Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 20, 2015

The girl in 14-G

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Lauren Do @ 6:00 am

Tonight, in addition to the continued referrals and the Alameda Point Site A initial development concept another potentially big item on the City Council’s agenda and that comes in the form of an update by the Rental Housing Community Discussion Group facilitator Jeff Cambra as to some of the key issues that arose from the “listening campaign” he embarked upon with blessing from the former City Council.

According to the narrative provided, the stakeholder groups are still continuing to discuss issues that arise, but that there are six points for discussion based on consensus gleaned from the previous meetings.  Those are:

  1. Failure to participate in the hearing process in good faith.
  2. Participation in the hearing process required.
  3. Requires that notice of option to participate in a hearing be given in writing with any notice of rent increase over a specific defined percentage.
  4. Retaliation Prohibited
  5. Requirement on postponing effective date of the increase in order to complete the hearing process:
  6. Hearing participation requirement based on an amount or percentage of increase.

I think it’s a good start and it’s helpful that there is discussion about penalties if either party simply chooses not to participate in the process.  Additionally while not a cap on rent increases outright, there is a discussion point that would require the landlord to provide information about the rent review process if the rent increases are above a certain threshold.  The suggested text suggested 10% as the trigger amount that would require written notice to be provided to the tenant.

All in all, good first steps to help manage issues before they become so dire that more drastic measure have to be taken.  It doesn’t sound like the rental market is showing signs of softening and with new companies coming in like Wrightspeed (promising 350 new jobs) and existing companies expanding like VF Outdoor which is building a 55K sq ft “Innovation Lab” there are going to be more jobs that will bring new people to Alameda with, potentially, the ability to pay more which will make the rental housing market even tighter.

Also according to Jeff Cambra’s update a new tenant group has formed: Alameda Renters Coalition.  I think they’re somewhere on Facebook.  I haven’t joined because (a) I’m not a renter and (b) because my Facebook feed is already pretty cluttered.  But anyway, I thought that information about the new group was interesting in light of the post on Trish Truth yesterday.   I don’t have access to the East End Next Door board, I think my permissions end around “Middle Alameda”  although I can get some posts from “Old Oakland” and “Jack London” must be a proximity thing.  Anyway, this post purports to have been pulled from the East End Next Door thingie:

My husband and several renters have joined with Renewed Hope Housing to form another renters rights group ‘Alameda Renters Coalition’ which is on FB if interested. Jeff Cambra met with Trish Spencer before the holidays, and she was absolutely CONVINCED that the real estate developers are “backing” ‘us’. Not even remotely close…this is laughable, and exasperating to hear that that is what she believes.

The post starts off by saying that Trish Spencer is supported by “real estate companies” I don’t believe that’s actually true, but the other stuff is pretty wacky if this post can be believed.   Although Jeff Cambra is a stand-up guy so if he said that Trish Spencer said that, I would totally believe it to be true.  Because Jeff Cambra might be one of the most “fair” people in Alameda.  He seems to get along with practically everyone of any political stripe, so he’s not really out to make people “look” bad.



  1. One of the strong points of the Site A project at Alameda Point – is that 75% of the housing that will be built will be rental housing, and 25% of those homes (about 160 will be affordable rental units).

    The nice thing about having a local guy like Joe Ernst develop Alameda Point is that he lives here and he’s listening, and he knows our issues.

    Comment by Karen Bey — January 20, 2015 @ 6:27 am

  2. So, if I understand correctly, you are quoting anonymous people (or maybe they have names and you chose not to share or do any research) from an anonymous anti-Spencer site that is quoting hearsay about a vague meeting with the Mayor. Surprising that this incredibly accurate and sourced information reflects poorly on Spencer. Another marvelous post to provide material for the bitter chorus and framed so well with some actual useful information to deflect from the actual nature of the libelous content (and I’m sure you will argue with that term, but I use it deliberately). It’s funny to read Steve Tavares or Irene Dieter and realize that they are describing the same Council meeting that you and the letter writer at the Alamedan are talking about.

    This post truly represents a new high point. You have outdone yourself in your propaganda efforts.

    P.S. I suppose you don’t have access to Jeff Cambra’s email to check this information (or even the Mayor’s).

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — January 20, 2015 @ 8:10 am

  3. 2. Has Spencer said anything remotely coherent about renters’ issues that you know of? Isn’t she publicly (a) for slowing housing construction and (b) against rent control? Add (a) and (b) and you do not get the tenant’s friend. People can be incoherent, too.

