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Fight over skyrocketing Bay Area rents to hit the ballot box

Sunday, October 30, 2016 14:17
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(Before It's News)

Stakes high as tenants push back against landlords and real estate lobbyists on Nov. 8

by Lynda Carson

Many long-time Bay Area residents have been displaced over the last several years. The stock of affordable housing options continues to dwindle and the median rent in Oakland is now $3,000 a month. Heartless landlords are taking extreme measures to boost their profit at the expense of tenants. In one recent example, an East Palo Alto property owner and his son were arrested for a plot to push tenants out of rent-controlled units by destroying their property.

Anna Gonzalez, with her daughter Aidsa, 9, and son Nelson, 7, listens to speakers as tenants rally at the Creekview Apartments in Richmond on Thursday, Oct. 6. More than 100 renters are being evicted from the apartments. Tenants are demanding that the owner, PMI Properties, halt evictions and let the remaining tenants stay in the recently refurbished apartments. – Photo: Jane Tyska, Bay Area News Group

Anna Gonzalez, with her daughter Aidsa, 9, and son Nelson, 7, listens to speakers as tenants rally at the Creekview Apartments in Richmond on Thursday, Oct. 6. More than 100 renters are being evicted from the apartments. Tenants are demanding that the owner, PMI Properties, halt evictions and let the remaining tenants stay in the recently refurbished apartments. – Photo: Jane Tyska, Bay Area News Group

With a chance to put a damper on the housing crisis, six Bay Area cities will vote on renter protection measures this Nov. 8. In Oakland, a grassroots effort to strengthen outdated tenant rights laws led to Measure JJ being placed on the ballot.

In the city of Alameda, where it took more 7,300 registered voters to place Measure M1 on the November ballot, the fight for renter protections has been fierce. In Richmond, with Measure L now on the ballot, the struggle for renter rights is a battle against the California Apartment Association (CAA) and its corrupting influence on local politicians.

In San Mateo, activists collected more than 11,000 signatures to place Measure Q on the ballot. In Mountain View, activists and renters are urging voters to approve Measure V to protect over 14,000 households. In Burlingame, renters fought to bring Measure R forward for a vote in November.

The California Apartment Association is running attack ads against the renter protection ballot measures in Richmond, Alameda, Mountain View, San Mateo and Burlingame. After the East Bay Rental Housing Association, an affiliate office for the CAA, sent out a deceptive anti-rent control mailer, tenant rights groups protested and filed a complaint with the state Fair Political Practices Commission.

While landlords and the CAA try to stop the renters’ movement, tenant advocates across the Bay Area urge voters to support the strong renter protections in Richmond, Oakland, Alameda, Burlingame, San Mateo and Mountain View, and to vote “no” against weak proposals placed on the ballot by the city councils in Alameda and Mountain View.

Skyrocketing rents reveal need for strong rent control protections

The announcement by Zillow that the median rent in Oakland is presently $3,000 a month reveals that strong rent control protections are needed more than ever to curb the voracious appetite of greedy landlords, speculators, realtors and Wall Street investment firms taking advantage of renters with their over-market-rate rentals in the Bay Area.

In Oakland. Measure JJ is on the November ballot; if voted into law, it will help to protect renters by strengthening existing renter protection laws. Voters are urged to vote YES on Measure JJ to help stabilize communities in Oakland and slow down greedy landlords involved in price gouging and eviction-for-profit schemes.

Alameda has suffered mass evictions due to a lack of strong renter protections, and the Alameda Renters Coalition is urging voters to vote against Measure L1 and to vote for Measure M1 as the way to protect renters and stabilize communities in their city.

In Oakland. Measure JJ is on the November ballot; if voted into law, it will help to protect renters by strengthening existing renter protection laws.

The struggle for renter protections in Richmond has been an epic battle against the lies and deceit of the California Apartment Association (CAA) and its corrupting influence on local politicians. Activists are urging voters to vote on Measure L as a way to stop landlords involved in mass evictions, price gouging and eviction-for-profit schemes in Richmond.

Measure L makes the landlords accountable for their actions when engaging in price gouging. If passed by the voters in November, Measure L would help to stop the mass evictions taking place in Richmond that are condoned by Mayor Tom Butt and Councilmembers Nathaniel Bates and Vinay Pimplé.

Landlords in the Bay Area tend not to be fond of renter protections, including rent control and just cause eviction protections, especially some of the most notorious landlords.

If passed by the voters in November, Measure L would help to stop the mass evictions taking place in Richmond that are condoned by Mayor Tom Butt and Councilmembers Nathaniel Bates and Vinay Pimplé.

On Monday, Oct. 24, 2016, the Palo Alto Weekly reported that the owner of the Stanford Garden Apartments and his son were arrested for harassing the tenants at the rent controlled building at 1735 Woodland Ave. in East Palo Alto. Reportedly, the owner and his son, Auria Malek Salehi, were arrested for breaking the windows of the cars of the tenants at the Stanford Garden Apartments and for damaging some of their other property in an effort to frighten tenants out of the rent controlled apartments so the rents could be raised. The landlord has been charged with felony destruction of property, according to the report.

Records reveal that Stanford Garden is owned by Nemat Maleksalehi, aka Matt Madison or Matt Malek, who went to prison for ripping off the Department of Housing And Urban Development (HUD) a number of years ago in a huge scam. In a plea agreement for ripping off HUD, Maleksalehi ended up agreeing to “18 months imprisonment, three years of supervised release, a $400 special assessment, and he agreed to pay a total of $1,406,255 in restitution.” According to public records, Nemat Maleksalehi was released from prison on Jan. 17, 2003.

Renter protections on the ballot in other Bay Area cities this November

In the City of San Mateo, renters and activists collected more than 11,000 signatures to place a renter protection measure on the ballot for Nov. 8 that includes rent control and just cause eviction protections. Activists are urging the voters in San Mateo to vote on Measure Q as a way to stabilize communities and protect families from displacement.

In the City of Mountain View, activists and renters are urging voters to vote for Measure V to protect over 14,000 households, including families, teachers and nurses, from rent price gouging and eviction-for-profit schemes. Activists are urging renters to vote for Measure V and to vote against a weak renter protection measure placed on the ballot by the City Council.

Renters and activists have also had a fierce battle in Burlingame over renter protections and activists are urging voters to vote for Measure R in November. If passed by the voters, Measure R will provide rent stabilization and just cause eviction protections to help stabilize communities, stop mass evictions and protect families from displacement due to speculators, realtors and greedy landlords.

Renters need strong renter protections to protect them from notorious landlords in the Bay Area who are involved in mass evictions, including Nemat Maleksalehi, Scott Sternberg, James Kilpatrick, Matt Sridhar, Danny Haber and Alon Gutmon.

Renter protections will be on the November ballot in six cities in the Bay Area. No matter how hard the landlords and the California Apartment Association try to stop the renters movement, tenant advocates across the Bay Area are urging renters to vote on strong renter protections in Richmond, Oakland, Alameda, Burlingame, San Mateo and Mountain View. They urge people to vote “no” against any weak proposals placed on the ballot by the city councils in Alameda and Mountain View.

Lynda Carson may be reached at tenantsrule@yahoo.com.

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