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November 6, 2018 — California General Election
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City of Santa Cruz
Measure M - Majority Approval Required

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Election Results


11,609 votes yes (38.41%)

18,611 votes no (61.59%)

Shall the City Charter be amended to enact rent control and just cause eviction regulations on residential rentals in the City of Santa Cruz, with exceptions under State Law, to be governed by a separately elected and autonomous rent board, with independent authority to set rents, fees, and penalties, and appoint an executive director, legal counsel and staff to oversee implementation, administration, and enforcement of the rent control and just cause eviction regulations?

What is this proposal?

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

Impartial analysis / Proposal

Tony Condotti, City Attorney

Introduction.  This Measure was placed on the ballot by an initiative petition signed by a legally sufficient number of registered voters in the City.  It proposes a City Charter Amendment (“Amendment”) to establish a rent board, rent control and just cause eviction requirements for the City of Santa Cruz.   

Rent Board Autonomy.  This Amendment provides for creation of a separately elected Rent Board with broad authority for implementation and administration, to function independently of the City Council, City Manager and City Attorney.  The Rent Board would be authorized to:  establish Rent Board Member compensation; hire paid executive director and staff; retain counsel; procure goods and services; hire hearing officers; adopt budgets; and initiate, defend and intervene in lawsuits. After receiving initial City funding, it empowers the Rent Board to annually bill residential landlords to pay for administration, implementation and enforcement costs, and to request and receive funding from the City General Fund. 

Rent Control.  The Amendment would set maximum annual rent increases for residential units subject to the rent control at 100% of the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for the prior year, with initial maximum base rent at the amount of rent in effect on October 19, 2017, and provisions for adjustment up or down by the Rent Board as specified.  Both rent control and just cause eviction restrictions would apply to accessory dwelling units.  A statewide measure that has also qualified for the November 2018 ballot seeks to repeal current State law exempting single‐family residences, condominiums, and residences constructed after February 1995 from local rent control restrictions, and enabling landlords to set the initial rent for new tenants.  Its passage would enable the Rent Board to apply rent control to these types of tenancies, and to adopt regulations restricting initial rent for new tenancies as well. 

Just Cause Eviction.  The Measure would prohibit landlords from evicting tenants except for certain specified reasons, including failure to pay rent, committing or permitting a nuisance, or to enable the landlord to use the unit as a primary residence.  Tenants evicted for reasons unrelated to the tenant’s conduct would be entitled to the equivalent of six months’ relocation assistance.   

Violations.  A landlord’s violation of the Amendment’s requirements would be punishable as a misdemeanor, and would also give rise to liability in a civil action, which could result in money damages, injunctive relief, reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs, and civil penalties.

Effect of Measure.  The Measure would amend the City Charter to impose rent control, establish a rent board, and to establish limits on evictions. As a Charter Amendment, it could not be repealed or amended absent voter approval.  A “Yes” vote is a vote to approve rent control, a rent board, and limits on evictions. A “No” vote is a vote against rent control, a rent board, and limits on evictions. 

The above statement is an impartial analysis of the proposed rent control/just cause eviction measure. 


Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

Vote YES on Measure M to protect Santa Cruz from the biggest threat facing our community: skyrocketing rents. Exorbitant rents are driving out valued teachers, working families, and long-time Santa Cruz residents.

Measure M makes housing costs predictable and stable, freeing seniors and families from constant fear of losing their homes. Rents have skyrocketed 46% in the last 4 years while wages have inched up only 8%. Young people cannot afford to stay in the city where they grew up. As we lose beloved family and community members, we lose Santa Cruz’s quality of life.

To landlords who keep rents reasonable, thank you! Vote YES on Measure M to stop predatory rent increases and unjust evictions by others.

A YES vote on Measure M will:

  • Protect over 36,000 renters;
  • Allow annual rent increases pegged to inflation (1.2% to 3.6% over the last decade);
  • Guarantee landlords a fair return on their investment with the option to petition for a rent adjustment if they are suffering financially;
  • Limit evictions to specific situations (unpaid rent, illegal activity, etc.), preventing evictions just to raise rents;
  • Protect families too intimidated to report unsafe conditions for fear of retaliatory evictions;
  • Always allow owners to move back into their homes or take them off the market. The upheaval of such unanticipated displacement on the tenant is balanced by the landlord's responsibility to pay a relocation fee consistent with the cost of finding new housing;
  • Roll rents back to October 2017 levels;
  • Create an independent Rent Board - directly elected by and answerable to the voters - to administer the law;
  • No cost to the city beyond initial loan and fully funded by small per unit fee paid by landlords.

Join teachers, long-term residents, nurses, landlords, retirees, homeowners and young people in voting YES on Measure M.

Robert Cavooris
Renter, Graduate Student Instructor                                                                                  

Paula Mack
Landlord, Retired Union Nurse                                                                                             

Thao Le
Renter, Student, Housing Justice Organizer                                                                      

David Sweet
Homeowner, Retired University Professor                                                                        

Viveka Jagadeesan
Renter, Facility Manager             

Arguments AGAINST

Vote NO on Measure M it is an extreme and costly measure that will divide our community and hurt renters.

