**If your landlord threatens to evict you for ANY reason, immediately email info@berkeleytenants.org with the subject line “I AM BEING EVICTED” so we can provide you help ASAP. (California tenants outside Berkeley should call Tenants Together at 888-495-8020.) Because of the extremely unfair legal deadlines for tenants facing evictions, it is crucial for tenants to react very quickly to eviction notices (even for blatantly illegal evictions). Do NOT wait to use our counseling clinic if you are facing an eviction.**

BTU is proud to hold a free monthly counseling clinic, where any East Bay* tenant may speak with a professional tenant attorney.  Our next clinic will take place TUESDAY, February from 3PM to 5PM via phone.  In order to use the clinic, you must sign-up for a spot here by 11:59PM Friday, February 23 (i.e. FOUR days before the clinic).  However, we only have a very limited number of spots available; priority is always given to BTU members (see below for how to join or renew your dues), followed by sign-up order.  (Members are also told about our clinics earlier than non-members.)

You can join BTU/pay your dues by going to our website and clicking the yellow “Donate” button in the upper-right corner.  Dues are a sliding scale of just $10 – $27 per year; however, those who can afford to pay more are strongly encouraged to do so.  If you’d prefer to pay dues by cash or check (which lets BTU avoid paying a transaction fee), please email info@berkeleytenants.org to have someone come pick up your dues in-person (we’ll do so in a way that maintains proper social distancing).

Our clinics’ tenant attorneys are unfortunately only able to assist tenants living in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. If you are a tenant who lives in Solano County (or anywhere else in California), we encourage you to call Tenants Together at 888-495-8020 for counseling.

The only people Jesse Arreguin cares about are his corporate donors. He is a danger to tenants, affordable housing, and every progressive issue. Don’t let him sell us out in the State Legislature!

CALIFORNIA CAN'T AFFORD JESSE ARREGUIN'S CORRUPTION!
VOTE ON YOUR PRIMARY BALLOT BY MARCH 5

SAY NO TO ARREGUIN FOR STATE SENATE

As Berkeley Mayor, Jesse Arreguin:
• ROLLED BACK LONG-STANDING RENT CONTROL AND EVICTION PROTECTIONS
• ALLOWED THE LARGEST RENT HIKES ON RENT- CONTROLLED TENANTS IN 30 YEARS
• KILLED THE TENANT OPPORTUNITY TO PURCHASE ACT

Arreguin claims "bold leadership" but sells out to corporate donors like the California Real Estate PAC and California Apartment Association (big landlords)!

Don't let another corrupt politician advance to State Senate!

[Berkeley Tenants Union Logo]
www.berkeleytenants.org
labor donated
Berkeley Tenants Union

Help us get the word out to voters about why Jesse Arreguin is so dangerous! We encourage everyone to share this graphic on social media, as well as to print out copies and hand them out to voters in Senate District 7.

You can see or full list of endorsements (including Jovanka Beckles for State Senate) here.

We’re excited to announce that the Berkeley Tenants Unions membership has overwhelmingly voted to make the following endorsements:

  • People Powered Progressives Slate (Avery Arbaugh, Alfred Twu, Paola Laverde, Michael Cheng, Carol Coyote Cook, Sadia Khan, and John “Chip” Moore) for Alameda County Democratic Central Committee
  • YES on Berkeley Measure H (parcel tax renewal to fund schools)
  • YES on Alameda County Measure A (civil service)
  • YES on Alameda County Measure B (recalls)
  • OPPOSE recalling District Attorney Pamela Price

Additionally, the BTU membership previously voted to endorse:

  • Cecilia Lunaparra for Berkeley City Council District 7 (special election)
  • Nikki Bas for Alameda County Supervisor District 5
  • Margot Smith for State Assembly District 14
  • Jovanka Beckles for State Senate District 7
  • Barbara Lee for US Senate
  • YES on the Proposed Berkeley Measure to Strengthen the City’s Rent Control Ordinance
  • YES on the ballot measure to repeal Article XXXIV of the California Constitution (November)

A big thank you to everyone who voted on all of our endorsements.

We’re excited to announce that the Berkeley Tenants Unions membership has overwhelmingly voted to make the following endorsements:

  • Cecilia Lunaparra for Berkeley City Council District 7 (special election)
  • Nikki Bas for Alameda County Supervisor District 5
  • Margot Smith for State Assembly District 14
  • YES on the Proposed Berkeley Measure to Strengthen the City’s Rent Control Ordinance

Additionally, the BTU membership previously voted to endorse:

  • Barbara Lee for US Senate
  • Jovanka Beckles for State Senate District 7
  • YES on the ballot measure to repeal Article XXXIV of the California Constitution (November)

A big thank you to everyone who voted in this election. Additionally, members-in-good-standing should be on the look out for another membership ballot that will go out shortly.

