Tag Archives: Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board

6 candidates compete for 4 slots on Berkeley Rent Board

Berkeley Rent Board candidates (clockwise from upper left): Nate Wollman, Alejandro Soto-Vigil, Leah Simon-Weisberg, Christina Murphy, Igor Tregub and Judy Hunt. Photos: Courtesy
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Six candidates are vying for four open seats on Berkeley’s Rent Stabilization Board, in a race that has seen one slate of decidedly pro-tenant candidates boast numerous endorsements and a large war chest, while their landlord-leaning opponents lag — both in terms of endorsements and cash.

It’s an important, if not widely covered race: Established in 1980, the Rent Board controls a $4.5 million budget, and is composed of nine elected commissioners, which each draw a monthly salary of between $50 and $500. The Board is responsible for the day to day oversight and management of the city’s rent control ordinance, and moreover, those elected this election cycle will likely have a substantial influence the appointment of a new executive director, among other policy initiatives. … Continue reading »

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Election 2016 Berkeley: Spotlight on the Rent Board

Berkeley Rent Board candidates (clockwise from upper left): Nate Wollman, Alejandro Soto-Vigil, Leah Simon-Weisberg, Christina Murphy, Igor Tregub and Judy Hunt. Photos: Courtesy
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Berkeleyside wants to help you get to know your 2016 candidates for all the local races. Our final installment of questionnaires with the candidates follows, and this edition is focused on the Rent Stabilization Board.

We’ll also have stories on all the key Berkeley races and initiatives on the ballot, and hope to help readers make informed decisions about the potential leaders and policies that could help shape Berkeley’s future.

See all local 2016 coverage on Berkeleyside.

Q&As with all six Rent Board candidates follow. We asked why they were running, what sets them apart, what the city’s biggest challenges are and how they hope to solve them. Learn what each candidate thinks is his or her most inspired idea, and how each candidate plans to be accountable and accessible to constituents. Each questionnaire includes complete campaign info to help readers connect.

The deadline to register to vote in Alameda County for the Nov. 8 election is Monday, Oct. 24. … Continue reading »

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Election 2016: Who is Leah Simon-Weisberg?

Photo: Courtesy of Leah Simon-Weisberg (featured only)
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Name: Leah Simon-Weisberg

Age: 45

Job: Tenants rights attorney

What office are you are running for? Berkeley Rent Board Commissioner

What is the main reason you are running? I am running for Berkeley Rent Board Commissioner because I feel strongly that all rent boards must be accountable to the people — there is no better way than through an election. Berkeley and Santa Monica both have elected rent boards and I believe it is no surprise that they are the two most effective and well enforced rent control ordinances in the state. This, however, requires qualified people to volunteer to run.

Why are you qualified for the position? If elected I would bring 14 years of legal experience as a tenant attorney. I have practiced in almost every rent control jurisdiction in the state. Over the last two years, I have been a leader in the movement to pass rent control and just cause protections in new jurisdictions. I developed a rent control tool kit and have extensively studied rent control and just cause eviction protections in order to draft several ordinances and ballot measures to ensure that they reflected the best practices from around the state. … Continue reading »

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Election 2016: Who is Alejandro Soto-Vigil?

Photo: Courtesy of Alejandro Soto-Vigil (featured only)
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Name: Alejandro Soto-Vigil

Age: 37

Job: Legislative assistant, Berkeley City Council and Rent Stabilization Board Commissioner

What office are you are running for? Rent Stabilization Board Commissioner

What is the main reason you are running? Housing is a human right. I am proud to be selected by the 2016 Berkeley Tenants Convention, a diverse coalition of nearly 400 tenants, landlords, and homeowners committed to protecting rent control and tenants’ rights.

Berkeley is facing a housing emergency. Seniors, students, and working families confront rising rents and threatened evictions. Because of this, the Rent Board has seen 2,000 more people through its doors.

As rents continue to skyrocket, we need to defend our Rent Stabilization Ordinance. Our Rent Program keeps rents stabilized. It’s also a place where landlords and tenants resolve disputes without expensive attorneys.

Why are you qualified for the position? I’ve held the following positions:
Rent Stabilization Board Commissioner: Vice-Chair; Budget and Personnel Committee; Resilience & Sustainability; Eviction / Section 8 / Foreclosure Committee; Ad Hoc Committee on Paperless Agendas; Safe and Sustainable Housing Committee; Housing Advisory Commission; HAC Vice-Chair; HAC Housing Trust Fund Subcommittee (Chair); HAC Community Development Block Grant Subcommittee; HAC Relocation Ordinance Subcommittee; City of Berkeley Alternate Commissioner to Planning Commission, Zoning Adjustments Board, Landmark Preservation Commission, Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Product Panel of Experts, Public Works Commission; AC Transit District Accessibility Advisory Committee; University of the District of Columbia Law School – Student Bar Association; Associated Students of Laney College – President … Continue reading »

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Election 2016: Who is Igor Tregub?

