Good News!

File Dec 24, 2 04 50 PMCode Enforcement Item Passes at City Council
Jesse Arreguin’s item asking for changes to Berkeley’s Rental Housing Safety Program passed on the consent calendar after being postponed for several meetings. Of course, the item doesn’t yet set policy, it just asks for a report back from the City Manager regarding costs for proactive rental housing inspections and other proposed improvements.
Berkeley City Council also passed Arreguin’s item to have Berkeley staff look into the feasibility of creating a “small sites program” to help nonprofits – such as student co-ops – purchase small multi-family buildings.
District 7 Council Member Kriss Worthington’s item requesting our state representatives to work to increase the California housing tax credit for low income residents also passed on consent, but several other housing items Worthington had introduced for an October meeting were held over for a fourth time and will be heard January 12th.

Rental Housing Safety Program Item:
http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/Clerk/City_Council/2015/12_Dec/Documents/2015-12-01_Item_28_Revising_the_Rental.aspx
more info:
http://berkeleytenants.org/?p=1456

Related: More Library Gardens Balcony Lawsuits
As well as blaming contractors involved in the construction, lawyers claim the company which managed the Library Gardens apartment complex did not want to spend money on remedial work or investigations as it was motivated to maximise profits.”
http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/berkeley-tragedy/berkeley-lawsuit-claims-red-flag-warning-ignored-34300516.html
“Some of the Irish students who witnessed the Berkeley balcony collapse but who were not injured are expected to file lawsuits over their emotional distress, according to a new court filing in California.”
http://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/berkeley-witnesses-expected-to-file-lawsuits-over-incident-1.2459187

Students Getting Involved!
BTU has added many student members this year, including two recent graduates and one current student who now serve on the steering committee of your Berkeley Tenants Union. The Associated Students of the University of California joined with BTU in appealing the demolition on Durant, and the ASUC has also formed a Student Housing Committee to create a Housing Action Plan to address how the housing emergency is impacting students.
“The committee is considering several potential solutions to address the campus’s housing shortage, such as constructing additional buildings in the courtyards of Unit 1 and Unit 2 and earmarking parts of the university budget to building more affordable housing…The committee also discussed plans for a Housing and Tenants’ Rights Week, tentatively scheduled from Feb. 8-13, and a possible large public event to bring awareness to student-housing issues.”
http://www.dailycal.org/2015/12/11/asuc-student-housing-committee-discusses-housing-tenant-rights/

In Other News 

Fire Highlights Problems With Relocation Law
At issue was Berkeley’s Relocation Ordinance, written in 2011 and designed to support tenants who are temporarily forced out of their rental units. It applies most often to planned renovations that displace tenants — as well as to relocation due to fire or code enforcement, except in the case of an earthquake or other natural disaster. Under the ordinance, tenants are entitled to “relocation payments from the property owner to mitigate the costs associated with a temporary move,” until they can move back into the unit.”
http://www.berkeleyside.com/2015/12/10/tenants-scramble-to-relocate-after-dwight-way-fire/

Oakland Ellis Evictions
With no-fault evictions on the rise, Oakland is considering a relocation fee that will be higher than San Francisco’s or Berkeley’s.
http://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/archives/2015/12/07/ellis-act-evictions-on-the-rise-in-oakland

Lafayette Wants Rent Control
This summer, the Bay Area suburb of Lafayette backed down on a city moratorium on rent increases when controversial landlord Sack Properties agreed to limit increases to 10%. However, tenants say the owner added on new charges and fees instead of raising the rents. Now renters are back before the City Council asking for protections.
“He outlined the many charges and fees: water charges, marked-up garbage costs, pet rent, parking rent, mandatory renters insurance, questionable language in new leases that give the landlord the right to evict tenants for anything deemed to be an excessive mess, and a $3,000 charge for an early break of the lease.
A parade of concerned tenants spoke to the council about all of these issues, emphasizing the serious inconsistencies in utility charges, and lack of transparency.”
http://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue0920/Tenants-Criticize-Landlord-Practices-Again.html

Redwood City Wants Rent Control
Across Redwood City, the median rent price for two-bedroom apartments increased from $2,500 to $3,800 since 2012, according to the real estate website Zillow. Minimum wage and other full time workers are unable to afford those rents. They end up having to move out of the area and in sometimes quitting their local jobs.”
http://ww2.kqed.org/news/2015/12/21/redwood-city-renters-officials-face-off-as-housing-crisis-intensifies

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