Who’s Who on the Tenant Protection Task Force?

 Last week the El Cerrito City Council repealed ordinance 2019-04, which included Just Cause for eviction and other tenant protections. Multiple council members expressed hopes that the ordinance will be replaced with something stronger and more comprehensive. This new, stronger ordinance is to be developed by the new Tenant Protections Task Force.

According to the city of El Cerrito website, “the purpose of the Task Force is to bring together landlords and tenants to find common ground in order to make policy recommendations to the City Council for their consideration”

However, the purpose of the task force is still in question, according to ECP members.  If the task force is to come to a consensus on the difficult and highly emotional issue of rent control, how will an equal number of landlords and tenants every reach a consensus? And is rent stabilization really on the table?  Or is the task force another vehicle to rehash the non-binding rent mediation program favored by CAA, but proven to be lacking in real protections for tenants?  

During last week’s meeting the City Council also announced the four tenants and four landlords that now serve on the task force. Councilman Gabe Quinto lead with personal attacks in his objections to two of the tenants on the task force. Others council members had preferences without clearly stated reasons.

Landlords:

Norman LaForce

LaForce has been a resident of El Cerrito for 36 years and owns two rental units in El Cerrito as part of a duplex. LaForce is a retired lawyer of the Law Offices of Christian Green, and served on the City Council from 1991-1999. In addition to his experience as a lawyer and landlord, LaForce taught Land Use and Property Law at Golden Gate University Law School from 2004-2014. In his application LaForce expressed interest in developing “fair and appropriate regulations and laws that protect both tenants and landlords, especially small landlords.”

(So does this mean fair and reasonable for the landlord and tenant, or simply the landlord?)

Peter Pan

A resident of El Cerrito for 22 years, Pan owns two rental units in a duplex in El Cerrito. He is a Real Estate Broker with a BS in Computer Science. Pan noted on his application his experience “over 25 years working with local real estate customers”. 

Tyra Wright

Wright has lived in El Cerrito for 32 years and owns one single-family rental unit in El Cerrito. Wright is a Real Estate Agent and Property Management Assistant, and is also an active member of the National Association of Realtors, California Association of Realtors, and Contra Costa Association of Realtors. On her profile at Feagley Realtors, Wright says she advocates “to protect private property rights and home ownership.” In her application to the task force, Wright noted she wishes to “help find a balance and reasonable resolution to tenant/landlord issues.”  Again, what is “reasonable” and to whose standard?

Elizabeth (BJ) Thorsnes

Thorsnes has lived in El Cerrito for 39 years and owns four rental units in a quadruplex in El Cerrito. Thorsnes is a retired lecturer and editor of the Consortium on Reading Excellence in Berkeley. In her application, Thorsnes cited her knowledge of landlord-tenant laws in addition to her 44 years of experience as a landlord in El Cerrito as reasons she can help sort out these issues. She also noted in her application that she “..view[s] being a landlord not as an investment but as part of a service industry. As such, [she] expect[s] things from landlords, [herself] included, and from tenants.”

Tenants:

George Gager

Gager has lived in El Cerrito for 13 years and works as a consultant to HUD and housing agencies nationwide. Gager notes that sustainable and affordable housing is “the single greatest passion” in his life, and sees The Tenant Protections Task Force as a “unique opportunity to deliver affordable housing solutions for families close to home.” Despite working in affordable housing marketplace, Gager acknowledges that he has not worked locally during the last 8 years. In addition to the task force, Gager also serves on the El Cerrito Arts and Culture Commission and the Economic Development Committee.

Buddy Akacic

Akacic has lived in El Cerrito for 7 years and has been a tenant all his life. Akacic is retired and previously worked at Buckelew Programs. In his application, Akacic noted his belief that tenant-landlord relationships are “critical” and that the city is best served when “competing interests are resolved to everyone’s satisfaction” 

Isis Bastet

Bastet has lived in El Cerrito for 8 years and is the Assistant Vice President of Procurement Contracts at East West Bank. She cites solving issues through “community collaboration” so that residents can enjoy the “gifts our community offers”. 

Richard Bell

Bell has been a resident of El Cerrito for 10 years and is a retired social worker and manager. Bell applied to the task force because of his “longstanding interest in housing issues” and a desire to help maintain a “stable, sustainable El Cerrito community”

When the City Council voted on this configuration for the Task Force, ECP members raised opposition, noting the potential of a stalemate.  ECP suggested bringing on more homeowners without a vested interest, but the city nixed the idea. Will the task force be another distraction or excuse for delaying action on this urgent issue? 

