Blogging Bayport Alameda

November 13, 2015

RRAC track

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

On Tuesday’s agenda there is an item to reappoint two of the housing providers on the Rent Review Advisory Committee. Given that one of the options for the City Council from a policy standpoint is to give more power to the RRAC it’s really important to understand who the members are that are being considered for reappointment.

Particularly Mayor Trish Spencer most recent appointment of former City Council member (and former candidate for the School Board) Karin Lucas.

At the epic meeting last Wednesday night she was had this to say about any protections for renters that went beyond letting the RRAC do its business:

I do not want to see the moratorium or any rent control, I feel that would interfere with my relationship with the tenants.


Hopefully the commission will be able to rein in unreasonable landlords.

Of course “unreasonable” is entirely subjective.  Given the RRAC’s penchant for okaying 10% rent increases, I’m not sure that the definition of “unreasonable” is globally accepted.

But let’s go back into the way back machine.  Granted, it’s been a number of years and perhaps sentiments have changed, but, typically people grow more conservative as the years go by and not more progressive.  Back in 1983 at the meeting when Karin Lucas took the oath of office there was an agenda item about a Housing Assistance Plan to be submitted to HUD.  This is how staff captured her statements regarding this item:


She then proceeded to vote against the motion to send the Housing Assistance Plan to HUD.

In 1991, Karin Lucas bristled at the conclusions in a report entitled “Citywide Needs for Public Services [1991-92 Community Development Plan]’ which pointed out that escalating rents were a problem in the City as was housing discrimination.  She dismissed a reported 30 cases as not meaningful because she didn’t believe there to be housing discrimination in Alameda.  (Ironically months after this pronouncement that there was no housing discrimination, this hit the local media.)  Additionally Karin Lucas did not believe that escalating rents were a problem because people were given an incentive for signing a year’s lease.

1991_1 1991_2 1991_3

In 1995, Karin Lucas expressed that she did not support Sentinel Fair Housing, a tenant assistance organization and mediation group and wanted to turn over tenant/landlord mediation to the RRAC, and in subsequent years after that continued her assault on the tenant assistance group:


In 1997, Karin Lucas, along with Tony Daysog, voted to reduce the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) budget for Sentinel Fair Housing.

In 1998, Karin Lucas went after Sentinel Fair Housing again:

1998_1 1998_2

This newly appointed RRAC member, when she sat on the City Council, worked to systematically undermine a CDGB funded rental assistance group and dismissed concerns of escalating rents and housing discrimination.  Much like some of Trish Spencer’s other questionable appointments, this one deserves additional scrutiny.  There are lots of housing providers out there that have not had such a spotty track record with sensitivity to housing issues.  Perhaps renters should use their newly found (and considerable) political voice to ensure that a housing provider with more sympathies to their positions secures one of those spaces as opposed to one who urged more of the same out of fear of “interfering” with her relationship with her tenants.


  1. To oppose rent control is a reasonable position. Almost every economist says it’s a bad idea, for example. A very large number of Alamedans, perhaps a majority, also oppose it. For the RRAC to reasonably reflect Alamedans’ views of the subject, it necessarily has to include at least one person who thinks as KL does.

    Comment by dave — November 13, 2015 @ 6:58 am

  2. the majority of Alamedans rent so to speculate that a majority may oppose rent control is an interesting proposition. I’d really like to have these economic studies which claim rent control causes rents to be higher. “a bad idea” is a little vague. It seems that the markets which attract rent controls are some of the most expensive so it seems like a potential chicken or egg thing. I’ve had “good guy” land lords say that since their raises are under the 8% they aren’t worried. Doing absolutely nothing, keeping hands off, NO regulation, is simply unacceptable.

    Comment by MI — November 13, 2015 @ 7:08 am

  3. Economists also say that land use restrictions are a constraint on growth (and inflater of property values) but yet here we are.

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 13, 2015 @ 7:16 am

  4. 2

    I suspect some number of those renters took an Econ 101 class and know it’s a lousy idea. Some number also live in SF and saw the distortions and injustices like 2 neighboring apts with hugely different rents, etc. If not a majority, then certainly a large portion of voters, a portion large enough to get a seat at the table.

    So put an Anti Measure person on the committee. Balance the committee. For that matter, put A on the ballot for repeal. Go for it.

    Comment by dave — November 13, 2015 @ 7:31 am

  5. 4

    Some number *lived* in SF

    Comment by dave — November 13, 2015 @ 7:32 am

  6. I think it’s entirely possible that Ms. Lucas’ views have evolved and I hope someone asks her the question directly. OT: it would be hilarious if the mayor nominated her own landlord to the RRAC. By hilarious I mean antidemocratic and cronyist but still.

    Comment by gaylon — November 13, 2015 @ 8:10 am

  7. Committee can’t be balanced as long as Trish Spencer is making the nominations and City Council members like Tony “elections have consequences” Daysog rubber stamp her picks.

    Measure A doesn’t need to go on the ballot for a repeal, at some point if these YIMBY organizations are serious, they only need to be willing to take Alameda to court over it. The likelihood of Measure A surviving a direct legal challenge is slim.

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 13, 2015 @ 8:10 am

  8. dave, you obviously see rent control in black and white like Prop 13 and expect renters to be jealous of those with protection. Controls don’t have to Draconian measures which cause rents to be spiked when leased tenants finally leave rent controlled units which is supposedly how rent control results in higher rent right? If not why don’t you tutor dumb asses like me who didn’t take Econ 101 and also lack any common sense?

    Comment by MI — November 13, 2015 @ 8:27 am

  9. From “In Defense of Rent Control”:

    “The argument for rent control should be distinguished from the argument for affordability per-se,” says Joshua Mason, an economics professor at Roosevelt University. “The real goal of rent control is protecting the moral rights of occupancy. Long-term tenants who contributed to this being a desirable place to live have a legitimate interest in staying in their apartments. If we think that income diverse, stable neighborhoods, where people are not forced to move every few years, [are worth preserving] then we collectively have an interest in stabilizing the neighborhood.”

