Let’s Not Repeat Failed Rental Policy

Let’s Not Repeat Failed Rental Policy


I’m writing in response to Eric Strimling’s letter (“Here comes the outside money,” Aug. 18.)

I find it ironic that he and the Alameda Renters Coalition (ARC) is concerned about outside money funding anti-rent control sentiment in Alameda when outside money has in fact funded their efforts. Tenants Together, a San Francisco organization that according to its mission statement “seeks to galvanize a statewide movement for renters’ rights,” has been actively aiding the ARC to advocate for rent control in Alameda. 

As to Strimling’s “myths”:

Myth 1: “Landlords will be subsidizing wealthy renters.” This is not a myth. Not all renters are poor and not all landlords are wealthy. I personally know a landlord who is retiring and is selling his rental property because he needs the money to retire. Under the ARC ordinance he would have to pay $18,300 to tenants who just sold their house in Oakland for more than $500,000. 

How is that fair? Strimling states that “it is about a landlord setting the rent with a tenant and sticking to that profit level.” If that is what their measure would do, I don’t know why any landlord would object but it isn’t. If the rent can only be raised to 65 percent of the Consumer Price Index then the profit level decreases every year as the cost of taxes, insurance, utilities and maintenance increase. 

Myth 2: “Homeowners will have to pay a special tax.” This is not a myth. Neither the ARC measure nor the city’s measure, fully fund the cost of administration with the proposed door tax. The city of Berkeley spends $4.5 million according to this year’s published budget and has 25,741 units. According to the last census Alameda has 15,740 units.  At $120 a door that will bring in $1.8 million. Using Berkeley as an example then, our cost would be $2.75 million. Where do you think the additional funds are going to come from? The taxpayers. 

The ARC initiative requires that a special election be held to elect the new Rent Board. That cost will be at least another $300,000. If no additional funds are available in the General Fund, it will mean the cutting of services such as police, fire and parks.

Myth 3: “The number of rentals in Alameda will decrease as landlords will take their properties off the market.” This is not a myth. When Berkeley first enacted rent control it lost 14 percent of its rental units. When Santa Monica enacted rent control, it lost 8 percent of its rentals. Many of Alameda’s rentals were once single-family homes and can easily be converted back. Stimling states that “small landlords depend on the income from their units.” Exactly. They depend on the income and if it does not pay for them to be landlords they will convert and/or sell their properties.

His assertion that it is a “deep-pocketed outside group trying to influence our politics” is a statement trying to instill fear and implicate that there is something nefarious going on. As I previously stated, the ARC is being funded by one of the largest tenant groups in the State of California. 

I am against the ARC measure and will actively campaign against it. Rent control has been proven not to work over and over. San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland all have rent control and all have rents exceeding those of Alameda. 

Come on, Alameda. We cannot afford the ARC initiative and we can do better than repeat a failed policy!


Karen Miller is an Alameda resident.





The rental controls instituted by L1 have already failed. They do not work. The question we need to ask is do we want a community where Landlord profits come first, where the only people who can afford to rent make well over six figures? Or do we want a community that regulates the includes people who do not make big salaries their first and second and third priority in life? Do want was to live next to the people who teach our children? Or who serve us dinner? Do we want a market where renters are only numbers on a balance sheet and whose lives really know no stability whatsoever? Or do we want a market where renters have to be considered as people and have some degree of stability in order to make plans and become members of our community themselves? M1 maybe makes renting ~slightly~ less profitable over the long term, but I think that's a great thing. I want the people who are motivated only by profit to be less motivated to buy housing in Alameda. People will still buy property to rent out there, it will still make people plenty of money. People who already own property here will still make insane amounts of money when they sell and can still protect their investments just fine with the stated rate increases. The greedy will feel the most pain, and for that we should rejoice.