Lawsuit: Arguments for Prop 21 contain false statements

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The ballot arguments in favor of Proposition 21 — the extreme rent control measure on November’s statewide ballot — contain “false and misleading statements,” according to a lawsuit filed this week.

The suit, filed Thursday in Sacramento Superior Court, seeks to strike and revise three statements made by the Yes on 21 campaign.

The plaintiff is Los Angeles owner Malcolm Bennett; the defendants are Secretary of State Alex Padilla and the signers of the ballot and rebuttal arguments. The suit notes that state law expressly requires that statements made in such arguments not be false or misleading. The Yes on 21 campaign’s signers are violating that law, alleges the lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, the Yes on 21 campaign falsely claims the measure “protects single family home owners” from new rent caps, when in fact millions of single family homes would be affected by the proposal. The arguments also falsely claim Proposition 21 “encourages the construction of new homes.” To the contrary, housing builders say the measure would make it more difficult to construct the new affordable housing.

“Their ballot arguments, designed to confuse voters, are simply false,” Bennett, a real estate broker and owner since 1975, said in this news release from Californians for Responsible Housing, the CAA-created campaign to defeat Proposition 21. “We are confident the Court will make this right so voters have accurate information about the devastating impact of this initiative on California families.”

By referring to owners as “a natural person,” the measure would make millions of the state’s single-family homes subject to Prop 21’s provisions because they are held in trusts. “These arguments seek to give the false and misleading impression that only large corporate landlords will be impacted by the measure,” says the lawsuit, when instead nearly one-third of the state’s single-family homeowners would be impacted by new restrictions that will devalue their property.

A decision by the court must be made by Monday, Aug. 10.

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