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 13, 2015 @ 8:34 am

  10. 5: Dave, what is the meaning of your comment? Are you insinuating that the renters at the City Council meeting November 4 were out-of-town activists trying to stir up Alameda renters? Sorry, but if you believe that I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you: Alameda Renters Coalition is a home-grown group of renters like me who are trying to figure out how to survive and support each other when landlords raise rents 20 to 35 per cent per year–in successive years. (I am a second-generation northern Californian and moved to Alameda in 1997. We sold our home in 2009 after 12 years of being able to control our own destiny and became renters. Now we are without many rights that we had as homeowners. That stinks–or worse.) The ARC was born and bred in Alameda, by Alamedans who are hard-working taxpayers and parents–just like landlords. And renters deserve more fairness than is available under current laws so our community–our schools, our businesses, and our neighborhoods– maintain their stability.

    Apparently, the worst landlords–the ones that even “good” local landlords like Karin Lucas complained about last Tuesday–are the ones from out of town and the bigger corporate REITs. If you want real credibility, you, Karin Lucas, and other local landlords should sit down and *talk to* the Alameda Renters Coalition (something landlords have steadfastly refused to do for two years). Hello us develop legislative enforcement tools to control those landlords’ morally reprehensible behavior (raising rents 20 to 35 per cent in successive years without making any improvements to their properties) that work to the benefit of reasonable “mom and pop” Alameda landlords.

    This would be a far better investment in our community than incorrectly blaming the nonexistent “outside agitators” that seem to populate your ungrounded conspiracy theory.

    It is clear that both Doug Smith (quoted on page 1 in the Alameda Sun) as well as Christopher Hanson (op-ed on pp. 8-11) are misinformed or are are deliberately misleading the community when: a) Smith claims that landlords did not organize to present their case and turn out in force, and b) Hanson stated that the leaders and members of the ARC in the hallway were “non-Alameda resident” renters. Members of there ARC have a great deal of evidence to the contrary, including the landlords’ speaker slips from November 4. If they are part of a deliberate smear campaign, it needs to stop. If they were poorly-informed or misinformed, perhaps they should do their homework before spouting off incorrectly. In either case, I believe apologies from them and other landlords are in order.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — November 13, 2015 @ 8:39 am

  11. 8

    Use wiki. Seriously, it’s a good start.


    How long did it take you to sift out that result from the countless google hits that demonstrate it’s a terrible idea? And why does a tenant’s moral right of occupancy trump an owner’s moral right of ownership?

    Comment by dave — November 13, 2015 @ 8:43 am

  12. 10

    Read 5 again Jon.

    Comment by dave — November 13, 2015 @ 8:44 am

  13. 11. Let me Google that for you (4th link), 2nd link when I did my own search but I imagine my customization must be different than yours based on my Google history.

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 13, 2015 @ 8:47 am

  14. 10

    I am not a landlord.

    In addition to not having the rights of property ownership, you are also free of the obligations and challenges. It sounds like you freely mad that choice by selling.

    And really, how many units have been raised 35% in successive years? That is damn near doubling in 2 years. I am not saying it didn’t happen, but I suggest it was a very small number of properties. Even Renewed Hope (a strongly pro-renter group) found a solid majority of units had no or small rent increases. (Yes, sample size renders that data flawed, but when a pro renter group comes up with that, it does make one skeptical as to the degree and frequency of such increases) And in any case, someone whose rent is hiked 35% in successive years was obviously getting a sweet below-market deal. Did they thank the landlord for that?

    Comment by dave — November 13, 2015 @ 8:52 am

  15. 13

    That’s a neat little app to spoon feed data, thanks, I had not see that before.

    Read the 5th hit. Read other hits. You’ll find that is a controversial minority opinion among Dismal Scientists

    Comment by dave — November 13, 2015 @ 8:55 am

  16. I’ve read the other hits. My argument is not that it isn’t an economic limiter. My argument is that if we allow other artificial supply constraints (such as land use regulations and zoning) then there must be a mechanism to protect vulnerable populations.

    Given that 50% of Alameda’s population are renters, “housing providers” can either opt to find a reasonable middle ground, 10% annual rent hikes and leaving it in the hands of the RRAC is not it, or they can face a ballot initiative that is going to be a lot less palatable.

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 13, 2015 @ 9:05 am

  17. If measure A so offends you, why do you live in a Measure A neighborhood that was built on bulldozed multi-family housing? That’s a serious question.

    Comment by dave — November 13, 2015 @ 9:12 am

  18. It’s not a serious question because I knew very little about Alameda politics and history prior to purchasing a home here, is the expectation that I immediately pack up my family and move because I believe that Measure A is a really ridiculous law.

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 13, 2015 @ 9:19 am

  19. So knowing very little, you bought here and now wish to recreate the town in your image, while presumably retaining the SFH that you think others should not enjoy. That’s……curious.

    Comment by dave — November 13, 2015 @ 9:25 am

  20. that “bulldozed” multi family housing was barley in livable condition, it was sub-standard and needed to be torn down. Lauren does not live in measure A neighborhood she lives in an R-1 with some sort of overlay. There is no such thing as a measure A neighborhood except in your mind, and yes I would love to see measure A on the ballot. Win or loose, it would at least give us an idea of how people feel about it.

    Comment by John P. — November 13, 2015 @ 9:33 am

  21. At no point did I ever say that we should create a ban on single family homes. If I did, then perhaps you would have more justification to be puzzled by my position on Measure A. My belief, as it has always been is that we should we have options/choice for residents. Multifamily housing is a choice that should be available to all residents in Alameda and new multifamily housing should absolutely be an option for families.

