Blogging Bayport Alameda

February 4, 2016

Striking a blow

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

Ugh.

Just ugh.

So I am “friends” with some random people on Facebook. For a while I was pretty much just accepting most friend requests without a lot of scrutiny until I got paranoid and started wondering if that people were friending me to figure out my personal life or something like that.  I don’t post a ton of personal stuff just the occasional witticism from one of my kids.  Typically it just ends up being a thread of my twitter feed because it all cross posts from there.

Anyway one of my “friends” on Facebook is Stewart Chen, yes former City Council person Stewart Chen.  When he asked on Facebook whether he should take another shot at running for City Council it took a lot of will power to not type in “yeah, I think not” in his comments section.  Figured it wasn’t really my place to tell him that he squandered his incumbency and support the last time around by not being more forthcoming about his checkered past.  And while I think his dismal performance on the City Council was more meaningful for voters to take in consideration I’m pretty sure that the expose was more damning than anything else.

But anyway, that was the least of the ugh-worthy.  At Tuesday night City Council meeting there was an agenda item about the Circle K convenience store on Webster Street.  A while ago the Circle K owners went to the Planning Board to get a use permit to sell beer and wine.  For a variety of reasons the Planning Board voted down the use permit which, at the time, I disagreed with the Planning Board’s decision.    Not because I’m a huge consumer of alcoholic drinks that I need to pop in when I’m pumping gas, but just because it would be an allowable use by right (retail sales).  At that time City Staff had recommended approval of the use permit. Anyway that 2012 decision was appealed to the City Council (Marie Gilmore, Rob Bonta, Lena Tam, Doug deHaan, and Beverly Johnson) which voted unanimously to uphold the decision of the Planning Board.

Fast forward to last year and the owners again attempt to secure a beer and wine sale permit, this time City Staff recommends to the Planning Board to decline because nothing had changed from 2012 to 2015.  The owners appeal to the City Council which is what was heard Tuesday night.  Tony Daysog decides to recuse himself from the discussion because he lives “close” to the property in question.  When the City Planner remarked that he checked to make sure Tony Daysog was more than 500 feet away so he was eligible to vote on the project, Tony Daysog excused himself from the discussion and vote anyway.

The vote came down to two against two.  Because there were not enough votes to reverse the decision of the Planning Board, their decision held.

Yesterday afternoon Stewart Chen who has recently become a champion for Asian American progressive issues in Alameda posted a tsk tsking post on his Facebook page about the vote taking Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft and Frank Matarrese to task for not voting to reverse the decision of the Planning Board.  But what was really infuriating about the post was the framing as, and I quote “Another blow to Asian Americans in Alameda !”

I’m not sure what the first or second “blow” was but what. the. fuck.

Look, I’m fairly hyper sensitive to social justice issues and I’m always good and ready to point when I feel like something is discriminatory or unjust.  But this is not it.  It’s not.  This vote was not an issue of the owners being Asian, this vote was because the two City Councilmembers who didn’t want to reverse two Planning Board (and the 2012 City Council) decisions because they found their findings to be compelling and reasonable.

This is what I wrote to Stewart Chen’s Facebook post:

That’s ridiculous, the owners being Asian had nothing to do with the denial of the beer and wine sale. The City Council didn’t have enough votes to overturn the Planning Board’s decision. I hope that your March newsletter will not improperly report what happened. It’s not a blow to Asian Americans, it sucks for the owners but its not some sort of civil rights issue.

Shortly after that Stewart Chen edited his initial post to add in some Chinese text — FYI, I’m not Chinese so I can’t read it — but the only name in the Chinese text was that of Marilyn Ashcraft.  So unless Frank Matarrese’s name suddenly has a Chinese equivalent that I was unaware of Stewart Chen is pointing his Asian faux rage directly at one of the people he intends to run against.  So then, I posted this:

With your update to include a Chinese translation and only targeting Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft I feel like you are attempting to create some sort of false narrative in order to smooth your run for City Council. As Malia Vella pointed out there are –arguably — more important Alameda specific Asian American issues deserving of attention and affects a much more vulnerable population. As an Asian person I am uncomfortable with you using a completely unrelated issue, dress it up in the clothing of discrimination in order to tar someone with an unfair feather.

Pretty sure I’m going to be unfriended by Stewart Chen in no time.  Anyway it’s pretty gross to take a fairly innocuous agenda item and turn it into some huge slap in the face to Asians everywhere.

Besides where was this rage, these calls for discrimination four years ago when the exact same set of circumstances were on the table, but no on was crying about “blows” to Asian Americans in Alameda.   If Stewart Chen wants to direct his impotent rage at someone he should direct it at his good friend Tony Daysog who could have been the third vote to overturn the Planning Board’s decision, but instead took the coward’s way out and recused himself when it was not required.

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67 Comments

  1. Out of curiosity, what were the PB’s reason for denial?

    Comment by dave — February 4, 2016 @ 6:34 am

  2. According to the staff report these were the findings in 2012:

    • Alcohol sales is an incompatible use and would adversely affect the residential homes immediately adjacent to the subject property;
    • The sale of alcohol for off-site consumption is already plentiful in the vicinity, and permitting additional outlets for off-sale alcohol would oversaturate this area;
    • Increasing the number of retail outlets that sell alcohol will adversely affect adjacent residents and businesses; and
    • Testimony from neighborhood residents about existing police activity in the area and problems with litter, fights, and late night noise attributed to the sale of alcohol support the general assumption that permitting alcohol sales on this property would be detrimental to other property.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 4, 2016 @ 6:51 am

  3. I think Stewart Chen’s intentions were good –he made a good case for the business owner, but I agree the decision had nothing to do about being Asian. I was glad to see the PB decision upheld.

