Community workshops to discuss Richmond’s future housing policies, including renters’ rights

RPD's summer crime prevention fair Saturday offers food, fun and signatures for fix-it tickets

As the debate over access to affordable housing in Richmond continues, the city is set to hold two community workshops this month to discuss and help shape the city’s future housing policies, including the grounds on which a landlord can justifiably evict a tenant.

The first public workshop will take place Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Richmond City Council Chambers, 440 Civic Center Plaza. The second workshop is Tuesday, April 14, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Bermuda Room, 403 Civic Center Plaza.

On Feb. 17, Richmond council directed city staff to draft an ordinance that specifies when a landlord has “just cause” to evict a tenant.

In addition, the city is currently working on updating the housing element of Richmond’s General Plan, which is required by state law and sets parameters for future private development in the city.

The housing policy discussion comes in the wake of a UC Berkeley Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society study that found that Richmond residents are becoming priced out. About 37-percent of all Richmond renters earn less than $35,000 annually and spend more than 30-percent of their income on housing, the report indicated.

A public battle is currently being waged between low-income tenants of two buildings on Bissell Avenue and their landlord, who recently moved to increase their rents by up to 20-percent.

Some affordable housing advocates believe rent control should be implemented in Richmond, saying low-income renters are increasingly vulnerable in the gentrifying city.  Others, including Mayor Tom Butt, are against rent control, saying it hasn’t worked in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley.

“We cannot regulate ourselves out of an affordable housing crunch; we have to build our way out of it,” Butt has said.

Exactly how to build new housing units in Richmond is another controversial subject. Proposals for new housing developments have come under scrutiny over a multitude of issues such as their height limit and traffic impact, including the planned 155-unit, five-story affordable housing project at 5620 Central Ave.

Help the city craft its goals, policies and programs at these important community workshops. The city asks those who plan to attend to RSVP here.  For more information on what will be discussed during the workshops, go here.