Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 27, 2016

Keep your friends close

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

The Renters Coalition has done it, they successfully submitted almost 8000 signatures to get their Rent Control measure on the ballot.  From Alameda Magazine (which apparently at Robert Gammon at the helm is trying to really up the amount of daily content which is always a good thing):

The group initially tabbed the number of signatures at 8,057. However, the city clerk’s office later pegged the preliminary number at 7,882.

The figure is slightly below the 25 percent additional signatures recommended to ensure a minimum number is validated. Members of the renters’ group said they are comfortable with the number since they had already eliminated a number of clearly invalid signatures—for instance, entries listing non-Alameda addresses.

The rent control measure backed by tenants would cap annual rent increases in Alameda to no greater than 65 percent of the rate of inflation. It would also prohibit no-cause evictions, but provide landlords with recourse to evict bad tenants.

And something that has been discussed in the comments section in another blog post:

Eric Strimling, communications director for the group, said the next step is to vet potential city council candidates for possible endorsement while focusing on a get-out-the-vote effort for the fall. Early indications are the renters group favors council candidate Malia Vella, who has in the past spoken in favor of greater rent protections. No official endorsement has been made, though. Strimling said the group is also debating whether to support Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, who is one of two incumbents, along with Daysog, up for re-election this year.

“There is a real question among the group whether we are going to support” Ashcraft, Strimling said. “She has been somewhat tepid, sometimes very supportive.” However, Strimling credits Ashcraft for helping pass the rent stabilization ordinance in March. It’s an ordinance that ARC believes contains nowhere near enough tenant protections, but is “light years from where we were a year ago,” said Strimling.

I think it would be a mistake for ARC to not endorse someone or two someones.  The ballot measure may fail or get watered down by future City Councils, the only way to  ensure that your agenda is maintained is by ensuring that there is a friendly face or two on the City Council.


  1. As I was reading this, I was thinking about the ways that a future Council might “water down” the initiative if it passes? My first thought was, well, generally speaking, it couldn’t because a City Charter provision, which is what the initiative would enact, can only repealed or amended in the manner in which it may be adopted in the first place, namely by a majority vote of the electorate, not a vote by the City Council. In other words, try as it might to modify provisions of the initiative if it is enacted as a Charter provision, including those parts of it that seem to raise (needlessly) constitutional questions, such as the sections setting qualifications for election to the Rent Board — and even if for no other reason than to avoid the expense of defending the most dubious sections such as that one that — the City Council would not have the power to do so. As far as I can tell, the only way to “water down”, i.e. modify, fine tune, update, etc., the initiative if it becomes part of the Charter, is to go through the same process that is occurring now, ie. another election. Those who would seek to modify it (whether to make it more or less “strict”, to use a rough term, or to make minor adjustments) might approach a Councilmember with their concerns, but the response will likely be expressed sympathy, but that there is “nothing I can do about it. We have no oversight authority over this subject matter.”

    Comment by MP — May 27, 2016 @ 7:37 am

    • The City Council, unlike citizens, can opt to place “clean up” language on the ballot without going through the signature gathering process. That is a huge leg up that having friends on the Council can ensure doesn’t happen.

      Comment by Lauren Do — May 27, 2016 @ 8:11 am

  2. I signed the petition and hope it qualifies for the ballot. The landlords failed to offer any substantial assistance to tenants when their rents shot up by 20 to 35 per cent each year, even when we renters and ARC members asked repeatedly for a partnership between renters and landlords to develop a rent stabilization ordinance collaboratively in 2014-2015.

    It troubles me deeply that some sitting council members who seemed quite supportive of ARC’s cause when ARC representatives met with them last year failed to stand up for justice for tenants as well as support community stability–and community destabilization is a major risk to Alameda’s workplaces, schools, and social fabric.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — May 27, 2016 @ 7:46 am

    • While the process was sloppy, the city ordinance is exactly what you say you want: a rents stabilization ordinance that was created collaboratively, ie by CC hearing both sides. You got what you wanted but now you’re asking for the world.

