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.

Update: Thursday March 18 is now the day TOPA will be before the City Council’s Land Use, Housing & Economic Development Committee at 10:30AM.

This Thursday, the Berkeley City Council’s Land Use Committee will hold a final hearing on The Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA). Now is the time to get involved!

ACTION: Write to PolicyCommittee@cityofberkeley.info today to express your support. “I stand with the Berkeley Tenants Union in expressing enthusiasm for the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act.”

If all goes as planned, the City Council will vote on this at their April 20th meeting.

Berkeley’s TOPA is the first ordinance of its kind in the state of California, but other places have tried this model – and it works! Washington DC passed a similar law in 2002; that law has preserved over 3500 units of affordable housing in the capital.

The desperate opposition is hyperbolically claiming TOPA will “seize your private property.” While for those without property, that may not seem like a bad idea – it’s just not true! The new law would just give renters AN OPTION to pay market price before their homes are sold to a new landlord. But it also SETS UP HELP for a group of renters to buy, including the opportunity to work with affordable housing groups who may fund some of the cost, and access to special loans.

As BTU member and Berkeley leader Igor Tregub put it, TOPA “reflects core Berkeley values such as cooperative ownership, democratic control, and the empowerment of underserved communities.” It is supported by Mayor Arreguin, and the East Bay Community Law Center has done substantial work shepherding the law through its five-year process to this point – where we almost have it!

ACTION: Give public comment at the March 4th hearing via Zoom!
When: Thursday, March 4, 10:30am
Where: Land Use, Housing & Economic Development Meeting – The Zoom link will be posted on this web page.

Read the draft of the law by opening the agenda when it is posted tonight: https://tinyurl.com/1myw6260

Talking Points, and More:
https://yes2topa.org/
https://ebclc.org/topa/

You can also let your neighbors know that you support TOPA by requesting a window or lawn sign, just email yes2topa@gmail.com to request your signs today.

Yes on Prop 10
Repeal Costa-Hawkins

Prop 10 is the most important ballot measure renters in California have voted on in decades!

If y’all want to save what is left of Berkeley, or San Francisco, or Oakland or even LA, y’all better get out there and do something for Yes on 10!

Get Involved:
Yes on 10
https://voteyesonprop10.org/

Learn to Talk About Prop 10
http://www.tenantstogether.org/campaigns/repeal-costa-hawkins-rental-housing-act

PROP 10 is about LOCAL CONTROL
https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/election-endorsements/article218278780.html

Comprehensive Research Report from UC Berkeley
https://haasinstitute.berkeley.edu/opening-door-rent-control

The Community Power Slate sponsors a Yes on 10 forum:

SUNDAY OCTOBER 21 – 3 PM
South Berkeley Senior Center
2939 Ellis Street at Ashby

 

Community Power Slate
Elect a Pro-Tenant Rent Board in Berkeley

For over a quarter century, Berkeley progressives have come together to choose a consensus slate for the Rent Board. This spring, the Berkeley Tenant Convention chose local leaders John Selawsky (formerly on the School Board) and Paola Laverde, currently the Rent Board’s Vice Chair and an outspoken advocate for Yes on Prop 10. Also on the Community Power Slate for Berkeley Rent Board are James Chang, UCB junior Soli Alpert, and Maria Poblet, a founder of Causa Justa Oakland.

The landlords are running an opposition slate, so pay attention when voting!
https://www.facebook.com/CommunityPowerSlate/

MORE ELECTION NEWS

Berkeley City Council
BTU endorsed Kate Harrison (District 4: Downtown) and Igor Tregub (District 1: Fourth Street, North Berkeley BART). Igor used to be on the Rent Board and has always been a solid advocate for tenants. Kate is the wisest leader in Berkeley, with a lot of behind the scenes experience in San Francisco’s crazier days. She has done amazing work for affordable housing on the City Council in her very short term.