    Comment by BC — January 20, 2015 @ 8:30 am

  4. I asked someone with east end Next Door access to find the original post on Next Door:

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 20, 2015 @ 8:38 am

  5. That’s wonderful Lauren. Now you can reach out to Anne and find out whether this is a direct quote from Jeff or, better yet, you could email Jeff. IIt is so responsible of you to check your sources (after the fact). Or do you consider Trish-truth to be reliable?

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — January 20, 2015 @ 8:53 am

  6. Or you can, because you don’t believe her. Let us know what you find out.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 20, 2015 @ 8:54 am

  7. Sorry there, I’m anonymous. I have no credibility when I repeat hearsay.

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — January 20, 2015 @ 8:58 am

  8. Well that post from Trish Truth is now attributed to a non-anonymous source on a forum that a lot of people have access to. So people can choose to believe her Next Door post, dismiss it, or go on Next Door and challenge her on her retelling of the Jeff Cambra/Trish Spencer event.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 20, 2015 @ 9:05 am

  9. even though Judy Gallman hires Tavares to write articles where he supplies his agenda but does not pick up the phone to call IAFF or whomever his “sources” ( David Howard, Leland Tremain etc.) are lambasting, she did write somewhere in the last issue of Alameda Magazine that Alameda rents have gone up several percent more than the Bay Area average, more than SF I think.( I’m scrambling and late and couldn’t find it just now). Tavares doesn’t even pretend to be unbiased, but I don’t think he can admit that. He should stick to blogging since he can’t even due basic shit to hide his bias and pose as “fair and balanced”. The magazine did a total negative piece on bike track, giving big pull quote to Ani Demusheva opining about cross town traffic, but didn’t author didn’t call public works or get comment from Bike Alameda.

    Trish answered question about rents by referring to the existing rent board which has absolutely no teeth. She didn’t qualify her comment with any details, just responded to question by siting that the board exists. pretty lame. what is her policy going to be going forward? Is she concerned at all? doesn’tt seem like a stretch to infer that she is pretty soft on the subject of Alameda having highest increases in rent of whole bay.

    Comment by MI — January 20, 2015 @ 9:07 am

  10. The rent number in Alameda Magazine MI was referring to:

    The average cost of rental housing in Alameda has increased more quickly than other markets in Alameda County and the Bay Area over the last year, with an 18.4 percent increase compared with 11.6 percent in Alameda County and 11.4 percent across the Bay Area.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 20, 2015 @ 9:11 am

  11. Reached out to Jeff Cambra through the Renewed Hope website. Hopefully he will see it and respond. The question of what Trish thinks about rents is independent of the question of whether she is perpetually confused and disconnected from reality – a proposition that you and Lauren spend a great deal of time and effort advocating for.

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — January 20, 2015 @ 9:14 am

  12. Spotted a gentlemen just outside the tunnel with a teeny tiny camera – think comic book spy camera – taking pictures of the traffic. Was traffic heavy? Rush hour? Yes. Flowing? Yes Any stoppage? No. I’m thinking look for more illustrated presentations in City Council chambers :0) And here’s a thought: two pronged approach to the housing affordability issue: a means of addressing the issue coupled with city ordinance for a living wage. Two therapists and a person employed by CVS faced with leave Alameda due to recent and steep rent increases. Somewhere in-between rent control and exodus of otherwise highly desireable citizens we have to find a landing site. Our community is, after all, the people who live here.

    Comment by Gabrielle Dolphin — January 20, 2015 @ 9:22 am

  13. I’m wondering if much of the increased rents are due to the increase in property taxes when a new owner buys the property. It makes sense that someone who purchased a rental property in say 1979, would be at the age where they would be selling and moving into a nursing facility, or has died and their heir doesn’t want to be a landlord. The property tax hike would be substantial, so while the previous owner was happy with the rental income, the new owner would be realizing a smaller profit when factoring the new tax rate. Add to that the cost of paying for the sewer upgrade and other things that might have not been done that a new owner is responsible for, it makes sense that they would feel the need to raise rents. It’s not necessarily greed driving this trend.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — January 20, 2015 @ 9:34 am

  14. Rents are not driven by landlords’ costs, they are driven by markets. Most LL’s would be happy to have “cost plus profit margin” lease terms, it would be stable & predictable revenue, but market prices are based on supply and demand, not owners’ costs.

    There are a fair number of LL’s whose rents do not cover their expenses (these are usually recently purchased units) but they don’t have the ability to jack up rents to their desired level without tenants who are willing and able to pay. And remember, rents FALL as well as rise. Rents in SF fell sharply during the dot com bust and modestly during the last crisis. Again, that didn’t happen because LL’s drove the market, it happened due to falling demand.

