Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Renters get some relief in Alameda, but action falls short of limiting rising rents

Councilmember Tony Daysog called the rent
ordinance a "calibrated approach to the housing 
crisis" in Alameda.
Gives incentive for landlords to act on complaints

ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL | A growing number of Alameda renters say landlords are hiking rents to dizzying heights. The phenomenon would not be unique to Alameda. Sky-high rent increases are pricing out residents in Oakland and San Francisco and creating significant political turmoil for elected officials. But, unlike those major cities, Alameda’s city council is unsure whether the issue of landlords quickly ramping up monthly rents is actually as pervasive as renters assert.

“We don’t mean to vilify landlords,” said Councilmember Marilyb Ezzy Ashcraft following a number of public speakers Tuesday night who urged for greater protections for renters. She conceded, though, “A few bad apples will spoil the barrel.”

The Alameda City Council, however, approved slight amendments to an existing Rental Review Advisory Committee (RRAC) ordinance, giving landlords an incentive to appears before the appointed government body. Previously, landlords on the receiving end of renters' official complaints about rent increases often simply failed to appear. Under the amended ordinance, landlords would run the risk of having their rent increases voided by the RRAC if they sidestepped attending their hearing.

The ordinance also now includes protections for those who rent single rooms from a homeowner to take complaints to the committee, although, it was not initially included in the proposed ordinance.

Councilmmeber Jim Oddie noted the omission by calling out Councilmember Tony Daysog, who rents out a room in his home. “So, his tenant has no recourse if he doubles the rent?” said Oddie. There was no animosity evident by Oddie's comment and Daysog, who supported the additional language, laughed off the reference.

Going back to the previous administration under Mayor Marie Gilmore, the city council has taken remedial action on the rental crisis in Alameda, at least, choosing to instead compile data on the actual size of the problem regarding rent increases. Conversely, some island activists are advocating for various rent control measures. It is noteworthy that the Richmond City Council approved a rent control ordinance on the same night, becoming the first city in nearby Contra Costa County to do so. Richmond is also, arguably, the most progressive city council in the Bay Area.

Meanwhile, some councilmembers, like Oddie and Daysog, say rent control may not be the answer for Alameda. “Rent control is not the end-all, be-all in solving the issue of rising rents,” Oddie said Tuesday. “And I would contend that it probably doesn’t work in places where it is intended to.” Instead, he asked city staff for a wide-ranging set of options for the council to study the issue in the near future.

In addition, changing the set makeup of the RRAC from a split between renters and landlords may be on the table. Oddie and Ashcraft voiced support for making the appointment process more open, while allowing the council to interview applicants. The committee is currently composed of mayoral appointments approved by the council in a mostly perfunctory manner.

Alameda resident and renter Jon Spangler called the ordinance “watered down,” but conceded it was slight move forward. “There is still no way to stop egregious rent increases and robber baron behavior on the part of people who happen to own property and it just stinks,” said Spangler.


An almost completely useless gesture that will help no one in Alameda but emboldens the landlords. The city council fiddles while it's renter/citizens burn (53% of it's population are renters and they keep forgetting that we vote). At least, we will next election for sure.

Get rid of Ashcraft in 2016.

Get rid of Oddie in 2018.

By MW:

It never ceases to amaze me the extremely high. ridiculous, and totally outrageous rents (and also home prices) a high percentage of the residents of the inner Bay area are willing, although somewhat grudgingly, to pay.

But back in the1980's when I did work at a particular business in San Francisco, a small percentage of my co-workers did absolutely refuse to pay the beyond totally absurd prices that real estate in the inner Bay area was going for even then..

For instance, some of them bought houses in such places as Vallejo, and then would get to their jobs in SF through such things as vanpools. And of course for people willing to buy or rent in the Fairfield area, there are also such things as the vanpools operated by Fairfield Area Rapid Transit.

And while I was working at that particular business in SF, I also had some co-workers who even refused to pay the prices to buy a house in the outer reaches of the Bay area, and such as for instance in Vallejo, and who therefore had bought houses in Sacramento, but to drastically reduce the expense of gas and wear and tear on their car from driving approx 170 miles roundtrip every day btwn Sacramento and SF, instead would organize themselves into carpools of approx four people per car.

My wife and I bought a house in the East Bay back in the 1980's, in other words when prices, and altho already outrageous, were not nearly as outrageous as they are now. However if I were twenty or thirty years younger, just starting out, and just now looking to buy or rent my first house in Northern California, I would absolutely refuse to pay the beyond ridiculous prices that sellers and landlords are asking, and often getting, in such places as Oakland, San Jose, and San Francisco, etc, and would instead buy a house further out, and such as for instance in Sonoma, Solano, or even Sacramento,

And if more people had that attitude, the prices of real estate in the inner Bay area would stop skyrocketing, since the sellers and landlords would no longer have an unlimited supply of suckers to keep on bidding up the prices higher than the skies.

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