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/

 

 

Measure U1 Debate Continued
The Berkeley City Council carried items about spending Measure U1 money to their July 25 meeting. See Items 48, 50 and 51 on that agenda.
http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/Clerk/City_Council/City_Council__Agenda_Index.aspx

The State of Berkeley
Mayor Jesse Arreguin is a renter who rose to prominence as strong voice for tenants when he chaired Berkeley’s Rent Board and while he represented the downtown area on City Council. His first State of the City address highlighted his dedication to affordable housing and antidisplacement.

He said the city needs to fight the ravages of gentrification, strengthen defenses against eviction of tenants, work to eliminate the state Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, and do more to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation.”
http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/07/11/mayors-address-cites-berkeleys-disparities-role-in-national-politics/

“Arreguín said he is also proud of the $650,000 included in the new city budget for eviction defense and housing subsidies — and of the plan to build affordable and permanent supportive housing, along with more shelter beds and transitional units for veterans, at Berkeley Way. The council voted unanimously to prioritize that ambitious plan in June, though its success depends on securing more funding for the $90 million project.”
http://www.berkeleyside.com/2017/07/11/mayor-jesse-arreguin-pledges-re-earn-berkeleys-progressive-reputation-city-address/

BCA Progressive Town Hall Sunday July 15
Progressive Town Meeting with many City Council members – sponsored by our good friends at Berkeley Citizens Action: Sunday July 16, 3-5pm at the South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis Street.

Berkeley Rent Control – in 1942!
Bay Area housing rent control went into effect July 1, 1942, and the first day of required registration was July 15. Anyone who rented an apartment, house, or room had to register and list the rents. “No landlord may now charge a rent higher than that prevailing on March 1, 1942”, the Gazette noted on July 15. “Any tenant who for personal reasons, privately agrees to pay more than the legal rate is equally guilty of evading the law.” Six stations had been set up to receive registration forms.
http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/07/10/berkeley-a-look-back-wartime-introduces-city-to-rent-control/

On Student Housing
“The old dorms, forced by state policy to be financially self-sustaining, are already insanely expensive. And now, with UC Berkeley pitching itself to wealthy out-of-state students who pay high fees , with an emphasis on the privileged offspring of well-off foreigners, even pricier alternatives are on offer, under the rubric of “Affiliated Properties.” What does this mean? If you click under this heading on the UC Housing website, you see these three buildings: Garden Village Apartments; New Sequoia Apartments; Panoramic Residences. The first two were originally permitted by the city of Berkeley as tax-paying private rental development, the kind marketed as “luxury apartments. Presumably the third, developed in San Francisco by Patrick Kennedy, who made his original fortune in Berkeley, is in the same category. Now, however, they seem to have been subsumed into UCB’s housing schemes. Are they consequently off the tax rolls?”
http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2017-07-07/article/45868?headline=UC-expansion-engulfs-Berkeley–Becky-O-Malley

Op Ed on Berkeley Development Policies
“It is not true that asking developers to pay higher fees will kill their incentive to build. Just look at all the cranes out there.”
http://www.berkeleyside.com/2017/06/13/opinion-berkeley-needs-new-housing-policy-works-many-not-just/

New York Times on Berkeley Housing Crisis
The New York paper interviewed Mayor Arreguin.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/15/us/california-today-the-housing-crisis-hits-berkeley.html

Mother Jones Mocks Berkeley Housing Policies
http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/06/climate-change-housing-berkeley/

In Other Places 

San Mateo County Study on Displacement
If you know me, you know I love data. Data from this new study of evictions and displacement in San Mateo County could help Berkeley leaders make the case for more funding for enforcement of eviction protections and rental assistance as a means of homelessness prevention.
“The surveys found that of the people who reported being displaced in the last two years, one in three had experienced homelessness or marginal housing (defined as living in a motel or hotel, renting a garage, or “couch-surfing”); only one in five was able to find a new place to live within a mile of their former residence; and one in three left the county. Several reported that their families had to split up to find housing.”

