Blogging Bayport Alameda

February 9, 2016

The illusion of rent control

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

Over the weekend there were some cryptic messages on the Alameda Renters Coalition Facebook page about meeting at the Carl’s Jr in Marina Village and that the target of their next action being close by.  My first thought was that they were going to protest at the Panomar Apartment building given that they are a recent example of a mass eviction for capital improvements.  Then I remembered something that was tweeted from the founder of the Alameda Renters Coalition, something along the lines of protesting the people with the ability to enact change as opposed to the bad actors.

And then I remembered, hey, Frank Matarrese lives near the Carl’s Jr at Marina Village and sure enough:

There was a video of a protestor being Council-splained by Frank Matarrese but what I quite enjoyed was her pointing out that they have listened to Frank Matarrese and the others on the City Council for hours at a time when Frank Matarrese insisted that she allow him to talk.  What was revealing about that video was the logic behind Frank Matarrese’s approach to Alameda’s rental ordinance.  He cited San Francisco rent control as the reason why teachers and low wage working families are being pushed out of San Francisco which is why he wanted to do the complete opposite of what other rent control cities have structured.  What Frank Matarrese, and others on the City Council (coughjimoddiecough), fail to understand is that rent control is not the cause of loss of shelter it is an attempt to inoculate some residents from the consequences of insufficient supply to meet the demand.

I am guessing that Tony Daysog should be preparing some remarks for when his turn is up.

Anyway, I wanted to start discussing the rental housing ordinance in pieces now that it is up for review on the City’s website.  I think the most important message is: this is not rent control.

This ordinance is not rent control.

I know people want to call it rent control because it simplifies the discussion, but this ordinance is no where near rent control, at best it is rent stabilization.

There is no rent cap. There is not a limitation on how much a landlord can raise the rent on any unit.  There is, however, a trigger to have a quasi-public airing of why you want to raise the rent more than 5%.  From the staff report:

Even though there is no cap on rent increases, if a housing provider seeks a rent increase above 5%, the housing provider must initiate a rent mediation process using the RRAC. If the rent increase is 5% or less, a tenant may initiate the RRAC process. If the rent increase is resolved prior to the RRAC hearing, the parties must inform staff of the terms of the resolution of the rent increase. This last step ensures transparency once a City process has been initiated and allows tracking of the agreed upon rent increases.

At the RRAC hearing, a person with an ownership interest in the rental property (or a person from the ownership entity who can legally bind the owner) must attend if the rent increase is above 5%. The property owner, or representative with the authority to agree to a mediated resolution, must attend the RRAC hearing for rent increases of 5% or less. Regardless of the amount of the rent increase being mediated, if a person with ownership interest (or a representative in some cases) does not attend the hearing, the rent increase is void and the housing provider is prohibited from noticing another rent increase for one year.

Of course if a landlord’s unit is exempt from Costa Hawkins (built after 1995, a single family home, or a condo) then the RRAC process is non binding.  So essentially one could go through the process, take the recommendation and just say “thanks but no thanks” and do whatever they want with regards to that unit.

For those units that are not exempt from Costa Hawkins this is when it becomes very important about the composition of the RRAC.  If the RRAC as a whole continues to decide that 10% is an acceptable percentage to raise annual rents then the tenant will be on the hook to appeal to the binding mediation process, which could also not go in the tenant’s favor.  The next step for the tenant would be to go to court for relief, but again it’s hard to predict if that would go in the tenant’s favor as well.

Units built after 1995, a single family home, or a condo would also be able to circumvent the relocation fee if they simply raise rents to a level that is just not affordable for the tenant, forcing the tenant to vacate as opposed to initiating an eviction.  The only negative would be the quasi-public RRAC process which may be a deterrent for some landlords.  I say “quasi-public” because barely anyone pays much attention to the RRAC.

As you can see this is only one part of the rent ordinance and there are already loopholes that exist.  However, given that only 29% of the rental housing units in Alameda would be exempt perhaps this loophole is one that won’t be exercised often.

