Oakland’s eviction policy and housing requirement could go to November ballot

At a marathon city council meeting on Tuesday, Oakland officials debated two potential housing-related ballot measures for the November election, including an expansion of eviction protections and an affordable housing requirement.

The housing measures are among a number of questions that could be posed to Oakland voters in the fall, including whether to limit the terms of council members, whether to give residents “dollars of Democracy” to donate to political campaigns and whether to redirect cannabis tax money to communities affected by the war on drugs. The board is expected to make a final decision on all ballot measures at a meeting on Monday.

Only a controversial Howard Terminal funding measure was passed at Tuesday’s meeting; the board rejected it.

Eviction Protections for New Buildings, RVs, Families

The eviction order would extend Oakland’s “just cause” protections to most rental properties in the city. Currently, eviction protections only apply to buildings constructed before 1996.

“Most cities in California that have just cause protections have no exemptions for new construction,” said councilman Dan Kalb, the sponsor of the proposed measure along with councilman Carroll Fife. “We are trying to catch up. If someone is a tenant and pays rent, they should have the same tenant protections as everyone else.

The justification ordinance is often confused with Oakland’s rent control law. Although both are tenant protection policies, they are separate ordinances and apply to different types of housing.

Oakland’s Just cause policy requires landlords to have a specific reason (a “cause”) for evicting a tenant. There are 11 eligible reasons, ranging from the tenant not paying rent or using the apartment for illegal activities, to the landlord deciding to move into the unit. The new proposal would eliminate one of the just causes, which currently states that a tenant can be evicted for refusing to sign an identical lease when the old one expires.

If put on the ballot and passed, the policy would also make it illegal to pursue a “no-fault” expulsion of an educator or children during the school year. This means that tenants could still be evicted at any time for their own actions, such as skipping rent payments or damaging the property, but landlord move-in evictions and others that are not the fault of tenants should wait. summer vacation.

The proposal would also offer legal protections against eviction for camper dwellers. A policy passed last year allows private landlords to rent to people living in houses on wheels.

The proposed update to the City Justification Act excludes ADUs (garden cottages and similar accessory units) for the first 10 years after they are built. Kalb said the idea of ​​giving landlords more power to remove tenants from ADUs arose from discussions with landlords who said they would be less likely to build cabins if they were immediately covered by the Landlord Act. evictions. Oakland and the state have attempted to encourage construction of ADUs in recent years because it is a relatively cheap and easy way to add to the city’s housing stock.

Many members of the public who called the 1 p.m. council meeting spoke about the just cause. Many tenants and advocates hailed the proposal, including ACCE attorney Jackie Zaneri, who said it would “take away a big tool of harassment” from landlords.

Several rental property owners criticized the measure, including one who accused the council of “overregulation”. There is currently a COVID-19 moratorium on almost all evictions in effect, although the policy is eventually being lifted.

Councilman Loren Taylor echoed some landlords who said the just cause proposal was “rushed” without sufficient analysis of potential impacts on Oakland housing construction or the RV rental system.

The board voted to defer the final decision on whether or not to put the measure on the ballot until Monday’s special meeting.

Fife said she hopes her colleagues will eventually support her. “As someone who has suffered illegal evictions without cause while having a toddler at home, it creates a level of insecurity – I can’t describe the stress,” she said. .

$850 million bond measure for housing and transportation

Another potential ballot measure could raise $850 million for affordable housing, transportation infrastructure and city facilities.

Revenue from the general bond obligation would help the city reduce capital improvement needs by $6.5 billion, staff said.

Brittany Hines, an Oakland finance staffer, called the Affordable Housing Measure’s $350 million allocation “historic,” saying it was “the largest amount in a single allocation in Oakland’s history” and would put the city in a strong position to receive state grants. The measure would continue work begun with the $600 million bond of 2016 Measure KK.

Staff said a survey around the measure revealed residents are wary of tax increases that may be needed to pay down bond debt. On Tuesday, the council passed a new bond policy that the city hopes will ease those concerns. The policy sets a goal of maintaining a consistent property tax rate, pending the issuance of new bonds until old bonds are retired or until the ratepayer population increases.

The decision on the housing infrastructure measure was also pushed back to the next meeting on Monday, although this is less controversial than the eviction measure. Officials signaled their support, with some calling for explicit language to be added to the measure that would require spending revenue on street paving and road safety.

A third proposed housing-related ballot measure was taken off the agenda at the start of Tuesday’s meeting. Councilman Rebecca Kaplan’s proposal would have applied the city’s vacation rental tax to long-term stays of 31 to 90 days in addition to shorter standard visits. Kaplan did not respond to a question about why she took down the article.

Comments are closed.