Alameda renters at the Bay View Apartments.

A potentially nasty campaign against Alameda’s rent control initiative appears to have begun. In the past few days, some Alamedans have reported a telephone survey seeking responses, they say, that include a bias against the rent control initiative appearing on the November ballot.

The sponsor of this type of survey, known as a push poll, is unknown. The Alameda Renters Coalition says the phone calls include the caller I.D. “Competitive Edge” and originates from a 619 area code.

Push polls can be an effective, but typically unsavory method used by campaigns to create the perception of public acceptance or “push” voters toward a position using rumor and innuendo. In addition, its questions are often stilted toward one side and sometimes peppered with false information. In general, push polls are more like marketing campaigns rather than public opinion polls.

According to those who have been administered the survey, it asserts the rent control initiative will result in landlords subsidizing “wealthy renters” and suggesting homeowners will pay a “special tax” for the city’s to create a program to oversee rent control. The survey also suggests rent control will reduce the number of units available in Alameda.

The Alameda Renters Coalition said Monday that “rent control isn’t about affordable housing, it’s about community stability.” They added, only landlords will be required to pay a fee  per unit to fund the city’s rent program, which is already proposed for the city’s rent ordinance approved in March and also on the November ballot.