A Housing Is A Human Right investigation has found that major opponents of California’s Proposition 10 contributed $28,600 to State Senator Scott Wiener’s 2020 re-election campaign, according to state records. More than 525 organizations and civic leaders endorsed Prop 10, which would have repealed statewide rent control restrictions. Yet Wiener, a Democrat who represents San Francisco, refused to support the measure. During the November 2018 election, The Nation deemed Prop 10 as one of the most important progressive battles in the country.
Since 2010, when he successfully ran for San Francisco supervisor, Wiener has relied on campaign contributions from developers, landlords, real estate attorneys, and real estate lobbying groups to win elected office and remain in power. The state senator is now pushing SB 50, which housing justice and tenants rights activists describe as a “trickle-down housing” bill that will generate billions for luxury-housing developers, but worsen housing affordability and gentrification crises in California’s cities.
“SB 50’s so-called protections for gentrifying communities of color are insufficient and time-limited,” says Rene Moya, director of Housing Is A Human Right. “It’s premised on a failed mantra that building just about any housing, regardless of who it’s for and who owns it, will alleviate a crisis caused by financial speculation and requiring the displacement of poorer communities. It seems that Senator Wiener believes gentrification is inevitable; many of us in the housing rights movement strongly disagree. Housing policies should not create more damage.”
Wiener also opposed, last year, Proposition C, the San Francisco measure that sought to tax the city’s biggest businesses to fund homeless services. Executives at Twitter, Stripe, Zynga, and Lyft were against Prop C. Wiener received campaign contributions from employees of those tech companies, including $8,800 from Stripe co-founders Patrick and John Collison, according to state records reviewed by Housing Is A Human Right. But San Francisco voters overwhelming approved Prop C with 60 percent of the vote.
For his 2020 re-election campaign, Wiener received campaign cash from key Prop 10 opponents: the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles; California Building Industry Association PAC; San Francisco Apartment Association PAC; California Apartment Association PAC, which sponsored the main No on Prop 10 committee; and California Real Estate Political Action Committee – California Association of Realtors, which contributed $8 million to No on Prop 10 committees.
These and other real estate contributors, many of whom have long fought against rent control and other tenant rights policies, gave $28,600 to Wiener and $9 million to No on Prop 10 committees. With such political backers, the state senator did not endorse Prop 10. (See the PDF: Scott Wiener 2020 Re-Election Real Estate Campaign Contributions.)
In addition, Wiener received $2,500 from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association of America (PhRMA) PAC, which also contributed $500,000 to No on Prop 10. While drug prices have skyrocketed in the U.S., PhRMA routinely opposes pricing policies that protect consumers.
In contrast, more than 525 prominent social and housing justice organizations, civic leaders, and labor unions supported Prop 10, including the ACLU, the California Labor Federation, the California Teachers Association, SEIU, Our Revolution, labor and civil rights icon Dolores Huerta, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, and many others.
Once again, Wiener was not aligned with his constituents. Although Prop 10 lost statewide, 53 precent of San Francisco voters supported the measure. Prop 10 also won a majority of support in Los Angeles, Oakland, Berkeley, Pasadena, Inglewood, Glendale, and numerous other cities struggling through California’s housing affordability and homeless crises.
In total, Wiener’s 2020 re-election campaign has so far received $68,650 from real estate lobbying groups, developers, real estate attorneys, and landlords. They include, among others, Build, Inc.; Reuben, Junius and Rose LLP; Spieker Realty Investments; Signature Homes, Inc.; California Apartment Association; and SummerHill Homes. (See the PDF: Scott Wiener 2020 Re-Election Real Estate Campaign Contributions.)
The California Apartment Association supports Wiener’s trickle-down housing bill, SB 50.
“We remain skeptical of Senator Weiner’s intent with SB 50,” says Moya of Housing Is A Human Right, “especially since he’s taken tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from major real estate interests and Prop 10 opponents. Money talks.”