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72 Comments »

  1. Taking a bullhorn to someone’s home, and potentially his/her family is NOT OK.

    Go to his office, buttonhole him on the City Hall steps, protest all you like in public but keep the hell away from peoples’ families & private lives.

    And here’s a hint: bullhorning someone’s family does not win you any converts, and costs you a great deal of credibility.

    Comment by dave — February 9, 2016 @ 6:21 am

  2. The stakes are high and decision-making is happening in the dark of night for the most part. So, I get this tactic…protestors use it when they aren’t being heard. But I am sympathetic to dave’s point, only because we treat service on council as an essentially volunteer gig. Great council members can be found, but it’s a shallow bench. There was a Tavares article on this. I think Alameda is due for a constitutional convention.

    Comment by gaylon — February 9, 2016 @ 6:52 am

  3. I don’t see a link to the video, so there may be something I’m missing, but I don’t get the enjoyment from someone telling the person who has been hound dogged out of his house that he doesn’t get to speak. Will the video be made available to the rest of us?

    Comment by MP — February 9, 2016 @ 6:53 am

  4. Dave, I agree. This is not OK! This is a form of retaliation!

    Comment by Karen Bey — February 9, 2016 @ 7:00 am

  5. I’d say “low thuggery” is a better term than retaliation, but whatever….

    On second thought, these keystrokes are wasted . If alleged adults think that sort of thing is OK, they are beyond hope anyway.

    Comment by dave — February 9, 2016 @ 7:20 am

  6. Video?

    Comment by MP — February 9, 2016 @ 7:23 am

  7. It’s posted on the Renters Coalition Facebook page. I’ll leave it to the organizers to decide if they want to make it available to the larger public.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 9, 2016 @ 8:00 am

  8. Agree that picketing at someone’s home is crossing an important line for any community that is aiming to maintain a foundation of civic engagement and civil discourse and public service. There are many other times and places for advocacy and action. In addition, the logical extension of the rationale for doing this leads to very bad places. Not ok for far right or far left or any others to do this.

    Comment by Civics — February 9, 2016 @ 8:06 am

  9. Protesting at elected officials homes have become more of a popular method of getting “heard.” I think that the Matarrese situation feels more intrusive for some people because (a) they like him, (b) agree with his politics, and/or (c) the position is largely unpaid (with the exception of medical benefits and meeting stipends).

    But with public service comes an expectation that your private life isn’t really that private, just ask Stewart Chen about that one. And the politics of social justice aren’t going to be neat and tidy or polite all of the time.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 9, 2016 @ 8:17 am

  10. wonderful

    Comment by MP — February 9, 2016 @ 8:25 am

  11. 9

    So are you condoning this behavior?

    Comment by dave — February 9, 2016 @ 8:27 am

  12. 3 & 7 – The City Council may do its work “in the dark of night for the most part”, but “for the most part” they put videos of their meetings online.

    Comment by MP — February 9, 2016 @ 8:35 am

  13. I am a renter in Alameda, within yards of one of the key multi-unit properties in the current debate.

    I wanted to support the Alameda Renters Coalition, so I followed the organization on Twitter. I was promptly blocked. I reached out to the organization to introduce myself see if I could be unblocked.

    What’s with the paranoia? The “undercover cops are watching us” bovine scat a couple of weeks ago seemed out-of-sorts, but my experience gave context that confirms paranoia is part of the fabric of the organization.

    Now this episode – which I find invasive and inflammatory – a stunt with no purpose other than conflict. No more support from me; the Renter’s Coalition does not represent an inclusive renters’ group and certainly has no intention of operating in the sunshine.

    Comment by Bart — February 9, 2016 @ 8:37 am

  14. I think the point the renters are trying to make is that they are not being heard. In the past Alamedans have picketed the homes of council members. When the Harbor Island tenants were being evicted en masse from their homes in 2004, they picketed the home of Beverly Johnson. It didn’t please her, but she wasn’t paying much attention. I guess it’s hard for renters and others facing eviction should respect the sanctity of the homes of others when theirs are up for grabs to the highest bidder and they and their children are just fodder for the investor machine.