      Comment by dave — May 27, 2016 @ 8:45 am

  3. A minor point, directed to quoted material in the piece, is the statement by the initiative proponent that the initiative “would also prohibit no-cause evictions, but provide landlords with recourse to evict bad tenants.” It is understood why rent control measures, including the City’s existing ordinance, have good cause provisions. But as a matter of fact, I don’t understand that the initiative “provides” any recourse to evict bad tenants. The initiative would extinguish the “recourse” of not renewing the lease of a “bad tenant” — something the current City rent ordinance also does — but does not appear to “provide” any “recourse” (such as, for example, the ability to raise a breach of the lease or nuisance created by a bad tenant in front of the proposed Rent Board as grounds for an eviction order). Rather, it leaves the landlord to her remaining, already existing recourse under state law of suing in court for breach or nuisance. That is not really “providing” recourse (for the landlord or the “bad tenant”‘s neighbors). It is more like not attempting to take away a separate, but expensive and unlikely to be much used, recourse under state law.

    On the bright side, (and this applies whether the City ordinance or the initiative governs) there are relatively few “bad tenants” and therefore few unfortunate landlords faced with those expenses and few neighbors of the “bad tenants” waiting until the landlord decides incur them.

    Comment by MP — May 27, 2016 @ 9:24 am

    • If you think any landlord is going to jury trial because your fellow renter is bothering you somehow , your an idiot! Of course I’ll spend thousands of dollars to make your life happier LMFAO!!!!


      Comment by Master Blaster — May 27, 2016 @ 12:44 pm

  4. Next thing we have to do is cap the out-of-control real estate prices for homes in Alameda. Probably the best way would be to mirror the renters coalition and support a Buyer Coalition which would cap real estate price increases to a percentage of average wage increases and disallow non-citizen purchases.

    House next door recently sold to Chinese investors (who realize the yuan is basically worthless) and sold at 40% over the asking price which was 850K. American wage earners cannot compete in the housing market with-off shore government conglomerates.

    Comment by jack — May 27, 2016 @ 9:42 am

  5. Absolutely !!!!! Let the Alameda Homebuyers Coaltiin be conceived right here. There has to be a way to limit their capital gains!!!! How else can I buy a house. I make $75,000 a year and have to rent . There should be a way to take from their gains and have a down payment program.

    Comment by Renter for life. ( Jackie ) — May 27, 2016 @ 12:19 pm

  6. Nobody who already owns a home wants the prices to go down. Good luck convicing them to support a limit on capital gains. After the recession trashed their 401ks and IRAS or blew out their pensions, a lot of people base their retirement plan on selling their house. People can expect to live a lot longer and senior living facilities and nursing homes cost more than you might think. Every Alameda homeowner I know wants to get as much as possible when they sell. It might look like greed to you but if it keeps me from having to live on cat food when i’m 80, I’m all for it.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — May 27, 2016 @ 1:14 pm

  7. And nobody who rents a home wants their rents to go up. Of course the owners won’t be convinced to limit their capital gains. That’s not the issue. Why should property owners reap the benefits for their retirement on the backs of the struggling wage earners who cannot afford the outrageously inflated prices of Alameda real estate.

    It may not look like greed for property owners but do they think cat food is fine for the proletariat but caviar is the owner’s due.

    Comment by Jack — May 27, 2016 @ 8:22 pm

  8. The ARC measure calls for rent increases of no more than 65% of the CPI (about 2% annually) and that is not sustainable for landlords who have to bear expanses to make improvements and pay for maintenance on top of paying taxes, water and other expenses such as waste removal. A new parcel tax or school tax? Forget it! The 2% will not cover any of that extra expense. Many landlords who have not raised rent every year until now will have to start annual raises just to meet basic expenses. This year before the elections, renters should expect that their rents will be raised the currently allowed 5% and will likely see a 2% raise every year if the ARC measure is successful. Owning rentals will no longer be an attractive venture so ultimately renters can expect less housing units available to them and what is, will be less desirable. People will stay in their apartments longer so there will be less turnover. Every way you look at this, every one loses. I will harp on this until election day.

    Comment by Nancy Hird — May 27, 2016 @ 8:49 pm

    • So you’re against building more housing, and against holding down rents. You favor neither the market approach (let people develop their land to satisfy demand) nor the intervention in markets to address the consequences of blocking markets. Do you not care a whit about the problem of affordable housing, or do you simply not understand even very basic economics? If you’re going to harp on about this, please invest a little effort in thinking of a solution, or at least be honest and say you don’t give a damn about the affordability of housing.

