Last night, I voted against ballot measure language that would have made significant changes to Berkeley’s rent control laws if passed.
I support some language in the measure giving Berkeley the ability to bring replacement units for rent controlled housing when demolished, as required by California’s Housing Crisis Act of 2019 and state density bonus law, under Berkeley Rent Stabilization Ordinance. Currently, replacements built for demolished rent-controlled housing required under state law would not be under the City of Berkeley’s rent control law, but by default, a deed restriction to keep rents below market-rate. Local governments still retain discretion to require rent control on replacement homes when the occupants of the original unit earn below 80% of Area Median Income. While I have requested further clarification about the 5% vacancy threshold that would enable the City Council to remove rent control, I generally favor removing obsolete statutory loopholes.
However, I have heard from many District 2 constituents who own Accessory Dwelling Units, and are owner-occupants of “golden duplexes,” saying they feel betrayed by other parts of this proposed measure. With the passage of Measure Q in 2018, voters had been given assurances that they would be exempt from specific rental regulations in owner-occupied properties. Now they feel that this proposed measure would have pulled the rug out from under them by repealing the recent voter-approved golden duplex exemptions. This particular change would have specifically and exclusively impacted owner-occupants who rent out part of their own home—not faceless corporate landlords—and many have stated they would simply opt to take their rental properties off the market, which would undermine the city’s housing goals. Fortunately, we voted to strike ADUs from the measure.
Measure Q itself was a compromise measure. This same electorate also passed Measures O & P by overwhelming margins, making historic investments in affordable housing. It is important to honor the commitments we make to voters who have genuinely and generously invested in the future of Berkeley.
My top priorities in 2022 include supporting ballot measures to fund affordable housing, street repair, and green infrastructure. Our constituents’ trust in the City of Berkeley as a civic institution that serves them is at stake. I am committed to combating the housing crisis from every angle, and I appreciate the work of the Rent Board and staff. I look forward to the return of a revised measure later this month that I will be able to support.