    Comment by Laura Thomas — February 9, 2016 @ 8:53 am

  15. 14 – Did Mr. Matarrese refuse to meet with any of the people who are not being heard or refuse to read their letters?

    Comment by MP — February 9, 2016 @ 9:07 am

  16. Frank is totally accessible to anyone that wants to talk to him, I’m with Dave and Karen on this one. My blue collar speak would say renters coalition, you just “shit in your mess kit”.

    Comment by John P. — February 9, 2016 @ 9:11 am

  17. 16

    Wouldn’t the past tense would be “shat?”

    Comment by dave — February 9, 2016 @ 9:14 am

  18. I think the issue is not that Frank Matarrese didn’t agree to meet with renters, it’s that he did meet but then continued to vote in such a manner than they believe is not supportive of protecting renters.

    In Alameda parlance: he didn’t heard them, but didn’t listen.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 9, 2016 @ 9:23 am

  19. Unlike Spencer, Matarrese replies in writing to viewpoints with which he disagrees. If, like Spencer, he only communicated with his fanboys and girls, this might be a legitimate tactic. Might. But he engages in discussion. Fine to campaign to oust him, berate him in council meetings, etc. But this is over the line.

    Comment by BC — February 9, 2016 @ 9:23 am

  20. 18

    To be unswayed by weak arguments is not the same as failing to listen, is it?

    And I ask again: do you condone this behavior?

    Comment by dave — February 9, 2016 @ 9:27 am

  21. Political expression, including political protest, in public is a constitutionally-protected First Amendment right. Any else?

    Comment by John K — February 9, 2016 @ 9:36 am

  22. No one has said it is illegal. Many have said it is improper.

    But go ahead, keep doing it. It will spread the message that the ARC is a bunch of dim thugs.

    Comment by dave — February 9, 2016 @ 9:40 am

  23. Previous City Councils were taken to task over and over again for not “listening” because they ended up voting against the interests of certain public speakers. That’s why I wrote: “In Alameda parlance.”

    Do I understand why certain renters felt as this is their only option to be heard? Absolutely. At this point in my life I am fortunate enough to not have to be worried about whether or not I will still have shelter in the next month, but I can absolutely still empathize with those that are not in my position. Would I protest outside an elected official’s home? Probably not.

    On balance this is how I see the actions of Sunday morning: Frank Matarrese was made supremely uncomfortable for one sunny morning and that really sucks, but his actions on this issue have the ability to affect the lives of a lot more Alameda families and bring them much more that one morning’s discomfort. And the impact on those families will do more than just suck and will last for more than just one morning.

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

  24. So would it have been OK for the Lesson 9 bigots to have bullhorned AUSD Boardmembers’ homes?

    Will it be OK when David Howard does it to JKW for failing to uphold the law (MA)?

    Will it be OK when Trish bullhorns you for your constant criticism?

    Comment by dave — February 9, 2016 @ 9:49 am

  25. Now that Lauren has invited ARC to make the video public if they choose, will they take her up on it? Maybe some people are exaggerating their conduct.

    Comment by MP — February 9, 2016 @ 9:50 am

  26. AUSD Boardmembers are elected. Pretty sure that the ones that voted for Lesson 9 went through a more uncomfortable recall effort than one morning’s protest.

    JKW is not an elected official.

    I am not an elected official.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 9, 2016 @ 9:52 am

  27. Dave, are you saying that you don’t condone people exercising their constitutional rights?

    Comment by John K — February 9, 2016 @ 9:52 am

  28. 27. Please publish the video so our decision to condone or not is fully informed. Thank you

    Comment by MP — February 9, 2016 @ 9:55 am

  29. 26

    JKW is a public official with power over public actions.

    You insert your self into public debates daily.

    And hey, it’s Constitutionally protected activity, right?

    In your world it’s OK to violate a norm of decency as long as the right target is chosen.

    Comment by dave — February 9, 2016 @ 9:57 am

  30. I’ve already had weird, uncomfortable unannounced visits to my home in the past based on my blog so I imagine it comes with the territory.

