Blogging Bayport Alameda

March 1, 2016


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

Tonight the City Council is set to vote on the Rent “Stabilization” plans.  Confession: I still have not watched the meeting from the other night because, well, it was only uploaded five days ago and I’ve been catching up on other meeting viewing.  Anyway, according to the staff report Council continued discussion from that meeting and is now picking it up again tonight.

According to the staff report the Council will take no additional comment tonight on this topic.

But it may be that the Council actions are too little, too late for some renters out there who preemptively filed an initiative for a renters friendly ordinance.   From EB Citizen:

“We are filing this initiative so the people of Alameda can do what its City Council has been unable to do: enact a firm set of laws to stabilize our community and protect renters from greedy investors,” said Catherine Pauling, spokesperson for the Alameda Renters Coalitions.

The measure likely includes tying annual rent increases to the Consumer Price Index.

The filers will need 4000 valid signatures in order to get the initiate on the ballot, but given that this is a presidential election turnout should be much higher in general which typically bodes well for more for more progressive issues.

But in order to get a successful initiative passed the coalition will need to rely on boots on the ground who understand how to organize.  They should not be alienating natural allies at this pivotal point.

The danger has always been that if the City Council as a majority did not do enough to protect renters that the ballot initiative was always an option.  The Council as a whole perhaps should have taken these warnings more seriously rather than attempt to be “fair” to landlords when the decks had already been stacked so unfairly against renters.



  1. EB Citizen is usually all-knowing, but this time seems to be lacking some (any) key details beyond “greedy investors”. Thanks for the scoop nonetheless.

    Comment by MP — March 1, 2016 @ 6:39 am

  2. Anyone have text/terms of the initiative?

    Comment by dave — March 1, 2016 @ 7:53 am

  3. If they did file the initiative the Clerk should have it.

    Comment by Eyeroll — March 1, 2016 @ 9:22 am

  4. Given that we now act by Tweet, might an electronic version be available?

    Comment by MP — March 1, 2016 @ 9:28 am

  5. I believe they will post the text today sometime.

    They will actually need more like 6500 valid signatures, as this is a charter amendment which (I think) requires 15% of RVs, instead of just 10% for a non-charter amendment.

    Comment by BMac — March 1, 2016 @ 10:19 am

  6. You could try a public records request to the City Clerk. It’s likely you’d get it back via email within a day or two.

    Comment by John K — March 1, 2016 @ 10:24 am

  7. 6. — That sounds like the just type of response you often complain about when issued by the City

    Comment by MP — March 1, 2016 @ 10:46 am

  8. You hit the nail on the head, Lauren.

    Comment by Angela Hockabout — March 1, 2016 @ 11:08 am

  9. Here is the full text of the ordinance submitted by ARC

    Comment by Cindy — March 1, 2016 @ 11:16 am

  10. 5

    Does a charter amendment require a 2/3 majority to pass, or just a simple majority?

    Comment by dave — March 1, 2016 @ 11:47 am

  11. The relocation costs are outrageous and not at all in line with what was intially proposed. I hope this is adjusted to something more reasonable. When someone moves back into their home after renting it out, they are giving up income. They have relocation costs of their own. This assumes that everyone who rents out a house has more money than they know what to do with. This may be appropriate in some cases but not in the case of a landlord who only owns one property and seeks to reclaim it as his or her own residence.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — March 1, 2016 @ 11:59 am

  12. Just read the initiative. The drafters obviously didn’t give any thought to the Constitution or Federal and State laws. This initiative is constitutionally flawed. The only thing this initiative is going to do is get tied up in the courts for years during which time the City will have to take funding away from programs for kids, seniors and public safety in order to pay the legal fees associated with fighting this unconstitutional initative. It doesn’t appear to me that Alameda Renters Coalition really care about Alamedans otherwise they would have drafted an initiative that at least had a chance to stand up in court.

    Comment by Eyeroll — March 1, 2016 @ 12:08 pm

  13. 11. Denise, had Tony Daysog proposed a “mom and pop” exemption for relocation assistance for only owner move ins where the owner only owns 1-2 rental units, it probably would have made it into the ordinance. Instead, he proposed exempting all parcels w/ 5 units or fewer, w/ no restrictions on the type of eviction or the total number of rental properties and parcels that landlord could own.

    Also, as we have said before, in your described situation, you have a way to not have to pay relocation assistance. Since most “owner move ins” of the type you describe would involve a single family home, there is no rent control. Instead of evicting, you can just raise the rent 100%. They’ll move and clearly, justice will be served.