**If your landlord threatens to evict you for ANY reason, immediately email info@berkeleytenants.org with the subject line “I AM BEING EVICTED” so we can provide you help ASAP. (California tenants outside Berkeley should call Tenants Together at 888-495-8020.) Because of the extremely unfair legal deadlines for tenants facing evictions, it is crucial for tenants to react very quickly to eviction notices (even for blatantly illegal evictions). Do NOT wait to use our counseling clinic if you are facing an eviction.**

BTU is proud to hold a free monthly counseling clinic, where any East Bay* tenant may speak with a professional tenant attorney.  Our next clinic will take place next Thursday, January 26 at 3-5PM via phone.  In order to use the clinic, you must sign-up for a spot here by 11:59PM Sunday, January 22 (i.e. FOUR days before the clinic).  However, we only have a very limited number of spots available; priority is always given to BTU members (see below for how to join or renew your dues), followed by sign-up order.  (Members are also told about our clinics earlier than non-members.)

You can join BTU/pay your dues by going to our website and clicking the yellow “Donate” button in the upper-right corner.  Dues are a sliding scale of just $10 – $27 per year; however, those who can afford to pay more are strongly encouraged to do so.  If you’d prefer to pay dues by cash or check (which lets BTU avoid paying a transaction fee), please email info@berkeleytenants.org to have someone come pick up your dues in-person (we’ll do so in a way that maintains proper social distancing).

* Our clinics’ tenant attorneys are unfortunately only able to assist tenants living in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. If you are a tenant who lives in Solano County (or anywhere else in California), we encourage you to call Tenants Together at 888-495-8020 for counseling.

Berkeley Tenant Deaths Unexplained
“But three months, one lawsuit and a procession of experts later, the source of the carbon monoxide remains a mystery. Toxicology professionals say that’s not just bizarre, but a possible danger to public health. With the question of origin unanswered, the city has red-tagged the apartment where they died but allowed tenants to stay in the building’s other three units…. In the Deakin Street unit, according to neighbors and authorities, a detector was located only on the ground floor, but not upstairs where the couple slept.”
http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Berkeley-couple-s-mysterious-deaths-raise-11077092.php

Deaths Preventable, Says Lawsuit
http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/04/18/berkeley-landlords-sued-over-deaths-by-carbon-monoxide-poisoning/

 Still Collecting Rent Next Door to Unexplained Deaths
“Experts are calling the case “rare and odd,” noting it’s typically easy to pinpoint the origin of carbon monoxide in a case like this, and they add that the lack of answers is potentially a public health concern. Neighbors agree—though the unit where the Morashes lived has been red-tagged, the other three units in the building have been deemed safe…”
http://www.newser.com/story/241431/deaths-of-couple-and-their-cats-baffle-cops-worry-neighbors.html

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!
Since 2013 all rental units with gas heat, appliances or garages have been required to have carbon monoxide detectors.
Check your smoke and CO detectors today!
STAY SAFE!

Bedbugs on University Avenue
Gadson alleged that although Raj Properties promised to exterminate the bedbugs by January, his room was not sprayed by RidX Pest Control until Feb. 17.”
http://www.dailycal.org/2017/04/11/uc-berkeley-extension-alumnus-allegedly-living-bedbug-infested-building-owned-raj-properties/

Raj Properties map, rent, and photo
Room $1000 – Bedbugs Free

State Costa Hawkins Law Changes Delayed by Politics
Former candidate for City Council Sean Barry wrote this anti-rent control article last week. Isn’t it a good thing Kriss Worthington kept his seat? In the article, Barry cites “research” from sources like Michael St. John, who works for Berkeley’s largest property owners! He also seems to think the Rent Board could change what is covered by Berkeley rent control – really, only the voters can do that, and we hope someday they will!
http://www.berkeleyside.com/2017/04/13/opinion-costa-hawkins-repeal-shelved-lets-find-ways-lower-housing-costs/

San Jose Renters on Hunger Strike
“Hernandez and two other renters’ rights advocates decided to go without food until the City Council meeting on Tuesday, when an item will be heard that would implement “just cause” provisions. Currently, landlords can kick a tenant out of their unit without giving any reason.”
http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/04/15/san-jose-renter-advocates-on-hunger-strike-until-vote/

 

 

Repealing Costa Hawkins would solve a lot of problems for Berkeley.

This state law gives landlords the right to jack the rent upon vacancy, bans local laws to regulate rents on any post-1996 construction, and exempts single-family homes and condos from rent control too. To get the state to repeal Costa Hawkins is the first step to making rent control cover all rentals and work for all renters.

California Assembly Members Bloom (Santa Monica), Chiu (San Francisco), and Bonta (Oakland) introduced AB 1506 in February – the bill as currently written would repeal the 1996 Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act.

The Berkeley Rent Board voted to support this bill in March; City Council votes tonight.

To repeal Costa-Hawkins would also mean Berkeley can have the kind of rent control Berkeley voters wanted: the rent would not go up astronomically when a new tenant moves in. This means landlords have less motive for bogus evictions, tenants can afford to move as their lifestyle changes, and speculators are discouraged from using housing as a short-term investment.

