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Editing a police misconduct law

Gov. Gavin Newsom hailed a new police misconduct law as a tool to “root out racial injustice and fight systemic racism” less than two years ago.

Now, his administration is quietly proposing a change that weakens one of its key provisions.

Its proposal, which it has discussed with police-reform advocates, would strip a requirement that the state’s police certification commission release documents to the public about decertification of abusive or corrupt officers in California — an element of Senate Bill 2, a hard-won accountability measure.

In 5-4 Vote, SD Council Approves ‘Unsafe Camping’ Law to Ban Homeless in Tents

SAN DIEGO, CA - After hearing hours of public comment, the San Diego City Council late Tuesday night voted 5-4 in favor of the Unsafe Camping Ordinance that would prohibit tent encampments in all public spaces throughout the city if shelter beds are available.

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.

Barbara Pinto, a member of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, compared the proposal “to pouring water on a drowning man.”

Tenant Groups Reach Settlement With State Of California Over Applicants Stuck In Rent Relief Limbo

Los Angeles tenant groups announced Monday they have settled their lawsuit against the state of California over how housing department officials handled the state’s rent relief program.

About the deal
The deal gives tenants another chance to have their rent relief application reviewed or to appeal a denial. An estimated 331,000 L.A. area households remain behind on rent, and many of them are now facing possible eviction.

“Hopefully, people who were quickly denied in the past will actually be approved when the state is forced to look a little bit closer,” said Legal Aid Foundation of L.A. attorney Jonathan Jager.

California's COVID Rent Relief Within Reach for Thousands of Tenants

More than 100,000 California tenants whose applications for COVID-era rental assistance were denied or delayed by the state’s housing department will get another shot at relief, thanks to a new legal settlement between the state and a coalition of anti-poverty and tenant rights groups.

More aid isn’t guaranteed. But under the terms of the settlement signed at the end of last month, California’s Housing and Community Development Department agreed to audit its past denials and improve multilingual access for tenants who don’t speak English as a first language.

Aún hay ayuda para pagar la renta en California a quienes se les negó por COVID

Más de 100,000 inquilinos de California cuyas solicitudes de asistencia de alquiler de la era COVID fueron denegadas o retrasadas por el departamento de vivienda del estado tendrán otra oportunidad de alivio, gracias a un nuevo acuerdo legal entre el estado y una coalición de grupos contra la pobreza y derechos de los inquilinos.

Más ayuda no está garantizada. Pero según los términos del acuerdo firmado a fines del mes pasado, el Departamento de Vivienda y Desarrollo Comunitario de California acordó auditar sus denegaciones anteriores y mejorar el acceso multilingüe para los inquilinos que no hablan inglés como primera lengua.

This Is the Vibrant Future of Night Markets in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES, CA - This is a summer evening in Los Angeles, a haven for all-you-can-eat street food. Night markets have long been sites for cultural exchange in ethnic enclaves. Events like 626 Night Market, considered the largest Asian food market in the country, have become a lucrative empire throughout California. But other long-standing markets, such as the Salvadoran street food market in Koreatown and Westlake’s Guatemalan street food market, began as a platform to maintain cultural and culinary traditions within their communities. Challenged by law enforcement in recent years, these vendors struggle to continue operating in the very area they reside.

Corporate landlord’s California buying spree alarms tenants: ‘I only earn enough to pay the rent’

Gladys Balcazar says she can barely afford food after paying rent to her new landlord, Blackstone Inc, one of the world’s largest private equity firms.

Balcazar, a 60-year-old janitor, lives with her 27-year-old son in a two-bedroom apartment in Imperial Beach. She supports her son, who has a disability, on a salary of $2,800 a month.

Blackstone bought her building and 65 others in San Diego County in 2021, becoming one of the region’s biggest landlords and alarming lawmakers, affordable housing advocates and Balcazar. In March Balcazar’s monthly rent rose $200 to $2,000.

