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Rob Bonta bill AB 423 fails in legislature to preserve Oakland SRO hotels
by Lynda Carson (tenantsrule [at] yahoo.com)
Saturday May 13th, 2017 9:00 AM
Until the Ellis Act is amended to protect Oakland SROs, there is little the city can do to protect renters in SROs from greedy landlords being supported by the California Apartment Association, and their BIG MONEY corrupting influence to pay off politicians to vote against renter protections!
Rob Bonta bill AB 423 fails in legislature to preserve Oakland SRO hotels

By Lynda Carson - May 13, 2017

Oakland - In an effort to save low-income renters in Single Room Occupancy (SRO) residential hotels from eviction, on Tuesday May 9, Rob Bonta’s “Assembly Bill 423” failed to get enough votes to exempt residential hotels in Oakland from the Ellis Act.

AB 423 was intended to prohibit Oakland building owners from closing their residential hotels to go out of business, but AB 423 faced stiff resistance from the California Apartment Association (CAA). The CAA is a pro-landlord organization that pays off politicians, to vote against legislation that offers renter protections in California.

The CAA did not want low-income renters to be protected by evictions or displacement from the existing SROs in Oakland.

If passed, AB 423 would have amended the Ellis Act to allow Oakland to preserve its SRO residential hotels, and slow down the displacement of low-income renters. Presently, in Oakland under the Ellis Act, landlords are allowed to evict renters in order to go out of business, sell or convert their low-income residential hotels into other uses. AB 423 would have allowed Oakland to have a special exemption under the Ellis Act which would allow the city to protect renters from eviction, but failed to get enough votes for passage in the state legislature.

Reportedly, due to the lack of protections 712 SRO residential hotel rooms are at risk of being converted to market-rate boutique hotel rooms, and unfortunately Oakland has already lost around 800 residential rooms to conversions or demolitions since the mid-1980s.

Rents And Evictions Have Skyrocketed In Oakland SROs Since 2002

The anti-eviction mapping project keeps track of the many evictions occurring at SROs in Oakland, and according to a 2004 report, “the average daily rental rate in 2002 in an SRO was only $35; the average weekly rate was $199; and the average monthly rate was $544 (by comparison, the City’s annual survey of advertised rental rates found a median monthly rent of $700 to $800 for studio apartments).”

According to a different report from 2015, on average during 2015 the SROs in Oakland charged $62 per night for a room, $251 per week, and $676 per month for a room.

In comparison, during 2014 the Empyrean Towers (formerly Hotel Menlo) in Oakland, owned at the time by Alice Tse, was charging $79 per night in that SRO residential hotel, and she was illegally evicting renters to raise the rents.

During 2016, Danny Haber and Alon Gutman made the news in Oakland for targeting renters with evictions and higher rents in an SRO, and James Kilpatrick was sued by renters and the Oakland City Attorney for abusing renters in another SRO.

Until the Ellis Act is amended to protect Oakland SROs, there is little the city can do to protect renters in SROs from greedy landlords being supported by the California Apartment Association, and their BIG MONEY corrupting influence to pay off politicians to vote against renter protections.

Lynda Carson may be reached at tenantsrule [at] yahoo.com


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