Santa Rosa’s Rent Control Measure Goes Down in Defeat

An ordinance that would have reduced some rents and banned no-cause evictions was rejected by Santa Rosa voters Tuesday after massive spending by the opposition. Despite the crushing defeat, proponents of rent control vowed to fight on in Sonoma County’s largest city, where rents are averaging $2,500 a month and barely one in four households can afford a median-priced home.

Had it passed, Measure C would have reduced certain rents to January 2016 levels and capped increases at 3 percent per year. It also would have prohibited evictions that don’t fall under a “just cause” category, such as failure to pay rent or violations of a lease.

The Santa Rosa City Council passed the ordinance by a 4 to 2 vote in August, but the California Apartment Association collected enough signatures to send the issue before voters. 52.5 percent of them rejected the measure Tuesday.

Opponents of Measure C warned that the law would be full of unintended consequences. The rent and eviction control ordinance, they pointed out, did not address the true cause of Santa Rosa’s housing affordability dilemma, including barriers to development and a subsequent shortage of housing. Solutions to those problems are still needed, notes the Santa Rosa Press Democrat’s Editorial Board, which opposed the measure.

The defeat of Measure C could be felt even beyond Santa Rosa. Residents in other cities like Sebastopol, who are dealing with similar issues, had been watching the year-long fight in Santa Rosa closely.


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