Housing Emergency!


Other apartment buildings will be at risk if the Durant demolition is permitted.

Mayor Bates would like to us to give up, and stay out of important City business. Berkeley City Council has two meetings on Tuesday December 1st, and both agendas are packed with issues concerning housing, renters, and poverty. The meetings will be held at Longfellow instead of old City Hall: 1500 Derby, at Sacramento Street.
The already burdensome agendas now also include items held-over and postponed from the last couple of meetings, including several issues which tenants have already waited hours to see discussed:

Demolition Appeal (7 pm) Item 24
SUMMARY: Allowing the demolition presents dangerous precedents: This would be the first time Berkeley has allowed an owner to claim he can’t make a fair return on a rehabilitated building. The developer invited the Berkeley Fire Department to tear out walls and cut holes in the roof!! To grant this project as requested is to condone willful destruction of housing.
ACTION: Come to the hearing on December 1st and hold signs showing support.
More Info: http://berkeleytenants.org/?p=1477
Berkeley Citizens Action: BCA-letter-111715

Rental Housing Safety (7 pm) Item 28
SUMMARY: Landlords are letting their housing fall apart. Besides proactive inspections and confidential complaints, this would also make mold and mildew a public nuisance, and require landlords to actually turn in the self-inspection they are supposed to do each year.
ACTION: Take a photo of unsafe conditions and send to Council by November 30.
More Info: http://berkeleytenants.org/?p=1456
Wellstone Democratic Club: Wellstone-letter-111715

Affordable Housing (5:30 pm) Items 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d, 2e
SUMMARY: Common-sense measures to make city funding for affordable housing easier.
ACTION: You already signed the petition, but did you ask your friends?
More Info:
Sierra Club Letter: Sierra Club 10-27 Berkeley City Council Items on Affordable Housing
Daily Cal: http://www.dailycal.org/2015/11/08/housing-advisory-commission-talks-assessment-of-affordable-housing-mitigation-fee-predevelopment-funding/
Cool Map: http://ww2.kqed.org/pop/map-where-can-you-find-an-affordable-one-bedroom-near-bart-san-francisco-bay-area-oakland

See You Tuesday December 1!
Longfellow Middle School, 1500 Derby

Also on the 5:30pm Agenda:
Below Market Rate Housing Report; Housing Trust Fund Status Update; Use of Predevelopment Funds by Nonprofit Housing Builders; Report from Berkeley Housing Authority.

Also on the 7:00pm Agenda:
Accessory Dwelling Units; Appointment to Human Welfare Commission; Police Crowd Management Policies; Lien for Noncompliance with Seismic Mitigations 1734 University; 2nd Reading of Anti-Homeless Laws.


Update from the Windfall Profits Tax Special Workshop November 17:

FundAffordableHoudingThe City Council gave the new landlord PAC, the Berkeley Rental Housing Association, a seat at the table for their very own PowerPoint on how it must be somebody else’s job to fund affordable housing. However, the Council seemed receptive at the workshop since the measure has what passes for bipartisan support, Berkeley-style: both Arreguin and Capitelli want to fund affordable housing through a reasonable increase in the business license fee. Only Mayor Bates asked aggressive questions which betrayed his ignorance of the process of crafting Council ballot measures.

Contra Costa Times Covers Landlord Tax
Satellite Affordable Housing Associates Executive Director Susan Friedland said $4 million annually would mean construction of 40-to-50 affordable units every year given that nonprofit housing developers must get about 25 percent of their funding from local sources to leverage other funds….Barton proposed a number of exemptions, including one- and two-unit and nonprofit-owned properties; rent-controlled properties with pre-1999 tenants (before vacancy decontrol allowed landlords to set rents of rent-controlled units as high as the market will bear when units are vacated); low-and-moderate income landlords; and units with federally subsidized tenants.”

Affordable Housing Panel November 14
Amy Davidson, community project coordinator for the City of Berkeley, said it takes $500,000 to develop one unit of affordable housing and then discussed the city’s $28,000 fee for developers with a complete lack of irony.

