A new survey
of California voters released May 21 by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) found support for Proposition 98 at 30%, with 48% saying they would vote "no." That's a seven-percent drop in support from PPIC's March survey
, where support was at 37%, and a 7% increase in voters who say they would reject the measure (up from 41% "No" in March.) A majority of Californians continue to say that rent control is a "good thing."
Proposition 99, the Homeowners Protection Act, is ahead in the May survey with 44% of likely voters saying they would vote "Yes", while 36% say "No."
"The landlords are trying to deceive voters, but these numbers demonstrate that voters are skeptical and not so easily fooled," said Janis Hirohama, president of the League of Women Voters of California. "We know landlords are stepping up their deceptive television campaign which means this election is far from over. We plan to make an aggressive effort to be sure voters receive the truth about Prop. 98. We're confident voters will reject this scheme on Election Day."
Which is why tenant advocates must be vigilant in defeating Prop 98 on June 3rd. While the poll results are encouraging, voter turnout is expected to be low. And one of the most curious parts of the poll showed that among voters who plan to vote "yes" on Prop 98, 44% said that rent control is a "good thing." This may be because landlords are claiming that Prop 98 "won't affect" tenants who currently live in apartments, because it would merely "phase out" rent control.
But nothing can be further from the truth. Prop 98 would also eliminate "just cause" for eviction protections, which means that landlords will be able to simply eject their rent-controlled tenants with impunity. Moreover, passage of Prop 98 will result in higher instances of landlord harassment -- because owners will suddenly have a huge incentive to convince their long-term tenants to move out.
If voters understand how dangerous Prop 98 is for tenants, it will go down to a crushing defeat. With practically identical results as its March survey, Californians in the May survey support rent control -- calling it a "good thing" by a margin of 54-38, with 8% undecided. This included 66% of registered Democrats, 51% of independents, and a 51% of homeowners.
Moreover, opposition to Prop 98 goes beyond just the majority of Californians who support rent control. Among voters who are against 98, 64% call rent control a "good thing" -- but the remaining 36% did not. That's because the problems with Prop 98 don't stop with abolishing rent control and renter protections. Landlords wrote loopholes that jeopardize environmental protections and threaten future water projects, resulting in frivolous lawsuits and higher taxpayer costs.
You don't have to support rent control to oppose Prop 98. You just have to drink tap water.
Beyond tenant groups, a broad and diverse coalition opposes Prop 98 including: AARP, League of Women Voters of California, California Professional Firefighters, California Teachers Association, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, US Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Labor Federation, the California Chamber of Commerce and hundreds of others. For a complete list of groups opposing Prop 98, click here.