The Cambridge Rent Control Referendum campaign has gathered 300 signatures in its drive to place a rent control ordinance before the voters of Cambridge. A total of 8000 valid signatures are needed to call a special city-wide vote on the proposal.
Robert Schwartz, one of the campaign's organizers, announced that the 3000 mark had been reached at a rally held in the Rindge Technical School auditorium last night. About 400 people who came to the rally heard Schwartz explain the campaign's proposals:
* The freezing of rents in almost all dwellings at their January 1, 1968 level. Exempted from this would be single-family dwellings, and small landlords who live in two or three-family dwellings and rent out the remaining one or two apartments.
* The establishment of a seven-man rent board to make the final decision on rent adjustments and landlord's eviction petitions.
* The requirement that landlords who tear down dwellings build housing with at least the same number of units and with substantially the same rent.
* The establishment of fines as penalties for violations of the rent control law.
Once the goal of 8000 signatures is reached, the proposal will be sent to the City Council. The Council will then have 20 days either to pass the proposal or to send it to the people for a special election. Schwartz estimated that the drive would actually need about 15,000 signatures since he said many would be thrown out by the City Council as invalid. Only people registered to vote in Cambridge can sign the petition.
The rent control drive began last November with the backing of the Peace and Freedom Party in Cambridge. It has received support from Harvard SDS.
At the meeting last night Schwartz charged that the universities, the federal government and the City Council were all working together to defeat rent control. He said that they are trying to turn Cambridge into a middle class city by driving out all the working people through high rents.