Rent Stabilization Board candidate Igor Tregub. Photo: Courtesy of Igor Tregub (featured only)
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Name: Igor Tregub

Age: 32

Job: Safety engineer, U.S. Department of Energy

What office are you are running for? Berkeley Rent Board

What is the main reason you are running? I first ran for the Berkeley Rent Board out of my deeply rooted experiences as an immigrant and a nearly life-long renter. A sense of place started for me with a roof over my head. At several times in my life, my family and I had to make hard choices about moving away from the community in which we were hoping to settle. At a time when we are facing an unprecedented housing crisis and eviction epidemic, many community members asked me to run again, given my experience and passion to work towards a Berkeley we can all call home.

Why are you qualified for the position? In my four years on the Rent Board, I successfully worked to pass a Relocation Ordinance with vastly improved tenant protections, expand the Board’s education initiatives for tenants and property owners alike, and craft a mandatory seismic retrofitting requirement (while providing financial incentives to property owners). As Housing Advisory Commission Vice Chair, I successfully helped secure millions of dollars of affordable housing funding, increase impact fees on market-rate developers, and implement a Tenant Protection Ordinance. As Zoning Adjustments Board Vice Chair, I approved thousands of rental housing units – many of them reserved for lower-income families – while stopping the demolition of rent-controlled housing. … Continue reading »

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Election 2016: Who is Nate Wollman?

Photo: Courtesy of Nate Wollman
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Name: Nate Wollman

Age: 38

Job: Property manager

What office are you are running for? Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board Commissioner

What is the main reason you are running? I am a renter as well as a property manager, so my perspective is both unique and sympathetic to those who must find and sustain housing with the prices and demand here in the Bay Area.

I am running for rent board because I have the passion to do the following!

Advocate For All Berkeley Tenant’s Rights!
Advocate For Property Owners Rights!
Bring years of real world experience to the Rent Stabilization Board!
Help Families & Students Maintain Quality Housing In Berkeley !
Represent Tenants & Landlords With Fair Consideration For Both Parties!
Establish Transparent Communication!
Less Politics & More Real World Solutions! … Continue reading »

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Election 2016: Who is Judy Hunt?

Photo: Courtesy of Judy Hunt
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Name: Judy Hunt

Job: Non-profit executive and consultant

What office are you are running for? Commissioner, Rent Stabilization Board

What is the main reason you are running? I am running for re-election as a Commissioner. I won in 2012 as a small property owner, raising issues concerning older adult tenants and property owners. I also continue to address critical issues regarding people of color, who reside in West Berkeley and South Berkeley with long term rent controlled units. Issues related to the gentrification of West Berkeley and South Berkeley impact small property owners, whose units remain well below market rates. Tenants in those units are impacted as available housing for seniors, moderate and low income people are not readily available in communities they call home.

Why are you qualified for the position? I am qualified to continue as a Commissioner for the following reasons:

A. I am a small property owner whose property has been under rent control for over 20 years. I know the responsibilities of being a good landlord.

B. I have been a tenant and I know the issues of tenants, their rights and responsibilities. … Continue reading »

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Election 2016: Who is Christina Murphy?

Photo: Christina Murphy / Courtesy (featured only)
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Name: Christina Murphy

Age: 38

Job: Housing coordinator

What office are you are running for? Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, 2016

What is the main reason you are running? I am the housing coordinator at a South Berkeley non-profit which provides supportive services to chronically under-served, homeless and at risk individuals, many of whom have mental health challenges. I was asked by my community to be the voice for voiceless and I was selected to run for the Berkeley Rent Board by the Berkeley Tenants convention attended by almost 400 Berkeley tenants and homeowners.

Why are you qualified for the position? I have strong support in my community, South Berkeley. I work tirelessly and every day to help Berkeley residents find housing, I convince landlords to accept housing vouchers and work to keep tenants in their homes. I am determined to stay involved in processes that create affordable housing for everyone. … Continue reading »

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Forum alert: Get to know your 2016 Berkeley candidates

Photo by Melati Citrawireja
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All eyes may be on the U.S. presidential race, but Berkeley’s 2016 election season is also shaping up to be a big one, with electoral battles happening all over the city.

More than 20 people pulled papers to run for five Berkeley City Council seats, including the mayoral spot, held since 2002 by Tom Bates, who will vacate the seat. Voters can expect to see about dozen ballot measures, too.

