Blogging Bayport Alameda

November 28, 2016

Not enough

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

The Alameda Renters Coalition have a petition requesting that the City Council, much like last year, pass a moratorium during the holidays to stop evictions.

The City Manager responded with this, very long, letter:

The Alameda Renters Coalition petition to stop holiday evictions by passing a moratorium has been shared with City Council and staff. We understand you are asking the City Council to adopt a 90-day urgency ordinance by December 6 prohibiting no cause and no fault evictions over the winter holidays, but there are several reasons why staff cannot put it on the agenda. While you noted that this emergency moratorium is necessary to preserve the public peace, health, and safety of the community and to prevent further evictions and displacement of tenants, we have to ensure that any item the Council is asked to consider is legally defensible and fair to all perspectives.

For the last year, City staff has been working to find solutions to the rent crisis in Alameda. Last November 5, 2015, the City Council adopted Ordinance 3140, an urgency ordinance, imposing within the City a temporary moratorium for 65-days on rent increases of 8% or more and an eviction moratorium, prohibiting any action to terminate a tenancy except for “just cause.”

That urgency ordinance was set to expire on January 9, 2016, and was put into place as the City Council continued to work with staff and the community on measures the City could take to prevent the displacement of tenants. When it became clear that the City would not have a program in place by January 9, 2016, the City Council extended the eviction moratorium two more times to March 9, 2016.

On February 16, 2016 a draft Ordinance concerning rent stabilization, limiting evictions, and other tenant protection measures was presented to the City Council.

On March 1, 2016 the City Council adopted Ordinance 3148, finding that without the Ordinance, the public peace, health, and safety would be threatened because 1) landlords would have an immediate incentive to increase rents, 2) landlords would have an immediate incentive to serve termination of tenancy without cause notices, and 3) because tenants who are displaced through no fault of their own may not have the financial wherewithal to pay relocation costs and moving expenses.

Today, Ordinance 3148 is working to 1) limit rent increases by requiring mediation for all residential rent increases above 5%, 2) limit terminations of tenancy without cause and discourage landlords from evicting tenants to increase rents, and 3) provide substantial relocation fees and moving expenses.

When the City Council adopted a temporary eviction moratorium on November 5, 2015, Ordinance 3148 was not in place. In light of the protections offered to renters in Ordinance 3148, the City does not believe there are adequate legal grounds for staff to present an emergency eviction moratorium to the City Council.

Since the City’s Ordinance went into effect in April, with data through September, there have been a total of 20 terminations of tenancy without cause that were noticed to the Housing Authority. Of those, three were found invalid and stopped. Therefore, over six months, there were a total of 17 terminations of tenancy without cause in Alameda, requiring relocation benefits be paid to the tenant. While we understand the very real hardship these terminations cause Alameda residents and families, the data we have does not provide overwhelming evidence of widespread displacement supporting a serious health and safety issue.

City staff will present possible amendments to the City’s Ordinance in the coming months as we continue to receive data and hear feedback on the program as part of the required annual review. Alameda renters are vital to this discussion. While City staff continues to work diligently to ensure the City’s Ordinance 3148 is implemented and enforced, we need Alameda renters to work with the Alameda Rent Program to ensure all evictions and rent increases are properly documented so we can best assist you. Please contact the Alameda Rent Program at (510) 747-4346 or email rrac@alamedahsg.org if you have received a rent increase or termination notice. The Rent Program will work with parties to correct deficiencies that are in violation of the City Ordinance, and to ensure tenants receive proper relocation benefits. Housing Authority staff have held weekly informational workshops to answer questions and address concerns. You can register for one of the upcoming workshops here: http://www.alamedarentprogram.org/informational-workshops.

We look forward to working with the Alameda Renters Coalition over the next few months to consider amendments to Ordinance 3148 for the City of Alameda.

The TL;dr is not enough people have been displaced by eviction so there’s no justification for a moratorium.

Naturally the opinion of the City Manager is, just that, an opinion.  If there is a sufficient number of votes on the City Council to make a moratorium happen the City Council could direct the City Manager to craft another emergency ordinance.

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2 Comments »

  1. The other TL;dr is that the law effectively limits most rent increases to 5%, substantially curtails property owners’ rights and provides for thousands of dollars in ransom payments should an owner choose to exercise rights.

    Comment by dave — November 28, 2016 @ 6:14 am

  2. I have zero problems with where staff is at right now. ARC can continue to suggest that the policy of the City should be to ban no cause evictions, but, there just isn’t legal or political ground to say an emergency moratorium is merited. The over/under on how many votes a moratorium would get if put before the NEW council is 0.5.

    Time to think strategically, take advantage of the progressive(ish) governing majority, and start hammering out potential revisions to 3148/L1. I would push for a real cap, preferably tied to CPI. In order to get a real cap of CPI or CPI+1, ARC will probably have to “give up” something. I think a narrowly crafted “Mom & Pop” provision is the way to go. Many homeowners and folks w/ 1-2 units are sympathetic to ARC’s cause but worried about limiting their own options. SFH owners and onsite landlords w/ 1-2 rental units on the property they live on should be able to trade some portion of relocation payments for longer notice of a no cause eviction. This will alleviate a lot of sympathetic residents’ concerns, not actually affect a large number of people, and provide enough cover to strengthen the ordinance for the vast majority of renters. The irony of Daysog’s replacement being the one to get protection for “small mom and pop landlords” will just be gravy.

    Comment by BMac — November 28, 2016 @ 12:40 pm


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