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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Health, Housing, and Public Services
Greedy landlords of Alameda speak out against rent control and tenant protections
The tenants and landlords are expected to appear at the second City Council meeting during February, when the council is expected to vote on a first reading of the ordinance they directed the staff to create, as a way to allegedly protect the renters of Alameda!
Greedy landlords of Alameda speak out against rent control and tenant protections
By Lynda Carson - January 6, 2015
Alameda - Alameda faces a terrible housing crisis because of massive rent increases and no-cause evictions being imposed by greedy landlords, and rental corporations. This is what brought the landlords and the tenants together for a Tuesday, January 5, City Council meeting, to speak up in support of the situation, or against it. The City Council has also been seeking a solution to the housing crisis, in the form of three different ordinances to be voted on that are allegedly meant to protect the renters.
Half of the population in Alameda are renters, and if there ever was a way to bring the wealthy landlords out of their palaces to a City Council meeting on a chilly evening, ordinances being considered in regards to rent control and just cause eviction protections, will bring the greedy bloodsuckers out every time.
In essence, the landlords want a system in which they can do whatever they want, and the renters want protections from those very same landlords who want the ability to exploit the renters to the maximum.
The tenants are demanding renter protections including a cap on rent increases to be set at .65% of the annual CPI, plus an extension on the recent moratorium that prohibits no-cause evictions in Alameda.
The greedy landlords are demanding that they must be free to rip off the tenants with massive rent increases any time they want, or that they should be free to evict renters at any time they want, so that they can jack up the rents in their building, as high as they want on the new renters being invited in to their buildings.
The Tuesday evening January 5 City Council meeting was a long one, as landlords and tenants had a chance to speak before the City Council in regards to the three different ordinances being proposed.
The meeting started at 7:00pm, and by 12:30am, the speakers were still taking their turns to speak, and by around 3:55am the City Council members finally came to an agreement on most of the issues involved for a new renters protection ordinance, after a long lengthy debate.
At the direction of the City Council, the city staff will have to prepare an ordinance to be voted on for a first reading during the second City Council meeting, of February.
The following ordinance was agreed upon by the council, as it was proposed and debated, for a new renters program to protect renters in Alameda: A) In a unanimous vote, all the council members voted to extend the moratorium against no-cause evictions for another 60 days. B) In opposition to what the renters want which is to cap rent increases at .65% of the CPI, the council has focused on rent increases of 5% annually, and the landlords would need permission if they want more than a 5% rent increase. All rent increases above 5% would have to be mediated, and there are no exemptions for any of the landlords. C) Landlords must offer a one year lease initially, to all new tenants. D) Long time tenants would have to be offered another one year lease, each time the landlord wants to do another rent increase, on an annual basis. E) A prohibition on raising the rents more than once a year. D) The council supports monetary compensation for those facing no-cause evictions. F) The council agrees on a sunset provision for what is agreed upon in the proposed ordinance, plus a review of the ordinance, at a later date. G) The council wants to have a cap on rent increases for a rental unit if the former tenant was evicted, as a way to discourage evictions. The new tenant moving into a rental unit would not have to pay more in rent than the prior tenant did, before they were evicted. H) The council also wants documentation from landlords that are claiming they are going to do capital improvements on their buildings, such as permits, or other documentation, as a way to stop mass evictions at buildings in Alameda, where rehab projects really do not occur. I) The council agreed on having relocation benefits of $1,500 for tenants being evicted for no-cause or no fault evictions. Additionally, after the tenant receives a 60 day notice of being evicted, they would have an option of having a four month period to find a new place to live, or to have four months of rent, to help them relocate elsewhere. J) The council needs to figure out a fee to cover the costs of the new renters program. K) The council also wants to figure out how to deal with a reduction in services for the renters, once the landlords start cutting back on services because of the restrictions for rent increases, or evictions.
Before the votes took place on the three ordinances being considered, to come up with a new ordinance, stepping up to the podium landlord representatives Don Lindsey and Greg McConnell took their turns to speak out against rent control, and just cause eviction protections. This occurred even though they both admitted that some landlords in Alameda have been greedy, and have been asking for too much rent from the renters.
Greg McConnell is wanted to stall the process, and was claiming that he found fault in all of the options that the staff offered the City Council. McConnell opposes just cause for evictions, and he claims that it prevents landlords from evicting bad tenants that disrupt the buildings they reside in.
McConnell further denounced rent control in Berkeley, and San Francisco, as a way to try to convince the council not to vote for any just cause eviction protections, or rent control, and he pushed for a trust fund for affordable housing instead. McConnell and Lindsey both supported rent increases of 8%. The landlords sitting in their seats gave McConnell much applause for his comments against rent control, or just cause eviction protections for renters.