Both of these leaders are reasonable people with good hearts who look at facts when making decisions.
Send them money!
http://electkateharrison.com/
https://www.igortregub.com/

BTU also endorsed Rigel Robinson, a newcomer whose website mentions nothing about renters in the housing policy statement. He is currently External Affairs Vice President of the ASUC and will fill the district with the most renters, taking the place of longtime tenant leader Kriss Worthington, who has endorsed Robinson.
“Rigel believes we need to build more housing, for all students, right next to campus, right now. As a City Councilmember, he’ll push for zoning requirements that allow for taller, denser buildings around campus — while fighting for more units that are affordable.”
https://rigelrobinson.com/

Finally, BTU endorsed Mary Kay Lacey for District 8. Lacey will fight for renters in the district which has been represented by Lori Droste, who repeatedly voted to eliminate rent controlled units through demolitions and conversions to Air BnB. Lacey became known for her work on the Task Force to Save Alta Bates hospital.

“Protect against displacement by building targeted affordable housing for students, working families and those facing eviction… I am also fully committed to the Pathways Project and a ‘housing first’ solution to our homelessness crisis.”
https://lacey2018.com/issues/

BTU-Endorsed Candidates:
State Assembly: Jovanka Beckles
Rent Board: Soli Alpert, James Chang, Paola Laverde, Maria Poblet, John Selawsky (Community Power Slate)
Council District 1: Igor Tregub
Council District 4: Kate Harrison
Council District 7: Rigel Robisnon
Council District 8: Mary Kay Lacey

BTU-Endorsed Housing Measures:
Prop 10 (Costa-Hawkins Repeal): YES!
Measure O (Affordable Housing Bond): Yes
Measure P (Transfer Tax for Homeless Services): Yes
Measure Q (Rent Board Amendments): No Endorsement
Prop 1 (Affordable Housing Bond): Yes
Prop 2 (Homeless Prevention Bond): Yes
Prop 5 (Property Tax Break): No

Now, The Good News

At their 10th anniversary celebration, the statewide renters group Tenants Together chose to honor Berkeley’s own Julia Cato, who has worked hard with several groups – including BTU – to make sure the voices of seniors and tenants are heard by the folks who represent us.

Tenants Together also has a counselor training coming up. I don’t think anyone does counseling for BTU since I left, so someone really should try to get the program up and running again! Tenants could use a peer advocate to help them navigate the bureaucracies that govern, even if California does get some better laws this election day!

More Worried About Trump than Lakireddy?
Get Involved on the National Level!

The Right to the City Alliance / Homes For All held their second national Renter Power Assembly this summer, with over 100 tenant groups coming together from all over the United States. Start by joining their mailing list to give renters a unified voice on national housing policy!

“If the housing crisis has been slow to register at the level of national politics, it’s not for lack of momentum at the grassroots. There is no major city in the United States today without a multitude of tenants’ rights groups, and “gentrification” has, in the span of a decade, crossed from left-wing academic journals into everyday language. From coast to coast, a loosely organized, intersectional, and bottom-up movement is coalescing around housing justice—the idea that housing is inextricable from a range of other issues like racial justice, poverty, the environment, immigration, and the rights of the formerly incarcerated.”
https://righttothecity.org/

LEARN MORE SUNDAY:
https://www.facebook.com/events/315079089075676/

KEEP UP WITH BTU ON FACEBOOK
https://www.facebook.com/berkeleytenants/

ELECT RENTERS
https://www.facebook.com/CommunityPowerSlate/

SAVE CALIFORNIA 
https://www.facebook.com/yesonprop10/

 

 

Tuesday the City Council will vote on a proposed ballot measure updating the rent laws to prepare Berkeley for a world without Costa-Hawkins. One of the major changes is that buildings build after 1980 could be rent controlled! Right now, the state law Costa-Hawkins says that cannot happen. The Berkeley City Council will be discussing how old a building should be before rent increases are limited. They seem to favor setting this period to be between 12-15 years. Maybe you would like all buildings under rent control NOW?

BTU member Paola Laverde sent in the information below:

Berkeley Renters We Need You!
The Rent Is Too Damn High!

126 hours at minimum wage will pay for a one bedroom in Berkeley. Source: http://tinyurl.com/yd6y6a96

Come out to Tuesday’s City Council meeting and make sure your voice is heard as the City Council debates whether to expand rent control.
We need you there to ensure that the City Council does not cave in to developers who want to delay new rent control for 20 YEARS OR MORE!
Where: Council Chambers: 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way
When: Tuesday, July 31, 2018 at 6 P. M.
What: The Council will be debating how long rent control should be delayed on newly constructed rental units.  The proposal before them is 12 to 15 years. However, property owners and developers are screaming that nothing less than 20 to 30 years is acceptable.

