Blogging Bayport Alameda

August 17, 2016

Some of us…

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

In a special meeting last week the City Council, because they couldn’t vote to place the landlord’s ordinance on the ballot, decided to vote to place the City Council’s rent stabilization ordinance on the ballot. Because, well, because.

The vote and discussion was one of the more stranger ones because the City Council member who did not vote for the Council’s rent stabilization ordinance in the first place was the swing vote to place the ordinance on November’s ballot.  The reasoning did not make a whole lot of sense, but Frank Matarrese ended up being the third vote in a 3 – 2 vote to place the Council’s ordinance on the ballot.

The vote was split with Tony Daysog and Trish Spencer on one side and Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft and Jim Oddie on the other.  That split was probably surprising since Jim Oddie has been a fairly outspoken proponent of the City Council’s “compromise” ordinance.

But here’s where the meeting went a bit awry.  One of things the Council has to decide after it votes to place something on the ballot is to determine if the Council wants to write a statement and who actually is going to do it.  Naturally Trish Spencer volunteered to write the statement for the Council initiative because she’s so good at writing arguments both for and against ballot initiatives.  That was sarcasm if you didn’t pick it up.

Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft protested right away pointing out the very problematic statements already written by Trish Spencer which should preclude her from writing this particular statement.

Since Frank Matarrese and Tony Daysog already wrote the ballot argument in favor of the UMA Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft and Jim Oddie were drafted into writing this ballot argument.  Trish Spencer disagreed immediately and thought it was odd that the two people who voted against placing the ordinance on the ballot should be the ones to write the ballot argument.

This response from Jim Oddie was the perfect one considering that, indeed it is the role of individual City Council members to support the majority vote even if they were not in the majority making a very pointed dig at Trish Spencer’s lack of support for the UMA.  And, seriously “lack of support” is being generous because it implies that Trish Spencer is simply being neutral when what Trish Spencer is doing is openly opposing the UMA publicly using very curious and damaging language to wage open war against City staff.

Anyway, here it is, the ideal blend of passive aggressive censure:


  1. No, the weird part of the discussion was when Jum Oddie threw up his hands and declared this nothing but a dispute between the ARC and the CAA and that his or the City’s as a whole interest in the matter is secondary at this point. Mmm. And yet he jumped up to write the ballot argument. I read somewhere that his (I guess you can’t say boss because he doesn’t take directions from him while sitting on the Council) Rob Bonta endorsed the ARC initiative.

    Comment by MP — August 17, 2016 @ 7:41 am

    • Jim

      Comment by MP — August 17, 2016 @ 8:40 am

  2. I wish our City Council had left well enough alone instead of muddying the waters and placing their ineffective measure on the November ballot. Our elected officials have already caused renters enough dislocation, disruption, pain, and grief by ignoring renters’ most basic need–to cap the egregious (10-35% per annum) rent increases at something closer to the (less than 2% per year) Consumer Price Index than at 5%. Instead, they insisted on continuing to dig Alameda renters into an ever-deeper financial hole while helping out the greediest of landlords. (And they called helping out landlords over renters “justice”?!?!)

    When I spoke with a Mountain View City Council member last week, he mentioned having reviewed the City Council’s proposed ballot measure prior to the MV City Council’s decision to do something similar. Their City Attorney advised the MV CC to not follow Alameda’s example and attempt to overturn a proposed City Charter amendment (the ARC measure) with an ordinance (the Alameda City Council’s “alternative” to the ARC’s initiative measure). What does that tell us about the Alameda City Council’s measure?

    To date, our City Council has clearly demonstrated its inability to treat renters’ concerns fairly–or to adequately protect the health, safety, and welfare of the 55% of Alamedans who live in rental housing. I wish they would just stop trying to “help” us….

    Comment by Jon Spangler — August 18, 2016 @ 7:40 am

    • A couple of questions about your numbers:

      1) You charge the City Council with “ignoring renters’ most basic need–to cap the egregious (10-35% per annum) rent increases at something closer to the (less than 2% per year) Consumer Price Index than at 5%.” Doesn’t the City’s 5% cap also stop 10-35% per annum increases? Is it excessive or greedy for a property owner (who may have less income than the tenant) to raise someone’s rent more than a fraction of normal inflation?

      2) You charge the City Council with “clearly” demonstrating an “inability to treat renters’ concerns fairly or to adequately protect the health, safety, and welfare of the 55% of Alamedans who live in rental housing”. Where does the 55% number come from and what is its significance to your argument? 20-25% of the rental units in Alameda (houses, condo units, post-1995 apartment units) would not be covered by the rent control provisions of the ARC measure. The ARC measure would also strip those renters of a right to a rent increase hearing / mediation before the City Council-created RRAC, which would be dissolved if the ARC measure passes.

      Comment by MP — August 18, 2016 @ 9:06 am

      • 1) In some ways the 5% threshold at which rent increases *must* go to the still-toothless Rent Review and Advisory Committee (RRAC)slows the most egregious rent increases but only the ARC’s ballot measure actually implements rent increases that make sense to renters on fixed incomes. (This group included retirees, those dependent on SSI, and most workers, since the greatest percentage of wage earners not receive yearly increases even approaching 5%.)

        The City Council waited far too long before acting and, when it acted, it bent over backwards to avoid upsetting the (in)famous “mom and pop” landlords of Alameda, many of whom were–consciously or otherwise–carrying water politically for the big real estate investment corporations that were responsible for the most outrageous increases (at some complexes, successive rent increases of 25 to 35 per cent were implemented before the City Council finally took its half-baked measures.

        2) According to recent statistics, over half of Alameda’s residents live in rental housing. The roughly 50-50 split (+/-10 percent) been true for many years. See:

        Click to access 2_-housing-element-background-report_cc_approved_reduced.pdf–2023

        The ARC measure may not be perfect but it was created out of the desperation we experienced when the City Council seemed to all but abandon us to the wolves running the so-called “free” market. Very few markets and products are as un-regulated and under-regulated as the price of housing in the USA, which leaves renters almost defenseless and powerless in any “negotiation.” Land owners still hold all the cards in the stacked deck of landlord-tenant negotiations and pricing…

        Comment by Jon Spangler — August 18, 2016 @ 10:47 am

        • I’m not challenging the roughly 55% figure itself. I didn’t frame it very clearly, but what I am questioning is the use of that statistic in arguments favoring the ARC measure. The rent control provisions of the ARC measure would cover significantly less (I assume) than 55% of residents. I assume this because some 20-25% of the rental housing stock in the City is of the type – houses, condo units and newer apartments – that would not be covered by the rent control provisions of the ARC measure. I am assuming that, per unit, those units house approximately as many people as the older apartment units that would be covered by the rent control provisions of the ARC measure. So while it is true that 55% of residents live in rental units, significantly less than that (I assume) would be covered by ARC rent control. Moreover, renters of units not covered by ARC rent control may be particularly disadvantaged if the ARC measure passes and removes their ability to appeal to the RRAC and if it results in upward pressure on rents in those non-covered units.

          Comment by MP — August 18, 2016 @ 12:11 pm

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