Blogging Bayport Alameda

October 28, 2015

Now with retractable press releases!

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Lauren Do @ 6:23 am

On Monday the City sent out a press release regarding the special meeting on rising rents in Alameda.   On the next morning they had retracted the press release without much information as to why other than it needing to be “modified.”

The strange thing is that the Press Release itself if fairly straight forward containing all the information that one would need in a press release.  Time, date, topic, protocols in case there are too many people, etc and so forth.  It’s not clear what sorts of corrections are immediately necessary that the City would strangely need to retract a press release that had already hit many email boxes:  The press release:

City Council to Hold Special Public Meeting on November 4, 2015

To Consider Impacts of Rising Rents on Alameda Residents

The Alameda City Council will be holding a special meeting on Wednesday, November 4, 2015, to consider the impacts of rising rents on Alameda residents. The meeting will start at 6:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue.

At the special meeting, the City Council will discuss the findings of a study on the rental housing market in the City of Alameda, prepared by BAE Urban Economics (BAE). City staff will also present a range of policy options for City Council to consider that address rental housing market issues, including rapidly rising rents and low vacancy rates in Alameda. The BAE rent study and the staff report for the special meeting will be available on the City’s website by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 28, 2015.

In anticipation that the City Council Chambers may reach full capacity during the special meeting, overflow rooms will be available for the general public in City Hall conference Room 360, 3rd floor, and at the adjacent Elks Lodge at 2255 Santa Clara Avenue.

City personnel will also be available in City Hall conference Room 160, 1st floor, before the special City Council meeting on November 4th, from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Staff will answer tenant and landlord questions related to the City’s Rent Review Advisory Committee (RRAC) mediation process or take information from those wishing to submit an official complaint of a significant rental increase for the RRAC’s review.

The positive thing to note about the press release is that it contains information about a study that will, hopefully, be on the City’s website this evening.  It will be interesting to see if the revised press release will be released prior to that.   The changes better be pretty substantial that would require a wholesale retraction of a Press Release which — considering the number of minor corrected Press Releases that have been sent out these past 10 months — it’s becoming sort of a thing that the City doesn’t seem to know what the hell its doing when it comes to getting information out to media.

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27 Comments

  1. Lauren. Though it may appear that City staff work on a limited amount of items, I can tell you that is far from the truth. They are not over staffed, and they do not have endless budgets to use contractors. If you were to spend a day or two simply observing what takes place at City Hall, you would see some very dedicated and hard working individuals. I know you know this, but if the City has to pull back on press releases sort has to change schedules, I see nothing wrong with that. If I compare their changes to the many changes and delays that Microsoft has with their products, I’d say that the City is doing just fine.

    Comment by Bill2 — October 28, 2015 @ 8:23 am

  2. BTW. Excuse the typo in my last message (instead of “sort,” it should read “or.”)

    Comment by Bill2 — October 28, 2015 @ 8:25 am

  3. I think it might be start time related.

    Comment by Bmac — October 28, 2015 @ 8:34 am

  4. It says 6pm on the start time, which is what is posted on the agenda site too.

    The last time the City revised a press release after it was sent out it was — largely — to incorporate a quote from Trish Spencer and downplay positions that didn’t align with campaign promises.

    Perhaps staff would be able to better handle their jobs if they weren’t being micromanaged.

    Comment by Lauren Do — October 28, 2015 @ 8:57 am

  5. Comment on FB that the meeting was changed to a 5 pm start.

    Comment by Not. A. Alamedan — October 28, 2015 @ 10:12 am

  6. Updated press release mailed out. Start time of the meeting is still at 6pm. Staff is available at 5pm to answer questions or take statements.

    The only change is that the Elks Lodge won’t be the overflow room because it’s unavailable. The overflow room is now at the Main Library in the Stafford Room.

    Comment by Lauren Do — October 28, 2015 @ 10:22 am

  7. Apparently there are more vacancies on the RRAC now as well, three total if I hear correctly, including on the “homeowner” side. Methinks some folks (realtors, et al) don’t want to deal with or be associated with the increased visibility and controversy of the RRAC process.