If tenants do not raise their voices loudly, the City Council may cave in to property owners and developers, leaving renters to suffer as already unaffordable rents sky rocket even higher.

The decision reached by the Council on Tuesday night may be put on the November 6, 2018, ballot for Berkeley voters to decide.  It will only go into effect if Proposition 10, the Affordable Housing Act, is approved by California voters.

Now is the time to take a stand against big money and the rental housing industry that is responsible for the affordability crisis impacting Berkeley.

THE RENT IS TOO DAMN HIGH!

For More Information:

Berkeley Ordinance Amendments
https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/City_Council/2018/07_Jul/City_Council__07-31-2018_-_Special_Meeting_Agenda.aspx
see Item #6

California Prop 10 Would Allow Berkeley to Expand Coverage
https://lao.ca.gov/BallotAnalysis/Proposition?number=10&year=2018

The Statewide Movement
https://www.citylab.com/life/2018/07/rent-control-is-gaining-steam-in-california/565856/

Measure U1 Allocations To Be Discussed Tuesday July 11

BTU Needs You to Push for Rental Assistance!
The City Council is beginning to discuss how to spend money from the 2016 landlord tax, Measure U1.

You may have seen emails from our allies asking you to comment on Measure U1 funding for particular affordable housing projects, but we want you to remind the Council that a portion of Measure U1 funding is also designated for homelessness prevention. It was always the intention of the authors of the 2016 ballot measure that some money go to reinstate Berkeley’s rental assistance program and boost the number of low-income renters that can defend themselves against Berkeley’s many bogus eviction attempts.

BTU is calling for you to contact the City Council to ask that renters get their fair share from the new tax on high rents generated by Measure U1 – because rent control is Berkeley’s most effective affordable housing program! With about 20% of Berkeley below the poverty level, keeping folks in their rent controlled units is certainly homelessness prevention! The market rent for a new tenant in an older, rent-controlled two bedroom is already $2,600 and “affordable housing units” in developments like The Avalon (by Aquatic Park) rent for $1,445 for a studio – how is that affordable?

Please Email the Council something like this right away!

TO: council@cityofberkeley.info
CC: clerk@cityofberkeley.info
Re: Items 37a and 37b; Items 38a and 38b (July 11)

Rent control is Berkeley’s most effective affordable housing program. BTU calls for more local anti-displacement funding, especially more funding for eviction defense and rental assistance (the “Housing Retention Program.”) Berkeley Tenants Union believes that the portion of funding raised by Measure U1 that should be designated, per the measure, for “homelessness prevention” should be spent on programs which stabilize the housing of low-income renters and thereby preserve economic and social diversity. BTU does not support a delay in committing this funding during a housing emergency. Please prioritize more help for low-income tenants struggling to stay in Berkeley!

 

 

Also on the Agenda: Soft Story Update Item 43
Soft story means buildings that will kill everyone by collapsing in an earthquake. They were required to retrofit and have been told since 2006 that this would be required. They get really cheap city loans, too! But 24 have not complied and – thanks to pressure from BTU and vocal advocates like Igor Tregub – they are now being fined by the Building Department.
This report also provides an update on the status of mandatory seismic retrofits required by Berkeley Municipal Code Chapter 19.39 for buildings with a soft, weak or open front (“Soft Story”) condition and five or more dwelling units. Soft Story building owners had a December 31, 2016 deadline to apply for building permits for seismic retrofits. Of the 86 buildings remaining on the Soft Story inventory, 62 buildings containing 617 dwelling units have now applied for or been issued permits. The Building and Safety Division issued warning letters of administrative citation on March 28, 2017 to owners who had not applied for a building permit and the first citations were issued to ten building owners on May 30.”

 IN OTHER NEWS

Tenant Activist Elisa Cooper
Berkeley has lost another important voice for housing. Elisa Cooper, who took on a major role representing Friends of Adeline on the 2016 Tenant Convention Planning Committee, was also a strong advocate for people with disabilities and those who have the very least in our community. She strongly opposed BTU charging dues and her voice will be missed when that issue comes up again this fall.