The study also shows the environmental impacts of the housing emergency.
”Those who did leave the county saw their one-way commute time increase by an average of 47 minutes and commute cost rise by $390 a month for the main household earner.”
https://almanacnews.com/news/2017/06/22/study-displaced-residents-face-many-other-adverse-effects

 

UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies Displacement Report
http://www.urbandisplacement.org/sites/default/files/images/impacts_of_displacement_in_san_mateo_county.pdf

 

Oakland Wants Berkeley’s Protections
Jonah Strauss of the Oakland Warehouse Coalition said that the referral of the owner move-in exemption to the rent board is a good move. He said Oakland should adopt strong rules like those in Berkeley, and that if a landlord does carry out an owner move-in eviction they should be required to pay a “substantial” amount to help their tenants relocate.”
https://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/archives/2017/07/11/oakland-looks-to-close-owner-move-in-and-occupancy-loopholes-reduce-evictions-and-harmful-rent-increases

Fremont Wants Rent Control
“The tenants are really in an unleveraged position,” Bonaccorsi said. “They don’t have equal bargaining power. There is a lot of fear, there is a lot of anxiety, there is a lot of stress, there’s a lot of families that have been displaced.”
http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/07/12/fremont-isnt-ready-for-rent-control-council-decides/

San Francisco Wants Vacancy Tax
https://sf.curbed.com/2017/7/12/15961486/sf-tax-landlord-homes-apartments-vacant 

Los Angeles Short Term Rentals Debate
https://patch.com/california/studiocity/airbnb-supporters-flood-city-hall-fight-limits-rentals

Airbnb to Collect Taxes for Puerto Rico
https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/california/articles/2017-06-22/airbnb-to-collect-room-tax-in-puerto-rico-for-government

Airbnb Still Fighting Paris 
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-airbnb-hotels-reaction-idUSKBN19R2TT

It’s a funny thing law makers have to deal with: the people! Anything approved by the voters can only be changed by the voters. We out-rank the City Council, the Rent Board, even the state legislature. However, this also ties the hands of elected officials.

That is why Measure AA on the November 8th ballot in Berkeley is a much-needed fix. In November 2000, voters approved relocation funds and eviction protections for elderly and disabled tenants when Berkeley experienced the first big wave of owner-move-in evictions (OMI). But now the only way to update the 16-year-old relocation amounts is to go to the ballot box with Measure AA.

The Good News?

The City Council just raised the relocation funds for tenants thrown out for the other common no-fault eviction, the Ellis Act. Eviction restrictions and relocation funds for the Ellis Act were not decided by the voters, so City Council was permitted to update Ellis relocation assistance following a request by the Rent Board.

Rent Board Ellis Report
http://www.cityofberkeley.info/uploadedFiles/Rent_Stabilization_Board/Level_3_-_General/INFO_Ellis%20Report%20to%20Committee_5-4-16.pdf

City Council Item
http://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/City_Council/2016/10_Oct/Documents/2016-10-18_Item_03_Ordinance_7507.aspx

Berkeley Measure AA
“Measure AA is endorsed by many different groups, because it supports education, preserves diversity, and by slowing displacement it also helps the environment.”
http://www.berkeleymeasureaa.org/

In Other News

Election Complaint Against Measure DD
A UC student association filed a complaint to the California Fair Political Practices Commission regarding campaign law violations by the landlord group “Committee for Real Affordable Housing Yes on Measure DD, No on Measure U1, Sponsored By Berkeley Property Owners Association.”
According to the press release, the list of violations “…includes multiple advertisements and literature that does not include the mandatory disclosure requirements. In one case, a mailed document was sent without proper disclosure, and was deceptively designed to look like an official government document.”
pressreleasereaffordablehousingproponentsslambiglandlordsoncampaignviolations

 

Is this a campaign violation?
Is this a campaign violation?