    Did you want to come picket and protest at my home to prove a point. Go ahead.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 9, 2016 @ 9:59 am

  31. 27

    It’s not a question of legality or Constitutional rights. It’s a norm of decent behavior. Decent people respect such things.

    But like I said, keep it up. It’s perfectly legal to show your very unsavory stripes in public. Knock yourself out, it will do wonders for your cause.

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

  32. Lots of pearl clutching going on over here today.

    If a handful of people trying to achieve a political goal by standing outside with signs and voices is thuggery, what do you folks think of BlackLivesMatter protesters shutting down BART or the Bay Bridge? The whole point is to provoke attention and make the comfortable uncomfortable, if only for a moment.

    Was it the most effective tactic to have a secret protest in a remote corner of Alameda on private property while hounding a Council Member who has employed some of the most cynical tactics of political triangulation on the issue? Maybe not. Thuggery? Please.

    Could Frank have just called APD and had them ushered off the property or arrested for trespassing? Yep. I’ve seen the videos and the protesters’ emotion is real, but conduct still quite civil and subdued in the grand scheme.

    I respect Frank for coming out and listening to them. I would have had more respect if he honestly owned his position, rather than trying to thread a rhetorical needle that does not make a coherent position, in my opinion. In the video he is trying to have it both ways and ends up backpedalling in his rhetoric quite a bit.

    ***so much for discussing the actual policy on the table for next week. Hopefully we get off the process argument at some point and have that conversation as well.

    Comment by BMac — February 9, 2016 @ 10:08 am

  33. You’d feel differently if it was YOUR family being disturbed by a flock of unhinged people.

    Comment by dave — February 9, 2016 @ 10:12 am

  34. You’d feel differently if it was YOUR family being disturbed by a flock of unhinged people.

    Did I ever write about the time when someone appeared at my house unannounced to accuse me of writing something I never did? Exactly.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 9, 2016 @ 10:15 am

  35. Video, please?

    Comment by MP — February 9, 2016 @ 10:25 am

  36. 33. I wouldn’t. Were I in Frank’s shoes, I would have probably handled it similar to him, but if I was offended by it, maybe like this:

    “Good Morning. You folks are on private property and I am not in charge of it as it is a condo development. If you would like to schedule a meeting to discuss your concerns, we can do that now. If not, I am going to go inside and eat some pancakes. I can not guarantee that myself or a neighbor won’t call the police over your trespassing. Have a nice day.”

    It was a non-violent, not destructive protest. They risked arrest by conducting it on what appears to me to be private property (unlike say, in the street at the Farmer’s Market while Tony Daysog holds office hours). Just like I risk a ticket when I speed on the freeway or run a stop sign on my bike. Adults get to decide for themselves and I am not that interested in litigating what goes on in their heads and imposing my calculus on them. There are laws to govern behavior that provided options for this elected official to decide how to respond to the provocation.

    Comment by BMac — February 9, 2016 @ 10:32 am

  37. Let me know when ARC puts the video on its website so I can evaluate for myself the “process” of the matter and Mr. Materrese’s discussion of the “actual policy” to the extent he was allowed.

    Comment by MP — February 9, 2016 @ 10:39 am

  38. This whole conversation, and its dynamic (if not its import or historical context) is very similar to the conversation around #BLM.

    There are those who see disruptive protests as icky and not nice and they just want everything to be nice and pleasant and for everyone to stay in their lane and work within the system. Then there are those who look at it and ask, jeez, that is kind of an extreme tactic, I wonder what it is that makes them feel the need to go that far and what is my responsibility to try and do something about it?

    We can focus on trying to address the problem, or we can focus on making sure people only try to address the problem in ways that don’t make this feel like Pleasantville. I guess if you think the status quo is okay and there is no problem, then you have the luxury of policing how people express themselves.

    Comment by BMac — February 9, 2016 @ 10:45 am

  39. There was a plan in place in the event the police showed up. That plan was simply to comply. Alamedans are entitled to their own political views and how they express them. They are not entitled to their own constitution. That is all.

    Comment by John K — February 9, 2016 @ 10:49 am

  40. 38. How they conducted themselves is a legitimate topic of discussion (if not, then I guess the entire introduction of Lauren’s post was a diversion). I also do not think you believe that the Council is not trying to address the problem.