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In the News

Why don’t City inspectors notice these problems?

Why don’t City inspectors notice problems like this balcony on San Pablo?

Balcony Lawsuit Says Owners Knew About Problems
If we had the proactive inspections program the City Council will discuss on December 1, then this tragedy may have been prevented.
The lawsuit claims that Segue used cheaper materials to construct the balcony, making it more susceptible to water damage, and left it exposed to rain during construction in 2005…. Previous tenants reported seeing mushrooms – a clear sign of rot.”

Tenants Reported Signs of Rot Weeks Before Deadly Balcony Collapse
“Library Gardens was only 8 years old when the balcony collapsed, leading many to wonder how such a new building could have such a catastrophic structural failure. The city of Berkeley released a report that identified dry rot as the only contributing factor to the structural failure of the balcony, but the city said determining the reason for that failure was beyond the scope of its analysis. The lawsuit claims to have identified the reason.”

Berkeley Tenant Fights for Garden
Berkeleyside: Gorell moved into the rent-controlled, one-bedroom apartment in 1979 and began to add plants to the front and side of the building soon after that. Gene Anderson, the son of the original owners, and his wife used to visit annually and would compliment Gorell on how he had turned the space into an alluring swath of green, according to Gorell. Gorell also wrote to the Andersons in 1992 to describe his plans for the garden. There were no complaints, he said.”
Daily Cal: http://www.dailycal.org/2015/11/11/berkeley-tenant-fights-to-preserve-garden-in-ongoing-dispute-with-landlords-property-managers/ 

Activists Say They Are Targeted for Eviction at Redwood Gardens

Berkeley’s Largest Landlord Leaving Town

Rent Wars
Excellent overview of California’s housing crisis and current tenant’s movement.
“Activists in cities that have long had rent control laws are pushing for stronger measures. In Los Angeles, activists like Larry Gross, Director of the Coalition for Economic Survival, want the city to stop allowing tenants to be evicted so that speculators can demolish their rent-controlled buildings.”

Alameda Tenants Get Moratorium
Something is better than nothing!
The Alameda City Council on Wednesday approved a 65-day moratorium on rent increases above 8 percent and no-fault evictions. Tenant advocates were hoping for an outright moratorium as the city considers various permanent tenant protections, including banning evictions without cause.”

Berkeley Fair Election Initiative
But when elections are determined by fundraising alone, communities pay the price. And when the perception is that only money matters in campaigns, it erodes public faith in government. With voter turnout at historic lows, we need to do everything we can to increase participation.
What if I told you there was a proposal to encourage local candidates to spend more time talking to voters and less time dialing for dollars? What if this proposal could diversify the local donor pool, encourage more voters to participate and make City Council more responsive to the citizens they are elected to serve?”


Evictions and Air BnB
“Data analysis of Airbnb usage in San Francisco tells a decidedly different story about who is benefiting. Although Airbnb refuses to share its numbers, a 2014 report commissioned by the San Francisco Chronicle found that of the (at the time) nearly 5,000 homes, apartments, and private or shared rooms for rent via Airbnb, two-thirds were entire houses or apartments with no owner present during the rental period, and almost a third of Airbnb rentals were controlled by people with two or more listings. Some of the “whole house” or “whole apartment” rentals are from hosts who happen to be away. But many others are being rented out by professional property managers who are handling multiple Airbnb rentals on behalf of absentee home- and condo owners. A separate study conducted by data analyst Tom Slee found similar results. He calculated that about 70 percent of Airbnb revenue comes from hosts who are renting out an entire home or apartment, and 40 percent comes from Airbnb hosts with multiple listings.”

Is Berkeley Like Disneyland?
More than 40% of the homes that have permits to rent in Anaheim are owned by real estate companies, investment firms or the owners of multiple properties, according to city records.
“These are basically unsupervised mini hotels in our neighborhoods,” said Cornejo, who has called the police on his neighbors several times for late-night noise.
With so many strangers visiting their communities, some residents recently urged Anaheim council members to consider safety and security issues. Renter safety too has become a growing concern in the wake of some well-publicized reports of sexual assault, injuries and deaths at short-term lodgings in other towns.”