    Additionally my position has always been that housing should be affordable to all and not just to whoever can pay the most or whoever has the deepest pockets. One way to create affordability without subsidy is through density.

    It would be super easy for me to not care about the status of other families in Alameda and beyond because, well, I’ve got mine. But as a part of a community it’s incumbent for us to care about what happens to our neighbors and if families are continually priced out because of historic decisions, then that’s a problem we should all be concerned about.

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 13, 2015 @ 9:34 am

  22. wow. I was ready to dump her simply for her comments at the Nov. 4th meeting. This willfully ignorant attitude of whitewashing Alameda’s record of housing discrimination is despicable and she should have no influence our city’s housing policies or actions, much less sit on an increasingly important board whose purpose is to help renters solve problems.

    Comment by BMac — November 13, 2015 @ 9:39 am

  23. 21

    The city is already nearly half multifamily dwellings. Is that not suffieient choice?

    And Measure stopped the bulldozing of SFH’s. Its repeal would bring that back.

    Comment by dave — November 13, 2015 @ 9:42 am

  24. And Measure stopped the bulldozing of SFH’s. Its repeal would bring that back.

    No, it wouldn’t because there are zoning overlays and historic preservation laws.

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 13, 2015 @ 9:43 am

  25. 16. “10% annual rent hikes and leaving it in the hands of the RRAC is not it [a reasonable middle ground]”. What would be your proposed reasonable middle ground?

    Comment by MP — November 13, 2015 @ 9:54 am

  26. ““housing providers” can either opt to find a reasonable middle ground, 10% annual rent hikes and leaving it in the hands of the RRAC is not it, or they can face a ballot initiative that is going to be a lot less palatable.”

    ^ this times infinity. If they didn’t get it going into Nov 4, property managers and landlords should understand the very real possibility that an initiative w/ strict rent control policies like SF has could pass in today’s climate. Less than 60 days to endorse a compromise position that could forestall that movement from going full steam ahead. My guess, maybe 6% caps with Daysog’s relocation assistance might be enough to undercut an initiative’s chances. Might need to be more like 4% with a real just cause eviction ordinance, but that is why they call it compromise.

    Comment by BMac — November 13, 2015 @ 9:55 am

  27. #25, pretty sure I’ve already written this but just cause eviction is a good start to protecting tenants. As to a “reasonable” annual rent increase, I don’t have a good gauge on this because I haven’t faced annual rent increases every year nor have I levied annual rent increases on anyone lately.

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 13, 2015 @ 9:57 am

  28. Lauren, you are correct in your last post, we do not need measure A to protect SFH, it is protected through zoning overlays and historic preservation laws. Dave says its repeal would bring that back, please show me some facts to prove your point here in Alameda.

    Comment by John P. — November 13, 2015 @ 9:58 am

  29. 24

    As the firemen have taught us, 3 votes on council are fairly easy to buy. A law is only so strong, a charter amendment has much greater longevity.

    Comment by dave — November 13, 2015 @ 9:59 am

  30. What about an amendment that strengthens Measure A East of Main, an area that already has a lot of multifamily housing, while allowing relaxation West of Main?

    Comment by dave — November 13, 2015 @ 10:02 am

  31. #29 Historic preservation laws are state and federal laws in addition to local laws. Fairly sure that State and Federal laws still trump whatever happens locally.

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 13, 2015 @ 10:02 am


    Comment by John P. — November 13, 2015 @ 10:11 am

  33. #30 if the goal is to protect single family houses and more importantly historic single family homes Measure A is completely unnecessary.

    If the goal is to stymie the production of new multifamily housing units then there will always still be the specter of invalidation by the courts.

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 13, 2015 @ 10:17 am

  34. All the above:

    The law of unintended consequences is the outgrowth of many theories, but was probably best defined by sociologist Robert K. Merton in 1936. Merton wrote an article, The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposive Social Action, which covers five different ways that actions, particularly those taken on a large scale as by governments, may have unexpected consequences. These “reactions,” may be positive, negative or merely neutral, but they veer off from the intent of the initial action. Merton also described five reasons why a “law” or change might fall under the heading of the law of unintended consequences.

    The two top reasons why the law of unintended consequences works, according to Merton, is that the framers of a social change are either ignorant of possible far reaching effects of the law or make errors when they develop a change that don’t have the effects they desired.

    Comment by Jack — November 13, 2015 @ 10:45 am

  35. dave, if you took Econ 201 or 301, you’d appreciate that, while rent control is indeed a lousy mechanism, in the presence of other distortions, it may increase social welfare. Measure A (and other land-use restrictions) subsidizes landlords (among others) by inflating rents. Renters are hurt by that. I’m sure you don’t dispute this. Rent control may be economically inefficient in isolation, but it’s not in isolation. A better method would be to have beneficiaries (landlords) directly subsidize tenants but as the landlords are oblivious (willfully or otherwise) that they are being subsidized implicitly by Measure A, this won’t happen. Hence understandable demands for rent control.

    As for Lucas…who better than an old, white, conservative landlord to reassure us that housing discrimination doesn’t happen? Spencer’s endorsement of Lucas may come back to haunt her. And renters should make sure it indeed does.

    Comment by BC — November 13, 2015 @ 10:54 am

  36. 20. Calling your bullshit. That housing was built in 1969 and was only three years older than the newest apartment building in Alameda. Plenty of affordable housing providers were interested in East Housing and through shenanigans they never got a chance to bid on the project. The city went in debt to the tune of $25 million to bull-doze 590 apartments and build Bayport. I would call that the reverse Robin Hood effect.

    Your comment reminds me of the time ten years ago when they closed Woodstock Elementary School because it had “out lived it usefulness as a school.” Someone had to attend the school that was built to market Bayport.

