RENT STABILIZATION BOARD
Regular Meeting Minutes

Monday, March 17, 2008
7 PM

APPROVED

Webcast Video Archive

1. Roll Call  - Chair Arreguin called the meeting to order at 7:04 PM.  Pam Wyche called roll.

Commissioners present:  Blake, Chong, Harrison, Overman, Stephens, Webster, Walden, Arreguin.

Commissioners absent:  None

2.  Approval of Agenda M/S/C (Stephens/Overman) APPROVE AS WRITTEN. Voice vote.  Passed: 7-0-0-1 Absent: Blake.

3. Special Order of Business – Filling Board Vacancy [PDF file, requires Adobe Acrobat Reader]   - Chair Arreguin explained that in recognizing the uniqueness of the situation, the Board voted to have as transparent selection process as possible by seeking letters of interest for the vacant seat from members of the community rather than just choosing someone. He said that 14 letters of interest were received from qualified individuals, most of whom would have provided the necessary experience as well as a unique perspective to the position.  The letters of interest were reviewed by a Board selected Ad Hoc Search Committee and after a one-week review and interview period, the ad hoc committee has made a recommendation to the full Board. 

The Chair took the opportunity to thank staff and the ad hoc committee for their hard work and to everyone who came forward and expressed an interest in serving on the Board.  He also encouraged them to continue to be involved in the ongoing challenge of providing affordable housing in our city and to consider running in the November election when there will be five vacant Rent Board seats.

a. Open mike to applicants who have submitted letters of interest [PDF file, requires Adobe Acrobat Reader] to the Board applying for the vacant Commissioner seat.   Chair Arreguin allowed applicants five minutes to address the Board and three minutes for applicant supporters. 

Five applicants spoke and one applicant supporter: 

1. Allen Stross, a 28-year Berkeley resident and tenant at 2524 Benvenue the Thornhill Apartments, whose father was a building contractor, carpenter and landlord.  He has been a member of the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association for 28 years and worked for the National Historical American Building Survey. 

2. Judy Ann Alberti, a Berkeley resident with a long time commitment to the issues of affordable housing, rent control outreach and an avid follower of the Rent Board.  She served a four-year term as a Rent Board Commissioner in 2000.  She expressed a primary interest in working on habitability issues and in defeating Proposition 98.

3. Corie Calfee, a 5 year City of Berkeley resident and active community member with a background in law and public policy, who expressed an interest in participating in policy-making to protect the diversity of Berkeley and affordable housing and to work with the Board to educate people on the negative eminent domain and rent control issues in Proposition 98.

4. Linda Olivebaum, a long time Berkeley resident, spoke in support of Judy Ann Alberti emphasizing her experience as a well-known community activist. 

5. Terry Doran, a Berkeley resident for nearly 50 years and supporter of the very first rent control initiative that was put on the Berkeley ballot.  Mr. Doran is a former school board member and currently serves on the Zoning Adjustment Board and has continued to support tenant-sponsored candidates for the Rent Board.

6. Raquel Aguirre, a community activist with past experience as a landlord-tenant attorney, a founding board member of the Coalition for Immigrants and Refugee Rights and past member of the Berkeley Housing Advisory, the Appeals Board and Adelante, Inc.; La Raza Coalition of Berkeley, Latinos Unidos.  She expressed a willingness to work hard to strengthen the Rent Board Ordinance and defeat Proposition 98.

b. Questions to the applicants by Boardmembers.   None at this time.  Questions and comments were made during or directly following the candidate’s presentations. 

c.  Discussion and appointment of new Commissioner to serve on the Board through November 2008.   Commissioner Stephens spoke on behalf of the Ad Hoc Search Committee explaining that the committee had interviewed 7 applicants and, even though a very tough decision, the committee recommends Corie Calfee, because of her unique combination of both education and work experience in areas that would be an asset to the Board.

M/S/C (Stephens/Overman) ON BEHALF OF THE AD HOC COMMITTEE MOVE TO APPOINT CORRINE CALFEE TO FILL THE VACANCY ON THE BOARD UNTIL NOVEMBER 2008.  Roll call vote.  Yes: Blake, Chong, Harrison, Overman, Stephens, Webster, Arreguin; No: None; Abstain: Walden; Absent: None.  Passed: 7-0-1-0.

4.  Public Forum – None.

5.  Approval of February 21, 2008 regular meeting minutes.   M/S/C (Stephens/Overman) TO APPROVE AS WRITTEN.  Voice vote.  Passed: 8-0-0-0.

6.  Appeal Time Certain   7:15 PM

Appeal T-4884, 2215 Blake Street, Upper Unit.  M/S/C (Blake/Overman) TO AFFIRM THE HEARING EXAMINER’S DECISION.  Roll call vote.  Yes: Blake, Chong, Harrison, Overman, Stephens, Walden, Webster, Arreguin; No: None; Abstain: None; Absent: None. Passed: 8-0-0-0.

7.  Action Items

a. From Board Members, Executive Director and Committees 

(1) Board Opposition to Proposition 98[PDF file, requires Adobe Acrobat Reader] M/S/C (Chong/Harrison) TO ADOPT THE CHAIR’S RECOMMENDATION THAT THE BOARD OFFICIALLY OPPOSE PROPOSITION 98 AND TO REQUEST THAT THE CHAIR, AFTER TAKING INTO ACCOUNT THE SUGGESTED EDITS, ISSUE A PRESS RELEASE OR STATEMENT.  Voice vote.  Passed: 8-0-0-0.

