Richmond City Council to vote on evictions, rent moratorium

Photo of a Richmond City Council meeting. The council will vote tomorrow on an ordinance to implement a 45-day ban on certain evictions and rent increases over 3 percent for residential tenants. Photo by Angelica Casas.

Photo of a Richmond City Council meeting. The council will vote tomorrow on an ordinance to implement a 45-day ban on certain evictions and rent increases over 3 percent for residential tenants. Photo by Angelica Casas.

City Council will vote tomorrow on an urgency ordinance to implement a 45-day ban on certain evictions and rent increases over 3 percent for residential tenants, to take effect immediately. The moratorium will require a ‘yes’ vote from six of the seven council members.

The vote’s outcome is likely to be determined by three councilmembers who have historically opposed rent control: Mayor Tom Butt, and Councilmembers Nathaniel Bates and Vinay Pimple, both of whom are up for reelection in November.

“I’m not going to vote for it,” said Bates. “Most of these apartment owners are senior citizens who supplement their incomes with these rental units; they’re not some big person from Wall Street.”

The Contra Costa Taxpayers Association, which filed the primary argument against Measure L, an ordinance to establish rent control for the city that will appear on the ballot in November, also opposes the urgency ordinance. “There is no emergency,” said the association’s executive director and president, Jack Weir. “We think an emergency measure is completely inappropriate.”

Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin, who placed the moratorium on the upcoming city council meeting agenda, said it would protect tenants from what she says is a recent increase in residential evictions. She said she is concerned that landlords are attempting to find tenants who can afford to pay higher rents before Richmond residents vote on Measure L.

“What we want to do is really give the will of the voters a chance to prevail,” said McLaughlin. “Let’s stabilize the situation before we have the vote on Election Day.”

Twenty organizations in the Fair and Affordable Richmond Coalition also support Measure L, as well as the proposed interim moratorium.

“Folks who are right now the most vulnerable are people who are getting eviction notices and rent increases,” said Edith Pastrano, a Richmond resident and part-time organizer for the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action. “Anyone in their situation would look to this urgency moratorium as pretty much the verdict of whether or not they’re going to be homeless.”

Mayor Butt, who plans to vote against the moratorium, questioned the motivation behind it, calling it a “publicity stunt” to bring attention to Measure L, which he also opposes.

“Rent control never works,” the Mayor said, adding that the only solution is to increase the number of available properties, and let the housing market drive prices down.

Pimple also plans to vote ‘no’ on the urgency ordinance. “I think it’s an improper use of the law,” said the councilmember, referring to Section 65858 of California’s Government Code. The law states that an urgency measure may be adopted to protect the public interest while the city council and planning commission study the related measure—but in this case, said Pimple, the study period has already ended.

Even if the urgency ordinance passes, the 45-day ban will fall 11 days short of Election Day—which means the council will have to vote once again in late October to approve an extension.

4 Comments

  1. Deborah Turner

    I saw a TV ad opposing Measure L. There was a woman wearing lovely pearls standing in front of a nice unit. The ad said if Measure L were passed, landlords would be unable to evict badly behaving tenants. What struck me was that the words used painted all Richmond tenants as unsavory. That is absolutely not true. There are laws in California that allow landlords to evict tenants separate and apart from rent control.

    Most residents are hard working families who want to keep their families safe.

    Bates says most of the landlords are seniors who are not from big money. Certainly some are but that is not the typical landlord in Richmond. Mayor Butt says Richmond continues to offer some of the lowest rents in the Bay Area. This is incredulous and absolutely false.

    Please attend the City Council meeting tonight!

    • Confidential Commenter

      Actually Deborah Richmond is currently the most affordable city in the Bay Area, the Mayor is simply stating a fact. Also it is true that Richmond has had some very real trouble with bad tenants. I’ve seen tennants completely destroy an entire fourplex to where the owner, a working class African American man, had to completely strip the insides down to the studs and redo everything. This he did in the evenings after his day job.No wealthy Wall Street type by any measure. I’ve had bad tenants even threaten to kill other tenants because they thought that the tenant had ‘snitched’ on their bad behaviour. It still wasn’t easy to remove those people and the threatened tenants left that very day, unwilling to wait for an eviction. These are not uncommon stories. So you are factually wrong on both counts.
      I understand you and the rent control crowd mean to do well for those as you say and I agree many good and hard working people struggling with rent. But rent control really isn’t going to help them in the long run. The evidence of that is clear and overwhelming. If I thought it would help I would support it myself and actually I would support some form of rent control, just not this flawed one on the ballot. The fact of the matter is that in the long run rent control will only aid in pricing these people out just like in San Francisco Oakland and Berkeley.
      Many people would be better off considering some of these questions rather than misplacing their hopes on rent control.
      If you are not making it here now how do you think you are going to be doing ten years from now when everything is even more expensive? Is your income going to grow or have you reached your peak earning potential already? Should you continue to work hard and hand all your money over to a landlord or can you move somewhere where you can buy your own place to live? There ARE still affordable places in this country where you can still afford to buy your own home. Most people I grew up with around here have left the area to find their opportunity be cause of high housing costs here. But that was in the 1980’s! I can’t tell you how many people I meet who are buying a house in Richmond in their golden years who spent 20 to 30 years lulled into false security by a rent controlled unit in the city. They now realize they could have paid their house off and be retired now. I suggest that rent control did not serve them well either.
      When my friends and family moved out of Richmond in the 1980’s we didn’t think it was a crisis or the end of the world. They all found better opportunities and own homes in nice communities.
      Open your minds to the opportunities people. Insinuating these people are so helpless and can’t do anything for themselves is highly insulting to them and quite arrogant of you.
      Best wishes to all.

      • Christopher

        Mayor Tom Butts is opposed because he works with FPI Management which managers Bella Vista and which currently increases rent annually at 9%. Remember folks he’s an Architect. Curious how Rent Control was so quickly over turned after the City Council voted for Rent Control in 2015. That was the fastest politics has worked in a long time. Can’t wait to vote him out.

  2. Dave

    We are the owner of a Triplex in Richmond and have already decided to not rent due to the original ordnance and now this measure. While we are not poor one of the units was our first house and help us get into the SF Bay Area real estate market many years ago. We have done most of all the maintenance on the units over the year hoping that this would be there when we retired now that is up in the air. We have had great tenants who have treated the units as a home and we have had tenants that have destroyed the units over the years. This measure will drive the small property owners out and over the years turn the Richmond rental market into something more like San Francisco. I believe that you will get aggressive owners playing the games that have been played in San Francisco which will reduce rental stock and increase rents on the none controlled units. Understand that this only control units build before 1995. The Mayor is correct this is not going to help the rental market in Richmond and it will hurt it.

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