Renters Council 2023 Convention Meeting Minutes



Senator Aisha Wahab Legislative Update
SB395, the bill requiring reporting of evictions to a statewide database is going to be a 2-year bill.  This bill is similar to what Hayward and other cities require.  When Hayward implemented it, evictions dropped by double digits in 12 months, protecting seniors, people of colors, veterans and disabled are being evicted.

We need a database to host the data.  Wanted to house in Sec of State since they absorb lots of data, they gave a price tag of $100M which is unrealistically high.  Now looking for advocates and partnerships.

SB466 is the Costa Hawkins reform bill.  We amended it to have a rolling clock, so that cities can phase in rent control on newer buildings once they turn 28 years old.  This was needed to get the Appropriations Committee chair’s buy-in and avoid risk of bill dying in Appropriations.  Bringing it to Senate floor, need a couple more votes to get to 21 - call your Senators.  Many senators have said they are abstaining - which counts as a no.  Remind them that it does NOT affect rent caps at state level, only allow cities to do it at local level.  “It’s a very digestible bill”  Take a look at how people have voted on prev. Housing bills. Ask if they can stretch a little bit.  Especially SoCal, Peninsula, Central Valley Senators.

SB555, Social Housing bill, has moved through all committees, at Senate floor. Housing advocates are on board. It is a study bill. Reach out to your senators on this one.

Approval of Agenda Art, Vinnie 2nd
Approval of Minutes Art, Esther 2nd

Secretary’s Report - we have over 300 members. Website has been updated.
Treasurer’s Report $3987 in bank, $313 check in hand

Regional Updates (North, Central, Central Coast, South)
NorCal Updates - Igor Tregub

Unincorporated Alameda County Tenant Protections (Barisha Spriggs, My Eden Voice)
Effort is ongoing to expand rent control to unincorporated Alameda County.  Fight for renters protection has been going on for 3 years now.  About 150,000 people in unincorporated Alameda County.  Earlier attempt this year to pass Phase 1 (Just Cause, Rent Registry, Fair Chance) at Alameda County, was voted down, didn’t have enough votes on the Board of Supervisors.  Homeowners had a counter rally.  Eviction moratorium also ended.  

In June we are bringing up Just Cause and Rent Registry to the AC Unincorporated Services Committee with supervisors Miley and Tam (Call into this committee), who have constituents in unincorporated areas.  May need to make compromises to get it passed. May compromise on single family homes, but exempting 2-4 unit buildings would be too much of a compromise.

We’re meeting with newly appointed Supervisor Marquez to assess where she stands.  Unclear when it will return to the full board.  Note that 4 of 5 supes are up for election in 2024.  Jennifer Esteen is running for D4 vs. Miley.

Sacramento Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinances (Monica Madrid)
Sacramento ACCE working on a tenant anti harassment ordinance, using Berkeley, Oakland, Richmond as model.  Had townhall in March with 90 renters attending.  Got supervisor Patrick Kennedy and Councilmember Maple to author it.  We don’t have the votes yet, Sac County has Republican majority.  Working with the most reasonable Republican to see if he can support it.  Sac City Council is fully Dem but a lot of them take Apartment Association landlord money.  Some councilmembers were claiming that tenant harassment isn’t happening or that existing programs are sufficient, but they’re wrong.  Goal is to have more tenants show up at the council legislation committee, or call the councilmembers that aren’t on board yet.

Jackie Elward (State Senate District3 candidate)
We endorsed her in 2020 for local election for city council, Rohnert Park.
SD3 includes CoCo, Solano, Sonoma, Napa, Yolo, Sac. Open seat.
Educator and labor organizer, would be first CA legislator born in Africa.
Got affordable housing for her city. Working hard to keep our middle class, sustainable agriculture
Many parts of SD3 are ignored currently. Need to make sure the renters are heard.  Jackie4senate.com

Rent control in the North Bay (Chance Cutrano, Mayor of Fairfax)
Fairfax was the first North Bay jurisdiction to get rent control.  Passed in December 2022. Not just the first in North Bay, also some of the strongest in CA.  Rent increase limit is 60% of CPI or 5%, whichever is lower.  Rent registry. Just cause ordinance.  Applies to duplexes, ADUs since these made up a large percentage of rentals. Excludes new builds.

