It looks like no expense is being spared to defeat ballot initiatives restricting apartment rents in Mountain View and four other Bay Area cities.
The possibility that rent control measures might pass has been a boon to fundraising for the California Apartment Association, the chief group working on behalf of landlords and property-management firms. Since September, the apartment group has raised over $1.18 million to wage an opposition campaign against Bay Area rent control measures, including Mountain View's Measure V, according to the latest filings with the California Secretary of State's office.
The campaign finance documents reported spending as a whole and did not detail how much was spent specifically in Mountain View or the other four cities considering rent control measures on the Nov. 8 ballot: Burlingame, San Mateo, Richmond and Alameda.
The top donors to the anti-rent-control campaign include Essex Property Trust of San Mateo ($100,000), Equity Residential of Chicago ($100,000) and Prometheus Real Estate Group ($50,000), all firms that have a significant stake in Mountain View apartments. In addition to its $50,000 contribution, Prometheus gave the Apartment Association a $100,000 loan to be repaid after the election. The California Apartment Association also received checks from more than 200 other donors, most with ties to the apartment industry.
To date, about $990,000 of that money has been spent on the opposition campaign, according to campaign finance reports. The association hired the Connecticut-based firm Media Associates to conduct three rounds of polling and survey research, costing just over $100,000. It spent about $300,000 political spots for television, $72,000 on radio ads and another $92,000 for an online ad campaign. At least $153,000 was spent on political mailers.
The political spending by landlords is dramatic when compared to the shoestring pro-rent control operation. The Mountain View Tenants Coalition, the grassroots group spearheading Measure V, has raised just over $38,000, or roughly the amount spent by the CAA on just one phase of its polling research. New supporters include organized labor groups including the Service Employees International Union ($2,500) and Plumbers and Steamfitters and Refrigeration Fitters ($1,000). Others large donors included the Oakland based social-justice groups Just Cause ($5,000) and Bay Rising ($2,500).
The most recent Oct. 27 filing, which covers campaign finances up to Oct. 22, showed the group has spent about $3,000 on campaign consultants from the Hayward firm Eveleth Group. About $10,000 was spent on printing costs for mailers, door hangers, bumper stickers and yard signs.
While the Tenant Coalition is outmatched financially, its supporters say they rely on their strong volunteer base.