OAKLAND--Amidst concerns about skyrocketing rents and home prices, a broad coalition of tenant advocates, labor leaders, faith and public safety warned the Oakland City Council Rules Committee today that Oakland voters must be provided with an opportunity to make decisions about the future of their City in the strongest possible way.
The Committee to Protect Oakland Renters—which includes the California Nurses Association, Service International Employees Union (SEIU) 1021, Oakland Community Organizations (OCO), Causa Justa, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (AACE), and the Oakland Tenants Union among others – are pressing the City Council to place a measure on the ballot toughening protections for Oakland’s renters, citing skyrocketing rents that are now the 8th most expensive in the country.
On Thursday the Committee submitted a legislative package designed to strengthen protections for renters from illegal rent increases and evictions, including expanding the representation of tenant representatives on the Oakland Rent Stabilization Board and limiting rent increases to a maximum of 5% per year, among other provisions. The Committee has vowed to qualify its package of tenant protections via voter initiative if necessary.
“What is the City Council afraid of?” said Rev. Ben McBride, with Oakland Community Organizations (OCO), “Are we going to stand by while the people of color, seniors, working families and artists who make our community vibrant are evicted? This will change the very face of Oakland as we know it.”
“I can’t imagine a more important issue than this one for the City Council to address,” said Paula Beal, long-time Oakland resident and grandmother. “When children are removed from familiar schools, churches, or social networks it results in declining school performance. This is a health and education issue.”
Councilmembers scheduled the package for consideration at the next Rules Committee hearing April 7.