It’s All Happening!

Updates

Rent Board
Tonight the Berkeley Rent Board will vote to narrow down the candidates who are applying to fill Commissioner Harr’s seat on the Board. There were over 16 applicants including many BTU members, several folks who serve on other Berkeley Commissions, and former landlord Commissioner Judy Hunt, who was just voted out of office!
To see applications look in the agenda packet:
http://www.cityofberkeley.info/uploadedFiles/Rent_Stabilization_Board/Level_3_-_General/Item%204.a.(2)_Applicant%20submittals%20by%20name.pdf

To comment to the Board, you must appear in person at 7 PM.

Short Term Rentals
Tomorrow we hope the City Council will vote to pass (on second reading) a decent if not ideal law about short term rentals. BTU Steering decided to support this draft because the most important thing for Berkeley renters is that the city ENFORCE the rules about not turning rent controlled units into hotels! To date, the city has never responded to us about complaints BTU has filed regarding large landlords who rent multiple units on Airbnb. With the new City Council, and this new law, we hope to reduce the loss of permanent housing.

Some owners offer each room as a separate STR.

Read it here (Item 1):
http://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/City_Council/2017/02_Feb/City_Council__02-28-2017_-_Regular_Meeting_Agenda.aspx
Support Item One by Emailing:
council@cityofberkeley.info

Save The Date: Better Tenant Protections
As mentioned in our newsletter, the new Mayor Jesse Arreguin is going to move forward on better tenant protections by revising last year’s lame TPO. Council will review the new draft ordinance on March 14.

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Kate Harrison for City Council

At a meeting in January, BTU selected fellow Tenants Union member Kate Harrison as the best candidate for renters in the District 4 Special Election for City Council.

Kate Harrison won overwhelming support at the endorsements meeting since she is already well-known for her leadership in getting the landlord tax passed last fall (Measure U1) as well as for her community work making sure big developers are forced to fund affordable units in Berkeley. Her platform also includes using a portion of the transfer tax on homes sold in Berkeley to fund even more low-income housing. Kate also wants to allow limited equity coops to use Housing Trust Fund money to purchase existing rental housing in order to keep it affordable.

Learn More About Kate’s Housing Proposals
http://electkateharrison.com/issues/

Video from League of Women Voters Forum
https://www.lwvbae.org/elections/

The election is being held by mail to save costs. Ballots must be in by March 7th. The special election is needed because BTU member Jesse Arreguin, who was the District 4 Councilmember, was elected mayor last November.

Ben Gould Corrects Campaign Violations
…violations of the Berkeley Election Reform Act had been committed, but determined that the violations had been corrected promptly.
http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/02/17/berkeley-watchdog-panel-declines-further-probe-into-gould-campaign/

How the Candidates Differ
“Harrison emphasized protecting existing tenants against displacement by limiting short-term housing, protecting rent control, and enforcing rules on owner move-in evictions.”
http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/01/25/berkeley-candidates-for-vacant-council-seat-differ-on-approaches/

Harrison Q&A
I would like to expand the current program helping building owners pay for energy improvements through their property taxes to include safety improvements for artists’ live/work spaces to avoid repeating the tragedy at the Oakland Ghost Ship. We cannot afford to lose our creative community either through disaster or displacement.
http://www.berkeleyside.com/2017/02/07/district-4-candidate-kate-harrison/

 

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Be a Rent Board Commissioner!

The Berkeley Rent Board will select a new Commissioner to fill the seat vacated when BTU’s Katherine Harr chose to resign for personal reasons. The Board’s timeline is very tight, with written applications due next week, but anyone can apply. The eight sitting Commissioners will hold a special meeting later this month, then form a committee to interview top applicants, and finally select a new Commissioner on March 20. That appointee will complete Harr’s term.

The Berkeley Tenants Union encourages members to apply.

