Mayor Newsom goes after another initiative 

Mayor Gavin Newsom is again attempting to shake up the June 8 ballot, asking the Board of Supervisors to pull a measure that would make it easier for tenants to dodge rent increases during the recession.

Newsom is delivering a letter to the Board of Supervisors today asking them to withdraw their sponsorship of the proposed ballot measure that would amend The City’s rent ordinance to allow renters who lost their jobs or had their wages cut to apply for a financial hardship, which would defer any rent increases they might face.

The mayor is delivering the request to city supervisors the day before the full board is supposed to vote on putting the measure on the June 8 ballot.

Newsom claims the measure creates loopholes allowing renters whose incomes, for example, drop from $200,000 to $150,000 annually to still apply for financial hardship.

And it would encourage landlords to increase rents on vacant units to recoup lost money, or even opt not to rent to low-income families for fear that they will claim financial hardship, according to the mayor’s letter.

“It’s reckless and it will hurt people it most seeks to help, which is low-income renters,” said Tony Winnicker, Newsom’s spokesman. “That’s why the mayor is asking them to withdraw it.”

It’s Newsom’s latest attempt to convince supervisors to pull proposed ballot measures from the June 8 election. Last week, Newsom successfully requested that Supervisor John Avalos pull his “must-spend” charter initiative, which would have stripped Newsom of his authority to not spend money allocated by the board.

Amid concerns from Newsom and police Chief George Gascón, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi recently withdrew a proposed ballot measure that would have required police to walk regular foot beats and patrol crime-plagued Muni lines. Also, Supervisor David Chiu yanked his ballot measure to prevent new buildings from casting shadows on city parks.

But Chiu said he’s doubtful the board will back down on this measure because it’s too important to financially assist renters in San Francisco right now.

“We are facing record evictions,” Chiu said. “We need to enact a very reasonable measure that will assist them to be able to stay in San Francisco.”

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Erin Sherbert

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