Blogging Bayport Alameda

September 9, 2015

More than words

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

Within four days the Alameda Renters Coalition petition reached more than 1000 signatures and that was just for the online petition.

The petition asks Mayor Trish Spencer and the City Council to immediately enact a moratorium on rent increases and on no-fault evictions.

Suffice it to say, the response by the City Council is going to make a bunch of people unhappy no matter which way they approach this.  While the City Council made all the correct murmurings when renter after renter appeared before the City Council to talk about their stories, getting the City Council to actually make positive steps will be a whole other ballgame.

But, as I pointed out yesterday, as long as City Council members like Tony Daysog and Trish Spencer vote against projects that will take a tiny bit of the pressure off of this housing market, correct murmurings and hand wringing won’t do anyone who is being pushed out of Alameda a bit of good.

Trish Spencer voted against the project because of parking.  And Tony Daysog, well, he voted against it because he felt there was “too much housing” and that the developer shouldn’t have provided very-low income units:

It’s important to remember what our elected officials do as opposed to what they say.  Because it’s easy to say all the right things and sound sympathetic and supportive, but if those sympathetic and supportive words aren’t translated into action, well it doesn’t matter how many times an elected official is willing to meet with you.

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50 Comments

  1. You seem to lean toward some form of rent control or similar legislation, but I don’t recall if you have a specific opinion or recommendation. Do you?

    Comment by dave — September 9, 2015 @ 6:26 am

  2. I’d put real teeth behind the RRAC first (ability to level penalties or fines after an administrative hearing) before enacting any rent increase caps, but I would enact a “just cause eviction” ordinance. This would allow for individual landlords to have their practices examined and corrected rather than have a one-sized fits all solution for all landlords, which is the point that both the ARC and landlords have been making: that not all landlords are the problem. Just cause evictions would also take away some of the arbitrary rent increases by allowing good tenants (who might have lower rent rates) to stay in their units, but still allow a landlord to evict a tenant that is suboptimal. If you’re a landlord and you have a “bad” tenant you’ll be tracking and documenting that sort of stuff anyway.

    However, given that the City Council (all City Councils in Alameda) have punted so badly on the issue I can understand how, particularly in this housing market, that it’s easier now to ask for a one-sized fits all solution since there feels like there is no room for nuance.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 9, 2015 @ 6:51 am

  3. Please explain how “real Teeth” in the RRAC happens without any rent increase caps.

    Please define “just cause” and “good” vs. “suboptimal” tenants.

    Comment by dave — September 9, 2015 @ 7:01 am

  4. Real teeth = ability to level penalties or fine after an administrative hearing. Presently anyone who feels as though they have an unfair rental increase can lodge a complaint to be mediated before the RRAC. The RRAC has no legal authority to bind either party to an agreement, it’s just a — for lack of a better term — “gentleman’s agreement” at that point. Public shaming, after all, only goes so far.

    There’s no need to put a number or percentage behind the “unfair rent increase” because most renters won’t want to go through the effort (time, cost, bad blood) if a rent increase is “fair” however they define fair.

    “Just Cause” evictions.

    Good = subjectively whatever the landlord defines as good.

    Suboptimal = subjectively whatever the landlord defines as suboptimal.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 9, 2015 @ 8:10 am

  5. who is going to pay for the lawyers to enforce fines and defend against challenges to a rent board’s interpretation of standards such as: good = subjectively whatever the landlord defines as good. Suboptimal = subjectively whatever the landlord defines as suboptimal.

    Comment by MP — September 9, 2015 @ 8:19 am

  6. The rent board doesn’t make an interpretation of “good” or “suboptimal” the landlord makes that determination by choosing to give someone notice or by retaining a tenant even if their rents are not at market rate.

    “Just cause” evictions simply would require that a landlord have a legally enumerated reason to evict (ex. from San Francisco and Oakland) as oppose to deciding that rents are too low so they just want to give 30 or 60 days notice to evict a tenant.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 9, 2015 @ 8:22 am

  7. if I am a neighbor of a tenant that is a nuisance to everyone else or just bothers me, do I have standing to speak at the rent board (that I pay for through my taxes) meeting to urge the board to to reject the tenant’s appeal?

    Comment by MP — September 9, 2015 @ 8:25 am

  8. if I am a neighbor of a tenant that is a nuisance to everyone else or just bothers me, do I have standing to speak at the rent board (that I pay for through my taxes) meeting to urge the board to to reject the tenant’s appeal?