The City has repeatedly vowed to create a stronger ordinance, when will we see it?  Will the task force honor the sentiments stated in their applications?

You can stay updated on the Tenant Protection Task Force meetings and agenda items here.  The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, September 23rd at 6:30pm at City Hall in the Creekside Room. The public is welcome.

Stay updated on ECP’s plans on this issue by following us on Twitter and Facebook

Want to join our movement? Click here!

Month of Momentum is Now! Defend Immigrants

After 30 days of daily protests outside ICE to close the camps, hosting organizations invite EVERYONE to attend a culminating protest on Saturday, August 31 at Noon.

Meet up at El Cerrito Plaza and Del Norte BART stations at 11:00 am. ECP will have two banners: Abolish ICE and Close the Camps. Let’s travel together to 630 Sansome St., SF – ICE Headquarters.

Music by:
•Emma’s Revolution – https://emmasrevolution.com
•Diana Gameros – https://www.dianagameros.com
•Betsy Rose & Bonnie Lockhart – https://www.betsyrosemusic.org
•La Peña Chorus (with Lichi Fuentes) – https://www.lapenachorus.org

Speakers:
•Maria Xiomara Dorsey, Idle No More
•Sandy Valenciano, California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance
•Frankie Free Ramos, Bay Area Boricuas
•Others TBA

And food

**Sponsoring hosts will be raising funds that day for Freedom for Immigrants Bond Fund. Bring some money to donate!
https://www.freedomforimmigrants.org/national-bond-fund

EL CERRITO CLIMATE EMERGENCY ACTION ALERT

 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

7:00 pm

El Cerrito City Hall, City Council Chambers

10890 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito

The El Cerrito City Council will be voting on a Resolution to Declare a Climate Emergency and to endorse emergency mobilization efforts to restore a safe climate.   The core elements of the proposed Resolution include:

– citywide climate emergency education and actions that can be taken to transition to zero greenhouse gas emissions;

-reduction of city greenhouse gas emissions to zero as quickly as possible within the forthcoming Climate Action Plan Update; and

– support for climate emergency mobilization and collaboration efforts to reverse global warming at the City, regional, state, national and global levels.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported last fall that we had 12 years to maintain the global temperature increase below 1.5C, and that to do this we needed to decrease our greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030.  Governor Brown issued an Executive Order in September 2018 to achieve Carbon Neutrality no later than 2045. We must ACT NOW to address the Climate Emergency!

Support the city council members in joining the 9 other Bay Area cities* and over 900 jurisdictions across the globe that are providing leadership and taking action to address climate change as the global threat that it is. Come to the meeting or write the Mayor and City Council members about why this issue is important to you and encourage the city to follow-up with actions as rapidly as possible:  Mayor Pardue-Okimoto rpardueokimoto@ci.el-cerrito.ca, and city councilmembers jabelson@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us;gquinto@ci.el-cerrito.ca.uspfadelli@ci.el-cerrito.ca.usglyman@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us.   If you would like your letter to be part of the public record, cc it to the city clerk atcityclerk@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us.

The link to the city agenda materials can be found here.

Toward a safe and sustainable climate for all,

The Environmental Justice Committee of the El Cerrito Progressives

*Oakland, Alameda, Berkeley, San Francisco, Hayward, Fairfax, Petaluma, Cupertino and Richmond.  (Other CA jurisdictions include Santa Cruz and Mendocino Counties and the cities of Chico, Santa Cruz and Los Angeles.)

Sign the Petition to Close the Camps

On June 28th, 2019 Congressman DeSaulnier wrote to his constituents,”Defunding the centers is not the answer – the answer is to make the processing more efficient so the centers are not needed at all. If we defund the centers, the children will have nowhere else to go.”  Untrue.

The administration has better options to enforce immigration and asylum laws but the Congressional approval of funding for the border camps perpetuates the human rights violations at our southern border.  In a recent  VOX post Trump doesn’t need to keep migrants in detention camps  Alexia Fernández Campbell, Jul 4, 2019 “…Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was running two alternative programs at the national level: the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP), which involves electronic monitoring, and the less restrictive Family Case Management Program (FCMP), which relied on community monitoring. The administration ended one of the programs and has not expanded the other. The methods used in these programs are available to DHS, and are much cheaper than traditional detention — but the Trump administration is operating as if locking everyone up in squalid conditions is the only way.”

Detention is simply an act of malice, not a necessity.  Close the Camps!

Click herehttp://chng.it/HntVBHQXTx to sign the petition. Thanks!