Evictions and Rent Hikes Skyrocket In Oakland

NY Attorney General Disregards Airbnb Promises
It is a transparent ploy by Airbnb to act like a good corporate citizen when it is anything but,” Schneiderman told Re/code in an emailed statement. “The company has all of the information and tools it needs to clean up its act. Until it does, no one should take this press release seriously.”

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Defend Affordable Housing Tuesday

Berkeley Tenants Union has three important items at the City Council on Tuesday.
For more info, see the posts below this one. 

About the Demolition (Item 21):
If the City Council allows this demolition to go forward, the law prohibiting unmitigated demolition of rent controlled housing means nothing anymore, and all of Berkeley is at risk of being bulldozed to make way for luxury housing.

About changes to the Rental Housing Safety Program (Item 23):
One reason developers give to tear down affordable older units is that they are in really bad shape. Never mind that they continue to rent them out while simultaneously making a claim that they are unsafe. In order to preserve our housing, we must make cyclical inspections a reality in Berkeley as they are in most other major cities.

November 17 will also see the Council discuss a Windfall Profits Tax on High Rents. There will be a special workshop at 5:30 PM in order for the Council to consider a ballot measure to increase the business license tax on larger landlords and use the money to building and rehab affordable housing, including the student co-ops.

What you can do:

1) Take a picture of unsafe housing conditions and email it to City Council marked November 17, Item 23.  clerk@cityofberkeley.info  They have to get the email by noon on Tuesday.

2) Come to the Demolition Appeal at old City Hall on November 17 around 8 PM and hold a sign to support BTU and the ASUC during the appeal. We demand that the law which says

“Notwithstanding the above, the Board shall approve a Use Permit to eliminate a controlled rental unit only when it finds that…The replacement dwelling unit shall be available for occupancy to Households for Lower Income or Very Low Income Households” must mean that rent controlled housing can only be torn down if replaced unit-for-unit with permanently affordable housing! Look for us in blue BTU T Shirts to get a sign showing support. 

3) Come early to support the Windfall Profits Tax at 5:30 PM

If you can’t make the meetings, please send an email NOW
to Council marked Item 21 c/o  clerk@cityofberkeley.info

Rent Controlled housing should be torn down only if it is replaced one-for-one with permanently affordable housing. Developers should not be rewarded for allowing their buildings to fall apart.

For more information about the proposed demolition at 2631 Durant:

Letter From Student Tenants:

Berkeley Tenants Union Op-Eds:


News Articles:


City Documents:

Letter from Berkeley Neighborhoods Council:
2631 Durant Demolition Letter to City Council

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Come Together 11/17!


From Rent War Celebration Song By Fred Dodsworth

Thanks to our friends at Berkeley Citizen Action for joining Berkeley Tenants in supporting safe rental housing and preventing unnecessary demolition of rent controlled housing!

These two important items are at the City Council on Tuesday, November 17.

Read their newsletter to learn about these and other campaigns:
BCA news Nov 2015

BTU is proud to sponsor BCA’s Housing Crisis Teach-In on November 22.


Posted in Issues

Improve Our Housing

Garbage-smIn order to support the City Council’s consideration of changes to Berkeley’s Rental Housing Safety Program on November 17, Berkeley Tenants Union is asking renters to photograph substandard housing conditions.
It would be great if you would send the photographs directly to the City Council with your story. Yet BTU knows that many tenants fear retaliation. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can send photographs to the Tenants Union by November 13 and we will forward them to the City Council without your name.

Councilman Arreguin’s important proposal to re-examine the City’s Rental Housing Safety Program will be ITEM 23 at Council on November 17.
Fixing this City program, which enforces safe and habitable rental housing, has been in the spotlight ever since the balcony collapse at Library Gardens, a building less than 10 years old. Berkeley has been talking for years about the need for the common-sense measures in Arreguin’s proposal – measures which most other cities already have!
Under the proposed revamp of the Rental Housing Safety Program, Berkeley inspectors would do proactive, cyclical inspections which would detect problems like the one at Library Gardens. Right now, inspectors only visit rental housing if there is a complaint.

