Regular Meeting Minutes

Monday, April 21, 2008
7 PM


1. Roll Call – Chair Arreguin called the Closed session meeting to order at 6:16 PM Pam Wyche called roll.

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

Chair Arreguin called the regular meeting to order at 7:22 PM Pam Wyche called roll.
Commissioners present:  Blake, Calfee, Chong, Harrison, Stephens, Walden, Webster, Arreguin
Commissioners absent:   Overman

2.  Approval of Agenda M/S/C (Chong/Webster) APPROVED AFTER REMOVING ITEMS NUMBER 9.a.(2) AND WAIVER NUMBER 3556 FROM ITEM 8.2. Voice vote.  Passed: 8-0-0-1 Absent: Overman.

3. Closed Session pursuant to Government Code section 54957  - 6 PM
 Title:  Executive Director

  (Subdivision (c) of Section 54956.9 of the Government Code)
Threatened Litigation:  The Rent Board will discuss with its attorneys the threat of litigation by the Berkeley Property Owners Association, as set forth in the March 31, 2008 letter from its attorney Fred Feller, concerning a demand that the Rent Board take action to amend Regulation 704 to change the mandatory rate of interest paid on tenant security deposits. 

      Board took no action on either item.

4.   Special Order of Business

a. Acting City Clerk Dianna Despain gave the oath of office to newly appointed Board Commissioner, Corie Calfee.

b. Chair Arreguin introduced Commissioner Calfee. 

c. Comments by newly appointed Commissioner Calfee and other Boardmembers.   Chair and Commissioners welcomed Commissioner Calfee and said that they looked forward to working with her.  She thanked the Board and also staff for the informative orientation and said that she was ready to start work. 

5.  Public Forum – No speakers.

6.  Approval of March 17, 2008 regular meeting minutes.   M/S/C (Stephens/Webster) MOVED TO APPROVE.  Voice vote.  Passed: 7-0-1-1  Abstain: Calfee; Absent: Overman. 

7.  Appeal Time Certain – 7:15 p.m. 
a. Appeal T-4865, T-4866, T-4868 – 1619 Walnut Street.   M/S/C (Chong/Stephens) MOVE LEGAL STAFF RECOMMENDATION TO AFFIRM HEARING EXAMINER’S DECISION.  Roll call vote.  Yes: Blake, Calfee, Chong, Harrison, Stephens, Webster, Arreguin; No: Walden; Abstain: None; Absent: Overman.  Passed: 7-1-0-1.

8.    Action Items

a. From Board Members, Executive Director and Committees
(1) Committee assignments for 2008.  Chair Arreguin handed out the final committee assignments and asked board members to contact him if they are interested in becoming a committee alternate or if they have questions or concerns about any of the appointments. 

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

  Ministerial Waivers

  Waiver No.    Property Address 
   3559              1620 Harmon Street              
   3567              1531 Fairview Street  
   3568               2311 Piedmont Avenue
   3573              199 Forest Lane

           Discretionary Waivers

Waiver No. Property Address
  3541           1529 Tyler Street
  3556           2206 10h Street
  3562           2215 Bonar Street  
  3564           836 Channing Way
  3565          1526 Arch Street
  3566          1320 66th Street/3205 Idaho Street
  3571          1235 Channing Way
  3572          2405 Byron Street

Commissioner Harrison pulled 3541 and Commissioner Stephens pulled 3552.  Waiver 3556 was removed earlier by Commissioner Chong.

M/S/C (Blake/Harrison)  ACCEPT STAFF RECOMMENDATIONS ON ALL WAIVERS EXCLUDING 3541, 3552 AND 3556.  Voice vote.  Passed: 8-0-0-1  Absent: Overman.

M/S (Stephens/Harrison) TO WAIVE 75% OF THE PENALTY ON WAIVER 3541.  Roll call vote.  Yes: Harrison, Stephens, Walden, Arreguin; No: Blake, Calfee, Chong, Webster; Abstain: None; Absent: Overman.  Motion Failed: 4-4-0-1.

M/S/C (Chong/Blake) ACCEPT STAFF RECOMMENDATION ON WAIVER 3541 TO WAIVE 100% OF THE PENALTY.  Roll call vote.  Yes: Blake, Calfee, Chong, Walden, Webster; No: Harrison, Stephens, Arreguin; Abstain: None; Absent: Overman.  Passed: 5-3-0-1.