    Comment by Karen Bey — February 4, 2016 @ 6:59 am

  4. Stewart Chen doubled down with a second Facebook post with this graphic declaring “Stop Discrimination Now” Good intentions? Hardly.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 4, 2016 @ 7:02 am

  5. I’m actually sort of glad he’s running. He won’t win but his buffoonish pandering is sort of fun, in a Herman Cain/Sarah Palin sort of way.

    Comment by dave — February 4, 2016 @ 7:08 am

  6. Both sides had decent arguments at the City Council, on the one hand you are almost singling out the Circle K (though not for racial reasons and keeping in mind the owner built the convenience store knowing he had no permit to sell alcohol) given the number of other outlets close by. On the other hand, the fact that there is a hanging around factor outside the existing liquor stores and bars on Webster that the immediate neighbors of Circle K wanted to avoid.

    Should we assume that in close cases, Chen would vote according to the race of the applicant, or is that reading too much into his lame inability to resist seeing this as an opportunity for niche marketing?

    Comment by MP — February 4, 2016 @ 7:26 am

  7. there is an existing liquor store directly across the street, I agree with the neighbors in the area and the P.B. decision. Mr. Chen needs to save his money for something useful other than his running for council again.

    Comment by John P. — February 4, 2016 @ 7:58 am

  8. I was somewhat amazed that he never took down the photos of him shaking hands with Leland Yee off his Stewart Chen for Alameda City Council Facebook page.

    Comment by frank m — February 4, 2016 @ 8:09 am

  9. Wow, giving Tony a run for Political Coward of the Year award. By Chen’s logic, the council struck a blow to the Asian American community later in the meeting as well when it endorsed the framework for the rent stabilization ordinance. The “Big 3” property managers did not mobilize their people for this meeting, but a large group of landlords that happened to mostly be Chinese-American did speak out forcefully against any rent control measures, including shouting down renters at the mic and telling us to “get a job.” It is actually too bad he did not stick around for it to network, and since he is the biggest reason the process took an extra year to get where we are w/ the “Punt Commission.”

    Comment by BMac — February 4, 2016 @ 8:38 am

  10. Tony lives a block off Webster St….so does that mean he can’t vote for anything on the West End?

    Comment by joelsf — February 4, 2016 @ 8:45 am

  11. I get it, Bryan, what you’re doing. But, honestly, it wouldn’t be the first time for me that a new person goes about making their name at my expense. It’s happened before since 1996, and when it does, I just say to myself, “Well, what can you say.” I get your calculation: “Ok, at whose expense can I, BMac, make my name and burnish my reputation? Oh, there’s Tony — he’s a Councilman, sure, but he’s not part of the Democratic Club establishment, League of Women Voter establishment, he’s definitely not supported by the fire and police union, and he’s not from old Alameda . . . so if I throw whatever mud at him and even go so far as to call him ‘coward’ there’s absolutely no blowback to me, BMac, because whose going to fight for Tony. He’s low hanging fruit!” I get your calculation. The long and short of the matter triggering your reference to me as “Political Coward of the Year” is this: I had and have a conflict of interest when it comes to that property, and on this point, the rules are very clear. But, like I said, to you, BMac, whatever the conflict rules are doesn’t matter because you see this as a great not-to-be-passed opportunity to throw mud at the least politically-connected Councilman, score points, and burnish your reputation. Really, I get it.

    Comment by tony daysog — February 4, 2016 @ 9:05 am

  12. [slight edit] I get it, Bryan, what you’re doing. But, honestly, it wouldn’t be the first time for me that a new person goes about making their name at my expense. It’s happened before since 1996, and when it does, I just say to myself, “Well, what can you say.” I get your calculation: “Ok, at whose expense can I, BMac, make my name and burnish my reputation? Oh, there’s Tony — he’s a Councilman, sure, but he’s not part of the Democratic Club establishment, League of Women Voter establishment, he’s definitely not supported by the fire and police union, the 2000-strong Facebook Alameda Renters Coalition hates him, and he’s not from old Alameda . . . so if I throw whatever mud at him and even go so far as to call him ‘coward’ there’s absolutely no blowback to me, BMac, because whose going to fight for Tony. He’s low hanging fruit!” I get your calculation. The long and short of the matter triggering your reference to me as “Political Coward of the Year” is this: I had and have a conflict of interest when it comes to that property, and on this point, the rules are very clear. But, like I said, to you, BMac, whatever the conflict rules are doesn’t matter because you see this as a great not-to-be-passed opportunity to throw mud at the least politically-connected Councilman, score points, and burnish your reputation. Really, I get it.

