Opponents of Proposition 98 rallied at Civic Center Park in San Francisco today to urge people to vote against the measure, which would outlaw rent control and other tenant protections statewide. Today is the first day voters can cast their ballots in the June 3 state election.
San Francisco, May 7-On the first day voters could cast their ballots in the June 3 election, opponents of Proposition 98 rallied at Civic Center Park early this afternoon.
Some were wearing cardboard boxes bearing messages like “June 4 Affordable Housing Option.”
Ted Gullicksen of the San Francisco Tenants Union told the crowd, “We’re here to oppose Prop 98, which will eliminate rent control in San Francisco and all over California. It would also erase just cause eviction protections. This would cause the displacement of tens of thousands of tenants in San Francisco.
“It’s very important to spread the word about Prop 98. 80% of the money for 98 comes from landlords. It’s posed as a protection from eminent domain for property owners, but its real hidden agenda is to devastate rent control.
“We are a city of renters. If Prop 98 passes, this city would become a city not just for the wealthy, but only for the very, very, very wealthy. We would lose our diversity.”
Gullicksen said opponents of 98 include Governor Schwarzenegger, Mayor Newsome, and the California Chamber of Commerce.
AARP representative Charles Mason said 98’s passage “would hurt millions of Seniors” in the state. “It’s designed to make more money for landlords. Californians will pay a steep price if 98 passes.”
Linda Craig of the League of Women Voters of California said her organization “strongly opposes” 98. “It’s deceptive, and would eliminate rent protections. We believe in transparency, and this measure is anything but transparent. Don’t be fooled. We urge voters to vote no on 98.”
Eric Quesada, a renter and community activist from the Mission, said, “I have to take this personally, because I’ve been living for 20 years in a rent controlled apartment. This has allowed me to fight against gentrification and for inclusionsary affordable housing.
Quesada said that right now the southeast side of the city is undergoing “the largest rezoning in the history of San Francisco. If 98 passes, anything we could have put in [i.e. inclusionary affordable housing] would be lost.”
“We need the least likely to vote to go out and vote,” he stressed.
Representing the 800,000-strong California Alliance for Retired Americans, Hene Kelly asserted, “This is about us. Prop 98 would devastate Seniors on fixed incomes. I have two grown children who are renters. If 98 passes, they’d have to move in with me, and none of us wants that. Vote no on 98!”
John Rizzo of the Sierra Club said 98 “is the worst thing that could happen not just for renters, but for the environment.” He said voting no on 98 was important “if you like clean water…if you want to protect farmland, California beaches and coastline from developers and condos…if you like to breathe clean air free of carcinogens…and if you believe scientists who say we are threatened by global warming.”
A No on 98 press release handed out today states, “A legal analysis by the respected environmental law firm Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger has found that hidden provisions in this measure would wipe out regulations intended to protect our environment.”
St. Peters Housing Committee organizer Guadalupe Arreola said that if 98 passes, “tenants would have no other choice but to move into substandard uninhabitable housing. If 98 passes, tenants will have no protection. It’s a trap, a scheme by big landlords. It’s a tool to be used against the most vulnerable.
“We support Prop 99 as much as we oppose 98. 99 gives homeowners protection while preserving tenant rights.”
Prop 98 can lose if it is defeated outright, or if 99 gets more votes than 98.
Renter Guillermina Castellanos spoke with her young daughter at her side. If 98 passed, she said, this “would affect many women and children. I talk as a mother. Thousands of women are already affected” by lack of affordable housing, she said. “It’s very important that children are able to live in dignified homes.”
“If 98 passes, it would be disastrous. We need to fight, to struggle. If we defeat 98, we’ll save a lot of people, so they won’t need to be on the streets.”
Castellanos spoke in espanol while Guadalupe Arreola translated in ingles for her.
Tenant Barbara Skinner said she’d “just succeeded” in opposing “an unjust eviction attempt,” after her landlord attempted “an unjust rent increase” for her apartment of 20 years.
“Homeowners would be affected by 98 too,” Skinner said. “They would lose protections.” For example, in a time when over 170,000 Californians are losing their mortgages, 98 would take away protections from foreclosure.
Ted Gullicksen pointed out that politicians Diane Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, Mark Leno and Carole Migden also oppose 98. “Our coalition is getting so big,” he said, “that only the most radical rightwingers are on the other side.”
The rally concluded with everyone chanting, “We hate 98, we’re fine with 99!”
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