Name: Nate Wollman
Name: Judy Hunt
Name: Christina Murphy
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.
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.
Tonight the Berkeley City Council will vote on legalizing and regulating short-term rentals, defined as rentals which last for less than fourteen days. Currently, such rentals are illegal in Berkeley, though that hasn’t stopped multi-billion dollar companies such as Airbnb from ignoring the law. With Airbnb’s assistance, certain landlords around the state have been able to remove entire apartment buildings from the long-term rental market by converting them into illegal hotels. In Berkeley alone, 400 rent-controlled units are being used only as short-term rentals. As a result, tenants who otherwise would have been able to live long-term in these units have been displaced, worsening Berkeley’s housing emergency.
Berkeley City Council is attempting to promote creation of long-term housing by reducing restrictions on “granny flats” and “accessory dwelling units” (ADU’s). The state of California similarly has Government Code Section 65583(c)(1). But something crucial is missing: social protection for homeowners.
The new rules also make it clear that owners of multi-unit apartment buildings cannot rent their apartments for less than 14 days.
A sprawling mixed-use complex on San Pablo Avenue won approval Thursday night from Berkeley’s zoning board.
Spirit Residential is planning to build 91 new apartments over an underground parking garage on San Pablo Avenue just south of Addison Street in West Berkeley. A U-Haul rental outlet used to operate there but is no longer in business.
In the past five years, the population of Berkeley has grown 5.5%, but its housing supply has only increased 1.2%.
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