A petitioner on Park Street in Alameda last
July seeking a signature for a landlords-
backed ballot measure.

Over the past 18 months, Alameda has seen a number of rent-related ballot measures come and go. Some, like two competing rent control measure last November actually made the ballot, while other proposals have fizzled early or failed to attract enough valid signatures to qualify.

Last summer, a measure backed by area landlords aimed for rolling back just cause renters protections approved by the Alameda City Council a month prior, successfully qualified its petition before elected officials, at the behest of tenant groups, decided against placing the question on a forthcoming ballot and instead rescinded the ordinance.

A second ballot petition this summer, though, this one enshrining the city’s rent stabilization ordinance passed in March 2016 in the City Charter, has been more successful and is heading to voters in November 2018, the council approved last week.

The measure’s implications as a possible amendment to the charter means any future changes to the ordinance, generally disliked by both tenant and landlord groups, would entail placing the revisions before voters on the ballot. The current ordinance gives power to the council to make any changes, as they did last April. Those amendments included correcting a variety of small errors in the legislation, but also language that prohibits landlords from evicting tenants without cause.

Eric Strimling, a spokesperson for the Alameda Renters Coalition said the petition drive funded by Alameda landlords was a “dishonest campaign.”

“To put this on the ballot subverts the will of the council,” said Strimling. “It is disgusting and appalling and against any good citizens view of how government should work.”

By the placing the measure on the November 2018, the city stands to save considerably in election-related costs, said City Clerk Lara Weisinger. The measure will be consolidated with next year’s General Election in Alameda, which will include races for mayor, city council, school board and Alameda Hospital board seats. Adding the measure to the ballot is estimated to add $25,000 in additional printing costs to the city’s bill from the Alameda County Registrars’ Office. There is also the possibility that the city will place a measure on the fall ballot to tax cannabis in Alameda.

Conversely, the costs associated with a stand-alone election or even one on the June primary ballot could run as high as $700,000, said Weisinger. It’s a bill the council said they would rather not receive. “I could think of a lot way to spend couple hundred thousand on the community than for a small election,” said Councilmember Frank Matarrese.

Councilmember Jim Oddie believes the barriers between tenants and landlords can still be bridged outside of the ballot box. “I’m still living a dream world to hammer out something that is acceptable to renters and landlords,” said Oddie. A similar scenario played out recently in the East Bay.

After Berkeley business interests placed a modest minimum wage measure on the ballot in 2016, a later agreement with the council help formulate an additional stronger measure that was later approved by voters

–MIS-PLANNING PICK– Another of Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer‘s nominations to the city’s Planning Board failed Tuesday night. The council voted, 2-2 (Councilmembers Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, Oddie voted no, Malia Vella abstained), to deny the appointment of Penny Cozad. Ashcraft said the nominees interest in the city’s 70s-era Measure A ordinance that limited the construction of new housing in Alameda for a generation gave her pause. Oddie agreed with the criticism, in addition, for the need to add a more consensus-oriented member to the board. Earlier this month, the council opposed the nomination of Patricia Lamborn, but appointed Alan Teague to the planning board.