Nov 4, 2015

Rather than send the recently suspended rent control and just cause eviction ordinance to a costly election, Richmond City Council voted unanimously to officially repeal it Tuesday.

The vote ends a long-running and heated debate about an ordinance that polarized council and pitted Richmond’s renters against landlords.

In August, with support from the three Richmond Progressive Alliance members on council and powerful unions, a divided council passed the rent control and just cause eviction ordinance, arguing that spiking rents were pushing low-income residents out of the city.

The ordinance was opposed by Mayor Tom Butt and Councilmembers Nat Bates and Vinay Pimple, who referred to studies by economists showing rent control doesn’t work to keep rents down and thus hasn’t been adopted by another jurisdiction in decades. They also warned that rent control would discourage landlords from investing in improvements on their properties, contributing to further blight in Richmond.

In response to the policy, a petition to repeal the ordinance — backed by the also powerful California Apartment Association, which represents landlords — was launched and garnered more than enough signatures from residents.

Due to the petition, council on Tuesday was forced to decide whether to repeal the ordinance or to place it on an upcoming ballot for voters to decide, which would cost the cash-strapped city anywhere from $50,000 to $250,000 depending on the election cycle.

The council, which had moments earlier discussed Richmond’s ongoing financial problems in the wake of downgrades by two credit agencies, unanimously decided to kill the ordinance.

But that doesn’t mean the debate is over. Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin said her group is continuing efforts to protect renters.

In his e-forum Wednesday, Mayor Butt said he believes rent control advocates have a plan to introduce a new initiative that’s “even more draconian.”

“Advocates for rent control apparently believe they have a better chance of passing a rent control ballot measure that starts as an initiative than defending a ballot measure described as a repeal,” Butt said, adding that the previous ordinance was riddled with “legal and technical glitches.”

Butt predicts a petition drive for a new ballot measure “beginning sometime in the next few months.”

The usually large crowds that have gathered at council meetings to support rent control were not present at Tuesday’s meeting. Only two residents spoke about the ordinance during public comment, one for and the other against. Richmond resident Bea Roberson chided McLaughlin for pushing yet another bad policy and wasting council’s time despite the city’s more pressing issues.

“We are once again wasting time on discussing some cockamamie scheme that has been brought forward by Mrs. McLaughlin,” Roberson said. “She wanted us to do something regarding the Palestinian blockade, if you remember, with a four-hour discussion. She wanted us to break the law and apply eminent domain to underwater houses here and get sanctions applied to Richmond. That discussion lasted more than six hours and the housing market is now rebounding.”

The short-lived rent control ordinance had capped rents in Richmond to annual increases of no more than 100-percent of the Consumer Price Index for about 10,000 units in the city — excluding units in all single-family homes and units built after Feb. 1, 1995, among others. It also included a just cause for eviction portion that aimed to replace the current system where landlords only need to give notice, not a reason, for eviction.


  1. Hard to see how Richmond could become further blighted, but glad we don’t have to find out.

    Matt Barnes | Nov 4th, 2015
  2. […] Richmond council unanimously kills rent control ordinance (The Richmond Standard, Nov. 4) […]

    pingback CAA petition leads Richmond to rescind rent control | Nov 4th, 2015
  3. […] Richmond council unanimously kills rent control ordinance They also warned that rent control would discourage landlords from investing in improvements on their properties, contributing to further blight in Richmond. In response to the policy, a petition to repeal the ordinance — backed by the also powerful … Read more on Richmond Standard […]

    pingback PM's house to be rented out for wedding functions when PM travels out of Delhi - Farmissy | Nov 5th, 2015
  4. The RPA Councilmembers have already spoken with The Easy Bay Express to explain that they’re working on a stronger measure. See:

    Don Gosney | Nov 5th, 2015
  5. Please read the last article here where it says Richmond approves 193 new units! In the article it states the these PROPERTIES WILL BE AT “MARKET RATE” ! Also in the same article it says the developer will give the city OVER $2 Million dollars so they do not have to build so called “lower Income” units to help lower income people have a place to live? What hypocrisy from the City of Richmond! they want to tell property owners what they can charge for their units but for the city Of Richmond they want MARKET RATES and NO help for lower income people? They will however allow themselves to take over $2M for themselves to avoid having the developer produce low income housing. What a bunch of hypocrites. THEY want the MONEY but do not want to allow a private person or investor to make ant money! Why don’t they try to control the price of food or gasoline or clothing or medical costs? It is always the same isn’t it? We are the government and we know what is best for you. Give us your money and we will distribute it OUR way. However we as the City of Richmond are exempt from the rules we are trying to force on the people.

    Mike H | Nov 5th, 2015
  6. Richmond is being targeted by powerful global interests via “change agents” such as McLaughlin & Co. AKA the RPA and controversial police chief Magnus..
    The social fabric of this city will slowly change as these nefarious forces pick up steam and continue to force their evil agenda

    Marilynne L. Mellander | Nov 5th, 2015
  7. The Richmond City Councilors, at heart, as homeowners all, actually HATE long term working tenants and it wants them all to become homeless in their streets, that is the only reason to allow all long term working, community member tenants to be kicked out by unaffordable rents as is happening to each and every long term tenant unless they receive some kind of subsidy, in which case those might not become homeless as fast..

    plaidsportcoat | Nov 9th, 2015

About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.