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November 3, 2020 — California General Election
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Local

City of Berkeley
Measure MM - Majority Approval Required

To learn more about measures, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.

Election Results

Passed

32,033 votes yes (56.84%)

24,319 votes no (43.16%)

100% of precincts reporting (33/33).

Shall the measure amending the Rent Stabilization and Eviction for Good Cause Ordinance to: prohibit eviction of qualifying tenants for nonpayment of rent during state or local emergencies; authorize the Rent Stabilization Board to set registration fees for certain partially exempt units; and limit the Accessory Dwelling Unit exemption to owner-occupied properties with a single-family home and one accessory unit be adopted?

What is this proposal?

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

Impartial analysis / Proposal

CITY ATTORNEY’S IMPARTIAL ANALYSIS OF MEASURE MM 

This measure was place on the ballot by the City Council. 

This measure would amend the City’s Rent Stabilization and Eviction for Good Cause Ordinance in three ways.  

1. Emergency Eviction Limitations

The measure would prohibit the eviction of a residential tenant for nonpayment of rent when a state or local emergency has been declared and emergency legislation has been enacted to authorize the tenant to withhold rent. The City of Berkeley has adopted an “eviction moratorium” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The measure would provide that the moratorium and any future legislation authorizing the withholding of rent during an emergency would create an exception to the existing rule that eviction proceedings for nonpayment of rent may commence following three-days’ notice to the tenant.   

2. Registration and Fees for Partially Exempt Units

The measure would authorize the Rent Stabilization Board to collect information from the owners of rented single-family homes, rented condominiums, and newly constructed rental units, and to set and charge a registration fee for those units. These units are exempt from the rent control provisions of the Rent Stabilization and Eviction for Good Cause Ordinance, but not from the Ordinance’s good cause requirement for eviction.  The fee set by the Rent Stabilization Board would cover the cost of registration and counseling services but would not include the cost of services from which such units are exempt, such as rent adjustment petitions and hearings.  

The new registration requirements and fee would not apply where a property owner rents out their own home on a temporary basis, provided that the owner does not own any other rental units in the City, the owner’s absence from the unit does not exceed 24 months, and the length of the owner’s absence is specified in the lease.  

 

3. Accessory Dwelling Unit Exemption

The measure would clarify the existing exemption for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) to address a change in state law. Under City law, ADUs are exempt from rent control and eviction limitations. At the time this exemption was adopted by City voters in 2018, it was not lawful to construct an ADU on a multi-unit property. A recent change in state law now permits the construction of ADUs on multi-unit properties. The measure would limit the City’s ADU exemption to owner-occupied properties that contain only a single-family home and no more than one ADU. The measure would not constrain the right of a property owner to construct additional ADUs as permitted by law, but would limit the applicability of the exemption from the City’s Rent Stabilization and Eviction for Good Cause Ordinance. 

The above statement is an impartial analysis of Measure MM.

s/FARIMAH FAIZ BROWN Berkeley City Attorney  

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF MEASURE MM

Vote YES on MM to protect neighbors from losing their homes, require newer apartment buildings to pay their fair share for City services, and support the construction of backyard units behind single-family homes.

Because of COVID-19, millions of Californians have lost their jobs and one-third of Americans have missed rent. Many are at risk of becoming homeless.

The City Council enacted strong eviction protections under its emergency powers, but Berkeley’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance continues to recognize non-payment of rent as a cause for eviction. Once the City’s emergency proclamation is lifted, many Berkeley renters are at risk of losing their homes.

Measure MM prohibits evictions for nonpayment of rent during a proclaimed emergency if the City or state has allowed for emergency-related nonpayment.

There are eviction controls on buildings constructed after 1980, even though they are exempt from rent control. But owners of these properties do not pay any fees for the services they receive from the Rent Board. Older properties, including small properties owned by local residents, do pay a registration fee. This is unfair.

Measure MM requires newly-built and other similar units to register and pay their fair share for services, but does not subject them to rent control. Primary residences rented for up to two years are exempt, ensuring homeowners aren’t asked to pay fees and register for a sabbatical or other limited absence.

Measure MM also encourages construction of new housing by continuing to exempt new Accessory Dwelling Units on single-family properties from rent and eviction controls. State law recently changed to allow ADUs on multi-unit properties. Measure MM limits the ADU rent and eviction control exemption to owner-occupied single-family properties, as originally intended by Berkeley voters in 2018.

Vote YES on Measure MM.

s/Jesse Arreguín Berkeley Mayor

s/Judith Appel

Berkeley School Board, President

s/Xavier Johnson

Chair, Housing Advisory Commission; Sierra Club Executive Committee member

s/Paola Laverde

Rent Stabilization Board, Chair

— City of Berkeley Ballot Measures website

Arguments AGAINST

ARGUMENT AGAINST MEASURE MM

Measure MM is a poorly-designed policy that will discourage homeowners from creating backyard cottages—known as Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), which tend to be more affordable for tenants and easily blend into our neighborhoods.

Measure MM adds no new tenant protections. The measure poses as protecting tenants by prohibiting evictions during a state of emergency. But that is already City law! The redundant tenant protections are an attempt to gain support for the measure’s more harmful elements.