“All of this has really depressed me because I don’t see a way out,” she said in Spanish. “I only earn enough to pay the rent, and after that there is nothing left.”

Renter outcry in Alameda: Who should pay for landlord improvements?

OAKLAND, CA - A dispute over rent increases at an apartment complex in Alameda has brought renewed scrutiny to an obscure housing law used by landlords to pass on millions in costs onto tenants and left the City Council scrambling to find solutions.

The controversy began last week when tenants responded in outrage to a potential rent spike ranging from $100 to $500 a month at a 400-unit apartment complex on the southern edge of Alameda. According to Tony Daysog, the vice mayor of Alameda, the city received numerous phone calls and emails from tenants expressing fear and concern about the rising rent.

The increase was the result of a provision in Alameda’s municipal code that allows property owners to pass the full cost of capital improvements to their tenants — a practice that’s legal nationwide only with special authorization from local government.

“It’s a really common business model that has really negative effects,” said Leah Simon-Weisberg, the legal director for Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, a tenants rights advocacy group.

Demonstrators hold 'campout' at the Capitol, urging expanded protection for renters from evictions

SACRAMENTO, CA - A Capitol campout – calling on California’s Senate lawmakers to vote in support of a bill that protects renters across the state – brought demonstrators to the legislative Swing Space office building Wednesday, with pillows and sleeping bags in-hand.

The group was ready to stay all night.

“We're here to urge our elected officials to vote and pass SB 567, the Homelessness Prevention Act,” Patricia Mendoza of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment told the group of about three dozen supporters.

La falta de vivienda, la muerte y el futuro: una batalla en Sacramento por un proyecto de ley para detener las lagunas en la ley de desalojo

SACRAMENTO, CA - Los inquilinos de todo California se reunieron en el edificio de oficinas estatales en el centro de Sacramento el miércoles para implorar a los legisladores que aprobaran la SB 567, también conocida como la Ley de prevención de personas sin hogar. 

El proyecto de ley está destinado a evitar que los propietarios encuentren formas de eludir las escasas protecciones para inquilinos que existen en el estado. Varias personas que llegaron a la reunión dijeron que esas lagunas les habían dejado a ellos o a un ser querido sin hogar o, en un caso, habían provocado la muerte de alguien en las calles.

Homelessness, death and the future: A battle in Sacramento over bill to stop loopholes in eviction law

SACRAMENTO, CA - Tenants from around California converged on the State Office Building in Downtown Sacramento Wednesday to implore lawmakers to pass SB 567, also known as the Homelessness Prevention Act.

The bill is meant to stop landlords from finding ways around the few meager tenant protections that exist in the state. Several people who arrived at the gathering said that those loopholes had either made them or a loved one homeless – or, in one case, lead to someone’s death on the streets.

Want to know why reparations could be a good thing? Listen to Black Californians

I’d start a foundation to help underprivileged youth.

I’d buy property for my kids. 

I’d go back to school.

These are excerpts from the many poignant conversations I’ve had with other Black Californians about what they would do with reparations payments. It’s important to listen to those voices now that the state will soon take up the matter in the Legislature. 

East Bay city takes step toward tenant protections

ANTIOCH, CA - Tenants and advocates fed up with landlord problems, lack of repairs and unjust evictions on Tuesday urged the Antioch City Council to take swift action to adopt tenant protections and anti-harassment policies.

Teresa Padrigez, a mother of three, said in Spanish that although she has lived in the same low-income Antioch apartment for 11 years, when the time finally came for repairs, her family was forced to live with the construction and sleep in the lobby, never being offered a place to temporarily relocate.

“Our children ended up sleeping on the cold, hard floor for days,” she told the council. “The managers promised to provide us with food during the day but only gave us chips and candy for a whole week.”

