Letters to the Editor
Protect our working rent control! It’s not broken! We don’t need to fix it, but we do need to protect it.
Alameda’s rent control started out as Ordinance 3148, the result of a long and extensive mediation process that resulted in near-unanimous support among both the tenant and owner stakeholders who participated. It is now the law and is working well.
In the 2016 election, there was an effort to establish radical rent control (think San Francisco and Berkeley) as Measure M1. By contrast, Ordinance 3148 was put on the ballot as Measure L1. The current Ordinance 3148 passed overwhelmingly. Measure M1 was defeated by almost a 2-to-1 margin.
We, the voters, spoke loud and clear. However the new City Council, bending to political pressure, almost immediately began the process of converting the confirmed Measure L1 into the defeated radical M1. Apparently, the City Council wasn’t listening to us, the voters. Or, more troublingly, Councilmembers thought we didn’t know what we were doing and that they know better. In other words, our votes counted for nothing in their eyes! Really?
If you value your vote; if you want your vote to matter, then it is essential that you vote “yes” on Measure K. It is the same as the current law that we overwhelmingly approved except that it removes it from politics and partisan politicians. It confirms our vote.
I ask that my friends and neighbors vote “yes” on Measure K. The entire issue of rent control in Alameda has become very convoluted. Many people are not aware of the situation and need more information regarding Measure K.
Feeling the need to protect Alameda tenants from increasing rents and evictions simply to raise rents, the 2016 City Council studied the issue. Councilmembers noted that the extreme rent control passed in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley had led to some of the highest rents in the country, less diversity and small landlords fleeing the rental business. Extreme rent control had also led to some areas of blight and inability to remove problem and criminal tenants. In other words, extreme rent control had not truly benefited the residents in any city that has adopted it.
The prior Council worked long and hard to draft and pass Ordinance 3148 (L1, now Measure K) as an innovative model that would serve as an example of effective rent control without the bad consequences that more radical rent control always brings to a city.
This model was voted for and affirmed by the people of our city. It is working in Alameda right now. With limits on future rents after any eviction, landlords are no longer evicting tenants simply to raise rents. Terms of the ordinance require landlords to pay up to four months’ rent, plus almost $2,000 in relocation fees to remove any tenant (even if moving back into their own property, selling their own property or going out of the rental business). Ordinance 3148 has been totally effective in stopping landlords from evicting tenants simply to raise rents. It simply does not pan out moneywise.
Measure K also prevents politically motivated Councilmembers from changing the ordinance. Future changes would require voter approval. By maintaining a no-cause provision, Measure K has also maintained a landlord’s ability to remove a criminal or problem tenant.
Some housing providers do not want to pass Measure K because they yearn for no rent control at all. I submit to those of you who feel that way to recognize that some form of rent control is here to stay and Measure K is working for our city.
A local group, Alamedans for Fair Rent Control supports the fair and balanced rent control that our voters passed. It is important for each of us to become informed. Please visit affrc.org to get the facts and background on why we recommend a “yes” on Measure K.
Thank you for your attention to this very important issue.
The League of Women Voters only makes recommendations on ballot measures based on current League program positions. The League has no position on rent control at either the state or local level though the League of Women Voters of Alameda (LWVA) recognizes the housing crisis here. LWVA does, however, have a position on good governance.
LWVA supports measures to secure an orderly and simplified state constitution; provisions that enable the Legislature to deal with state problems efficiently, flexibly and with responsibility clearly fixed, and constitutional guarantee of equal representation of all citizens in the state legislature.
The LWVA opposes Measure K for the following reasons:
Principles of good government require that the City Charter not include provisions that: inhibit flexibility of governmental action to meet changing conditions and contain highly detailed provisions of administration and procedure.
Housing policy is complicated and will require frequent adjustments. Under Measure K, all changes would require a costly, time-consuming election, whether to fix minor errors or to remedy major flaws.
The proposed measure may create conflicts with Proposition 10 (to repeal Costa Hawkins) or other present or future state requirements and require court interpretation or resolution. Rent control is a very complex issue; the 25 pages of Measure K attest to that fact, and it simply doesn’t belong in the City Charter.
LWVA recommends a “no” vote on Measure K.