Remember tonight, Planning Board meeting and the EIR for Alameda Point. The levels of housing studied in particularly important in light of the recent discussion at the City Council last week about the possibility of rent control in Alameda.
So, just to catch you up, Alameda has no rent control, which can be seen as both a positive (if you are a landlord) and a negative (if you are a tenant with a shitty landlord). The only tool the City of Alameda has is the Rent Review Advisory Board and that really only works if the landlord is willing to participate. In the case of 1514 Benton Street, I guess the new landlord didn’t want to participate and make it work.
The landlord (or rather the landlord’s attorney) who attended the meeting on Tuesday night essentially said: look, yeah she raised the rents but even the new rents are below market rate. Which would typically be a compelling argument, but when it’s a 50 or 60% hike, it’s a little less compelling. While still the units may be below market rate, a jarring jump doesn’t necessarily allow for a family to readjust their budget accordingly.
Essentially what the City Council said was this: if this becomes a pattern of behavior for landlords in general, there might be some cause to consider instituting some form of rent control in Alameda.
While I think the proposal is worth consideration, I would caution against going to some major extreme like San Francisco where, around this time last year, the Bay Citizen published a piece about how San Francisco’s rent control laws subsidized the super wealthy when, the whole point of rent control, was to protect folks like the families of 1514 Benton. From the Bay Citizen:
Voters approved rent control in 1979 to help preserve communities by limiting rent increases, a threat to working class and lower-income tenants. However, a new city analysis shows that for the first time upper-income households (annual incomes over $107,000) outnumber the poor (incomes under $35,000), 29 percent to 27 percent. And rents for vacancies average $2,600 a month, a record high.
But just trying to determine the exact number of rent-controlled units — and their tenants’ finances — is difficult. The city’s last comprehensive research, undertaken in 2000, found that one-fourth of households in rent-controlled apartments earned more than $100,000 a year — a revelation that prompted I-told-you-so rhetoric from some landlords.
Perhaps in lieu of rent control instead there can be greater teeth within Alameda’s own laws governing the Rent Review Advisory Board, perhaps if there were sanctions against a landlord who refused to participate in the mediation process that would be a more equitable process of punishing landlords who attempt that sort of shenanigans.