Right now, owners also know exactly which tenant made that complaint! This proposal would allow the name to remain confidential, so tenants would have less fear of retaliation.
Besides proactive inspections and confidential complaints, proposed tweaks to the RHSP would also make mold and mildew a public nuisance, and require landlords to actually turn in the self-inspection they are supposed to do each year.
These enhancements would be paid for mostly through increased fees and fines for those who do not correct violations within 30 days of being cited by code enforcement. The proposal also opens up the possibility of increasing the RHSP program fee from $26 to about $32 – that could pay for two new employees for the program.
Write to City Council  in support of revamping the Rental Housing Safety Program (Item 23) care of the clerk (clerk@CityofBerkeley.info), or send your photos to BTU for us to forward (info at berkeley tenants dott org) by next Friday.

http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/Clerk/City_Council/2015/11_Nov/Documents/2015-11-17_Item_23_Revising_the_Rental_Housing.aspx (PDF)

Posted in Issues

Teach-In November 22

sunsetBTU is proud to be a sponsor of the Housing Teach-In on Sunday November 22nd.

Berkeley’s Housing Crisis – WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2015 from 2:00 – 4:30 P.M.
2133 UNIVERSITY AVE (Next to Ace Hardware)

Paola Laverde, Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board Commissioner

Stephen Barton, Ph.D., Former Director of the Housing Department and Deputy Director of the Rent Stabilization Program in Berkeley
Moni Law, Affordable Housing Activist
Rick Lewis, Executive Director, Bay Area Community Land Trust and former Housing Advisory Commission Member
Austin Pritzkat, President, Berkeley Student Cooperative
Katherine Harr, Berkeley Tenants Union

Berkeley faces a housing crisis. Rents are soaring and home prices are out of reach for most of us. The city is an increasingly unaffordable place for low and moderate income households and for students, which is threatening the city’s valued diversity.

A City of Berkeley study found that in 2014 the average rent for a two bedroom apartment in a new building was $3434 a month. Older rent controlled housing has also gotten more expensive. The rent for new tenants in two bedroom apartments increased by 32% between 2011 and 2014.

Panelists will address:

  • What are the dimensions of this crisis and what can we do about it?
  • What could our local elected officials do to address this crisis?
  • How do we prevent displacement?
  • How could the City generate more revenue for the Housing Trust Fund to fund affordable housing construction and acquisition?

Ideas will include increasing the business license fee on large landlords, increasing fees for affordable units required in new for-profit housing, using new revenue sources such as the proposed tax on short-term rentals, and allowing more small housing on existing lots.

Sponsored by the Ad Hoc Committee for a Progressive Berkeley with support from the Sustainable Berkeley Coalition, the Berkeley Tenants Union, CalPIRG, and Berkeley Citizens Action.

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Council Postpones Housing Decisions

Changes to Berkeley’s Rental Housing Safety Program will be discussed November 17

Changes to Berkeley’s Rental Housing Safety Program will be discussed November 17

Lots of Berkeley folks came out to the City Council meeting on October 27 to support a large list of measures designed to address the housing affordability crisis. Unfortunately, most of the items were postponed to December 1 or November 17.

BTU’s Letter to Council:
2015.10.27 Council Letter

Important Item Returns November 17

November 17 is shaping up to be a big day for Berkeley Tenants. BTU’s appeal of the demolition of 18 rent controlled units on Durant will be at the City Council, as well as a 5:30 PM special workshop about funding affordable housing by increasing the business license tax on rental property.

Last night, the Council also voted to postpone review of Jesse Arreguin’s important proposal to re-examine the City’s Rental Housing Safety Program to November 17.

Fixing this City program, which enforces safe and habitable rental housing, has been in the spotlight ever since the balcony collapse at Library Gardens, a building less than 10 years old. Activists and candidates have been talking for years about the need for the common-sense measures in Arreguin’s proposal – measures which most other cities already have!

