Housing advocates have abandoned their effort to place a controversial rent control measure before Long Beach voters in the near future, saying they faced “insurmountable obstacles” in gathering the required number of signatures.

Josh Butler, executive director of Housing Long Beach, could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening. The nonprofit posted a message on its Facebook page that included allegations that volunteers have been harassed in their signature-gathering efforts.

“This does not mean we are ending our fight for rent control and eviction protections or the fight against displacement,” the message said, adding that #RentControlNow coalition will focus its efforts on getting a ballot measure before voters in 2020.

After careful consideration and multiple rounds of deliberations, the #RentControlNow Coalition has decided to suspend…

Posted by Housing Long Beach on Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The initiative called for the establishment of residential rent control and “just cause eviction” requirements in Long Beach. It was co-sponsored by Housing Long Beach and the Long Beach Gray Panthers.

The measure had been opposed by many in the business community, as well as members of the City Council and Mayor Robert Garcia.

Supporters had until July 30 to gather enough signatures to place the measure on an upcoming ballot; they missed a June 1 deadline to get the measure on the ballot this November.

If advocates don’t gather the required number of signatures by the end of this month as expected, they could file a new petition for a measure in the future. They would again have 180 days to gather more than 27,000 signatures required.

Rent control opponents released a statement Tuesday night saying the announcement Tuesday amounted to an admission of defeat.

“Rent control sounds like an easy fix to rising housing costs, but this policy would have led to fewer rental units in Long Beach, deteriorating neighborhoods, and less money for essential city services,” according to a written statement from Mike Murchison, spokesman for Long Beach Residents for Fair Housing, a group formed to oppose the measure.

Murchison said the coalition of property owners, landlords, developers and others would “continue to work with our elected officials and other community leaders to develop solutions to our housing challenges.”

Melissa Evans is the managing editor of the Long Beach Post. Reach her at [email protected], @melissaevansLBP or 562-437-5814.

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