Measure M Establishes an Expensive and Unaccountable Bureaucracy

Measure M creates a Rent Board that will waste millions on bureaucracy and reduce the City General Fund that supports parks, libraries, and essential services. This tribunal sets their own salaries and budget; creates new rules, fees, and penalties; and hires unlimited staff without legal or financial oversight.

Measure M Makes Our Housing Shortage Worse

Many owners will sell rentals rather than lose control of them. End-dates of rental agreements will become invalid, including single-family homes and Accessory Dwelling Units.  Renters can move in subletters without permission or background checks.  When sold, the wealthy will purchase these rentals for their own use or second homes, reducing our rental housing supply.

Measure M Makes it Harder to Find Rentals

95% of economists agree rent control does not work. Every city with rent control loses rent-controlled housing. Working families, teachers, and seniors will find it harder and more expensive to find rentals.

Measure M Endangers Community Safety and Well-Being

Measure M makes eviction of problem renters and housemates nearly impossible, threatening community safety and neighborhood peace. It eliminates using the end of rental agreements to protect neighborhoods.  

Measure M Limits Homeowner Rights

Homeowners who rent out their home temporarily will find their ability to move back in severely limited since they must pay a minimum of six months rent to tenants. In certain situations, homeowners cannot move back into their home ever.

Measure M is NOT the Solution

With widespread community participation we can create affordable housing solutions.  

A Broad Coalition of Renters, Students, Retirees, Homeowners, and Community Leaders urges you to Vote NO on Measure M.

David Terrazas
Mayor of the City of Santa Cruz                       

Neal Coonerty
Former Mayor of the City of Santa Cruz, Bookshop Santa Cruz Owner

Keshav Kumar 
Renter; Vice President of Internal Affairs, UCSC Student Union Assembly

Pamela Comstock 
Former City Councilmember

Andy Hartmann
President, Monterey / Santa Cruz Counties Building and Construction Trades Council


Replies to Arguments FOR

Rebuttal to Argument for Measure M

We have a rental housing crisis. While rent control may sound positive, Measure M will worsen the situation for most renters.  Join teachers, homeowners, renters, small business owners, current and former Mayors and Councilmembers, nurses, and - VOTE NO on M.

This measure REDUCES THE NUMBER OF RENTALS available by imposing costly restrictions on owners, encouraging selling rentals instead of renting them.  Santa Monica lost over 9,000 rental homes after a less extreme measure passed. This Measure doesn’t exempt new construction like Berkeley and Santa Monica. It will be harder for renters to find housing in the City. No on M.

Measure M lets problem renters stay in properties even after rental agreements end.  Owners lose control of rentals. Some neighborhoods will lose peace and quiet.

Measure M requires the City to create a new “Rent Board”. This Rent Board can set their own salaries, hire new city workers, outside lawyers, rent office space, and obligate the city for additional public employee pensions – ALL WITHOUT CITY COUNCIL OVERSIGHT. NO on M.

The new Rent Board and City litigation will cost millions. Supporters claim it’s “self-funding” but it actually imposes a rental property tax. The Rent Board can also dip into Santa Cruz’s General Fund to cover millions in expenses – those are funds that should be for police, fire, roads, and parks. No on M.

Measure M – Too Expensive – Too Extreme.  No on M.

Kevin Vogel
Former Chief of Police for the City of Santa Cruz

Tamra Owens  
Renter, Former Vice President of Student Life for the Student Union Assembly

Renee Golder       
Teacher, RTI Coordinator, Union Site Representative

Michael Hutchison
UCSC Professor of Economics

Hollie Locatelli
Community Leader


Replies to Arguments AGAINST

Rebuttal to argument against Measure M

Follow the money.  Opposition to Measure M, funded mostly by the Sacramento-based California Apartment Association and out-of-county real estate firms, has poured in over half a million dollars to defeat essential renter protections for our community.

Local governments need to address affordable housing, but only Rent Control will keep renters in their homes now; renting families won’t have to wait for future housing developments to set down roots.

Social scientists agree that Rent Control works, and the California Democratic Party concurs, stating, “rent control has provided seniors, the disabled and low income tenants with stabilized housing and maintained the integrity of neighborhoods and communities.”

The opposition wildly distorts the facts regarding the rent board and other aspects of the measure.  For example, Measure M does not change current state law on maximum occupancy. The Santa Cruz Sentinel confirms that Measure M is not extreme but in line with successful rent control ordinances in the San Francisco Bay Area where few “mom and pop” landlords took their rental units off the market.

Landlords will still have the right to evict tenants who break the lease, create a nuisance, or act illegally.  Landlords can still write a lease to their liking, limiting subleasing if desired, and can still write short-term leases (up to a year) without obligation to pay relocation costs.

Plus, landlords are guaranteed a fair return on their investment.

Housing instability is undermining Santa Cruz.  As long term renters are displaced, our community loses nurses, teachers, and essential workers.  We need the Santa Cruz Rent Control and Tenant Protection Act to preserve the quality of life for everyone.

Darrell Darling
Homeowner, Methodist Minister

Elaina Ramer
Renter, Harbor High School Teacher

Ayo Banjo
Renter, President, UCSC Student Union Assembly

Nereida Robles
Homeowner, City Schools Social Worker

Matthew Nathanson
Homeowner, Regional Vice President, Service Employees International Union Local 521

Read the proposed legislation

Proposed legislation

Go here to read the full text of Measure M.

More information

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