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Housing Element Becomes Rent Control Battleground

The City of Alameda Planning Board will receive a draft Housing Element plan tonight.

The City of Alameda Planning Board will receive a draft Housing Element plan tonight.

A debate over rent control is playing out in public input on the City of Alameda’s state-required Housing Element document, a draft version of which will be reviewed at the April 28th planning board meeting.

Almost forty pages of public comment letters accompany the Housing Element document in the packet for the Planning Board.

Members of Renewed Hope Housing Advocates are asking for language to be added to the document that would pave the way towards the introduction of rent stabilization and “just cause” eviction protection ordinances.

Those letters are outnumbered though, by those from realtors, property managers and others, many of whom signed a form letter, expressing opposition to the inclusion of price control language in the Housing Element; they say the existing Rent Review Advisory Committee has worked well in the past.

The proponents of rent control say that its necessary to prevent the displacement of tenants due to ever-increasing rents. Opponents say that controls deter the construction of new rental housing, and may limit property owners’ returns, and ability to properly maintain rental property.

According to a California Department of Consumer Affairs web page with advice for tenants, “tenancies in single family homes and condos are exempt from rent control if the tenancy began after January 1, 1996,” under state law. (California Civil Code Section 1954.52.)

Additionally, property certified for occupancy after February 1995 is also exempt from rent control.

One letter writer, Francis McIlveen, who lives in Alameda’s West-end, proposed an alternative affordable housing solution: Community Land Trusts. McIlveen suggests that Community Land Trusts provide perpetual affordable home ownership opportunities by restricting the resale of homes in the trust according to an affordable housing formula, and by retaining an option to buy the property back for resale at an affordable price.

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