September 24, 2017
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Portland rent control question gets one step closer to ballot

By Fred Bever, Maine Public
Updated:
Troy R. Bennett | BDN | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN | BDN
Volunteers with Fair Rent Portland delivered 2,500 petition signatures to City Hall — a thousand more than needed to qualify for the ballot.

Advocates of rent stabilization in Portland took a step forward today in their effort to get the issue onto the citywide ballot.

Volunteers with Fair Rent Portland delivered 2,500 petition signatures to City Hall — a thousand more than needed to qualify for the ballot, although it may not be the November ballot.

The city of Portland released a late afternoon statement saying there isn’t enough time left in the season to put two citizens’ initiative proposals on the Nov. 7 Election Day ballot, because city rules require the referendum question to be officially submitted to voters at least 90 days before the election, and that must take place after the city clerk certifies the signatures and the City Council holds a public hearing on the subject.

The next time Portland voters are regularly scheduled to go to the polls after Nov. 7 will be next June.

Julia Tate, an architect who moved to Portland from Brooklyn two years ago, says she was surprised at how costly housing is in Maine’s largest city. “We were paying just a hair less than we were paying for a place in Brooklyn, about the same size.”

And, Tate says, she had to take a 25 percent pay cut when she moved to Maine.

The referendum calls for limits on annual rent increases on existing leases in bigger buildings, tied to the Consumer Price Index — about 2 percent a year.

Some developers and city officials, meanwhile, say that after years of adding new housing stock, the city’s rental market may finally be cooling down.

 


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