    Comment by Gerard L. — November 13, 2015 @ 10:56 am

  37. #36 I don’t know about the state of the housing that was here before Bayport, but Doug Biggs at APC will tell anyone who listens about the difficulties of maintaining the former Navy housing that APC currently occupies. It sounds like an absolute money pit that is expensive and inefficient to maintain.

    Also the promise to Bayport residents was that the school would be a K-8 school. I’m sure that the Bayport residents who opted out of Ruby Bridges for greener pastures on the East End and Bay Farm would have preferred that Woodstock, Longfellow, and Miller all stayed open.

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 13, 2015 @ 11:05 am

  38. The RRAC will fail, it can never be successful. The reason is simple: landlords will never follow recommendations made in a non-binding mediation process that asks them to voluntarily agree to rent increases of 5% or less, such as at CPI. The RRAC historically has promoted and rubber-stamped 10% rent increases in both policy and practice. By that I mean, when handing out 10% increases, it is done unanimously by the RRAC. There’s never any debate and there’s no renter advocate fighting it out for renters. The votes are ALWAYS unanimous.

    The RRAC considers a ‘successful” negotiation to be one in which they succeed in talking a landlord down from a 20%-40% increase to 10%. That is a success according to the RRAC.

    The RRAC has always been packed with lawyers and real estate people. It is only recently that ARC has begun to challenge that status quo. ARC characterizes membership of the RRAC as one having been captured by the ‘professional class’ whose economic interests are often completely opposite of those of renters.

    Karin Lucas’ recent appointment to the RRAC is merely a continuation of that capture, although Lucas’ hostility towards renters is noticeably more apparent than that of other RRAC members.

    When re-appointments to the RRAC were to have occurred at City Council in October, ARC made these points about the 10% increase target and about the one-sided, land-lord friendly composition of the RRAC. The mayor did not see any problem with the current composition. And, the fact that the City Council needed to be bludgeoned just to get two-months relief for renters, they still couldn’t managed that without giving 8% rent increases during the moratorium. The fix is in….it always has been.

    Comment by John K — November 13, 2015 @ 11:18 am

  39. Anyone advocating rent control has absolutely never taken an economics class or was too high on the weed to even comprehend the most basic lessons as to why it’s a terrible idea.

    First, it takes money out of the hands of the landlords, who, as small business owners, are the driving force of the economy. I’m sure even those bottom-feeders who hang out on Haight street waving peace signs and playing on their iPads can understand this one.

    Second, it discriminates against people from outside of our city moving to our city — on second thought, this is actually an argument for rent control.

    Third, new housing will not be built because there is no incentive to do so — renting won’t be profitable! Even if new buildings were exempt from rent control, nobody living in rent controlled buildings would move there!

    Fourth, no landlord is going to bother renovating apartments they aren’t making money from. This will lead to an even larger housing crisis as buildings eventually become red tagged and families are forced to move out by city inspectors.

    All of the above will lead to less tax revenue for the city as property values fall. This will lead to less funding for police which will eventually lead to Alameda becoming the next Oakland. Think of the safety of our children here.

    The solution to this problem is really simple, doltheads: force families to share rentals. Yes, I’m sure all you entitled millennials will whine and moan and maybe even have some sort of sad sit-in (maybe they can get Bernie Sham-ders to yell some indecipherable nonsense), but two families sharing a 1 bedroom apartment happens ALL THE TIME in modern countries: India, Ethiopia, Burundi…). This is the future of America, people, and thank God we have Trish Spencer here to lead us down the right path.

    Comment by Rodney — November 13, 2015 @ 11:25 am

  40. #31: What “Historic Preservation Laws” are you talking about? They didn’t save the Red Brick Building. They didn’t save 2413 Buena Vista.
    As I recall, the City kicked off Historic Preservation Month with the demolition of that historic cottage.

    Historic Preservation Laws are notoriously subject to subjective interpretation and lack teeth. Measure A is the most effective “historic preservation law” that Alameda has.

    #37: “absolute money pit that is expensive and inefficient to maintain” That is true of most Victorians and most other vintage homes. Yet people still enjoy having them around. Without them our city would have no character. If you only want to live where ALL the homes are efficient, affordable, and maintenance-free, Alameda is probably not the place for you.

    Comment by vigi — November 13, 2015 @ 11:38 am

  41. Bravo! Rodney, bravo.

    35. “dave, if you took Econ 201 or 301, you’d appreciate that, while rent control is indeed a lousy mechanism, in the presence of other distortions, it may increase social welfare. Measure A (and other land-use restrictions) subsidizes landlords (among others) by inflating rents. Renters are hurt by that. I’m sure you don’t dispute this. Rent control may be economically inefficient in isolation, but it’s not in isolation. A better method would be to have beneficiaries (landlords) directly subsidize tenants but as the landlords are oblivious (willfully or otherwise) that they are being subsidized implicitly by Measure A, this won’t happen.”

    perfectly put.

    Comment by BMac — November 13, 2015 @ 11:49 am

  42. 12: Dave I did. Several times. You might have paid me the courtesy of explaining your comment–that is what I asked for. But the meaning of your #5 is not at all obvious. I have no idea what you meant. You might consider making your writing clear and accessible instead of clever and cryptic.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — November 13, 2015 @ 12:16 pm

  43. 39. The tenant heard at the Nov 2, 2015 RRAC hearing — was single, not elderly; she made no claim of poverty; her rent went up from $1400 to $1500 for a one bedroom detached cottage (actually only an $80 increase, because a $20 garbage fee had been removed) and, acknowledged by the end of the hearing that it was not an unfair rent increase. I don’t know if you intend to put down India, Ethiopia, or Burundi, or what the analogy is, but I and my roommate would both think that the above is a fair deal, at least. After the tenant essentially withdrew her claim (to her credit, she had acknowledged that her landlord had been responsive to requests re maintenance), someone from ARC said that this case “is exactly why we need rent that rent increases are regulated”. My argument is not that nothing can be done in the present circumstances, but it seems like some of the proponents seek much more than to remedy the most sympathetic cases held out as the examples.

