At the April 2016 Tenant Convention – sponsored by BTU and many other community organizations – a record turnout of Berkeley progressives selected a team of four candidates for Rent Board. Christina Murphy, Alejandro Soto-Vigil, Leah Simon-Weisberg and Igor Tregub are your team – vote CALI!

However, the Pro-Tenant CALI team has opposition! Sitting landlord Commissioner Judy Hunt only managed to recruit one young property manager to run for election as part of her slate.

Property Manager Nate Wollman
Property Manager Nate Wollman

One of the major differences between the two groups is their positions on the ballot measures that most impact renters: Measure AA and Measures U1/DD. The team chosen at the Tenant Convention all support Measure AA and Measure U1 and consider the landlords’ measure DD a dangerous deception. Hunt was the only vote on the Rent Board not supporting U1. She repeatedly refused to vote for Measure AA as a Commissioner, though it was put on the ballot at the request of the Rent Board to update parts of the Rent Ordinance which got behind the times. (Measure AA is non-controversial, has no official opposition except Hunt and Wollman, and is endorsed by the School Board and Berkeley Federation of Teachers.)
Property Manager Wollman is one of the main critics of Measure U1’s exemption of new construction from the tax to encourage building of more housing, although he strongly supports more development in his Rent Board platform. “We have a lot of so called progressives that harp on the ideals of making this city more inclusive, more affordable, more accessible to students and low income renters and then go an protest at zoning board meetings about proposed developments,” Wollman told Berkeleyside.

Learn More About CALI:
The schedule shows the CALI team is out talking to voters with their supporters every Saturday and Sunday. They also plan to hold phone banks.

Rent Board Candidates on Video:
League of Women Voters held a forum for all six candidates.

Bernie Sanders Endorses Pro-Tenant Slate!

Daily Planet Endorsements for Berkeley

Berkeleyside Coverage

Hunt and Wollman have few endorsements
Hunt and Wollman have few endorsements

Six Bay Area Cities Have Ballot Measures

Getting Renters to Vote Might Be the Heart

Tenants Are Really Getting Together

Landlords Tell the Same Old Lies

Alameda Arguments on CPI – Truth

Santa Rosa Gets Rent Control

..But Will It Be Undone?

Rent Control on the Ballot in Mountain View

More on Mountain View

Rent Control on the Ballot in San Mateo

Rent Control on the Ballot in Burlingame

Richmond Sees Wave of Evictions Before Vote

Oakland Wants Real Rent Control November 8th

Richmond Landlords Jack Rents Before Vote too

Concord Wants Rent Control

Property Owners Spend to Save

Owners Spend to Save in Berkeley Too

Want to Keep Your Rent Control?

Berkeley Referendum Ends in Tears
“At issue was the redistricting map the council approved in December, with Worthington, Anderson and Arreguin dissenting. The city must adjust council boundary lines after each decennial census to equalize the population among council districts.The ordinance approving those boundaries was set aside after opponents collected some 7,800 signatures supporting the referendum. The city sued to have the judge temporarily lift the stay, in order to use the council district boundaries approved in December for the November election.”

Daily Planet: Mayor Used Public Resources
“These two public statements using government resources appear to violate the state law around misuse of public resources for political purposes…”

Robin Hood Initiatives Miss 2014 Ballot, Continue for 2016
Our friends at tell us that Robin Hood was unable to make the deadline for the 2014 ballot, so signature gathering will continue later in the summer, and these measures will be on the 2016 ballot.

BTU 1970
BTU 1970

Robin Hood in the Daily Planet–By-Katherine-Harr-Jesse-Townley-from-the-Robin-Hood-Committee

Judges own Banks?
East Bay Express: Are Foreclosure Cases Rigged?
Forty-two of California’s 105 appellate court judges (or 40 percent of the bench) own significant amounts of stock in at least one financial company. Seventeen justices disclosed owning stock or bonds in Bank of America in 2012, the most of any bank, followed by Citibank with ten judges owning at least $2,000 in securities.

Oakland Tenants Gain Small Victory
The Oakland City Council voted last night to tighten the city’s rent control law after landlords and tenants’ groups reached a compromise deal… The new rules, which take effect this summer, cap rent hikes to a total of 10 percent a year for upgrades to buildings. They also prohibit landlords from passing on all the costs of capital improvements to tenants, capping the total at 70 percent. Oakland’s rent control laws, however, are still weaker than other cities, including San Francisco and Berkeley.