 More on Suspected Campaign Violations
“Stefan Elgstrand, secretary of the Berkeley Tenants Union, said the Berkeley Tenants Union supported the FPPC filing. ‘We want to make sure that these groups that do these deceptive mailings are held accountable,’ Elgstrand said.”
http://www.dailycal.org/2016/10/23/campus-group-files-complaint-measure-dd-campaign-alleged-violations/

More on Measure U1 and Measure DD
http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2016-10-14/article/45005?headline=Measures-U1-and-DD-br-What-s-the-difference—Rob-Wrenn

 

Students Can’t Afford Housing at $1,500 per Room
A graduate of Hunter College in New York City, Sliwowski said that the two-bedroom apartment he had rented in the notoriously competitive Manhattan housing market as an undergraduate cost him and his roommates a total of $1600 a month. In Berkeley, after subletting a room in a house for two months that had been rented out on AirBnB, he finally beat out 59 other applicants to pay $1500 a month for a room in a house. “The university is failing to do anything to control rents in Berkeley, and failing to adequately inform students about the cost of housing,” he said.”
http://www.dailycal.org/2016/03/04/priced-out-of-house-and-home/

UC Berkeley’s Role in the Housing Emergency
While the student housing crisis is a symptom of a regional problem, the fault also rests with campus administrators, who have failed to create enough housing opportunities for students. UC Berkeley houses fewer students than most other UC campuses, providing only 24.7 percent of undergraduates and 2.6 percent of graduate students with campus housing. Even when the campus creates new student housing, it is often unaffordable for many students. In fact U.S. News and World report ranked UC Berkeley as the fifth most expensive school in the country in terms of campus housing costs.”
http://www.dailycal.org/2016/03/08/347468/

What is Affordable Housing?
“Affordable housing is housing that only costs 30 percent of the renter’s income. In Berkeley, however, housing can be considered “affordable” when it costs up to 50 percent — and even 80 percent — of the household’s income. And in the eyes of Sophie Hahn, a member of the city’s Zoning Adjustment Board, this expectation is not at all affordable and reveals the heart of the affordable housing issue in Berkeley.”
http://www.dailycal.org/2016/03/04/quick-dirty-guide-affordable-housing/

About the Co-ops
Central to its design is the understanding that in order to receive a quality education, students must have access to affordable housing. This is especially relevant at UC Berkeley, which measures its value by accessibility. UC Berkeley’s former chancellor Robert Birgeneau once said the UC’s “educational excellence is accessible and affordable,” a quality that makes Berkeley a uniquely “vital and diverse intellectual community.” But this is not the reality. Students at UC Berkeley face a brutally expensive housing market, which presents an obvious contradiction: UC Berkeley cannot claim to provide access to excellent education as long as it considers quality of life and quality of education separately.”
http://www.dailycal.org/2016/03/10/sharing-berkeleys-housing-burden/

Find the Rest of the Daily Californian’s Housing Issue Here:
http://www.dailycal.org/section/special/housing-issue-2016/

Berkeley Council Invites Mostly Developers to Discuss Affordable Housing Options:
Former Planning Director Mark Rhoades, now a developer himself, was a featured speaker at the February 16 Council forum.
http://www.berkeleyside.com/2016/02/17/berkeley-considers-ways-to-build-more-affordable-housing/

Several speakers who work for, or consult with, developers said Berkeley’s public process is to blame for rising building costs.
http://www.dailycal.org/2016/02/17/city-council-discusses-problems-solutions-affordable-housing-crisis-work-session-tuesday/

Berkeley has built only 206 below-market rentals since 2012
Berkeley has approved only 206 below-market rentals since 2012

8% Affordable Housing Will Not Address Crisis
“With those units, plus all of the projects at various stages of the use permit application process as well as those under construction, the totals since 2012 come out to 206 affordable units out of 2,787 total units, or 8 percent (see ABAG slide above).
…There was consensus among the experts that the city needs to expedite housing construction by facilitating funding and cutting red tape. But not all of them bought into the oft-cited notion that building lots of luxury housing will put a significant dent in the affordable housing shortage… Several lamented what they saw as the loss of economic and ethnic diversity in a city where skyrocketing residential rents are out of reach of most working people, many of them minorities. The rising rents represent “a major transfer of income from tenants to real estate investors,” and they vastly exceed what a landlord needs to profitably operate and maintain a building, said former Berkeley Housing Director Steve Barton, one of the presenters on Tuesday.”
http://www.dailydemocrat.com/general-news/20160217/berkeley-forum-seeks-ways-to-speed-construction-of-affordable-housing/2

