I have been meeting since late 2016 with not more than two other City Council members (Unlike the RPA, I try to honor the Brown Act) to find five people whom I can appoint to the Rent Board. My goal of appointing a Rent Board, has however, been thwarted by the RPA’s desire to totally control the process. What is now apparent is that the RPA wants to own the Rent Board, just like they have total control of everything else in the City of Richmond now that they have a majority on the Richmond City Council.
Unfortunately there is a small impediment to their desire for total control -- the Richmond Charter. The Charter gives the mayor the sole power to appoint (the only real power the mayor has) and the City Council the power to approve or reject appointments. What this means is that the mayor and the City Council majority have to agree, or even compromise, to get to a Rent Board, a novel concept to the hard line RPA.
I have tried everything to get to successful Rent Board appointments. I have offered to appoint any two applicants the RPA favors; I have offered to start incrementally, appointing one applicant the RPA favors and one applicant I favor. All these were rejected because the RPA demands no less than total control.
On last night’s agenda, I had a full slate of potential appointees, and I was willing to let the City Council go through them one by one and approve or reject each one, just to try and get the process started.
The item , H-12, had been removed from the Consent Calendar by Gayle McLaughlin, which was fine. At Open Forum, I announced that consideration of the Rent Board and my proposed appointees would be discussed later and therefore it would not be a suitable subject to discuss during Open Forum. This is consistent with our adopted City Council Rules and Procedures.
But that wasn’t enough for the RPA. Gayle moved to suspend the Rules and allow Open Forum speakers to address the Rent Board issue in Open Forum as well as when the Item H-12 came up. It was nothing but a pure power play, the RPA flexing its muscles. There was no practical justification since anyone who wished to speak would have that opportunity, and Item H-12 would have a three-minute time limit whereas Open Forum was only 1 ½ minutes. The City Council voted 6-1 to support Gayle with only me dissenting. This is what the future looks like.
What Gayle did was uncalled for and disrespectful. I am not going to play those games. The RPA cannot intimidate me into appointing their Rent Board. It’s not going to happen – period.
The RPA also continues to use their community organizing tactics to exploit people challenged by high rents to show up at City Council meetings and complain that lack of a Rent Board is the cause of their problems. The fact is that most people in Richmond, and in the Bay Area, are paying rents above the affordability level. Rent Control and Just Cause is not going to change that; it’s only going to exacerbate the housing shortage that is causing it. This is the chaos and confusion that I predicted would follow the adoption of Rent Control. People were deceived into thinking that their rents would actually go down or that they would magically have access to affordable rents. The RPA sold out the people they said they were helping simply to advance their political agenda.
In any event renters with questions or issues are not left without resources or without access to the provisions of the Richmond Fair Rent, Just Cause for Eviction, and Homeowner Protection Ordinance. Measure L: Richmond Fair Rent, Just Cause for Eviction, and Homeowner Protection Ordinance has been in place for nearly two and a half months. Anyone needing information about the ordinance and how it affects them or assistance of any type can find it many different ways:
- Go to the website www.richmondrent.org
- Call the Rent Program Office at 510-620-6576
- Email the Rent Program Office at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Go to the Rent Program Office at 440 Civic Center Plaza, 2nd Floor, Richmond, CA 94804, Monday – Friday 9:00 am -12:00 pm, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
- Attend one of many meetings, including:
Community Education Workshop
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
City Council Chambers
440 Civic Center Plaza
Computer Lab Support Sessions
Thursday, March 23, 2017 & Thursday, March 30, 2017
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
450 Civic Center Plaza
Space is limited – RSVP today: https://richmondrentprogram.eventbrite.com