    I imagine that would come under the presentation of evidence during a hearing since the two just cause eviction ordinances I’ve read both have nuisance behavior as one of the valid causes for eviction.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 9, 2015 @ 8:29 am

  9. I think I’ve been clear that I favor no rent control (and free markets in general) but if we’re going to have such things as a RRAC with “real teeth,” shouldn’t it at least be codified and uniform?

    What you seem to promote, and please correct me if I mis-read, is an ad-hoc, highly subjective system with significant power given to unelected RRAC members who can pick and choose what they deem equitable. Personalities, friendships, reputations and mood swings can result in very different outcomes for different parties.

    Markets are not always kind but they are far more likely to be fair than what you describe. Supply & demand are dispassionate and affect all equally. If we must monkey with them, (and I repeat that we should not) it needs to be transparent and equal.

    Comment by dave — September 9, 2015 @ 8:30 am

  10. Post 9 was in response to post 4, just to be clear

    Comment by dave — September 9, 2015 @ 8:31 am

  11. “Just cause” evictions sounds like a hard cap on rents, because I assume, like in Oakland and San Francisco, failure to pay the market rate rent requested by the landlord (after the expiration of the written lease) would not be good or just cause to evict.

    Comment by MP — September 9, 2015 @ 8:33 am

  12. What I am suggesting is a middle ground between being overly prescriptive (% rent increase cap) and the process we have now. The goal of the RRAC in the first place was to stave off pure rent control in the San Francisco or Berkeley style. Problem is, it’s not working to mediate appropriately and doesn’t have the tools to deal with the issues that are facing renters presently.

    The RRAC is now supposed to be a Mayor nominated body with Council approval. The Mayor and Council are all elected officials. They should be placing on that body representatives that understand their role and are not swayed by personalities, friendships, reputations, and mood swings. Transparency comes from a public process, not from rubber stamping because “elections have consequences” or “to the victor goes the spoils.”

    Problem is it’s not “the market” that gives 30 and 60 day notices. It’s landlords. And it’s not cogs and widgets we’re discussing here. It’s families and people.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 9, 2015 @ 8:40 am

  13. I think also that is not fair to say that the City Council has “punted” on this issue in the sense that they have somehow abandoned their responsibilities. Not enacting rent control may be a perfectly responsible decision, depending on your point of view. Sure, rent control financially rewards those currently in leases in Alameda, but at the expense of those seeking to rent in Alameda and the owners of the units, including the small owner (duplex, SFR), for whom the unit may be their only significant investment.

    Comment by MP — September 9, 2015 @ 8:41 am

  14. Punted 1985. Punted 1988. Punted 2014. Punted 2015 (with the watered down ordinance just passed).

    I’m sure there are more examples between 1988 and 2014 but I haven’t done the research.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 9, 2015 @ 8:53 am

  15. 12

    In most of those cases, it is “the market.” Rents have risen sharply, owners respond to that. That is supply meeting demand, which is what happens in functioning markets.

    Supply met demand as well when rents were stagnant or falling. Rents in SF fell sharply in the dot-com bust, for example. A great many tenants renegotiated new rents quite a bit lower. I recall a colleague who got a 30% reduction simply by asking.

    Markets are not warm & fuzzy and not always kind & gentle but they bring together supply and demand. They need to be a two way street to work, though. If tenants get to win in a down market, then owners must be able to in an up market.

    Comment by dave — September 9, 2015 @ 8:59 am

  16. “Markets are not always kind but they are far more likely to be fair than what you describe. Supply & demand are dispassionate and affect all equally.” Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. NO, landlords aren’t capricious and susceptible to “personalities, friendships, reputations and mood swings”. It’s the free market itself which acts autonomously to rent gouge without interventions from landlord, right? Just like corporations are people with rights, the CEOs and boards don’t make the decisions, just the Invisible Hand at work. Maybe the RRAC should conduct seances to divine the true nature of the almighty free market and then give word to the tenants.

    Comment by MI — September 9, 2015 @ 9:28 am

  17. Why weren’t landlords vicious greedy gougers a few years ago? Could it be that supply & demand conditions didn’t warrant rises then?