Landlord Tax Could Fund Affordable Housing
http://www.dailycal.org/2016/02/24/city-council-approves-poll-to-residents-about-potential-ballot-measures/

Trying to Stop Berkeley Eviction Cases from Moving to Far-Away Court:
http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/tenant-advocates-decry-court-move/Content?oid=4679640

Students Ask University to Step Up
The ASUC Student Housing Committee published this editorial in the Daily Californian calling for the University to produce more student housing and scrap plans for a private hotel on UC land in downtown Berkeley.
Despite plans to increase enrollment by at least 1,500 new students at UC Berkeley over the next few years, the campus only has plans to create 725 net new beds over the next five years; by contrast, the campus is increasing enrollment by 750 students next year alone… Furthermore, the university plans to build this project — and future projects — as a P3, or public-private partnership. As a P3, such a residence hall would be on university land but operated by a private company, a situation known as privatization. As a result, students would simultaneously lack the protections of local laws — such as rent control and eviction protections — while also paying more for rent to a private company.”
http://www.dailycal.org/2016/02/23/university-must-build-public-residence-hall-downtown/

Students Hold Rally
http://www.dailycal.org/2016/02/28/campus-students-rally-affordable-student-housing-friday/

Equity Residential Sells 1,800 Rent Controlled Units
Equity Residential, also Berkeley’s largest landlord, sold its units in East Palo Alto to Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, a foreign investment firm. Equity is also selling all of its units in Berkeley.
http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2016/02/16/exclusive-east-palo-altos-woodland-park-apartments.html

Oakland: Short Term Rentals Tax to Support Affordable Housing
This from the East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO):
“As the result of months of EBHO members’ advocacy and efforts, on February 2nd, Oakland City Council allocated $350,000/year of the Transient Occupancy Tax revenue from short-term rentals to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund for each of the two years in the current budget cycle.
Allocating TOT revenue, which is the occupancy tax paid by hotels and other tourist accommodations, from these short-term accommodations to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund will help mitigate the impact of the short-term rental industry as the City begins to explore policy solutions addressing this issue.  The TOT being allocated is from revenues the City receives over and above the $500,000/year allocated in the ’15-’17 budget, so it is not impacting other City priorities. As you read in EBHO’s report, The Impact of Short Term Rentals on Affordable Housing in Oakland, the City has an undisclosed contract with Airbnb to collect TOT.”

San Francisco: Fire Leads to Demolition, Evictions
San Francisco guarantees rent-controlled tenants who are displaced by a fire the right to return to their units after repair at their previous rent, though few do. But with the demolition, that protection no longer applies: New buildings are not subject to rent control because of state law and are not bound by the right of return. No-fault evictions on the basis of demolition are also allowed under city law. “
http://missionlocal.org/2016/02/sf-orders-demo-of-burned-mission-st-building-tenants-may-lose-right-to-return/

This 18-unit OCCUPIED building on Durant has applied for a demolition permit.
This 18-unit building on Durant has applied for a demolition permit.

BTU Appealed This Demolition — City Council November 17

The proposed demolition at 2631 Durant includes 18 rent controlled units which have traditionally been 100% occupied by students and were occupied until May 2014. This is the building next door to the Art Museum and across from the dorms near College on Durant.

One of the most sensational aspects of this application is that developer Cliff Orloff claims he cannot get a fair rate of return because of the costs if he rehabilitates the existing building – but Orloff invited the Berkeley Fire Department to conduct trainings in his building, and when they were done there were holes in the roof and very few interior walls, according to a Building Inspector report that is part of the City record.

