Mayor: RPA members who pushed for rent control are ‘unlicensed, unregistered’ landlords

Mayor: RPA members who pushed for rent control are 'unlicensed, unregistered' landlords
Richmond Progressive Alliance Headquarters at 2540 Macdonald Ave. (Photo credit: Mike Kinney)

Two members of the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) who helped push for the city’s hotly-contested rent control ordinance — with the aim of preventing landlords from profiting at the expense of low-income tenants and the city – have been accused by the mayor of ignoring the law they helped create.

In a statement that has created a firestorm on social media among those tapped into local politics, Richmond Mayor Tom Butt revealed that married couple Eli Moore and Claudia Jimenez, who are influential political operatives for the RPA, are also unlicensed, unregistered landlords in Richmond.

“When Jimenez and Moore became landlords themselves in July of 2017, renting out two residential units, they failed to take out a business license, failed to register their units for both safety inspections and rent control,” Butt wrote on his popular e-forum newsletter over the weekend. “Public records indicate that at least one of the units was constructed without a building permit, and they are not paying property taxes on it. Jimenez and Moore were flying under the radar, fully dodging Richmond regulation, taxes and fees.”

In emails and Facebook posts, Jimenez and Moore acknowledged they are renting out their house and have not registered with the city since moving to Colombia in July, as required by law.

“We rent out our house to a beautiful family we are friends with, and another friend,” the couple said in one email response, adding, “We have nothing to hide. We are looking into whether there are some forms we need to file.”

The RPA touts establishing renters’ protections as one of the group’s most significant political victories. Both Moore and Jimenez played a significant role in helping pass Richmond rent control ordinance, Mayor Butt noted.

A program manager for the Hass Institute, Moore “was a primary author of several studies about Richmond…that served as manifestos on which rent control was based…,” according to the mayor.

Meanwhile, Jimenez is an RPA steering committee member who, along with former mayor Gayle McLaughlin, signed a notice of intent to circulate a petition for the rent control initiative.

That initiative, Measure L — which in part places a limit on annual rent increases for about 10,000 units in the city and requires landlords to have a “just cause” when evicting tenants — subsequently passed in the November 2016 election.

Supporters and members of the RPA, who have participated in protests in front of homes of landlords the group has deemed as unfair to tenants, says Mayor Butt’s outing of Moore and Jimenez is nothing more than a political witch hunt. Moore and Jimenez were particularly incensed that the mayor sent an email to Moore’s employer asking if they were aware of the alleged licensing violations.

In one of several e-forum newsletter reports on the issue, Butt said the couple was “ratted out” as unlicensed landlords by supporters of the Richmond ferry, which were not pleased with statements Moore made about the project in a recent Richmond Confidential article.   

“Why is this important?” the mayor said. “Two RPA members [McLaughlin and Jovanka Beckles]  are campaigning for state office, touting the ‘Richmond miracle’ that they want to spread statewide. The so-called ‘Richmond miracle’ has a side they aren’t talking about. It includes ordinances that are so poorly drafted they cannot be interpreted or applied, and it includes leaders of the RPA who hold themselves above the law.”


  1. The RPA doesn’t like to be treated the same way they treat others. Moore, Jimenez and their cadre of apologists are whining and crying about what an awful thing the Mayor has done, informing the public about their law breaking and hypocrisy. Even chief hypocrite at RPA Zak Wear has chimed in making lames excuses for the pair. Yes, the very same Zak Wear who terrorized Oscar Garcia’s elderly aunt with a public shaming tactic himself. Apparently his arrogance still prevents him from owning up to the hypocrisy in his words and actions.
    What a shame. One would think that the RPA would sit down and take a long hard look at itself and ask why they are alienating so many people who basically agree with them on so many issues and should be their allies. It’s a bigger problem than just here in Richmond. Recently many of us received an e-mail from the Sanders Institute called “The Importance of Civil Discourse” by James Zogby. Clearly Zogby and I would suggest Sanders himself as well have noticed this type of behavior among their flock and are concerned about it. Zogby gives the example below, one which we can easily imagine the RPA doing themselves, as one not to be proud of:

    “This past week, we saw yet another display of a lack of civility and the damage it can do to advancing an important policy debate. When protesters disrupted a press conference House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, had convened to highlight the plight of young undocumented immigrants—the “Dreamers”—the tactics used by the demonstrators did more harm than good.”

    This should be a wake up call for the RPA to get over their arrogance and stop making excuses for the poor behavior of some of their members. Stop taking credit for things that they didn’t really do. Open up your Facebook page to all voices, not just those that agree with you. Think about that. You are against Trumps wall, what about your own wall? Open yourselves up to compromise with those that do not see completely eye to eye with you. That’s what politics are all about in a country that allows freedom of thought.

  2. oh come on, rules and laws are for people who AREN’T politically connected. Everyone knows that. Even backwater towns with regionally insignificant political players like the RPA or Butt can be considered “political connections” within the area of their influence, ie; Richmond.

    The sham of the guise of “helping the little guy” is just a way to manipulate people into helping RPA or any other political gang gain power and influence for personal gain. That’s what makes them so hate-able.

  3. An excerpt from Betty Reid Soskins wonderful letter to the Mayor and City Council in support of the annexation of North Richmond. You can read it in full at the Mayors e-forum.

    “there were many occasions over several years, that placed me in North Richmond attending meetings of the MAC in a variety of settings with members of that small and troubled community where the social workers, case managers, service providers, police representatives, those from non-profits and county staff often out-numbered the service recipients present in the room. It was hard to not conclude that North Richmond was operating more as a jobs program for white professionals than designed to meet the needs of the low income mostly black folks the services were created to provide.”

    That certainly sounds a lot like a certain extremist organization we are all familiar with.