SLO voters shoot down nondiscrimination in housing measure

August 23, 2017

In a special election in which only a quarter of city voters participated, the San Luis Obispo electorate shot down an initiative aimed at permanently putting an end to SLO’s dormant rental inspection program.

The ballot measure asked voters whether they wanted to establish a nondiscrimination in housing ordinance. Backers of the initiative said the proposed ordinance was needed because city officials are planning on bringing back a revised rental housing inspection program. City officials denied the allegation and claimed the nondiscrimination in housing ordinance would derail the city’s affordable housing program.

In a vote-by-mail election that culminated Tuesday, San Luis Obispo voters rejected the ballot measure, with 70.91 percent voting against it and 29.09 percent voting for it, according to the SLO County Clerk-Recorder’s Office. Some late-arriving ballots have yet to be counted, but the result of the election is clear.

With all precincts reporting, a total of 7,160 ballots had been cast, amounting to 25.26 percent of voters.

Though the election drew sparse interest from voters, the wording of the ballot measure caused considerable confusion and sparked a feud between SLO City Hall and the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office. After being asked to look into the matter, the district attorney’s office stated it appeared the city unlawfully changed the text of the ballot measure.

Earlier this year, a citizens’ initiative succeeded in calling for a special election on repealing an ordinance that allowed city workers to inspect rental properties and collect fees. The successful initiative also called for voters to be asked whether to replace the ordinance with a nondiscrimination in housing rule.

Following the citizens’ signature drive, the San Luis Obispo City Council opted to repeal the unpopular rental inspection ordinance but not replace it with a nondiscrimination in housing ordinance. Then, the city altered the text of the ballot measure that was submitted so that it no longer mentioned repealing the controversial ordinance.

In June, the DA’s office stated in a letter to city resident Kevin Rice, a supporter of the initiative, that it appears the city council unlawfully changed the ballot measure. The letter stated the city did not do anything criminal, though, because there was no intentional fraud.

The letter prompted an angry response from both San Luis Obispo City Attorney Christine Dietrick and members of the city council, who were each opposed to the nondiscrimination in housing proposal.

As vote-by-mail ballots began to arrive at voters’ homes, several residents contacted CalCoastNews saying they wanted to make sure the rental inspection program is not reinstated, but they did not know whether to vote “yes” or “no” due to the confusing wording of the initiative.

Proponents of the ballot measure said the city was confusing voters and trying to play up its decision to repeal the rental inspection ordinance in order to derail the initiative.







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12 Comments

  1. womanwhohasbeenthere says:

    It’s just a shame this didn’t pass. The city will reinstate the Rental Inspection Ordinance because it has nothing to lose. The lawsuit to stop the inspections halted them, hence the repeal of the ordinance. But now the city council can once again pass an inspection ordinance with just slightly different wording. In light of the outcome of this election, the city council will now proclaim that voters want these inspections.
    Can rent control be far behind? With mandatory inspections and fees, the city will make money and then claim that rents are too high because landlords are gouging tenants for inspections and repairs, hence we need rent control to help the 70% of the population who rent. Developers (whom the current council seems to love!) will argue that with rent control, there is no need for in-lieu fees or actually building “affordable” housing units and will join the side of the council, getting approval in return for every ill-conceived, cram-packed project they can bring forward.
    What a racket.

    (13) 23 Total Votes - 18 up - 5 down
  2. Jon Tatro says:

    Only 25 percent of registered voters voted. This was by design, the city waited until 60 percent of the renting public (students) were out of town to hold this vote. The students were the most targeted group by the cities discriminatory law and they didn’t want them to vote.

    (30) 38 Total Votes - 34 up - 4 down
  3. Ricky2 says:

    Funny thing — they scheduled the election when most of the city’s renters are out of town. Hmn. Also explains the “low turnout.” Also explaining the “low turnout” is the fact there was a huge inflation of voter rolls for the Trump election, and many of those “new voters” have graduated and left town or returned to their real home towns for the summer. All said, 7100 ballots in a single item special election is not so shabby, though the fact 9000 voters signed petitions calling for the election …. Well, we’re chasing ourselves in a circle here. A lot of non-serious “voters” on the official rolls.

