Tenants Win Berkeley Elections!

BPOA spent $1 Million - and lost!

BPOA spent $1 Million – and lost!

Like progressives all over America, Berkeley voters are sad, angry and frightened about the national election results. However, we have a lot to celebrate at home, and can look forward to once again leading these United States in progressive, humane, and innovative solutions, particularly to the problem of ensuring safe and affordable homes for all.

The big landlords who control about 50% of all rental housing in Berkeley spent about a million dollars to defeat the affordable housing tax Measure U1, and promote their deceptive Measure DD. That is well over $15 per voter! Yet Berkeley voters reaffirmed affordable housing as a core Berkeley value with 75% voting for U1 and 71% voting against DD. This tax on large landlords is expected to generate $4 million annually in new revenue for affordable housing and homelessness prevention programs!!

East Palo Alto also passed a similar landlord tax, and it is hoped this will be a model to take back profits being drained out of our communities and use them to build homes.

Additionally, Berkeley supported stronger protections for families being evicted for owners to move in. Measure AA, which passed with an astounding 73% of the vote, was put on the ballot at the request of the Rent Board.

ProRenter candidates also got strong support from Berkeley. Renter Cheryl Davila beat incumbent Darryl Moore in District 2 despite generous spending by the Association of Realtors for Moore. BTU Members Ben Bartlett and Sophie Hahn were also elected to the City Council, and BTU Member Jesse Arreguin was elected as Mayor!

Perhaps the best news of all for tenants is that landlord incumbent Judy Hunt was voted off the Rent Board, with the “CALI Slate” chosen at the 2016 Tenant Convention easily defeating Hunt’s tiny team.

Elsewhere in the Bay Area, California gained its first new rent control in decades, and even in places like Alameda, where the tenant measure was defeated, renters did gain new protections on November 8.

Soon the new City Council will move forward on core BTU issues like Short Term Rentals and mitigations for Demolition of Rent Controlled Units. BTU will work to guide our new leaders, who we hope will be more responsive to what everyday folks need in order to keep Berkeley a place we can all call home.

ProTenant Slate Wins Rent Board, Removes Landlord Incumbent
The 2016 Berkeley Tenant Convention, hosted by a coalition of Berkeley political groups and attended by nearly 400 Berkeley residents, selected the four CALI Slate members from nine potential candidates.”
http://www.dailycal.org/2016/11/09/cali-slate-sweeps-open-seats-berkeley-rent-board/

Victories for Affordable Housing, Tenants Rights
Berkeley citizens voted to pass Measure U1 on Tuesday with 74.06 percent…Berkeley voters passed Measure AA on Tuesday with 72.29 percent of the vote as of press time, which will place more regulations on owner move-in evictions.”
http://www.dailycal.org/2016/11/09/city-measures-t1-u1-v1-w1-x1-y1-z1-aa-pass-measures-bb-cc-dd-fail/

Landslide for Landlord Tax
Berkeley voters approved a landlord tax that will raise millions for affordable housing.
The measure, U1, passed with about 74 percent of the vote. A competing measure, which landlord groups placed on the ballot in an effort to undermine U1, was crushed, with 71 percent voters rejecting it…
Proponents of U1 filed a state Fair Political Practices Commission complaint against the Berkeley Property Owners Association, alleging they broke the law by using anonymous LLCs to finance their opposition campaign and make it appear that a large group of landlords were opposing the measure, when in fact it was just a handful. The FPPC hasn’t ruled on the complaint yet.”

http://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/archives/2016/11/09/berkeley-landlord-tax-easily-passes

Berkeley Gets Activist Renter as Mayor
Arreguin said, “I am a renter. I’m like many people in Berkeley, I’m trapped in this housing crisis.”
http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2016/11/11/berkeleys-first-latino-mayor-elect-is-also-its-youngest-ever/

Progressives Take Three of Four Council Seats
Sophie Hahn handily won the District 5 council seat being vacated by Capitelli, defeating another candidate with real estate industry backing, Stephen Murphy, 61.9 percent to 38.1 percent. Hahn is a member of the Zoning Adjustments Board. Capitelli endorsed Murphy, his appointee to the Planning Commission and the panel’s current chairman.
Berkeley for several years has been the scene of a major debate over skyrocketing rents and the shortage of affordable housing, with a six-person council majority backing many controversial development-related issues.”

