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Prop 98 is fueled by avarice and greed
by Lynda Carson ( tenantsrule [at] yahoo.com )
Saturday May 31st, 2008 8:53 PM
Landlords and realtors have united in the Prop 98 campaign, to strip renters of tenant protections and rent control!

Prop 98 is fueled by avarice and greed
By Lynda Carson May 31, 2008

Oakland -- Realtors and landlords see gold in Proposition 98, and have united to spend millions on their campaign to end tenant protections and eliminate rent control throughout the state of California.

In recent weeks during the month of May, Thomas Coates and the San Francisco real estate investment firm called Arroyo and Coates, has contributed around $950,000 to the Prop 98 campaign, and since early April 2008 the California Association of Realtors has contributed around $675,000 to fund the Prop 98 campaign.

Realtors make a much larger profit when selling a home or apartment building in California, when the residents are all forced out of their housing before the premises have actually been sold to the highest bidder. Theres around 175,000 members in the California Association of Realtors, and tenant protections get in the way of how they want to conduct business, which is to make an extra profit by evicting renters from their housing before the building has been sold by the realtors.

Recently Oakland City Attorney John Russo filed suit against realtor Craig Jarvis for illegally forcing tenants from their residences in Oakland, through intimidation and harassment. Oakland renters are protected by a Just Cause eviction ordinance. With his suit, Russo intended to send a clear message to all bad realtors in California, that they must stop attacking renters with their illegal tactics of threats, intimidation and harassment meant to illegally force renters out of their housing.

In addition, the Apartment Owners Association of California, has also contributed around a million dollars to the Prop 98 campaign, in an effort to eliminate rent control, and tenant protections. As recent as April 25, the Apartment Owner’s Association of California (AOA) held a seminar at Oakland’s Hilton Hotel, which included Eviction Workshops, to teach local landlords how to evict their tenants. This pro-eviction event inspired around 80 protesters from Just Cause Oakland to show up in front of the Hilton Hotel to protest the unseemly activities of the AOA.

Berkeley renter Lori Kossowsky has used rent control in Oakland to fight against unfair rent increases while residing there, and says, "Prop. 98 is totally flawed, and with millions facing eviction from home foreclosures, we cannot ever afford to eliminate tenant protections and I hope everyone votes against Prop 98!"

The proponents of Prop 98 have failed to convince the public that Prop 98 is all about eminent domain reform, because the public records show that the majority of Prop 98 campaign contributions are coming from landlords and realtors who have a vested interest in seeing that renters lose their protections from unfair evictions, and that rent control will be eliminated if Prop 98 passes.

In a statement from Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board Member Eleanor Walden, she says, "In a civilized society, people have the right to safe and secure housing. Saving our communities has a higher priority over making profits, and it is obscene for the realtors and landlords to be making families homeless in the name of making a profit. The eviction for profit system must come to an end, now. I say no on Prop 98!"

Out of the ten most expensive urban areas to reside in throughout the nation, five of those most expensive areas currently exist in California, and the false claims by landlords that rent control hurts them financially, has not been substantiated.

Kelley Bella was recently forced to move from an Oakland apartment building that was owned by the same landlords who also owned a building that Mary Jesus resided in before committing suicide by leaping off of the Oakland Tribune Tower on December 10, 2004 due to a landlord tenant dispute, over an unfair rent increase. "I had to move because one of the tenants kept sexually molesting me in the hallways of the building I resided in, and the landlords would not do anything about it when I filed complaints about the situation," said Bella. "After moving from my apartment, I was then ripped off of my security deposit ($500.00) by the landlords, and I'm voting against Prop 98 because I don't think we need policies that would create more homeless people living on the streets. Tenant protections are extremely hard to enforce as is, and Prop 98 would only result in many more people becoming homeless if it is passed by the voters."

Prop 98 would eliminate all tenant protections that currently prohibit unscrupulous realtors and landlords from unfairly forcing thousands of families out of their housing just to make an extra profit, and the proponents of Prop 98 have pulled out all the stops in their attack on tenant protections.

Civil rights attorney Bill Simpich says, "If there ever was a time for tenants to make a stand to save their rights, it's now. People have to stand up against Prop 98, and their struggle to defend their rights has to be abosolute and determined."

Mobile home park owner billionaire Samuel Zell, who owns numerous mobile home parks throughout California, already has a law suit in the federal courts in an attempt to end rent control protections in California, and has also donated $100,000 to the Prop 98 campaign since last September.

Before the voters of Oakland passed Measure EE (Just Cause Eviction Protections) during 2002, the Oakland courts were so clogged with evictions, that an eviction was occurring in the courts every ten minutes, and 65% of people being evicted were people of color.

Jorge Aguilar spent over 3 years with the Eviction Defense Center in Oakland, defending renters from unfair evictions and says, "Prop 98 is a very disingenuous measure that is extremely deceptive. It's truely about ending rent control, not eminent domain. Under Prop 98, once you move out of your apartment, it is decontroled forever. If Prop 98 passes, many renters will be afraid to move because they will lose all of their protections," says Aguilar.

Unless defeated, Prop. 98 would eliminate rent control and other renter protections, such as laws against unfair evictions, the timely return of security deposits, laws that require landlords to give 60-day notices before forcing renters out of their housing, and it would terminate laws that prohibit renters from being evicted from home foreclosures. Prop. 98 would also outlaw local affordable housing and inclusionary zoning requirements, and would certainly jeopardize laws protecting the disabled and seniors from drastic rent increases or evictions.

Marc Janowitz an attorney for the East Bay Community Law Center says, "Prop 98 is the latest in a long line of attempts by landlords trying to make profits at the detriment of the public. It will increase significantly the human suffering of the vast majority of the people in California if it is passed, and for these reasons alone it should be defeated."

Prop 98 is also a stealth measure that guts protections for land, air, water, species and natural resources, according to a legal analysis by the environmental law firm of Shute, Mihaly and Weinberger.

Oakland attorney Leah Hess says, "Prop 98 is a total disaster for tenants and they should all vote against it. Tenants in foreclosed properties in Oakland cannot be evicted currently, and Prop 98 would make them helpless. In addition, Prop 98 would make it nearly impossible for the government to take any property for any reason, even if the intent is meant to assist or protect society at large from future impending disasters.

Efforts by community groups and organizations attempting to defeat Prop 98 have spread across the state of California, urging everyone to unite against the proponents Prop 98, and currently the polls show that the majority of likely voters are opposed to Prop 98.

Lynda Carson may be reached at, tenantsrule [at] yahoo.com