We Hate 98

POOR correspondent - Posted on 06 July 2010

Hundreds of tenants, advocates and community members rally against the pro-landlord Proposition 98 which will be on the June ballot

Tony Robles/PNN
Tuesday, May 27, 2008;

"Save our city, save our state, vote no on 98!"

The chants in tandem with, fists, signs and banners of collective resistance rose up into the California sky from over 200 tenants, immigrants, workers, elders, activists and advocates gathered on the steps of San Francisco City Hall on Wednesday. We stood there, together, in power, in opposition to the very dangerous Proposition 98 which is on the June 3rd primary election ballot. Dangerous because, if it passes, it will eliminate rent control and jeopardize the laws designed to protect renters such as fair return of rental deposits, 60 day notices and laws designed to protect elders and disabled people from rent increases.

"When I received my eviction notice, it was depressing and scary. Where would I go? Stay with my family? I'm a grown woman. My landlord said he'd help me out. I asked him how, buy me a tent? Liana Villasenor, a single mother spoke at the podium amid colorful signs and banners clashing with the gray backdrop of City Hall telling of an eviction inspired by the greed of a landlord who wanted to receive more money for her apartment, the kinds of evictions that will happen with regularity if Proposition 98 passes, "He actually bought my roommate a tent. I was determined not to go until the sheriff came", Ms. Villasenor concluded to a rousing cheer from the crowd.

Proposition 98 will do away with rent control and outlaw inclusionary zoning requirements that mandate affordable housing on developments.

"This is a scandalous piece of legislation that's going to kick out the poor. It's a huge eviction notice that we got to fight" said Reverend Norman Fong, Deputy Director of Programs for Chinatown Community Development Center.

Proposition 98 is being sold to the public as Eminent Domain reform that would amend the state's constitution. Opponents see 98 as deceitful, hiding its true intention. On the surface 98 calls for eminent domain reform but when you read the fine print, you find that it would abolish existing rent control and prevent local governments from enacting new rent control measures. More than a dozen cities in California have rent control laws in place.

San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin was on hand in support. "I hate 98. It will ruin California. It is the most dangerous legislation I've seen in my lifetime".

Opponents of 98 say that the wealthy devised this scheme to be on the ballot at a time of low voter turnout. It is estimated that 30% of registered voters will vote on June 3rd. Peskin says that voter turnout is critical to cancel out the affluent pro-98 voters in Orange County and other places.

Speakers from The San Francisco Tenants Association, Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center, POOR Magazine, Community Housing Partnership,Young Workers United, The Sierra Club, and the Filipino Housing Collaborative voiced their support for tenants, working class people and immigrants.

Angelica Cabande from the city's Filipino Housing Collaborative stressed the importance of the immigrant community in the struggle stating, "Just because we can't vote doesn't meet we can't educate people. We have to fight for our community".

The rally ended @ 1:00 pm. The crowd was invigorated with the knowledge that there are 12 days until election time to do more outreach and advocacy work about this destructive proposition that will create more poverty and homelessness. Advocates walked tenants to the polling place at the basement of city hall.

In the words of Reverend Norman Fong, "What good is it to pray for the poor if we don't fight for the poor?"

Tony Robles is a race and poverty scholar in residence at POOR Magazine as well as a writer and co-editor of PoorNewsnetwork/PNN. To learn to be a journalist for change on issues of poverty, race and disability join POOR's upcoming Summer program which begins June 3rd. To register for classes call them at (415)863-6306 or go on-line to www.racepovertymediajustice.org . Space is limited so act now!


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