    Comment by tony daysog — February 4, 2016 @ 9:15 am

  13. So I guess we’re not going to get an actual reason for Tony Daysog electing to recuse himself when it was not legally required and instead get a “woe is me” deflection.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 4, 2016 @ 9:18 am

  14. I remember BMac saying something about fishing line and fish hooks a while back

    Comment by MP — February 4, 2016 @ 9:19 am

  15. Well, the good thing about Stewart Chen’s early postings is it makes it much easier to cross him off the list of contenders. Seeming to pick up from where he left off from his previous run, he is madly editing his facebook page to change the story. You totally missed his earlier post talking about his voter registration efforts, where he specifically said he told the person to vote democratic. He later changed that to say he told the person to join his PAC. I dont think the registrar is going to be too happy with that. I’ve known Stewart for a long time, and generally respect him, but he made a huge huge mistake in deciding to be the Donald Trump of Alameda politics.

    Comment by notadave — February 4, 2016 @ 9:33 am

  16. “As an Asian person I am uncomfortable…” ” — FYI, I’m not Chinese so I can’t read it —”

    I don’t get it. What exactly is an Asian? Seems to me like somewhere along the line someone born in the United States ought to shed the Asian label. Spent a lot of time in Asia and most denizens of one Asian country hate the neighboring country.

    Comment by jack — February 4, 2016 @ 9:37 am

  17. Oh and Tony, BMac isnt trying to make a name for himself by calling you out, he is legitimately questioning your leadership. You were told by staff you didn’t need to recuse yourself and yet you did. You state the rules were clear, and the rules state that you DID NOT have a conflict due to your residential proximity. Why, why why can you not, in clear simple language, state the reason for your recusal. It isn’t because you live too close, what is the reason?

    Comment by notadave — February 4, 2016 @ 9:40 am

  18. Seems to me like somewhere along the line someone born in the United States ought to shed the Asian label

    Being born in the US means that my nationality is American. My race is “Asian” per Census labels.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 4, 2016 @ 9:45 am

  19. “• Alcohol sales is an incompatible use and would adversely affect the residential homes immediately adjacent to the subject property;”

    LOL – does anyone remember the residence immediately south of the Circle K being busted as a whore-house? Maybe that has a little more adverse effect on the neighbors.

    On another note, don’t people vote for politicians that live near them because they should have a better conception of issues affecting that neighborhood? The 500 feet rule seems like bullshit on the face of it. Maybe recuse people that live immediately “adjacent” to a subject property, but a 500 feet seems like overkill for a small city like Alameda.

    Comment by brock — February 4, 2016 @ 9:59 am

  20. the conflict of interest zone for lawyers and politicians around whore houses is much broader than 500 feet

    Comment by MP — February 4, 2016 @ 10:04 am

  21. Oh, Tony. You mad bro? Nice try, but not even close. I considered your performance as a City Council Member high in political cowardice long before your decision to recuse yourself for Circle K.

    It appears that your frustration level has not yet subsided from when you nearly blew up at the Mayor during open session Wednesday morning for not indulging your politically cowardly attempts to further water down protections for Alameda renters in the name of that most sacred of cows, the Alameda “small mom and pop landlord.”

    I apologize for being new. I also apologize for taking a close interest in the governance of the city I have planted roots in and forming opinions about who runs it and how. I also apologize for staying until 4am and 3am to monitor what my elected representatives decide to do or not do in the dark of night for the more vulnerable half of the population. A population which does not have as constant access to the ear of their Council Members as Moms and Pops like Don Lindsey, Harbor Bay, OMM and Fortuna Realty.

    I apologize for trying to “make my name and burnish my reputation” by dragging my three year old across town several times, getting run off the road on our bike by an AC Transit bus driver, to participate in community workshops about re-envisioning Central Ave west of Sherman. It definitely had nothing to do with wanting to improve the lives of myself, my child and my neighbors by providing safe transportation infrastructure for people walking, biking and driving, to say nothing of the environmental benefits those dirty hippies are always talking about.

    I apologize for making your desperate attack on me completely baseless. You see, I have never been a member of the Alameda Democratic Club or League of Women Voters. I have never attended any of their meetings to have the slightest idea who belongs to them or gets their “establishment” support. You have been on the City Council for the better part of the last 15 years, if you are not part of this nefarious “old Alameda establishment” you speak of, then they must not be all that well established. You are a three term Council Member. If you are the “least politically connected” member of the Council, please let me know where to buy your textbook on political science, because I have some lernin’ to do.

    I apologize for watching you closely for three years (a courtesy you never seem to give to residents speaking before you at meetings, choosing to spend that time on your laptop instead), and seeing through your hemming and hawing and watching you arrive at the most contrived conclusions possible.

    Lastly, I apologize to my fellow Alamedans for only arriving on this fair isle in 2010 and not knowing to commit myself to preventing Tony from being elected in 2012. I promise to try and make it up to you.

    Have a nice day.

    Comment by BMac — February 4, 2016 @ 11:31 am

  22. Tony Daysog did the right thing. This decision set a precedent for gas stations and markets along Webster Street, including those within 500 feet of his home. Tony is an honorable man with deep roots in the West End and countless hours of public service. It was his decison to make and we shouldn’t assume the worst.