    Comment by MP — November 13, 2015 @ 12:17 pm

  44. According to this list, Alameda ranks 31st from the Bottom in “Affordability” #1019 on this list. 1238/1268 = Affordability.

    Notably, the bottom 23 are all in California.

    Comment by vigi — November 13, 2015 @ 12:19 pm

  45. Historic Preservation Laws

    I believe the citizens of Alameda had an option to save the Red Brick Building and opted to not and instead to “strengthen” Measure A.

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 13, 2015 @ 12:19 pm

  46. #45 You believe wrongly. You weren’t here then. I was. The developer gave Alameda a “no-win” scenario.
    Measure A is a very terse statement. The amendments subsequently attached to it do not strengthen it, but are whittling away at it.

    Comment by vigi — November 13, 2015 @ 12:49 pm

  47. I would like to remind my neighbors that property rights are not sacred (as in to be worshipped). It only seems to be so when one looks at discussions like these or the comments of the landlords who seemed to be claiming “divine right” when opposing any form of regulation of their rental business enterprise.

    Unlike the numerous Biblical calls to behave in a “moral” manner, you cannot take property with one into the next life: “you can’t take it with you,” as they say. Here are some expressions of other means of valuing activities, decisions, and behaviors that may have real value outside of the framework of profit, dollars, and cents. (Note: I am presenting examples from my own faith tradition because that is what I know, but there are parallel sentiments in almost every faith tradition that I respect and acknowledge.)

    1. The Beatitudes (MATT 5: 3-12, LUKE 6:20-22)

    2. “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

    3. “My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” (Isaiah 32:18)

    4. “Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.” (Proverbs 14:31)

    5. “Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty. (Proverbs 22:16)

    As to there not being *any* justification for rent control, let me ask this: when was the last time we lived without speed limits and vehicle codes on our roadways, or food safety an laws to protect our food?

    Similarly, laws against individual corporate and personal greed and uncontrolled monopolies (including thievery) protect people from being abused and oppressed. Why not apply reasonable standards to the rental housing market in order to help stabilize our schools, our neighborhoods, and our local businesses?

    Comment by Jon Spangler — November 13, 2015 @ 12:51 pm

  48. You believe wrongly. You weren’t here then. I was. The developer gave Alameda a “no-win” scenario.

    One option would save it, the other would not. Alameda voters decided to not.

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 13, 2015 @ 12:53 pm

  49. There are so many laws and regulations in this country that every one is bound to be in conflict with at least a few others. I sat on the Board of Directors of the Alameda Museum for five years before there was a Google search available and I have actually read many of those laws. It can be a real uphill battle to make enough people care about them that they are enforceable. And the deep pockets of the developers trump all.

    There are few if any consequences for violating Historic Preservation laws. If you are wealthy enough, like most developers, you demolish or alter the building, pay a fine and do what you want.

    Comment by vigi — November 13, 2015 @ 12:56 pm

  50. “laws against individual corporate and personal greed and uncontrolled monopolies (including thievery) protect people from being abused and oppressed”
    Really, Jon? What laws are those? If there were such laws, there wouldn’t be hedge funds or derivatives; offshore bank accounts; or reverse spins and splits of stock, with redomiciliation in a foreign country.

    Comment by vigi — November 13, 2015 @ 1:40 pm

  51. 47

    So Jesus, if he indeed existed, might have favored rent control. Good to know.

    But Holy Strange Bedfellows, Batman, it seems that Mike Huckabee or Ted Cruz has hacked Spangler’s name. Spangler would surely never base public policy on some ancient Middle Eastern fairy tales, ignoring the Constitution, the Enlightenment or other such modern contrivances as property rights. Anyone know the rent laws in Iran or other theocracies? Sorry, I’m not up to date.

    As for that devious Republican’s line about speed limits, we have safety regulations for autos & dwelling alike. Cars have spped limits, etc, as noted by faux Jon, while buildings have safety codes, fire protection, stair rails and the like. Auto regulations, as far as I’m aware, don’t dictate the prices at which cars change hands.

    Comment by dave — November 13, 2015 @ 1:47 pm

  52. Also, Jon, there would be price controls on pharmaceuticals. There is no greed to match that of the drug companies.

    Comment by vigi — November 13, 2015 @ 2:06 pm

  53. 35.dave, if you took Econ 201 or 301, you’d appreciate that, while rent control is indeed a lousy mechanism, in the presence of other distortions, it may increase social welfare. Measure A (and other land-use restrictions) subsidizes landlords (among others) by inflating rents. Renters are hurt by that. I’m sure you don’t dispute this. Rent control may be economically inefficient in isolation, but it’s not in isolation. A better method would be to have beneficiaries (landlords) directly subsidize tenants but as the landlords are oblivious (willfully or otherwise) that they are being subsidized implicitly by Measure A, this won’t happen. Hence understandable demands for rent control.


    This is a most interesting riposte, thank you. I have a few thoughts now and will mull over a fine tuning & get more out a bit later.

    I suppose one can view A as subsidizing landlords, but to have that view one must be assuming a vacuum. For starters, this is a large region with a regional housing market, each region with its own dynamics which overlap others from time to time. Consumers of housing have many substitute goods to choose from, such as housing in San Leandro or Concord. There are not beholden to a captive 94501/02 market.

    Does A restrict supply? Yes, though it’s difficult to determine by how much. Our island status also restricts supply of SFH’s, the prices of which are rising as fast or perhaps faster than apartments. I have heard no concern on this page for that, and I imagine if it was raised, many would say “deal with it or live in another town.” Why the different reactions to different consumers is a mystery to me.

