Mon, Jun

Who’s Funding Big Real Estate’s Sneaky Anti-Rent Control Effort in California? Here Are Their Names


RENTERS - Housing Is A Human Right recently revealed that the California Apartment Association and corporate landlords are playing a sneaky shell game to fund their anti-rent control effort in California, trying to avoid scrutiny from the public and reporters. So now is a good time to name names and expose the real estate insiders that are trying to fool California voters.

This year, a statewide coalition of housing justice groups, social justice organizations, labor unions, and civic leaders is working to expand rent control in California through the Justice for Renters Act, a November ballot measure. Housing Is A Human Right and its parent organization, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, are leading the fight to protect hard-working tenants against predatory landlords who charge wildly inflated rents.

Top economists have found that rent control is not only a crucial tool to stabilize the housing affordability crisis, but they also said that the real estate industry’s anti-rent control arguments are outdated and wrong.

The California Apartment Association is the powerful front group for corporate landlords, and the CAA has formed several political action committees to do their dirty work – corporate landlords contribute millions to the PACs, and then the CAA takes that money to oppose tenant protections throughout California. 

The California Apartment Association also uses that cash to deliver campaign contributions to local and state politicians in California, trying to buy political influence.

To stop the Justice for Renters Act, the CAA sponsors a political committee called Californians for Responsible Housing. The front group has also formed the California Apartment Association Issues Committee. To avoid scrutiny, and to fool California voters, corporate landlords deliver major cash to the CAA Issues Committee, which then contributes to Californians for Responsible Housing. It’s a shell game – pure and simple.

So when voters and reporters look at state campaign filings, they only see that the CAA Issues Committee is funding Californians for Responsible Housing sponsored by the California Apartment Association. Corporate landlords don’t appear to be connected to that anti-tenant, anti-rent control campaign.

The CAA and corporate landlords are doing the same thing to fund “Protect Patients Now,” a dangerous statewide ballot measure that aims to stop AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s work on rent control. If passed, other industries will take a cue from Big Real Estate and use a ballot measure to silence labor unions and other advocacy groups.

The non-transparency is outrageous – and shows that the CAA and corporate landlords are once again trying to deceive Californians. It’s all done to protect Big Real Estate’s outsized profits – made by charging excessive, unfair rents.

Here are the names of the top contributors to the California Apartment Association Issues Committee, which then moves real estate cash to either Californians for Responsible Housing or Protect Patients Now:

  1. Essex Property Trust, one of the largest corporate landlords in the United States: $3.4 million
  2. Equity Residential, also one of the largest corporate landlords in the U.S.: $1.6 million
  3. AvalonBay Communities, another major corporate landlord in the U.S.: $1.4 million
  4. R & V Management, a corporate landlord based in San Diego: $1.3 million
  5. UDR, one of the largest corporate landlords in the U.S: $1 million
  6. Prime Administration, a corporate landlord based in Los Angeles: $750,000
  7. Spieker Companies, a corporate landlord based in Palo Alto: $589,276
  8. Jackson Square Properties, a corporate landlord based in San Francisco: $475,800
  9. AIMCO Properties, a corporate landlord based in Denver: $412,475
  10.  Prometheus Real Estate Group, a corporate landlord based in San Mateo: $300,000

Those are just the top contributors. In total, 48 real estate companies and insiders have delivered cash to the California Apartment Association Issues Committee, which then sends their money, sneakily, to Californians for Responsible Housing or Protect Patients Now.

Smaller contributors to the CAA Issues Committee include Greystar Management Services, Prager Properties, Jeffrey Gutstadt, Wilson Homes, Carlotta Grochowski, Frank T. Suryan Jr., and Camden Development.

Californians, though, have a unique opportunity to fight back – by passing the Justice for Renters Act in November.

Follow Housing Is A Human Right on Facebook and Twitter.

(Patrick Range McDonald, author and journalist, Best Activism Journalism: Los Angeles Press Club, Journalist of the Year: Los Angeles Press Club, Public Service Award: Association of Alternative Newsmedia, and a contributor to CityWatch.)

Get The News In Your Email Inbox Mondays & Thursdays





Across CityWatch