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Twice As Many Rent Control Measures Now On The November Ballot

Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer on the dais, Tuesday, July 19. (Still frame from city council meeting recording)

Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer on the dais, Tuesday, July 19. (Still frame from city council meeting recording)

Alameda city council’s March rent control ordinance will appear on the November ballot for voter ratification as an ordinance, rather than a chart amendment, a distinction that may have cleared the way for unanimous support for the action on Tuesday.

All five councilmembers voted at Tuesday’s council meeting to put the ordinance on the ballot, with the proviso that council could review and adjust it without going back to the voters.

Further, council added language declaring that if its ordinance gets more votes than a competing, more stringent, rent control measure sponsored by the Alameda Renters Coalition, and both should pass at the ballot box, the city’s ordinance shall supersede the coalition’s measure.

Councilmember Marilyn Ashcraft commented that the coalition’s restriction of rent increases to 65 percent of the annual increase in the Consumer Price Index doesn’t leave landlords with much room to capture rent to pay for repairs for aging infrastructure. (Under the coalition’s ballot measure, landlords must petition a rent board for increases in excess of that.)

Responding to complaints that a second rent control measure would confuse voters, Ashcraft said, “we’re not trying to confuse the voters. The voters are smart, but I want them to know there are [rent control] options out there. If the renters ordinance or [pending] landlords ordinance is so compelling, it will get the majority of votes and it will pass.”

A landlord-sponsored measure that would ban rent control in Alameda is being subjected to a full signature count verification process at the county registrar of voters, after a random sampling found that it garnered more than 95 percent of the requisite valid signatures to qualify for the ballot, but fewer than the 110 percent needed to qualify it without further examination.

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