14

5.

UDR:

$757,513

6.

Prometheus Real Estate Group:

$666,920

7.

Invitation Homes:

$619,340

8.

Sequoia Equities:

$611,100

9.

Jackson Square Properties:

$555,800

10.

R & V Management Corporation:

$550,000

Prop. 21 has gained increasing urgency during the COVID-19 pandemic, as millions already struggling with California’s high housing costs have lost work and income in the nation’s shuttered economy.

The Yes on 21 ballot measure is sponsored by Renters and Homeowners United to Keep Families in Their Homes, sponsored by AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Committee major funding from AIDS Healthcare Foundation. To learn more go to https://www.rentcontrolnow.org/ and https://www.housinghumanright.org/.

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200807005503/en/

Contacts

Ruthie Thomas
Communications Director, Yes on 21 campaign
ruth.thomas@ahf.org
(310) 663-4159 cell

Ged Kenslea
AHF Communications Dir.
gedk@aidshealth.org
(323) 791-5526 cell