The other extremely disturbing aspect of tonight’s hearing is public perception that the process may have been manipulated:

1) City packed the Zoning agenda with two controversial issues – demolition of 2631 Durant and the EIR for 2211 Harold Way, the first downtown high-rise. This will limit discussion time for both projects.

2) City scheduled a different public meeting at virtually the same time on another aspect of Harold Way. Many BTU members want to speak at both meetings but cannot endure 4 or more hours of meetings just to have their one or two minutes to comment at each.

3) CITY STAFF SENT AT LEAST ONE LETTER FROM A CONCERNED CITIZEN TO THE DEVELOPER well before this correspondence was available to the public or even to ZAB Commissioners. (see Supplemental Communications Page 5) Having communications before the rest of the public seems to give the developer more time to refute or refine arguments than the time any other member of the public would have to comment on correspondence.

4) This building was 100% student occupied but the hearing is scheduled when students are away – see the letter from ASUC External Affairs linked below.

BTU is asking folks to come tonight, hold signs, and speak against demolition of rent controlled units as well as in favor of increased affordable housing requirements from downtown high-rise builders.

BTU Letter to ZAB About Durant

ASUCMariumZABCommunication

Communication from the Public Forwarded to Developer, Page 5
http://cityofberkeley.info/uploadedFiles/Planning_and_Development/Level_3_-_ZAB/2015-06-25_ZAB_Supplemental%20Item_Rd1_2631%20Durant.pdf

Link to All City Documents Regarding this Application:
http://cityofberkeley.info/Planning_and_Development/Zoning_Adjustment_Board/2631_Durant.aspx

The 2014 Rent Board Slate: (left to right) John Selawsky, Paola LaVerde, Katherine Harr, and James Chang. Not pictured: Jesse Townley
The 2014 Rent Board Slate: (left to right) John Selawsky, Paola LaVerde, Katherine Harr, and James Chang. Not pictured: Jesse Townley

The Berkeley Tenant Convention on Sunday July 13 chose the five candidates most Highly Recommended by the Berkeley Tenants Union screener: incumbents Jesse Townley and Katherine Harr, former School Board Director John Selawsky, and first-time candidates Paola LaVerde and James Chang. Selawsky, Harr, and Chang all serve on the BTU steering committee.

Daily Californian Celebrates Student Candidate
“I’m talking about fighting for the soul of Berkeley,” Chang said at the convention. “In Berkeley, student issues are community issues, and community issues are student issues.” http://www.dailycal.org/2014/07/13/pro-tenant-slate-chosen-berkeley-rent-board-race/

More Information on the Convention:
http://berkeleytenantsconvention.net/

In Other News

Berkeley City Council Passes NAACP Recommendations
“Ultimately, these measures will not be enough. They are a set of steps to stop the bleeding of lower-income residents from Berkeley, many of whom are people of color. But in the long run, the only effective way to combat gentrification is through the strict application of rent control.”
http://www.dailycal.org/2014/07/14/berkeley-housing-vote-step-right-direction-miles-still-go/

No Rent Control? No Security Against Displacement!
When one unit in the predominantly artist-occupied complex was put on the market a couple months ago, an attorney who had her eye on the space offered to pay $2,650, or $300 above the rental listing price. The landlord, one of the original developers of the complex in 1990, accepted the offer. Wells’ landlord, who had recently inherited the property, got word of the unprecedented demand, and notified her that her rent would be raised as well, from $2,200 to $2,650 — a 20 percent increase — effective in September. Wells, and another tenant whose rent was also increased, have no choice but to leave.”
http://www.berkeleyside.com/2014/07/03/is-the-tech-boom-putting-pressure-on-berkeley-rents/

No Dogs Allowed
“Rental search startup Lovely reports that just 17 percent of the rental apartments on their site specifically indicate that dogs are accepted, compared with 40 percent in Los Angeles and 48 percent in Chicago.”
http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Pet-owners-struggle-as-fewer-S-F-landlords-allow-5603191.php

Demolition Evictions in SF up 300%
“…evictions for things like owner move-ins, demolitions and withdrawal of units from the rental market rose dramatically last year to 673.”
http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2014/03/24/rent-board-report-san-francisco-demolition-evictions-up-300-percent/

Berkeley is a college town, and that means May and June bring free furniture to the streets as the student population moves into new digs. On Wednesday April 16, the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board will offer a special workshop on Security Deposit law at their office on Milvia at Center Street, downtown.

