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The Eviction Crisis Is About to Hit Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES, CA - Tenant rights groups have been sounding the alarm about an impending post-pandemic eviction crisis. In Los Angeles, that day has come — putting hundreds of thousands of tenants at risk of losing their housing and compelling some to fight back.

As challenges loom, L.A. City Council approves $150 million in 'mansion tax' spending

LOS ANGELES, CA - The Los Angeles City Council passed a $150-million spending plan for funds raised by Measure ULA on Tuesday, marking the first time funds will be specifically allocated since Angelenos passed the tax in November.

The expenditure plan will be directed to six programs: short-term emergency rental assistance, eviction defense, tenant outreach and education, direct cash assistance for low-income seniors and people with disabilities, tenant protections, and affordable housing production.

“This is the largest source of revenue, that’s going to be consistent, that this city has access to for these uses ever,” said Councilmember Nithya Raman. “It’s really transformative for Los Angeles.”

Antioch moves forward with new tenant protections

ANTIOCH, CA - In yet another move to strengthen tenant protections, the Antioch City Council has approved new rules to help ensure against landlord retaliation and harassment.

The new rules will address landlord threats of rent increases when tenants request repairs, improper landlord towing of vehicles, landlord verbal abuse and psychological harm, while protecting tenants’ rights to organize and requiring notices from the landlord be given in a tenant’s spoken language, City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith said.

The action comes after more than a year of tenants and supporters advocating for help.

The council approved a similar ordinance in July. However, that version did not get the votes needed for a second reading to pass, with Councilwoman Monica Wilson absent, Councilman Mike Barbanica recusing himself and Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock dissenting.

On Tuesday, though, after hearing more than two hours of public comments and discussion, the City Council voted 3-1 to approve the latest version of rules, with Ogorchock dissenting and Barbanica again recusing himself due to his real estate work.

 

Who’s running for Oakland City Council and city attorney in 2024?

OAKLAND, CA - Oakland’s 2024 election is over a year from now, but candidates have already started to emerge in several important races. As of this week, candidates have filed papers or declared their intention to run for City Attorney and two City Council seats.

Up for grabs next year are the District 1, 3, 5, 7, and At-Large City Council seats and City Attorney. (Four school board seats are also in play and we’ll cover those in another post.)

The Oaklandside has compiled a brief round-up of these early announcements, and we’ll provide much more coverage as the campaign season kicks into full gear next year. Do you know of a candidate or something else we left out? Let us know and we’ll update this post.

Homelessness starts with affordable housing, but this proposal can’t even get a vote | Opinion

SACRAMENTO, CA - A proposal to create more housing in Sacramento must succeed if the city ever hopes to solve the pervasive issues of homelessness that daily affects every resident — yet it may be two votes short of passing at the full city council.

The Sacramento Forward proposal would put a fundraising measure on the 2024 ballot, extend the Tenant Protection Program, implement support programs such as emergency rent assistance and increase developer fees. Among other housing and tenant protection goals, it would also adopt the Sacramento Opportunity to Purchase Act, which would require any tenant building listed for sale to be sold to the tenant or eligible community group if they can meet the initial listing price.

The proposal is already supported by the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council, the Sacramento Community Land Trust, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment and SEIU 1021, and it recently gained the support of City Councilmembers Caity Maple, Katie Valenzuela and Mayor Pro Tem Mai Vang at last Tuesday’s Law and Legislation Committee meeting.

East Bay police officers arrested in FBI raid

ANTIOCH, CA - Nine current and former police officers in the East Bay face federal charges after a raid Thursday by the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

The FBI's roundup of officers from the Antioch and Pittsburg police departments come after an 18-month investigation into an alleged criminal network.

"Today is a dark day in our city's history, as people trusted to uphold the law, allegedly breached that trust and were arrested by the FBI. As our city absorbs this tragic news, we must come together as one," Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe said in a statement. "Today's actions are the beginning of the end of a long and arduous process."

Sacramento seeks to protect tenants from landlord harassment; latest measure sent back

SACRAMENTO, CA - It's back to square one for the city of Sacramento, which was looking for ways to protect tenants from being harassed by their landlords.

Some council members on Tuesday took up the controversial issue concerning protecting tenants from harassing landlords. But the tenant anti-harassment ordinance, called TAHO, stopped short of leaving the law and legislation committee and going to the full city council for consideration.

Renters said they need more protection.

"They try to throw me in the street," Jesus Figueroa said. "Rent for the same apartment was $2,900 when I'm paying $1,800."

Renters shared stories with the Sacramento Law and Legislation Council Committee about their run-ins with landlords. The group Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment packed the chambers.

Bedbugs, cockroaches, crime: Elderly Oakland tenants are latest in Bay Area to rail against slum conditions

OAKLAND, CA - The apartments were supposed to be among the city’s affordable solutions for elderly, low-income residents — some lifelong Oaklanders, others immigrants — who couldn’t afford to live elsewhere.