Tenant supporter Dwayne Mulls, spoke up in support of Alameda renters, calling for strict just cause eviction protections with restrictions. He also said that rent increases should be capped at .65% of the CPI, and that all rent increases and eviction notices, should be filed with a rent board.
“Soaring rents and no cause evictions are why we are here tonight,” Mulls said. “The ordinances being debated tonight do not address these two issues.”
“Alameda needs an ordinance that provides stability, and eviction protections,” said Mull, as he spoke out against the existing three options before the City Council.
Mull went on to mention that option number two is similar to the renter protections in San Jose which are too weak to be adopted, and should not be considered for Alameda. “Option number two only offers options to avoid rent control, or just cause evictions protections,” he said.
“It is all about family stability on one side, and profit margins on the other side,” Mull said.
There were around 38 speaker slips handed in for landlords wanting to speak out, and around 42 speaker slips were filed for the renters. The landlords were allowed to be the first speakers for the first 20 minutes, and renters were to follow. They took turns, till they all had a chance to say what was on their minds.
The first landlord immediately spoke out against people at the meeting that may not be renters from Alameda, and she stated that renter protections would give Alameda a bad name, and that the landlords would be demonized if there were renter protections.
The second speaker attacked the process, and announced that it would be a conflict of interest if any of the council members were landlords, or if any of them were tenants. She stated that there were penalties if they violated the law by voting for any of the ordinance proposals before them.
The City Attorney announced that the council can legally vote on the measures before them.
Landlord Mike Pucci, stated that options two and three were unfair, and that he was not sure about option number one. Pucci used to be the director of the Alameda Housing Authority, and he spoke up in support of the landlords, and praised them for being fair and just, even if they have been ripping off the renters with massive rent increases.
The next speaker spoke up in support of greed, and she said that it is all about location, location, location. Then she denounced all the uppity renters that complain about greedy landlords, and high rents. She feels that the tenants are trying to seize their properties, and she spoke out against rent control, or renter protections. She claimed that this process is the beginning of a seizure of landlord properties, and that the council has to keep in mind who voted them into office.
Christopher Hanson challenged the notion that the renters have been facing massive rent increase that have been raised by 50% and more lately, and he spoke out against rent control, and renter protections for renters. He suggests that rents should be subsidized, to cover the rents for those that cannot afford massive rent hikes in Alameda.
Lynette Lee, formerly the director of the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC), spoke up as a neutral in support of renter protections, and the Alameda Renters Coalition. Lee urged that the moratorium on no-cause evictions should be allowed to continue.
The tenants finally had their turn to speak around 10:10pm.
Bunny Duncan, a tenant, said that she has a good landlord, and that she was there speaking out against the housing crisis in support of all the renters of Alameda.
Steven Clifford, a renter, said that he rents and that he votes. If he were to receive an 8% rent increase per year, he would be forced to move from his housing. He said that if there is not a just cause eviction ordinance in place, the renters will all be forced out of Alameda eventually. Clifford spoke out against all three options before the council this evening as being ineffective in protecting the renters.
The next speaker spoke out against no-cause evictions being used to evict veterans from Alameda.
The following speakers spoke up in support of seniors and the disabled who cannot afford market rate rents, or more rent increases in Alameda, and they mentioned how the elderly and disabled did not receive a cost of living increase for 2016. Alameda is on a course of marginalizing the seniors and disabled in Alameda with the way things currently are, one of the speakers said.
Nicky Posh, who is disabled and 75, spoke out in favor of Alameda as being beautiful and friendly, and mentioned how a landlord lied to her about the high rent increase she presently faces, for her and her husband. She mentioned that she is facing 8% rent increases annually, which are more than they can afford.
The next speaker denounced how Alameda has become crazy with greedy landlords, and wants the council to vote for stability for the renters.
Dillon Williams read his poem called Justice, being a poem in support of renters and the good mother earth.
Eric Strimley, mentioned two stories of hardships in Alameda, due to no-cause evictions that are forcing people out of their housing.
At 10:28pm, High School students asked to speak next, because they have to get up early for school.
Youth leaders from Encenal High School were the speakers, and they mentioned how more than 50% of people are renters in Alameda, and they denounced the way that evictions were chasing families out of Alameda, and how an 8% rent annual rent increase would be way to high for most people to afford.
The next student mentioned how the system is corrupted in favor of those with money, and that the system abuses the poor, and is unfair. “We are the future and we are educated, and if we are not protected against the evictions taking place, then we will take action,” the student said.