http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2016/11/09/berkeley-voters-elect-arreguin-mayor/ 

Not Everybody Got Rent Control
Voters in Alameda, Berkeley, Oakland, Mountain View, Palo Alto and Richmond supported some form of rent stabilization or eviction protection legislation while only Burlingame and San Mateo favored a “no” decision.”
http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Alameda-County-Voters-OK-Rent-Control-Housing-Measures-400516081.html

Details on Rent Control Votes
“Measure L in Richmond, which would enact limits on rent increases and landlord evictions, was victorious with 64 percent of the votes cast. In Oakland, with all 279 precincts reporting, 74 percent of voters supported Measure JJ, which requires landlords to get permission from the rent board before increasing rents above the consumer price index and expands eviction protections. In Mountain View, Measure V, which was placed on the ballot by voters, had a slim victory with 53 percent, while W, the council-backed measure fell short with 49 percent.
In Alameda, ground zero for the battle for rent control, Measure M1, the strict tenant rent control measure sponsored by tenants groups, only garnered 34 percent of the vote, well shy of the necessary simple majority. Instead, 56 percent of voters approved L1, a competing, council-backed initiative that did not cap rent increases. Instead landlords must go to mediation in order to increase rents above 5 percent. And in San Mateo County, Measure R in Burlingame mustered just 31 percent of voters, while Measure Q in San Mateo got 38 percent.”
http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2016/11/03/bay-area-rent-control-measures/

Oakland Gets What Berkeley Has: Details on Renters Upgrade
https://oaklandnorth.net/2016/10/28/oakland-residents-to-vote-on-rent-control-initiative-this-november/

Mountain View Gets Eviction Protections Too
http://www.mv-voice.com/news/2016/11/15/fearing-evictions-city-backs-immediate-tenant-protections

Record Spending and Fair Political Practices Complaint
“The political action committee for the Berkeley Property Owners Association has steered more than $892,540 in donations to defeat Measure U1 and promote Measure DD, two competing measures that would raise the business tax on rental units… Most of the donors to the “Committee for Real Affordable Housing – Yes on Measure DD, No on Measure U1, Sponsored by the Berkeley Property Owners’ Association,” have not made contributions in their own names. They have used the LLC they created to run various apartment complexes. UC Berkeley’s Progressive Student Alliance  filed a complaint about this practice with the Fair Political Practices Commission, which is investigating the situation.”
http://www.berkeleyside.com/2016/11/07/fight-involving-measure-dd-and-measure-u1-is-costliest-in-election/

Student Editorial Contrasts Berkeley Wins with National Loss
“Moreover, Berkeley voters proved largely immune to false and misleading campaigns, easily selecting measure U1 over DD, increasing landlord taxes for Berkeley’s wealthiest landlords while still protecting both tenants and small landlords.”
http://www.dailycal.org/2016/11/15/trump-will-not-halt-berkeleys-fight-justice/

National: Senator Boxer Leads Charge to Make Popular Vote Count
http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/politics/Senator-Boxer-to-Introduce-Bill-to-Eliminate-Electoral-College–401314945.html

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No-Fault Eviction Relocation Funds

It’s a funny thing law makers have to deal with: the people! Anything approved by the voters can only be changed by the voters. We out-rank the City Council, the Rent Board, even the state legislature. However, this also ties the hands of elected officials.

That is why Measure AA on the November 8th ballot in Berkeley is a much-needed fix. In November 2000, voters approved relocation funds and eviction protections for elderly and disabled tenants when Berkeley experienced the first big wave of owner-move-in evictions (OMI). But now the only way to update the 16-year-old relocation amounts is to go to the ballot box with Measure AA.

The Good News?

The City Council just raised the relocation funds for tenants thrown out for the other common no-fault eviction, the Ellis Act. Eviction restrictions and relocation funds for the Ellis Act were not decided by the voters, so City Council was permitted to update Ellis relocation assistance following a request by the Rent Board.