    Comment by BMac — October 28, 2015 @ 10:55 am

  8. This looks like typical “meet the 7 day deadline before we have our act together” activity. I know it well. .But many people will not see the second press release & go to the wrong overflow location and/or be upset that they didn’t know about the 5p information session. On top of that, a new vacancy for RRAC was posted on October 26 (2 days ago) with applications due next Thursday, Nov 5. The “rent issue” is such a major topic that the city’s disorganization & last-minute changes are going to cause a lot of confusion. This confusion is going to be raised as a factor in whatever comes out of next Wednesday’s meeting.

    Comment by Alison — October 28, 2015 @ 11:49 am

  9. fact checking. the openings are for one renter and one home owner. There are five people on this board and there must be slots for a realtor/rental property owner, perhaps two for renters and two for property owner/managers? I seem to recall Karen Lucas being recently appointed if I’m not mistaken. I presume there is a high probability she owns rental stock. Anybody care to verify and of this?

    Comment by MI — October 28, 2015 @ 1:05 pm

  10. I think its two tenants, two landlords, and one homeowner.

    Comment by Karen Bey — October 28, 2015 @ 1:30 pm

  11. It used to be 2 tenants- pretty sure the new (we are all so excited about something so useless) law reduced the tenant count from 2 to 1 and upped the landholders count by 1 cuz why would you want tenants represented by other tenants when a landlord will do just fine? for the record, yet another tenant representative on the board received their “no just cause required” eviction a few weeks ago. That makes the second one to have that happen.

    Comment by librarycat — October 28, 2015 @ 2:19 pm

  12. Karen’s breakdown is correct. The press release is asking for applications for homeowners and tenants. So that could be 2, or 3 openings depending on whether the sole remaining tenant is not interested in staying on for another term or, perhaps, their impending change in circumstance thanks to a 60 day notice is the reason behind it.

    Comment by BMac — October 28, 2015 @ 2:32 pm

  13. 9. Also, a realtor/RE agent could be in the “homeowner” spot. Which might be a reason to vacate (avoid the controversy) and now they need a replacement.

    Comment by BMac — October 28, 2015 @ 2:34 pm

  14. It’s ironic that with residency requirement for this board, people would be disqualified to serve by virtue of being evicted. I think “home owner” should clearly not be in the rental business or it is de facto slot for landlord.

    To the point of today’s post, if it was to hang another example of micro management on the mayor, I think Alison’s take about 7 day notice is best explanation. If the added hour for Q & A was Trish’s idea, I’m not sure I can fault that. If it is like a press conference it could be a free for all of people clambering for staff attention. Maybe they’ll have hand outs and take questions after people read them, but in terms of seven days notice, I assume that applies to packets of exhibits.

    Comment by MI — October 28, 2015 @ 2:54 pm

  15. Here is Ms. Potter’s explanation for the times of things… taken from her email to a member of the Renter’s Coalition.

    “The special meeting starts at 6:00 pm. What starts at 5:00 pm is the availability of staff to be on hand (from 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm) for tenants who are interested in the RRAC process, filing Rent Increase Complaint forms, asking questions, etc. This will be similar to the staff that were available at the Oct. 20 Council meeting. These staff will be set up in room 160 on the first floor at City Hall. We are making staff available beginning at 5:00 pm, because we heard some concerns expressed last time that if tenants were availing themselves of these services they would miss out on the meeting. Therefore, we are starting a little earlier to address that concern. I hope you will let renters know that if they have questions/want additional info. about the RRAC, etc., they can talk to staff beginning at 5:00 pm. If you need anything else, pls. let me know. Tx dp”

    There is a lot of heat on this to be done sooner rather than later, so meeting Sunshine ordinance and what not w/ a scramble is preferable to pushing the meeting back.

    Comment by BMac — October 28, 2015 @ 3:31 pm

  16. And, the public info officer/communications position is still unfilled…for some reason. Correct me if that’s wrong, but it was posted not that long ago. Not having a dedicated staff person means that some poor soul at City Hall is pitching in to help with press releases.

    Comment by gaylon — October 28, 2015 @ 4:31 pm

  17. 15.thanks, that’s very helpful.

