Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 21, 2016

Rent meeting, a summary: part 1

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:01 am

I’ve been slowly rewatching (and snipping out video) of the marathon rent meeting because I think, based on the lack of definitive “here’s what happened!” that it’s pretty fuzzy about what the City Council actually decided that night.  Unfortunately the suggestion by City Attorney Janet Kern to continue the discussion and deliberation to another day was not even taken under consideration as Mayor Trish Spencer simply plowed through to discuss another topic.

My initial reaction that they should have continued and discussed on a different night was reinforced upon a second viewing.

After at least an hour of discussion the Council started tackling items one by one and gauging consensus, here was the first item when they addressed how to handle rent increases.  The consensus was to use an “enhanced RRAC” method for an easy description.  Here’s the video:

It took them about 13 minutes, a few things that happened in those 13 minutes:

  • Tony Daysog felt as though a 6% trigger was based on “facts.”
  • Frank Matarrese didn’t want a trigger at all and wanted to have only no cause evictions to go to the RRAC.
  • Jim Oddie pointed out that whatever number was in the ordinance would be probably used by housing providers to skirt under the RRAC process.
  • Jim Oddie reiterated the point (and a point Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft made several times) that it was important to collect data on all rent increases even ones that wouldn’t make it to the RRAC process.

Here’s what the City Council finally landed on:

  1. In the case that a housing provider/landlord wants to raise a rent more than 5% they will be required to notify the RRAC.
  2. The 5% is not a rent cap.
  3. The landlord would be then need to go before the non-binding mediation process in front of RRAC — this is not a real change this is what currently exists — to get “permission” to raise the rent above 5%.
  4. If one of the two parties — landlord or tenant — doesn’t like the outcome of  whatever happens at the non-binding RRAC mediation process there is the opportunity to go to binding arbitration.  Of course there was no agreement that night as to who would actually pay for this binding arbitration which seems shortsighted.
  5. Only those cases that that would be not be exempt under Costa Hawkins would be eligible for the binding arbitration process, everyone else can still have an unlimited rent increase levied on them after going through the RRAC non binding mediation process.

So essentially the only changes from the current process are:

  • 5% trigger for RRAC non binding mediation.  Note this is a trigger and not a cap meaning that if you are renting a single family home and your landlord wants to raise your rent 25% all s/he would need to do is go through the RRAC process and then do it even if the RRAC urges against the rent increase.
  • Landlord initiated process for the RRAC.
  • Possibility for binding arbitration for units that would be covered under rent control laws, but no discussion on who would pay.  During a different portion of the meeting Trish Spencer suggested that whoever was unhappy with the RRAC decision bear that cost of arbitration but, as pointed out by Jim Oddie and Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft, that would be prohibitively expensive for someone fighting a percentage rent increase.

I’ll try to go through everything else (with supporting video) in future posts.

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3 Comments

  1. Lauren, thanks for extracting this. My opinion? The 5% threshold is still too high for a lot of our families; salaries just aren’t keeping up with a rate like that to make it viable. This gives landlords carte blanchwe to raise rents just under 5% every year; most wage earners are hard pressed to see a 3 or 4 % raise once every 3 years. For example, look at our City workers in ACEA, or our teachers and other school workers. Alameda is changing rapidly; mid and low level hourly wage earners are being pushed out in favor of techies bussed in from out of town that can afford the higher rents, and apparently are happy to pay them to live in Our Fair City. What does this mean? Our school teachers, our city workers, our store clerks, our restaurant and entertainment industry workers will be moving out of town and commuting into Alameda for work, if they don’t find jobs closer to wherever home becomes. And then what? Tuckers, and Books Inc, and the Alameda Theatre, and In-N-Out and Starbucks won’t have the workers they need, so will close up shop and go away. Not the Alameda I want to live in.

    Comment by Not. A. Alamedan — January 21, 2016 @ 4:48 pm

  2. “So essentially the only changes from the current process are:
    5% trigger for RRAC non binding mediation * * * * meaning that if you are renting a single family home and your landlord wants to raise your rent 25% all s/he would need to do is go through the RRAC process and then do it even if the RRAC urges against the rent increase.”

    With respect to single family house rentals, this is a function of state law rather than a choice for the City Council. At the meeting, the City Attorney’s office said basically that state law – Costa-Hawkins – precludes cities from imposing rent control on single family house rentals or condo rentals and that arbitration (meaning a process in which the arbitrator makes a legally binding decision, as opposed to a mediation which seeks to achieve an agreement) is rent control.

    Comment by MP — January 21, 2016 @ 7:29 pm

  3. Not. A. Alamedan
    Not the Alameda I want to live in. You don’t

    Comment by jack — January 22, 2016 @ 9:51 am


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