Easy to Apply
“I’m really excited to encourage people to get involved,” Harr said. “Especially students — everybody needs to be represented. … You have to be somebody that believes that collective decisions are better than individual decisions. You’ve got to believe … that talking about different perspectives leads to a better conclusion.”
http://www.dailycal.org/2017/02/15/berkeley-rent-board-seeks-new-commissioner-resignation-katherine-harr/

Applications Due February 22nd
“The board is expected to appoint someone at its March 20 meeting to serve for the remainder of Harr’s term. Applicants must be registered Berkeley voters and must submit a letter of 500 words or less detailing their background and why they wish to serve on the board.”
http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/02/14/berkeley-rent-board-commissioner-harr-resigns/

How To Apply
“In addition to the 500-word statement about their candidacy, all applications must include the candidate’s full legal name, current living address (post office boxes will not be accepted), telephone and other contact numbers. The applications may be mailed or dropped off at the Rent Board offices at 2125 Milvia St., Berkeley 94704, to the attention of Jen Fabish. Applicants can also email Fabish at jfabish@cityofberkeley.info. All applications are public documents.”
http://www.berkeleyside.com/2017/02/16/berkeley-rent-board-seeks-applicants-vacant-seat/

Rent Board Announcement
filling Bd vacancy (2-6-17)

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Short Term Rentals Again, Still

re: Item 1, Second Reading of Short Term Rentals Law

Berkeley Tenants Union letter to City Council

February 14, 2017

Berkeley Tenants Union members have spent countless hours waiting to address the City Council in the past several years to deliver our message: in order to protect our rental housing stock, Council should only ease the ban on Short Term Rentals (STRs) a little bit at a time. We have been asking City Council for years to please JUST allow renters and owners to rent THEIR OWN HOMES for the short term, and move on to enforcing the existing ban on other STRs as soon as possible.

We remind you that the ban on renting for less than 14 days was created to make sure there was not an easy way around rent control protections.

We remind you that all permanent housing – even housing that is not rent controlled – contributes to the diversity and affordability of Berkeley.

Some people say they want a compromise; allowing short term rentals for unlimited days when the owner is present WAS a compromise — those rooms could ALSO be used for students and other permanent residents.
 We join the Rent Board in asking Council to please change the language in Section 23C.22.020D  – BTU has always asked that Council not allow rentals for less than 14 days in any whole unit that could be used for people who live and work in Berkeley. Berkeley Tenants need you to preserve all existing housing for residents, and to create new housing. We do not want new accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to be used as vacation rentals – we worked hard to get that into the initial Council referral for the ADU law many years ago – but it did not get put into that final draft. Berkeley Tenants have always asked that Council not allow STRs in any existing in-laws, or even converted garages – if they have a kitchen. It doesn’t matter if someone bought it last week, wants to use it for their nanny, father or second cousin. Berkeley people need that housing!

We are very concerned that Section 23C.22.020D will encourage new owners to evict long term tenants.

BTU members have also been consistent in our other message — simple laws make for better enforcement. Allowing some ADUs to be short term rentals but not others will be confusing for owners as well as adding an additional layer, and thus additional costs, for enforcement.

We did not send people to the Council meeting on January 24th because we thought that the leaders we worked so hard to get elected this fall had heard our pleas. We are not asking members to come out on Tuesday for the same reason – we expect you to preserve housing and create new housing, not establish new hotel rooms.

Please don’t let us down!
 
New York Gives First Fines to Owners
“Cames was described by the city council as a broker who bought a Brooklyn brownstone for $2m in 2015, and then rented five apartments inside it via Airbnb. She was fined $1,000 for each apartment.”
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/feb/12/airbnb-hosts-new-york-fines-government-illegal
Barcelona First City to Fine Airbnb
“Airbnb’s business in the city has almost doubled in two years, rising to 20,000 listings from 11,000 in 2014….Even so, its rapid growth has aggravated city authorities who slapped a 600,000-euro ($644,160) fine on Airbnb in November for advertising what they deemed to be illegal room rentals, becoming the first city to do so.”
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-08/barcelona-rejects-airbnb-plan-to-limit-rentals-in-fresh-clash
There But For Fortune
“Clearly, cities with a much longer history of tourism than Charleston have concluded that there is such a thing as too much. In October, Barcelona residents rated tourist numbers as second only to unemployment as the city’s biggest problem. The problem there, which is an increasing problem in Charleston too, is that those tourists are driving up the cost of renting apartments for residents in the city.”
http://www.postandcourier.com/opinion/editorials/take-a-tip-from-barcelona/article_82aebb12-e7ef-11e6-8ca7-b7e9e53783b1.html
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Check Your Batteries!