    Comment by MP — February 9, 2016 @ 10:55 am

  41. 37. Hopefully John K tweets it out or posts a youtube link or something. The most instructive video is not that long and shows Frank trying to explain how the ordinance is going to result in the shortages that are seen in SF (post hoc ergo propter hoc) and the renter responding and Frank asking “can I answer?” Then the renter explains how she has listened to him for hours all night long at meetings and how he has listened for two minutes and it is her turn to be heard.

    Frank explains he has always been available to talk, John jumps in and says he never supports anything though (implying the need for a different tactic to change his mind?)

    Then Frank continues about giving the RRAC more time w/ the teeth they put in effect in October. Renter points out that there were no teeth in that (she is right). Then, Frank shifts to back up his argument saying “I think we did. we proposed having a hearing officer at the end w/ a binding decision”

    That last quote could only refer to the option on the table today, not what Frank wanted to “give the RRAC time to work” (trademark: Alamedans for Fair Rents). He backed himself into a rhetorical corner and it will be interesting to see how he votes. My inner pundit says Ashcraft, Oddie and Spencer are on board, Daysog will begrudgingly go along, lamenting the lack of protection for Mom&Pop. This leaves no real upside for Frank to go on record as the sole No vote, and I think we end up with a unanimous vote.

    The one thing that could trip it up is the guesstimate spreadsheet budget of almost $2Million dollars that would come w/ a $129 per rental unit fee to pay for it. I could see a potential last minute freakout over creating a big bad bureaucracy.

    Comment by BMac — February 9, 2016 @ 11:04 am

  42. 41. I think your voting counting will prove true

    Comment by MP — February 9, 2016 @ 11:21 am

  43. Frank chose to be an elected official, campaigning against housing (just see video feeds from his campaign stump speeches), and reduce the housing stock. This was in the hopes that people in Alameda, who were working off island, could work at Alameda Point. He should own his position.

    Comment by Cindy — February 9, 2016 @ 11:28 am

  44. Apparently nobody seems to care about Frank’s neighbors who are in all respects blameless and do not deserve to have their peace disturbed. It was also unnecessary since, as has been pointed out, Frank is happy to meet with and respond to anyone who wants to be heard. This sort of tactic should be reserved for those who refuse to be engaged. Listening is not the same as giving in to pressure. Do we really want elected officials who allow themselves to be bullied? The City Council represents all Alamedans and all Alamedans do not share exactly the same concerns, attitudes or beliefs. When both the library and the Alameda Theater project were in the works, there was a lot of opposition, some of the behavior of opponents was unpleasant and extreme. The projects went ahead anyway and the general consensus, even in some cases by those who were in opposition, is that they turned out great. What if they City Councils at the time were afraid that if they didn’t scuttle those projects, they would be seen as not listening to what the people want? It’s important be mindful of all points of view and not just the people who get in your face and to do what you believe is the right thing. That’s leadership.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — February 9, 2016 @ 11:36 am

  45. Brain has referred to BLM twice and I get the comparison. Also, #13 Bart resonates, as does John P.’s comment about shitting in one’s own lunch box.

    In news coverage of MLK Day bridge closure the news station I watched had two African Americans on tape. The first was a guy who said the cause may be just but “maybe they aren’t going about this the right way.” The second was a protester ( African American female) who posited ( quite coyly, I thought) that “Maybe some people need to be inconvenienced a little, to get the message about the importance of BLM”. The latter is a paraphrase, but I feel it captures the sentiment fairly.

    While I agree with speculation about how being inconvenienced might effect some of us, like make us stop and think hard, it’s also very obvious that many folks will simply be pissed off. But even that negative reaction ( the shit in the lunch box, so to speak) is not what I found myself reacting to with BLM civil disobedience. If black lives do matter, which they do to this white guy, then I was dismayed that the demonstrators didn’t consider the possible negative impact their stunt may have had on the lives of black people who may have been docked pay for being late to work, as just one real life possibility. Or in worst case scenario, if somebody died by being stuck in an emergency vehicle. Emergency vehicles were a real issue in the lane closures on bridge from Jersey to NYC, though I didn’t hear of any deaths.

