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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Alameda County Democrats endorse Alameda's rent control initiative

Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan addresses
the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee
Wednesday in San Leandro.
ALAMEDA | The bid to bring rent control to Alameda received the backing of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee Wednesday. The endorsement by the progressive group of elected leaders allows proponents of the rent control initiative to begin using the notable endorsement on campaign literature immediately.

A competing rent measure backed by the Alameda City Council was briefly debated by county Dems Wednesday night in San Leandro, but was later postponed until Sept. 7, since it is technically not yet approved for the November ballot. The city council will formally approve putting the measure on the ballot at a special meeting on Monday night.

Following a discussion that at one point included tabling the endorsement of both Alameda ballot measures until next month, the central committee, by a voice vote, unanimously approved the rent control measure backed by the Alameda Renters Coalition.

The decision to formally endorse the renters' initiative this week is a big strategic win for those backing greater tenant protections in Alameda.

In the event both initiatives are ultimately endorsed by county Democrats, only the renters' initiative is able to use the endorsement in the ballot statement booklet sent to Alameda County voters this fall. That's because the printing deadline will have passed before the city council measure is potentially endorsed by the central committee next month.

Central committee member Rebecca Saltzman, also an elected member of the BART Board of Directors, urged the group to act on the renters' initiative, instead of waiting another month. "It's very significant to do it today," she said.

Support for the renters' initiative is not surprising given the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee is likely the most progressive elected body in the East Bay. The same group also gave support Wednesday to Oakland's own rent-related ballot initiative.

Andy Kelley, another central committee member, said the rent control initiative backed by the renters' group "is a lot stronger" than the city council's proposed measure. Kelley added, the city council's effort, based on a rent stabilization ordinance it passed in March, would have provided greater protections for tenants if the council's makeup were more progressive, "but we all know who the mayor of Alameda is."