co-detectTwo Berkeley renters died last week in a case of carbon monoxide poisoning.

News reports did not say if the building’s owner was required to have installed a carbon monoxide detector, but BTU thought this would be a good time to remind all renters that MOST apartments have been required by state law to have CO detectors since 2013. Single-family and duplex homes were required to have the alarms as of July 2011.

Carbon monoxide does not smell. CO alarms are required on every floor, including basements, and should be placed in hallways outside of bedrooms. The law applies only to homes and buildings that have a gas heater or appliance, fireplace or attached garage. It is the renter’s responsibility to check and replace batteries.

Smoke detectors are required in all units.

Poison Gas May Have Come from 3D Printer
http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2017/01/27/source-carbon-monoxide-poisoning-killed-berkeley-couple/

More on Deaths at 3028 Deakin Fourplex
http://www.berkeleyside.com/2017/02/03/berkeley-police-carbon-monoxide-caused-death-couple-cats/

http://www.berkeleyside.com/2017/01/28/carbon-monoxide-laser-cutter-may-caused-mysterious-deaths-berkeley-home/

500 People Die Each Year
“Because it is not a disease that requires reporting for record keeping, it is difficult to find statistics on how many illnesses and deaths occur from carbon monoxide poisoning in the Bay Area. But about 500 people die and 20,000 are injured each year nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In San Francisco, Pacific Gas & Electric crews have responded to 757 carbon monoxide investigation calls so far in 2012, said utility spokesman Joe Molica.”
http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Monoxide-detector-rules-expand-Jan-1-4079115.php

Where to Place Detectors
http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/Planning_and_Development/Housing_Code_Enforcement/Carbon_Monoxide_Devices.asp

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Final Showdown on Short Term Rentals Law

Short Term Rentals to new City Council January 24th

There are two proposals before the Council tomorrow. One would allow folks who have been breaking the law by renting their “in-law” unit to visitors to continue to do so while continuing to ban others with in-laws (the ones who have been abiding by the current law) from short term rentals. Yes, you heard me. Item 41a would reward some duplex owners who have been breaking the law by “grandfathering” their short term rentals! This item is a carry-over from the previous City Council, and BTU hopes and expects the new Council to see the inherent risk to renters and reject Item 41a.

Instead, BTU is asking the City Council to support proposals by the Rent Stabilization Board (see below) which would make Item 41b into a short term rentals law much closer to what we have all hoped for: one that would protect our housing stock while allowing owners and tenants to rent their own homes out on AirBnB and other platforms now and again for some extra cash.

BTU did not make these signs, but we were happy to see them

BTU did not make these signs, but we were happy to see them

When is a Kitchen not a Kitchen?

The whole vote on Tuesday will be made extra-confusing by an adjunct proposal; Item 42 changes the definition of kitchen. This may also be an issue renters and those concerned with housing policies will want to weigh in on: can folks rent their converted garage or other “Accessory Building” as a short term rental? Under Item 41b and 42 the answer will be yes, as long as the building does not have a history of being rented for the long term.

There is just one problem with this compromise regarding Accessory Buildings: the new definition of kitchen says a kitchen is not a kitchen if the refrigerator is small! A kitchen would now be defined as “A habitable space used for preparation of food that contains at least a sink, a refrigerator of no less than 10 cubic feet, and either a cooktop and an oven, or a range.This leads to the questions: if you can put a full kitchen in your garage, then why would we allow it to be a vacation rental but not a permanent home at a time when we need housing? If you put a kitchen in your garage, will it be safe for short or long-term renters? BTU has always said we are fine with folks renting their garage as a short term rental if it does not have a kitchen, and thus could not be used for long-term housing.

