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Rent Stabilization Board
Rent Stabilization Board

Regular Meeting

 Thursday, January 16, 2020
    7:00 p.m. 

Berkeley Unified School District Board Room 
1231 Addison Street 
Broadcast Live – KPFB – 89.3 
(N. Berkeley) and BTV Cable Channel 33

 Video Archive (4:06)



 Many of the links below lead to PDF files that require Adobe Acrobat Reader to be installed on your computer. 
You can download Acrobat Reader for free

*Times allotted for each item are approximate and may be changed at the Board’s discretion during the course of this meeting.

1. Roll call – 1 min.*

2. Approval of Agenda – 2 min.*

3. Public Forum – 3 min. allotted per speaker*

4. CONSENT ITEMS – 1 min.*

6. APPEAL – 8:00 p.m.** Case No. RWN-1645 (1326 Oxford Street)
** This appeal will not be heard before 8:00 p.m. but may be heard any time thereafter.

Landlord appeals a hearing examiner decision that found that the subject property is not an owner-occupied duplex and should be registered with the Rent Board accordingly. On appeal, the landlord disputes the hearing examiner’s factual findings, and argues that the property is a duplex and should be exempt despite the fact that the cottage cannot lawfully be used as a dwelling. A review of the record reveals that the decision turns on a threshold question of the legality of the cottage, which is undisputed. The appeal does not call the legal status of the cottage into question, so legal staff recommends that the hearing examiner’s decision be upheld.

7. APPEAL – 8:30 p.m.** Case No. IRD-145 (1921 Delaware St, #5) – Decision on Remand
** This appeal will not be heard before 8:30 p.m. but may be heard any time thereafter.

Landlord Petitioner appeals a hearing examiner decision on remand that found that the tenant permanently resided in Berkeley, and therefore the landlord is not entitled to a Costa Hawkins rent adjustment. After the original decision was appealed, the Board remanded the case to the hearing examiner “to determine whether good cause exist[ed] to consider the facts, evidence, and testimony in the Respondent’s [Tenant’s] Brief in Opposition to Legal Staff’s Recommendation on Appeal . . .” On remand, the hearing examiner determined that the tenant was not allowed to introduce new evidence and testimony that he and his representatives had attempted to offer when the case was initially appealed. As such, the hearing examiner determined that the original decision would stand as it was previously written.

The landlord claimed in the petition and at the hearing that the tenant has not resided in Berkeley since marrying in 2009, and he permanently resides at his wife’s home in Richmond. The tenant concedes that he eats dinner, sleeps, and eats breakfast in Richmond, but argues that his daily activities are conducted in Berkeley. The hearing examiner ruled that the tenant continues to permanently reside in the subject rental unit. On appeal, the landlord argues that the decision is not supported by the facts and evidence because the evidence was unreliable and the findings of fact do not support the legal conclusion that “the tenant continues to actually occupy the unit” or any other legal standard for residency.

A review of the record establishes that the factual basis of hearing examiner’s decision is supported by substantial evidence, and any doubt as to the relative weight of the evidence should be resolved by deference to the hearing examiner’s judgment as to credibility and persuasiveness of the witnesses and exhibits. However, Appellant is correct that the decision fails to properly apply the legal standard of residency to the factual findings rendered in the decision. Rent Board precedent in two prior appeals with similar facts requires more than mere intent to reserve the unit for non-residential use, or as a contingency for future residential use. The life activities identified by the hearing examiner are insufficient to establish residency in a way that is consistent with prior Rent Board appeal decisions. For this reason, legal staff recommends that the decision of the hearing examiner be reversed.

a. From Board Members, Executive Director and Committees
(1) Recommendation that the Board oppose the current version of Senate Bill 50 [Weiner] (Chair Laverde, Commissioner Poblet & Vice-Chair Simon-Weisberg) – 15 min.* Distributed at the meeting


Please Note: The Board may move Information Items to the Action Calendar.
a. Reports from Board Members/Staff

(2) Update on recent and upcoming Rent Board outreach events – Verbal (Executive Director) – 3 min.*

(3) January 9, 2020 City of Berkeley press release titled, “NEW AFFORDABLE HOMES FOR SALE IN BERKELEY! APPLY NOW!” (Executive Director) – 1 min.*
(4) December 20, 2019 article by Emily DeRuy titled, “Here’s how much rent has gone up in the Bay Area since 2010” (Executive Director) – 1 min.*
(5) December 26, 2019 The New York Times opinion piece by Mara Gay titled, “Evictions Are Down in New York. Thank the Voters.” (Executive Director) – 1 min.*
(6) January 4, 2020 San Francisco Chronicle article by Kathleen Pender titled, “What landlords and tenants need to know about California’s new rent-control law” (Chair Laverde) – 1 min.* 
(7) Report back on City Manager's Information Session on the Strategic Plan (Vice Chair Simon-Weisberg) - 5 Min.*
a. Budget and Personnel – 3 min.*
b. Eviction/Section 8/Foreclosure – 3 min.*
c. Habitable & Sustainable Housing (HASH) – 3 min.*
d. IRA, AGA and Registration – 3 min.*
e. Outreach – 3 min.*
f. 4 x 4 Joint Committee on Housing: City Council/Rent Board – 5 min.*
g. Ad Hoc Committee on Technology Issues – 3 min.*
h. Updates and Announcements regarding future Special Meetings – 3 min.*
i. Discussion of items for possible placement on future agenda – 3 min.* 


CLOSED SESSION: Pursuant to California Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(1), the Board will convene in closed session for an update on litigation:

Marowitz v. Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, et al. (Alameda County Superior Court Case RG19042977)
NCR Properties v. City of Berkeley, et al. (Alameda County Superior Court Case RG19024268)
Berkeley Rental Housing Coalition v. City of Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board (Alameda County Superior Court Case RG19018001)
Nanak Foundation Trust v. City of Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board (Alameda County Superior Court Case RG19047960)
S. K. Ghoshal, et al. v. City of Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board (Alameda County Superior Court Case RG19038051)

This meeting is being held in a wheelchair-accessible location. To request disability-related accommodation(s) to participate in the meeting, including auxiliary aids or services, please contact Aimee Mueller at 981-4932 or 981-6903 (TDD) at least three business days before the meeting date. Please refrain from wearing scented products to this meeting.

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Rent Stabilization Board, 2125 Milvia Street, Berkeley, CA 94704
Questions or comments? Email: Phone: (510) 981-7368
(510) 981-CITY/2489 or 311 from any landline in Berkeley
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