Rent Control Issue Moves to November Ballot

 

The Alameda Renter’s Coalition’s (ARC) initiative that calls for more renter’s rights protection against landlords was approved to be placed on the November ballot on July 6.

The Alameda Renter Protection and Community Stabilization Charter Amendment seeks to cap rent increases at 65 percent of the consumer price index, limit evictions and create an elected rent board. 

“When I think of all of the effort that so many people put in to making this happen, it just brings me to tears,” said Catherine Pauling, spokeswoman for ARC, in a statement. “Senior citizens and high school students all pushed themselves to their limits and beyond collecting signatures. This is so important for Alameda, and the people here really made it happen.” 

To get the initiative on the ballot, ARC had to first write the amendment. This effort started in 2015 when ARC recruited regional tenants’ groups and local lawyers to write the initiative. “We started with the Santa Monica ordinance and then adapted it for our needs in Alameda.” says Pauling. 

The coalition then filed a petition with the city clerk’s office on Feb. 29. Once the clerk reviewed and approved the petition — this process took three weeks — ARC had 180 days to collect 6,461 signatures, or 15 percent of Alameda voter population. ARC turned in just under 8,000 signatures, in under 90 days, on May 24 with the help of more than 100 volunteers.

“We know that more than 8000 Alamedans signed our petitions, but some were just incomplete or illegible.” said Pauling.

City staff then turned the petition and signatures over to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters for verification, which was a 30-day process. The amendment was placed on the ballot once the signatures were verified.

The proposed amendment comes on the heels of the city ordinance that was passed in March that was aimed to protect tenant rights. However, ARC and many Alameda renters opposed the ordinance because they felt it was too soft on landlords. The city ordinance allowed landlords to raise rents just once a year, and only increase of more than five percent would go through a mandatory rent review process. It also provided tenants with relocation benefits under some circumstances. 

ARC will now turn its attention to getting enough votes to pass the amendment on Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 8. “We are looking forward to a summer of voter registration, get out the vote efforts, and getting our initiative passed into law,” said Pauling.

ARC dates back to founder Angela Hockabout’s getting priced out of her rental home in 2013 with a $450 per month rent increase. She felt like she had nowhere to turn, so she founded the coalition to help provide information and moral support for renters experiencing similar crises and to advocate for renters’ needs.