Rent Board Election: Campaign Finance Complaint
At the July 20th Fair Campaign Practices Commission (FCPC) meeting, the Commission will hear a complaint registered against the Berkeley Rental Housing Coalition for failing to properly record campaign finances. This is not the first time this has occurred. Because of the blatant repeat offences committed by this organization, the Berkeley Tenants Union feels strongly that in order for the Berkeley Election Reform Act to have any teeth, the maximum penalty should be imposed.
Please support BTU’s letter by emailing: FCPC@CityofBerkeley.info
BTU letter for FCPC

Victory on Affordable Housing Fee
Officials voted Tuesday night, with eight in favor and Councilwoman Lori Droste abstaining, to increase a fee linked to affordable units from $34,000 to $37,000. Council also changed the formula for how the fee is calculated so it’s based on the total project rather than just the market-rate units, as it was previously.”
http://www.berkeleyside.com/2017/06/30/despite-concerns-lack-data-berkeley-council-votes-increase-developer-fee/

Problems Continue at City Council
“The major problem, one which has been the major problem in the approximately forty years since I’ve been watching the Berkeley City Council on and off, is that the only reliable way to get the attention of even the best-intentioned city council is to have as many concerned citizens as possible show up in the flesh to make their case in what’s become one or two minute sound-bytes.”
http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2017-06-16/article/45818?headline=Berkeley-councilmembers-need-to-become-better-listeners–Becky-O-Malley

Solution? Comment Online to Council on Item 25, Berkeley Way Project
Comments about the plan can be posted online by registered users of Berkeley Considers, with or without their name at www.cityofberkeley.info/considers. However, users are asked confidentially for their name and home address upon registration, to distinguish which statements are from local residents, according to a news release from the city.”
http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/07/05/input-sought-on-3-million-berkeley-affordable-housing-project-allocation/

Is Berkeley Way Project Too Big?
The two-building project, set to take the place of the public parking lot at Berkeley Way and Henry Street, is slated to include 89 affordable apartments in one building and, in the other, 53 studios of permanent supportive housing, 32 shelter beds, 12 transitional units for veterans, and a first-floor services center with a community kitchen. City leaders have long described the $90 million project, a collaboration with the Berkeley Food & Housing Project (BFHP) and Bridge Housing, as “visionary” in scope.”
http://www.berkeleyside.com/2017/06/15/with-council-all-in-on-berkeley-way-homeless-housing-trust-fund-at-zero/

Another Way to Reach the City Council
Our good friends at Berkeley Citizens Action are holding a town hall with (most of) the progressives we elected this fall! The meeting is Sunday July 16 at 3 PM at South Berkeley Senior Center – go tell them we need more funding for rental assistance and access to just cause eviction protections! Arreguin, Worthington and Davila are all renters!
“Confirmed: Mayor Jesse Arreguín. Councilmembers: Kate Harrison, Kriss Worthington, Ben Bartlett, Sophie Hahn, waiting confirmation from councilmember Cheryl Davila.” according to BCA

Housing Fee: Rent Control and the Housing Crisis
A very serious problem confronting the City Council is the limits of what a city can do since rent control was abolished by the California legislature in 1995. Unquestionably, decontrol mainly accounts for the incredibly high rents. Even if we accept the US Census underestimated count of the poor in Berkeley, which is over 24,000 –that’s too many individuals and families who can be accommodated by the relatively few available below market rate units. A Berkeley City Council member pointed out that the projects which have already been approved will meet only 3 percent of the goal for low income housing.”
http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2017-06-30/article/45843?headline=The-affordable-housing-crisis-how-Berkeley-should-deal-with-it–Harry-Brill-

Housing Fee: Was It Really a Victory?
On the same night of San Francisco’s OMI victory, Berkeley retreated to its failed anti-housing past. The Berkeley City Council ignored the pleas of housing experts such as Karen Chapple of the UC Berkeley Urban Displacement Project, environmental groups such as the Greenbelt Alliance along with ample public testimony and voted 8-0-1 to impose new housing development fees based on 2015 rather than 2017 cost data. Why would the City Council raise fees based on a 2015 feasibility study?  Anyone familiar with rising construction costs since 2015 knows that such data is outdated.”
http://www.beyondchron.org/sf-advances-berkeley-retreats/

Berkeley Rent Control History Rewrite
When the landlords took over the Rent Board, they hired this guy!
http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/06/27/my-word-alamedas-just-cause-evictions-law-should-be-quashed/