    Comment by dave — September 9, 2015 @ 9:37 am

  18. The cost of maintaining and operating a rental property hasn’t magically increased in _direct correlation_ to the increase in demand for rental properties (nor has the increased demand for rental properties on the Island magically also increased people’s salaries).
    A landlord can continue to maintain a property, deduct those costs from her taxes, charge a reasonable rent and make a profit by setting a rent based upon those costs. It is a deliberate business decision to determine how much you want to take advantage of the lack of supply, over the amount of rent you need to make a living. When wage growth is small, but the cost of living and the cost of housing increases, those with the least are the ones with the highest burden.
    Even though “the market” can bear it, the people who cannot bear it are left without a place to sleep at night.

    Comment by AK — September 9, 2015 @ 10:22 am

  19. Have you ever asked for a raise?

    Have you ever turned down a raise?

    Comment by dave — September 9, 2015 @ 10:32 am

  20. Have you ever changed jobs to get a raise?

    Comment by dave — September 9, 2015 @ 10:34 am

  21. Well, let me make say to several things: on “punting”, in the weeks and months that led up to the modified RRAC that we recently voted on, I said explicitly to Renters Coalition members I met with for coffee at Wes Cafe — and on several occasions via email — that I am open to legislation stronger than the improvements to the RRAC process underway at the time (and subsequently voted on recently), to the point of saying at he time, “‘Just cause evictions’ — sure, let’s adopt something that’ll work in Alameda. Moratorium on rent hikes? Sure, let’s adopt something that’ll address the crisis we’re in.”

    In large part, what motivates my concern for doing something stronger than what we adopted is that I don’t want to see a repeat of Harbor Island 2004. And, in my opinion, that’s what’s happening in Alameda right now, except rather than having ONE large building shut down and then evicting folks en masse from that one complex, it’s folks here, there and many-where throughout Alameda who are being evicted one at a time. My neighbor . . . folks who come up to me during coffee hours . . . next door neighbors to close friends.

    Now, as for the discussion about housing supply and “too much housing”, I think the discussion is a bit more complicated than many think. Take a look at this March 2015 East Bay Express article and my comments to this article : http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/its-time-to-overturn-the-state-ban-on-rent-control/Content?oid=4229744

    Thanks . . . /s/ tony

    Comment by tony daysog — September 9, 2015 @ 11:24 am

  22. From the article:

    Supporters of Costa-Hawkins argue that rent control laws dissuade developers from building new housing.

    You know what also dissuades developers from building new housing? City Council people who vote against new housing projects because the developer opted to build very low income housing units to earn a 20% density bonus.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 9, 2015 @ 11:34 am

  23. Come on . . . : ) You got to be kidding me, right? . . . . “developers” are “dissuaded” from coming to Alameda by the fact that I want them to access the “moderate income” density bonus rather than the “very low-income” density bonus. Naaaaah . . . from my experience, they are not so easily dissuaded, when it come to wanting to do stuff in Alameda.

    So, let me make sure to say: this is what happened: the developer committed to provide 5% of the housing as very low-income, and, in making that 5% commitment, they got a bonus of 20% — in other words, they could develop 20% more market rate housing on top of the initial number of housing they could build per the R-2 PD zoning in place.

    I said in effect, “I think there’s too much housing, so rather than pulling the ‘very low-income 5%-commitment-gets-you-20%-more housing’, why don’t you pull the ‘moderate-income 10%-commitment-gets-you-5%-more housing”? In other words, if they commitment to setting aside 10% of their initial set of units for moderate-income households, they can build 5% more market rate housing on top of the initial number that’s allowed under the R2-PD zoning.

    Here’s the density bonus formula: go to the middle: as you can see, there’s various types of density bonus programs.

    http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=GOV&sectionNum=65915

    (ps: I am on a slightly early lunch)

    Again, thanks . . . . tony

    Comment by tony daysog — September 9, 2015 @ 11:58 am

  24. By the way: if you decide not to read the March 2015 East Bay Express article, the reason why I posted it is because of this statement in it: ” Indeed, many housing activists now work to block the construction of market-rate units, because they contend that new apartments prompt rents in the surrounding areas to rise, especially when the housing is built in traditionally affordable neighborhoods. And in many circumstances, they’re right: Landlords do sometimes raise prices when new apartments, which often rent at higher prices, come on the market.”

    In the comment section to that article, I wrote the following:

    “This is quite an interesting statement in the article: ‘Indeed, many housing activists now work to block the construction of market-rate units, because they contend that new apartments prompt rents in the surrounding areas to rise, especially when the housing is built in traditionally affordable neighborhoods.’

