RENT STABILIZATION BOARD
Regular Meeting Minutes

Monday, September 17, 2007
7 PM

Webcast Video Archive 

APPROVED

1. Roll Call - Chair Arreguin called the meeting to order at 7:06 PM. Pam Wyche called roll. 

Commissioners present: Blake (arrived 7:11 pm), Chong, Harrison, Kavanagh, Overman, Stephens, Walden, Webster, Arreguin 

Commissioners Absent: None 

Staff Present: Kelekian, Tine, Wyche

2. Approval of Agenda M/S/C (Stephens/Webster) APPROVE WITH REMOVAL OF MINISTERIAL WAIVER. Voice vote. Passed: 8-0-0-1. Absent: Blake.

3. Public Forum. There was one speaker: Marcia Levenson on Council's upcoming review of the Condominium Conversion Ordinance.

4. Comments from Chair and Boardmembers. Commissioner Kavanagh made a statement thanking his fellow Commissioners for their support and concern regarding his personal situation. He also said that he has been instructed not to issue any public statements or comments in that regard and that he regrets if his personal situation may be distracting or deflecting from the important mission of the agency and the Board.

5. Approval of the August 20, 2007 Meeting minutes . M/S/C (Stephens/Webster) APPROVED WITH ONE CHANGE TO INFORMATION ITEM 8.a.(5) STAFF PARTICIPATION AT HOW BERKELEY CAN YOU BE ON SEPTEMBER 30. TO INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING: CHAIR ARREGUIN BROUGHT UP THE ISSUE OF BOARDMEMBERS POSSIBLY PARTICIPATING IN THE PARADE AND THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR ASKED THAT INTERESTED BOARDMEMBERS CONTACT HIM DIRECTLY. Voice vote. Passed: 8-0-0-1 Absent: Blake.

(Items taken out of order to accommodate time certain appeal hearing.)

7. Action Items

7.a.(1) Proposal to approve staff recommendation on the following requests for waiver of late registration penalties. (Executive Director)

Ministerial Waivers (Removed from agenda to be placed on October agenda.)

Waiver No.      Property Address
W-3487            2720 California Street

Discretionary Waivers

Waiver No.      Property Address
W-3497            2441 McKinley Avenue 
W-3498            1425 Kains Avenue 
W-3500            2228 San Pablo Avenue 
W-3501            1612 Parker Street

M/S/C (Stephens/Webster) TO ACCEPT STAFF RECOMMENDATIONS ON ALL DISCRETIONARY WAIVERS LISTED. Voice vote. Passed 9-0-0-0.

8. Information and Announcements

8.a.(1) August 23rd letter from BPOA requesting revision to  Regulation 702 and response to BPOA's letter. (Letters attached) [Letters are PDF files, requiring Adobe Acrobat Reader.]. The Executive Director informed the Board that the issue has been referred to the IRA Committee. Committee Chair Chong said the committee has discussed extensively and has requested that staff look into the history of the security deposit issue.

8.a.(2) Rent Board assistance with Rental Housing Safety Program hearings. The Executive Director informed the Board that after several meetings with the Housing Department it was agreed that the Rent Board Hearing Examiners will provide backup assistance for Housing citation hearings and will be reimbursed on an hourly basis.

8.a.(3) Update on new phone system. The Executive Director informed the Board he is hopeful that he will be able to announce that the 981-Rent phone system is in place by the October meeting.

6. Appeal Time Certain - 7:15 p.m. Appeal T-4807, 2729 Dwight Way, Unit 402. (Continued from August 20th meeting.) Tenants appeal portions of a hearing examiner's decision that granted rent reductions for habitability violations. In their appeal, the tenants claim that the hearing examiner committed legal errors by: (1) not ruling that they are entitled to four parking spaces as part of their rent, (2) not holding the landlord responsible for rent ceiling violations committed by the prior master tenant, (3) miscalculating the rent decrease for defective heating, (4) not granting a rent decease for the lack of an on-site resident manager, (5) not reducing the rent for illegal internal walls created by the former master tenant, (6) miscalculating the rent reductions by not considering reductions in services and an alleged fraud committed by the landlord's former manager and the former master tenant, and (7) not taking into account the landlord's alleged statutory violations and unlawful eviction attempts. Staff recommends that the hearing examiner's decision be modified to make the rent decrease for lack of heat effective as of October 13, 2005, instead of December 1, 2005, but that in all other respects the decision be affirmed.