Under the proposed revamp of the Rental Housing Safety Program, Berkeley inspectors would do proactive, cyclical inspections which would detect problems like the one at Library Gardens. Right now, inspectors only visit rental housing if there is a complaint. Right now, owners also know exactly which tenant made that complaint! This proposal would allow the name to remain confidential, so tenants would have less fear of retaliation.

Besides proactive inspections and confidential complaints, tweaks to the RHSP in Arreguin’s proposal would also make mold and mildew a public nuisance, and require landlords to actually turn in the self-inspection they are supposed to do each year.

These enhancements would be paid for mostly through increased fees and fines for those who do not correct violations within 30 days of being cited by code enforcement. The proposal also opens up the possibility of increasing the RHSP program fee from $26 to about $32 – that could pay for two new employees for the program.
see: http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/Clerk/City_Council/2015/10_Oct/Documents/2015-10-27_Item_30_Revising_the_Rental_Housing.aspx

Steps to Safe and Secure Housing In Berkeley Will Be Discussed at the
Thursday October 29

Council Voted to Send Letter About Costa-Hawkins

The good news is that the Council voted to send a letter to our State representatives calling for repeal of Costa-Hawkins. Berkeley joined several other rent-controlled California cities in asking for the return of a local city’s right to restrict rents. This would mean recent construction could be under rent control.
If the 1996 state law was repealed, Berkeley could also return to the form of rent control that voters selected and tenants enjoyed – the rent would always be regulated, and not be re-set when a new renter moves in. Repeal would also allow Berkeley to demand that when developers tear down rent controlled units, their new units would also be rent controlled. However, Governor Brown is not likely to sign any such repeal, so this might be a long-term effort and the letter a token gesture.

Worthington’s Measures Postponed to December 1

City Manager Referral: Streamline the Permit Process for Housing Projects with a Majority or More Affordable Units
Recommendation: Refer to City Manager to create an ordinance that will streamline the permit process for housing projects with a majority or more affordable units if it includes at least 20 percent of units at 50% AMI.
Housing Trust Fund Loan for $1,000,000
Recommendation: Loan $1,000,000 to the Housing Trust Fund.
Match All National Housing Trust Fund Grants Awarded to Recipient Projects in Berkeley
Recommendation: Adopt a Resolution to match all National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) grants awarded to recipient projects in Berkeley.

Sierra Club Letter: Sierra Club 10-27 Berkeley City Council Items on Affordable Housing

East Bay Express Coverage Before the Meeting: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/archives/2015/10/16/facing-the-housing-crisis-berkeley-and-emeryville-lawmakers-are-advancing-numerous-solutions-but-not-oakland

Droste Parking Spaces Measure Passes

Newbie Councilwoman Lori Droste had her first major victory when the City Council approved her suggestions that Berkeley cut down on parking requirements for new developers but dedicate the cost savings to more units for lower-incomes. The items didn’t have enough detail for Berkley Tenants Union to take a position regarding them before the October 27 meeting.
Droste emphasized that her package was deliberately broad-brush, so that city staff could exercise freedom and creativity in working out the details.” http://www.berkeleyside.com/2015/10/28/green-housing-package-sails-through-berkeley-council/
“Some council members, however, were worried that the money saved through the provisions would not find its way to affordable housing in the city.”
Not everyone was happy with the proposal:
Includes a List of Postponed Items:

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Housing in the News

File Oct 14, 8 58 41 PMGreat Summary of the Short Term Rentals Issue
Almost everyone agrees that there’s nothing wrong with renting out a spare bedroom to travelers, and there’s not even much harm in renting your entire house for a month or two if you’re on vacation and would like to earn a little extra income. But what was once a small, on-the-margins practice of occasionally sharing one’s home with travelers for a few bucks has morphed into a behemoth and avaricious global marketplace for transforming residential housing into hotels… It’s harming renters; it’s helping drive up the cost of rental housing by taking homes and apartments off the rental market; and it’s upending the character of neighborhoods.”

