Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 22, 2016

Rent meeting, a summary: part 2

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

At the City Council meeting on Tuesday of this week, the Interim City Manager mentioned that she would be bringing back some of discussion items that were agreed to at the marathon rent meeting (MRM) for clarity.

The only person who appeared to have rewatched the meeting, other than me and John Klein of the Alameda Renters’ Coalition was Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft who realized how far into the weeds the Council had gotten into that night.

The next item the City Council discussed in the wee small hours was about leases, specifically one-year leases upon commencing tenancy and — for existing tenants — the possibility of a one-time, one-year lease renewal upon a rent increase.

The video:

It took about 16 minutes to get through this item, here’s what happened during that discussion:

  • Frank Matarrese was the only City Council person who indicated that he didn’t believe that landlords should have to offer a one-year lease at the beginning of someone’s tenancy.
  • Tony Daysog was all about carrying water for the landlord’s and stated that he heard “qualms” from that side about offering a one-time one-year renewal upon rent increase.  Staff later pointed out that the landlord’s side did support that per the comments by the California Apartment Association.
  • Trish Spencer misunderstanding the two different one-year lease option.  To be fair given the lateness of the hour and the roundabout way they tackled the issue it’s not hard to see how she got confused.
  • Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft pointing out that even the CAA representative said that one-year leases help with housing stability.
  • Tony Daysog supporting the initial one-year lease after finding out that the landlord’s group was okay with it.
  • Only Jim Oddie and Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft were on board from the start with offering existing tenants a one-time one-year lease upon rent increase, Jim Oddie pointing out that the tenant could decline if they didn’t want the one-year lease.
  • During this particular topic Tony Daysog seemed to understand that an owner move-in eviction was a valid “cause” for eviction, but later he used it as an example of why he was not supportive of something else.
  • Staff has to point out for the nth time that the renewal one-year lease was for existing tenants and only in the case that the landlord wanted to increase the rent.
  • Trish Spencer then rhetorically asks how requiring landlords to offer a one year renewal lease upon a rent increase shouldn’t be construed as a “taking.”  The “taking” narrative was textbook from some of the landlord public comments.
  • Staff points out that if a landlord is asking for a rent increase they are interested in continuing the relationship with a tenant.
  • If this was a cartoon it would be at this point that the lightbulb graphic would appear over Trish Spencer’s head when she finally understand the whole “it requires a rent increase to trigger the one-year lease renewal.”

Here’s what the City Council finally landed on:

  • Landlords must offer an initial one year lease to new tenants.
  • Staff will return to the City Council with more information about the renewal lease based on Mountain View’s recently passed “right-to-a-lease” law.  There was no clear consensus on this one other than Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft and Jim Oddie either supporting or leaning toward supporting.

So essentially the only changes from the current process are:

  • The requirement for landlords to offer an initial one year lease to new tenants is new, but most tenancies begin with at least a one year lease the extra protection this is offering is pretty minimal.
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9 Comments

  1. Worrying about whether a certain provision would be considered a taking is a legitimate concern if you want to have an ordinance that is not tied up in court. That said, I haven’t seen anyone argue that a requirement to offer a one year lease would be a taking (unconstitutional). But I don’t have a problem with Council members talking through the issues, on the record, even when they flub or say something that they haven’t thought all the way through. The details of the ordinance have not been set in stone at all. As far as policy, requiring a one year lease offer is a measure that probably should (and apparently does, generally) have support from landlords in this market and climate. Although there seemed to be more support for this on an initial lease, application to existing or expiring leases may be more important as it is the existing renter, rather than the new renter, who probably needs more help right now.

    Comment by MP — January 22, 2016 @ 7:53 am

  2. An initial one year lease wouldn’t be considered a taking, but requiring it to renewed every year at one side’s option very well could be.

    Comment by dave — January 22, 2016 @ 8:10 am

  3. It could, if coupled with certain rent restrictions. The Ellis Act would also limit what could be required as far as lease renewals. I think the discussion, however, was for a one time offer of a one year lease (at initiation or once during an existing tenancy), not a perpetual obligation (a “life estate” as described by one of the letters in the agenda packet for the MRM).

    Comment by MP — January 22, 2016 @ 8:44 am

  4. From today’s SF Chron about the rental situation in our neighboring city:,

    Oakland:http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/johnson/article/Calming-the-waters-in-Oakland-s-tenant-landlord-6775442.php

    Comment by A Neighbor — January 22, 2016 @ 9:34 am

  5. also from today’s Chron–A 3/4 page ad for the homes at Alameda Landing,”the new pedestrian-friendly urban village”

    Condos with 2-4 bdrms starting in the high $700,000s.
    Single family homes with 3–6 bedrooms starting from the low $1,000,000.
    Other condos with 2–4 bedrooms starting from the mid-$800,000s.

    Alameda Landing is near In-n-Out, Target, and the estuary. The ad says there is a quaint downtown (Safeway, Michael’s, etc…)

    Did someone suggest that all of this new construction will resolve the rental crisis in Alameda?

    Comment by A Neighbor — January 22, 2016 @ 9:56 am

  6. “Did someone suggest that all* of this new construction will resolve** the rental crisis in Alameda?”

    *meaning every new housing unit constructed

    **meaning completely resolved and everyone who desires a rental unit will have one at a price that they are happy with

    No, nobody has ever suggested that. This is what’s called straw-man argumentation.

    Comment by brock — January 22, 2016 @ 11:49 am

  7. How is this for straw-man?

    Two types of people when it comes to analyzing the supply-demand effects of the first significant numbers of new residential units being built in 40 years….

    Throw a bucket of water on a building engulfed in flames, see the fire still going strong and say…

    1) “see, water does not put out fires.”

    or

    2) “get more buckets!”

    Comment by BMac — January 22, 2016 @ 1:28 pm

  8. For those interested in staff’s attempt to summarize what they think council told them to do at 330am on Jan. 6th:

    https://alameda.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2555241&GUID=5F12A4D2-85B2-4B54-97DF-E2F8D9604641&Options=&Search=&FullText=1

    exhibit 1 gives the summary, though, I’m still trying to figure out what this RACC thing is.

    Comment by BMac — January 22, 2016 @ 1:31 pm


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