    An editorial in Chronicle by an African American writer said the jury was still out ( or should be) on the impact of the MLK day bridge protest. I stated my definitive opinion, but I ultimately defer to African Americans with differing opinions on the basis they should have the last word, on the basis my white privilege may have distorted my perception.

    I personally think that the renters coalition may have shot themselves in the foot by exercising their First Amendment rights of free assembly, but I don’t see that they put anyone’s welfare at risk as the BLM protest may have. Ultimately, as a home owner with relative security I’m not sure I’m qualified to make the final call on this protest.

    Comment by Mark Irons — February 9, 2016 @ 12:36 pm

  46. It is hard to draw lines and balance trade offs to agree on what the community norms should be around protests, but we have to draw lines because otherwise it really is “anything goes.”

    Protesting loudly at someone’s home in a community like Alameda where there are so many other times and places to be heard is over the line. Normalizing the proposition that someone’s home is not a sanctuary is wrong and is a significant deterrent to civic participation and public service.

    If protesting loudly at someone’s home is not over the line, where is the line? Under the logic some are endorsing here that protesting loudly at the homes of elected officials is OK, why wouldn’t the logic behind that position also mean it is ok to protest loudly at the homes of staff or members of public boards or interest group leaders or community activists, or any other popular or unpopular community voices?

    Is 10pm ok? 4am? If bullhorns are OK, what about other louder noisemakers?

    Comments 9 and 14 above imply that whether it is OK to protest loudly at someone’s home should depend on the content of what is being said. That’s also wrong.

    One other note: The use of the phrase “clutching at pearls” in 32 to describe people who believe in civic discourse is sexist and deeply offensive. Others have used that phrase here from time to time. It sounds like Trump.

    Comment by Civics — February 9, 2016 @ 12:54 pm

  47. 45. All great points. We largely agree.

    We all get to form our own opinion on the appropriateness of various tactics, something I was probably too dismissive of in an earlier comment where MP corrected me. My larger point is that it is easy for the discussion of tactics to suck up all the oxygen on a subject and leave the root issue unaddressed. It leads people to retreat from the discussion and defend their tribe (political, ethnic, economic, or otherwise). In that sense, this protest might have been counterproductive.

    On the other hand, it did spotlight Frank’s tortured attempt to justify his position without paying a political price for what looks like hypocrisy from where I sit. As others have said, he isn’t owning his position on principle. He is trying to have his cake and eat it too. It might work!

    Comment by BMac — February 9, 2016 @ 1:25 pm

  48. #46 – Thank you, well put!

    Comment by Karen Bey — February 9, 2016 @ 1:36 pm

  49. If protesting loudly at someone’s home is not over the line, where is the line? Under the logic some are endorsing here that protesting loudly at the homes of elected officials is OK, why wouldn’t the logic behind that position also mean it is ok to protest loudly at the homes of staff or members of public boards or interest group leaders or community activists, or any other popular or unpopular community voices?

    The line is whatever law is established to abridge our first amendment right for the health and safety of the population as a whole or to protect our private property rights. That’s the thing about the first amendment, you don’t have to like the speech, agree with the speech, and/or condone the speech but we should accept that the speech — as long as it’s not in violation of any specific law — is legitimate.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 9, 2016 @ 1:52 pm

  50. 46. “The use of the phrase “clutching at pearls” in 32 to describe people who believe in civic discourse is sexist and deeply offensive. Others have used that phrase here from time to time. It sounds like Trump.”

    Interesting. I have been exposed to the phrase countless times in internet discussions over the last decade and have never seen it in that light. I certainly did not intend it to convey sexist thoughts. In my experience, it is just an internet shorthand for: “as being prudish, uptight, or otherwise too conservative in their thinking.” In the interest of productive discourse, I shan’t use it anymore.

