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Monday June 29 - Protest to Stop Eviction of 1921 Walnut St. Tenants
by Posted By Lynda Carson
Saturday Jun 27th, 2020 10:33 PM
Protect The Tenants During The Coronavirus Covid-19 Pandemic:

The tenants at 1921 Walnut St are facing eviction and displacement from their rent-controlled apartments and unwittingly find themselves in a “David v's Goliath” struggle with the Regents of the University of California!
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Posted by Lynda Carson:

UC Berkeley wants tenants to relocate during coronavirus pandemic

By Lynda Carson -- Monday Apr 20th, 2020

Click below for full story...

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2020/04/20/18832520.php


Back on April 20, 2020, I wrote the article above to help out the tenants at 1921 Walnut St. in Berkeley, and on Monday June 29th they plan to hold a protest in front of the building they reside in.

See Press Release below...

-Lynda Carson

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Monday June 29 - Protest to Stop Eviction of 1921 Walnut St. Tenants

Please feel free to join the tenants at 1921 Walnut St., in Berkeley to protest against their eviction during the midst of the cooronavirus Covid-19 pandemic!


From: 1921 Walnut St. Association in Downtown Berkeley, and ally organizations

To: Bay Area Media

When: 4:00 pm Monday, June 29

Where: 1921 Walnut St, Berkeley

What: Protest to Stop Eviction of 1921 Walnut St. Tenants

The tenants at 1921 Walnut St are facing eviction and displacement from their rent-controlled apartments and unwittingly find themselves in a “David v's Goliath” struggle with the Regents of the University of California.

This struggle will have potentially devastating consequences for the tenants personally, many of whom have lived here for over a decade, and for affordable/rent controlled housing across California. The University is in the process of buying the property and has notified tenants their intent is to evict all tenants from the property in order to further develop the entire block of Walnut St.

The Walnut St. tenants first became aware of this forced displacement via a letter sent to them at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. UC Berkeley may not be subject to local zoning and rent stabilization jurisdiction, and it is not known what their commitment to making the tenants "whole" would be. In addition to permanently displacing long-term tenants, there may be far reaching implications for the City of Berkeley and other cities across California if UC continues along this path. Will UC be allowed to purchase, demolish and permanently remove affordable/rent controlled housing stock across the State of California, regardless of local regulations? Many believe Senate Bill 330, also known as the Housing Crisis Act of 2019, codified the need to preserve, protect and build new affordable housing across California. Should UC still be allowed to displace vulnerable residents and permanently destroy affordable/rent controlled housing stock, ignoring local rent ordinances and tenant protections? Or should UC recognize the values, the voters’ wishes and the existing tenant protections that Berkeley has built over the years and be a respectful member of the Berkeley community? 1921 Walnut St in downtown Berkeley is the epicenter of this question.

Event Info: There will be a small, physically distanced action with local tenant and housing organizations AND the tenants of 1921 Walnut on the afternoon of Monday, June 29. We welcome media attention and coverage, and will have a spokesperson(s) available before, during, and after the event for media to contact. Prior to the event, questions can be sent to 1921WalnutStAssociation [at] gmail.com with a copy to John Selawsky of the Berkeley Tenants Union, who can be reached via e-mail at: websky66 [at] gmail.com or phone 510.590.6227



Background and Citations:

1921 Walnut St is a 111-year-old, rent controlled apartment building in the heart of downtown Berkeley, consisting of eight 2-bedroom apartments. The building has historical significance. Some tenants have lived here for over 25 years.

April 17, 2020, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and during a ‘shelter-at-home’ order, all tenants at 1921 Walnut St received a letter from UC Regents informing them that the "Regents" propose to undertake the redevelopment of the Property in which they live. UC has given no other details or information of their plans. The tenants of 1921 Walnut have asked UC directly of any plans or intentions and UC has responded by stating the property is for “eventual, unspecific, future use”.

However, it is clear that UC is planning a student housing project on our block called "Housing Project #1" or the "Gateway Project". Housing Project #1 was originally planned to be built 'around'1921 Walnut St as recently as Jan 22, 2020 1. Sometime after Jan 22, 2020, UC began including 1921 Walnut St as part of their Long Range Development Plan2 and the prospect of acquiring and demolishing 1921 Walnut St is now a serious reality.

UC can alternatively build student housing on other sites that do not displace Berkeley residents or permanently destroy affordable housing units from Berkeley. UC has other sites in the vicinity already scoped out. As part of their Long Range Development Plan, UC has identified 12 other sites in Berkeley to build housing3, many of which would not displace Berkeley tenants. UC has the ability to build housing in Berkeley without displacing tenants and permanently destroying affordable/rent-controlled housing units. Alternatively, UC can build their housing while also offering to replace the existing rent-controlled units on a 1-for-1 basis and make the currently tenants of 1921 Walnut St “whole” by offering new units in UC’s housing developments at current rents or helping to relocate tenants into other units with the same rents and unit details.

The tenants at 1921 Walnut St have formed an association called “The 1921 Walnut St Association”. The Association has weekly zoom call meetings and are engaging with the community. They have reached out to the Mayor of Berkeley, Jesse Arreguin, Councilmember Kate Harrison, The City Council as a whole, The Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, UC Regents and many tenant advocacy groups. They have retained the services of a private attorney Erik Bauman.

On June 8, 2020, the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board wrote a letter to UC “Re: Purchase of 1921 Walnut St., Berkeley, California / Preservation of Affordable Housing” which supports “the preservation of this property and the local rent-control status of its tenants or, in the alternative, that should the property be removed from the protections of the local rent control ordinance, either via sale, demolition or other means, that the Regents commit to replacing these eight units on a one-to-one basis with comparable afford units. In addition, should the tenants at Walnut St. be displaced from their homes we urge that they be relocated into units of comparable size and rents”4.

1. https://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/regmeet/jan20/f12.pdf

2. https://lrdp.berkeley.edu/scoping-meeting

3. Potential University Housing Locations, Note Page 12: https://lrdp.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/2020-04-27_lrdp-hsgprojects_eir-scopingmeeting_final.pdf

4. Copies of this letter can be given to interested media. Please email us 1921WalnutStAssociation [at] gmail.com

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