Alameda County renter advocates warn of landlord lobby’s “fake tenant’s rights website”

ALAMEDA COUNTY - When the website launched recently, it seemed innocuous enough. It claimed to be aimed at informing renters in Alameda County about tenant protections–an issue of increased interest since the county’s eviction moratorium expired last week.

It even features a video on its homepage featuring two Alameda County supervisors, David Haubert and Lena Tam, encouraging renters to know their rights . . .

The problem, say local tenant advocates, is that the website is run by the California Apartment Association, a landlord lobby group, and is spreading misinformation, as well as diverting renters searching for help online away from valuable resources. In a statement, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), a local grassroots organization working on racial and economic justice issues, likened the website to fake abortion clinics set up by anti-choice groups.

“We’re worried that people will see this website and think they have rights that they don’t, they’ll misunderstand the court processes,” said Jackie Zaneri, a senior attorney for ACCE. “There’s really nothing on this website that I would tell a tenant to rely on.”

A System That Makes Housing a Commodity Can’t Serve Human Needs

Even before the pandemic, America was in the midst of a massive housing crisis. Now, it’s far worse. Our housing agenda has to include investing in public housing, universal rent control, just-cause eviction, and a broad push to decommodify housing.

Legal Aid Foundation: The Most Important Resource You Hope You’ll Never Need

For a college student being evicted or an elderly woman faced with losing her apartment, the Legal Aid Foundation is Santa Barbara County’s safety net for anyone who can’t afford a lawyer. The nonprofit’s work was thrown into high profile upon the eviction of hundreds of tenants from among the 254 apartments at Isla Vista’s CBC & The Sweeps, with reports that they fielded dozens more calls at their Help Desk than usual after the quit notices were served on residents.

Alameda briefs: Council OKs $75K hiring bonus for new police officers

ALAMEDA, CA - The Prosecution and Public Rights Unit of the Alameda City Attorney’s Office will hold its third annual fair housing conference, which will be free and open to all members of the public.

The seminar will take place from 9 a.m. to noon April 20 in the City Council Chambers on the third floor of Alameda City Hall at 2263 Santa Clara Avenue. This year will be the first time the event will be held in-person. The seminar will be full of helpful information on federal, regional and local housing laws, including:

  • tenant relocation and other hot topics
  • the latest on rent laws and the end of the eviction moratorium
  • introduction to fair housing laws
  • disability rights
  • and the new mediation program and other services offered by the Alameda City Attorney’s Office

Speakers will be Leah Simon-Weisberg (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment), Nathanael Hill (the federal Housing and Urban Development Department branch chief), Gary Rhoades (Santa Monica Deputy City Attorney) and professional staff and attorneys from the Alameda City Attorney’s Office.

‘Housing is a human right.’ Rally calls on Legislature to address California cost of living

SACRAMENTO, CA - Hundreds of families from across California joined affordable housing advocates at the state Capitol on Monday to show their support for two legislative proposals aimed at the high cost of living in California.

The rally was organized by Housing Now, a statewide coalition of more than 150 organizations, to support Senate Bill 567, which would lower the maximum allowable rent increase to 5% and prevent landlords from evicting tenants without a legal reason, and Assembly Constitutional Amendment 10, which would add housing as a fundamental human right to the state constitution.

California’s Proposal to Make Housing a Fundamental Human Right Moves Forward

A proposed constitutional amendment to make housing a fundamental human right in California is moving forward in the Legislature.

Democratic leadership referred Assembly Constitutional Amendment (ACA) 10—introduced by Assemblyman Matt Haney (D-San Francisco)—to the Assembly’s Housing and Community Development Committee, where it is expected to receive its first public hearing. No date had been set for the hearing as of April 25.

“Housing is indeed a human right,” Haney wrote on Twitter April 25. “Without access to housing, everything else suffers: health, safety, educational attainment, access to food and water, addiction, and jobs.”