    To me, A is a quality of life ordinance. It has kept our low key pace of life and visual ambience somewhat intact. We are just a couple exits away from one of the world’s foremost cities, yet we retain a vibe that feels a helluva lot smaller than 70,000 people. That is worthy of preservation to me, and I suspect it is to most renters as well. Think for a moment about the ugliest most Motel 6 looking apartment block, the classic pro Measure A lead in. I believe that the residents of that box greatly appreciate tree lined streets and easy travel across town and would rather not turn the rest of the island into more of their box. All residents benefit from that quality of life, though obviously owners’ benefits hit their pocketbooks in a way that renters’ benefits don’t.

    A is a blunt instrument, and has may imperfections, but its charter nature gives me far more confidence in it than in a council that is easily bought.

    I plead guilty to liking the status quo. This is a damn nice place to live & I think keeping it that way is a worthy endeavor.

    Again, excellent point, and again, I will have more later. My wheels are turning on this one.

    Comment by dave — November 13, 2015 @ 2:10 pm

  54. Lauren:

    The state of housing back then:

    As part of the formal routine for council meetings, the mayor didn’t apologize for the late start but immediately began the Pledge of Allegiance. A grumbling, angry audience rose to their feet. At the last line of the Pledge, “Liberty and Justice for all” cries erupted, “for all, FOR ALL!”

    Comment by Gerard L. — November 13, 2015 @ 2:13 pm

  55. #51 Except Solomon, not Jesus, is the author of Proverbs. And Solomon was the wealthiest king of Israel there ever was.

    The Beatitudes [Jesus] say: Blessed are the Poor in Spirit, theirs is the kingdom of heaven. No material wealth approved there.

    Blessed are the meek, merciful, mournful, peacemakers, pure of heart, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…Sorry, Jon, I don’t see any reference in the Beatitudes encouraging material generosity of rich to poor.

    Micah and Isaiah are Old-T; before Jesus. But keep trying, Jon. Jesus might have said something that justifies rent control.

    Comment by vigi — November 13, 2015 @ 2:20 pm

  56. 36. I was a Green who supported retaining East Housing because of the multiple unit thing and because it seemed like the right thing to do. I only recall EBALDC ( I think that is the name) a non profit affordable housing builder made a proposal to remodel and upgrade the units, not lots of others. Maybe they could have made them nice but I seem to recall them as dumpy with soft stories and other problems. I can’t say they needed to be torn down, just that they were plenty funky.

    Comment by MI — November 13, 2015 @ 3:55 pm

  57. 57. Sridhar Equities, the landlord or manager of the 33 unit building cited in the article, says this on their website “Large Enough to Deliver, Small Enough to Care”

    Comment by MP — November 13, 2015 @ 4:25 pm

  58. Mark:

    I am a former member of EBALDC’s board of directors. Outside of Jimmy and Rosalynn I don’t know who has done more than EBALDC for affordable housing.

    Preserve affordable housing. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

    Comment by Gerard L. — November 13, 2015 @ 4:41 pm

  59. dave, you always have trouble understanding why people think an intervention is warranted in one area and not another. Lemme try…

    In the vein of “democratic socialism” that is enjoying a surge in popularity right now, people in this camp tend to think like this: once the basics are taken care of, free market til your heart’s content.

    That, to me, includes a basic level of housing, food, education, healthcare and security. So, the rental market tends to fit in that, where the landlord income market would not (exceptions to the rule aside.)

    Comment by BMac — November 13, 2015 @ 5:52 pm

  60. Mark, I don’t give a shit what anybody says, I have lived in the West End 72 years, East housing would have been an instant slum, with a wall around it and no new school for West End children. Myself and many other West Enders realized this and made sure it did not happen. Those buildings were pure garbage, they were not safe.

    Comment by John P. — November 13, 2015 @ 5:53 pm

  61. post #36, “plenty of affordable housing providers were interested in East housing” name them.

    Comment by John P. — November 13, 2015 @ 7:25 pm

  62. 60

    As a society we attempt to provide a basic safety net. SNAP/EBT, Medical/Medicaid, Section 8, etc. We pay for those via a broad based tax system, it is a societal effort. One could argue we should provide more, but such additional benefits would still be paid for on a societal level.

    Should base level housing at a discount from its market price be deemed a societal requirement, then let’s do that at a societal level, not by capping the incomes of legitimate businesses that provide such an essential good. Many times in this debate I’ve asked how people would feel if their incomes were capped or reduced. So far nobody has really answered it, certainly no one has volunteered to cap their own. It is not only unfair but unwise to do this the landlords, it guarantees shrinking supply and deferred maintenance.

    Comment by dave — November 13, 2015 @ 8:22 pm

  63. 60

    Please clarify the last sentence. I think I get your point but am not sure.

    Comment by dave — November 13, 2015 @ 8:24 pm

  64. 62. John:

    I thought you already had your last word on this topic (32) before I called out your bullshit.

    I was on the board of directors for EBALDC at the time. We were part of a group that demonstrated the economic feasibility of reuse of East Housing. I guess during your 72 years you were out of town that day. $25 million dollars of public debt to build luxury housing. From a tax flow perspective, Bayport is the slum in my neighborhood.

    I also have to say that Daysog’s (Alameda Sun) use of the word “Pops” as in mom and pops is ignorant. “Pops” is Willie Stargell. Pops worked with HOPE (Renewed HOPE came 25 years later) on testing landlord’s racism. Chicken on the hill.


    Comment by Gerard L. — November 14, 2015 @ 1:10 am

  65. #65 I was reading some old minutes last night about EBALDC. There was some real hostility on the City Council at that time toward EBALDC, I’m not sure that even if EBALDC was able to provide a similar package to Catellus it would have been approved by the sitting City Council.

