As Santa Rosa voters head to the polls Tuesday to decide the fate of rent control in the city, the flood of campaign cash trying to influence the outcome of Measure C passed the $1 million mark.
The total raised by the campaigns for and against the measure, as of Monday evening, was $1,004,439.05.
The figure shatters all previous records for a single political campaign in the city, and may go down as the most expensive race in Sonoma County history.
With 88,950 registered voters in the city at last count, if all that campaign cash is spent — that won’t be clear until after the election — the campaigns will end up spending $11.29 per voter.
Opponents of rent control, buoyed by huge checks from out-of-area professional real estate lobbies, continued to enjoy the lion’s share of the contributions and a 5-to-1 fundraising advantage over supporters.
Total contributions to the campaign officially known as Citizens for Fair and Equitable Housing: Rental Housing Providers and Real Estate Professionals Opposing Measure C had received $834,941 as of Monday.
The largest donations during the most recent reporting period were $4,680 from the owners of Orchard West Senior Apartments, a 72-unit complex off Piner Road, and $3,000 from the California Association of Realtors, which has thrown down $294,000 to date.
The campaign in support of rent control, Fair and Affordable Housing — Yes on C, benefited from a last-minute surge in giving both from smaller donors, who have been the group’s mainstay, and a new big-name donor.
Proponents have now raised $169,498, thanks largely to a $25,000 donation from San Francisco billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer’s NextGen California committee. Best known for his work on climate change, Steyer also supports social justice causes.
Approved by the City Council in August, rent control and just-cause for eviction rules never went into effect due to a landlord-backed referendum drive that forced a city-wide vote on the policy. If approved by voters, rent increases would be capped at 3 percent annually for about 11,100 apartments built in Santa Rosa before Feb. 1, 1995. Measure C would also require landlords to give a reason for evicting tenants, and in some cases require them to pay relocation expenses.
The law exempts anyone living in single-family homes, duplexes, owner-occupied triplexes and condominiums. The $1.4 million program cost would be paid for by landlords and renters of covered units.
Polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday and close at 8 p.m.
You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or email@example.com. On Twitter @srcitybeat.
Read all of the PD's fire coverage here