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Rare August City Council Meeting Proposed To Deal With Rent Control Initiative

City Council may sit for a rare August meeting.  (File photo)

City Council may sit for a rare August meeting. (File photo)

Next week, city council will consider setting a rare August council meeting date, to grapple with a potential “no rent control” measure for the November ballot.

Local residents Farhad Matin and Marilyn Schumacher are proponents of the “Alameda Homeowners and Private Property Rights Act,” an initiative that would prohibit rent control in Alameda.

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters is currently using a statistical sample method to validate the signatures collected to qualify the initiative for the ballot; the registrar has until July 27th to confirm the initiative qualifies, or start a longer, more detailed, qualification process.

That date comes too late for the July 19th city council meeting, so council may hold a rare August session to exercise the formality of placing the landlords petition on the ballot.

If that happens, the landlord’s “no rent control” initiative would appear alongside the Alameda Renters Coalition’s stringent rent control measure, already qualified by the registrar.

According to the staff report to city council, it makes sense to put both initiatives up for election at the same time, because, “first, it would provide the voters with clear choices: (a) vote no on both initiatives and keep the city ordinance in full force and effect; (b) vote for the renters’ initiative if stricter rent control is favored, or (c) vote for the landlords’ initiative if no rent control is favored. If both initiatives are on the same ballot and both were to pass, the landlords’ initiative provides that if it receives a greater number of affirmative votes, it would control in its entirety and any other measure dealing with rent control would be rendered void and without any legal effect. Moreover, if both initiatives were on the same ballot and both were to pass but the Renters’ Initiative receives a greater number of affirmative votes, the rent control (and other) provisions of the renters’ initiative would take effect over the landlords’ initiative because the renters’ initiative imposes rent control (on certain units) but the landlords’ initiative does not.”

Earlier this year, city council passed an ordinance intended to throttle rent increases, but the tenants coalition says it doesn’t go far enough.

If the “no rent control” initiative is pushed to a later date to be considered on its own, the cost of that election could be several hundred thousand dollars. However, it potentially could be combined with an election in March for a new rent board, in the event that the renters’ initiative passes.

City staff estimate the cost of placing the renters’ initiative on the ballot at $8,000 for translation, typesetting, and printing the measure.

Additional measures placed on the ballot would also cost roughly $8,000.

Council meets at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 19th, in chambers at City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue.

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