Fact Check: The Truth On Measure C

If you live in Sacramento, you likely received a couple of very glossy mailers making all sorts of eye-catching claims about Measure C, the citywide ballot initiative

for real rent control.

Hyperbole and attention-seeking are hallmarks of elections, though these mailers were especially desperate; the claims made simply don’t hold up to any hookupes scrutiny. So, dear voters of Sacramento, let us set the record straight.

CLAIM: “Measure C will create a massive, new city bureaucracy. With no budget controls.”

FACTS: Measure C will create a Rental Housing Board, otherwise known as a “rent board.” There will be nine positions on this board–eight elected and one appointed by the mayor–all of which are unpaid positions. No member of the rent board will draw a salary.

Where it is necessary, the rent board can hire hearing officers and other staff in order to settle tenant/landlord disputes or publish reports. By comparison, the city of Sacramento employed 5,700 people in 2016. Is a nine-person, unpaid rent board massive in comparison? You be the judge.

Any hiring done under Measure C would be financed by a fee paid only by landlords, meaning the vast majority of Sacramentans will pay nothing. Currently, tenant/landlord issues are settled by the Superior Court of Sacramento County, a truly enormous bureaucracy that costs taxpayers tens of millions of dollars each year. By keeping cases out of superior court and sending them to the democratically elected rent board, there is a very real possibility Measure C will result in overall taxpayer savings and reduced bureaucracy.

This claim earns 3 out of 5 landlords:

CLAIM: “Measure C has no public oversight or accountability to taxpayers.”

FACTS: The first two claims on the image here I dealt with above. The third claim is interesting because it is so patently false. Rent board members would all be elected in their respective districts in the same year city council members are up for re-election. So if you live in Eric Guerra’s District 6, for example, you would vote to elect your councilmember and rent board member on the same ballot.

Which makes me wonder: if the opposition claims the rent board will have no oversight and no accountability, then they must think the same of the city council and mayor as well, since they have exactly the same amount of oversight and accountability, right? If the rent board lacks oversight and accountability, so too does every other elected position, including city council and the mayor.

This claim earns 4 of 5 landlords:

CLAIM: “But on this they stand together: ‘NO’ on Measure C.”

FACTS: It is true that the City Council and Mayor are united against Measure C, but that’s not the whole story. They claim they are united against Measure C because it won’t create any new affordable housing. Measure A also creates zero housing. Does the mayor oppose that?

It is true that Measure C does not mandate the building of any new housing. Measure C would, however, make existing housing more affordable by limiting rent increases and greatly increasing the long-term affordability of existing housing. For example, if your rent is $1,000 per month now, most landlords can raise your rent by up to 10 percent each year. Under measure C, that would be kept to no more than five percent per year. In five years you would be saving over $300 a month with Measure C. Think about what you could do with an extra $300 in your pocket every month!

The opposition claims that Measure C will cost taxpayers millions, but which taxpayers? As we discovered above, the rent board will be funded by fees paid by landlords only. And yes, it is true, if you are a landlord and you were planning to raise rents by double-digits and rake in huge profits on the backs of your tenants, Measure C will cost you. Most taxpayers in Sacramento, however, will SAVE huge money with Measure C.

Finally, if you’re wondering why the mayor and city council all agree, take a look at this video exploring where their campaign funds come from. Money talks, as they say.

This claim earns 5 of 5 landlords: 

LATE ADDITION: Just days after a massive cash infusion from special interests in Chicago, the No On C campaign sent out yet another glossy spread full of lies and misdirection. It even has its own faux margin notes and highlights to discourage you from thinking critically about the claims being made. After all, they are wealthy landlords and developers, and you’re just some Sacramento bumpkin to them. I believe in your ability to see through the bullshit.

Claim: Measure C would establish a paid rent board; board members can earn a taxpayer funded salary; the board has the power to impose new regulations, etc.

FACTS: The opposition, with vast sums of out-of-town, special interest money and access to legal counsel, is trying to play fast and loose with the wording. As discussed above, the rent board will not draw a salary, and any necessary expenses incurred would be funded by a fee paid only by landlords. Also, saying board members can earn a salary is not the same as saying board members will earn a salary (again, they won’t).

Now we get to the last claim, which we also dealt with previously. It is true that the board will have the authority to regulate some of the rental housing market. If you are not a landlord, you have nothing to fear. Decent landlords also have nothing to fear. And again, the board has just as much oversight as city council or any other elected position. If the opposition has a problem with democracy, they should write their congressmember and stop hurting renters.

This claim earns 5 of 5 landlords: 

There are a lot of confusing and untruthful arguments made by the opposition to Measure C, but here’s something you can take to the bank: 

The California Apartment Association, major Trump supporter Mark Garibaldi, and the National Association of Realtors do not want more affordability.

Who is fighting for you? The CEOs, dark money and political operatives behind the No On C campaign, or the tenants, homeowners, advocates, unions and ordinary, working-class people like you who are working to make Sacramento a more prosperous city for us all? Measure C is for community.

This election, vote #YesOnMeasureC.


Elliot Stevenson on Email
Elliot Stevenson
Elliot Stevenson
Elliot Stevenson is a Midtown renter, union worker, second-generation Sacramentan, and long-time organizer with the Sacramento Tenants Union.