In general, activists’ response led to deeper discussion of the issues but we need ALL members to respond to these action requests if we are to impact policy and decisions!

The Planning Department and the Rent Board have agreed on language for the Demolition Ordinance, thanks in part to public pressure from BTU members at the Planning Commission hearing last month!

However, our City Council is known for laying a brand new draft on the table at the last minute, so everyone should be prepared to both Write and Attend the Council Meeting on Tuesday June 4. BTU also has some concerns regarding legalization of duplexes that have been turned into single family homes without permits in the past decade. Watch this space for more info – it would be great if we can get letters to Council in advance since, for a change, we know this item is coming up.

Cracked foundation

At the public hearing on April 3, Berkeley’s Planning Commission reviewed a new draft of the ordinance that is far less threatening to tenants.

After an extremely brief discussion they decided that if Rent Board staff and planning staff can agree on language, the ordinance can be forwarded to City Council.

If there is disagreement, the Planning Commission will review on May 1.

Three BTU members came to the meeting and many more sent in comments by email.


Suggested changes to the demolition ordinance will allow developers to tear down rent controlled buildings. Right now, builders have to replace rent controlled units with affordable housing and let low-income tenants move back in. A draft of the new law would allow empty rent controlled units to be bulldozed without being replaced. This would mean more Ellis Act evictions and a loss of affordable units citywide.

If you can’t come to the hearing on Wednesday at 7 PM at the North Berkeley Senior Center, please send an email to the Planning Commission care of aamoroso@cityofberkeley.info — they have to get this by NOON Wednesday: “Staff will not deliver to Commissioners any additional written (or email) materials received after 12:00 noon on the day of the meeting.”

BTU suggests your email be labeled “Regarding Demo Ordinance” and that it support replacing units that have been under rent control with housing that is permanently affordable to low-income folks, and that you ask for “Measure Y-type protections” if landlords want to combine units in smaller buildings.

Soft story behind bars

The Planning Commission seeks YOUR input on changes to the demolition ordinance. A draft from the City Manager’s office would allow a new developer to tear down rent controlled buildings with no mitigation as long as the units are empty — this would encourage evictions and harassment! In addition, there has been discussion about making it “easier” for a landlord who lives in the building to combine your unit with theirs — leaving you No Place to Live!

Come to the hearing this Wednesday at the North Berkeley Senior Center
— 1901 Hearst at 7 PM.