Although February 16th will be the Berkeley City Council’s special work session on Housing Policy, several issues are going to City Council on Tuesday February 9th as well.
The Relocation Ordinance was revised a few years ago to make sure that when renters are displaced because of substantial habitability issues, the property owner must help them afford a temporary relocation. When the law was revised, discussions centered on seismic retrofits, so the law contemplates mostly planned relocations for substantial rehabilitation of apartments.
However, there have been many large apartment buildings which have had fires in the last several years, and renters found accessing their rights to relocation funding to be challenging.
Now, the City Manager has brought revisions to the law to the City Council. That’s good news – 2/3rds of the amendments are common-sense clean-up issues.
However, there is one pesky change: Instead of requiring landlords to carry insurance which would fund the relocation payments Berkeley requires, the new law will require displaced tenants, many of whom have lost everything in a fire, to use their insurance money for relocation before they get funding from the owner.
BTU’s Letter to Council on Relocation: Relocation Ordinance Letter
Changes to the Demolition Ordinance are also on the agenda for the 9th, but BTU thinks our burdened City leaders will probably not have time to discuss this important issue at this meeting. We expect the issue to be held over. But just in case, we sent this to the Council regarding changes which would allow developers to tear down rent controlled units:
City Council Relocation Ordinance Item #3: http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/Clerk/City_Council/2016/02_Feb/Documents/2016-02-09_Item_03_Amending_the_Relocation.aspx
City Council Demolition Ordinance Item #28: http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/Clerk/City_Council/2016/02_Feb/Documents/2016-02-09_Item_28_Zoning_Amendments.aspx
There are also several Affordable Housing Items from Kriss Worthington which have been held over at meeting after meeting since October of last year that may actually be discussed on Tuesday.