Rent Board Ellis Report
http://www.cityofberkeley.info/uploadedFiles/Rent_Stabilization_Board/Level_3_-_General/INFO_Ellis%20Report%20to%20Committee_5-4-16.pdf

City Council Item
http://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/City_Council/2016/10_Oct/Documents/2016-10-18_Item_03_Ordinance_7507.aspx

Berkeley Measure AA
“Measure AA is endorsed by many different groups, because it supports education, preserves diversity, and by slowing displacement it also helps the environment.”
http://www.berkeleymeasureaa.org/

In Other News

Election Complaint Against Measure DD
A UC student association filed a complaint to the California Fair Political Practices Commission regarding campaign law violations by the landlord group “Committee for Real Affordable Housing Yes on Measure DD, No on Measure U1, Sponsored By Berkeley Property Owners Association.”
According to the press release, the list of violations “…includes multiple advertisements and literature that does not include the mandatory disclosure requirements. In one case, a mailed document was sent without proper disclosure, and was deceptively designed to look like an official government document.”
pressreleasereaffordablehousingproponentsslambiglandlordsoncampaignviolations

 

Is this a campaign violation?

Is this a campaign violation?

 More on Suspected Campaign Violations
“Stefan Elgstrand, secretary of the Berkeley Tenants Union, said the Berkeley Tenants Union supported the FPPC filing. ‘We want to make sure that these groups that do these deceptive mailings are held accountable,’ Elgstrand said.”
http://www.dailycal.org/2016/10/23/campus-group-files-complaint-measure-dd-campaign-alleged-violations/

More on Measure U1 and Measure DD
http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2016-10-14/article/45005?headline=Measures-U1-and-DD-br-What-s-the-difference—Rob-Wrenn

 

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News Roundup: Renters on the Ballot

At the April 2016 Tenant Convention – sponsored by BTU and many other community organizations – a record turnout of Berkeley progressives selected a team of four candidates for Rent Board. Christina Murphy, Alejandro Soto-Vigil, Leah Simon-Weisberg and Igor Tregub are your team – vote CALI!

However, the Pro-Tenant CALI team has opposition! Sitting landlord Commissioner Judy Hunt only managed to recruit one young property manager to run for election as part of her slate.

Property Manager Nate Wollman

Property Manager Nate Wollman

One of the major differences between the two groups is their positions on the ballot measures that most impact renters: Measure AA and Measures U1/DD. The team chosen at the Tenant Convention all support Measure AA and Measure U1 and consider the landlords’ measure DD a dangerous deception. Hunt was the only vote on the Rent Board not supporting U1. She repeatedly refused to vote for Measure AA as a Commissioner, though it was put on the ballot at the request of the Rent Board to update parts of the Rent Ordinance which got behind the times. (Measure AA is non-controversial, has no official opposition except Hunt and Wollman, and is endorsed by the School Board and Berkeley Federation of Teachers.)
Property Manager Wollman is one of the main critics of Measure U1’s exemption of new construction from the tax to encourage building of more housing, although he strongly supports more development in his Rent Board platform. “We have a lot of so called progressives that harp on the ideals of making this city more inclusive, more affordable, more accessible to students and low income renters and then go an protest at zoning board meetings about proposed developments,” Wollman told Berkeleyside.

Learn More About CALI:
The schedule shows the CALI team is out talking to voters with their supporters every Saturday and Sunday. They also plan to hold phone banks.
http://berkeleyrentboard.org/

Rent Board Candidates on Video:
League of Women Voters held a forum for all six candidates.
http://www.lwvbae.org/videos-of-candidates-in-the-berkeley-municiple-elections-2016/

Bernie Sanders Endorses Pro-Tenant Slate!
http://www.dailycal.org/2016/09/25/bernie-sanders-endorses-pro-tenant-slate-november-rent-stabilization-board-elections/

Daily Planet Endorsements for Berkeley
http://berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2016-10-07/article/44973?headline=Endorsements-for-the-Berkeley-City-Races

Berkeleyside Coverage
http://www.berkeleyside.com/2016/10/17/election-2016-berkeley-spotlight-on-the-rent-board/

Hunt and Wollman have few endorsements

Hunt and Wollman have few endorsements

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Renters Must VOTE!

screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-4-10-23-pmThis is a big election for renters since the housing crisis has morphed into a housing emergency that has seen a record number of Cal students homeless while in school, the rapid displacement of longtime South Berkeley families, and a dramatic increase in both legal but pretextual evictions and general tenant harassment.

