Tuesday, July 24th is a consequential day for property owners in both Oakland and Berkeley. With November marching closer, these two cities will be convening special council meetings to decide what ballot measures will be headed to the voters in the November 2018 election, and the stakes are particularly high for East Bay landlords who are already saddled with some of the Bay Area’s most stringent and complex rent control rules.

Among some ominous proposals, we’ve picked up the most chatter about Oakland’s ill-conceived idea to peel back a 2002 ballot measure passed into law which exempts small landlords from Oakland’s “just cause” eviction protections, a subject we chimed in on here. For still more context, watch this video – the initial July 17th hearing has obviously passed, but the threat to owner-occupied duplexes and triplexes are still a concern and even more so now.

What you can do

We urge our fraternity not to be apathetic and kick the can down the road by waiting for the November election – please weigh in on critical measures coming before Oakland and Berkeley lawmakers and ultimately before the voters at the ballot box. The Oakland Berkeley Association of Realtors urges you to show up, call or write your elected officials.

We’ve noted that all politics are local, but some are more local than others. Although the statewide repeal of the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act will make for one of the most contentious debates about housing in California in decades, we should not let this main event eclipse local ordinances that can have more impact on the day-to-day activities of rental property owners. Notably and at hand in Tuesday’s agenda, Berkeley Item 64 is designed to put a plan in place for the eventuality that Costa Hawkins is repealed.

Our friends at OBAR have the best handle on all of the initiatives being discussed and articulate arguments for and against them more eloquently than us, so we include their analysis below.

**City of Oakland**

Item 16 Repeal of Duplex/Triplex Just- Cause Exemption

OPPOSE

City Council will move this to the November election unless you act.
The amendment would force many homeowners in duplexes/triplexes to live with their tenants for life.

We would like to thank all of the REALTORS who showed up to city council on 7/17! Unfortunately, Council may still decide to put this on for the November election. However, we still may have a chance in this.

Other Major Concerns:

– Amendments to the ordinance will ensure that homeowners do not build Accessory Dwelling Units, secondary units or otherwise add more rental housing on their properties.
– Tenants are already protected. Laws and mechanisms currently in place ensure that rents cannot be raised in newly owner-occupied duplexes/triplexes for at least a year regardless of whether a new tenant is moved into a unit.
– Amending the just-cause ordinance will irreparably harm homeowners, their families and the tenants that currently live in the approximately 4,000 or more owner-occupied duplexes and triplexes by hand-cuffing homeowners from removing tenants that pose a health or safety risk to the homeowner or the other tenants living on the property.
– Adding more risk for homeowners that live with their tenants will ensure that homeowners are more stringent when deciding who to rent to when a unit becomes available or may force a decision not to rent the unit at all. The long-term effects of this will be gentrification as has been seen in San Francisco and Berkeley. This law works against its intended purpose.

Please show up at City Council meeting to tell your story or email/call your Councilmembers and the Mayor and oppose this measure by clicking HERE

Item 11: Transfer Tax

OPPOSE

This proposal from Dan Kalb will make the transfer tax on homes the highest in the State of California. The tax is a money grab designed to alleviate the City’s inability to balance its own budget.

There has been no independent economic analysis done of this tax. This could prove hazardous because of the volatile nature of the market. The City of Oakland had to lay off half of it’s workforce the last time the market took a tumble. For that reason, We believe that it is of utmost importance that a thorough economic analysis is done regarding the possible effects such a tax would have on Oakland’s economy before moving forward on such a proposal. We are informed and believe that that is what SF did before moving on their graduated RETT. We would also like to point out that SF’s RETT graduates up at 5 million dollars and that RETT for properties below 5 million is half of our current rate (0.75% as opposed to 1.5%).

Please show up at City Council meeting to tell your story or email/call your Councilmembers and the Mayor and oppose this measure by clicking HERE

Item S9.6: Vacant Land Property Tax

OPPOSE

Introduced by Councilmember Kaplan, this ballot measure proposes to tax vacant properties $6000 per parcel to fund homeless programs and illegal dumping remediation. This measure has not been properly vetted or analyzed. There are major concerns about equity in enforcement, fairness in the levy, and the financial projections for the stated purpose. Poor property owners that do not have money to develop their property will be forced to sell to corporations.

Voters are being misled. This tax will not provide a sustained revenue source for homelessness. If the tax works to force development, there will be no new revenues for homelessness and blight. If the real purpose of this measure is to force property owners to put their land to use, then incentives should be offered in lieu of this punitive scheme. The tax will unfairly target homeowners that are leaving properties vacant for family members or caregivers to occupy at a future date.

Please show up at City Council meeting to tell your story or email/call your Councilmembers and the Mayor by clicking HERE


**City of Berkeley**

Item 63: Transfer Tax

OPPOSE

This Tax will NOT fund Homelessness Services. You are being misled. This tax was proposed by the Mayor, and sold to the public for months, as a special tax. That would mean it would be dedicated to homelessness services. The city has since quietly changed, without discussion or explanation, the language to make it a general fund tax. That means the money can be used for anything, and we know that the city does not know how to spend your hard-earned tax dollars.

The Association stands in complete opposition to this tax. Raising the tax by one percent for properties sold over $1 million will effectively make Berkeley’s transfer tax the highest in the state of California. The median and average price of a home in Berkeley is approximately $1.2 million. The tax would affect every residential transaction in the city and push the overall cost of housing even higher than it already is.

Because of inflation and the appreciation levels of property in the city of Berkeley, many long term property owners in Berkeley may face significant tax implications if they decide to transfer title to their grandchildren or other third parties. Generational wealth can be sharply impacted if heirs of homeowners are faced with large tax bills that they cannot pay. The city of Berkeley has been recording large numbers of transfer tax liens on properties that used to belong to families with long standing ties to South Berkeley. Those people have since been displaced or forced to sell their property under duress because of the increasingly high burden of owning property in Berkeley.

We believe that it is of utmost importance that a thorough economic analysis is done regarding the possible effects such a tax would have on Berkeley’s economy before moving forward on such a proposal. We are informed and believe that that is what SF did before moving on their graduated RETT. We would also like to point out that SF’s RETT graduates up at 5 million dollars and that RETT for properties below 5 million is half of our current rate (0.75% as opposed to 1.5%).

Please show up at City Council meeting to tell your story or email/call your Councilmembers and the Mayor by clicking HERE

Item 64: Amending Rent Ordinance

OPPOSE in Part

In the event that Costa Hawkins is repealed, this measure will cap rents on rent controlled units at their current rate and impose rent control on new construction after a timeframe between 12 and 15 years. It will also guarantee exemptions for ADUs from Rent Control and Just-Cause.
Though some exemptions have been written into the measure for ADUs, which we support, placing the other amendments on the ballot at this time may prove to be a waste of hundreds of thousands of dollars paid for by Berkeley Resident’s tax dollars. If the effort to repeal Costa-Hawkins on the state level fails, a significant amount of money will have been spent for no reason.

Please show up at City Council meeting to tell your story or email/call your Councilmembers and the Mayor by clicking HERE

THE ONLY WAY TO STOP THIS IS IF YOU ACT

What: Special City Council Meetings in Oakland and Berkeley.

When and Where:

Oakland
Tuesday, July 24th @ 3:00 P.M.
City Council Chamber, 3rd floor at 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza Oakland

Berkeley
Tuesday, July 24th @ 6:00 P.M.
Council Chambers, 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley

If you can’t make it to either City Council meeting, please email or call your elected officials. Click HERE

Please email OBAR’s Government Affairs Director with questions or concerns:

Kiran Shenoy
kiran@theobaor.org

 

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