    (18) 26 Total Votes - 22 up - 4 down
    • Myself says:

      Maybe all city elections should be held at this time of year, then maybe we won’t have temporary residents controlling our govt.

      (9) 17 Total Votes - 13 up - 4 down
  4. 1965buick says:

    From the trib: ‘Critics called SLO housing ballot measure confusing, manipulative. Voters listened.’

    Love it! Could local government possibly get any better??

    (13) 23 Total Votes - 18 up - 5 down
  5. Kevin Rice says:

    Boldguy— because non-discrimination DIRECTLY prevented another rental inspection program. These programs fundamentally discriminate against renters, therefore non-discrimination is integral to preventing a repeat.

    However:

    (1) We won. Rental inspections are no longer being conducted.
    (2) We eliminated Jan Marx. Heidi would not have won without our thousands of mailers supporting her (even if she is a turncoat sellout in the end)
    (3) The Council has stamped it’s feet insisting rental inspections are dead. That will hurt them if they try again (and I believe they will and are).

    The next insidious renter tax program (that’s all this really was) will have to be fought anew without Measure B-17’s protections. But we achieved every goal except future protection. We’ll fight the next renter tax program when it comes.

    (21) 39 Total Votes - 30 up - 9 down
    • Boldguy says:

      Kevin I applaud your intentions, but I disagree with your argument:)
      The issue was to stop the Rental Inspection Ordinance, your argument would seem to allow the Inspection Program to come back in full force if it included all housing in the City, hence no discrimination!!!
      So B-17 should of been the stop housing inspection ordinance, period!!!
      The State and Federal Government already have non-discrimination laws on the books!!!
      The addition of the non-discrimination clause in B-17 is what made it confusing and ripe for defeat:(
      Yes the Citizens of SLO, as you stated, won quite a few battles, just hope the B-17 drafters, didn’t cause them to lose the war in the future!!!
      The entrenched bureaucrats of SLO are quite aware of the unfunded liability of their pension costs and will be looking at any way to bolster the city’s revenue before they hit the door with their six figure retirement packages!!!

      (9) 13 Total Votes - 11 up - 2 down
  6. Boldguy says:

    Looks like B-17 went down in a resounding defeat:(
    Why couldn’t Stew and his crony’s have stuck to the real issue(Rental Inspection Program) at hand, instead of adding their leftist(non discrimination hooey) pork to the ordinance!!!
    Now the rental inspection program can insidiously sneak back in:(
    A real disservice to the community:(

    (4) 28 Total Votes - 16 up - 12 down
  7. 1965buick says:

    Just what would we do without lawyers? Such a contribution!

    (14) 16 Total Votes - 15 up - 1 down
  8. JB Bronson says:

    Incompetent government at its best. No wonder only 25 percent of the electorate voted. Are they sure what they voted for?

    Now there will be appeals and the lawyers will get involved and round and round it goes.

    (21) 25 Total Votes - 23 up - 2 down
    • October says:

      There’s only going to be appeals if the drafters of this poorly written ordinance push for it, which would be a waste of everyone’s time and money. If anything, this ordinance, if passed, would have increased lawsuits. Can you imagine all the people getting in line for a lawsuit saying they were discriminated against?

      “I’m poor and can’t afford housing, so I live under this bridge. You have no right to kick me out, and I’m going to leave all my trash here while I’m at it.”

      “We’re college students without jobs so we need to cram 10 people into this 2 bedroom home in order to afford it.”

      I’m exaggerating in these scenarios, of course, but anybody can sue anyone for anything. Why encourage them? The ordinance wasn’t necessary and went too far.

      (-2) 18 Total Votes - 8 up - 10 down

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