Blogging Bayport Alameda

March 7, 2016

Total control

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

The Alameda Renters Coalition has published in easy to read PDF format the language for the ballot initiative.  For those that asked, it looks like it will take a simple majority (50%+1) in order to pass.

One of the major pieces of the proposed ballot initiative is to change the RRAC to an elected “Rental Control Board.” It looks like it will be nearly independent from the City Council, but structured a lot like the City Council with five elected members. Much like other elected boards, the members would need to be Alameda residents. Here’s the bit about the autonomy of the Rental Control Board:

Integrity and Autonomy of Board: The Board shall be an integral part of the government of the City, but shall exercise its powers and duties under this Charter independent from the City Council, City Manager, and City Attorney, except by request of the Board. The City shall provide infrastructural support on an ongoing basis as it would with any other department. During the transition period before the Board Members are elected and an Executive Director is hired, the City shall take whatever steps necessary to perform the duties of the Board and implement the purpose of this Article.

There’s no change from the funding of the operations of a beefed up Rental Control Board which will be funded by a per unit fee, however it’s structure so that the Costa Hawkins exempt units are paying less per unit which seems more equal.  Also important is that the Rental Control Board will have the authority to set its own budget without any input from the City Council or City Manager:

The City Council and the City Manager shall have no authority to oversee, supervise, or approve this budget. Upon final adoption, the budget shall be in effect for the ensuing fiscal year and the amounts stated therein shall be and become appropriated by the Board for the respective objects and purposes therein specified.

So while the City Council’s ordinance created a new million plus dollar bureaucracy, the proposed initiative would create a Charter board without real oversight by any other City entity.

More on the ordinance later.



  1. An interesting political question will be Rob Bonta’s stance on the ballot measure. What is it, other than to stand as far away from the issue as possible? I don’t think we’ve heard anything on the record from him about a ballot measure, and I’m sure it suits him not take a public position ever or, worst case, to take it later rather than sooner. Technically, that’s not abstaining a la Mr. Daysog’s recently commented-upon abstention on a single conditional use permit on Webster since Mr. Bonta’s only vote would be as a simple resident. On the other hand, most would probably agree that the rent issue is of greater import and that it must be on Mr. Bonta’s radar. If Mr. Oddie’s (who is also Mr. Bonta’s District Director) comments at the last City Council meeting reflect Mr. Bonta’s position (post-City-Council-ordinance, can’t we all get along?) does that also indicate distance between the ARC and how Mr. Bonta would like to see things proceed? It’s hard to imagine that it doesn’t, especially given that the Council-passed ordinance has some degree of acceptance (half or wholehearted) among landlords or “housing providers”, versus an electoral fight over a Berkeley-styled measure (or “Total Control” per the title to this piece) as this one appears to be.

    Comment by MP — March 7, 2016 @ 8:26 am

  2. Will the people be paid to be on the Rent Control Board? If so, how much?
    If this passes in November 2016, when would these people be elected?
    Would it be a special election?
    Would it be in June 2017? November 2017?

    Comment by A Neighbor — March 7, 2016 @ 9:04 am

  3. This is the fatal flaw in the initiative. Elections cost a lot of time and money for the candidate. This will effectively block tenants – who are already in economic crisis – from running for election, and it will give the advantage to well funded candidates (landlords, reps of leasing agencies, and their supporters – I can see Tony running for this after he is termed out).

    Comment by notadave — March 7, 2016 @ 9:48 am

  4. wow, there seem to be so many ramifications here that it warrants some deep study. makes me anxious. I was so conflicted over the hospital parcel tax I didn’t cast a vote but I am thinking I would now vote no. It’s against my principles to abstain like that but didn’t want to take responsibility for either outcome. I agree that the importance of a hospital to a community is great, but not at any cost.

    One thing to pass an ordinance with various new rules for rent stabilization, but an elected regulating board seems like real can of worms. The planning board and HAB have slots for various expertise such as architects, etc. Will there be any rules for elected RRAC such as number of positions for renters or property owners? Such requirements would seem to complicate an elected board even more.

    This seems like a classic example of pendulum swinging.

    Comment by MI — March 7, 2016 @ 9:53 am

  5. If I were King, there are elements of the ARC initiative that I would not prefer to see or go beyond what I would institute. However, given the threat to even the modest ordinance the Council just passed, the initiative begins to look more attractive than it would without any context.
    Karin Lucas, Tony Daysog and the Mom and Pop army are already gearing up to reverse the gains just now being implemented for renters. What we have is vulnerable to three votes of City Council at any moment in the future, plus the sunset provision.
    Barbara Thomas and the California Apartment Association are considering legal action against the city over the just passed ordinance.
    They are considering putting a competing measure on the ballot as well. Whether it is a full out anti rent control measure, or some soft sounding measure full of exceptions to confuse those going out to vote for rent control remains to be seen.