Housing Advisory Commission on Vacation Rentals
The commission passed six proposals that are in accordance with seven of nine guidelines referred to it by Berkeley City Council. It chose to take no action on whether a unit may be rented for more than 90 days without a host present or how to penalize hosts for regulation violations.”

Students Suffer In Housing Crunch
UC Berkeley’s alumni magazine covered the student housing crisis – but failed to note that it’s folks renting out housing on Airbnb that is taking away permanent homes and contributing to making housing more expensive for all!
“Radio producer Liza Veale has been using Airbnb, the short-term rental company, to rent out three rooms in her parent’s Elmwood home for the past three years. It’s one of a reported 1,162 Airbnb units in Berkeley. At first, she didn’t understand why so many students were renting out a room for roughly $1,000 a month.”

Berkeley’s Short Term Rentals law is expected to be discussed at the planning commission on November 4.

San Francisco’s Prop F – “The Airbnb Law”
BTU has endorsed San Francisco’s Prop F. We hope our City makes a law that can, and will, be enforced – so we don’t have to do a ballot measure here!
“Senator Dianne Feinstein, a fierce foe for Airbnb and its ilk, is in favor of Prop F., which “closes loopholes and provides effective enforcement tools.” She said the current law is unworkable and unenforceable, and guts zoning regulations while incentivizing “illegal conversion of residences to de facto hotel rooms.” She said, classifying Prop F. as a “common sense change.”

“Current law requires hosts to register with the city, but only 618 have done so, the planning department said. Airbnb has 4,238 local hosts with 5,459 listings, while HomeAway/VRBO has about 1,000 listings and FlipKey has 359, a Chronicle investigation found.”

Berkeley Seismic Retrofits: Cup Half Full?
The retrofitted buildings, which number 145 at latest count, account for 1,591, or just under half, of the 2,841 apartments in buildings identified as particularly vulnerable to earthquakes.”

San Francisco and Los Angeles Retrofits
San Francisco plans to allow rent increases to pay for retrofits. So far, Berkeley hasn’t done that. Los Angeles plans to require retrofit of concrete buildings as well as soft story ones – Berkeley hasn’t done that either.

Foreclosure Crisis Not Over
The California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) confirmed that the pension fund invested $660 million in two different funds managed by Lone Star, and that the company has used the money to buy up distressed home loans, foreclose on the homeowners, and resell the homes.”

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Everybody Wants Rent Control Update

CL-aptsDespite the bad news from Richmond, folks all over the Bay, the State – even the World – are clamoring for an end to extreme profits and astronomical rent increases. The owners have kept us on the defensive for three decades — how many fronts can they fight on, even with all their money?


The CA Apartment Association – the landlord statewide group – applied all their massive resources to suspend the new Richmond laws, the first new rent control in California in 30 years. Berkeley Property Owners Association put out a “Red Alert” just days before the law was to go into effect, asking Berkeley landlords to support this effort, which reportedly paid gathers over $20 per signature.


Efforts in San Mateo to create just cause eviction protections for renters have also been stalled through efforts from the California Apartment Association.
“Dozens of property owners, real estate agents and representatives from trade associations spoke in opposition noting there are already existing laws governing tenant-landlord contracts. Many noted it can be very difficult to evict a bad tenant — one told an anecdote of it costing nearly $8,000 in legal fees — and requested the city focus on constructing new housing units. Others also feared there would be unintended consequences of such an ordinance, including harming good tenants.”
“Additionally, the CAA is urging it’s members to appear and bring other members from the rental housing industry to the council meeting/s to oppose renter protections. This is the same thing they do when other cities in California consider renter protections…. Painting the working class as possible criminals in the effort to conceal their real activities, such as raking in billions of dollars hand over fist, the CAA knows how to stir up wealthy property owners and the rental housing industry, when humane solutions such as renter protections are being proposed.”


Alameda is the only place I know of with a rent board but no rent control. City officials are discussing changing some of the rent regulations, but tenants are discussing a ballot measure to get some real protections!