Berkeley Tenants endorsements for ballot measures can be found here:
http://berkeleytenants.org/election-2016-tenant-endorsements-measures/

Berkeley Tenants endorsements for candidates can be found here:
http://berkeleytenants.org/election-2016-tenant-endorsements-candidates/

 

Posted in Issues

Everyone Wants Rent Control!

Six Bay Area Cities Have Ballot Measures
http://www.mercurynews.com/census/ci_30089584/mountain-view-residents-push-historically-elusive-rent-control

Getting Renters to Vote Might Be the Heart
https://ww2.kqed.org/news/2016/10/06/is-rent-control-fair-the-question-at-the-heart-of-the-debate/

Tenants Are Really Getting Together
http://www.tenantstogether.org/updates/5-cities-going-november-2016-ballot-rent-control

Landlords Tell the Same Old Lies
http://www.beyondchron.org/landlords-recycle-rent-control-falsehoods/

Alameda Arguments on CPI – Truth
http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2016/09/21/alj-letters-0923/

Santa Rosa Gets Rent Control
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/5979650-181/divided-santa-rosa-city-council?artslide=3

..But Will It Be Undone?
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/6084762-181/fate-of-rent-control-could?artslide=0

Rent Control on the Ballot in Mountain View
http://ww2.kqed.org/news/2016/07/27/mountain-view-rent-control-makes-its-way-to-november-ballot/

More on Mountain View
http://mv-voice.com/news/2016/04/07/tenant-advocates-submit-rent-control-measure

Rent Control on the Ballot in San Mateo
http://www.mercurynews.com/san-mateo-county/ci_30144869/san-mateo-rent-control-measure-headed-november-ballot

Rent Control on the Ballot in Burlingame
http://www.smdailyjournal.com/articles/lnews/2016-08-02/burlingame-rent-control-moves-to-november-ballot-council-unanimously-approves-measure/1776425166013.html

Richmond Sees Wave of Evictions Before Vote
http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2016/10/07/richmond-activists-protest-evictions-ahead-of-rent-control-vote/

Oakland Wants Real Rent Control November 8th
http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Oakland-voters-will-get-their-say-on-stricter-8399331.php

Richmond Landlords Jack Rents Before Vote too
http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2016/09/13/richmond-council-fails-to-pass-emergency-rent-moratorium/

Concord Wants Rent Control
http://www.eastbaytimes.com/concord/ci_30194850/concord-landlords-tenants-debate-rent-control

Property Owners Spend to Save
https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/09/18/18791392.php

Owners Spend to Save in Berkeley Too
http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2016-10-07/article/44963?headline=Big-Landlords-Raise-Big-Bucks-to-Fight-Measure-U1-

Want to Keep Your Rent Control?
http://berkeleyrentboard.org/

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Election 2016: Tenant Endorsements – Measures

This is a big election for renters since the housing crisis has morphed into a housing emergency that has seen a record number of Cal students homeless while in school, the rapid displacement of longtime South Berkeley families, and a dramatic increase in both legal but pretextual evictions and general tenant harassment.

BTU shared our ballot measure endorsements meeting with our allies at Berkeley Citizens Action — the full endorsement list for Measures is at the bottom of this post.

screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-4-10-23-pm

Berkeley: More Eviction Protections
So far, Berkeley’s Measure AA has no declared opposition, and is endorsed by the Alameda County Democratic Party, Green Party of Alameda County, Berkeley School Board, East Bay Young Dems, Berkeley Tenants Union and Wellstone Democratic Club.
The measure, put on the ballot by the City Council at the request of the Berkeley Rent Board, delays “no fault” owner-move-in evictions (OMIs) of families with school-age children until end of school year and increases relocation funds. Voters have required landlords in OMIs to provide relocation help of $4,500 to low-income tenants, but not other tenants, since 2000. Measure AA would update this amount to $15,000, and require that it be paid to all tenant households, plus an additional $5,000 for low-income, disabled, age 60 or older, or long-term (since 1998) tenants.
Relocation funds help evicted renters stay in the area, which is good for the community and the environment.