Berkeley Tenants Union leaders considered postponing any support for the bill because too many changes could happen before the state legislature actually votes – two years from now! But upon advice from Tenants Together (we are a member organization of this statewide group) and because we saw a “Red Alert” to members of the mega-landlord group BPOA, we are asking that you TAKE ACTION!

Right now, AB1506 is at the Committee on Housing and Community Development.
No hearing date has been set.

1) Ask the sponsor Bloom to pledge not to amend AB 1506 by calling (916) 319-2050. Say you ask that Costa Hawkins be repealed, not amended.

2) Use this form to write our state reps:
http://tenantstogether.org/campaigns/repeal-costa-hawkins-rental-housing-act

3) Post a link to this BTU post on Social Media and ask friends in Santa Monica to also telephone Bloom.

City Council May Support AB1506 April 4
http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/Clerk/City_Council/2017/04_Apr/Documents/2017-04-04_Item_09__Support_of_AB_1506__Repeal_of_Costa-Hawkins.aspx

More on Costa Hawkins
Berkeley Property Owners debate Rent Board Staff on KALW
http://kalw.org/post/debating-costa-hawkins-should-we-strengthen-or-shrink-rent-control-laws#stream/0

History Lesson: How Costa Changed Berkeley
http://www.tenant.net/Other_Areas/Calif/berkeley/ca-leg/ab1164.html

The Law Itself Is Really Hard to Read
http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ContentDisplay.aspx?id=9516

Track Changes to This Bare Bones Bill Here:
http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billCompareClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180AB1506

REMINDER: CONTACT ASSEMBLY MEMBER BLOOM TODAY!

Updates

Rent Board
Tonight the Berkeley Rent Board will vote to narrow down the candidates who are applying to fill Commissioner Harr’s seat on the Board. There were over 16 applicants including many BTU members, several folks who serve on other Berkeley Commissions, and former landlord Commissioner Judy Hunt, who was just voted out of office!
To see applications look in the agenda packet:
http://www.cityofberkeley.info/uploadedFiles/Rent_Stabilization_Board/Level_3_-_General/Item%204.a.(2)_Applicant%20submittals%20by%20name.pdf

To comment to the Board, you must appear in person at 7 PM.

Short Term Rentals
Tomorrow we hope the City Council will vote to pass (on second reading) a decent if not ideal law about short term rentals. BTU Steering decided to support this draft because the most important thing for Berkeley renters is that the city ENFORCE the rules about not turning rent controlled units into hotels! To date, the city has never responded to us about complaints BTU has filed regarding large landlords who rent multiple units on Airbnb. With the new City Council, and this new law, we hope to reduce the loss of permanent housing.

Some owners offer each room as a separate STR.

Read it here (Item 1):
http://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/City_Council/2017/02_Feb/City_Council__02-28-2017_-_Regular_Meeting_Agenda.aspx
Support Item One by Emailing:
council@cityofberkeley.info

Save The Date: Better Tenant Protections
As mentioned in our newsletter, the new Mayor Jesse Arreguin is going to move forward on better tenant protections by revising last year’s lame TPO. Council will review the new draft ordinance on March 14.

At a meeting in January, BTU selected fellow Tenants Union member Kate Harrison as the best candidate for renters in the District 4 Special Election for City Council.

Kate Harrison won overwhelming support at the endorsements meeting since she is already well-known for her leadership in getting the landlord tax passed last fall (Measure U1) as well as for her community work making sure big developers are forced to fund affordable units in Berkeley. Her platform also includes using a portion of the transfer tax on homes sold in Berkeley to fund even more low-income housing. Kate also wants to allow limited equity coops to use Housing Trust Fund money to purchase existing rental housing in order to keep it affordable.

Learn More About Kate’s Housing Proposals
http://electkateharrison.com/issues/

Video from League of Women Voters Forum
https://www.lwvbae.org/elections/

The election is being held by mail to save costs. Ballots must be in by March 7th. The special election is needed because BTU member Jesse Arreguin, who was the District 4 Councilmember, was elected mayor last November.

Ben Gould Corrects Campaign Violations
…violations of the Berkeley Election Reform Act had been committed, but determined that the violations had been corrected promptly.
http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/02/17/berkeley-watchdog-panel-declines-further-probe-into-gould-campaign/

How the Candidates Differ
“Harrison emphasized protecting existing tenants against displacement by limiting short-term housing, protecting rent control, and enforcing rules on owner move-in evictions.”
http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/01/25/berkeley-candidates-for-vacant-council-seat-differ-on-approaches/

Harrison Q&A
I would like to expand the current program helping building owners pay for energy improvements through their property taxes to include safety improvements for artists’ live/work spaces to avoid repeating the tragedy at the Oakland Ghost Ship. We cannot afford to lose our creative community either through disaster or displacement.
http://www.berkeleyside.com/2017/02/07/district-4-candidate-kate-harrison/