Real estate industry has been organizing against rent control. To defend it there is a coalition of labor, tenants, environmentalists, community based orgs.  We are trying to avoid a repeal initiative.  There was a failed referendum when the law was passed.  We are continuing to have workshops, etc.  It’s sparked a lot of dialogue, 3 other communities are now discussing it.

Now planting the seed for a Joint Powers Authority that can make it easier for small cities to implement rent control.  Biggest lesson has been the need to have very clear FAQs for those small landlords. Otherwise misinformation spreads and generates fear. Some smaller housing providers don’t have the same legal resources and need support to interpret the ordinances.

Senator Maria Elena Durazo Legislative Update
SB567 - Homelessness Prevention Act.  Has many of top tenants orgs supporting, from ACCE, CRLA, Public Advocates, Western Center.  Just got through Approps, now at floor, facing enormous opposition from realtors, apartment owners.  This bill addresses loopholes in the existing laws that landlords are using to evict when tenants aren’t at fault,  and also provides enforcement of the protections they already have.   Adds enforcement at local level, private enforcement, includes enforcing unlawful rent increase.

Need everyone’s support to get the votes.

Durazo’s district has highest percent of renters - 78% in the district.

Central California Update (Art Rodriguez)
We rescinded endorsement of a person that we endorsed in 2020 but later did not support rent control.
There is currently a strong fight in Delano not just to ask Council to pass rent control, but if that doesn’t work, to take it to ballot with a signature campaign for an initiative.  Also seeing interest in Fresno.  Merced has temporary rent stabilization due to climate change impact, Modesto also gearing up for rent control.  Need to get people out voting and putting pressure.  

Getting Out the Renter Vote (Yolanda Chacon-Serna, Rural Justice Alliance)
We have 301,000 registered voters in CD22, 106k voted.  Only 35% of registered Dems voted, while 49% of Republicans voted. Starting early to work with Dem Party to outreach to young voters, Latinos, to listen to constituents to engage them now and not at last minute.  Starting our first action at the convention.  Textbanking 12-2pm.  Will also be bundling essential items for women’s downtown center. First training 6/14 5-6pm on zoom, sign up at cadem.org/mobilize  yolanda@cadem.org

Central coast update (Esther Malkin)
Monterey - small community, 2/3 renters.  Getting out the renter vote helped flip some R seats to D, also flipped council to be more diverse, more women, PoC, LGBTQ representation.  Flipped seats in City of Salinas, passed first rental registry in area. Monterey also.  Next up is expanding rental registry to more cities, getting rent cap in Salinas, Monterey
Robert Rivas is going to be next speaker of assembly, looking forward to working with him. We need to turn out the vote next year during the presidential election.

Legislation Updates (Francisco from Housing Now will be there, 10 min)
Top 4 priorities.
SB567 (Homelessness Prevention Act, see report from Senator Durazo above)
SB225 (CAPP, Community Anti-displacement and Preservation Program).  Preserving housing as affordable by funding nonprofits to buy privately owned apartment buildings.  Budget advocacy in progress.

SB555 10 year plan to create 1.2 million units of social housing, 600,000 in 5 years.  Permanent affordability.
ACA10 right to housing.  Hearing likely on June 7.  Going to be a long term fight on educating people on what it means to make housing a constitutional right.
Additional endorsed bills:


CA Attorney General Rob Bonta
Working on enforcement of state tenant protection and housing laws. Hired a Special Assistant Attorney General for Housing:  Alex Fisch, former Culver City. Very involved with housing production and tenant protection work. You can contact him at  Alex.Fisch@doj.ca.gov
The AG is Suing Elk grove for illegal rejection of proposed affordable housing.
AB1482 (Statewide rent cap and protections against unjust evictions) Enforcement actions happening.
Upcoming goals:
- In language tenant rights info to help with enforcing improper evictions such as turning off power, putting stuff out on street
- Getting more units produced up and down the state
Learn more at the AG’s Housing justice unit website  https://oag.ca.gov/housing  housing@doj.ca.gov