    Comment by MI — October 28, 2015 @ 4:53 pm

  18. As a landlord in Alameda, I am very concerned about the establishment of rent controls. I have great tenants, who are charged well below the market rate of what I could get. For now, this works well for my goals and objectives which includes looking out for my tenants within reasonable means. But, if I need to- I want the option to raise the rent accordingly, without interference. The threat of rent control has me pondering a substantial pre-emptive rent hike up to current market rates. I’d rather not, but if it’s clear that my options will become constrained, I may have no choice.

    Comment by Brian Keith — October 29, 2015 @ 7:36 am

  19. 18. Couple things….
    1. The likelihood of this Council voting for a strict rent control that limits your ability to raise rents beyond, say, CPI is very low. I can envision this Council beefing up some fringe aspects of the process that likely wouldn’t have much effect on landlords like you. Or, its possible they could institute a soft rent control in the neighborhood of 5-10% cap on increases plus just cause eviction. Even 5% would be something that most of the “mom and pop” landlords in town would not be dramatically affected by, and would allow you to bring rents up over the medium to long term if your objectives changed or your attitude towards your tenants soured.
    2. If you do decide to do a pre-emptive increase, do it on something like a 90-120 day notice. This gives you the ability to wait and see what the council ends up doing, which would allow you to retract or amend it if you were comfortable with any changes that were made to the rules.

    In my opinion, if council institutes just cause eviction w/ a single digit cap on rents, it probably takes the wind out of any potential ballot initiative drive for 2016. Short of that, a true strict rent control effort will gain steam and likely make it to a ballot box in the near future.

    Comment by BMac — October 29, 2015 @ 9:38 am

  20. 19. Thanks, I appreciate your take. I’ve only been increasing about 2% every year or so. So, if this ends up being in the 5-10% range, that wouldn’t be bad. I recall that back when I was in SF, it was capped at around 2% and at that rate, it would be a concern of mine.

    Thanks for the suggestion on the longer notice. I’ll hold off for now, I don’t want to unnecessarily cause the tenants angst- yet.

    Comment by Brian Keith — October 29, 2015 @ 10:42 am

  21. Also, by my reading of the 65 day moratorium, which needs 4 votes and I have no idea if it has a chance, (Matarrese is an almost definite no, I think) even an increase that is noticed before the meeting, that takes effect during the moratorium, would be invalid. I’m going to follow up to see if this is correct.

    Comment by BMac — October 29, 2015 @ 11:08 am

  22. Matarrese is an almost definite no

    Depends on the number of people who show up. If renters can amass a big enough showing, Matarrese will have a hard time not voting for the moratorium.

    Comment by Lauren Do — October 29, 2015 @ 11:27 am

  23. 22. I’ll bet you a Spin! Pizza.

    Comment by BMac — October 29, 2015 @ 11:49 am

  24. I’m not a gambling person, but I’ll take that bet if ARC can turn out 50+ people and they ALL speak and stay there during deliberations.

    Comment by Lauren Do — October 29, 2015 @ 12:04 pm

  25. Full house and 30 speakers and you are on.

    Comment by BMac — October 29, 2015 @ 12:06 pm

  26. Deal! *virtual spit handshake*

    Comment by Lauren Do — October 29, 2015 @ 2:56 pm

  27. I think the press release needed further explanation regarding the 5:00 p.m. start time.

    According to the city clerk as of Oct. 28, there are three vacancies on the RRAC. Two members will stay in order to maintain a quorum until the replacements are found. The RRAC needs to undergo significant reforms with regard to accountability and transparency. But, really, in the long run, it needs to be disbanded altogether. Mediation will never be a final solution to rising rents and no-fault evictions. Those will only be brought under reasonable control by legislation, not mediation.

    The usual composition of the RRAC needs to change, also. It is nearly always made up of real estate professionals and lawyers. The RRAC needs to include a wider variety of backgrounds and perspectives such as activists, single mothers, etc. There is no need or requirement that RRAC members come strictly from the professional class.

    Also, the ‘home-owner’ position needs to be re-characterized back to the original ‘neutral’ status as it was when the RRAC was created. Homeowners are not neutral. Rather, they are more often than not anti-renter based on the belief that rental units and renters reduce general property values. That RRAC position needs to be a true neutral position.

    Comment by John K — October 31, 2015 @ 12:25 am


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