More About Elisa Cooper
“What I will remember most about Elisa was her stating at numerous council meetings how the property transfer tax had been increased by 0.5% in 1990 for the purpose of providing a steady revenue stream for affordable housing – but then the revenue was diverted to the General Fund during the Great Recession – and never restored.”
http://www.berkeleyside.com/2017/07/05/opinion-elisa-cooper-taught-history-affordable-housing-shortage/

Demolition on Tenth Street Remanded
http://berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2017-06-23/article/45827?headline=SQUEAKY-WHEEL-The-Form-of-Infill–Toni-Mester

BTU History
The Berkeley Tenants Union was the subject of a recent research paper.
http://www.foundsf.org/index.php?title=Berkeley_Tenants_Union_in_the_1970s

BTU Calls For Landlords to Be Fined for Campaign Violations, Again
On Thursday, May 18, 2017, Berkeley’s Fair Campaign Practices Commission (FCPC) would not decide to enforce the Berkeley Election Reform Act. Commissioner Dean Metzger asked that the staff report include past violations from the same offenders after BTU pointed out their history. In addition, Commissioner Greg Harper asked the city attorney for further information.
The next FCPC meeting will be Thursday, July 20, 2017
BTU LETTER: BTU letter for FCPC

June 13 City Council Votes on Developer Fees
On Tuesday, June 13 the City Council will hold a public hearing to increase the affordable housing mitigation fee from $34,000 ($30,000 if paid when the building permit is issued) to $37,000 ($34,000 if paid when the building permit issue is issued).  The affordable housing mitigation fee is one of the primary ways that the city funds affordable housing, making this increase extremely important.
You can let the city council know that you support the increase by emailing council@cityofberkeley.info and clerk@cityofberkeley.info

Santa Rosa Nears Rent Control Vote
“The largest contribution reported to date to the landlord committee, called “Citizens for Fair and Equitable Housing — No on C,” was $280,000 from the political action committee of the California Association of Realtors. A treasurer for the committee referred questions to the spokesman for the California Apartment Association…”
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/6793101-181/money-pouring-in-to-fight?artslide=0

The Democratic Party Supports Rent Control
The California Democratic Party supports rent control and just cause for eviction. This is a big deal. Many California Democratic lawmakers are in the pocket of the real estate industry, just like Republicans. They regularly vote against tenants to make sure they continue getting landlord and realtor money. Just recently, only 24 of 80 legislators voted for Assemblymember Rob Bonta’s bill to stop Ellis Act evictions of SRO hotel units in Oakland. If you are scratching your head as to how a narrow bill to stop evictions of some of the most vulnerable tenants in Oakland could lose by a landslide in the California Assembly where Democrats have a two-thirds majority, you obviously haven’t been in the halls of the Capitol recently….”
http://48hills.org/2017/05/23/historic-vote-democratic-party-supports-rent-control/

Owner Move In Evictions in Local Spotlight
It is known that some landlords pretend it’s an owner move-in situation simply to evict lower-rent tenants, and then re-rent units for higher rents. Investors buying duplexes, or other small properties with only a few units, with the intention either to hold on to them or flip them, may tell long-term tenants they plan to move in, just to try to get them to move without going through a legal eviction process.”
http://www.berkeleyside.com/2017/05/25/berkeley-sees-increase-owner-move-evictions-landlords/

Congratulations Maria!
I am thrilled that Maria is taking over my seat on the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board!
“Poblet served many years as executive director at St. Peter’s Housing Committee in San Francisco and then spearheaded a merger with Just Cause Oakland in 2010 to form Causa Justa. The new group brought together one organization that had spent 25 years organizing Latinos with one that had spent 10 years organizing Blacks to push for economic and racial justice. Causa Justa is now the largest tenants’ rights group in the Bay Area. Poblet served as the organization’s executive director from 2010 until early 2017.”
http://www.berkeleyside.com/2017/05/16/prominent-tenants-rights-activist-appointed-berkeley-rent-board/

Councilperson Hahn Calls For Modifications to New Tenant Protections
http://www.dailycal.org/2017/05/31/owner-move-evictions-berkeley-rise-raising-concerns/

