Santa Rosa voters narrowly defeat rent control measure

SANTA ROSA (BCN) — Santa Rosa voters narrowly defeated Measure C, a rent control and “just cause” eviction ordinance passed by the City Council last summer.

The measure received 47.5 percent, short of the simple majority needed to pass.

More than $1 million was spent during the campaign, more than $800,000 of it by real estate and rental housing groups.

Three members of the seven-seat Santa Rosa City Council were against the measure while others, including Mayor Chris Coursey, were for it.

Opponents of the ordinance that the Council approved in August gathered enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot instead of letting it go into effect.

Annual rent increases would have been capped at 3 percent under Measure C, and landlords could evict tenants for just cause such as failing to pay rent or breaching their lease, or for “no fault” circumstances such as when a landlord moves into a rental unit or withdraws the unit from the rental market.

Under the proposed ordinance, landlords could request a hearing to raise rents above 3 percent and tenants could request a hearing to reduce rents.

The ordinance would have applied to anyone living in an apartment built before Feb. 1, 1995 and sought to reset rents to the amount that was in effect on Jan. 1, 2016.

Santa Rosa officials estimated about 11,000 apartments would have been affected.

Proponents had argued that the measure would allow thousands of renters to remain in their homes, reduce crime through stable neighborhoods, prevent students from moving to different school districts and reduce stress arising from fear of eviction.

Opponents said Measure C was the wrong solution because 80 percent of Santa Rosa’s housing wasn’t covered by Measure C and it did not address homelessness. Opponents said Santa Rosa and the county need construction of more affordable housing instead.

Councilwoman Julie Combs praised the coalition of Measure C supporters after it lost.

“We will prevail next time because now we are ready. Now we know how strong we can be,” Combs said on the Facebook page for the Yes on C group supporting the measure. “A good fight done well, bad break. Next time,” Combs said.

“A good fight done well, bad break. Next time,” Combs said.

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