Now, tenants say the Northgate Terrace apartments in the city’s small Koreatown district have effectively become slums — riddled with infestations, bad security, broken water heaters and absentee property managers. They are calling on the Oakland Housing Authority to conduct regular inspections and wrangle more regular maintenance out of The Related Companies, a national company that manages the property.

Sacramento leaders propose policy package aimed at preventing homelessness

SACRAMENTO, CA - Some Sacramento city council members are putting forward a suite of policy proposals designed to prevent more people in the region from becoming homeless.

“This is not a problem we can continue to ignore,” Council member Katie Valenzuela said during a press conference announcing the program Tuesday morning. “We can't continue to focus just on triaging our homelessness crisis … This is what moving upstream looks like.”

The package, which will be announced with more details next week, is called “Sacramento Forward,” and is a joint project of Valenzuela and her colleagues on city council, members Caity Maple and Mai Vang. In addition to various local legislation, it includes a 2024 ballot initiative that would create a pot of money to help fund affordable housing units and emergency support for renters.

At Alameda County eviction court, one judge tries to swim through a tsunami

OAKLAND, CA - After the Alameda County eviction moratorium expired, eviction cases exploded. After three years where lawsuit numbers never reached above 100 a month, there were 557 filings in May.

Now, the three cities that kept eviction bans in place longer—Oakland, Berkeley, and San Leandro—are sunsetting their policies too, and another spike is expected.

“The question was, are we going to get hit with a tsunami?” said Judge Victoria Kolakowski. “And we have been.”

But she said a “gigantic flood” would be a more apt metaphor. For every one case resolved in her courtroom, dozens more are being filed.

L.A. Lawmakers Could Empower More Tenants to Sue Landlords for Harassment

LOS ANGELES, CA - Thousands of Los Angeles residents who live in rent-controlled dwellings have accused their landlords of trying to drive them out in order to charge higher rents to new tenants.

Two years ago, the city passed a sweeping law to bar tenant harassment practices such as falsely telling renters they must move, refusing repairs, and threatening physical harm or deportation. But with the city government lacking sufficient money or staff to enforce the law, reports of such coercion are still pervasive, and the city remains in a housing crisis in which rents and homelessness continue to soar.

Antioch approves new tenant protections

ANTIOCH, CA - Antioch is strengthening its tenant protections with new rules against landlord retaliation and harassment.

After hearing more than three hours of public comments and debate on the matter, the City Council voted 3-1 on Tuesday, with Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock dissenting and Councilman Mike Barbanica, a real estate agent/broker, recusing himself.

“Antioch is not the first city to propose anti-harassment protections,” proponent Ethan Silverstein, an attorney with the tenant advocate group ACCE Institute, told the council. “These protections are becoming more and more popular. Even Sacramento is considering one.”

Protesters rallied for affordable housing as Philadelphia grapples with eviction-related shootings

PHILADELPHIA, PI - Lowell Faison has seen the housing affordability crisis push poor renters to the brink.

Some renters, the 75-year-old said Saturday outside of City Hall, have been forced tens of miles outside city limits in search of cheaper rents. Others, Faison said, lost their housing entirely during the fog of the pandemic.

He wasn’t talking about Philadelphia. Faison is from Charlotte, N.C., but was in Philadelphia on Saturday, joining an estimated 2,000 protesters — many of them also from out of state — to express their concern for what they see as a national crisis reaching its breaking point.

“When it comes to housing, local governments have to step up,” Faison said. “There’s no question about it.”

She refused to pay a $500 fee to her landlord. Her Sacramento property manager called the cops

SACRAMENTO, CA - Carol Eckstrom dragged out a chair and staged a sit-in, just a few months after her stroke. In a way, she got what she asked for: The manager of her Sacramento mobile home park had finally hired contractors to fix the bulge in her walkway.

But it would cost her $500.

Oakland's Eviction Moratorium Just Ended. What's Next for Renters and Landlords?

OAKLAND, CA - After months of debate, Oakland’s eviction moratorium expired on Saturday, July 15. The move comes after Alameda County ended its public health emergency and its own eviction moratorium back in April. Oakland had been one of the last remaining cities in the country with this type of protection for tenants, along with San Francisco and Berkeley.

In the rest of Alameda County, evictions spiked after the county’s moratorium was lifted, rising to above pre-pandemic highs. With the majority of Oakland residents renting their homes, and the city having a higher percentage of renters compared to the county as a whole (PDF), many advocates fear that this change will lead to an even greater wave of evictions.

A tale of two evictions: Black mothers report disturbing pattern of displacement in South Sacramento complex

SACRAMENTO, CA - Sacramento is ranked as one of the most diverse cities in the U.S., but the outsized impact of the housing crisis on Black citizens tracks closely – and unsettlingly – with national rates . . .

City leaders are aware of equity issues and the risks of displacement due to gentrification, having recognized both in their 2021-2029 Housing Element Plan. But critics argue that displacement patterns due to other factors, including harassment fueled by discrimination, are often left out of the conversation and play a larger role in the region’s rise in homelessness than local leaders are acknowledging. Housing advocates worry this creates a gap in understanding among both the public and local leaders of where specific patterns exists.

The pattern demonstrated in the following stories raise questions on that front – and how alleged cases of discrimination impact housing stability.