New Study Uses Small Sample, Ignores Rent Board Data
http://www.berkeleyside.com/2017/06/01/study-berkeley-8th-highest-rent-bay-area/

Inaccurate Report on High Rents Still Cause For Alarm
http://www.dailycal.org/2017/06/04/berkeley-rated-8th-highest-rent-bay-area/

These Were Sent By Members and Friends:

State Bill on Inclusionary Housing
http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/Clerk/City_Council/2017/05_May/Documents/2017-05-30_Item_30_Support_AB_1505.aspx

Awesome Overview of Berkeley Protections
https://www.mynd.co/landlord-journal/property-owners-cheat-sheet-berkeley

Rent Control is Neighborhood Stabilization
http://haasinstitute.berkeley.edu/rent-control-key-neighborhood-stabilization

San Jose Wants Rent Control
https://caanet.org/app/uploads/2016/08/San-Jose-Rent-Control-Guide_Interim-Ordinance.pdf

BPOA employee says U1 funds being misdirected.
“Tuesday night, they approved an “emergency” ordinance to buy the old Premier Cru building complex on University Avenue for $6.65 million. They want to use the site for future City Council chambers and maybe later, for affordable housing.”
http://www.berkeleyside.com/2017/03/31/opinion-berkeley-done-bait-switch-using-housing-funds-buy-new-council-chambers/

More on Council Item
It will repay the funds from money generated from excess property taxes and Measure U1, the new business tax on rental properties that voters approved in November. The funds will be repaid with interest, said city spokesman Matthai Chakko.”
http://www.berkeleyside.com/2017/03/27/city-council-set-buy-west-berkeley-building-will-move-meetings/

Council Item Itself
“$4.650 million (70% of the purchase price) from Measure U1 revenue”
http://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/City_Council/2017/03_Mar/Documents/2017-03-28_Item_32_Acquisition_of_Real_Property.aspx

Other News

Rent Board Delays Appointing Commissioner
The Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board honored outgoing Commissioner Harr but decided to delay appointment of a new Commissioner until May. They chose to delay because Commissioner Murphy was absent due to a family emergency.
Here is the report that ranks contenders for the position, including several candidates who did not make the slate at the 2016 Tenant Convention. BTU is not taking a position yet, because most candidates are BTU members, including Stefan Elgstrand, Tim Kingston, and Christine Schwartz.
http://www.cityofberkeley.info/uploadedFiles/Rent_Stabilization_Board/Level_3_-_General/TBD_Candidate%20search%20results%20and%20rec%20memo%20and%20attachment_FINAL.pdf

People’s Park Anniversary as UC Considers Building, Again
April 23 is the anniversary celebration for People’s Park.
“In 1968 the University used eminent domain to evict the residents and demolish all the houses on the block. Apparently they talked of plans to build needed student housing but nothing happened. For a year the empty lot was an eyesore, muddy and strewn with garbage. In April 1969 activists put out a call for people to help create a park. Hundreds came and cleared the ground, planted flowers and trees and built a children’s playground. They created a park, a People’s Park, that still lives today.”
http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2017-03-31/article/45603?headline=Berkeley-s-People-s-Park-is-in-the-news-again–Lydia-Gans

BARF Lawsuit Could End Neighborhood Preservation
The Bay Area Renter’s Federation, (SF BARF) known as a tool for developers and not a tenants group, is suing over a Council decision to deny permits at 1310 Haskell.
“The law states that a city or county cannot deny the approval of a housing project that complies with its general plan and zoning ordinance without substantial evidence that it will negatively impact public health or safety.”
http://www.dailycal.org/2016/10/31/lawsuit-alleges-berkeley-city-council-illegally-revoked-housing-development-permit/

Low Income Tenants Ousted By Oakland Fire
“The residents even obtained a restraining order against the building’s landlord. And, now, their lawyer is calling for an arson investigation.”
http://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/archives/2017/03/27/landlord-of-west-oakland-building-destroyed-by-fire-was-working-to-evict-tenants

Harsh Laws Drive Artists to Unsafe Warehouses
The father of one artist who died in Oakland’s Ghost Ship Fire is speaking out about how impossible permitting processes and costly complex rules make it impossible for artists and musicians to make their spaces safe and legal and leave those without resources prey to slumlords.
http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Father-of-a-Ghost-Ship-victims-urges-lawmakers-to-11005032.php

