Rent Control Advocates Offer Safe Locations to Sign Initiative As Allegations of “Signature Blocking” Persist

An unidentified man (above) has been accused by rent control advocates of interfering with people trying to sign the rent control ballot. 

Proponents of the rent control ballot initiative have released an expanded list of locations where people can sign their petition after increases in what they’ve characterized as orchestrated attempts by opponents of rent control to stop people from adding their signatures to the effort.

The release comes after a weekend in which a video was posted on social media that purportedly showed a signature gatherer threatening violence outside a North Long Beach retail store. The video, which the petition’s circulators said showed a person not affiliated with their effort, has since been taken down and a retraction and apology has been posted by the person who recorded it.

Posted by Dan Pressburg on Sunday, April 22, 2018

But the video did show an unidentified man who rent control advocates had previously complained about in earlier social media posts for being a “signature blocker” and obstructing their attempts to have people sign their petition.

“The big guy in the shorts and loafers has been showing up everywhere trying to prevent residents from signing the petition,” said Karen Reside, a member of the Long Beach Grey Panthers and the Rent Control Now Coalition which is circulating the petition.

Housing Long Beach (HLB), a local tenant rights advocacy group, posted photos earlier this month of the same man standing in front of signature gatherers alleging that he was interfering with the effort. HLB executive director Josh Butler originally submitted the petition for circulation along with Reside.

Another signature gatherer posted that the man in the video had previously blocked people from signing the petition by reaching for their hands while another man filmed those who tried to sign the petition.

Butler said the video actually shows the unidentified man being talked to by the store’s employees for his “bullying tactics” which Butler said have also been employed by others opposed to the ballot initiative—the same tactics his coalition has had to deal with for weeks.

“I’m shocked that the Mayor and City Council have not spoken out against these tactics,” Butler said in a statement. “Silence is complicity and by remaining silent, the City Council and Mayor are aiding and abetting this anti-renter behavior.”

This is what the signature blocker looks like. This man (in black shirt) positioned himself in front of the store all afternoon to attempt to stop people from signing the rent control petition.

Posted by Housing Long Beach on Sunday, April 15, 2018

This is the second time that the coalition has alleged misconduct on the part of opponents of rent control. In February it alleged that racially charged pamphlets were being posted on personal and city property warning African Americans against signing onto an “anti-Black communist agenda”.

In an attempt to provide a safe space for those interested in their petition, the Rent Control Now Coalition has provided a list of businesses that have opened their doors to the effort so that they can continue their drive toward gathering the tens of thousands of signatures they need by the end of May.

Those businesses include:

Kress Market located at 433 Pine Avenue

Salon Pop located at 2218 East 4th Street

Khmer Girls in Action located at 1355 Redondo Avenue

Toxic Toast Records located at 757 Pine Avenue

ABC Center located at 127 West 7th Street

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.
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