Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 18, 2017

Gif cause

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

Folks, on Tuesday night the #alamtg twitter folks had their gif game on.  Oh and the majority of the City Council approved just cause protections.  But first, highlights from twitter:

I just started watching the video, but started from the Council comments first so I haven’t actually watched the public comment.

Jim Oddie’s comments can be boiled down to: landlords keep saying to allow the process to work, but here we are a year later and the residents at 470 Central are still in fear of their housing.  We’re trying to protect people, not punish people.

Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft’s comment can be summed up as:  we, as a City, want to protect our most vulnerable.  Landlords once wanted to undo Council’s ordinance and now says it’s working, perhaps give this new ordinance a chance as well.  If some landlords are willing to threaten City Councilmembers in a open forum, what must some tenants go through privately?  Ordinance will be to protect from unscrupulous landlords.

Malia Vella’s comment are summarized thus: a lot of the “bad tenant” scenarios wouldn’t be protected under just cause.  No one has made a compelling argument about why 470 Central’s owners are justified in continuing to attempt to evict their residents and law allows this to continue to happen.

Both Trish Spencer and Frank Matarrese honed in on the “we’ll take our rental units off the market if just cause is to pass” wringing their hands over the possible reduction in supply.  Here’s the thing though, both Frank Matarrese and Trish Spencer have control over adding supply to Alameda.  Protecting tenants is a completely separate issue to the lack of supply in this town.



  1. To be fair, the rental businesses is very different now for landlords, especially those of us who bought rental property just prior to the advent of rent control. We are locked into high mortgages, high taxes, new expenses and limits on rents, and control. The new landscape makes it increasingly difficult to be financially viable. I wouldn’t buy a duplex now in the city of Alameda. That is not a whine, it’s simply stating a fact.

    And the claim that rent control can result in less rental properties available is not hollow. Inevitably, you’ll see a reduction from duplex type housing and only rental apartment complexes will have the resources to be sustainable. Turning duplexes back into single family homes becomes the more attractive option and lesser of two evils, as the real estate market appetite for duplexes decreases, given all the strings attached.

    Comment by Brian K — May 18, 2017 @ 9:19 am

    • One of these two things can be true but not both:

      – Small landlords, the type renting out duplexes, need to be able to jack up the rent as needed (and toss out existing tenants if needed to accomplish this) to be able to meet the expenses of high mortgages, high taxes, and new expenses

      – Small landlords, the type renting out duplexes, can decide to convert their duplexes back into single family homes, and meet their expenses without the rental income.

      So which is the true statement?

      Comment by brock — May 18, 2017 @ 11:39 am

      • There is no comparison. You are leaving out the part about turning duplexes back into single family homes: AND THEN SELLING THEM. A single family home which would carry more value than as a duplex in Alameda, given the strict rent controls here.

        People are more willing to take on high debt, expenses if it is for their own personal house/residence. Less so to maintain a duplex, deal with shared living situations, tenants, rent control and all the limits that come with it. Which is really my point. It used to be a beneficial endeavor to reduce your living expenses by owning a duplex and taking on a tenant to help absorb costs. Now with payouts that will run in the thousands, less control on problem tenants, limits on the amount of rate increases, etc, It isn’t so anymore, at least here in Alameda.

        Comment by Brian K — May 18, 2017 @ 3:21 pm

        • I guess we’ll know you were right when we see the big bump in Alameda residential real estate inventory. You should come back and comment here when that appears so we know that it’s happening and why.

          But just to get into the weeds here a little more…transaction costs to sell a house are about 10%, correct? And any house that would be “duplex-able” in Alameda has to be at minimum about $850,000 right about now. So how do the selling transaction costs of $85,000 (and up) stack up against the payouts in the thousands and limits on rate increases?

          Comment by brock — May 18, 2017 @ 5:46 pm

  2. The landlord of 470 Central is definitely a “bad hombre”. But he is an anomaly. 90% of Alameda landlords are not like him. For hours, these other landlords got up and spoke. But Vella seems not to have heard them. She is focused on one building & one unfortunate situation. From that she generalizes all landlords? Sad.

    Comment by vigi — May 18, 2017 @ 9:29 am

    • Laws typically aren’t passed to penalize the law abiding, unless you are an ahole like #45 and want to punish a religion (but I digress). The changes made in the ordinance will not inconvenience the 90% you are referring to. It will stop landlords like the one at 470.

      Comment by notadave — May 18, 2017 @ 10:48 am

  3. How’s this for an idea.Don’t pass another school bond that favors big landlords over small ones?

    Comment by Retiredteacher — May 18, 2017 @ 2:33 pm

    • School bonds treat all properties the same. It is the parcel tax that has a different tax structure for larger property. Something that is being challenged in the courts.