Berkeley v. Big Landlords
Of course, the big news this year is the controversy generated by competing ballot measures based on the failed 2014 volunteer signature drive called Robin Hood. The Daily Planet reported that the Berkeley Property Owners Association has spent over $500,000 – that’s half a million dollars – to stop Measure U1. The Planet says that is the second most money spent in Berkeley history!
The grassroots campaign needs each and every renter in Berkeley to get up to speed and talk to their friends and neighbors – U1 can’t afford to compete with glossy mailers or pay students $15 an hour to hang something on your door! Renters should study up on the differences between U1 and DD and help Berkeley get the most affordable housing!

Who Supports Yes on U1 and No on DD?

The League of Women Voters: Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville
Alameda County Democratic Party, Wellstone, John George
East Bay Housing Organizations, Berkeley Food and Housing Project, BOSS
California Alliance for Retired Americans, ASUC, Berkeley Student Coop, Cal Dems
Sierra Club, Green Party, Greenbelt Alliance
Robert Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy
Berkeley Tenants Union, Berkeley Progressive Alliance, Berkeley Citizens Action

 

btu-no-on-u1-e1476232453372

 

Student Leaders Op-Ed – No on Deceptive DD.
http://www.dailycal.org/2016/09/13/conflicting-city-council-measures-seek-confuse-voters/

Alameda County Housing Bond Measure A1
The Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted to place a $580 million housing bond on the November ballot. This measure is a much needed investment in affordable homes for low-income renters, homeownership, and an Innovation Fund to seek new solutions to our housing crisis. It will require that 20% of the rental housing units be reserved for extremely low-income households at or below 20% Area Median Income, provide homeownership opportunities, and provide support to help keep residents in their homes.”
http://www.berkeleyside.com/2016/07/28/op-ed-confronting-the-causes-and-solutions-of-mass-homelessness/comment-page-1/

More on Measure A1 from East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO)
http://ebho.org/our-work/alameda-county-housing-bond

More Info

Berkeley AA http://www.BerkeleyMeasureAA.org
Berkeley U1 http://www.fundaffordablehousing.org/
Berkeley DD http://tinyurl.com/dangerousdeception
Alameda A1 http://tinyurl.com/zego9dt

Nice Collection of Many Progressive Endorsements
http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2016-10-07/article/44966?headline=Measures-and-Propositions-Progressive-endorsers–Margot-Smith

Rent Board Endorsements of Ballot Measures
http://www.dailycal.org/2016/09/20/berkeley-rent-stabilization-board-endorses-november-ballot-measures/

BTU / BCA 2016 Endorsements As Voted By Memberships

screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-4-10-58-pm 

 

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Election 2016: Tenant Endorsements – Candidates

election-3

This year, Berkeley Tenants Union held two endorsement events. In the spring, we shared a meeting with Berkeley Progressive Alliance and Berkeley Citizens Action to select candidates, and in the fall we shared a meeting with BCA to make endorsements on measures.

This is the first year the reconstituted BTU has done endorsements on measures, because this year there are several measures important to renters – particularly Measure AA (relocation funds for evicted renters) and Measure U1 (tax big landlords to fund affordable housing). Results of our ballot measures vote will be posted tomorrow.

Rent Board

opt3cali2Vote for four. Vote for only four — no ranked choice in this race.
Vote for the CALI Slate chosen at the Berkeley Tenant Convention!!
All are BTU Members:
Christina Murphy, Alejandro Soto-Vigil,
Leah Simon-Weisberg, Igor Tregub
http://berkeleyrentboard.org/

 

Mayor: Jesse Arreguin

Jesse used to chair the Rent Board, was chosen at the Tenant Convention multiple times, and help pass recent rules for renters, including:

City Council:

Ending the Bates hold on City Council could really help make Berkeley’s housing policies into housing realities. Electing a realtor as mayor probably won’t.