    Given all of those threats, the side effects of the overreaching ARC measure don’t seem like as big of a problem when faced with landlords’ potential scorched earth approach.

    Comment by BMac — March 7, 2016 @ 11:04 am

  6. It’s too extreme. You cant expect to go from zero protections to a full suit of armour in one go. Elections? Good grief!

    Comment by Denise Shelton — March 7, 2016 @ 11:27 am

  7. “civic dialogue”. I was just at Southshore and a guy was setting up a initiative table at Safeway. He shoved some thing in front of my face which has something to do with transparency in legislation, but he was just repeating “72 hours !”. I said “72 hours for what?” Right then some other jack hole walked up and started blathering that he is an engineer and so he knows the importance of blah, blah blah, but when I pressed him on what the F he was talking about he ultimately revealed he is not up to snuff on coding and so I was immediately dubious about why he even mentioned being an engineer, because it didn’t lend any credibility to his obviously wildly uninformed opinions. I think he was just high on something.

    The petition guy has a big poster on the front of his table with a photo shopped image of a group of politicians, foremost among them Rob Bonta. It calls for politicians to wear logos of all donors to their campaigns on their suits, like NASCAR sponsors. I kept looking around for David Howard in the bushes. It is not a totally serious initiative and even though I appreciate satire and get the joke, the entire environment of hyperbolic rhetoric in this primary season has me exhausted and disgusted.

    Turns out the gist of transparency initiative called for all legislation to be posted on line in full at least 72 hours before it is voted on. But the petition guy was acting like we should rush to sign his petitions because “freedom!”, when the reality is he is just hustling for $$$ like everybody.

    Comment by MI — March 7, 2016 @ 12:56 pm

  8. I’m sure that there are plenty of citizens in Alameda who understand the challenges of being a renter and understand the challenges of being a landlord in a region that refuses to build the housing that matches our robust economy.

    Comment by Angela Pallatto Hockabout — March 7, 2016 @ 1:03 pm

  9. So who has the answers to the questions in #2?

    Comment by A Neighbor — March 7, 2016 @ 1:09 pm

  10. 7. The folks that gather signatures rarely have a clue about what they are collecting for, other than the amount per signature they get paid. Last election, I walked by one of them who was in his early 20’s at the same spot in front of Safeway. I just felt like shopping, so I kept going. He shouts at me, “what’s matter, are you deaf?” As bad as it can get with the paid signature gatherers, things can get worse when the people involved actually care about the issue they are collecting signatures on, or if opposing sides show up at the same place. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen here.

    Comment by MP — March 7, 2016 @ 1:25 pm

  11. (d) Election of Board Members: Board Members shall be elected at general municipal elections in the same manner as set forth in Article XIX of this Charter, except that the first Members shall be elected at a special municipal election held within ninety (90) days of the adoption of this Article. The elected Members shall take office on the first Tuesday following their election.

    Comment by MP — March 7, 2016 @ 8:13 pm

  12. (b) Eligibility: Duly qualified electors of the City of Alameda are eligible to serve as Members of the Board. Any landlords or managers of residential rental property elected to this Board must make a showing that they are in compliance with this Article and all other local, state and federal laws regulating the provision of housing. This showing must be provided in writing with any necessary documentation and provided on the City of Alameda website.

    This one raises some interesting questions.

    Comment by MP — March 7, 2016 @ 8:16 pm

  13. #11—What’s the cost of ” a special election”?

    Comment by A Neighbor — March 7, 2016 @ 9:23 pm

  14. This is an island community of 77,000 – with about 50% of the population as renters. This ballot measure with an independent elected board is big government suitable for a metropolis – not Alameda.

    Comment by Basel — March 7, 2016 @ 9:29 pm

  15. Estimated Election Cost
    Standalone Special City Or District $12 – $15
    Standalone All VBM $7 – $9
    Countywide Consolidated $4 – $6
    *Excludes Sample Ballot Cost; Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog and Vietnamese Translation.
    Disclaimer: The above are estimates only and are subject to change.

    from the County Registrar’s website. Not sure these are the right numbers in this case

    Comment by MP — March 7, 2016 @ 9:31 pm

  16. So, about one million eight hundred thousand dollars for the special election. Then costs to set up office and hire director and staff of two, three? ‘Nother several hundred thousand dollars. Printing and processing new charter and/or just the amendment and sending it out to a couple dozen State and Federal agencies plus all the local city offices. More thousands. For a city that we all agree is barely making ends meet, that’s a lot of money to spend. Doesn’t even count the rent, supplies and personal funds candidates would spend. How does this new charter amendment plan to support itself? Don’t see a funding mechanism.

    Comment by Li_ — March 8, 2016 @ 9:48 pm

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