    “Conventional supply-demand economics says something like prices tend to rise when supply is artificially controlled, especially in the face of growing demand. If so, then affordable housing advocates are in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t predicament,no?

    “If, as this article says, increasing supply by building more apartments, especially market rate, triggers surrounding prices to rise, a point that seems consistent with Nobel economist R. Shiller’s argument about asset bubbles: but, if conventional economics is to be believed, stifling supply also triggers price jumps.

    “Damned if you; damned if you don’t.”

    Comment by tony daysog — September 9, 2015 @ 12:12 pm

  25. So long as we are talking about the availability of housing and having the City regulate agreements between renters and owners, maybe we should also talk about CCRs in newer developments, Bayport, Marina Village, which inhibit the availability of rental units by prohibiting second units or the creation of duplexes and prohibiting owners from renting their houses/units. Are those a good idea to have in Alameda?

    Comment by MP — September 9, 2015 @ 12:26 pm

  26. Tony doesn’t get it, the reason why rent is going up in Alameda is its proximately to San Francisco and Oakland. There is not enough supply of any type of housing in Alameda. There is not only supply & demand problems for those who are tired of commuting 1 to 2 hours from where they work, people want good schools and to be located in metropolitan areas.as they are tired of the suburbs. I went to First Friday in Oakland last week for the first time and it was great…people want to live close to where the “action” is, including restaurants, theatres, parks, and other venues which you don’t find in the suburbs. I believe as you see or have seen the transformation of Downtown Oakland, Jack London, Lake Merritt, West Oakland, Oak to 9th you will continue to see prices rise in Alameda. When you can ride the ferry and be in SF in 20 minutes, or take Bart anywhere in the East Bay from Alameda you can see why the demand is increasing and because of the lack of housing you will see increase prices. To be realistic if your neighbor rents his rental for $5,000 and you are only renting out your similar rental for $2,000 would you not increase the rent or are you in the rental business just out of the goodness of your heart? I am not that nice.

    Comment by Jake. — September 9, 2015 @ 12:43 pm

  27. There’s a reason why building “very low” income units gets a 20% bonus. It’s not arbitrary. And it’s legal. So you voted against a project not because they weren’t providing moderate income units, but because there was “too much housing.” Your words:

    I think we need to do more work to limit the number of units there when that possibility is there. I think we’re missing out on a chance.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 9, 2015 @ 12:44 pm

  28. In the meantime, long term, committed Alameda citizens are being reamed right now and driven out by the hundreds. It used to be that Alameda was most proud of it’s uniqueness and sense of community. ‘dem days are leaving at a pretty fast clip.
    -how about we help the single dad who has lived here for decades and now is getting hit with a 100% rent increase (and he has known his landlords family for 40 years) or the landlord who wanted to rent her property as a reasonable rate and could not get a property management company to handle her house because she did not want to charge enough? Or maybe take a look at the new out of town landlord whose first act was to cut down all the healthy trees in front of the property because they could be a problem in some future years (using an unlicensed firm) or the single mother with a baby who could not get her landlord to fix the mold problem cuz ” why would that be a problem?” or the tenants who don’t even get a chance to pay higher rents but are just told to get out? Or can’t find a place even if they could pay.

    Large numbers of landlords (mostly out of towners but some locals also) are racing to jack whatever they can while they can- everywhere in the bay area, the situation is becoming desperate- people vrs greed. What kind of a place does Alameda want to be?
    totally not buying the “pity the poor landlord argument” or “no one will come here argument” – total bogus – you can still make a profit and not gouge your tenants and frankly the out of towners (mostly) are lining up because they know that they can get away with anything here. Like I said- what kind of a place does Alameda really want to be? So far- it’s pretty clear. toothless gestures that are supposed to make renters ignore the man behind the curtain. like Jake said- it ain’t about anything but “how much can I get” = greed vrs community every single time.

    Comment by librarycat — September 9, 2015 @ 1:13 pm

  29. 17. not so fast dave. That response is a deflection of my point about your claim that the free market is some perfect vessel for delivering inherent fairness because “Supply & demand are dispassionate and affect all equally”. Clearly libertarian jiggery pokey.