    Comment by Bea Kaus — February 4, 2016 @ 11:45 am

  23. Tony Daysog lives more than 1000 feet from the subject property. He’s been given multiple opportunities to explain why he recused when he wasn’t legally required to the only option is to assume that he decided to make the politically easy decision to just not vote rather than actually have to make a “tough” decision.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 4, 2016 @ 11:50 am

  24. Yowza! this is one of those days when it’s great to wake up and have laurendo.com to read.

    Tony, your choosing to publicly comment on this blog has always seemed like a calculated risk, which at times is benign but mostly not all that smart, yet you persist because you must think, on balance, you get some benefit, like showing how earnest and well intentioned you are, how well informed on details of issues, etc.. Well, not today dude. I have no idea who Bmac is but started to pay attention when I saw his adroit Tweets from Council meetings on The Alamedan. I don’t know him from Adam but wonder what you know that I don’t, because of your very presumptuous post about his motives. You credit yourself with getting it, but I see very little evidence.

    And yes, as a resident “miscreant” on this blog I admit to taking pleasure at seeing others suffer slings and arrows, particularly from their own quiver. But you, as they say, take the cake.

    Comment by MI — February 4, 2016 @ 12:06 pm

  25. Tony Dasog: you give yourself too much credit and you need a thicker skin. In any case, as a ‘new person’, it’s not about making a name. Rather, it’s that anyone with any political background and sense who comes to Alameda sees how captured the City of Alameda is by the professional class and how entitled the ‘long-time residents’ feel about what goes on here.

    What’s not obvious to these long-timers is how oddly run city government is. For example, how the benefit of the doubt always seems to go in favor of the City in a myriad of small ways. On a much larger scaled, it’s how the same people rotate from City Council to school board to being a former of those, etc. Plus, the place is loaded with former council members/attorneys/landlords who think everything they want is owed to them. The rest of us are just supposed to stand by and watch, in awe, at their brilliance. (The funny part is that they all are really thinned skinned and can’t handle criticism. That’s because they insist we all be ‘civil’ and ‘polite’ while they go about their business. It’s nonsense.)

    I mean, the first time I looked at the RRAC members, it was composed of three attorneys and two real estate agents. Wtf? Then I looked at the Open Government Committee, again, more attorneys. I’ve never flinched or been intimidated by that for a moment. Why? Because I am a citizen of the US and of California and I have exactly the same rights on the very first day I step into Alameda as any person born and raised here. It also helps to have been an active participant in civic affairs in places with much more transparent and responsive local governments than Alameda has.

    Long-time Alamedans are entitled to their own opinions, their own businesses, but they aren’t entitled to their own government – this is something that’s really hard for them to grasp.

    Comment by John K — February 4, 2016 @ 12:24 pm

  26. Tony Daysog spoke out for the housing providers and provided some balance to some of the decisions being made around the rent ordinance and for that I’m very grateful.

    Thank you Tony!

    Comment by Karen Bey — February 4, 2016 @ 1:12 pm

  27. UUHHMMM, as a long time Alamedan, very long time, I am so happy to see and hear your new faces in “MY” city. BMac, Brock, MP, John K., come on in and have at it, from my perspective we are in desperate need of some new blood operating around town. I love your comments and hope you are able to help make a difference.

    Comment by John P. — February 4, 2016 @ 1:19 pm

  28. 27. Muy amable

    Comment by MP — February 4, 2016 @ 1:42 pm

  29. I think Karen Bey means the landlords, for those of you who may been on the island so long (or forever) so as to have forgotten what the real world calls them. It’s also a classic example of how the City of Alameda has been captured by the professional class (lawyers and real estate agents, in this case) who managed to convince the City that ‘housing provider’ is somehow the right term to use instead of ‘landlord.’ One wonders why Alameda landlords feel the need to be identified differently from the rest of their cohort around the entire country. It’s an utterly transparent concept. This one little thing captures it all – thank you, Karen!

    Comment by John K — February 4, 2016 @ 2:33 pm

  30. John K – I happen to know that most small mom and pop landlords/housing providers in this town are very descent, no matter what they choose to call themselves.

    Comment by Karen Bey — February 4, 2016 @ 3:09 pm

  31. HUD, that well-known agent of the right wing, uses the phrase “housing provider” quite a bit on its website. But dark, evil, greedy overlords captures it better.

    Comment by MP — February 4, 2016 @ 3:10 pm

  32. The discussions got a bit off course here. Stewart did something that was off center and he was wrong in doing it. He “used” the issue to enhance his standing with the Asian community. He wants to be see as the Asian “sage.” Only Mike Yoshii can hold that honor. Stewart also “used” Frank and Marilyn as his focus to shed a negative light on them (primarily her) to better his chance of beating Marilyn for her council seat. Stewart, you are already over your head and to spend the $45,000 to $60,000 it would cost to run for office, could be better used in other areas where you could make a difference. Figure what those areas are and work on those.

    Comment by Bill2 — February 4, 2016 @ 4:48 pm

  33. Currently, 41% of the members of the US Congress are attorneys as compared to 0.6% of the US population. Those with political aspirations usually begin at with lower level bodies like boards and councils. These are the people who run and are willing to serve. A perfect example is former Alameda City Council member Rob Bonta who didn’t even finish his first term on the council in his desperate effort to climb the political food chain.