    Comment by Ambrose Bierce — January 20, 2015 @ 9:44 am

  15. The Alamedan reported recently that 64 multi-family buildings sold in Alameda in 2014. It would be interesting to know what the previous property tax rate and the new property tax rates are on these buildings.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — January 20, 2015 @ 9:47 am

  16. 14. I’m not saying it’s the driving force but it certainly must be a factor with 64 multi-family buildings changing hands in a single year. Of course people are buying them because rents are going up and they hope to make money.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — January 20, 2015 @ 9:55 am

  17. Ambrose is 100% correct.

    Comment by BC — January 20, 2015 @ 10:27 am

  18. 17
    Amen, and the minute the do-gooders step in they’ll make it ten times worse.

    Comment by jack — January 20, 2015 @ 10:30 am

  19. 18. Yes, if you include artifically restricting the housing supply as do-gooding too. With restricted supply, the meddling has started, and you can’t assume economically efficient outcomes. And this is why we’re now seeing so much (real) pain on the part of renters. And why there are cries for rent control, which I think everyone agrees isn’t the ideal way to address high rents.

    Comment by BC — January 20, 2015 @ 11:42 am

  20. A couple of large multi-family housing (apartment buildings) sold last year on Buena Vista Ave. and I thought the prices were very cheap. They sold really fast. You may not be able to live here but it becomes a choice.

    Sometimes people expectations are high…when I came to the Bay Area I had roommates for years because I couldn’t afford my own place. I saved up and got a loan from my 401K and was able to buy a place but I had some crappy jobs. Delivering pizza, McDonalds, washing dishes at a nursing home, gas stations, unpacking and hanging clothes at a department store, janitorial work, fighting forest fires and finally put myself through school and still needed a roommate to pay rent.

    It will be interesting to see the President’s state of the union speech where he wants to help the middle class and how the republican majority reacts to it.

    Comment by Jake — January 20, 2015 @ 12:42 pm

  21. “…he wants to help the middle class…”

    That’s about as likely as his drone targets meeting seventy two virgins after disintegrating.

    Comment by jack — January 20, 2015 @ 1:58 pm

  22. Renewed Hope & housing advocates supported Del Monte ordinance and were against the repeal. Advantage: developer. Spencer cited problems with the affordable housing plan as one of the potential reasons for repeal (The Alamedan, 1/6 before the CC meeting). Advantage: anti-development Repealistas. Spencer’s written response to The Alamedan’s candidate questionnaire about rent control: They canceled the July meeting, so the current process must be working. Spencer ran on a platform on “slow/no development.” It’s true that the support of the affordable housing community is critical for developers (because the only way we get new affordable housing units is via the crumbs of development and we need every bit we can get); I’d guess that the developers need the affordable housing folks more than the other way around.

    Someone needs to put all of the above into Venn diagram form…… Anywho…

    It’s a big leap to say that Renewed Hope’s support of Del Monte translates into the renter community being “backed” by developers, but it’s pretty cool stuff for fans of conspiracy theories.

    Comment by Alison — January 20, 2015 @ 3:35 pm

  23. #9 and #10 This is the link that Lauren Posted “Rents Rise” (from Alameda Magazine)

    “The average cost of rental housing in Alameda has increased more quickly than other markets in Alameda County and the Bay Area over the last year, with an 18.4 percent increase compared with 11.6 percent in Alameda County and 11.4 percent across the Bay Area.”

    The link just dies there. There is no source provided as to where these numbers come from.

    However with a little searching

    If you care to read through this is ‘asking rents’ meaning that properties advertised for rent have an 18% higher advertised price not that rent itself for existing tenants has risen 18%

    Comment by frank m — January 20, 2015 @ 4:05 pm

  24. You all know Spencer is a Prius driving renter, right? And the “real estate companies and developers supported Gilmore in lockstep. Check the campaign donations. End of story.

    Comment by Breathless — January 20, 2015 @ 4:39 pm

  25. 24. Non sequitur. Not even close.

    Comment by BC — January 20, 2015 @ 4:49 pm

  26. 23. Frank , you think they don’t get what they are asking for, particularly in this market? but good to know that Alameda Magazine just Googles The Alamedan like you did.

    Comment by MI — January 20, 2015 @ 7:31 pm

  27. in homes sales asking may be relative, but these days homes ell for mo re than asking, so maybe renting will become similar where LL have bidding wars from perspective tenants.

    Comment by MI — January 20, 2015 @ 7:33 pm

  28. 27
    They (LL) already do have bidding scermishes and that’s a good thing, is it not?

    Comment by jack — January 20, 2015 @ 7:46 pm

  29. 28. good for land lords and property management, the Lords of the Land, not good for peasants and serfs

    Comment by MI — January 21, 2015 @ 1:29 pm

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