    Comment by MI — September 9, 2015 @ 1:17 pm

  30. Dave, just like rent control would favor the incumbent tenants over prospective tenants and landlords, things like prop 13, restrictive zoning favor the incumbent landlords by prevent the supply from increasing and meeting the increased demands for housing. Lets not pretend that the landlord-tenant market is some pure expression of distortion free market forces.

    Tony, why do you think the developer went for the more lucrative density bonus? Because it is state law and they could. They have no obligation to choose the density bonus that you prefer. I’m not an expert on this subject, but from my experience watching Planning Board and Council meetings, you were supposed to be making legal findings on 2100 Clement and the councilmembers, you and “lemme in your garage” Spencer in particular, were going way out of bounds in identifying your reasoning behind your findings. To the point where I wouldn’t be surprised if the vote failed, the city would have faced significant legal liability due to your actions. There is a reason our Planning Board is so important and such effort and institutional memory is needed on how to properly adjudicate these issues in the best interest of Alameda. The kind of institutional memory we lost in Dania Alvarez thanks to your “elections have consequences” rubber stamping of the mayor’s nominees.

    Comment by BMac — September 9, 2015 @ 1:34 pm

  31. #27: I’m just not seeing how what you wrote in #27 is **inconsistent** with what I wrote in #23, or vice-verse. While I have not looked at the video of what I said, but if I said what you quote me as saying (“I think we need to do more work to limit the number of units there when that possibility is there. I think we’re missing out on a chance.”), then, in seeking to replace the “5%-VLF-get-you-20%-bonus-on-top-of-what zoning-allows” with “10%-MOD-get-you-5%”-bonus-on-top-of-what-zoning-allows”, the net effect is therefore consistent \ true with my intention, on limiting “the number of units there when that possibility is there,” which I’ll even agree with you is a long-winded way of saying “too much housing.” Isn’t that what we did at Alameda Point — backing away from the SunCal 5,000 down to something more reasonable at 1,400? In the big picture of things, let’s agree that the “5%-VLF-gets-you-20%-bonus” yields a total of 52 total units, not **that** substantially different from what “10%-MOD-gets-you-5%-bonus” would’ve yielded, or 46 total units. But if in pursuing the “10%-MOD-gets-you-5%-bonus” means getting 6-less units means that much less cars during commute hours, or means greater emphases on housing for moderate income households, I’m hard-pressed to see what’s wrong with me doing so, because, in doing so, I’m trying my best to address wide-ranging concerns raised by residents (more affordable housing, less traffic), no? And, I’m also addressing an issue that’s been at the back of my mind for some time — on the effect of building more market rate housing on the affordable housing situation per the March 2015 East Bay Express article ( http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/its-time-to-overturn-the-state-ban-on-rent-control/Content?oid=4229744 ) — in **that** context, we might review the “5%-VLF-gets-you-20%-market-rate bonus” in light of alternatives like the “10%-MOD-gets-you-5%-market-rate-bonus”. But like I said this isn’t something new per Mach 2015: Harbor Island 2004 happened because the 15 Group saw new opportunities with the building of Bayport across the street. Again, thanks for listening. /s/ tony

    Comment by tony daysog — September 9, 2015 @ 1:51 pm

  32. 29

    What is currently happening with rents, and indeed what has always happened, is supply and demand in action. Rents rise when demand rises, fall when it falls. Supply & demand are dispassionate factors, Mark. That you dislike one of the outcomes doesn’t change that.

    Comment by dave — September 9, 2015 @ 2:22 pm

  33. The wonderful thing about government is that it can step in when the market forces screw over a bunch of people wholesale.

    Also, “libertarian jiggery pokery” might be my new favorite expression. Thanks, MI!

    Comment by jasonbuckley — September 9, 2015 @ 2:36 pm

  34. and nothing will ever change just good old American “GREED”

    Comment by John P. — September 9, 2015 @ 2:40 pm

  35. 30

    I am strongly, loudly against Prop 13 for those reasons and several others to boot. Restrictive zoning can crimp simply, obviously, but it’s also a valuable tool in preservation of neighborhood attributes, character etc. While the nature and extent of such things are certainly open to debate, they don’t create the same type of distortions that Prop 13 does.

    As for purity, very few things in life are capital P pure. But our rental market has a large number of buyers and sellers and significant price & information transparency, which are key ingredients of a free market, even if you don’t like the current expression of it.

