M1 Provisions Seem Extreme, Unfortunate

M1 Provisions Seem Extreme, Unfortunate


I am 78 years old, renting a small studio apartment in a converted Victorian-era home. I planned for my retirement years ago and purchased an apartment building with four two-bedroom apartments, which today rent for $1,300 a month. Because I have children and grandchildren in the Bay Area, I would like to accommodate overnight visits from them, which is impossible in my studio. I had expected to give up my studio and move into one of my two-bedroom rentals. However, Measure M1 would put prohibitive obstacles in the way of this plan.

If M1 passes, the “owner move-in” provision would require a relocation fee of $18,300. (There are long-term tenants with minor children or a senior in the units, so the relocation fee would be at the top of the chart.)

Suppose, then, that I manage to pay this extreme relocation fee and move into one of my apartments, and suppose further that I live another 10 years. On my passing, my son will take over as landlord of these units and my apartment will go back on the rental market. Under M1; right of return and first right of refusal, the tenant displaced under the owner move-in provisions “shall have first right of refusal to return to the unit if it should ever be returned to the market by the Landlord or successor Landlord Rent shall be the Rent lawfully paid by the tenant at the time the Landlord gave notice…” 

Some of the other provisions in M1 are extreme, and some merely unfortunate. Among the extreme measures are unrealistic annual rent increases calculated as 65 percent of the Bay Area Consumer Price Increase (CPI) for the prior year (approximately 1.7 percent this year). For each $1,000-a-month rental the increase would be $17. Relocation fees, however, are not similarly constrained. They will “increase annually … at the rate of increase in the CPI for the preceding year.” The increase of the base, May 2015, was 3.5 percent Over 10 years this rate, compounded, would increase relocation expenses to a maximum of $25,813. 

A homeowner recently wrote that he had “no dog in this fight”. Well that’s not quite true. A homeowner might wish to rent the primary residence for a variety of reasons, including relocating to an assisted living facility, or for an extended stay to assist children or elderly parents. Such rentals of the primary residence are “temporary tenancy” and cannot exceed 12 months; if the tenancy exceeds 12 months, the relocation fees for owner move-in would be invoked. 

In effect, the owner of his primary residence would have to pay the tenant up to $18,300 to move back into his own home. And if the home is ever rented again, the “temporary tenant” would have first right of refusal.

In a recent letter (“Letter Writers Need Reassurance on M1,” Sept. 29), Eric Strimling argues, “Measure M1 is designed to help all Alamedans, tenants, homeowners, and landlords.” However, it is very difficult to study M1 and not draw the conclusion that it’s designed to punish landlords and homeowners. The irony is that it also punishes those who will seek rentals in the future, including those who would like to move from their rent-controlled unit but can’t afford to.

M1 is a charter amendment; to fix its flaws will require another general election. Measure L1 is a more moderate approach, and it is working. I agree that tenants need some protections, and as both a tenant and a landlord, I can live with the city ordinance, L1. Let’s give it a chance. Any flaws can be resolved by a vote of the City Council. 



Jim Smallman is a retired school teacher who first moved to Alameda in 1971.