News and Views

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.
  • Eviction
  • Alameda
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.
  • Rent increases
  • Eviction
  • Affordable housing
  • Santa Barbara
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.
  • Affordable housing
  • San Francisco
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.
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.
  • Retaliation/harassment
  • Eviction
  • San Francisco
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.’”
  • Beyond California
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.
  • Ellis Act
  • Eviction
  • San Francisco
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.
  • Rent increases
  • Affordable housing
  • Sacramento
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.
  • Housing conditions/habitability
  • Alameda
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.
  • Affordable housing
  • Los Angeles
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.
  • Legislative victories/defeats
  • Eviction
  • Santa Clara
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.
  • Rent increases
  • San Francisco
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.
  • Rent control
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.
  • Section 8 Discrimination
  • Affordable housing
  • Sonoma
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.
  • Affordable housing
  • San Joaquin
A group of residential hotel owners filed suit against the city of San Francisco Monday seeking to block recently approved legislation intended to make it harder for them to rent rooms to tourists. The legislation, introduced by Supervisor Aaron Peskin and approved by the Board of Supervisors in February, extends the minimum stay for single-room occupancies dictated in The City’s 1981 SRO ordinance from a week to 32 days in most cases. It also steps up penalties and enforcement for hotels violating city rules.
  • Affordable housing
  • San Francisco
One week after San Jose leaders approved a new law to stop landlords from ousting renters without cause, city records show nine people found eviction notices on their doors — and advocates say dozens more are at risk. Now, city lawmakers are considering immediate enforcement of the new policy against no-cause evictions. The City Council on Tuesday will decide whether to adopt an “urgency ordinance” to enact the rules right away — a move supported by Mayor Sam Liccardo, though he voted against the law last month. The measure appears to have the eight votes needed to pass.
  • Eviction
  • Santa Clara
Grassroots efforts to establish rent control in more California cities could get a boost from the California Apartment Association’s decision to abandon its lawsuits seeking to overturn voter-approved rent-control laws in Richmond and Mountain View. The association, which represents landlords, posted on its website late Friday that it has “suspended its legal efforts” to overturn Measure V in Mountain View and Measure L in Richmond.
  • Rent control
Grassroots efforts to establish rent control in more California cities could get a boost from the California Apartment Association’s decision to abandon its lawsuits seeking to overturn voter-approved rent-control laws in Richmond and Mountain View. The association, which represents landlords, posted on its website late Friday that it has “suspended its legal efforts” to overturn Measure V in Mountain View and Measure L in Richmond.
  • Rent control
  • Tenant organizing
Renters in East LA are planning a march Thursday to demand rent control protections in unincorporated areas of LA County. The Los Angeles Center for Community Law and Action, in conjunction with Union de Vecinos and the LA Tenants Union, is organizing the event. Leading the marchers will be Roberto Perez and Carolina Rodriguez, two East LA renters who challenged a 63 percent rent increase in court—and won. A jury decided the rent increase wasn’t justified, as the unit was “uninhabitable.”
  • Rent control
  • Tenant organizing
  • Los Angeles

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