By Steven Tavares.
While one ballot measure advocating for rent control in Alameda is in the early petition stage, a second measure to roll back some new rent protections approved by the City Council last week, appears to be gathering steam and landlords are lining up to offer their support.
Councilmember Tony Daysog believes the long-debated rent ordinance, which received final approval Mar. 1, is too onerous for whom he refers to as “small mom-and-pop landlords.” Specifically a section in the ordinance requiring landlords to pay, in some cases, moving out expenses up to four months’ rent plus and additional $1,500.
“The relocation benefit is such a hammer that is going to fall heavily on these smaller landlords,” said Daysog. “I get it, in this day and age to advocate for smaller landlords–that is a position that can be easily attacked. You’re open season if you do that.”
The ordinance makes it difficult for landlords to move in relatives to their units, he added. “A person should be allowed to move their senior parent to their single flat and not have to pay $9,000,” said Daysog.
Daysog voted for the rent stabilization ordinance, but is again offering some of the same criticisms he offered last week and on Feb. 16, which also include recalculating the five percent rent increase that triggers a review by the city’s non-binding Rent Review Advisory Committee.
Daysog wants to scrap the five percent annual threshold for rent increases subject to the rent review process and extend it to a cumulative eight percent over two years. The rest of the city council was cool to Daysog’s plan during deliberations last month, but he hopes voters might feel differently.
The threshold needs to be more flexible, he said. “It’s too low a trigger and two hard and fast.” He would also exempt property owners with five or fewer units, along with other exemptions for those with 6-10 units.
The push by Daysog for a competing ballot measure on rents for inclusion on next November’s general election ballot appears to dovetail with a memo sent out by a pro-landlord supporter.
The email sent by Karin Lucas, a former member of the city’s Rent Review Advisory Committee and well-known critic of the renters’ group, lays out a potential playbook for landlords to oppose the rent control measure filed by the Alameda Renters Coalition on Feb. 29.
In the memo, Lucas asserts the powerful California Apartment Association and Barbara Thomas, a former Alameda councilmember and likely candidate for Alameda County Superior Court judge this June, have contemplated suing the city over its recently passed rent ordinance. Most believe the California Apartment Association will be a central player in the push to defeat rent control measures this fall, not only in Alameda, but Richmond and Oakland.
In addition, the memo states the same group plans to seek a counter measure and suggests they work with Daysog.
“Tony Daysog wants to see small landlords exempted from some forms of rent control. He is considering a ballot measure for November. We should consider working with Tony and arriving at some provisions that should be specific for small landlords. Tony may need our help to gather the necessary signatures,” Lucas wrote.
“Tony wants to meet with us as soon as possible. Also, he is running for reelection in November and may appreciate our support against [Alameda Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy] Ashcraft who needs to run again, and Malia Vella, a declared candidate, who supports the tenants and will have lots of union campaign funds.”
Former Alameda Councilmmeber Stewart Chen and Jeff Cambra are two other names reportedly showing interest in running for the Alameda City Council’s two open seats next November. Both are considered to be more closely aligned with landlords than renters.