And that’s not all. Six people filed papers for four Rent Stabilization Board seats, while three others are competing for two School Board positions.

Have an idea for election coverage? Let us know.

Berkeleyside is planning a range of robust election coverage in the coming months, ramping up the work our team has already been doing. At the bottom of this story, learn how to register to vote, and how to find out which council district is yours.

Here’s what you need to know right now: A number of candidate forums have been scheduled, and they’re starting Monday night. (Yes, already!) Scroll down to get up to speed on how you can learn what your candidates are all about. More detailed reporting about all the races is forthcoming. … Continue reading »

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Real estate

Berkeley council votes to crack down on short-term rentals of multiple units by same owner

There are hundreds of rooms and units available to rent on Airbnb even though short-term rentals are currently illegal in Berkeley. Image: Airbnb
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Prompted by concern that too many units are being taken off Berkeley’s long-term housing market for short-term uses such as Airbnb, the City Council voted Thursday to penalize landlords who rent out multiple properties for less than two weeks.

In a unanimous vote, following a motion by Councilman Kriss Worthington, officials asked staff to initiate an enforcement process after the city gets at least three verified complaints about property owners, individuals or companies that rent out multiple units on a short-term basis. It’s the first time council has given direction to staff to enforce the rules about short-term rentals that are already on the books, according to the city attorney.

Short-term rentals — those less than 14 consecutive days — have always been illegal in Berkeley. Council has been working since 2014 to come up with rules to regulate them as the practice has become increasingly popular through sites such as Airbnb, VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) and HomeAway. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley City Council OKs spare bedrooms, but not backyard cottages, for short-term rentals

The owners of this rent-controlled apartment complex at 3100 College Ave. are renting out three of its apartments on Airbnb. Berkeley law does not allow rentals shorter than 14 days. Photo: Melati
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The City Council adopted strict new laws on short-term rentals on May 31 that would allow homeowners to rent out spare bedrooms, but not their backyard cottages.

The new rules also make it clear that owners of multi-unit apartment buildings cannot rent their apartments for less than 14 days. Hundreds of these kinds of units are listed for rent on short-term rental sites like Airbnb, Home Away, FlipKey, Craig’s List, SabbaticalHomes.com and VRBO. Many believe that those kinds of rentals have contributed to the housing shortage.

“We’ve gone years letting large landlords take entire buildings and a sizable number of rental units off the market,” said City Councilman Kriss Worthington.… “We need to start enforcement on large landowners who are constantly breaking the law and raking in lots of money… We need to stop that as fast as we can.” … Continue reading »

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Tenants struggle after fire at Chandler building

The Chandler building fire in Southside Berkeley. Photo: Ted Friedman
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When a fire tore through 2449 Dwight Way the Sunday before Thanksgiving, about 30 tenants were displaced and the property owner was saddled with around $1 million in damages. The Nov. 22 disaster has brought to light what can happen in Berkeley in the aftermath of a destructive fire.

The displaced tenants describe two weeks dominated by confusion and uncertainty. After fleeing the building, which is known as the Chandler, the residents scattered, finding refuge in friends’ homes and at the Durant Hotel. The Red Cross provided some immediate financial assistance.

”Things were happening in a whirlwind,” said tenant Owen Hill. “Many of us went to a hotel because we expected it to be covered. We didn’t get solid information because we were in a panic.”

The tenants say they received conflicting information from the Rent Board about what kind of assistance they were entitled to immediately and in the long run, causing uncertainty about what kind of housing to seek. (A crowd-funding campaign set up to help the displaced has so far raised just $65.) … Continue reading »

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$20K a month for Berkeley house? Skyrocketing rental prices draw crowd to housing affordability ‘teach-in’

About 180 people attended a "teach-in" about Berkeley's housing affordability crisis on Sunday. Photo: Kathleen Costanza
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About 180 people packed into Berkeley Arts Festival, a performance space in Downtown Berkeley, on Sunday to hear housing experts and advocates discuss the city’s housing affordability crisis and what can be done to make Berkeley a more affordable place to live.

Audience members lined the walls, balcony and sat on the floor for the “teach-in,” organized by the Ad Hoc Committee for a Progressive Berkeley in conjunction with eight other advocacy and tenants’ rights organizations.

Housing experts say there’s a rental affordability crisis across the country, and the Bay Area continues to be one of the most extreme cases in the nation. In 2014, median rent in Berkeley reached just over $1,300 for a one-bedroom or studio apartment, according to the American Community Survey. (The national median rent for a one-bedroom or studio is $796, according to the survey.) And Zillow, an online real estate database, currently estimates the median rent for all units and homes in Berkeley is $3,584.
Continue reading »

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