    Comment by dave — September 9, 2015 @ 2:42 pm

  36. 32 From 30: ” Lets not pretend that the landlord-tenant market is some pure expression of distortion free market forces. ” But you persist.

    Comment by MI — September 9, 2015 @ 2:47 pm

  37. Please state, clearly, what is not free about the local rental market.

    Comment by dave — September 9, 2015 @ 3:25 pm

  38. If we go this route, why not penalize the seller for taking the highest bidder – which is also driving up housing costs. We could then force homeowners to reduce their prices so that they are more affordable.

    This of course would never happen, but it highlights the benefit of new development – where developers who have access to large amounts of capital are in the best position to build affordable housing (whether it be rentals or for sale, low income or moderate).

    I don’t understand how we can say in one breath we want to want to address the housing crisis, but say no to new housing. By saying no to new housing – you are effectively shifting the full burden of the housing crisis to the current housing providers.

    Comment by Karen Bey — September 9, 2015 @ 3:26 pm

  39. 35. Information and price transparency, yes. Huge friction due to the massive transaction costs, both financial and social/emotional, associated with moving. The market is ruthlessly efficient at achieving AN outcome. Policymakers have to decide if there is a social interest in smoothing out some of the violently fast adjusting market when the housing of humans is involved. It is such a critical aspect of life on a personal and community scale, where decisions about where to live are made on 5-10 year, or longer, periods, but rent can double in 2-3 years in a boom. It might not be in society’s best interest to take the laissez-faire approach to this market.

    Comment by BMac — September 9, 2015 @ 3:42 pm

  40. The proposed moratorium will only help so much. If the rental property you inhabit is sold, no protection. Many more Baby Boomers are converting the family home to rental or selling and retiring out of state. Some can only afford to do this because they can expect sky high rents that will cover their housing expense in the new state as well as provide income. Meanwhile, they get to hang on to the sweet property tax deal they have after owning for 20+ years. Best way to protect yourself is to buy. Not so easy at the moment, though.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — September 9, 2015 @ 4:13 pm

  41. “Best way to protect yourself is to buy.” In other words: Find $200k for a down payment AND double your currently monthly rent payment into your new MITI payment. No big deal. Better yet, have rich parents.

    Comment by BMac — September 9, 2015 @ 4:30 pm

  42. 39

    Landlords have significant costs due to vacancy, moving is a pain in the wallets of both sides. Two way street, as such things typically are.

    Comment by dave — September 9, 2015 @ 5:12 pm

  43. so I guess we would give preference to a single adult existing renter with ability to pay market over a family with two or more working adults parents would like to move here and although they don’t like the fact of high rent in the Bay Area would be willing to pool and reach to be able to do so. Or do we throw this to the rent board to decide case by case, sometimes yes, sometimes no?

    Comment by MP — September 9, 2015 @ 6:21 pm

  44. Ever-increasing rents–with many of the steepest increases being levied by corporate and absentee apartment ownership REITs, not “mom-and-pop” local landlords who tend to be more reasonable–are, in fact, destabilizing our community.

    1. Steep rent increases drive workers away from local companies because they cannot afford to live where they work.

    2. Steep rent increases take students away from their friends and their peers when their parents are forced to relocate, lowering test scores and making education tougher on the remaining and more-fragmented community members (the friends of those who moved) in our schools.

    3. Steep rent increases take seniors, retirees, and others on fixed incomes out of our community after they have been working and living here in our midst for decades.

    4. Struggling parents with good jobs cannot afford to rent or buy safe homes for their families here even with good incomes.

    What’s wrong with this picture, folks?

    If we as a society and a local county *want* destabilized communities, then by all means, let the so-called joke of a “free market” operate and continue to “weed out” teachers, firefighters, retail workers, retirees, and grandparents raising their grandchildren because the parents are not available. Let’s continue to make Alameda and the Bay area an enclave for only the very rich.

    But if we do NOT want a destabilized community, perhaps it is time for some reasonable caps on rent increases–and that will take courageous action by our City Council–or by the voters.