Measure MM will discourage new ADUs. Every time we debate more regulations on ADUs, we create more uncertainty in homeowners’ minds about whether they should make the long-term, costly commitment to build an ADU. We support protecting tenants, and we also need to create more homes!

Just two years ago, Berkeley citizens voted to exempt all ADUs from rent stabilization and eviction controls. Now the Rent Board wants to reverse the will of the voters by removing this exemption for a second ADU that a homeowner creates—under a complex set of rules not fully described in the measure. These complicated rules will discourage homeowners from adding even one ADU to their property and renting it out to a long-term tenant.

Measure MM raises fees without oversight. The measure would even require that owners of all rented ADUs, single-family homes, condos, and new units pay a registration fee. No evaluation has been done to justify this proposed new fee to the public. An Alameda County Grand Jury audit criticized the Berkeley Rent Board for increasing fees “without justification.” The audit found that Berkeley already has the highest registration fees in California.

Ordinary homeowners should not be treated the same as large commercial landlords. Individuals who choose to share their personal space should be able to choose with whom they will live!

Vote NO on Measure MM.

s/Loni Hancock, Former Berkeley Mayor (1986-94), California State Senator (2002-2016)

s/Debra R. Sanderson, Co-chair, ADU Task Force

s/Rashi Kesarwani, Berkeley City Councilmember

s/Laurie Capitelli, Berkeley City Councilmember (ret.)

s/Gregory Magofna, Former Vice Chair, Community Environmental Advisory Commission; Former Commissioner, Housing Advisory Commission

— City of Berkeley Ballot Measures website

Replies to Arguments FOR

REBUTTAL TO ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF MEASURE MM

The proponents say: Once the City’s state of emergency is lifted, many Berkeley renters are at risk of losing their homes. NOT TRUE!

The Facts: The City’s eviction moratorium already protects all tenants from eviction during and after the COVID-19 state of emergency. It permanently bans eviction for overdue rent that accrued during the emergency, treating it instead as consumer debt. Measure MM provides no new protections from eviction.

The proponents say: Measure MM encourages the construction of backyard cottages. The opposite is true!

The Facts: Measure MM reverses the 2018 voters’ decision that all backyard cottages should be exempt from rent stabilization and eviction controls.

Homeowners will only choose to build backyard cottages for long-term tenants if they can determine with whom they will share their personal space!

We need to encourage homeowners to create backyard cottages, not add more rules that treat ordinary homeowners the same as large commercial landlords. As recently as this year, the Rent Board voted to put all Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and golden duplexes under rent stabilization and eviction controls.

The proponents say: Property owners of units not covered by rent control should pay a fee to the Berkeley Rent Board.

Why? The Rent Board provided no financial analysis to justify a new fee on all rented single-family homes, condos, and new units.

An impartial Alameda County Grand Jury audit said the Berkeley Rent Board lacks oversight and accountability, increasing fees “without justification.”

Measure MM discourages housing when we need it most. Let homeowners be part of the solution!

Vote NO on MM.

s/Tom Bates, Berkeley Mayor (2002-2016)

s/Denise Pinkston, Member and Former Chair, Zoning Adjustments Board; President, The Casita Coalition

 

s/Gordon Wozniak, former Berkeley City Councilmember

— City of Berkeley Ballot Measures website

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

REBUTTAL TO ARGUMENT AGAINST MEASURE MM

Opponents claim that Measure MM will “discourage” homeowners from creating backyard cottages.

FACT: Measure MM continues the exemption from rent and eviction controls approved in 2018 for one Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) on a single-family parcel. State law has since changed allowing ADUs on multi-family properties. This could result in suddenly exempting a 30-unit building from rent and eviction controls if the landlord builds an ADU and lives on the property. That is not what the voters intended, and leaves tenants vulnerable to displacement. Measure MM closes this loophole and encourages the construction of new housing in our neighborhoods.

Opponents claim that the eviction protections in Measure MM are “redundant”.

FACT: Once Berkeley’s local emergency expires, these protections will go away, and tenants could be evicted for non-payment of rent. Measure MM clarifies the law and locks in critical protections for tenants impacted by COVID-19 and other emergencies.

Opponents claim that Measure MM raises fees “without oversight”.

FACT: Measure MM requires that new construction, and other currently-exempt units, pay a modest registration fee for services they already receive from the City. Currently small landlords pay registration fees for Rent Board services, but developers don’t.

Measure MM will ensure fairness and registration fees would be set by the elected Rent Board, through a public process and with oversight.

Measure MM is essential to continue eviction protections for tenants impacted by COVID-19, ensure fairness for all property owners, and produce more housing.

Please join us in voting YES.

s/Kate Harrison, Berkeley City Councilmember, District 4

s/Rigel Robinson, Berkeley City Councilmember, District 7

s/Leah Simon-Weisberg, Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board Commissioner

s/ Peter Selawsky, Litigation Attorney, Eviction Defense Center

 

s/Julia Cato, Chair, Berkeley Tenants Union

 

— City of Berkeley Ballot Measures website
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