District 2 West Berkeley: Nanci Armstrong-Temple
An activist with strong ties to the community and Black Lives Matter.
http://www.nanciforberkeley.vote/

District 3 South Berkeley: Ben Bartlett
Chosen by Max Anderson to take his place.
http://www.benbartlett.vote/

District 5 North Berkeley: Sophie Hahn
Voice of reason on the Zoning Board. Leader at Sierra Club.
http://www.sophiehahn.com/

District 6 Northeast Berkeley: Fred Dodsworth
Longtime advocate who has helped with Tenant Convention. BTU Member.
http://freddodsworth.nationbuilder.com/

electionHere is a link to the responses to our questionnaire from all local candidates who chose to answer (BPA led the questionnaire, in collaboration with BTU and BCA).
https://berkeleyprogressivealliance.org/2016/04/23/candidates-for-mayor-and-city-council-2016/

 

 

 

 

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National Petition on Short Term Rentals

Thanks to California Senator Diane Feinstein, there is a national movement to call for the Federal Trade Commission to investigate how commercial landlords using short term rental platforms are impacting housing shortages and contributing to high rents nationwide.

Now you can join their calls for a national investigation.
Airbnb-National-Petition

 

“Senators Dianne Feinstein of California, Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts wrote a letter to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez requesting the agency “study and quantify” the prevalence of commercial renters using Airbnb, HomeAway Inc., VRBO and other short-term rental services. The letter said activity on those sites can result in housing shortages and drive up prices.”
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-13/u-s-senators-ask-ftc-to-probe-airbnb-s-impact-on-housing

Feinstein, Elizabeth Warren and other US Senators are also calling for investigation into charges of race discrimination on sites like Airbnb:
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-congress-warren-housing-idUSKCN0ZT2WI

Democrats Discuss Airbnb Problems…
RACISM:
http://thehill.com/policy/technology/289105-airbnb-race-controversy-comes-to-dem-convention
BAD DATA: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jul/27/airbnb-panel-democratic-national-convention-survey

…But Party Leaders Boost Short Term Rentals Use During Convention
Like Grucella, one-quarter of all Philadelphia-area hosts for this week’s DNC were new to the role. And their homes were in demand. Airbnb estimated its Philadelphia partners would welcome over 5,000 guests for the convention, a 250 percent jump from a typical week.”
http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20160730_Airbnb_has_a_busy_week_in_Philly.html
About 40,000 people are in Philadelphia for the convention, and Airbnb says 7,000 of them are using its home rental services, staying in spaces rented out by 3,000 hosts.”
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-26/airbnb-and-uber-to-democrats-you-need-us

Berkeley has passed up another opportunity to be a leader of policies that protect affordable housing by delaying any vote on short term rentals, even after a year of debate. 

Berkeley’s next hearing on Short Term Rentals is expected to be Wednesday September 7th at the Planning Commission.

Video about Airbnb Race Discrimination:
https://youtu.be/dOEd4h-pQfg

Congressional Black Caucus On Airbnb Racism
“Members of the CBC are deeply concerned about recent reports of exclusion of African-Americans on the Airbnb platform, and we sincerely hope the leadership of Airbnb will take the issue of discrimination seriously and implement common sense measures to prevent such discrimination and ill-treatment of its customers in the future.”
http://blackamericaweb.com/2016/06/27/airbnb-racism-allegations-head-to-capitol-hill/

More on Warren’s Call for Investigation:
“Opponents argue that Airbnb, a platform that allows users to rent out their homes to strangers, is aggravating housing crises in cities across the country by flooding markets with short-term rentals and, as a result, reducing much-needed affordable housing. While Airbnb claims that many of its users are occasionally renting out rooms to make extra cash, some experts who have studied the limited data available argue that the platform is allowing people to operate sophisticated hotel businesses while dodging taxes and other key regulations.”
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jul/13/elizabeth-warren-airbnb-government-investigation