It’s Not That Hard to Solve Homelessness

California is home to Hollywood and Disneyland, sun and sand, and… nearly one-third of all unhoused people in the entire nation. Compare this to the fact that 12 percent of the nation resides in the Golden State and it becomes clear that there is a serious problem of housing that undercuts the Left Coast’s liberal reputation.

An extensive study of the state’s struggle with homelessness by the Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) paints a detailed picture of the problem, and it’s not pretty. Homelessness is thriving at the intersections of racism, sexual violence, overpolicing, and more. The report’s authors explain, it “occurs in conjunction with structural conditions that produce and reproduce inequalities.”

Los Angeles Moves Forward on Creation of a Public Bank

LOS ANGELES, CA - Los Angeles is taking another step toward opening a city-owned public bank that would support projects driven by public interest.

The City Council voted last week to fund a feasibility study for the bank after advocates argued it would do better than private banks to serve Black and Latino communities, small businesses, green energy initiatives and affordable housing projects.

Corporate banks "don't give back to our community," said Gisele Mata, an organizer at the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action. "In fact, they just take. We have no way to move our communities out of predatory lending unless we create our own, because banks do not operate in a way that gives back to their communities."

The Mayor’s Fund gets a new mission: Helping Bass fight homelessness

LOS ANGELES, CA - The Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles, the nonprofit closely associated with City Hall, is pivoting to focus solely on preventing homelessness, a departure from its broader approach under the last mayoral administration.

Mayor Karen Bass briefly mentioned the nonprofit’s new homeless initiative at an event Thursday, where local leaders announced a 10% rise in homelessness in L.A. compared with the previous year.

 

Rents dipped nationally, but what about in the Bay Area?

BAY AREA (Paywalled Article) - In a welcome if slight change after years of soaring prices, rents this year have declined across much of the Bay Area and beyond.

The median asking price for rent fell 4% from $2,963 to $2,844 in the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward region this May compared to last May, while prices rose 1% from $3,314 to $3,347 in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara region, according to a new report from real estate website Realtor.com.

LA City Council taps Councilmember Harris-Dawson as new president pro tem

LOS ANGELES, CA - The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday, June 20, elected Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson its new president pro tempore, replacing Councilmember Curren Price who stepped down from the leadership post last week and is facing corruption charges.

The 12-0 vote to name Harris-Dawson the new president pro tempore was taken with no discussion by the council. Price has not attended a council meeting since the news broke about the charges against him and was absent for the vote. Councilmember Monica Rodriguez was also absent.

Voters Could Decide Whether Housing Should Be a Human Right in California

Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and…housing?

California lawmakers are trying to enshrine the right to housing in the state’s constitution. But what exactly does that mean in a state that lacks the resources to give everyone a roof over their heads?

Supporters say the constitutional amendment would hold state and local officials more accountable for solving California’s homelessness crisis. 

“It’s really a way to make sure elected officials and the government does its job and doesn’t continue to fail so miserably in ensuring access to housing for all,” said the author of Assembly Constitutional Amendment 10, San Francisco Democrat Matt Haney.

Renters’ rights: California advocates chip away at landlords’ political influence

When state Sen. María Elena Durazo introduced a bill in March to bolster the California Tenant Protection Act, she called for lowering the cap on rent increases to 5%, while closing loopholes landlords use to evict tenants when there’s no “just cause.”

By the time her “homelessness prevention” bill moved to the Senate floor on May 31, negotiations and compromise had watered it down. The rent cap provision was gone and several other provisions were significantly curbed. 

Those victories are evidence, advocates say, that renters are gaining influence in the Capitol. Though groups representing landlords and real estate continue spending millions on lobbying and supporting candidates, tenants rights groups are starting to chip away at their influence. 

Los defensores de los inquilinos en California reducen la influencia política de los propietarios

Cuando la senadora estatal María Elena Durazo presentó un proyecto de ley en marzo para reforzar la Ley de Protección de Inquilinos de California, pidió que se redujera el tope de los aumentos de alquiler al 5%, mientras se cerraban las lagunas que los propietarios usan para desalojar a los inquilinos cuando no hay una “causa justa”.

Cuando su proyecto de ley de “prevención de la falta de vivienda” pasó al pleno del Senado el 31 de mayo, las negociaciones y el compromiso lo habían diluido. La disposición de tope de alquiler se eliminó y varias otras disposiciones se redujeron significativamente. 

San Diego City Council's ban on tent encampments draws strong reactions

 

SAN DIEGO, CA - A nonprofit community organization Wednesday criticized the San Diego City Council's passage of an ordinance that will prohibit tent encampments in all public spaces throughout the city if shelter beds are available.

After hearing hours of public comment, the council voted 5-4 late Tuesday in favor of the Unsafe Camping Ordinance. Mayor Todd Gloria pushed hard for the ordinance, introduced by Councilman Stephen Whitburn, including asking the public to sign a petition.

The proposal would also ban tent encampments at all times in certain sensitive areas — parks, canyons and near schools, transit stations and homeless shelters — regardless of shelter capacity.