Five ballot initiatives approved to appear on Portland’s November ballot

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Five citizen’s initiatives will appear on Portland’s ballot in November. Four of those initiatives, including one to create an $18 minimum wage in the city, were sponsored by the Maine chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

The city clerk’s office provided an update on July 5 concerning petitions for initiatives that had been returned by June 24 with the required number of 1,500 verified signatures.

Four of the initiatives were part of a campaign for a livable Portland sponsored by the DSA, which announced in June that it was collecting signatures to put the measures on the November ballot.

One initiative would raise the minimum wage to $18 per hour by January 1, 2025. On January 1, 2026, and for every year thereafter, the minimum wage would increase with the cost of living as measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers for the Northeast Region.

The initiative would also create a Department of Fair Labor Practices and expand the types of workers required to be paid minimum wage, including delivery drivers.

The DSA’s second initiative would require landlords to provide tenants 90-days notice before either terminating a lease or increasing rent. In an effort to reduce no-cause evictions, the initiative would also limit rent increases to five percent for voluntary increases.

Additionally, the initiative would restrict deposits to one month’s rent, prohibit application fees, and limit the amount of annual rent increases to 70% of the Consumer Price Index.

Further, the initiative would strengthen tenants’ rights, give the city’s rent board greater authority to make sure tenant complaints get a fair hearing and landlords receive a fair return on investment. It would also set a $25,000 fee for converting a rental unit.

The DSA’s third initiative would only allow short-term rentals in the city if they are either owner or tenant occupied, or if they are in a two-unit building that is occupied by the owner. The initiative would also increase the fees for a short-term rental and would require residents living within 500 feet of a short-term rental to be notified when one is registered.

The fourth initiative would limit the number of passengers who can disembark from a cruise ship to 1,000 per day. It would go into effect in 2025.

A fifth initiative that would appear on the ballot, brought forward by Scott Ferris, also looks to regulate short-term rentals.

The initiative would prohibit corporate and non-local owners and operators from registering short-term rentals in the city. It would also prevent evictions of tenants when the owner of a rental unit wants to convert it to a short-term rental.

The initiative would also prohibit affordable and workforce housing from being used as short-term rentals. Further, it raises the fee for violating the city’s existing regulations from $1,000 to $1,500.

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