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 14, 2015 @ 6:30 am

  66. EBALDC was unpopular for their fiscal sponsorship of the Alameda Multi-Cultural Center in John P. Alameda.

    Can’telles competitively bid on developing Alameda Landing, not East Housing. Which came first?

    To suggest a non-profit, with free land, and 590 apartments would leave the general public with $25 million in debt is absurd.

    “The problem we all live with”

    Comment by Gerard L. — November 14, 2015 @ 8:32 am

  67. If anyone wants to see what East Housing looked like you can drive onto the base today and see just what substandard crap people are still forced to live in today. Hopefully the people that live there will be getting better housing soon. East Housing was never good for anyone. It needed to be torn down and it was.

    Comment by John P. — November 14, 2015 @ 9:15 am

  68. Please drive on to the base today. See what John P. Planning Director has imagined.

    Comment by Gerard L. — November 14, 2015 @ 9:55 am

  69. East housing was built for married enlisted. They were dumps compared to officer housing. They were palaces compared to what we unmarried enlisted barrack rats had to live in and they were palaces compared to the “project” non-military housing that was scattered all over the west end of Alameda. Thank god Alameda tore all that crap down.

    Comment by Jack — November 14, 2015 @ 10:11 am

  70. Crap. They said the same thing about my house and the entire block back in 1975, imminent domain and all. My house was built pre-Alameda.

    Still here. You and your “god” can talk about that the next time you go to church.

    Comment by Gerard L. — November 14, 2015 @ 12:03 pm

  71. Gerald L. , your taking this way to hard, Gerald, your mistaken I’m not the Planning Director, we actually have a really good one who I have a lot of respect for.

    Comment by John P. — November 14, 2015 @ 6:18 pm

  72. You can misspell my middle name. I use it to avoid confusion with one of your former planning board members that looks like Bill Cosby. I wish he would have returned books to the library, paid his student housing bill, and returned the financial aid after he dis-enroelled.I still have the piece of paper from UCB. I am not him.

    Comment by Gerard L. — November 14, 2015 @ 7:14 pm

  73. “Globally reasonable”? When we have the one world government you so eagerly desire, to whom will you turn for redress? Looks very likely that our one world government will be controlled by Vladimir Putin.

    Seems to me that a lot of the problems with people being unable to afford rent are a direct result of their inability to get along, or live, with others. Everyone knows that hotels rent rooms at prices based on double occupancy. They charge more for single occupancy. We Americans are outliers from the get go. There are thousands of Alameda residents who live alone, hoarding housing meant for multiple occupancy. Of course it would be cheaper to share rent with a significant other. I can afford $700, but not $1400.

    As long as Americans remain loners, who kick their kids out into the street as soon as they turn 18, they will have to spend too much of their income on housing. A lot of immigrants share housing, pool resources, save money and start their own businesses. It boils down to personality type and cultural practices. Renting an apartment to a single person should come with an extra fee attached. People should be encouraged to live with their parents as long as possible. Americans are obsessed with space and privacy, which adds to the problem of housing shortages.

    These single people who are hogging housing to themselves are actually the greedy ones. They are also energy hogs as 2 people can use the same lighting and heating as 1.

    Comment by Michelle — November 15, 2015 @ 7:00 am

  74. Had some bad dreams last night, eh, Michelle?

    Comment by Jack — November 15, 2015 @ 9:34 am

  75. Address my points, Jack.

    Comment by Michelle — November 15, 2015 @ 5:42 pm

  76. I’d love to if you’d show them to me, Michelle.

    Comment by Jack — November 15, 2015 @ 8:20 pm

  77. 50, 51, 55: I was attempting to counter the religious fervor with which the “sacred” right to own and profit from private property has been supported on this list. In fact, “you can’t take it (either profits or property) with you.”

    I have no objections to limiting the greed of oil, pharmaceutical, big agriculture, or other oligarchies/monopolies, either.

    As to Vigi’s call for proof, let’s start with the Sherman Antitrust Act and other progressive laws that have been eviscerated by ineffectual enforcement and amendments, but are, indeed, on the books. Surely she does not need a reminder of the Progressive Era in American politics?

    Comment by Jon Spangler — November 16, 2015 @ 12:39 pm

  78. 78; I’m not saying there are no laws on the books, Jon. I’m just saying that the reality is that they aren’t very protective anymore, for reasons some of which you just mentioned. On that point, we do agree.

    While it was being argued, I was very hopeful that Dodd-Frank would be more powerful than it turned out to be. But in the end, it was eviscerated too.

    Comment by vigi — November 16, 2015 @ 1:10 pm

  79. This will always be a touchy subject with few technically correct answers or solutions.

    But here’s my stupid 2-cent opinions: This gentrification? The rising rents/housing/cost of living thing?

    It’ll pop.

    Rest assured because I’ve seen in not once, but several times so far and EVERY single time its the same thing: The economy inflates dramatically, prices skyrocket and everything goes nuts. And then it comes crashing down. Don’t believe me? Hell- I remember during the dot-com I’d only been here for a short time. Rent was INSANE. Me and a bunch of other guys crammed into a teeny apartment since NOTHING else was affordable. We were living off of bulk groceries and barely scraping by. When would it ever end? we would ask ourselves. living by yourself or even your girlfriend? Hell no- I didn’t know anyone in my group of friends who could afford that.

    And then it crashed. Big time. That’s when I moved to Alameda. The base had closed, the local economy wasn’t doing well and good god there was a huge amount of empty houses for rent. Landlords were practically begging people to p-p-please rent from them. There were entire houses for $800 or less. The house I wound up renting had been totally empty for over 6 months. There were simply no takers.

