Oakland emergency rent hike standstill-compressed Photo: Michele Ursino

On Wednesday, April 6th, Oakland City Council members unanimously approved an emergency 90-day moratorium on residential rent hikes above 1 percent, as well as evictions without cause. It also temporarily closed a loophole that allowed landlords to increase rent if improvements to the property were made.

Sixty percent of Oakland resident are, in fact, tenants and over the last year alone rent for a one-bedroom has increased by 12 percent.

Hundreds of people showed up to the meeting to voice their opinions, spilling into six overflow rooms.

“We are tearing our community apart,” James Van, a representative of Post Salon Community Assembly said at the City Council meeting. “We came up with the request for a moratorium to say, ‘Stop! Pause! Take a breather. Let’s stop this madness for awhile so the council can have time to think.’”

However, the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act instituted in 1995 — a California state law that enacts a policy known as vacancy decontrol — exempts about 40 percent of Oakland’s rentals from the moratorium. Vacancy decontrol clears the way for owners in rent controlled communities to establish initial rental rates when there is a change in occupancy. Those exempt include newer rentals built after February 1st, 1995.

With the 90 day moratorium in mind, the overhanging goal is to give Oakland’s City Council a chance to create a more long-term and sustainable solution against the displacement of Oakland’s residents. It’s a chance to stop, pause, and take a breather.

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