Rent patrol: Apartment association’s dropped lawsuits offer hope to Sacramento’s nascent rent control campaign

State industry group cited early rulings as reason for letting Richmond and Mountain View policies move forward.

This is an extended version of a story that ran in the May 18, 2017, issue.

A coalition of groups building support for rent control in Sacramento received good news last week, learning that the California Apartment Association is dropping both its legal battles against similar measures already passed in Richmond and Mountain View.

The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, or ACCE, was a pivotal player in getting rent control passed in Richmond in 2015 and is now taking a lead role in the campaign to bring rent stability to the capital city.

The California Apartment Association reportedly spent more than $200,000 fighting rent control in Richmond alone, while simultaneously waging a campaign against it in Mountain View. When the voting public in both cities opted to limit the profits landlords can make amid California’s affordable housing crisis, the CAA took both municipalities to court.

And the CAA has been losing ever since.

The group recently posted a message to members on its official website saying it was suspending its challenges to the measures. That statement read, in part, “In recent months, judges in both Santa Clara and Contra Costa counties ruled against CAA’s motions for preliminary injunctions that would have halted enforcement of [both rent control measures], respectively. … After analyzing these decisions and the judicial climate moving forward, CAA decided to re-evaluate its legal strategy.”

Meanwhile, ACCE has been teaming up with the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America to conduct tenant surveys about the scope of displacement and housing insecurity in the region, which is the first step in the coalition’s rent control campaign.