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Not So Rosy In Berkeley

IMG_6926

Short Term Rentals

We have one step forward and two steps back:
The good news is that the City Council voted July 7th to demand enforcement of the existing law prohibiting short term rentals if an owner has three or more units offered as vacation rentals in Berkeley. BTU is sending updated info about the owners we complained about last summer – and we would like you to send any information about big landlords breaking the law to the City Council, and to us, too!
The bad news is that the Council majority may be selling tenants out for some tax revenue so they can cut a deal with megacorps like AirBnB. After promises from Bates and Capitelli to continue the ban on short term rentals of units that are not someone’s home, they voted to “have staff consider the possibility of grandfathering in permits for accessory dwelling units currently being rented out on a short-term basis.” In other words, if you own a duplex and are following the law, you are screwed, but people who have been breaking it might be allowed to legalize their small business.

“After debating some of the finer points about what the city’s ordinance should look like — particularly after a preliminary vote in June — officials agreed to have staff do further research before ratifying the overall law. In the meantime, however, officials want to begin immediately to address the issue of owners with multiple units who are flouting the rules. “It’s currently against the law and it will continue to be against the law,” Worthington said. “Therefore there’s no reason to delay.”
http://www.berkeleyside.com/2016/07/11/berkeley-council-votes-to-crack-down-on-short-term-rentals-of-multiple-units-by-same-owner/comment-page-1/

Durant Demolition Granted
(with Unknown Mitigation)

We have mostly a success story on our continuing opposition to the demolition of 18 rent controlled units on Durant. This is because while the BTU/ASUC appeal was going through a ridiculous year-long city process, the Council passed a new version of the demolition ordinance which requires a mitigation fee for the loss of rent control.

However, the Council did not set the fee. State law says you have to show a direct relationship between the level of a mitigation fee and the damage to society that the money is meant to offset. Council first commissioned a “nexus study” on demolition of rent controlled units several years ago, but they say they still don’t have it back. Some activists think they are waiting until after the election to make an unpopular vote.
BTU plans to demand that the fee be as high as the study says it needs to be to provide for one-for-one replacement of rent controlled units with real affordable housing.

2631 Durant In Daily Cal
“We don’t inherently oppose tearing-down and replacing the building,” Lewis said in an email of the project that would add 38 housing units to the city of Berkeley. “However, we do oppose incentivizing landlords to destroy habitable, low-cost housing in order to try to make a profit.”
http://www.dailycal.org/2016/07/13/lawsuit-prolongs-struggle-2631-durant-ave-complex/

Berkeley Demolition Appeal in SF Chronicle
Berkeley’s approval of demolition increases worries over rent – San Francisco Chronicle

Lawsuit on Durant Demolition
Developer Orloff claims there is an inherent “right to develop.”
“…plaintiffs fault Berkeley for “its enactment of legislation that illegally and unconstitutionally requires property owners to transfer massive sums of money to the City and tenants in order to exercise an essential right of property ownership: the right to develop property.” They seek, among other relief, a declaration from the court that the ordinance violates the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution and its Due Process Clause, and is therefore invalid.The city, in its motion to dismiss, argues that there is a definite nexus between mitigation fees and the public purpose of mitigating the loss of affordable housing…”
http://www.eastbaytimes.com/breaking-news/ci_30145194/berkeley-landlord-sues-city-over-demolition-fees

In Other News

2017 Berkeley Budget Cuts Homeless Services
The City took money from long-established programs to pay for a new “hub” for homeless intake.
http://www.dailycal.org/2016/07/04/several-berkeley-nonprofit-homeless-services-partially-defunded-by-2017-city-budget/

Evictions from Unpermitted Units in SF
“Though S.F. has proven to be an inhospitable place for renters the last several years, the circumstances surrounding this eviction are particularly startling. It seems that Malliett’s new landlords—Mathieu Verbeeck, a VP of product development at Mubi, and Catherine Crevels, a marketing manager at Intuit—are testing out a novel strategy for ejecting tenants. They contend that Malliett and her daughter are causing a “nuisance” by living in a unit that lacks the proper permits. The Board of Supervisors has…”
http://www.modernluxury.com/san-francisco/story/tech-workers-evict-kindergarten-teacher-mission-apartment-using-appliances