    As to the landlord issue, it’s important to understand that there is a wide range of situations represented by those who assume that role. I lived in Alameda from 1986 to 2015, owning just one home in the city, my residence, since 1988. Because my husband is in his late 50s and in the IT industry, since he was laid off in 2008, his job situation has been dismal with a series of short term contracts and long periods of unemployment, endless interviews where it was determined he was “over qualified” again and again.. After running through half of our savings, we finally decided to job search out of state. We hope to return to Alameda, so we don’t want to sell our house. We just rented it out last month and became landlords. We are living in a one-bedroom apartment while our tenants enjoy a beautiful three-bedroom house with patio, hot tub, and party room out back. We’re very grateful that we are able to keep our home even if we can’t live in it at the moment, but we are by no means getting rich or living large in the process. In our case, we are now both renters and landlords, so we understand both sides of the issue very well. (We were just informed that the rent we pay on our apartment is about to be raised.) Since my husband and I have a son, we are literally mom and pop landlords, but in our case, you can leave off the snarky quotes that imply some sort of bs. We also use OMM Mason Management so that our tenants can get any issues handled promptly and professionally. When we first decided to rent, we had a nightmare experience with Gallagher and Lindsey. I would advise anyone who wants to engage a property management company to run from G&L like the plague. The people at OMM are honest and straightforward and have been a pleasure to deal with in every respect. They do not deserved to be tarred with the same brush as G&L at all.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — February 5, 2016 @ 5:14 am

  34. Denise, there are many cases similar to yours as a result of the 2008 financial crash. Which is why I requested that the relocation assistance program to be means tested. With the proposed ordinance, you could end up paying $10-$20K in relocation assistance payments to move back in your house, even if your tenant is making $200K + and you, the housing provider is making half or one third of what your tenant makes.

    There is an imbalance here that was not addressed in the proposed rental ordinance.

    Comment by Karen Bey — February 5, 2016 @ 8:01 am

  35. How about this? If a landlord want sthe tenant out, they pay relocation costs. If the tenant leaves, they pay the owner for the lost rent during interim.

    Fair is fair, yes?

    Comment by dave — February 5, 2016 @ 8:27 am

  36. Technically if a tenant is still under lease and breaks the lease, that tenant is on the hook for the rent for the duration of the lease. Of course the landlord has to make all efforts to find a replacement tenant but if they cannot in theory the tenant that breaks a lease would be responsible for the rent during the term of the lease.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 5, 2016 @ 8:35 am

  37. Dave, my point is that the relocation assistance program should be targeted to working class families and the very vulnerable — not tenants who make $200K+, who don’t need it. Many of them may need more time, if there children are in school, but not money.

    Comment by Karen Bey — February 5, 2016 @ 9:27 am

  38. Most leases are month-to-month after the initial term. If the law on the table passes a landlord has to pay relocation benefits to a month-to-month tenant he wants out. In effect, landlord pays to exercise his option. If the tenant leaves, the property owner probably faces 2 months’ lost rent. Shouldn’t the tenant pay to exercise their option?

    Comment by dave — February 5, 2016 @ 9:31 am

  39. Or the landlord can view the tenant opting to leave voluntarily as a win since they aren’t on the hook to pay the relocation assistance.

    With great power (dictating the shelter over a person’s head) comes great responsibility (not arbitrarily evicting people). If landlords do not feel like they can do business under conditions that will exist then their option is to sell. I’m sure there are other investors that exist — maybe some of these “great landlords” that constantly are referred to — that are willing to do business even with the limited protections that will exist if the City Council passes the ordinance.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 5, 2016 @ 9:43 am

  40. In the case of single family homes which I am referring to in my post, many homeowners may opt to sell rather than rent. But then that just takes more single family rentals off the rental market – which I think is an “unintended consequence” of the ordinance.

    Comment by Karen Bey — February 5, 2016 @ 9:51 am

  41. 39
    No landlord “dictates the shelter over a person’s head.” They cannot compel a tenant to move in, and can’t force them to stay (initial lease term excepted).

    In almost every business transaction, the buyer has more power than the seller. Landlords need cash flow and can’t pick their buildings up and move to it. Tenants have the power, they always have the option to move.

    Comment by dave — February 5, 2016 @ 10:03 am

  42. Is there any other for-profit business out there where the business-people engaging in it hate it more than Landlording (Housing Providing)?

    Seems especially true for the Mom-and-Pop operations. A lot of “woe is me” out of them.

    Am I overlooking some other business where the owners are especially miserable? The solution to the misery seems obvious to me.

    Comment by brock — February 5, 2016 @ 10:11 am

  43. That’s why so many hire property managers, because it it is a HUGE pain in the ass.

    Comment by dave — February 5, 2016 @ 10:21 am

  44. 34. Karen, let’s game that out a bit. Let us look at your example for the high end of the range, where a landlord would have to pay $20k in relocation payments to evict a tenant for no fault of their own.

    $20,000 – $1,500 moving expenses = $18,500.

    $18,500 / 4 months rent [the max payout range] = $4,625 monthly rent was being collected from that tenant.

    That means in the previous year (leaving out potential 5% rent increase for simplicity) that property was generating $55,500 in revenue annually for the landlord.

    Lets guess they were there for only 4 years on the dot and had some rent increases along the way and averaged only $50,000/year in rents collected.

