Blogging Bayport Alameda

April 7, 2016

Saving private property rights

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

Because two possible rent related initiatives is simply not enough, I present you the third rent initiative that seeks to ban any form of rent control in the City of Alameda.

These folks were a lot more savvy than Tony Daysog and came up with the right title to get people nodding in agreement: the Alameda Homeowners and Private Property Rights Act.  I mean, seriously, who is going to vote against private property rights, amirite?

The initiative claims that any government restrictions in setting pricing for property whether it is sale or lease will be forbidden if this ordinance is passed.  In very simple terms, it’s a ban on rent control because it doesn’t allow the City to set a cap on rents.  The funny thing is that I don’t believe that this actually would affect the portion of City’s ordinance that was passed because the City’s ordinance is not a rent cap but a trigger for “approval” by the RRAC.  Since the decision by the RRAC is non binding on a certain percentage of the rental units, it would be interesting to see if that portion would survive if this initiative were to pass.

The amazing thing is that this initiative is couched on the premise that this is needed to not inhibit production of housing which the initiative acknowledges there is a shortage.  I guess it would be too much trouble for the backers of this initiative to actually go after the true culprit of housing shortages as opposed to going after rent control which — while extreme — at least protects those residents that are in danger of losing their housing.

As someone pointed out yesterday the worst thing about all these ordinances is that it seeks to amend the City Charter for these pet issues.



  1. In a more perfect world, the half of Alameda residents who rent would not have to beg the City Council for justice and then, having been denied sufficient relief, need to place a rental justice measure on the ballot.

    Of course, in that more perfect world, City Council members would be offering to strengthen the meager protections already passed instead of undercutting them….

    Comment by Jon Spangler — April 7, 2016 @ 7:58 am

    • What does the ARC initiative offer to renters of single family homes that the City ordinance does not? Remember, single family homes make up a quarter of the rental housing stock and probably an even higher % of the renting electorate. Arguably the RAC initiative puts renters of single family homes in a worse position.

      Comment by MP — April 7, 2016 @ 8:42 am

    • What about the half of Alamedans who purchase rather than lease their housing? Their costs have increased sharply as well, in percentage terms perhaps more than rentals. Yet there is no cri de couer for their interests. Why not?

      Comment by dave — April 7, 2016 @ 8:52 am

      • Exactly! I am a single family home owner (not a mom and pop landlord). I have been following this issue closely and the level of entitlement is laughable. The Alameda County Tax Collector, ACI, EB Mud, Alameda Power, PG&E, Comcast, and State Farm, all raise their rates each year. These costs are absorbed by the property owner and rarely passed on to the renter. If a government agency (City of Alameda) can step in and cap the amount of money homeowners can earn on their property investment, then they should also be held responsible for regulating the rates these companies charge homeowners. If you think it is silly for the Mayor to cap Alameda Power’s rates or EB Mud’s rates, then you should also find it silly that they now want the power to cap the rate of the private homeowner.

        Comment by Jason — April 7, 2016 @ 9:28 am

        • Tax Collector is regulated by Prop 13.

          Alameda Power, PG&E, Comcast, (and maybe ACI? Not sure) are regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission.

          State Farm is regulated by the California Department of Insurance.

          Maybe you should acknowledge all this government regulation in homeowners’ favor before throwing out accusations of entitlement.

          “If you think it is silly for the Mayor to cap Alameda Power’s rates or EB Mud’s rates”

          This is a silly statement because Alameda Power is in fact a Public Utility with a Board appointed by the Mayor with the concurrence of the City Council.

          Comment by brock — April 7, 2016 @ 9:54 am

        • Prices for new home buyers have skyrocketed the last few years. If renters who by dint of simply wanting to live here are entitled to a price break, why are the other 45% not?

          Simple. Because everyone knows a transaction has 2 sides, a buyer and a seller and they also know it would insanely unjust to take homeowners’ property like that & force them to sell below market.

          But why is it OK to do exactly that to an apartment owner?

          Comment by dave — April 7, 2016 @ 9:58 am

        • PUC doesn’t regulate publicly owned power companies like AMP. The reason it regulates prices on privately owned power companies like PG&E is that where they operate, (including PG&E gas in Alameda) they are monopolies. There is no monopoly landowner in Alameda. Yet.

          Comment by MP — April 7, 2016 @ 10:09 am

        • Brock. You missed my point. The regulators are not effectively working to protect us (the homeowner) from outrageous rate hikes. Thus, the increased cost in homeownership. If the cost of owning and maintaining a rental property increases, then the rent should increase proportionally. Unless you feel the renter is entitled to make money off of the landlord…

          Comment by Jason — April 7, 2016 @ 10:31 am

        • Or, landlords should just stop maintaining properties, defer mantenance, and recoup a little return on their investment. Hey, it’s only fair.