    And then came the housing boom: rents stayed down because everyone was panicking to get into a house. And then that crashed and that’s when I bought at a steep discount. And now its nutty again. So my humble advice for those who are understandably frustrated? Have patience. Save your money and wait. It’ll pop at some point and given that everyone is talking about it, possibly sooner than later. And then down comes rent prices and who knows? Maybe landlords will once more be all too happy just to simply be able to rent to anyone. It happened before and it’ll happen again.

    Comment by deertick — November 16, 2015 @ 1:21 pm

  80. My, what a bunch of useless caterwauling.

    It’s obvious everybody is so invested in “their side” of it that there will probably never be the sort of compromise and coming together that needs to happen to solve the problem.

    On one level this conflict appears to take the form of “those with hearts and souls against those without”…which are YOU?

    To the side that spews WHARRRRRGARRRRRGBLE every time the two words “rent” and “control” are spoken anywhere near one another in a sentence, I say this: You have your arguments down pat. You also have money. You also have “mouthpieces” who spew for you on command. Your main argument is “It has never worked–look at the past, SEE?”

    What if the “control” took the form of a “Human Decency Ordinance” instead? What if it were an ordinance that simply required you to have some sort of Human Decency in you when you “evict” someone or “raise the rent”. Nothing fancy. Something simple like “You want to kick this family out of their home in order to paint, put in new carpet and automatically charge twice or three time what they are paying? Then you are obligated, by The Human Decency Ordinance, to assist those people in finding a new home on The Island.

    Comment by StartOver — November 16, 2015 @ 1:27 pm

  81. If the rent can be doubled or tripled, the tenants had been getting a sweet deal. Any Human Decency credit for that?

    Comment by dave — November 16, 2015 @ 1:32 pm

  82. 80. There is a lot of truth in what you are saying. I will add this $.02 though. Every decade that we underbuild supply of housing for the people we ask to work in the region, makes the bottom of the cycle you describe higher than the last and pushes the inflation adjusted tops well beyond their previous highs (from a price to income ratio standpoint).
    Rent stabilization helps smooth out the capriciousness of the market of this human right, providing predictability for the renter during the booms. If I had my way, I’d enact some moderate rent stabilization measures today, and spend tomorrow making them irrelevant by working to add enough supply to the market that unregulated rents are competitive w/ stabilized ones.

    Comment by BMac — November 16, 2015 @ 3:15 pm

  83. #80. Demonization and generalizing don’t do a thing to forward good reasons to consider tougher laws about no fault evictions and massive rent increases. Frankly, I have a good deal of sympathy for the renter’s plight but it is difficult to hear that I am a heartless, immoral, fabulously wealthy, too craven to speak for myself person because my husband and I have three rental units. When we married nearly 50 years ago he was still in the army (Vietnam days, remember). I got pregnant in the first few months we were married. We rented in Oakland for four years. We were poor; he got a factory job and I had a young baby and was forced to return to work when she was 9 months old. We scraped and saved and purchased our first house, a two flat Victorian in very bad shape with my brother. It was cheap, but needed foundation work, a roof, all the windows repaired, paint, gutters, plumbing and electrical work. We got all that done either ourselves or by paying friends who had skills who would charge reasonably. Eventually, our restoration work got us a Preservation Award from the Alameda Preservation Society.
    Some years later, having lived very frugally and having come into a little money from my husband’s father, we were able to buy the house next door, which had a basement apartment and a cottage behind it. It was also in pretty bad shape. We repaired it, too, and worked hard to make the cottage and the apartment nice. We rent out our flat, the basement apartment in the house we live in now, and the cottage. All at low market rent. We never raise the rent on sitting tenants. We allow pets. We fix things immediately. The income we get from our rentals is part of our retirement income. Our renters stay a long time and we are happy to have them do so.
    We are not monsters; we don’t employ “mouthpieces”. We know a lot of people like us who have done the same thing. It is discouraging to us to be portrayed as monsters. And don’t you dare tell me that we are “different” than all the other property owners. That is like saying you hate all of some ethnic group, but George, the guy you happen to know isn’t like all “those people.” There are good property owners and there are bad ones. Please temper your speech so those of us that are trying to be fair and reasonable don’t feel like lepers in our own community. Shouldn’t good people be encouraged so they can provide clean, safe and reasonably priced housing? I know you are very angry, but please think about to whom you are directing your anger.

    Comment by Kate Quick — November 16, 2015 @ 5:12 pm

  84. Why don’t we ask Janet Yellen to be on RRAC ? She keeps saying we have No Inflation. She is local Cal girl running the Fed.

    Zero inflation. No inflation. Absence of inflation. Nada inflation. Nope inflation. Inflation has ceased to be.

    Comment by Cobalt Black Keys Johnson — November 16, 2015 @ 6:40 pm

  85. Looks like someone on Facebook read commenter 74’s post and posted this on Facebook.

    Extra large master bedroom for rent in 2300 Sq ft home. It is very private, and is the only room upstairs. It is equipped with a working fireplace, walk-in closet, bathroom, and a private terrace that sits atop of a two car garage. This room is not furnished. Available 12/1. Nestled in a very quiet neighborhood, tree lined street. Access to laundry room and kitchen. Close to buslines. $1500 includes utilities. PM me for more details

    Comment by Mike McMahon — November 17, 2015 @ 8:16 am

  86. If Zillow data is anywhere near accurate, the median sale price of Alameda homes has gone from $516,000 in 2012 to $831,000 this month. That is a 61% increase in three years. This rapid increase in housing prices is a contributing factor to rapidly increasing rents.

    Comment by Mike McMahon — November 18, 2015 @ 5:03 pm

  87. #87—How can you say that? How many of those homes that have sold for an average price of $831,000 are being rented?

    Comment by A Neighbor — November 18, 2015 @ 5:07 pm

  88. 88. Really? Is that a serious question?!

    Comment by BC — November 18, 2015 @ 5:26 pm

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