M/S/C (Chong/Stephens)  ACCEPT STAFF RECOMMENDATION ON WAIVER 3552.  Voice vote.  Passed: 8-0-0-1  Absent: Overman.

 9.    Information and Announcements
a. Reports from Board Members/Staff.

(1) Bus ads for outreach. The Executive Director said that the ads are up at various bus shelters throughout the city and that the new ad campaign is trying to bring faces of just a few of the individuals who have expressed gratitude for the services received within the last year or two and whose cases are now completely closed.  He said that several individuals volunteered to participate in the campaign.  One of the case studies is based upon an owner who wrote thanking staff for services he received and the others are based upon very long-term tenant cases who received assistance from counselors, all resulting in positive outcomes.   Several commissioners commended the Outreach Committee and staff for their good work.

(2) Status of discussions regarding possible modification of the method for determining the rate of interest to be paid for tenant security deposits.  Commissioner Chong removed item.

(3) Condominium Ordinance update.  The Executive Director informed the Board that the suggested changes reflected in the last Rent Board packet were adopted on first reading by council and are expected to be adopted on second reading.  Chair Arreguin added that council expressed an interest in coming back in September to discuss other policy issues such as fees and number of units, and he expects the Board to be part of the discussions and to provide recommendations on those issues.  It was decided that the Ad Hoc Committee on Condominium Ordinance be reestablished with the original members, Arreguin, Overman, Stephens and Walden. 

(4) Mid-year budget update.  The Executive Director continued the item to the next regular Board meeting and requested a Budget/Personnel committee meeting be scheduled within a week to review the mid year budget and to make a recommendation at the May board meeting about a registration fee and to discuss any changes needed in the 2008/2009 budget, which will be formally adopted in June.

(5) Update on EDMUD Board efforts to end water turnoffs when foreclosed lenders fail to pay the water bill and Rent Board’s support. Chair Arreguin, at the request of the Board, attended the EBMUD Board meeting last month and expressed the Rent Board’s support of the proposal to end water turnoffs. EBMUD Board adopted some of the policies in the proposal, but not all.  They expressed their commitment to ensuring that water shut-offs be prevented and wanted to come back in May to look at the issue of whether the board could impose a lien policy or not.  Chair Arreguin will attend EBMUD’s next meeting in May to express the Rent Board’s support for the lien option and to encourage them to follow through with the next step of the proposal.

(6) Median Report for the period January 1999 to March 2008. Executive Director said item attached to the agenda is self-explanatory.

(7) Assembly Bill AB 2586, how tenants are affected by foreclosures.  The Executive Director said that Christine Minnehan previously informed the Board that the Western Center on Law and Poverty is working on this legislation and that it will provide increased protection statewide for tenants in foreclosed buildings.  The bill has made it through the Assembly Judiciary and Assembly Utilities Committees and will now go to the Senate. 

(8) Copy of April 13, 2008, New York Times article, Even Renters Aren’t Safe.  Executive Director said item attached to the agenda is self-explanatory.

(9) Copy of letter to City Council from Berkeley resident, Nasira S. Abdul-Aleem, regarding allocation of Community Development Block Grant funds.  Executive Director said item attached to the agenda is self-explanatory.
     b.     Announcements of upcoming Committee/Board Meetings.

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

(2) Outreach – To be scheduled off line.

(3) IRA/AGA and Habitability - Committee met today - next meeting May 5th at 4 p.m.

a.  Unapproved minutes of April 7th meeting.
b.  Agenda of April 21st.

(4) Eviction/Section 8 – To be scheduled off line.

(5) 4x4 City Council/RSB Housing Committee – No meeting at this time.

(6) Ad Hoc Committee on Soft Story Ordinance.  No meeting at this time.
Board moved a two-minute break to establish a date to meet in closed session to finalize the Executive Director’s evaluation.

(7) Future Special Meetings – Closed Session on May 19th from 6 to 9 p.m. at 2125 Milvia Street. 

 c.     Discussion of items for possible placement on future agenda.  Budget report update requested by Commissioner Chong.

10.   Adjournment   M/S/C (Stephens/Webster) Chair Arreguin adjourned at 9:02 PM.