    So, in order to evict a tenant for no cause, you have to give them $20,000 after collecting a minimum of $200,000 over the previous 4 years. If they were there for a decade, you are looking at something more like half a million dollars.

    I’ll let others decide if a 10% (max) rebate on their rent payments for getting kicked out for no cause is fair.

    Again, if you can’t finance the relocation payment, you are welcome to sell (there will be a long line of buyers) or not evict for no reason.

    Comment by BMac — February 5, 2016 @ 10:22 am

  45. Brian, one factor you should include in your analysis is mortgage cost, property taxes, insurance, landscape maintenance, and whatever utilities the landlord/housing provider pays. The net payout to the landlord/housing provider in some cases is a loss – or perhaps a breakeven. For many folks who rented out their homes after the 2008 crash – the goal was to rent their homes in-order to keep them with the hopes of one day moving back in their homes when their financial situation improved. It was never intended to be an investment.

    My point Brian, is there are varying circumstances for landlords/housing providers just as there are for tenants.

    Comment by Karen Bey — February 5, 2016 @ 10:36 am

    • It’s true Karen I am totally agree you, the home owners pay all this thing’s ,and the tenants just pay what the land lord ask for. Property TX in Alameda it’s not cheap , I guess nowhere in
      California

      Comment by myllas2 — February 5, 2016 @ 10:43 am

  46. 45. Yes, any business or investment has costs that must be considered when making business decisions. One of those factors should be the chance that the underclass will figure out they are getting more and more screwed by the decade and under threat of pitchforks and torches will convince their government to throw them a bone that has slightly uneven burdens on landowners. It is indeed a messy world.

    Comment by BMac — February 5, 2016 @ 10:59 am

  47. If I was in a business that …

    1.) was a huge pain in the ass, and…
    2.) I was losing money on it or barely breaking even, and…
    3.) the market value of selling that business was at all time highs (as is true of residential real estate right now), then…

    …isn’t it a no-brainer to sell the business?

    Either there are a lot of masochistic landlords out there (S&M Mom & Pop!) or something doesn’t add up.

    Comment by brock — February 5, 2016 @ 11:39 am

  48. 44

    Throughout this increasing melodramatic debate, we’ve been told repeatedly that spending more than 30% of one income on housing was considered stress, and that 50% was considered severe financial stress. If we assume that this hypothetical underclass renter you cite in your rant in #44, paying your arbitrary $4625/mo in rent, is indeed at this level of rent stress, we can extrapolate his/her income W2 to be $111,000.

    In your example you sorta forgot to include the owner’s PITI plus maintenance & repair, to say nothing of other costs. If we assume $3000/mo, which would be on the low side for a quote-unquote mom/pop, who are the typical landlords in SFH situations, the owners pretax income, analogous to the tenant’s W2, the renter’s income is almost 6-fold the owner’s income form the property.

    But just for fun let’s pretend the owner is the billionaire unicorn you think them all to be and pays only 1978 property taxes and never lifts a finger to maintain and doesn’t bother to insure the property. The renter’s income is still more than double the owner’s. Is a finger wag about the tenant’s responsibility to finance moving expenses called for here? Should the owner be whetting her machete right now to join “the underclass {that} will figure out they are getting more and more screwed by the decade and under threat of pitchforks and torches will convince their government to throw them a bone?”

    All this righteous (and increasingly self-righteous) indignation has gone to your head. It’s chased away the reason that was once there.

    Comment by dave — February 5, 2016 @ 11:41 am

  49. 49. Dave, do you believe there’s a problem for renters now, due to fast-rising rents? If so, do you think that restrictions on residential development have negatively affected renters versus owners? And what would you do to alleviate the problem, or is it just bad luck, that’s life?

    It may be melodrama to an affluent observer, but it’s very real drama to people being evicted.

    Comment by BC — February 5, 2016 @ 1:50 pm

  50. 50:

    I have a rather dispassionate attitude toward prices. If they’re set in a competitive market don’t think of them as a “problem.” They are a reality, a circumstance. A high price is loathed by the buyer but loved by the seller; the converse is also true. Tenants didn’t consider cheap rents a problem a decade ago, but landlords surely did. Now the tide has turned, and someday it will turn again.

    There was a lot of whining when gas prices were in the 4’s. Now that they’re in the 2’s I haven’t heard any hearts bleeding for the oil industry, which is currently beset by a tide of bankruptcies (with many more to follow this year). I never got too worked up either way; the prices were simply the reality.

    I recall moving to the Bay Area in ’01 from the Midwest. It took a while to get over the sticker shock, but that was simply reality. You have 3 options: transact, attempt negotiation, or stand pat. Those options are the same whether you’re in the Bay Area or in a cheaper place like Omaha or Tampa. Live here and pay, or live elsewhere and pay less.

    As for restrictions on residential development, it’s fair to say they have increased prices, but only somewhat. For a generation after the promulgation of Measure A Alameda remained quite cheap by Bay Area standards. That relative cheapness had a lot to do with us settling here in ’01, as A-town was cheaper than comparable properties & neighborhoods in Berkeley, Oakland, Albany etc. While that gap has closed somewhat, it is still cheaper today. Econ 101 says that restrictions should send prices higher. Prices are indeed higher but they have risen less than one would expect.