      Comment by BC — May 29, 2016 @ 4:17 pm

  9. Essentially what the ARC measure does (as is anything the city does towards depriving property owners the right to use their property as the owner of that property sees fit without being properly compensated) is in clear conflict with the “taking” clause of the fifth amendment which is based on common law, “nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation”. “Property rights” in the Constitution are no different from the 1st amendment rights to free speech, in that curtailing free speech or stipulating that speech can not be controlled by an outside entity, A city council or a voter initiative to limit the first amendment is clearly is the taking of individual property rights.

    As James Madison stated in his essay on property: “as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.”(5) Take one of those rights—one of those sticks in the “bundle of sticks” we call “property”—and you take something that belongs to the owner. Under the Fifth Amendment, compensation is due to that owner.

    Comment by jack — May 28, 2016 @ 10:04 am

    • Jack, you may be right but Where were you when the City of Alameda stole my Ford pickup truck right out of my driveway [in violation of Alameda municode 4.25-2, as well] ? I tried that argument, without a lawyer. City did not care and did not pay compensation. The value of the truck would not justify a lawyer taking my case. To this day, I am still getting the annual registration renewals on it, seven years after the fact.

      Comment by vigi — May 28, 2016 @ 1:04 pm

      • Your an idiot. Trying to make a point with you is pointless.
        Somehow I think it’s everybody else’s fault, it’s never yours.

        Comment by Master Blaster — May 28, 2016 @ 2:28 pm

        • Probably working on my Chevy in my driveway.

          Comment by Jack — May 28, 2016 @ 6:13 pm

      • This new format confuses older folks. My Chevy comment was directed at Vigi

        Comment by Jack — May 28, 2016 @ 6:49 pm

  10. Vigi,

    There is a reason why you never sit at the same table as me . Your so stupid , I hate that we breath the same air.
    Now go feel the Bern! Lol

    Comment by Master blaster — May 28, 2016 @ 2:31 pm

    • If Bernie Sanders doesn’t get the Democratic nomination, he should run as a third party candidate.

      Comment by vigi — May 31, 2016 @ 9:15 am

      • A guy named Ralph Nader had that idea in 2000

        Comment by MP — May 31, 2016 @ 10:03 am

  11. If ARC gets its way, what happens when a renter wants to move into an apartment that had been under rent control and then was voluntarily vacated?
    Will the owner be able to raise the rent to the market value for the new renter?

    Comment by A Neighbor — May 29, 2016 @ 4:06 pm

    • “Vacancy decontrol” is enshrined in state law through Costa Hawkins.

      Comment by BMac — May 29, 2016 @ 8:02 pm

  12. Trump may be an asshole but I’d vote for him before any social progressive dipshit who causes any Neighbor who has to ask permission from a “higher order” to raise rent to market rates.

    Comment by Jack — May 29, 2016 @ 7:31 pm

  13. I’m a landlord of a duplex unit; I have tenants that pay well below market rate, I average a 1-2% increase ever 18 months or so. I bought the house only 6 years ago and took on a large mortgage. I just began covering the mortgage and expenses during periods where I rent both units, with no extra money going towards capital improvements. I’m far from the ‘greedy landlord’ that people on here like to believe we all are. I have several improvement projects that I need to take on that I won’t be able to reasonably or easily pass the cost on. I would be spending my retirement savings to take on these projects so that renters can enjoy them with no additional cost to them. And, as much as I would like to, I can’t afford to subsidize other people’s rent, which will continue to happen, given the limited 65% cap. I’ve now lost the opportunity to raise rent to a workable amount for me. If the renter’s coalition proposition passes (I expect it will), I’ll need to turn the home back into a single family home and sell it. And then, we all lose. Those that rent, you may see gain, but it’s coming at the expense of people like me, who rarely raised our rents, are well below market, and genuinely care about our tenants. For those landlords that bought their homes recently, as I did, it simply wont be financially viable to continue renting. We counted on being able to raise our rents more than the 65% cap.

    Comment by Brian Keith — May 29, 2016 @ 9:28 pm

    • Well, son, back in 1980 I invested a lot of money “counting” on oil to reach $100 a barrel. And it did, and I made more money than you would believe — a ridiculous sum of capital-gains-free cash with which I bought my first yacht. It was only a 32′ Drettman but the parties we had on her were the stories of legends. But the moral of this story is that all investments have risk, Brian; and when you converted your house to rental units one of the risks you took on was that a bunch of poor tech millennials would push through a rent control measure. And now they are. I feel no pity for you Brian Keith, only a distant sense of interest in a story that I will tell my children.

