Richmond’s Rent Control and Just Cause Eviction ordinance was suspended last Thursday —just one day before it would go into effect —when the California Apartment Association turned in a petition with over 7,000 signatures to repeal the ordinance.
Now the tedious process of validating these signatures will begin, a task that could be drawn out over weeks. The end result of the validation process will have implications for Richmond voters, the ordinance itself, and the next steps in the process.
From the moment the petition signatures were hand delivered to the Richmond City Clerk Pamela Christian, one of the final steps in the long process of organizing the petition went into motion: the validation phase. This started with the petition being hand delivered from the City Clerk to the Contra Costa Elections Division–the agency has 30 business days to validate the petition.
As is customary for petitions, the Contra Costa Board of Elections Office will be checking a random sample of 500 signatures rather than every single signature collected. Though over 7,000 signatures were turned into the City Clerk, just 4,190 signatures — which amounts to 10 percent of Richmond’s registered voters — are required to suspend Richmond’s Rent Control and Just Cause Eviction ordinance and place it before the voters.
The validation process, which involves verifying addresses, signatures, and voter registration for a random sampling of 500 signatures, is time consuming. The County Election Office has five petitions to validate within the next six weeks, so they have their work cut out for them.
Once the random sample of signatures is checked, the County’s Elections Division will extrapolate to determine the percentage of valid signatures overall. The Office will then provide a report to the City of Richmond with their findings. From there, the City Clerk will determine whether the ordinance remains suspended, or if it is to go into effect immediately.
If the County Elections Office reports that 4,190 signatures or more are valid, the City’s has a couple of options. The City Council could repeal the ordinance entirely, or, more likely, the Council will decide to put the referendum before Richmond voters in either June 2016 or November 2016.