Where Do Renters Evicted from SF Move?
http://antievictionmappingproject.net/relocation.html

San Jose Needs a Demolition Mitigation
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jul/07/silicon-valley-largest-eviction-rent-controlled-tenants-income-inequality

First Time Buyers Screwed Too
The only cities that fared worse than Oakland and Berkeley were Miami Beach, Florida (299) and Newark, New Jersey (300).”
http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2016/07/18/oakland-berkeley-ranked-worst-u-s-cities-for-first-time-home-buyers/

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Mayor Adds Last-Minute Twist

After a year of public hearings and debate, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates is proposing to change the Short Term Rentals law which Berkeley City Council passed on May 31. Every law in Berkeley must be voted on twice, and in between vote one and vote two, Berkeley leaders are appearing to waiver.

Berkeley City Council votes Thursday, July 7th at a special 5:30pm meeting.

Bates has introduced a proposed contract with Airbnb to collect tax for Berkeley if Berkeley does not compel Airbnb to share any data that might allow our city to enforce the law and protect our housing supply. This contract comes at the same time that Oakland has cut a similar deal, but while San Francisco is increasing fines and being sued by the corporate platform.

The new law is already a compromise which allows residents to rent their homes, or rooms in their homes, while continuing the (as yet unenforced) ban on rentals of empty homes. The reason that rentals of less than 14 days have been against the law in Berkeley is because such rentals allow an owner to get around tenant protections and rent control.

It is important that Berkeley Tenants who have not written to Council since May 31 send them a letter asking that they approve the second reading of the law which has gone through a long public process already. It is important that everyone read this ridiculous contract with Airbnb and let the Mayor know that he can’t give away our hard-won tenants rights as one of his last acts in office!

WE CANNOT ALLOW HOUSING TO BE CONVERTED TO HOTEL ROOMS

WE MUST REQUIRE LICENSE NUMBERS ON ADVERTISING

BERKELEY SHOULD NEVER SIGN A CONTRACT WITH AUDIT RESTRICTIONS

Proposed Berkeley Contract With Airbnb http://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/archives/2016/06/29/will-berkeley-cut-a-deal-with-airbnb-or-vote-to-regulate-short-term-rentals

The Contract Offer:
– Stays over 29 days in duration will not be subject to tax
– Berkeley waives all taxes not paid before contract date
– The Department of Finance will not directly or indirectly audit any Host
– Airbnb will not provide personally identifiable information regarding its Hosts
– Berkeley can audit Airbnb no more frequently than every four years
2016 STRs air bnb contract

NY TIMES: SF and NYC Crack Down on Illegal Hotels
Airbnb sued San Francisco over a unanimous decision on June 7 by the city’s Board of Supervisors to fine the company $1,000 a day for every unregistered host on its service. If Airbnb does not comply, it could face misdemeanor charges. The suit follows a bipartisan move by New York lawmakers who voted this month to heavily fine anyone who uses Airbnb to rent a whole apartment for fewer than 30 days, a practice that has been illegal in the state since 2010.”
http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/06/29/technology/airbnb-sues-san-francisco-over-a-law-it-had-helped-pass.html?referer=https://www.google.com/

Airbnb Sues San Francisco
The largest corporation making money off illegal hotels is suing the City of SF over their new policy of fining the hosting platform for listing illegal rentals.
http://fortune.com/2016/06/27/airbnb-san-francisco-lawsuit/

SF WANTED Posters for Illegal Hotel Operators
http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Wanted-Flyers-Across-Chinatown-Accuse-12-San-Francisco-Residents-of-Airbnbing-Our-Community-384774561.html

LA City Attorney Files Suit Over Illegal Hotels
“Given that shortage of affordable housing, illegally converting rental units to hotels or short-rentals has got to stop,” City Atty. Mike Feuer said at a news conference Monday. “My office is going to intervene to preserve rent-stabilized units and restore those units when we allege they’ve been unlawfully taken off the market.”
http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-ln-landlords-illegal-rentals-20160620-snap-story.html

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