Landlord/Tenant – Rights/Responsibilities on Security Deposit Law Seminar
Wednesday, April 16th, 5:15 p.m. – 6:15 p.m. @ the Rent Stabilization Board Office

Most rules about deposits are state law, so they apply to all renters, even those who are not under the rent control portion of Berkeley’s tenant protection ordinance.

Another good resource for planning to move in or move out is provided by the University of California campus group Renters Legal Assistance:
Getting Your Security Deposit Back

Tenants Together, the statewide renters organization (BTU is a member group) also offers some good information here:
http://tenantstogether.org/article.php?id=571

ACTION: Statewide Ellis Reform
The Berkeley Rent Board agenda for Monday March 17 contains a report on landlord and tenant bills at the state legislature. BTU is asking the Board to take action to support and broaden the two bills to reform the Ellis Act, a law that allows speculators to buy an apartment building and immediately get rid of all the tenants. We hope the Board will ask Nancy Skinner and Loni Hancock to persuade San Francisco’s Tom Ammiano and Mark Leno to change their bills so they could apply in Berkeley if use of the Ellis act rises dramatically here.

Santa Monica’s Rent Board, and then Santa Monica’s City Council, have taken a similar position, stating that they are hopeful that any Ellis reform will allow all jurisdictions with rent control to be given a chance to opt in.
Santa Monica Rent Board Annual Report: “…entering 2013, there are signs that the economy may be improving—foreclosures are down in California along with unemployment—and there is a sense in the state that our economy may finally be headed in the right direction. Along with that recovery is the likelihood of increased Ellis activity, bringing with it the inevitable loss of accessible, competitive, controlled housing.”

The Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board meets Monday at 7 PM — 2134 Martin Luther King. The report on housing legislation and discussion on Ellis reform are early on their agenda.

Berkeley Rent Board Legislative Report, Item 5 http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/Rent_Stabilization_Board/Home/Agenda__RSB_2014_Mar_17.aspx

Also on the Agenda, Banks as Landlords, Item 7(a)8 and Wall Street Securitizing Rents 7(a)11

Ellis Reform from the San Francisco Appeal: “Speculators are buying properties and posing as new landlords, then evicting the tenants within a matter of months to “flip” the building and convert it into a high-cost home or luxury condominiums, the senator said.”
http://sfappeal.com/2014/02/local-landlords-demonstrate-against-announcement-of-legislation-to-close-ellis-act-loopholes/

Ellis Reform from 48 Hills Blog: “The presence of the mayor and the tech industry is just the latest indication of how serious the eviction crisis has become – and how much of a force the tenant movement has become in local politics. When you get a crowd like this for an anti-eviction bill, it’s clear that 2014 is, indeed, the Year of the Tenant in San Francisco.
http://48hillsonline.org/2014/02/24/everyone-in-town-except-a-few-landlords-is-supporting-lenos-ellis-act-bill/

San Francisco To Raise Ellis Relocation Benefits?
“The Campos legislation will pay tenants 2 years’ worth of the “rent differential” between their current rent and the market rent they will have to pay. For example, if a tenants being evicted is paying $1,500 a month in rent and the current market rent for a similar apartment is $3,000, they will received $72,000 in relocation benefits (the $1,500 difference their current rent and the new rent, times 48)”–  according to Eviction Free SF. Berkeley’s Ellis relocation benefits are currently between $8,700 and $16,200 per household, San Francisco has a $15,632.69 maximum, and Santa Monica and West Hollywood base their benefits on the size of the unit, with relocation payments of up to $17,000 (West Hollywood) and $19,000 (Santa Monica.)

