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Landlord “No Rent Control” Petition Subject To Complete Signature Check

The "no rent control" ballot measure petition will be subject to a complete signature check. (File photo)

The “no rent control” ballot measure petition will be subject to a complete signature check. (File photo)

The Alameda city clerk’s office confirmed today that the landlord-sponsored “Alameda Homeowners and Private Property Rights Act,” which would ban rent control in Alameda, will be subjected to a complete signature check.

The delay in certifying the signatures means that the petition won’t be certified in time to make it to the November 8th ballot.

It also means that Alameda City Council won’t likely need a rare August council meeting.

Proponents of the Alameda Renters Coalition strict rent control ballot measure, which has already qualified for the November ballot, will undoubtedly be pressing city council tomorrow night to go forward and approve that measure for the November 8th ballot, without waiting for the landlords to catch up.

Should the landlords petition ultimately be certified, it could be placed on the ballot in a special election, at extra expense, or potentially combined with a rent board election in March of next year, should the renters petition succeed at the ballot.

An Alameda County guide to ballot initiatives explains that ballot petitions with more than 500 signatures can be certified by a statistical sample of the signatures, including “500 or 3 percent of the signatures, whichever is greater.”

The guide continues, explaining, “If the sample shows that the number of valid signatures is fewer than 95 percent of the signatures needed to qualify the petition, then the petition is declared insufficient. If the sample shows that more than 110 percent of the signatures needed to qualify the petition are valid, then the petition is declared sufficient.

“However, if the sample shows that the number of valid signatures is within 95 percent to 110 percent of the number of signatures of qualified voters needed to declare the petition sufficient, the
Registrar shall examine and verify every signature filed.”

The confirmation that the registrar needs to perform a complete signature check suggests that the number of valid signatures in the sample falls within the 95 percent to 110 percent range.

3 comments to Landlord “No Rent Control” Petition Subject To Complete Signature Check

  • Eric Strimling

    I just found this article. Generally, good reporting. However, the line “Should the landlords petition ultimately be certified, it could be placed on the ballot in a special election, at extra expense, or potentially combined with a rent board election in March of next year, should the renters petition succeed at the ballot.” is incorrect. As the City Clerk has pointed out, initiatives are placed on the next “regular election” ballot. No special election would be held.

    Whether or not the Rent Board election would count, since it would be a special election, is not clear. The City Clerk has given opinions both ways on it. I think she may be hoping that the problem wont come up.

    But, thank you for the clear explanation of the rest of the process.

  • Eric – the idea that the landlord’s initiative could be on the March 2017 ballot came from the July 19 meeting packet, from city staff: (bolding mine.)

    “Second, if only the Renters’ Initiative were on the November 2016 ballot and it passed, it not only creates a whole new set of rules and regulations than currently exists as to rent control, but it also calls for an election of a Rent Board within 90 days, in March 2017. If the Landlords’ Initiative were on the March 2017 ballot as well and passed, it would presumably negate the primary reason for the Rent Board and other rent control provisions of the Renters’ Initiative, but leave intact other provisions of the Renters’ Initiative that are not directly related to rent control, such as the limitations on the grounds for terminating a tenancy and the payment of relocation benefits when certain tenancies are terminated.”

    At the July 19 meeting, City Clerk Lara Weisigar took great pains to explain to Councilmember Oddie that the determination of when city council might put the Landlord’s initiative on the ballot is complex. She offered at least twice to read the pertinent election code, to be responsive to Oddie.

    The clerk seems to have been referring to Elections Code 1405, which does, indeed, require some parsing: http://codes.findlaw.com/ca/elections-code/elec-sect-1405.html

    However, to this layperson’s eyes, it seems to leave open the possibility of consolidating the landlord’s initiative with an ARC petition rent board election.

    Certainly it would cost less money to consolidate the two matters to a single election, rather than to hold to separate elections, “special” or otherwise.

  • A fuller excerpt from the July 5th packet:

    “Placing Both Initiatives for Consideration at the Same Election

    As noted above, the Landlords’ Initiative has not yet been qualified for placement on the ballot. The Registrar has until July 27, 2016, to confirm, using the random sample method, that there are a sufficient number of signatures to qualify the Initiative for the ballot. Based on the Council’s current regular meeting schedule, July 19 is its last meeting until September 6, 2016. Once an initiative is found sufficient, the matter must go on the next regular City Council meeting and the Council calls the election. However, for an initiative to be considered for the November 8, 2016 ballot, the Council must certify the sufficiency of the petitions and call the election before August 12. Accordingly, the Council should discuss whether it wishes to revise its regular meeting schedule to add a regular meeting on August 8, in order to have the opportunity to place the Landlords’ Initiative on the November ballot should it qualify based on the random sample method.

    Staff believes there are merits to both Initiatives being considered at the same election. First, it would provide the voters with clear choices: (a) vote no on both Initiatives and keep the City Ordinance in full force and effect; (b) vote for the Renters’ Initiative if stricter rent control is favored, or (c) vote for the Landlords’ Initiative if no rent control is favored. If both Initiatives are on the same ballot and both were to pass, the Landlords’ Initiative provides that if it receives a greater number of affirmative votes, it would control in its entirety and any other measure dealing with rent control would be rendered void and without any legal effect. Moreover, if both Initiatives were on the same ballot and both were to pass but the Renters’ Initiative receives a greater number of affirmative votes, the rent control (and other) provisions of the Renters’ Initiative would take effect over the Landlords’ Initiative because the Renters’ Initiative imposes rent control (on certain units) but the Landlords’ Initiative does not.

    Second, if only the Renters’ Initiative were on the November 2016 ballot and it passed, it not only creates a whole new set of rules and regulations than currently exists as to rent control, but it also calls for an election of a Rent Board within 90 days, in March 2017. If the Landlords’ Initiative were on the March 2017 ballot as well and passed, it would presumably negate the primary reason for the Rent Board and other rent control provisions of the Renters’ Initiative, but leave intact other provisions of the Renters’ Initiative that are not directly related to rent control, such as the limitations on the grounds for terminating a tenancy and the payment of relocation benefits when certain tenancies are terminated. This situation could cause more confusion to the entire rental community that staff is currently trying to manage with the assistance of the Housing Authority.

    Third, the situation in the paragraph above would be more problematic if the Landlords’ Initiative did not appear on the ballot until November 2018 and was then passed, as the community would have had in place for nearly two years a complex rent control program contemplated by the Renters’ Initiative, including the elected Rent Board and staff that the Board had hired, thereby exacerbating the issues described in the paragraph above.”

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