    And regarding Measure A, it is important to note that renters benefit from it too. It has done a lot to preserve quality of life here: pleasant tree lined streets, a relaxed pace of life, easier traffic than nearby cities. I understand they may not feel that benefit when they get a rent increase, but it probably has a lot to do with why they chose to live here in the first place.

    Since I don’t regard peoples’ increased willingness to pay up to live on this island as a “problem” I don’t really have much to offer as a solution. Maybe 90 days notice for eviction? Is it hard for some? Yes, unquestionably. But homeownership is hard. Bankrupt landlords had it hard during the bust. Life is hard. Cancer, job losses, callups to Iraq, car breakdowns, deaths in the family, lots of things happen that are hard. That’s the way it goes.

    Comment by dave — February 5, 2016 @ 3:43 pm

  51. OK, well I guess you’re consistent in a Ayn Rand sort of way, though there seems to be a certain selectivity in which restrictions are okay and which aren’t. And remember bankruptcy is a social construct that allows landlords and others to walk away from their debts. I imagine landlords would prefer this to debtors’ jails. Anyway, like I say, you’re pretty consistent. Much preferred to some of the bizarre contortions supposed progressives get themselves into when they try to argue against any development on the basis it hurts lower-income people.

    Comment by BC — February 5, 2016 @ 4:19 pm

  52. Seems to me that all the landlord expenses, ie., mortgage cost, property taxes, insurance, landscape maintenance, and whatever utilities the landlord pays are, or ought to have been, already priced into rents everyone is paying today (or two years ago). So, it’s not that these are new or unforeseen expenses for landlords. However, a monthly rent increase of $100, $250 or more are definitely a ‘new’ expense for a renter.

    For the landlords, I think it’s an issue that they simply don’t want their profits, or their expectation of higher profits, scuttled even though we all know they are making a killing in this market. That’s where all the real whining is coming from.

    Comment by John K — February 7, 2016 @ 6:07 pm

  53. How is saying, “If you don’t like renting your house out, sell it” any different from saying “If you don’t like the high rents in Alameda, move”? Selling my home in Alameda at my age would most likely assure that I could never afford to buy back in. Why is a renter’s right to live here any more sacred then a displaced homeowner’s right to return? Some of you are just as heartless as you accuse others of being. As I’ve said before, it’s where you’re standing that shapes your outlook.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — February 8, 2016 @ 9:51 am

  54. Denise – I’m assuming your directing this at my comment “48” above. I’m asking what is keeping landlords in the housing providing business if the returns are meager (“not getting rich or living large”) or even negative (“some cases is a loss”), and the opportunity to get out of the housing providing business is so large (high residential sale prices)? It doesn’t make any sense.

    But your response answers my question, at least for your case. You are essentially purchasing an option to move back to Alameda in the future, and be insulated from movements in real estate prices.

    a.) Currently you are renting out your house at a price where “you don’t like renting your house out”.
    b.) Theoretically, there is a price you could rent your house out where “you do like renting your house out”. (*and you would theoretically stop representing yourself as a mom-and-pop housing-providing martyr.)

    The difference between those two price points is the amount you are paying to keep your option to move back to Alameda in the future. If you don’t think this option/insurance against future Alameda real estate prices is worth the price, you should sell. If you think it is worth it, then great! But you shouldn’t present it like this isn’t a fully voluntary financial transaction on your part.

    Or do you propose that there is a reason you should get this option/insurance at no cost?

    Comment by brock — February 8, 2016 @ 10:50 am

  55. Not sure what your problem is, Denise. You are renting a house in a very good market in which to be a landlord. Unless the house is mortgaged to the hilt, this should be profitable. You can come back when your situation permits and enjoy the hot tub. Or you can sell and make a big profit (same proviso about mortgage applying). Am I missing something? Nothing proposed to moderate rent increases would seem to imperil this situation.

    And, Brock, your point about the free option is spot on.

    Comment by BC — February 8, 2016 @ 5:05 pm

  56. That option is far from free. Property tax, debt service, M&R, and maybe utilities add up to more than free.

    And why should she have that option, free or dear? Because she OWNS THE PROPERTY. It is hers. She can do with it as she likes.

    Comment by dave — February 8, 2016 @ 7:52 pm

  57. 55. What is a “fully voluntary financial transaction”, and what is so great about fully voluntary financial transactions anyway?

    Comment by MP — February 8, 2016 @ 8:12 pm

  58. Dave – I’m explicitly pointing out that the “option” isn’t free. That’s the whole point of my comment.

    Denise is in the housing providing business. A business with costs on one side of the scale and benefits on the other.

    The Costs, as you say, include: property tax, debt service, M&R, and maybe utilities. I would even add the theoretical dollar value of the pain-in-the-assness of being a landlord, and the constant disrespect from renters who haven’t figured out how hard life can be for the property owning class.

    The Benefits include: rent checks, “Pride of Ownership(tm)”, and the ability to be Master of her Destiny as a PROPERTY OWNER. It ALSO includes (for Denise) the value (NOT FREE! NOT FREE!) of insurance against property price increases when she wants to move back to Alameda and own a house. If she is particularly attached to THIS house, then there is also a sentimental VALUE (NOT FREE!).

    The problem is when landlords pretend like everything in the benefits category, except the rent checks, do not exist. They are misrepresenting the scales to be tipped against them.