      Comment by Rodney — May 30, 2016 @ 10:31 am

      • Of course 6 years ago, rent control wasn’t even a whisper and seemed implausible in Alameda. Nonetheless, the basis of my point is to call out that not all landlords are ‘greedy’ which is often the prevailing theme in this blog, and that some of us are now getting stuck in an unsustainable position of subsidizing rent for others. Enjoy your ‘yacht’, Rodney!

        Comment by Brian Keith — May 30, 2016 @ 11:17 am

    • Brian, you obviously don’t understand social justice. More justice requires more isolated sacrifice, like yours and perhaps your tenants’. So be it if pushing rent controls below inflation leads to economic decisions to reconvert duplexes back to single family houses for sale. So be it if it places that much more upward pressure on the 25%+ of rentals that are single family houses, condos and units built in the last 20 years (whose rents are not controlled under the ARC initiative; so be it also if the ARC initiative eliminates new unit, SFR and condo renters’ ability to go to the RRAC committee). Down with mention of these consequences and with the moderate solutions of the corrupt City Council!!

      Comment by MP — May 30, 2016 @ 11:54 am

      • In the end, I think you’re going to see ‘social justice’ come back to bite the renters in Alameda, MP. It’s working so well in San Francisco, right? So be it.

        Comment by Brian Keith — May 30, 2016 @ 5:55 pm

  14. sorry MP, but our city council may be many things to many people but they just are not “corrupt”, whether I like any or all of them they just are not corrupt.

    Comment by John P. — May 30, 2016 @ 3:17 pm

    • Rest assured John P., the “corrupt City Council” line was written in jest and I don’t believe it. Like it or not, I think the Council came up with a compromise that sought not just to balance preferences among the electorate, but also to avoid the likely consequences and unfortunate outcomes that the Berkeley-styled ARC initiative would produce, some of them mentioned above.

      At the meeting where the Council voted for the current ordinance, a speaker for a group called “Tenants Together” urged the Council to vote against that ordinance because, according to them, “neither side” liked the ordinance. Perhaps they felt that without enactment a rent control ordinance it would be easier to sell the ARC initiative, i.e. by allowing them to argue that the city was not responding to the current situation. Perhaps they don’t want there to be room to argue that the city has a moderate rent control ordinance and some time should be allowed pass before it is declared a failure. If the more extreme ARC initiative with its independent Rent Board has negative consequences for certain renters, well, so be it.

      Comment by MP — May 30, 2016 @ 4:13 pm

  15. The ARC plan is seriously flawed. Thank you, MP, for pointing out some of the ways rent control backfires.

    Comment by A Neighbor — May 30, 2016 @ 9:23 pm

  16. I what percentage of ARC supporters have marijuana marijuana club card for their anxiety or sleep issues? Entitled little children. Let’s take your Messiah John Kline,
    He tried to change the fabric of this town and it was maybe a pit stop for him. You are all like the comic book guy on the Simpsons , lots of useless information that does nothing but make you feel productive .


    Let’s talk about your finances instead of trying to take mine.
    If you want affordable housing , push for it on the base you idiots.

    Comment by Master Blaster — May 31, 2016 @ 6:12 am

  17. Reading the ARC initiative, on page 2 (of 20) in Sec.2 Findings:

    (g) According to Real-Answers (Third Quarter, 2015), the average monthly rent for market rate units of apartment buildings with fifty or more units in the City of Alameda has increased by 52% between 2011 and 2015.

    (h) According to Real Facts (March 20, 2015), the monthly rent and occupancy rates of market rate units in apartment buildings of fifty or more units in the city have increased every year since 2010; the average asking rent of market-rate rental units has increased by 24.3% between 2010 and 2014.

    Questions/comments for the people who wrote this initiative:
    1) Where can we find more info from “Real-Answers” and where can we find more info from “RealFacts”?

    2) It seems that in (g) the increase averaged 8.5% a year.
    3) It seems that in (h) the increase averaged less than 5% a year.

    If anyone who helped write this ARC initiative will respond, it would be helpful in understanding the thousands of words in this initiative.

    Thank you.

    Comment by A Neighbor — May 31, 2016 @ 8:59 am

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