UN Report on Housing as Commodity
It details the shift in recent years that has seen massive amounts of global capital invested in housing as a commodity, particularly as security for financial instruments that are traded on global markets and as a means of accumulating wealth. As a result, she says, homes are often left empty – even in areas where housing is scarce.”
https://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2017/feb/28/un-report-lays-bare-the-waste-of-treating-homes-as-commodities

 Report Itself
“This influx of capital has increased housing prices in many cities to levels that most residents cannot afford – in some cities by more than 50% in a 5-year period. Housing prices are no longer commensurate with household income levels, and instead are driven by demand for housing assets among global investors. When housing prices skyrocket, low and sometimes even middle-income residents are forced out of their communities by high rent or mortgage costs. When housing prices plummet, residents face mortgage foreclosure and homelessness.”
http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21264&LangID=E

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/

 

Berkeley Tenants Union members voted overwhelmingly to support BTU member Kate Harrison for City Council in the upcoming special election.

harrisonendorsements-meeting-01-08-17-02

On Sunday, BTU joined with old friends Berkeley Citizens Action and new allies Berkeley Progressive Alliance to host a forum between the two candidates for District 4, Berkeley’s downtown City Council district. Berkeley will hold an election by mail to fill the seat left open when BTU member Jesse Arreguin became Mayor. Ballots must be postmarked by March 7.
Only about 20% of BTU members made the trek in heavy rains to cast a vote, yet almost every audience member submitted a question for the forum. The majority of questions focused on housing, displacement, and homelessness, but police accountability was also an issue. To guide members in voting, BTU / BCA / BPA also distributed responses from Harrison and graduate student Ben Gould to members of the three groups before the meeting.

questionnaire-harrison

questionnaire-gould

Gould was a good sport about supporting the landlord tax U1 in the last election, but he did tell the Daily Cal that the main differences between himself and Kate Harrison are their policies regarding housing, so BTU voters should take a close look at both candidates.

all photos: Christine Schwartz
all photos: Christine Schwartz

Support the Renter’s Choice
http://electkateharrison.com/

More on Harrison
Former Mayor Gus Newport spoke at Harrison’s press conference. Harrison is already endorsed by Mayor-Elect Arreguín, UCB’s Progressive Student Alliance, Sandre Swanson, Jean Quan, Councilmembers-Elect Sophie Hahn and Ben Bartlett, and seven Rent Board Commissioners so far.
http://www.dailycal.org/2016/11/30/kate-harrison-kicks-off-campaign-district-4-city-council-seat/

More Info on Election and Vote by Mail
http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/elections/

BTU Member Kate Harrison Runs in Special Election
“Arreguín, on his last day as the District 4 City Councilman, introduced Harrison, who has served on the Housing Advisory Commission, the Parks Commission, the Waterfront Commission and is a co-founder of the Berkeley Progressive Alliance.”
http://www.berkeleyside.com/2016/12/01/kate-harrison-begins-her-campaign-for-the-district-4-berkeley-city-council-seat/

Harrison Has Experience
“As a leader in passing Measure U-1, Harrison led volunteer efforts to secure $4 million a year in new revenues from the windfall profits of Berkeley largest landlords. These new revenues are to use to create and preserve affordable housing for the people of Berkeley.
Harrison earned her master’s degree in Public Policy from Berkeley’s Goldman School.
In her professional career, Harrison has managed state and municipal budgets and improved government efficiency while ensuring vital public services are maintained and employees treated fairly. Harrison’s work experience includes policy and executive positions in the San Francisco Mayor’s Office under Art Agnos, and at the California Administrative Office of the Courts….”
http://berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2016-11-25/article/45183?headline=Kate-Harrison-Enters-Berkeley-District-Four-Council-Race

Daily Cal on District 4
http://www.dailycal.org/2016/11/17/3-candidates-vie-mayor-elect-jesse-arreguins-city-council-seat/

Gould Supported By BARF
The Bay Area Renters Federation, known as a tool for developers and supporter of Air BnB, backs Gould.
http://www.sfbarf.org/

Learn About Ben Gould
http://www.bengould.org/

League of Women Voters Forum January 19
https://kpfa.org/event/berkeley-city-council-district-4-candidates-forum/