Santa Cruz Building a Movement for Housing Justice
In February 2018, a coalition of tenant activists passed a 9-month rent freeze as a prelude to a proposed permanent rent control ballot measure. Measure M, the Rent Control and Tenant Protection Act, included rent control tied to the CPI, Just Cause protections, relocation fees, and an elected rent board. It would be one of the strongest local rent control policies in the state! However, renters faced tough opposition in local and statewide landlord interests. The California Association of Realtors and the California Apartment Association spent over $750,000 against Measure M, while tenants raised almost $80,000.
The Tenants Together Action Fund made one of the biggest donations to the Yes on M campaign, with $10,000 going toward local rent control activists who were on-the-ground registering voters and talking to them about the benefits of strong rent control and just cause for eviction. Sadly, Measure M did not garner enough votes to win at the ballot, but local tenant activists have not given up hope.
While we couldn't outspend the real estate industry, we believe that the tenant movement in Santa Cruz is a growing force worth reckoning with. In fact, Proposition 10 passed in Santa Cruz, demonstrating how most Santa Cruz voters believe that rent control should still be on the table. Local organizations like Santa Cruz Tenant Association and the Movement for Housing Justice continue to play the long game for local tenant protections, and new groups like Tenant Sanctuary have emerged to educate tenants on their rights. We'll see you in 2020, Santa Cruz!