Civil rights attorney files federal lawsuit against Antioch cops named in racist text scandal

ANTIOCH, CA — One by one Thursday they walked up to the microphone, stared into the cameras and gathered their composure. Standing beside civil rights attorneys John Burris and Ben Nisenbaum, about a half-dozen Black and Latino people shared their stories.

Filled with anger, resentment and grief, they each described encounters with the Antioch Police Department a day after their attorneys filed a federal lawsuit against the city’s police force.

“It’s hard for me to get a job, because they put me on the move so much,” said Joshua Butler, a plaintiff in the lawsuit who said he and his family have been harassed by Antioch police officers since he was a teenager. “I’ve been dealing with a lot, dealing with cases, getting harassed, can’t even sleep in my own house peacefully. It’s just like the whole family, they’re being targeted. It’s like, you know, at some point there’s gotta be an end to it.”

Protesters Demand Action in Wake of Antioch Police Racist Texts Scandal

ANTIOCH, CA - Fallout continues from a string of alleged racist and homophobic text messages shared among the Antioch Police Department.

Dozens of community members held a rally and march in protest ahead of Tuesday's special city council meeting. Demonstrators demanded immediate action and accountability as the number of police officers involved in the scandal continues to grow.

"How are we going to feel if we can not call someone when we are in danger that is actually going to help us?" said Devin Williams, who helped organize the rally.

Oakland Council Members Propose Phasing Out Eviction Moratorium by September

OAKLAND, CA - In Oakland, a debate is heating up about how pandemic protections against eviction should come to a close.

Tuesday, Oakland's Community & Economic Development Committee will discuss a proposed ordinance brought forward by council President Nikki Fortunato Bas and council President Pro Tem Dan Kalb that would set up a gradual timeline for ending the city's eviction moratorium. If approved, the proposed ordinance would phase out the eviction moratorium, allowing certain evictions to resume from May through the end of August, then ending the eviction moratorium on Sept. 1.

The ordinance also seeks to make several changes to strengthen Oakland's existing just cause eviction protections.

Town hall: America’s largest landlord raises rent, evicts tenants in SD

SAN DIEGO, CA - Local tenants and activists met at Logan Heights Library with City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera to call for more tenant protections on March 25. The town hall coincided with a report from the Private Equity Stakeholder Project (PESP) and Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) called “Blackstone comes to collect: How America’s Largest Landlord and Wall Street’s Highest Paid CEO Are Jacking Up Rents and Ramping Up Evictions.”

The Blackstone Group is the largest private equity company in the world, with $975 Billion in assets under management (AUM). Blackstone is by far the nation’s largest landlord, owning and managing over 300,000 units of rental housing in the U.S., and many more around the world. The report shows that Blackstone bought 5,600 units in San Diego County in 2021. As units become vacant, the company raised rents in some units between 43-64% in just two years.

L.A. County’s eviction moratorium has expired. What does that mean for renters?

LOS ANGELES, CA - The last day of March marked the end of Los Angeles County’s pandemic-era eviction protections.

Even before then, evictions had been on the rise. In the last year, eviction filings across the county have returned to pre-pandemic levels of more than 3,000 per month, according to Kyle Nelson, a postdoctoral researcher at UCLA.

California lawmakers push housing, homelessness bills — but will they work?

CALIFORNIA - Take a random selection of 10,000 Californians and 44 people will be homeless, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Human Services. That’s over 171,000 people across the Golden State. Half of the nation's unsheltered population — people living on the streets, in tents, in cars, in parks — live in California. On top of that, 17 million California renters face housing instability according to the California Budget and Policy Center.

Homelessness and not enough affordable housing are not new issues in California, but rising home prices, skyrocketing rent, and the growing number of people living without shelter have brought public frustration to a boiling point, with local mayors, city councils, and county boards of supervisors taking the brunt of that frustration as they stumble through policies and initiatives to try to respond to the parallel crises.

A bevy of bills floating through the Legislature this year hope to strengthen the state’s involvement in easing those frustrations. Will they work?