Nine of the eleven City Council members voted to “look into” just cause eviction protections, expanding rent control to cover duplexes, eliminating rules that new owners can pass their mortgage costs on to renters, and lowering the annual rent increase from the current eight percent. Berkeley tenants already enjoy these protections.
San Jose’s rent control only covers about 43,000 units built before 1979 and excludes duplexes. Housing built after 1995 is exempt from rent control under the state’s Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, so that leaves apartments built from 1979 to 1995 and all duplexes with no protections.”
Approval of the staff report and work plan would create a timeline where the Council would consider potential changes to the ARO (apartment-rent ordinance) in December 2015.


Tenants in Silicon Valley march for rent control – three times!
“Most of the affected residents make $12-$18 per hour, far below what it takes to afford local rents that have in some cases doubled over the past few years.”
Mountain View Tenants Coalition


Council members who opposed rent control said the city just needs to build more housing. All over the world, landlords and developers – often the same people – claim that allowing unbridled development will lower rents. Sound familiar, Berkeley?
“We spent $800,000 on a fish fountain. We can spend some money to help renters in Santa Rosa.”


Owners in Healdsburg pledged to limit rent increases to “only” 10 percent in order to stop the city from discussing rent control.
“It’s nonbinding. It’s pointless,” said Christine Webster, a disabled woman facing a 65 percent increase in rent for the one-bedroom duplex close to downtown that she’s lived in for the past decade.”


Santa Monica is the California city with a tenant protection ordinance most like Berkeley’s own. Ellis Act evictions are on the rise in Berkeley, with landlord advocate Michael St. John actively encouraging them in a recent BPOA newsletter, but in Santa Monica, there are so many that the City Council is discussing a moratorium.


Seattle City Council is discussing asking the state of Washington to end the state ban on rent control. Washington is one of at least 30 states in the US which do not allow any municipalities to create rent control laws.


Burlington citizens debate rent control, supply-and-demand, in the press.
“Of course, as long as the city is run by developers and landlords, rent control will not even be discussed.”


Jersey City tenants call for changes to preserve their rent control.
“Real estate investors… are aggressively using the vacancy capital improvement provision in Chapter 260 of the rent control ordnance to increase the rent of vacated apartments by over 30 percent.”


Tenants Together has been warning about the securitization of rents here in California, but Singapore is way ahead of us, with leaders not only calling for rent control but also a limit to land holdings by REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts).


Scotland had rent control until the Thatcher years; leaders are preparing to introduce laws which would allow rent regulation in places where the rents are rising most rapidly.
“Rent controls enjoy broad popular support, with a Survation poll conducted in January this year finding that only 6.8 per cent of the public are “somewhat” or “strongly” against the controls. 59 per cent of those polls said they somewhat or strongly supported the state being able to control what landlords take from tenants each month.”


Berlin got rent control on June 1st. Rents dropped immediately.
“The average cost of new Berlin rental contracts has dropped 3.1 percent within a month. This can’t be written off as an example of a general countrywide downward trend. In other German cities where such laws haven’t yet been introduced, rents have remained more or less static.”

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Richmond Rent Control Suspended

The California Apartment Association, supported by the Berkeley Property Owners Association, has put a stop to rent control in Richmond, the first California city to invoke such protections for renters in three decades. The law was supposed to go into effect September 4th.

Alameda County has 30 days to verify the 7000 signatures on a petition submitted by property owners. Then, the Richmond City Council must repeal the ordinance or place it on the ballot for November 2016 (or call a special election).

Contra Costa Times:
“Measure supporters have criticized the signature-gathering effort as misleading, with allegations of petition gatherers who told residents they were signing in support of the measure. The company, Pacific Petition, also allegedly paid up to $20 per signature in the run-up to the deadline to collect the needed 4,100 signatures.”

East Bay Express:
“Residents said signature gatherers lied to people by telling them that the petition made rent control stronger, or kept rents from increasing, according to testimony from renters and media reports.”

Richmond Law:

30 Years Wasn’t Enough?:
No economic analysis on the impacts of rent control was ever done. This will give everybody more time to look at the short- and long-term implications.”

Get Involved In Richmond:

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