Indigenous communities in Central Valley (Gladys Flores)
In indigenous communities in the Central Valley where Spanish is not their first language, renters are being taken advantage of.  Many of them are undocumented, often do not speak Spanish and are unaware of services available.  Housing authorities have been giving them 3-day eviction notices they can’t understand.  Landlords have been threatening to send in immigration, sheriff if tenants speak up.

The Central Valley Empowerment Alliance stepped up to help, but there’s still a lot of discrimination, for example, families not getting their security deposits back.  

SoCal Updates (Ryan Bell, Susie Shannon)
Good news: City of Cudahy: Staff has been instructed to write a rent control and just cause ordinance, they have a tenant supportive majority now.

Santa Barbara County, Burbank and Claremont are all fighting mass renovictions. Working on tightening up renoviction ordinances.  Some protections in Santa Barbara, but need to include a right of return when renovations are done.  

South Pasadena got a temporary eviction moratorium while they work on a renoviction ordinance.  With stronger statewide tenant protections, landlords are shifting to renovictions to kick people out.  SB567 originally had language addressing this issue, but most of it was amended out.

Larry gross:
We’re in a crisis with Barrington Plaza , 700 unit bldg in LA. Big corporate owner who is trying to evict everyone, claims it’s needed to put in fire sprinklers. Larry: no way no how.  Landlord spent $400k to unseat a tenant friendly councilmember.  Filed a bogus Ellis.  Looking to file suit against this to stop this type of bogus Ellis (Ellis is only for going out of rental business, not doing fire sprinklers)  Need to stop it to prevent Ellis from undermining RC elsewhere.  Tenants were served 120-day notices. Only large complex on westside with lower cost housing.
CES cosponsored ellis act reform bill last year with Alex Lee

Los Angeles updates
Keep LA Housed coalition is working on a Tenant Bill of Rights. www.keeplahoused.org
County is hosting a policy summit at UCLA for electeds and city staff on how the smaller cities (87 in LA County) to inspire ideas for tenant protections, code enforcement, antiharassment.

LA Downtown Community Plan includes inclusionary zoning, is the first community plan in LA to do it. 

National housing lobbying tour (Susie Shannon)
Susie: went on national lobbying tour for federal housing legislation, including funding, repeal of the Faircloth Amendment so new public housing can be built.  There was a big win last Friday with a group in Chicago, where the city wanted to hand over land that used to have public housing to private owners with sports fields. Worked with Maxine Waters congressperson to stop this, and wiill be able to save this public land for public housing.


Motion to extend to 9:15 Igor, Vinnie 2nd , passed by voice vote

8:55 Organizing updates
Susie: Justice for Renters Initiative (Costa Hawkins repeal, similar to Prop 10)  Due to high support, signature gathering done ahead of schedule, signatures will be submitted end of May.  Will be on the November 2024 ballot.  The Tenant’s of California would appreciate your endorsement of the Justice for Renter’s Ballot Initiative. Please complete this endorsement form for organizations, elected officials and individuals https://formfaca.de/sm/Z2d1j991-

Visit the webpage for the fact sheet: https://justiceforrenters.org/

This ballot measure will come to the CADEM E-Board to get party endorsement.