    Comment by BMac — February 9, 2016 @ 1:55 pm

  51. Sidebar: on pearl clutching.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 9, 2016 @ 1:59 pm

  52. 51. Days like this, WordPress comments not sufficient. Go back to 2006 and do it different.

    Comment by BMac — February 9, 2016 @ 2:05 pm

  53. Back to the ‘illusion of rent control’ and less on delivery of advocacy. From Lauren’s summary of the proposed ordinance, it doesn’t even sound like a compromise. The renters coalition is going to have to collect signatures and place a rent control measure on the ballot.

    Comment by Cindy — February 9, 2016 @ 2:17 pm

  54. The main ‘asks’ from the renters coalition side are: 1) rent increases tied to 65% of the Bay Area CPI (which is 3.2% right now); 2) eliminate no-cause evictions of all types; and 3) financial penalties and legal fees for violations of the rent ordinance. There are a number of other issues as well but these three would make a huge difference for renters in Alameda.

    Comment by John K — February 9, 2016 @ 2:25 pm

  55. 53. After reading through the ordinance and attachments last night, this was my summary, posted elsewhere:

    “Bottom line: They are basically instituting a 5% cap on increases combined w/ relocation assistance for no cause or no fault evictions ($1500 + one month’s rent per year of tenancy, up to four months) and enough roadblocks to evicting and jacking rents on new tenants that it should go a long way to discouraging no fault evictions. At least until it sunsets 12/31/19.”

    For my part, it is a very compromise-y ordinance. It is what I would call a “market calming” ordinance. As Lauren said, it ain’t rent control, and generously could be called rent stabilization. If the definition of compromise is when you arrive at something that both sides hate, this is it.

    There are definite weaknesses and it is overly complicated, but it will go a decent way to reducing the stress for a large percentage of renters that this market has been placing on them. The spectre of a 60 day eviction or 20% rent increase is something that is difficult to fully grasp unless you are actually facing it.

    It won’t prevent displacement over the long run, but it will make things much more predictable for families trying to plan their lives in the short and medium term. If the market decides that poor people are no longer welcome in Alameda, this ordinance won’t stop that from happening. It will just take longer.

    Comment by BMac — February 9, 2016 @ 2:30 pm

  56. Does this ordinance need 3 or 4 votes on the council to pass?

    Comment by Cindy — February 9, 2016 @ 2:36 pm

  57. 56. 3 votes to pass. Three votes to amend or repeal next month.

    Comment by BMac — February 9, 2016 @ 2:41 pm

  58. Who do you think are the 3 votes in favor?

    Comment by Cindy — February 9, 2016 @ 2:51 pm

  59. 58. from #41:

    “My inner pundit says Ashcraft, Oddie and Spencer are on board, Daysog will begrudgingly go along, lamenting the lack of protection for Mom&Pop. This leaves no real upside for Frank to go on record as the sole No vote, and I think we end up with a unanimous vote.

    The one thing that could trip it up is the guesstimate spreadsheet budget of almost $2Million dollars that would come w/ a $129 per rental unit fee to pay for it. I could see a potential last minute freakout over creating a big bad bureaucracy.”

    Comment by BMac — February 9, 2016 @ 3:08 pm

  60. Thank you # 55 for you overview. I intend to still push for a relocation assistance program that is “means tested”. The program in my opinion should be targeted to working class families and the most vulnerable – not to pay relocation assistance payments to people making over $200k – tenants who don’t need assistance. Any improvement to the program that targets this demographic is important. It can be another tool that can be used in the RRAC.

    I’d also like to see the City create a Community Rent Relief Fund (similar to the fund created in the City of Mountain View) to assist poor families in crisis. I’m hopeful that the increased landlord/housing provider fees can pay into this fund as well as some of the increased revenue we generate from real estate sales transfer taxes.
    Not sure I’ll be heard, but it’s worth a try.

    Comment by Karen Bey — February 9, 2016 @ 3:22 pm

  61. A new bureaucracy set up at the behest of tenants and working directly for their benefit should be paid for by them via an explicit pass through in their lease agreements.

    Comment by dave — February 9, 2016 @ 3:39 pm

  62. Karen – I inquired about this in another post…are you are proposing a means testing modification that eliminates relocation assistance requirement for people making “over $200k”?