    As Lauren said, the RRAC needs “real teeth.” And perhaps some members of our City Council need to be real leaders…

    Comment by Jon Spangler — September 9, 2015 @ 6:28 pm

  45. rent control in San Francisco and Berkeley have sure worked to prevent 1-4, above

    Comment by MP — September 9, 2015 @ 7:44 pm

  46. It seems like we’re being reactive instead of proactive. It’s a housing crisis facing the entire Bay Area, and many cities have come up with some creative ideas to address the problem. Here are some ideas to consider:

    Long term:
    1. Relax the laws on granny units or in-law units and allow property owners to build secondary units in unused basements, attics, carriage houses, etc. as long as these
    units are up to code and rented out below market
    2. The Del Monte buyers will be charged a ½ % tax to pay for park maintenance; require new developments (buyers) to pay a ½% tax to pay for more moderate
    affordable housing.
    3. Require new developments to fund the necessary infrastructure and boats for new ferries and water taxis, to ferry more people off the Island in exchange for more
    housing. (New ferries on the Northern Waterfront would be very exciting)
    4. Implement a citywide Alameda Shuttle to shuttle more people around and off the Island (Lorre Zuppan’s idea).
    5. Implement the bikeway projects that are in the pipeline to encourage more people to bike – reducing the number of cars that are on the road.

    In other words, focus on solving the transportation problem instead of reducing much needed housing.

    Please note: Some of these ideas like the bikeway projects are already in the works.

    Short term:
    6. Give the new RRAC rules a chance to work. It was just passed a week ago.
    7. Increase apartment fees and use the funds to assist displaced renters to find new housing in Alameda.
    8. Consider a city ferry tax or fee (a per unit fee) to be paid by apartment owners that will be used exclusively to help pay for ferries and shuttles operational costs.
    9. Work with housing providers and renters to consider a cap on rent increases – but allow housing providers to pass along all or a portion of their capitalized improvement costs, city ferry tax, etc. This fee should be separate from the cap, and could be paid as an annual fee to the housing provider or spread over the life of the lease. Everyone should contribute to the cost of transportation infrastructure improvements both housing providers and renters.
    10. The cap on rent should be different for large apartment owners than it is for small mom and pop owners.
    11. In lieu of the Just Cause eviction and moratorium, focus on the cap

    In closing, ironically some of the very same people asking for rent controls are against the development of more housing. By not having a broader plan to address the housing shortage, the existing housing providers will be asked to shoulder the burden of the current housing crisis, and that won’t work. In my opinion, any rental changes should be tied to new housing development for the purpose of long term housing planning.

    These suggested changes are a win win for both housing providers who will be assured of a fair return on their investment, plus a reimbursement of some of their capitalized improvement costs and fees, and renters who can rest more comfortably that their rent increases are capped, and our city leaders and planners who can plan for future housing and transportation needs — a necessary component to attract more jobs to Alameda.

    Lets take a deep breath and come up with a more comprehensive housing plan that will be a win win for everyone.

    Comment by Karen Bey — September 9, 2015 @ 9:48 pm

  47. # 44:

    “Ever-increasing rents–with many of the steepest increases being levied by corporate and absentee apartment ownership REITs, not “mom-and-pop” local landlords who tend to be more reasonable–are, in fact, destabilizing our community”.

    By increasing apartment fees on some of the existing larger corporate and apartment owners — we the community can get some of the rent increases back in the form of fees — which can be used to improve our transportation issues – ferry tax, water taxis, citywide shuttle, etc. and help displaced renters.

    We need to bring them to the table and help them be part of the solution. We need leadership, vision, and a plan that addresses all the housing issues — not just a piece of it.

    Comment by Karen Bey — September 10, 2015 @ 6:00 am

  48. Adding Fees always seems to be solution…..The Fees just get passed on……..We have Raised our Building and Permit Fees in the City 10,000 ‘s Percent…….about 4,000 percent times CPI over 25 years….Takes most out of the buying game and why Homeownership is declining……

    Comment by Cobalt Black Keys Johnson — September 10, 2015 @ 3:45 pm

  49. If houses appreciated at the same rate of permits and fees average Alameda Home would be selling for 30,000,000. + or Minus 50K

    http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/ca/alameda/rates/

    Comment by Cobalt Black Keys Johnson — September 10, 2015 @ 3:58 pm

  50. Peoples wages ,Salaries and Pension incomes are tied to CPI, so when you have a large part of the housing element which is Building Permits and Fees skyrocketing the apple cart gets turned over.

    It effects Renters , Homeowners , Landlords , and Real Estate Investment.

    If Construction Wages increased at same rate of Permits and Fees average construction worker would make about 4 Mil a Year.

    Comment by Cobalt Black Keys Johnson — September 10, 2015 @ 4:17 pm


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