          Comment by Jason — April 7, 2016 @ 10:38 am

      • Don’t worry dave. Many of of are trying to bring down the cost of homeownership too! I fully support your right to add an accessory dwelling unit to your lot to promote workforce housing, reduce your costs of ownership and do so w/out outdated parking and lot size requirements.

        I also support upzoning portions of the island to allow more homes to be constructed to alleviate pressure on the market for those wishing to purchase a home in Alameda (and thereby become full citizens thereof) that can’t quite afford it just now.

        Comment by BMac — April 7, 2016 @ 10:12 am

  2. Interesting side note: Marilyn Schumacher, one of the signatories, is a real estate agent in Alameda. At the November 4, 2015, council meeting where the landlords et al packed the council chambers, 25 people ceded their speaking time to Schumacher, including 18 real estate agents. This, despite the claims, lies really, that there was no plan to pack the meeting. Hilarious.

    Comment by John K — April 7, 2016 @ 8:32 am

    • There was certainly a plan for renters to pack the meeting. Why is one right & the other wrong?

      Comment by dave — April 7, 2016 @ 8:50 am

      • People should never lie.

        Comment by John K — April 7, 2016 @ 12:34 pm

        • They shouldn’t steal either.

          Comment by dave — April 7, 2016 @ 12:36 pm

  3. Where is the clause in this charter amendment proposal that requires all properties to be painted with giant commas and assorted swirls? C’mon Mr. Matin, share your vision!

    I particularly like the part of the ordinance that says: “Heads I win, tails you lose.” If they get the most votes, every other petition is null and void. If they don’t, they still want their initiative to take effect (as much as possible).

    Comment by BMac — April 7, 2016 @ 10:15 am

  4. These initiatives are creating a hot mess for November, if they qualify for the ballot. The AUSD wants their parcel tax, the City of Alameda wants to raise the Utility Tax, the environmentalist wants a parcel tax for Bay Restoration, and BART wants their bond measures. The cost of home ownership is just going to rise.

    Comment by Cindy — April 7, 2016 @ 10:18 am

    • My understanding is there is a practical deadline for submitting signatures for November that is rapidly approaching. The renters have a small army of signature gatherers and will be lucky to get it done in time. I seriously doubt the landlords are going to drop the massive money required to get this done in a matter of a few weeks.

      More likely, if they are smart, they are hoping to get something qualified for the next election. A presidential election is the most favorable electorate for a rent control initiative. A primary or general election in an odd numbered year would be the perfect time to sneak a landlord friendly initiative passed the masses.

      Comment by BMac — April 7, 2016 @ 10:27 am

    • Just incredible. If all of these tax hikes are on the November ballot at once, there is a high probability of high voter turnout and low support for any of them,

      Comment by Jason — April 7, 2016 @ 10:27 am

  5. So in a nut shell , many owners were willing to have a temporary solution to a temporary problem . What ARC did was like North Korea testing a nuclear bomb. ARC went to such extremes that your typical owner/renter could no longer identify with it. It caused Housing Providers to quickly defend there property rights. The ARC measure is partially about rent caps , it’s mostly about taking the ability to manage your building from the owner and giving it to the renter. Most of us live within a block of an apartment building , currently if someone who is not your renter , maybe a guest act in a non Alamedan way the remedy is accessible . With ARC’s relinquishing your property rights initiative that person whom you know nothing about ( credit, job, finances, Megan’s Law ) could be your new tenant ! And you have no say and they enjoy the former tenants rent basis? That’s just one example.

    John K. Are you not getting signatures because you have to be a registered voter in Alameda?

    Comment by Ted — April 7, 2016 @ 12:25 pm

    • You don’t have to be registered to Vote in Alameda to collect signatures.

      Comment by frank — April 7, 2016 @ 5:41 pm

      • I bet your right .

        Comment by Ted — April 7, 2016 @ 6:31 pm

  6. W

    Comment by Ted — April 7, 2016 @ 12:49 pm

    • P

      Comment by John K — April 7, 2016 @ 4:33 pm

      • OMG! You are flirting with me because you think I’m Doug.

        Comment by Ted — April 7, 2016 @ 4:39 pm

  7. Lauren,

    Ordinance is binding , adjudicated by a professional arbitrator . Housing is about to be like the DMV if the government gets involved.

    Comment by Ted — April 7, 2016 @ 12:55 pm

  8. Apartment market is softening. Article specifically cites SF:

    Comment by dave — April 8, 2016 @ 9:47 am

  9. One of the fallouts from the housing bubble bursting: a generation who will be renters instead homeowners for years to come.

    Comment by Mike McMahon — April 8, 2016 @ 9:00 pm

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