    How often do you think this comes into play? Is it really something to waste your time with? How many renting households in all of Alameda are making >$200k, and what is the size of the subset that will be evicted and eligible for the relocation assistance? Doesn’t seem all that likely.

    I get the sentiment but it seems like a waste of time given the expected frequency occurrence. If you are just concerned about the principle of the thing, what if a tenant has $5,000,000 in the bank but annual income of $50k? Do they get the relocation assistance?

    Comment by brock — February 9, 2016 @ 3:43 pm

  63. Brock, you’d be surprised!

    Comment by Karen Bey — February 9, 2016 @ 3:55 pm

  64. 46. striving for consistency to adhere to my own sentiments in 45. about when one is entitled to opine, I will try to avoid the term “clutching pearls” also. I totally get that it is sexist, however I’m just not moved by assertion it is “deeply offensive”. Lauren’s sidebar in 51. gives more than enough explanation. For me “deeply offensive” in this context is a bit “pearl clutchy”. Never again, promise.

    Comment by MI — February 9, 2016 @ 4:03 pm

  65. Protests like this one could weaken support for renters causes among our biggest allies. Not a fan.

    Comment by Angela Pallatto Hockabout — February 10, 2016 @ 4:46 pm

  66. Sorry, Angela P. Hockabout, but your “go along to get along” never worked. You’ve trotted out this “you’ll alienate your biggest allies” for months. In the meantime, after ARC realized the go-along approach accomplished nothing, it got more assertive. Well, what happened? We got the moratorium, a RRAC with almost all new members (having called out the old RRAC members for handing out 10% rent increases like candy) and now we’re about to get a rent ordinance. Plus, ARC membership is up and more engaged than ever. Please, spare me the lectures on how things get done.

    Comment by John K — February 10, 2016 @ 9:58 pm

  67. 66 suggests the ARC will continue to get “more assertive” because their leadership thinks that’s how “things get done.”

    Comment by Civics — February 11, 2016 @ 6:57 am

  68. Ah, the wonders. Bullying and banishment.

    Comment by MP — February 11, 2016 @ 8:17 am

  69. John K:

    You complain that the ordinance doesn’t protect renters, but also crow about it as a personal achievement. Which is it?

    Comment by dave — February 11, 2016 @ 8:28 am

  70. like it or not, John is right that ARC pushing the envelope on tactics has shifted the likelihood of potential outcomes.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_window

    The fear of more extreme reactions, including violence, sure made MLK seem more like someone politicians wanted to work with and empower during the Civil Rights movement, no?

    Comment by BMac — February 11, 2016 @ 9:26 am

  71. 49 says we should “accept” as “legitimate” any legally permissible speech. Not necessarily. There is a difference between what is legally permissible (i.e., what people *can* say without government censorship) and what community or cultural norms condone as something legitimate that people *should* say. When something is legally permissible but others find it offensive or dangerous, rather than “accept” it, it is also appropriate for those who find it wrong to speak up in opposition, as some have done in the comments here regarding the loud protest at the home of a public official. That’s also a form of free speech.

    Protesting loudly at someone’s home is not even legal in certain circumstances. But even when it is legal, it is not appropriate in Alameda since many other times and places for speech and advocacy exist here. It is also not ok to protest loudly at the homes of staff (who were blamed in one of the recent comments here on the topic of the rent policy — is that a hint of the next protest?) or of members of public boards or commissions or of interest group leaders or community activists, or of any other popular or unpopular community voices.

    70 sounds like an effort to justify and extend the logic of the “anything goes if it works” view all the way to a wink-wink implicit endorsement of threats of violence as a legitimate means of political action and advocacy in Alameda. It’s legally permissible for 70 to say that, but it is not necessary to accept that. It’s wrong.

    Comment by Civics — February 11, 2016 @ 4:51 pm

  72. 71. Merely pointing out that the picture is never as simple as we might want it to be. Examining does not equal endorsing, but my eyes are open.

    Comment by BMac — February 11, 2016 @ 5:01 pm


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