Rights for Tenants Critical in El Cerrito-Council Inches Forward

For the last two years, members of El Cerrito Progressives have been advocating for tenant protections to the City Council.  On Tuesday, May 7th, the City Council finally voted with a 3-2 split for a Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance. (Mayor Pardue-Okimoto, Fadelli, Lyman -for/ Abelson, Quinto-against. The Ordinance will have a second reading on May 21st before it is formally adopted.  Mayor Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto, clearly the strongest supporter for tenants, declared that the Ordinance was by no means sufficient, and suggested that all units be covered by the law, not only those comprised of 5 or more units (107 buildings).  She further supported the ECP call for rent increase caps, noting that a Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance without a rent increase cap, left tenants without protection from excessive rent hikes, a major cause for displacement. On the other end of the spectrum, City Council member Quinto expressed strong displeasure over any ordinance for Just Cause and focused his concern for the smaller “mom and pop” landlords whom he felt would be subjected to an unfair burden.  Many of these landlords spoke to the proposed ordinance, citing their preference to issue a year lease and then have full discretion to ask a tenant to leave at the end of the year, without a just cause.  The few tenants who spoke at the meeting described their own struggle with high rents matched with high anxiety, fearing landlord retaliation without protections.

Discussions about tenant protections generate heated debate in all communities seeking to protect their most vulnerable tenants.  Look at the threads on Next Door! The Council is hoping to mitigate this contentious issue by creating a task force of community members comprised of tenants and landlords to discuss further remedies for tenant displacement in this crazy housing market.  Although regulating excessive rent increases is listed as a possible remedy in the City’s Affordable Housing Strategy (as a method to address displacement or residents), the City Staff omitted any reference to this in their Staff Report. We are hoping that this matter will come before the task force as ” Other recommendations considered by the Task Force with respect to Tenant Protections. “

Tenant Rights Clinic for El Cerrito Renters

After canvassing over 1000 apartments and speaking to dozens of renters, 15 renters showed up for the first Tenant Rights Clinic in April.  We are continuing to get calls for help as renters are receiving considerably large rent increases as well as notices of termination, especially from new property owners seeking to raise rents and move out those long term tenants who have been paying relatively affordable rents.   Please join us again on May 29th for a second clinic. FREE legal advice available and private tenant counseling as well as information on your rights.  Call or email for an appointment or drop in.  Email:elcerritoprogressive@gmail.com


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