SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) –A push to alleviate California’s affordable housing crisis through increased rent control is sputtering at the finish line, according to a statewide poll released Wednesday.
With just under two weeks before Election Day, a Public Policy Institute of California survey says 60 percent of likely voters are against a measure that would lift a long-standing ban on new rent controls and allow cities to pass new market restrictions. Opposition to the rent control proposal has spiked 12 percent since last month’s PPIC poll.
Coined the Affordable Housing Act or Proposition 10, the measure has ignited a major fundraising battle between tenants-rights advocates and real estate and building groups over the future of California’s lucrative housing market.
Buoyed by over $20 million from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the rent control advocates have raised nearly $26 million in favor of Proposition 10. Other supporters include the California Democratic Party and the California Teachers Association. The proponents believe Proposition 10 would “keep tenants in their homes rather than being pushed far away or into homelessness.”
But the deep-pocketed opponents have raked in a staggering $68 million to oust expanded rent control, including various million-dollar-plus donations from realtor groups and trade industries. They warn that new and enhanced rent control “puts bureaucrats in charge of housing.”
Two-thirds answered that housing affordability is a big problem in the state, but majorities across both parties said they would vote no on Proposition 10. When read the full ballot title- which claims that the measure could greatly reduce local and state tax revenues- just 25 percent of likely voters would vote yes with 15 percent undecided.
“The poll reflects that both renters and homeowners understand that Prop. 10 will worsen California’s affordable housing crisis, reducing property values and freezing the construction of housing for low- and middle-income families that we desperately need,” said No on Prop 10 spokesperson Steven Maviglio in an email.
Another contentious voter initiative that would repeal a $52-billion transportation tax passed by lawmakers in 2017 is also lagging.
The PPIC’s snapshot says 41 percent of likely voters would vote for Proposition 6, up slightly from 39 percent in September. Support for the tax repeal is greatest in Orange and San Diego counties, while 46 percent of respondents said the outcome of the vote is very important.
The effort to repeal the so-called “gas tax” is being led by state Republicans who are hoping to boost conservative turnout on Nov. 6.
California’s two gubernatorial candidates are split on the issue, with Republican John Cox calling the repeal “the most urgent need” while Democrat Gavin Newsom favors keeping the tax.
Newsom maintains an 11 point lead over Cox, with 10 percent of voters undecided. Cox has steadily cut into Newsom’s advantage, which was 24 points in the July PPIC poll.
In an all-Democratic showdown for the U.S. Senate, incumbent Dianne Feinstein’s lead over State Sen. Kevin de Leon has grown to 16 percent, up 5 points from last month. Voter enthusiasm remains low with 23 percent of likely voters saying they will not vote for the Senate race, including 51 percent of Republicans and 22 percent for Independents.
The two Democrats held their lone debate last week at the PPIC’s San Francisco headquarters.
With ownership of the House on the line, Californians appear much more interested in the various congressional races than the battle between Feinstein and De Leon.
The poll, which surveyed 1,704 adult residents at a 3.3 percent sampling error, found that 53 percent of likely voters were either very or extremely enthusiastic to vote for Congress. Additionally, 55 percent said they would vote for the Democratic candidate in their district, with 48 percent responding that they want their congressional candidate to “push back against the Trump administration.”
Those surveyed have little faith in the two major political parties, with only 41 percent answering that they have a favorable view of the Democratic Party compared to 31 percent for the Republican Party.
“As likely voters ponder who they should elect to represent them in Washington, views about the major political parties and Congress are in negative territory,” concluded PPIC President Mark Baldassare.