Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 8, 2016

Frankenordinance

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

Based on reports about the direction the Council decided to head in with regard to tenants protections, it may not be enough to dissuade the empowered Renters Coalition from placing their own measure on the ballot in November.  Given Tony Daysog’s lukewarm support of stronger tenant protections, he should be worried that tenants will elect to take him out simultaneously, from the EBX:

Following a recess at 12:40 a.m., councilmembers discussed the proposals until 3:55 a.m., and then directed city staffers to bring back a rent ordinance in mid February that includes the following: Adding binding arbitration to settle rent disputes at the RRAC; requiring landlords to petition the RRAC for any rent increases of more than 5 percent; requiring landlords to offer one-year leases to tenants during their first year; relocation fees based on the length of tenancy, in addition, to $1,500 for moving expenses; and a yet-to-be determined cap on evictions.

It appears that the Council may have made a tactical error in continuing to try to hash out something at 3:00 a.m. as opposed to continuing the item, as they have done previously for much less important issues, and tackling it after much needed rest and allowing some of the testimony resonate.  If the point was to head off a ballot measure which could put into place a much more tenant-centric rent stabilization ordinance then they failed.

And based on the result it’s clear the this Council didn’t make much improvement over the ordinances that were presented which was a result of their direction from the November meeting.  As suggested by possible City Council candidate Malia Vella, the result was a terrible Frankenordinance.  A cobbling together of pieces that result in a beast that didn’t seem to even address in any sort of detail one of the most important bits of tenant protections: evictions.

Essentially what this has done, as currently structured, has put nearly all the power into the hands of the RRAC.  The RRAC, which has been so far inclined to negotiate to 10% rent hikes, will be the authority in which any housing provider could make a case for a greater than 5% increase.  And, given the fact that some members of the Council have indicated that “elections have consequences” which therefore requires him to rubber stamp all of the Mayor’s nominations to any Board or Commission it is more important than ever that the City Council begin the exercise their duty to provide the check and balance to the Mayor’s nominations rather than endorse her every whim.

Right now, it’s unclear if this Council will even be able to come to an agreement on this newest set of directions.  All the while extending a moratorium which still allows for less than 8% annual rent hikes.  If the Council is still unable to come to a consensus it might be important for the Renters Coalition to push for no allowed rent increases and no evictions period which might light a bit of fire under the housing providers to be a bit more accommodating rather than the alternative which is some housing providers tearing up even at the suggestion of the most benign tenant protection ordinance that was offered up Tuesday night.

 

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10 Comments

  1. Any ordinance without rent controls will mean that renters will continue to flood city hall meetings, even while they work on a ballot initiative. These long nights at council chambers will only get longer and we will see more pro-renter candidates vying for council positions in the next election. With sympathetic homeowners and renters significantly outnumbering landlords on the island we might see a sea change in many of the assumptions in Alameda’s politics.

    On a side note, the rhetoric from some landlords the other night revealed how some of our ugly housing policies of the past came to be. It’s never been more obvious that it’s time for a changing of the guard and that the Renters Coalition is at the forefront of bringing that change.

    Comment by Angela Pallatto Hockabout — January 8, 2016 @ 7:50 am

  2. The rhetoric of both sides is subject to criticism. ‘Family” obviously generates sympathy, but of course the proposed controls are not limited to families or to the non-affluent at all. And, although there are always tradeoffs in any policy making, another unintended consequence that has not been much commented on is the extent to which stricter controls will lead to less flexibility or “reasonableness” on the part of landlords and the greater impact this would have on renters closer to the margin or with more variable expenses (i.e. families). It may be “ugly” (or just fear) on the part of the small landlord, but some may be much quicker than they otherwise would have been to issue a three day notice when the rent is late. Renters with more stable and generous incomes would be less affected by this. But the renter who is having a tough time this month may face a landlord who, while sympathetic, and, in the past, would have granted an extension, now fears that such good deed will not go unpunished in a rent-controlled environment. Maybe the “good” landlords will not react this way and will continue to act as they would have before. Maybe the certainty of controls (of whatever degree) are preferable to reliance on the discretion of the property owner. Maybe it depends on who your landlord is.

    Comment by MP — January 8, 2016 @ 8:37 am

  3. Wow MP…what a profound realization..the renter realizes that the world does not revolve around the renter, and the landlady realizes that the world does not revolve around the landlady.

    Maybe the answer is… COEXIST

    Comment by vigi — January 8, 2016 @ 9:05 am

  4. Amen

    Comment by MP — January 8, 2016 @ 9:18 am

  5. 3. I wonder if workers in turn of the century factories would enjoy that advice. Just COEXIST with your employers. Employers who had a much larger share in the power of the business relationship between employer and employee. They should not have organized to gain comparable power and demanded protections, 40 hour work weeks, safety measures, child labor controls, vacation time, higher pay and the like. Just get along! I don’t want to have to see this icky, confrontational policy making. Why can’t Pleasantville just stay pleasant?!

    Folks advocating for the status quo regulatory structure, encouraging landlords and tenants to just work it out on a case by case basis at the individual level are really missing the point. The exploitative and extractive nature of the current housing situation in the Bay Area has lots of parallels to the labor market of a century ago.

    Comment by BMac — January 8, 2016 @ 9:56 am

  6. I agree that the outcome of that train wreck of a meeting is likely a ballot initiative, or rather multiple ballot initiatives. If past behavior is any indication, count on the landlords to put together one or more convoluted “Alamedans for Fair Rent” Initiative designed to confuse folks and water down the vote.

    Comment by notadave — January 8, 2016 @ 10:34 am

  7. 5. In case you haven’t noticed, today’s employment situation is getting to resemble more and more what it was a hundred years ago. In fact, most of the products Americans buy today are manufactured in even worse conditions than back then, in third world countries where corporations can get away with it. Isn’t Target amazing? Everything’s so cheap! Anyway, that’s no excuse for bad behavior on the part of landlords. I do think that more will be inclined to raise the rents as much as they can while they can and as often as they can now that they feel threatened. They will also be more harsh about late payments and keen to document them so that if they do want a tenant out, they’ll try to avoid it being no-fault since the relocation assistance may be very costly. This is why I support the idea of passing an ordinance with a sunset provision. It will give the new poilcy a test drive and leave room for adjustments down the road. As ever in life, it’s the golden rule: he with the gold makes the rules. We have evidence of that all around us in all levels of government and society. Right or wrong, it’s amazing what a big shock it is to so many people. I guess maybe it’s the first time they were on the receiving end of the hard truth. As the middle class continues to disappear, get ready for more of the same.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — January 8, 2016 @ 1:10 pm

  8. Constantly amazed by how many people are resigned to their fate. It is not that hard to basically take over your local government. Money has an advantage, but our political system is designed so that anytime something gets out of whack enough to wake people up, they can affect change. Appreciate that though, as the Mayor would say.

    Comment by BMac — January 8, 2016 @ 4:48 pm

  9. That’s about the dumbest comment of the new year. Try waking Alameda up. They been peacefully asleep for around 200 years. A two-bit blog and amazing comments ain’t likely to get anytime back in whack let alone affect change…appreciate the thought though.

    Comment by jack — January 10, 2016 @ 8:28 pm

  10. A 2006 paper from US Census on the development of what percentage of income should be spent on housing. http://www.census.gov/housing/census/publications/who-can-afford.pdf

    Comment by Mike McMahon — January 17, 2016 @ 9:57 am


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