Short Term Rentals Enforcement

Last summer the Council also directed staff to take action to enforce the existing ban on rentals of less than 14 days if an owner had more than three units listed for the short term. BTU worked with Councilmember Worthington’s office to provide information about several such owners. So far we have not heard of any action taken. Also last summer, the staff from Berkeley put out an RFP and decided to hire a private firm called Host Compliance to enforce the new rules. The firm also contracts with Oakland, Napa, Los Angeles, Denver, Toronto and many other cities, according to their website.
The Rent Board’s recommendations to Council also include language to make enforcement of the new law more effective.

Council Items 41a, 41b and 42 Concern Vacation Rentals
http://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/City_Council/2017/01_Jan/City_Council__01-24-2017_-_Regular_Meeting_Agenda.aspx

Rent Board Gives Advice
The Board is requesting that Council consider proposed revisions to language in the definition of Short-Term Rental (23C.22030 –D) and Host Residence (23C.22030 –D).  I addition, we believe there should be a definition for Long-Term Rental and have provided possible language.  The Board also recommended that Council adopt enforcement language similar to the City of San Francisco to prevent hosting platforms from ignoring local regulations.”
RSB to Council: rent-board-strs-2017
Harr / Simon-Weisberg Proposal: harr-simonweisberg-strs-2017
Soto-Vigil Proposal: soto-vigil-strs-2017

Previous City Council Vote
http://www.berkeleyside.com/2016/07/11/berkeley-council-votes-to-crack-down-on-short-term-rentals-of-multiple-units-by-same-owner/

The Company Berkeley Hired To Do Enforcement
https://hostcompliance.com/

“The AirBnB Police”
http://money.cnn.com/2016/10/01/technology/airbnb-police

Oakland Still Working on STRs
http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/01/16/oakland-airbnb-issue-highlights-citys-gentrification-fears/

In Other News

Student Groups Support Harrison in District 4
“We have an opportunity in Berkeley today to lead the way on progressive solutions to our nation’s challenges and ensure that the legacy we leave for those who follow in our paths is an equitable, sustainable, affordable and livable community for years to come. Kate will bring the lessons she has learned from her work as a consultant on the global stage to keep our city welcoming and inclusive and make it an even better place to call home.”
http://www.dailycal.org/2017/01/20/students-support-kate-harrison-district-4-city-council-special-election/

SF Tenant Gets $400,000
A San Francisco woman was forced out of her home when she was hit with a 400 percent rent increase in 2015. The renter’s attorney announced Tuesday that his client had won a $400,000 settlement in her lawsuit alleging an unlawful eviction.”
http://abc7news.com/realestate/san-francisco-renter-wins-$400000-settlement-/1707689/

Warehouse Item Being Developed in Berkeley
http://www.cityofberkeley.info/uploadedFiles/Rent_Stabilization_Board/Level_3_-_General/CTTE_17%20Jan%2013_4x4%20Ad%20Hoc%20Committee%20agenda(1).pdf

Artists Not to Blame
http://fusion.net/story/373688/dont-blame-artists-bay-area-oakland-ghost-ship-housing/

Permits Bureaucracy Drives Events Underground
“Everything about the permitting system is designed to discourage the type of electronic music events that people want to hold, Keenan said, from dropping off special permit applications at the city’s Eastmont police substation on 73rd Avenue, to the applications themselves that say in block-faced letters: “Dancing is not permitted between 1 a.m. and 9 a.m.”  Plus, permits have to be filed at least 30 days in advance. And, it can also be incredibly costly, he said. Each permit has its own associated fee, and while special event permits are only $50, extended-hour cabaret licenses can run as high as $2,900, according to the city’s master fee schedule. There’s also the added cost of hiring security for the event if the city deems it necessary, and acquiring insurance, which is also required.”
http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2016/12/09/musicians-artists-costly-permitting-system-forces-events-underground/