San Francisco Cracks Down on Vacation Rentals
“Illegal short-term rental conversions of our scarce residential housing stock” are contributing to “a housing crisis of historic proportions,” City Attorney Herrera said in a statement.

Landlord Comments on Robin Hood Initiatives (April 29)
As you can tell, I don’t like this ‘windfall profits tax’, which I think is a cruel voter hoax; however, there is one good thing about it. I will be exempt from paying it! Yes, this ‘windfall profits tax’ ballot initiative specifically states that landlords who own single family houses and duplexes will not have to pay the new tax, and the only rentals I own in Berkeley are single family houses and duplexes. So even though I think this tax is a bad idea, I don’t plan to get involved in this campaign.


100113The Berkeley Tenants Union has no position on the emerging legislation to make cigarette smoking illegal in all multiunit buildings in Berkeley. This hot issue pits neighbor against neighbor, especially since the City Council’s draft only has one enforcement mechanism: take your neighbor to small claims court!

Requests from the Rent Board and other constituents for the city to require mediation have not been included in the rules, which would make smoking in or around their buildings illegal for tenants and condominium owners, even if smoking is allowed in the lease or homeowner’s agreement. Smoking will be prohibited in all new leases.

Possible changes to the current draft of the law which are discussed in the Council report:

  • Mandating mediation
  • More aggressively enforcing the Ordinance
  • Defining smoking in multi-unit housing as a nuisance to allow evictions
  • Requiring a registry of units with non-smoking clauses in their leases
  • Including medical cannabis smoking

The Berkeley City Council will finally vote on the controversial law at their meeting Tuesday, which begins at 7 PM at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way and will be broadcast on the web, cable TV and 89.3 FM. The current draft does include some increased support for smokers trying to quit.

Our elected Rent Board has been under fire from at least one antismoking advocate. The Commissioners expressed concerns that defining smoking as a nuisance would lead to evictions, pushed for mediation to be mandatory before law suits are filed, and also requested that the city enable their department to provide tracking so prospective tenants would know if they are applying for a unit next door to a smoker and/or if smoking happened during the previous tenancy:
May 7 Smoke-free Housing Council final

Health advocates say the law doesn’t go far enough to protect renters from second hand smoke:–By-Carol-Denney

Council materials, see Item 10:

No More Shit From LandlordsIn 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!

Four Berkeley Fair Campaign Committee members – appointed by TUFF Slate endorsers from the City Council – voted for a slap on the wrist. A dozen citizens made public comment asking for a real investigation and meaningful penalties. The commission also got four letters from BTU members, but voted 4-3 to approve the settlement agreement with low fines and no formal investigation of the faux tenant slate, and no investigation of the nearly $50,000 they accepted from landlords and property management firms. At least our public pressure led to them taking out the part of the agreement that said Rent Board Commissioner Judy Hunt and the other candidates didn’t do it on purpose! It would have been shameful to make such a declaration when there was no investigation or hearing.

There is still an ongoing investigation of the violations at the state level.

Berkeley Daily Planet:–By-Dave-Blake

Contra Costa Times (link doesn’t work on phones, only computers):



Tonight the Fair Campaign Practices Commission meets (7 pm, North Berkeley Senior Center) to consider the stipulation offered by members of Tenants United for Fairness (TUFF)—a slate that ran for Berkeley’s Rent Stabilization Board in the November election—and the landlords who illegally funded their campaign.

The proposed stipulation would fine the TUFF slate members $300 each, and their backers under $3000 total.

In comparison, at the same meeting the people who raised money to defeat the street-sitting prohibiting Measure S and who failed to properly report $500 in late contributions in a timely manner are proposed to pay a penalty of that amount—$500, the amount they received. Nothing illegal about the contributions, they’re just paying the amount of the contribution for failing to report it on time.

TUFF raised and spent over $50,000 from landlords, over $30,000 from one PAC alone. Berkeley has a $250 per candidate donation limit and bars business donations, the vast bulk of those donations.

Read the entire article here:—By-Dave-Blake-and-Dean-Metzger