News and Views
The largest private landlord in Oakland began his trial on Monday, both inside and out of federal court on Clay Street. As Michael Marr walked into court on the day jury selection commenced in the government’s case accusing him of rigging foreclosure auctions, he was greeted by his angry East Oakland tenants, who say the trial only tells part of his misdeeds. Marr, who owns more than 300 properties, mostly in Oakland’s flatlands, is one of four men accused of working together to suppress the prices of bids on foreclosed homes at courthouse auctions.
The city of Los Angeles has lost 21,200 rent- stabilized housing units since 2001, according to an interactive map released Monday by a nonprofit tenant advocacy group. The Coalition for Economic Survival produced the map in conjunction with the San Francisco-based Anti-Eviction Mapping Project to show where units have been lost through Ellis Act evictions that allow landlords to exit the rental market under certain conditions.
Real estate interests upped the ante in their already high-stakes fight against Santa Rosa’s rent control law, pumping another $334,000 last week into the record-breaking campaign against Measure C. Opponents of the city’s rent control law ordinance, which is suspended until voters weigh in during the June 6 referendum, have now blown away all political fundraising records for a city race, raising $815,791 to date.
The last time the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a rent-control ordinance was at the close of the Jimmy Carter administration in 1979. It lasted five years, and by the end of Ronald Reagan’s first term, in 1984, the County abolished rent control. Within the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, rent control hasn’t been heard from since — not until last week, that is, when Supervisors Hilda Solís and Sheila Kuehl introduced a motion clearing the way for new protections for tenants in gentrifying areas of unincorporated East L.A.
The trial of Michael Marr and two of his business associates, Gregory Casorso and Javier Sanchez, began today at a federal courthouse in Oakland. Marr, Casorso, and Sanchez are accused of rigging public auctions of foreclosed homes during the Great Recession. Starting in 2008, Marr's company, Community Realty, purchased hundreds of single family homes at auctions held on courthouse steps in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. In the process, Marr became one of the biggest landlords in Oakland.
Welcome to another episode of the top-rated game show, “Who Can Really Afford to Rent in the Bay Area?” I’m your host, It Beats the Heck Out of Me. On the last episode, the audience got to play the role of a distressed renter attempting to survive while living in poor conditions and working for low wages. On today’s episode, the audience gets to play the role of a distressed renter attempting to survive in a city where a landlord will brazenly demolish your apartment before you can move out.
Expensive rent prices in Santa Barbara is not breaking news. However, the housing crisis never ceases to be a buzzing topic in the city. According to the most recent census report, 60% of Santa Barbara residents are renters.
San Francisco is finally responding to the teacher housing crisis with a brick-and-mortar solution from Mayor Ed Lee, who announced Thursday that he will spend $44 million to build homes for public school educators. Criticizing city and school officials for taking too long to roll out a plan to build teacher housing, the mayor found local funding to put toward building 135 affordable units at the former Francis Scott Key Elementary School in the Outer Sunset.
On May 3, Silicon Valley Realtors joined over 2,500 California Realtors in Sacramento for Legislative Day. Legislative Day is the one day each year when the state’s realtors meet with their respective legislators and discuss bills that could impact homeowners and private property rights. Realtors are the largest supporters of private property rights in the state.
May 11, 2017
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera has secured a $2.4 million judgment against a woman who his office called a "notorious" landlord who had illegally forced tenants from their rent-controlled homes so that she could charge more money.
Jessa Lewis and her 14-year-old daughter share a two-bedroom basement apartment with another mom and her daughter. Lewis said they all live together, in part, because it’s really hard for single moms to find an apartment to rent in Seattle. “My daughter and I were looking for a place to live in her school district,” Lewis remembers. “I called a number that was posted, and she said, ‘Well, it’s a small apartment.’ I said, ‘That’s fine. It’s just my daughter and I.’ And she said, ‘Well, then, I’m not even going to consider you.’”
When doctors said Beatriz Allen might only have a few weeks left to live, death was not the biggest threat looming over her family. Her landlords had set a deadline of 9 May for her eviction – right around the time that doctors predicted she might die. The eviction battle gave the 81-year-old San Francisco woman nightmares, and took a toll on her waning health, according to her family. And on 30 April, Allen went to sleep and never woke up.
With local rent prices through the roof, one local builder says he has a solution to Sacramento’s affordable housing crisis: offer tiny, inexpensive, apartments to Downtown’s working people. Apartments would go for $600 a month, but this downtown building isn’t catering to low-income earners. Tim Bourke is a local barista, making minimum wage plus tips—pretty much, working to pay rent, he says. “The increasing rent is getting tougher and tougher to live in downtown,” he says.
Toxic mold, homes without heat, and rodent infestations are just a sample of the health and safety hazards reported by Oakland tenants last year. The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit reviewed all 2,019 habitability complaints filed in 2016 and found half involved health and safety violations confirmed by code enforcement officers. Despite city rules requiring landlords to fix those issues in 30 days or less, our investigation found many landlords left tenants in slum-like conditions for months.
Year after year, Los Angeles has forced hundreds of illegal or “bootlegged” apartments to be shuttered, even as local politicians bemoan a housing crisis. Now the city is easing the way to legalize such apartments, a plan long championed by an unusual alliance of landlords and tenant activists. The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to approve a new law that smooths the way for landlords to get approval for bootlegged apartments — existing units that were created without the city’s blessing — if they guarantee affordable housing on the site.
In a resounding victory to renters struggling to survive in Silicon Valley, elected leaders Tuesday agreed to immediately enact protections approved last month that limit landlords’ ability to evict tenants. That means as of 9:05 p.m. Tuesday, renters in San Jose cannot be evicted unless it’s for one of twelve acceptable reasons, including nonpayment of rent, property damage or criminal activity. The policy is expected to cover 450,000 renters.
Etoria Cheeks teaches math at a public high school in San Francisco, explaining algebra and statistics to teenagers. But it’s the math behind her housing predicament that simply doesn’t add up. In a shocking indication of just how bad San Francisco’s teacher housing situation is, Cheeks is homeless. She’s a professional with a teaching credential and master’s degree in one of the richest cities in the world who cannot find housing.
May 9, 2017
The state’s largest industry group representing property owners has suspended legal challenges to rent control measures passed by voters in Richmond and Mountain View. Tom Bannon, CEO of the California Apartment Association, said the group will shift its focus on fighting rent control and eviction regulations in cities that don’t have such laws on the books yet but are considering them.
May 9, 2017
Anyone who’s ever searched for a rental on Craigslist has seen the parenthetical message next to a listing: No Section 8. It’s a barrier to many who can’t afford Sebastopol’s median rent of approximately $2,000. The Section 8 housing voucher choice program assists low-income individuals and families with their rental payments. In Sonoma County, the program is administered by the county’s Community Development Commission (CDC), spearheaded by executive director Margaret Van Vliet.
The city may be about to follow the lead of several other communities around California and the nation by establishing a “risk mitigation fund” as an incentive to landlords who are reluctant to rent their units to the homeless. Mayor Michael Tubbs’ office has proposed Stockton establish the $50,000 fund, which would reimburse landlords if they rent to homeless residents, and those residents subsequently damage property, are late on rent or force a long and costly eviction process.