The next High School student speaker mentioned how evictions are a nightmare that make it impossible to have stability, and how kids end up with only memories of having a place to call home, and a bed to sleep in, because of being evicted. “These are our homes and our city, and we will do whatever it takes to protect it,” the student said.
The next speaker spoke up in support of rent control and just cause eviction protections, and spoke out against the proposal to allow 8% rent increases, by the city staff.
Now the landlords got their chance to speak again, at around 10:38pm.
Karen Miller, a landlord, came back for a second bite to speak before the City Council, and she spoke up again in support of 8% rent increases, and spoke out against renter protections. She denounced any attempts by the City Council to stop the landlords from evicting renters in an effort to raise the rents, and she denounced rent control as a travesty in Oakland.
Malcolm Lee, a landlord in Alameda for 14 years, mentioned how when the rents were low, no one offered to help him pay the mortgage, and he struggled to get renters into his buildings. Now that the buildings are full and the rents are high, the landlords should not be punished for making money, Lee said. Lee said that he is completely against rent control and is against just cause renter protections for the renters.
A steady flow of other greedy landlords also took their turns to snivel against any rent control and just cause eviction protection proposals, for the renters.
Joanna Davis, a tenant was also there to speak out in regards to a 30 day eviction notice she received earlier today, and how she is struggling as a teacher to make ends meet. She also spoke out against the proposal for an 8% increase in annual rents that the council is considering.
Lea Simon Weisman, of Tenants Together, was also a speaker, and she mentioned how when renters are protected by just cause eviction protections, tenants are not afraid to ask the landlord for repairs at their housing units. She also mentioned how hard evictions are on children, and how it is hard on children to live in places where the lights do not work. She spoke highly in support of just cause eviction protections, and spoke out against options number one and two, which are being considered by the City Council, as being too weak to protect the renters.
Joshua Howard of the California Apartment Association (CAA), was a speaker that opposed all renter protections, including rent control or just cause eviction protections for the renters. He claimed that rent control was just a subsidy for renters. He also claimed that just cause eviction protections protected bad tenants, and he tried to portray renters as being criminals, dope dealers, and lawless people who blasted their music at 2:00am in the morning. This weasel had nothing good to say about the renters, and he portrayed renters as nothing more than some “bags of money” that solely exist for landlords to squeeze any time they want, when they want some extra money.
The renters were still waiting in line to be a speaker when midnight came around, and the tenants complained how escalating market rate rents were forcing them out of their housing, and making life miserable for them.
Troy Silva, was a speaker who lived near City Hall, and told the council how his family received an eviction notice after complaining about a situation where he was residing in, and that it was retaliation. He spoke up in support of just cause eviction protections so that other tenants would have protection if they complain about poor living conditions where they live.
John Klein was also a speaker from the Alameda Renters Coalition, and he spoke about what was not mentioned in the three options being considered. “None of the proposals by the Renters Coalition were mentioned in the proposals being considered this evening,” said Klein, and he mentioned one point after another that was ignored by the staff. Klein accused the staff of censoring what the renters want, and went after the City Council for not having a valid reason to propose an annual 8% rent increase to be imposed on the renters of Alameda. Klein also challenged the term of mom and pop landlords, saying that the term was not defined clearly.
Nancy Herd, a landlord in Alameda who owned a four-plex rental building, was a speaker. She sniveled about the trials and tribulations of being a landlord who tries to maintain historic homes, and she spoke out against all, and any forms of rent control, or renter protections.
The next speaker was a renter who loves Alameda, and she spoke out how the renters need protection from bad actors (bad landlords). She mentioned how rent control is meaningless with out there being just cause eviction protections. And she supported using the CPI as a way to measure rent increases on an annual basis.
Brian McQuire, spoke next to support the renters against the greedy landlords, and suggested that it only takes three votes to pass something to protect the renters tonight.
John Spangler was also a speaker, who once owned a home, and is now a renter. He mentioned that life as a homeowner was better than life as a renter, and he spoke out against massive rent increases by greedy landlords. Spangler also mentioned how rent increases were displacing children from schools in Alameda.
After a quick break around 12:45am, the council was deciding if they should continue till the next meeting, or if they should do a little catch up to maintain the moratorium against no-cause evictions.
The tenants and landlords are expected to appear at the second City Council meeting during February, when the council is expected to vote on a first reading of the ordinance they directed the staff to create, as a way to allegedly protect the renters of Alameda.
Lynda Carson may be reached at tenantsrule [at] yahoo.com