    Comment by BMac — March 1, 2016 @ 12:08 pm

  14. Dear Eyeroll: ‘eyeroll.’

    Comment by John K. — March 1, 2016 @ 12:16 pm

  15. I am lazy and distracted and have other priorities so I have not yet read our ordinance, but having scanned Berkeley’s ordinance I am inclined to think that the claims in 12 about courts do not apply to Berkeley and if they could I don’t understand why they haven’t been taken to court. If they have not been sued there is no reason we should be able to draft an ordinance which is impervious to law suits, or at a minimum doesn’t invite them. My main interest has to do with protecting the owner evicting tenants in order to reoccupy a prime residence, as Denise has talked about. Berkeley spelled out such an exemption which is why I’ve referenced their ordinance. While I am relieved to understand the point in 13 about how such a move can be accomplished without triggering relocation fees, I think it is stupid to draft a new ordinance and not avoid such circuitous route when it could be spelled out in one legally binding sentence. Get all the i’s dotting and t’s crossed the first time.

    Comment by MI — March 1, 2016 @ 12:57 pm

  16. Brian, just because Tony over reached and failed that is perhaps beside the point and does not excuse another council person from not taking the initiative to draft an amendment to address the issue, right? Would it require more than a strip and paste from the Berkeley document? Is there some delicate balance in current compromise which would be toppled by such an amendment?

    Comment by MI — March 1, 2016 @ 1:06 pm

  17. 16. Sure, someone else could have tried to craft the special carve out. Reasons not to could include, but not be limited to: It still isn’t fair to the tenant, it isn’t *that* much money, keep the already complicated ordinance simple, don’t want to be the one to start creating loopholes, don’t create different classes of renters, etc…

    The small-ish and medium sized landlords, in my opinion, seemed to be trying to use the very rare circumstance to justify a gaping set of exemptions that would cover many more units than the “Shelton rule.”

    Council was clearly acting w/ a machete (not a scalpel) under serious time constraints (the moratorium has been going on much longer than intended) and general governing dysfunction. Anyone who thinks inserting a minimal carve out would not take three meetings more to reach agreement is ….. optimistic.

    Comment by BMac — March 1, 2016 @ 1:51 pm

  18. 15. The Ordinance before the Council tonight would require either relocation benefits be paid, or the well orchestrated rent raise, with the proper statutory form and length of notice, then default, then 3 day notice. It looks like the draft vote draft voter initiative makes some provision for a homeowner move in without relocation, but probably not for existing leases, as it would require among other things an initial written agreement drafted to allow owner move in, that the term of the that qualifying lease be less than 12 months, etc.. Under either framework, Lawyer.

    Comment by MP — March 1, 2016 @ 2:06 pm

  19. The last ballot initiative that cleaned up the charter by eliminating certain sections only required a majority vote. Not 100% sure if that was because they were just clean up or in general it only requires a majority vote to amend the charter.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 1, 2016 @ 3:20 pm

  20. #11. Someone moving back into their own home is a choice by the landlord and one which the tenant has no control over. Relocation costs, while expensive, will be rare for the so-called good landlord. Yeah, the landlord has to pay but probably only once or twice in their lifetime. But really, the equity a homeowner makes over their lifetime is huge compared to the relocation cost. Relocation costs are intended as a benefit for the tenant for being displaced through no fault of their own. Of course the landlord won’t like it. Life isn’t fair but this brings more fairness to the relationship. Landlords are not guaranteed any particular level of profit nor protection from this type of expense.

    Comment by John K — March 1, 2016 @ 3:30 pm

  21. Tony Daysog trolled me tonight by proposing the “Shelton Rule” exemption I outlined above. The irony here is that this exemption would have applied to the unit I rent. The other three yes votes were done tinkering and had none of it, but I did worry for a millisecond that I would lose the protection of relocation assistance and I would be more vulnerable to a no fault eviction if the 5% cap resulted in my rent becoming well below market.

    That is the thing. The relocation assistance provides the only muscle to protect the rent stabilization aspect of the ordinance. Without just cause protections, or relocation assistance, the controlling rents side becomes useless.

    Comment by BMac — March 2, 2016 @ 1:52 am

  22. Will this impact people who are renting out 1 room? We only use the 4 bedrooms upstairs and have been renting out a room to a guy downstairs for 2 years. I prefer to get him out now if that is the case. I certainly don’t what to pay relocation fees. We rent to him just to help pay the property tax but it really doesn’t make a dent in it. We don’t charge him much because he is only here 3-4 days a week.

    Comment by joelsf — March 2, 2016 @ 9:39 am

  23. 22. No, you are unaffected. You may continue to do whatever the heck you want, w/in the bounds of state law.

    Comment by BMac — March 2, 2016 @ 10:11 am

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