Yesterday, 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 principal provisions of a measure. The lawsuit also contends that principal 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.
"By far, Proposition 98's greatest impact will be the provisions abolishing rent control and renter protections," said Nan Brasmer, President of the California Alliance for Retired Americans. "Currently, more than 1 million renters are protected by rent control, and this initiative will negatively impact millions of renters in the state."
"When voters read the title - which is all that many voters read - they should be informed up front that Prop. 98 abolishes rent control. It's a principle point of the initiative. Voters have a right to know," continued Brasmer.
In their lawsuit, plaintiffs point out that more than 85% of funding for the measure has come from apartment and mobile home park owners and organizations that represent landlords. Internal mailings from landlord groups obtained by the No on 98 coalition, which were submitted as evidence in the lawsuit, clearly demonstrate that these landlords are funding Proposition 98 solely because of the anti- rent control provisions.
"The overwhelming majority of funding behind Prop. 98 comes from landlords. The only reason they're funding this measure is to abolish rent control and other renter protections," said Dean Preston, Executive Director of Tenants Together. "Even the proponents' own ballot arguments list rent control as a principle provision of the initiative. We're simply asking that the title reflect the primary provisions so voters can make an informed decision."
All of California's leading environmental organizations are also strongly opposed to Proposition 98, warning that the measure would have a devastating impact on land-use regulations and environmental protections.
Susan Smartt, Executive Director of the California League of Conservation Voters said: "Prop. 98 would gut environmental protections and future laws we need to protect our land, air, water and other natural resources, as well as laws we need to combat climate change and global warming. These provisions are significant, and should be reflected in the title and summary that the voters see."