Opinion: Vote ‘yes’ on Prop 10 and ‘yes’ for Jovanka Beckles

A recent campaign flyer sent by Buffy Wicks is disingenuous and inaccurate and mischaracterizes the position of her opponent Jovanka Beckles, who is the true, progressive champion for affordable housing.

We want to register our extreme disagreement and displeasure with the recent campaign flier produced in support of Buffy Wicks. The cherry-picked quote “We don’t suffer from a housing shortage crisis,” is breathtakingly disingenuous and inaccurate.

“I have heard Jovanka Beckles say ‘We don’t suffer from a housing shortage crisis,’ dozens of times,” said Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board member Leah Simon-Weisberg, “and every single time she has said it, she has followed it up by saying ‘We have an affordable housing crisis.’” This is the exact quote, as reported by KQED and cited on the flier (emphasis added):

“I don’t think that we have a housing crisis,” said Beckles, a member of the Richmond City Council. “I think that we have an affordable housing crisis.”

Construction of homes, Beckles argues, should be focused on affordable units, not new market-rate housing.

“If we look around, San Francisco is building lots of new housing, Oakland the same thing, Berkeley the same thing,” Beckles said in the article.  “But those units are way out of what’s affordable for ordinary people living here.”

Beckles’ record is clear: she supports repealing Costa-Hawkins, a repeal that will remove Sacramento’s stranglehold on local rent control laws and allow cities to adopt common-sense rent control measures such as vacancy decontrol that keep longtime residents in their homes; in 2015, she voted for rent control in Richmond, where she is a city councilwoman; as seen above, she believes housing policy should start at the bottom, working for the many.

Wicks has no record, and she does not support repealing Costa-Hawkins, which would allow cities to impose vacancy control. Instead, she supports allowing property owners to raise rents every year by the Consumer Price Index plus 5%: this is a rate that wages simply are not keeping pace with. She believes building for the top of the market is a viable approach. These solutions would not keep anyone in their homes, and would inevitably worsen the East Bay’s already catastrophic displacement and homelessness crises.

The effects of these proposals from Wicks would be to silence the voices of low-income communities and communities of color and to support unregulated, expensive, expansive construction of million-dollar luxury homes.

In the absence of a legislative track record, we are forced to judge Wicks on her proposals, which are poor, and by the company she keeps. By completely misquoting and mischaracterizing her opponent, she has shown herself to lack integrity and to be unfit for office. By pulling references from the Richmond Standard, a paper beholden to the Chevron company line, and the Bay City Beacon, an independent newspaper whose publisher is a former lobbyist for the San Franciscan Realtors Association, she shows that her priorities are corporations and profits, not the people of Assembly District 15.

Corporate landlords like Blackstone and Essex Properties know that Jovanka Beckles stands with renters. Renters also deserve to know that she stands with them, and that’s why this lying pro-Wicks ad is so offensive to us.

This article was updated after publication to correct the assertion that the Bay City Beacon had a formal connection to a realtors’ association. A link to a study that the authors’ claimed supported their argument has been removed. 

Soli Alpert is an aide to City Councilwoman Kate Harrison and a senior at UC Berkeley, Emma Gerould is a Richmond rent board member, Paola Laverde is a Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board commissioner, Carroll Fife works with ACCE Action, Maria Poblet is a Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board commissioner, John Selawsky is the chair of the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, David Sharples works with ACCE Action and Leah Simon-Weisberg is a Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board commissioner.