Ballot measure to make it easier to pass affordable housing bonds (Sandra Lowe, DNC member)
Working on ballot measure to lower threshold for passing housing bonds. Goal is to have it on ballot in 2024. We have the funding and team.  Currently it takes a ⅔ vote for local affordable housing bonds to pass.  Working with labor, nonprofits, faith, housing groups. Might be put on ballot by legislature (ACA 1) or signature campaign.  To get involved, contact Sandra Lowe, 707-337-3796  smarchele@gmail.com

Right to form a Tenants Union ordinance (Iris Rosenblum-Sellers, head Steward with UAW Local 2865 academic workers union at UC Berkeley).  San Francisco has a Union at Home ordinance, which allows a card check election where 50% of tenants can sign a card to form a union and collectively bargain with their landlord.  Applies to large landlords.  In early stages of organizing something similar in Berkeley.   irisrs@berkeley.edu

SB594 Ownership Transparency Legislation (Jyotswaroop Bawa, CA Reinvestment Coalition, organization that supports housing and small businesses)
This is the 2nd effort at legislation requiring LLC owners to disclose who they are by filing with the Secretary of State.  It is especially important for code enforcement.  The bill died in Appropriations,  SoS claims a $9million price tag, 20+ FTE’s .  Labor supports the bill and it will be back next year.  If you have connection  to the CA Secretary of State’s office, help is appreciated, please contact Jyotswaroop at Jbawa@calreinvest.org.

Solar for Tenants (Aura Vasquez)
Investor owned utility monopolies are trying to take away solar for tenants in multifamily.  Campaign to stop it is going on, sign on letter to CPUC 

Fact sheet: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1SUgD1GRKx620Hy0FemfJSwNIxAogUdV2u5inC-_2xwk/edit
Letter: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1UCyYmC_Sr6zOW4jRdZ0BxftG99sUl0YTaO5UiLqCZA8/edit FORM: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe2-ogIqEE3hcSvVWJza7Y_2RCyzcIJrqSU6_ChdG1qnSwRvQ/viewform

9:12 Motion to extend time to 9:30
Alfred 2nd Vinnie, passed voice vote

Board Intros
Ryan Bell (SoCal Vice Chair)
Pasadena rent board member, Pasadena Tenants Union organizer, Tenants Together SoCal regional coordinator.  Goals: Build tenant power.  The landlord lobby, the California Apartment Association, meets quarterly with Governor, we can’t even get one meeting with his staff.

Annie Koruga (At-Large)
Pronouns: they/them, from Fremont. Currently Alameda County Democratic Central Committee recording secretary.  They are on the CA YOung Dems Environmental and Progressive caucus boards.  Goal: make Legislator scorecards.

Larry Gross (At-Large)
Coalition for Economic Survival executive director.  Has been fighting for tenants for 50 years. Also on Tenants Together board, and CADEM Region 12 director. Goal: Putting full weight of Dem party behind tenants.

Alfred Twu (Secretary)
Works as an architect on affordable housing.  Makes a Housing Legislation bill tracker. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1g5YbURd7MyeqYeXOKwQF3nmwwlDgdwgDhp6hJKgPFJA/edit?usp=sharing

and https://tinyurl.com/2023housingbills

Igor Tregub (NorCal Vice Chair)
Alameda County Democratic Central Committee Chair

Vinnie Bacon (Treasurer)
Former Fremont councilmember, also on CADEM Progressive Caucus board, and South Alameda County Progressive Democrats

Monica Madrid (At-Large)
ACCE organizer in South Sacramento, talks with tenants door to door.
Goals: Holding elected dems accountable when theyre bad on tenant issues.  We need a no landlord / realtor money rule in the party.

Arturo Rodriguez (Central Vice Chair)
Also on CADEM enviro caucus board

Susie Shannon (At-Large)
DNC member, founded the DNC poverty council.  CADEM delegate since 2007.  Drafted poverty sub plank in the CADEM party platform and has worked on resolutions and platform with Larry.

Esther Malkin (At-Large)
Lives in Monterey County. Also active with #RentersVote, and Monterey County Democratic central Committee

Outgoing members: Andrew Lewis, Imber Anakata

Mari Perez-Ruiz (Chair)
Helped start the Renters Council back in 2017, when then Assemblymember Rob Bonta introduced the first repeal Costa Hawkins Bill to allow cities to expand rent control.  Bonta made the calls to get meeting space for the first Renters Assembly meeting.  Later worked on statewide rent cap and tenant protection bills AB1481/1482.  

9:30 motion to adjourn Art, 2nd Vinnie, adjourned