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

Ministerial Waivers

Waiver No.     Property Address
3546                1112 Channing Way       
3550                1405 Fairview Street 
3558                1615 - 5th Street
3557                2217 California Street
3563                1635 Francisco Street 

Discretionary Waivers

Waiver No.     Property Address
3553                1817 Fairview Street
3554                1940 Francisco Street

M/S/C (Stephens/Overman) TO ACCEPT STAFF RECOMMENDATIONS ON ALL WAIVERS LISTED.  Voice vote.  Passed: 8-0-0-0.

(3) Recommendation to the Board of a process to be used in evaluating the Executive Director.   [PDF file, requires Adobe Acrobat Reader] Commissioner Overman, Chair of the Budget and Personnel Committee, explained that the Executive Director’s contract requires that the Board do a performance evaluation and that the committee would like the following process approved: 

To issue a survey to employees of the Rent Board Program who are represented by SEIU Local 1021, which would be voluntary and completely anonymous.  Staff will have a week to complete the survey and will be asked to return them to Commissioner Overman. They will be tabulated by the Budget Committee and then presented to the full Board.  The Board will also have available, at their request, copies of the “360” evaluations completed earlier in the year by staff members who are not in Local 1021 or unrepresented.  The Board will be asked to review the staff surveys and then complete a questionnaire with approximately 29 questions with a rating scale and with have an opportunity to write comments. 

The timeline will be:  Board questionnaires to be filled out and returned to Commissioner Overman by April 11th; a closed session will be held on April 21st, without the Executive Director present, to review the evaluations and discuss future contract provision; May 12th, prior to the regular board meeting, another closed session will be held with the Executive Director to go over the results of evaluations.

M/S/C (Overman/Blake) TO APPROVE THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR EVALUATION PROCESS AND TIME LINE RECOMMENDED BY THE BUDGET AND PERSONNEL COMMITTEE.  Voice vote.  Passed: 8-0-0-0.

8.    Information and Announcements

Please Note:  The Board may move Information Items
to the Action Calendar.

a. Reports from Board Members/Staff.

(1) Rent Board assistance to City of East Palo Alto. [PDF file, requires Adobe Acrobat Reader] The Executive Director announced that staff has agreed to evaluate the City of East Palo Alto’s Rent Board Program. The peer review is expected to take staff between 150 to 200 hours with a completion date of late April or May.  The Berkeley Rent Stabilization Program will be compensated in the area of $15,000, in order to capture the salary and benefits of the three hearing examiners primarily working on the project.    

(2) Mailing of Apparent Lawful Rent notices. [PDF file, requires Adobe Acrobat Reader] Sample copies were attached and self-explanatory.

(3) 2008 Annual Housing Conference April 28th – 30th. [Links to the Housing California web site.] Board Secretary asked Commissioners to contact her as soon as possible if they wish to attend.

(4) Rent Board counseling at Senior Centers begins March 17th.  The Executive Director said that the library counseling continues to be a success and that the first session at the North Berkeley Senior Center was very well received and that they will rotate from the various Berkeley senior centers in the future.

(5) Proposal before EDMUD Board to end water turnoffs when foreclosed lenders fail to pay the water bill. Commissioner Chong asked for support of Andy Katz of EBMUD in his efforts to stop water turnoffs when lenders fail to pay the water bill on foreclosed property in an attempt to make the units inhabitable and force tenants out.  M/S/C (Stephens/Overman) TO AUTHORIZE THE CHAIR TO WRITE A LETTER OR DO WHATEVER IS NECESSARY TO HELP ANDY KATZ MOVE HIS RECOMMENDATION FORWARD.  Voice vote: 8-0-0-0.

Chair and Board agreed that the Executive Director could add three more brief information and announcement items.

(1) Rental Housing Association in Northern Alameda.  Staff Attorney Matt Brown spoke before the Rental Housing Association in Northern Alameda County this past weekend, which we have done for the past several years.

(2) Form 700 reminder.  The Executive Director had Form 700’s with him and said that anyone who had not yet filled one out could do so and that he would deliver them to the City Clerk.

(3) The Condominium Conversion Ordinance.   Was scheduled to go to Council several weeks ago and the Executive Director and several others stayed late, but the item was continued to the next Council meeting.  Chair Arreguin added that staff is still working on revising the draft ordinance, and that he believes it will be distributed to the City Council and available for public review on Thursday, March 20th.
         
 b.  Announcements of upcoming Committee/Board Meetings.   The Chair was reminded and agreed to send out the preliminary 2008 committee list to Board members.  It was agreed that more committee meetings would be scheduled after the 2008 list is finalized.

(1) Budget and Personnel  - To be scheduled off line.

(2) Outreach – To schedule after list is finalized.

(3) IRA/AGA and Habitability – Tentatively scheduled for Monday, March 24th at 4 p.m.

(4) Eviction/Section 8 – To schedule after list is finalized.

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

(6) Ad Hoc Committee on Soft Story Ordinance – No meeting scheduled.

(7) Future Special Meetings – None

c.   Discussion of items for possible placement on future agenda.  Proposition 98 updates until the June election.

9.   Adjournment    M/S/C (Walden/Stephens)  Chair Arreguin adjourned at 8:51 p.m.