      Comment by Mike McMahon — May 18, 2017 @ 7:36 pm

      • The school parcel tax does not have “a different tax structure for larger property.” Unlike the 2008 parcel tax, this parcel tax has has the same tax structure for all properties.

        Comment by PT — May 19, 2017 @ 6:28 am

        • Good, if true. But no exclusion for low income or elderly, right? Most school bonds allow elderly to opt out on the theory that they’ve been paying for many years and may be on fixed income.

          Comment by Retiredteacher — May 19, 2017 @ 2:09 pm

        • There’s an elder opt-out

          Comment by Gaylon — May 21, 2017 @ 5:54 pm

        • Actually the reason there is a pending lawsuit challenging the recently passed parcel tax is the presence of a $7900 cap on the parcel tax. So any property in excess of 25000+ square feet begins to pay a lower effective tax rate. Hence large apartment complexes pay a lower parcel tax rate. The court will decide if the tax structure of a cap is legal.

          Comment by Mike McMahon — May 22, 2017 @ 7:18 am

        • The cap seems unfair, if not illegal, thus my point.

          Comment by Retiredteacher — May 22, 2017 @ 2:43 pm

  4. The opt-out of which you are speaking is so arbitrary. How old is elderly? How low is low-income? Even if you meet the criteria, you have to: know you qualify, know where to get the paperwork from, know where & when to return the paperwork to, know how often you have to renew the application, do it by a deadline…Contra Costa County has provided this handy table for guidance.

    Comment by vigi — May 22, 2017 @ 9:28 am

    • Some cities send info in the snail mail.

      Comment by Retiredteacher — May 22, 2017 @ 2:41 pm

  5. Homeowners Exemptions from Parcel Taxes, 11/13/2014. by Kathleen Pender.
    California homeowners 65 and older should check their property tax bills and make sure they are getting any senior exemptions on school parcel taxes to which they are entitled. These exemptions could reduce their tax bills by hundreds of dollars, or more than $1,000 in some wealthier districts.

    To win voter approval for school parcel taxes, many K-12 districts offer exemptions to people 65 and older. But they don’t often publicize the exemptions or make them easy to get.

    To qualify, homeowners generally must live in the home as their primary residence. They must request, fill out and send in application provided by the district, generally with proof of age, ownership and residency. Some districts require seniors to fill out a new application every year, others renew it automatically.

    Most require seniors to apply by a certain date, often in May or June, to get an exemption for the tax year that starts July 1. Some will grant an exemption retroactively for applicants who miss the deadline, many will not. People do not have to be 65 when the tax was approved to get the exemption; they can apply when they turn 65.

    Homeowners of any age who are low-income or have disabilities also might qualify for exemptions from certain types of parcel taxes. But figuring out who qualifies for which exemptions and getting them can be a time-consuming nightmare.

    Seniors, low-income homeowners and those with disabilities should look at their property tax bill and call the phone numbers listed next to each parcel tax to ask if any exemptions are available. If they are lucky, a knowledgeable person will answer the phone. In many cases, they will have to do more digging.

    G.J. Stillson MacDonnell, an employment-tax lawyer, called the number for Berkeley Unified School District listed on her tax bill and got a full voice-mail box that couldn’t take messages. “So I called the superintendent’s office and got a perplexed person, who was clueless,” she said.

    I called the same number listed on the bill, and also got a full voice mail. After researching the two taxes, it appears that only low-income seniors are exempt.

    A colleague called the phone number listed for five taxes imposed by the city of Oakland and discovered it was a phone number for delinquent business taxes. Turns out the person who handles exemptions is in the same office. I called this number and got a call back from this person, who told me that low-income people of any age can apply for exemptions on three of the parcel taxes, for landscaping and lighting, libraries and violence prevention.

    Another thing homeowners can do is look up the ballot measure for the tax and see if any exemptions were offered.

    Alternatively, they can look up a new report from the California Tax Foundation, entitled Piecing Together California’s Parcel Taxes, that attempted to compile all parcel taxes, along with any exemptions, levied by schools and local governments statewide. It found 1,790 of them levied by 754 taxing authorities. You can find look up these taxes by county at

    Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed a bill that will require the state controller’s office to collect a comprehensive list of parcel taxes, including how much they raise and any exemptions offered. When that information it made public, it should help homeowners hunt down exemptions.

    Frank Lloyd, an enrolled agent in Los Altos Hills, says some seniors do not apply for exemptions because they want to support local schools and take a tax deduction for the parcel taxes. However, if they are subject to alternative minimum tax, they will not get any benefit from the tax deduction. He advises these clients to opt out of the tax and write a check to the school district that can be deducted as a charitable donation, with no adverse AMT issues.

    Kathleen Pender is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. Net Worth runs Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. E-mail: Blog: Twitter: @kathpender

    Comment by vigi — May 22, 2017 @ 9:44 am

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