STATEMENT ON SACRAMENTO BEE’S NOVEMBER 8, 2019 EDITORIAL
Bee editorial erroneously alleges Public Advocates agreed to remove rent control from Sacramento ballot
Tenants have demanded rent control in Sacramento for years and to this day continue to need stronger protections to cope with the affordable housing crisis. Last summer, after gathering 44,000 signatures, they won their democratic right to put rent control on the ballot in 2020. Since then, renters and tenants’ rights advocates have faced an intense pressure campaign from city leaders to withdraw that ballot initiative. With its recent editorial, The Sacramento Bee is now falsely attacking the integrity of some of those advocates.
Without citing any evidence, The Bee editorial board has accused Public Advocates and our staff of “back-stabbing” the City Council by breaking an alleged promise to withdraw the ballot initiative in return for the Council passing a separate anti-rent gouging measure.
This claim is baseless.
Had The Bee contacted Public Advocates before it published its editorial, it would have learned that the premise of the opinion piece was wrong. Neither Public Advocates nor its staff have ever agreed to retract the rent control ballot initiative in exchange for the anti-rent gouging ordinance that passed in September. On principle, we and our staff would never have agreed to thwart the democratic will of the residents of Sacramento, no matter how great the pressure. It also would have been contrary to state law to make such an agreement, as the law at the time did not allow for the ballot proponents to remove an initiative after it had qualified. Moreover, Public Advocates continued to pressure the Council to put the rent control initiative on the March 2020 ballot. We even approached The Bee in July about publishing an OpEd that we had co-authored urging the same action.
The real story that the paper should be covering is the City Council’s disregard for the democratic process. The voters of Sacramento petitioned to place full rent control on the March 2020 ballot, and the city certified that the measure qualified for the ballot a year ago. Yet the Council still refuses to let the initiative come before the voters.
We have requested a meeting with The Bee’s editorial staff, and will seek a full retraction of the editorial, an acknowledgment of its errors, and the opportunity to present our account of the facts.
Public Advocates and our staff maintain the highest standards of honesty, cooperation and good faith. We have a near 50-year record of working alongside low-income communities of color to fight for opportunity, achieve equity and defend civil rights, a record we proudly stand behind.
Public Advocates Inc. is a nonprofit law firm and advocacy organization that challenges the systemic causes of poverty and racial discrimination by strengthening community voices in public policy and achieving tangible legal victories advancing education, housing, transportation equity, and climate justice. www.publicadvocates.org