The Oakland Post has asked the eight members of the Oakland City Council and Mayor Libby Schaaf whether they are supporting a declaration of a housing state of emergency, which is on the council’s agenda for a vote Tuesday evening, April 5.
“At the request of the public, on April 5, I will introduce a 90-day emergency rent moratorium prohibiting large rent increases and expanding rent control protections – these reforms are long overdue,” said City Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney, who has worked closely with community members to iron out legal and technical issues to assure the resolution a place on the agenda Tuesday evening.
Based on the city charter Lynette Gibson McElhaney Rebecca Kaplan Desley Brooks and past practice, the emergency declaration calling for a moratorium on excessive rents and non Just Cause evictions will need the votes of six of the eight councilmembers in order to be approved.
If passed, the 90-day moratorium would go into effect immediately and could be extended by the council.
“Many Oaklanders are suffering under rapidly escalating rents, and Oakland’s current rent stabilization program is inadequate to address the needs of landlords and tenants,” Council President McElhaney told the Post. “I will bring forward strong revisions to strengthen our rent stabilization laws.”
Councilmember Desley Brooks has also helped to assure the moratorium would come to the full council for a vote, and Councilmember-at-Large Rebecca Kaplan has expressed her support.
“We need to be taking serious action to protect Oakland tenants – including working to close the loophole which exempts newer buildings from our rent laws, which deprives many of our tenants the protections from excessive rent increases,” Kaplan wrote to the Post. “And, I am asking that Oakland immediately issue the funds to expand education and enforcement of tenant protection laws.”
“Last year Councilmember Brooks and I, together with community advocates, fought for, and won, funding to expand community based outreach and enforcement of tenants’ rights laws,” she added. “However, this funding has not yet been issued by the administration.”
Councilmember Dan Kalb wrote, “Clearly, we have a crisis of housing affordability in Oakland. We need to build and identify more housing for lowand moderate-income residents. Furthermore, we need to strengthen renter protections to help reduce displacement of current renters in our city.”
“I also can support urgent action within what the law allows that helps stop the displacement of renters due to unfettered rent increases,” said Kalb.
Though the mayor is not on the city council and cannot vote on April 5, she underscored the importance of taking strong actions to address the housing crisis.
“I’ve been declaring Oakland’s affordability crisis an emergency ever since I took office,” Mayor Schaaf wrote to the Post. “Since last summer, I’ve regularly convened 110 diverse stakeholders and experts to identify and implement the actions that will most quickly fix this crisis… 41 achievable actions that will protect 17,000 Oakland households from displacement and create 17,000 new units of housing to accommodate new residents.”
In a reply to the Post, Councilmember Abel Guillen backed the efforts of the mayor’s housing cabinet.
“I am keenly aware of the breadth and urgency of the city’s housing crisis, and the council will consider this legislative action carefully to see how it fits into the comprehensive package of housing goals and strategies that the City’s Housing Cabinet recently recommended,” he wrote.