Oakland Tries to Shut Down Legit Activist Space
David Keenan is a BTU Member.
Omni founding member David Keenan said the experience calls into question public statements from Mayor Libby Schaaf that city officials would not be conducting a “witch hunt” and would be using “compassion” in their handling of fire and code enforcement complaints. Those types of complaints spiked in the two weeks after the deadly Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood earlier this month.”
http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2016/12/28/omni-commons-experience-highlights-oaklands-heavy-handed-approach-for-artist-spaces/

 

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Berkeley Tenants Union D4 Endorsement

Berkeley Tenants Union members voted overwhelmingly to support BTU member Kate Harrison for City Council in the upcoming special election.

harrisonendorsements-meeting-01-08-17-02

On Sunday, BTU joined with old friends Berkeley Citizens Action and new allies Berkeley Progressive Alliance to host a forum between the two candidates for District 4, Berkeley’s downtown City Council district. Berkeley will hold an election by mail to fill the seat left open when BTU member Jesse Arreguin became Mayor. Ballots must be postmarked by March 7.
Only about 20% of BTU members made the trek in heavy rains to cast a vote, yet almost every audience member submitted a question for the forum. The majority of questions focused on housing, displacement, and homelessness, but police accountability was also an issue. To guide members in voting, BTU / BCA / BPA also distributed responses from Harrison and graduate student Ben Gould to members of the three groups before the meeting.

questionnaire-harrison

questionnaire-gould

Gould was a good sport about supporting the landlord tax U1 in the last election, but he did tell the Daily Cal that the main differences between himself and Kate Harrison are their policies regarding housing, so BTU voters should take a close look at both candidates.

all photos: Christine Schwartz

all photos: Christine Schwartz

Support the Renter’s Choice
http://electkateharrison.com/

More on Harrison
Former Mayor Gus Newport spoke at Harrison’s press conference. Harrison is already endorsed by Mayor-Elect Arreguín, UCB’s Progressive Student Alliance, Sandre Swanson, Jean Quan, Councilmembers-Elect Sophie Hahn and Ben Bartlett, and seven Rent Board Commissioners so far.
http://www.dailycal.org/2016/11/30/kate-harrison-kicks-off-campaign-district-4-city-council-seat/

More Info on Election and Vote by Mail
http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/elections/

BTU Member Kate Harrison Runs in Special Election
“Arreguín, on his last day as the District 4 City Councilman, introduced Harrison, who has served on the Housing Advisory Commission, the Parks Commission, the Waterfront Commission and is a co-founder of the Berkeley Progressive Alliance.”
http://www.berkeleyside.com/2016/12/01/kate-harrison-begins-her-campaign-for-the-district-4-berkeley-city-council-seat/

Harrison Has Experience
“As a leader in passing Measure U-1, Harrison led volunteer efforts to secure $4 million a year in new revenues from the windfall profits of Berkeley largest landlords. These new revenues are to use to create and preserve affordable housing for the people of Berkeley.
Harrison earned her master’s degree in Public Policy from Berkeley’s Goldman School.
In her professional career, Harrison has managed state and municipal budgets and improved government efficiency while ensuring vital public services are maintained and employees treated fairly. Harrison’s work experience includes policy and executive positions in the San Francisco Mayor’s Office under Art Agnos, and at the California Administrative Office of the Courts….”
http://berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2016-11-25/article/45183?headline=Kate-Harrison-Enters-Berkeley-District-Four-Council-Race

Daily Cal on District 4
http://www.dailycal.org/2016/11/17/3-candidates-vie-mayor-elect-jesse-arreguins-city-council-seat/

Gould Supported By BARF
The Bay Area Renters Federation, known as a tool for developers and supporter of Air BnB, backs Gould.
http://www.sfbarf.org/

Learn About Ben Gould
http://www.bengould.org/

League of Women Voters Forum January 19
https://kpfa.org/event/berkeley-city-council-district-4-candidates-forum/

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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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