    They are the ones who are mistakenly thinking those things are free, so kindly direct your questions their way.

    I’m the one who is asking: “If your experience of the Landlording Business is that the Cost-Benefit balance is tipped way in the direction of COSTS, when all is accounted for, then why don’t you get out while the selling prices are so much in your favor?”

    Of course this is just a rhetorical question. They don’t get out because their are other benefits besides rent checks that they think are valuable enough to outweigh the costs of doing the housing providing business.

    Comment by brock — February 8, 2016 @ 9:23 pm

  59. MP – to be sure it seems like a term I made up on the spot. But I’ll define it. Did you start thinking about 2015 income taxes yet? I just got my W-2 in the mail.

    While I’m not some kind of anti-tax nut, I view paying my taxes as a “non voluntary financial transaction”. There is nothing I can really do to get out of conducting this transaction with the National and State government, other than some very extreme approaches which we don’t need to get into.

    I think if you own a rental property that isn’t underwater (someone who is renting out a house they’ve owned for a long time shouldn’t be), and prices have been on a sharp uptick for some time, you can “VOLUNTARILY” either keep on landlording, or you can find a buyer (heck, get a bunch and have them fight to drive up the price!) and get out. You can stop doing the Landlording thing whenever you want.

    I’m not sure if everyone is aware, but there are lots of people going around the world doing fine (take me for example) who aren’t in the Landlording business! And GET THIS! I don’t even have an option to buy a Manhattan penthouse at 2008 prices!

    Comment by brock — February 8, 2016 @ 9:38 pm

  60. Let’s say some guy has joint custody of his 1st and 2nd grade kids, who are enrolled in AUSD. His wife lives here with her new husband (they are stable homeowners)

    His landlord raises the rent on his one bedroom apartment from $1200 per month to $2000 per month.

    Is it a “voluntary transaction” for him to pay the new price and stay put? Or should he move out of the area and not get to see his kids as often?

    Maybe it is. Value of seeing his kids every day $800 per month?

    Comment by brock — February 8, 2016 @ 9:54 pm

  61. 60 – OK, so where does the relocation fee that the returning homeowner would pay under the ordinance that 54 was referencing fit in? Seems more like your example of a non voluntary financial transaction, and since that would now be part of 54’s decision, seems less “fully” voluntary. I understand the purpose of the relocation fee in the rent control scheme (and recognize that it would probably not apply to 54 under most circumstances if she chose to raise the rent instead of giving notice to quit her singel family house). On the other hand we are essentially removing a landlords fully voluntary ability to decide not to renew the lease of a tenant who is disruptive to other tenants and potentially giving that tenant incentive to hold out for a relocation fee.

    Comment by MP — February 8, 2016 @ 10:05 pm

  62. 59

    I did indeed mis-read the free option thing. My mistake. I think we see one another’s points now, even if we disagree.

    Comment by dave — February 9, 2016 @ 5:08 am

  63. The relocation fee is definately a non-voluntary financial transaction, especially in the case where the tenant is making more money than the housing provider.

    I can see paying relocation assistance to a tenant who needs the money — but aren’t we getting away from the purpose of the ordinance when we are required to pay relocation assistance to a tenant making over $200K per year?

    Comment by Karen Bey — February 9, 2016 @ 5:52 am

  64. 64. “but aren’t we getting away from the purpose of the ordinance when we are required to pay relocation assistance to a tenant making over $200K per year?”

    Yes. But oh well. How long do you think the list of tenants is that make over $200k/year AND will face 60 day evictions for owner move ins?

    If pointing out a single gap in the fairness of a policy was grounds for not implementing the policy aimed at helping a much broader swath of the public, just about every law on the books is unjustified.

    We are working with a machete here, not a scalpel, to get the umbrella policy in place quickly before an entire generation of Alameda renters is banished from the island. It is important to focus on the big picture, shift the balance and then after the basics are taken care of we can start debating around the margins of fairness and whether making it even more complicated in the interest of fairness for the special snowflake cases is worthwhile.

    Comment by BMac — February 9, 2016 @ 9:48 am

  65. 63 – It might surprise you to know I’m agnostic on the rent control issue (maybe even a little anti). I just get worked-up when Landlords misrepresent their overall situation. Our biggest disagreement is the impact of restrictive zoning and who getting the lion’s share of benefit there.

    64 – Yes, the relocation fee (proposed? passed yet? I can’t keep track the way the CC hems and haws and postpones the decision making forever) is “non-voluntary” in the way that I point out income taxes are “non-voluntary”. But it doesn’t outweigh the benefits landlords are getting out of their rental units. If it does outweigh the benefits, they are in a good position to sell and get out of the business.

    What do you propose the income level restrictions are for relocation assistance? Seems like a political rat’s nest of categorizing people as “poor” or “well-off”. You’ll get people on both sides complaining about that. Do you just look at income, or do you look at a person’s expenses (# dependents, medical issues, charitable donations, etc.)? I guess you could use their MAGI.

    Are you going to make a relative comparison between the tenant’s income and the landlord’s (sorry *housing provider’s*) income in each case, since that seems to be your main issue?

    Comment by brock — February 9, 2016 @ 9:59 am

  66. #TeamBrock

    Comment by BMac — February 9, 2016 @ 11:12 am


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