Alameda officials considered lawsuit against Daysog’s rent ballot argument

In the wake of a lawsuit brought forth by former Alameda Councilmember Tony Daysog alleging the city-approved ballot question for a rent stabilization charter amendment measure appearing on the November ballot is biased, Alameda officials filed their own complaint last Monday asserting Daysog’s ballot argument in support of the measure is also misleading.

The city filed the complaint in July 23, asserting the use of the word “will” in two of Daysog description of the existing rent stabilization ordinance suggested to voters they would not receive its benefits if they did not vote for the ballot measure in November.

Specifically, the city raised concerns over Daysog’s characterization that the yet unnumbered ballot measure will cap rent increases at five percent annually, in addition, to that landlords will not be permitted to evict tenants just to raise rents. The latter issue, the city argues, mistakes the existing ordinance, which does not stop landlords from evictions in order to raise rents.

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Former Alameda Councilmember Tony Daysog

Alameda councilmembers, however, decided against pursuing the claims against Daysog’s ballot argument during a closed session meeting last Tuesday. The city moved to dismiss their claim on Thursday.

Daysog was never served the complaint, said Alameda City Attorney Janet Kern, and was filed as a placeholder with the court until the council determined its next course of action.

Meanwhile, the legal fight over the council-approved ballot question resumes next Thursday, Aug. 2.

Last June, Daysog, who has served on the council for more than a decade and is hoping to win back a seat on the council this fall, filed a lawsuit against the city claiming the ballot question for this November’s rent stabilization charter amendment initiative approved by the city council is biased and failed to fully explain the existing rent ordinance that the measure’s proponents hope to enshrine in the City Charter.

Daysog and Alameda resident Michael Gorman, are asking for an injunction to block the city’s ballot question from appearing on the ballot and instead use their own.

Alameda’s Rent Stabillization Ordinance was approved by the council in March 2016 and essentially requires landlords to petition the city’s Rent Review Advisory Committee when they intend to raise rents above five percent annually.

Landlords, at the time, vehemently opposed the ordinance, labeling it rent control. A year later, when the council moved to add just cause protections to the ordiannce, landlords fumed and launched a petition to place a competing measure on a future ballot.

Instead, the council relented and rescinded the just cause amendment in order to avoid a costly campaign. Landlords, though, continued to evolve their position on the original rent ordinance. Once opposed to it, they mounted a successful campaign to place the forthcoming ballot measure in the charter.

Although, a majority of the council still support the rent stabilization ordinance, all but Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer, oppose placing it in the charter.

Doing so, they argue, will make it extrememly difficult to make changes to the ordinance going forward. Any change to the charter can only be made by the will of the voters–a lengthy and costly endeavor.

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