Student Perspectives on Housing
This week was UC Berkeley’s annual Tenants Rights Week, so BTU tabled on campus alongside Renters Legal Assistance and other services. The Daily Californian has their annual housing special issue, with articles discussing gentrification, types of housing in Berkeley, vacancy decontrol and landlord profits, and the role of the Rent Board.
http://www.dailycal.org/section/special/housing-issue-2014/

Tuesday Exchange on Berkeley’s Downtown
There are 1,400 units of rental housing in development for the Downtown area, and none of it will be rent controlled. Unfortunately, this talk will happen while you are at work.
The Berkeley Historical Society asked LWVBAE to partner with them in an exploration of how development activities may potentially impact the cultural and physical characteristics of the Downtown area. Panelists, including Michael Caplan, Lisa Stephens and Jim Novosel, will open a discussion on this important topic, which will be followed by a question-and-answer period. The talk will be moderated by Steven Finacom and introduced by Sherry Smith.”
Conversation about the Downtown Development Plan
Tuesday, March 18 :: Noon to 1:30 pm
Berkeley History Center, 1931 Center Street
Admission free. Donations welcome. Wheelchair accessible.

Oakland City Council To Review Capital Improvement Rent Increases Tuesday
A staff recommendation this week calls for the number of years landlords can amortize capital improvement costs to be extended from 5 years to 20 and caps the rent increase at 10 percent. In addition, landlords would be asked to petition the city for rent increases. Currently, the only way for the city to track rent increases triggered by capital improvement projects is only when renters issue a complaint. Most tenants, however, may be unaware of their rights regarding the complaint system, says Oakland tenants’ rights advocate James Vann”.
http://oaklandlocal.com/2014/03/tenants-rights-resolution-heads-to-oakland-city-council-as-talks-continue/

Berkeley has been expediting building permits and cutting fees for developers, saying our town desperately needs housing. One policy that some see as quite promising would make it easier to add a legal in-law unit on an existing property. But when it comes to low-cost housing for students, policymakers appear to be swayed by pressures from existing homeowners, because students are known to be noisy and make a mess, they say.

In fact, the initial legislation on mini-dorms approved by the Council in January seems to point to the sort of problems that cannot be anticipated by neighbors or Zoning Commissioners unless they make assumptions about the future behavior of possible tenants, perhaps unfairly: “Such buildings tend to impair the quiet enjoyment of the surrounding neighborhoods by creating trash and litter, creating excess parking demand, and being the location of numerous loud and unruly parties.

“The council has various policies that are in contention with each other, and that’s just another one. ” – City Attorney Zach Cowan quoted in Berkeleyside.In July, the City Council began work on an ordinance that would curb proliferation of the so-called “mini-dorms” by requiring a public hearing for new construction with six or more bedrooms. The ordinance would only impact certain neighborhoods – the ones close to campus, according to the Daily Cal.

It seems to me that instead of regulating potential threats to civil society based on assumptions about young people, the Council might do better to look into why existing housing code is not enforced at existing properties. Several students said they would welcome more scrutiny of their housing, according to the Daily Cal: “We don’t feel safe, because we are in an attic that has no fire escape… We are a lot of people living on top of each other with no fire escape or anything — with no smoke detectors either — so in that sense, we feel really unsafe.

I Urge Anyone In The Above Situation to Contact Code Enforcement! There are existing laws to protect you, and you may be entitled to a rent decrease too – ask at the Rent Board. Stand up for your own safety!

Students, please join BTU at our next Potluck, August 14.

As one commenter on Berkeleyside put it, “We have codes up the wazoo, often unenforced by the City and ignored by some property owner who make a living exploiting students.”

http://www.berkeleyside.com/2013/07/24/berkeley-officials-crack-down-on-mini-dorms/

http://www.dailycal.org/2013/07/28/city-ordinance-aims-to-limit-development-of-private-dorm-style-housing/