A 65-day moratorium on rent increases and evictions recently passed by the Alameda City Council will not be enough to curb a housing market crisis, according to the Alameda Renters Coalition (ARC).

The moratorium passed earlier this month halts rent increases over eight percent and no-fault evictions.

The temporary law does not impact single family homes or condominiums, or units built after 1995.

Rents in Alameda have increased by 54 percent between 2000 and 2013, while renter’s median household income has only increased by 29 percent, according to a BAE Urban Economics study.

The moratorium also has loopholes, including one that allows landlords to evict tenants for major renovations. The loophole allowed a landlord to evict 31 families from the Bayview apartments.

The eviction notice was served on Veterans Day, just days after the moratorium was passed.

The Alameda City Council is set to vote on removing the loophole during next week’s session.

“The city did invite us to work with them, to make our suggestions for what should be in the permanent ordinance, which is to replace the moratorium,” said Catherine Pauling, a leading member of the ARC.

“Their intention is to come up with some protections, and they are promising to remove the loophole that was used [for the Bayview Evictions],” Pauling said. “The renovation loophole that has existed in other cities has been problematic.”

Pauling said the group is not counting on a singular bill to fix problems, the ARC hopes to add a “comprehensive stabilization act” that would go onto the 2016 ballot.

“Our primary goal is to keep people in their homes,” Pauling explained. She went on to say that stability makes strong communities.

The bill would provide certain rights for renters, although these details are still being worked out. The group needs to obtain signatures of at least ten percent of registered voters to get onto the ballot.

However, Alamedans for Fair Rent, an opposing group comprised of landlords, claim the reason for such high rents is the lack of new rental buildings. “We favor more rental housing. We think the supply issue needs to be addressed,” said Don Lindsey, according to a Bizjournals report.

From 1973 to 2012, a ban on new buildings larger than a duplex in Alameda was in place.

But in the next few years, 800 units will be built on the former Alameda Naval Base, 200 of which are deemed affordable-housing. And 380 units will be built on Buena Vista Street on a former warehouse site.

ARC is an expanding group, with about 1,000 Facebook members. Pauling said the mission of the group is to get renters connected and well educated about rental laws, as well as keep them in their homes.

 

Orginally Published November 30th: The Post News Group

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