Call Senators Now-Support EPA

This news just came in from the League of  Conservation Voters:


Earlier this year, Trump announced he wanted to slash the EPA’s budget by 31% — a total gut-job on the agency that would zero out key environmental programs. He also proposed 14% cuts to the Interior Department.

Well… this is a big update. After months of negotiations and intense campaigning, the House just passed a budget deal that actually increasesfunding for the EPA and Interior Departments — AND would remove Big Polluter requests that have been slipped into spending bills for years. 

This is a huge rebuke of Trump and his dangerous policies. Now, the package goes to the Senate — a vote will happen as soon as Monday. 

We need to make sure a clean bill gets through the Senate and sets up a path forward on these important government environmental programs. No poison-pill riders. No anti-environment attacks.

But with only a short window before a vote, we need to mobilize — and fast. We need your help to push this campaign over the finish line — the vote could be close.

# # #

Please call Senators who are on the fence about funding the EPA. 

Barbara – for ECP Environmental Justice

Click here to Reply

El Cerrito Natural Update – Eliminate Plastic Packaging

Sixty-three (63) people signed our letter to El Cerrito Natural at our booth at the 4th of July Festival.

I presented your letters and signatures to the General Manager on July 23.  El Cerrito Grocery is an employee-owned business. The GM, store supervisor, and staff all very much want to eliminate toxic plastic, and I learned that it will take time.

Good grocery business is complex: how to meet the desires of customers so they will keep patronizing the store, how to keep produce fresh, and how to conduct business in alignment with the owners’ values.

Coincidentally, the leadership team had a scheduled meeting this afternoon. On the agenda was the subject of plastic. The GM promised to take the letters to the meeting and share our request.

In the immediate, the store plans to eliminate clamshell lettuce that duplicates what is sold in bulk, i.e., the mixed salad greens. Some of the specialty lettuces are not available in bulk and the staff is concerned that customers will abandon El Cerrito Natural if they cannot buy those items there. I suggested they poll the customers for their preferences. The GM said they welcome customers to tell them their preferences as that helps them make decisions about what to stock in the store.

At the Annex, they have eliminated the biocompostable cups and brought in metal cups for water. They welcome people to bring their own containers for takeout, instead of using the paperboard containers they provide.

Thanks to everyone for your support to make El Cerrito healthier for all.

Barbara Chan

Action Alert: Pack the Court!

The East Bay Sanctuary Covenant are the lead plaintiff suing the Trump Administration regarding the Third County Transit Ban. There will be a hearing on their REQUEST FOR A TRO (TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER) ON WEDNESDAY, JULY 24, AT 9:30AM. The hearing will be at the Northern District courthouse in San Francisco, 450 Golden Gate Ave. Judge Tigar’s courtroom is on the 19th floor. They are asking supporters to show up. There are also some other action steps at the bottom of the info below. For more information https://ebsc.nationbuilder.com/?utm_campaign=ebsc_v_barr&utm_medium=email&utm_source=ebsc 

Facts about the Third Country Ban Lawsuit

According to Michael Smith, EBSC’s Director of Refugee Rights, “Trump’s policy is illegal and usurps the power of Congress to make laws. Seeking asylum is clearly protected under U.S. and international asylum law. EBSC’s asylum clients are fleeing horrific violence in their home countries. EBSC has one of the largest affirmative asylum programs in the U.S. and has successfully helped almost 4,000 people to obtain asylum.

Over 97% of EBSC’s asylum cases are approved, showing that these claims are meritorious. These are people fleeing persecution and seeking safety under the law. Contrary to what the administration is claiming, this population is not safe in Guatemala or Mexico, where they are vulnerable to their persecutors and other forms of oppression. Many of EBSC’s clients, including LGBTQ people and survivors of gender-based violence, are fleeing persecution in Mexico. Asylum seekers crossing the U.S. southern border are not only from Central America. They may be from Russia, Africa, and Asia; some have traveled through South America, the jungles of Panama and Central America, with the hopes of reaching safety. Nearly all of EBSC clients are victims of atrocious forms of persecution – 80% have been raped or sexually abused, including male and female children. Going forward, 80% of EBSC clients would be unable to apply for asylum.

The ramifications of the Trump administration’s actions will be long-reaching for people who are genuinely deserving of asylum protection. EBSC’s 37-year old asylum program reaching the most traumatized populations would be terminated. Act Now! Write your congressional representatives! Join EBSC’s social media networks. Share accurate news and articles so more people are informed of the detrimental impact of these attacks on asylum law. Support EBSC by volunteering or donating – your support matters!