‘Yes on 21’ Warns, ‘No on Prop 21’ Campaign Raises Staggering $78M to Kill California’s Rent Control Measure

·3-min read

November California ballot initiative will limit unfair rent increases and preserve affordable housing

Law returns decision-making process on whether to enact rent control measures to local jurisdictions, communities, and local elected officials. It does not mandate or require rent control anywhere in California, but simply allows local communities to decide what’s best for them

The ‘Yes on 21’ campaign is alarmed, but sadly unsurprised to learn that Big Real Estate’s ‘No on Prop 21’ campaign has raked in a staggering $78 million in contributions, according to Politico, to defeat California’s Proposition 21, a November ballot initiative that will limit unfair rent increases and preserve affordable housing. Publicly traded real estate investment trusts such as Essex Property Trust, Equity Residential, and AvalonBay Communities are among the leading contributors to the ‘No on Prop 21’ campaign.

"Wall Street landlords are trying to buy this election," says René Christian Moya, campaign director of the Yes on Prop 21 campaign. "They’re financing misleading TV ads, and they’re using a shell committee to funnel money into the ‘No on Prop 21’ campaign. All in an effort to keep charging unfair, sky-high rents so they can keep making billions off the backs of middle- and working-class California renters."

The real estate industry has formed four ‘No on Prop 21’ committees, the leading one is Californians for Responsible Housing sponsored by the California Apartment Association. The CAA is the state’s most powerful landlord lobbying group.

On October 16, Equity Residential, led by co-founder and billionaire Sam Zell, shelled out two massive contributions of $1,833,800 each to Californians for Responsible Housing. Also, on October 16, billionaire George Marcus, founder of Essex Property Trust, contributed a hefty $1,400,000. As of October 20, Essex Property Trust is the top contributor to the ‘No on Prop 21’ committee sponsored by the California Apartment Association, giving more than $10 million.

In addition, Blackstone Group (led by billionaire CEO Stephen Schwarzman), billionaire landlord Geoffrey Palmer, and other corporate landlords have contributed $29.9 million to the California Business Roundtable Issues PAC, which has funneled $6.1 million to ‘No on Prop 21’: Californians to Protect Affordable Housing. The Roundtable Issues PAC has also contributed millions to California’s ‘No on Prop 15’ campaign.

Schwarzman and Palmer are also major contributors to Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.

The Yes on 21 campaign recently filed a formal complaint with California’s Fair Political Practices Commission, charging that Californians to Protect Affordable Housing and Californians for Responsible Housing sponsored by the California Apartment Association have violated the Political Reform Act by engaging in money laundering activities. The FPPC is now investigating the fundraising methods of Californians for Responsible Housing.

"It’s very disturbing to see," said Dr. Trent Lange, executive director of the California Clean Money Campaign, a non-partisan watchdog that seeks open and accountable government, at a recent Yes on 21 press conference. "Most campaigns, and certainly the Yes on 21 campaign, are not using shell committees."

Lange, who is not affiliated with the Yes on 21 campaign, added: "They appear to be playing a shell game here. It’s something that voters should take into account."

Proposition 21

When passed, Proposition 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.

  • Exempt Single-Family homeowners who own up to two homes.

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

Housing Is A Human Right (HHR) is the housing advocacy division of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), and the leading sponsor of Proposition 21.

Proposition 21 is sponsored by Homeowners & Tenants United, with significant funding by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. To learn more, visit yeson21ca.org and housinghumanright.org.

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201020006322/en/

Contacts

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