M/S/C (Chong/Blake) TO AFFIRM THE HEARING EXAMINER'S DECISION WITH THE FOLLOWING EXCEPTIONS: (1) TO MODIFY THE DECISION TO MAKE THE RENT DECREASE FOR LACK OF HEAT EFFECTIVE OCTOBER 13, 2005, AS RECOMMENDED BY LEGAL STAFF, (2) TO CORRECT THE MATH ON PAGE 43 OF THE RECORD TO USE A 7.3% REDUCTION FOR THE STOVE AND REFRIGERATOR, (3) TO MODIFY THE LANGUAGE OF THE HEARING EXAMINER'S DECISION ON PAGES 2 AND 3 TO CLARIFY THE REASONS WHY DUBEY AND DEWITT WERE ULTIMATELY CONSIDERED ORIGINAL TENANTS. THE LANGUAGE SHOULD BE MODIFIED TO READ AS FOLLOWS: "However, Mr. Duong resided in the unit for several years prior to signing the September 6, 2004 lease. and, in any case, none of the petitioners moved in within one month of that date, so it appears that this provision does not apply. In any case, Nevertheless, the landlords ultimately accepted Mr. Dubey and Mr. DeWitt as original tenants and accepted rent at the rent-controlled rent ceiling." Roll call vote. Yes: Blake, Chong, Harrison, Kavanagh, Overman, Stephens, Walden, Webster, Arreguin. Passed: 9-0-0-0.

(Returned to Item 8. Information and Announcements)

8.a.(4) Market Median Report from January 1999 through June 2007.  [PDF file, requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.] (Report attached) The Executive Director explained the best way to read the report in order to compare quarters from year to year.  

8.a.(5) Staff participation at Solano Stroll on September 9. The Executive Director said that the Rent Board table was set up at a good central location attracting lots of traffic and inquiries.

8.a.(6) Staff and possible Board participation at How Berkeley Can You Be on September 30. The Executive Director informed the Board that a staff table would be set up again this year and that some staff may participate in the parade. Commissioner Webster encouraged Boardmember participation as well in the parade and requested ideas. Blake said he was working on a float idea to resemble the shape of a house. Chong suggested including a Rent Board bus ad at the table and/or on the side of the float. Walden suggested mixing with the people to hear testimonials to see what the people need. Other commissioners added their thoughts and ideas and it was agreed that there was general interest in participating. Chair Arreguin suggested further discussion offline and to go from there.

8.a.(7) Notice regarding the Public Housing Wait List. The Executive Director announced to the public that applications will be available beginning Friday, September 21st and that they must be postmarked between September 24th and September 28th. Chair Arreguin suggested to those interested to contact the Housing Department website for a link to access the application or call 981-CITY for more information.

8.a.(8) City of Santa Monica job announcement for Rent Control Board Administrator. The Chair said speaks for itself.

8.a.(9) September 11, 2007, California Wire article titled Judge says LA rent Control laws protect federally subsidized poor. The Executive Director answered questions on how this would affect Berkeley Rent Control.

8.b. Announcement of upcoming Committee/Board meetings. 

(1) Budget and Personnel - Committee Chair Overman asked that the Executive Director email him the letter to the unions regarding possible staff participation in the Executive Director evaluation process. After the letter goes out, the committee will meet again to decide the next steps. 

(2) Outreach - To be scheduled off-line when staff has a list of topics that the Board might consider for the informational Video/DVD project. Executive Director and Committee members answered questions regarding the bus ads. Committee is in the process of redesigning the ads and two additional ads will be rotating locations. 

(3) IRA/AGA/Habitability - Will schedule off line. Committee members discussed habitability checklist, Schedule A, which they hope to send out in March. 

(4) Eviction/Section 8 - Will schedule off line. 

(5) 4x4 City Council/RSB Housing Committee - No meeting scheduled. 

(6) Ad Hoc Committee on Soft Story - To be scheduled off-line. 

(7) Special Meetings - No meetings scheduled.

8.c. Discussion of items for possible placement on future agendas. Information and discussion concerning the spike in rent levels across the Bay Area. Update and latest version of the Jarvis initiative from Board lobbyist.

9. Adjournment M/S/C (Stephens/Harrison) Chair adjourned at 7:59 PM.