Your Berkeley Tenants Union’s quarterly members meeting will be March 30th. It is open to all members, and you can join BTU at the meeting if you are willing to sign our member pledge. Contact us for more information.
The 2016 Rent Board Convention to select a pro-tenant slate for the elected Rent Board will be held on April 24th, a Sunday, at the South Berkeley Senior Center. Potential candidates should contact the convention, which has been held each election year by a coalition of progressive groups for over 20 years.
Hot topics at the March 30th meeting (besides the upcoming Tenant Convention) will be proposed ballot measures to increase owner-eviction relocation funds and to fund affordable housing through a windfall profits tax on larger landlords, as well the upcoming Council consideration of an anti-harassment law known as the Tenant Protection Ordinance.
Read the BTU March Newsletter
They are Organizing, Are You?
Oakland Ballot Measure to Make Rent Control Real
“The measure would extend protections under the Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance to thousands more Oakland rental units, implement the currently un-enforced Tenant Protection Ordinance, and reform the existing Rent Adjustment Program (Oakland’s weak substitute for rent control) to make it much harder for landlords to raise rents above the rate of inflation, place an absolute 5% per year cap on rent increases, cover more rental units under rent control, and ensure a tenant-majority Rent Board, among other improvements.”
“Currently, apartment units built after 1983 do not fall under Oakland’s just cause eviction protections, therefore landlords can evict tenants for almost any reason in those buildings when their lease is up. According to sponsors of the Renters Upgrade initiative, this change would bring 45 percent more of Oakland’s rental housing under just cause protection. The Renters Upgrade ballot measure would also set a cap on rent increases at 5 percent.”
“If approved by voters, the initiative would cap rent increases at 5 percent a year, down from the 10 percent landlords can raise rents annually; create a rent board with mostly tenants as members; and expand eviction protections to units built after 1983 that are not protected under the city’s Just Cause Eviction Ordinance. The so-called “Renters Upgrade” measure would require city leaders to prioritize enforcement and implementation.”
Alameda Renters Gathering Signatures
Read the Proposed Alameda Ordinance here:
Alameda May Be Harassing Tenant Group
After filing their ballot measure, Alameda renters were talking outside the clerk’s office when they were approached by police. While that may not seem odd, the same Alameda group found a police officer scrutinizing them at a public meeting the month before.
“Warmerdam <the Interim City Manager> was the Alameda official, according to city emails, who asked that plainclothes officers monitor renters at a council meeting last Jan. 5. The officer’s identity became known after a renter saw one of them accidentally drop his handcuffs.”
Richmond Ballot Measure
“The Fair and Affordable Richmond Coalition — consisting of elected officials, renters, homeowners and activists — on Tuesday gathered to officially file the petition with the city clerk. The group will have until June to gather 4,198 valid signatures to place the measure on the November ballot. A rent control ordinance was narrowly passed by the City Council in August, but it was repealed in November after a landlord association circulated a petition. Since then, affordable-housing activists have promised to bring the measure to the November ballot. Had the ordinance approved in August been implemented, Richmond would have been the first California city in more than 30 years to pass rent control.”
“Claudia Jimenez, a homeowner in Richmond who is a community organizer with the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA), said, “The Richmond City Council passed some renter protections including rent control, and just cause eviction protections that were supposed to go into effect last year to protect Richmond renters. However, the California Apartment Association (CAA) spent a lot of money to hire people who gathered enough signatures for a petition that blocked the renter protections from going into effect.”
Over on the Other Team
Berkeley Landlord PAC Attempts to Seem Reasonable…
“We represent the voice of rental housing providers through our political action committee and legal defense fund. We are here to restore fairness, efficiency and objectivity to Berkeley’s rental housing policies.”
…While the BPOA Continues to Seem Odd
“And so welcome to the latest arrival on the local scene, the Berkeley Rental Housing Coalition. It cannot be said to represent we, the people nor does it comprise a Declaration of Independence. It does, however, establish and ordain an organization to address our rightful grievances to the government which shackles rental housing in so many ways. And, to quote another revered figure from American history, ‘it is altogether fitting and proper that we do this.’ ”
California Apartment Association Just Won’t Quit
The Berkeley Tenants Union Quarterly Members Meeting Will Be Wednesday March 30th.
Why The November Election Matters
The Berkeley City Council rejected a perfectly fine option to fund affordable housing through real estate transfer taxes. Councilman Jesse Arreguin, the progressive leader running for mayor, explains why we need to win back City Council in this election: http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2016-03-11/article/44234?headline=Council-Action-Needed-to-Prevent-Berkeley-Displacement–Councilmember-Jesse-Arreguin
The Berkeley Tenant Convention Will Be Sunday April 24th.