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  More on RPA Riot at Richmond City Council Meeting
September 14, 2016

Following is Nat Bates’ version of the riot and bullying that occurred after the failed vote on a rent control moratorium at last night’s City Council meeting:

With respect to the incident that occurred during last night's council meeting between council members Vinay Pimple, Jovanka Brckles and myself, I wish to validate Pimple's assessment of what occurred. After the vote Beckles became highly agitated and lashed out at both Pimple and myself. When I ignored her, she directed her anger toward Pimple who was sitting quietly to my left. I stated to Beckles her comments were unnecessary several times to no avail as she repeatedly continued her attack. At one point someone held up a sign stating " Vinay is the pimple on Tom's Butt". Obviously, with Pimple being blind, Beckles was insistent upon making sure he knew what the sign stated. I have seen disagreements before between council members but this was one of the most insulting and disrespectful action I have ever witnessed.

This was the second time such an emergency item regarding eviction had been presented to the council by Council member McLaughlin.  The first time the votes were McLaughlin, Beckles, Martinez and Myrick voting yes and Butt, Bates and Pimple voting in opposition. What is surprising is the almost identical item was presented again by McLaughlin and her RPA+Myrick group while apparently knowing it was another losing situation because they needed six votes. It is apparent, the group used this opportunity to politicize for their Ballot Measure L in an attempt to embarrass Pimple and myself in the November election.  RPA strategy was to bully and intimidate council members to vote in support of their radical policies backfired because they found such tactics are ineffective with independent and strong minded council members. 

The City Council meeting had to be recessed for about a half hour so that rioters could disperse, but NBC Bay Area caught some of the action before it got worse, see video at

Following is additional media coverage of the event:

Seven Days

The Richmond City Council last night.
The Richmond City Council last night.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Richmond Rent Increase and Eviction Moratorium Blocked by Mayor Tom Butt and Two Councilmembers

By Darwin BondGraham

A proposed 45-day moratorium on rent increases and evictions to protect Richmond renters failed to pass last night after Mayor Tom Butt and councilmembers Nathaniel Bates and Vinay Pimplé voted against it. The emergency law required a supermajority vote, at least six of the seven councilmembers and mayor, to pass.

Similar moratoriums have been implemented in Oakland and Alameda to slow the displacement of low-income tenants due to drastically rising rents.

Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin, the sponsor of the moratorium, said it was necessary to stem evictions in advance of the November elections when Richmond voters will decide whether or not to enact permanent rent control and just cause eviction protections.

Multiple tenants told the council last night that their landlords seem to be preemptively evicting them before the November vote so as to be able to raise rents to the maximum amount, even if the new renter protections are approved.

"I question the motives of why they're putting us out right before the ballot," said Vincent Justin, a Richmond renter who told the council he was recently served with an eviction notice and hasn't been able to find a new apartment he can afford.

"Please implement this urgent moratorium to give us a little more time," pleaded Sharon Brown, a 65 year-old renter, who said she moved from Oakland a few years ago because it became unaffordable. In Richmond, she found a church to join and started feeling like the city was her home, but she was recently served by her landlord with a 60-day notice to move out for no cause.

Jill Broadhurst, director of the East Bay Rental Housing Association, a landlord's group, said that if Richmond passes rent control many landlords might not be able to afford simple upgrades like patching a roof. As a result, the city's housing stock will decline in quality, she claimed.

"Anecdotes, while compelling, do not constitute an emergency," Broadhurst said in response to the testimony of dozen-plus tenants like Brown and Justin who told the council about their recent evictions.

Just before the vote, Mayor Tom Butt objected to the moratorium and said that rent control was like "throwing water on a grease fire."

"It's a supply and demand problem," said Butt, who also accused several members of the city council of blocking housing construction.

"Rent control will slow down gentrification," countered McLaughlin.

Councilmember Jael Myrick pointed out that both Alameda and Oakland have passed similar moratoriums. "This is not a radical thing," he said.

But when the vote came, Butt, Bates, and Pimplé refused to change their long-standing positions against rent control and eviction protections.

Bates even called the moratorium a "charade," accusing his fellow councilmembers and tenants of "interrupting the tranquility of the city" by continuing to press for renter protections after several previous failed efforts.

One member of the audience shouted back at Bates, "this is a democracy, you clown!"

The meeting ended with dozens of Richmond residents chanting "shame" after the vote as Butt, Bates, and Pimplé exited the room.

Councilmember Jovanka Beckles called her three colleagues "disgusting."

Correction: the original version of this story erroneously stated that there are nine Richmond city councilmembers. There are in fact six and the mayor.

Richmond Confidential: Richmond City Council votes ‘no’ on eviction, rent increases moratorium

Richmond community members prepare to enter the City Council Chambers for Tuesday's special meeting. Photo by Abner Hauge.

Richmond community members gathered for a press conference at Civic Center Plaza before Tuesday's special meeting to show their support for an urgency ordinance that would have implemented a 45-day ban on certain evictions and high rent increases. Photo by Abner Hauge.

Creekview Apartments tenant Vincent Justin addresses the assembled crowd. Photo by Abner Hauge.

Richmond community members gathered for a press conference at Civic Center Plaza before Tuesday's special meeting to show their support for an urgency ordinance that would have implemented a 45-day ban on certain evictions and high rent increases. Photo by Abner Hauge.

Richmond community members prepare to enter the City Council Chambers for Tuesday's special meeting. Photo by Abner Hauge.
Richmond community members prepare to enter the City Council Chambers for Tuesday's special meeting. Photo by Abner Hauge.

By Catherine SchuknechtPosted September 14, 2016 9:07 am

At a special meeting on Tuesday, City Council voted not to pass an urgency ordinance that would have implemented a 45-day ban on certain evictions and high rent increases.

Mayor Tom Butt and Councilmembers Nathaniel Bates and Vinay Pimple voted ‘no’ on the moratorium, which required six out of seven votes to pass. The decision came after the council voted 4-3 to overturn Butt’s ruling that the urgency ordinance violated Rosenberg’s Rules of Order, which govern parliamentary procedures in California.

According to Butt, the urgency ordinance was simply a replica—or a “motion to reconsider”—of a moratorium on evictions that Councilmember Jael Myrick failed to pass earlier this year. The Rules of Order state that a “motion to reconsider” must be made on the same day as the original motion, and cannot be made only by a member of the council who voted in the minority of the original motion.

The council’s final decision was met with chants of “shame on you” from the assembled crowd. One attendee received two warnings from the mayor for her conduct. Councilmember Jovanka Beckles, who supported Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin’s motion to place the ordinance on the council’s agenda, echoed the crowd’s condemnations.

“Shame on you, Nat; shame on you, Vinay; shame on you, Tom,” said Beckles after the mayor adjourned the meeting.

The meeting was preceded by a press conference held at Civic Center Plaza on the steps outside the City Council Chambers, where over 35 Richmond renters gathered to show support for the moratorium.

Many of them were also among the 42 people who signed up to speak during the open forum for public comment. City council candidates Ben Choi and Melvin Willis were among those who spoke in favor of the moratorium.

At the end of the meeting, Bates said that supporters of the moratorium knew in advance that he, Pimple and Butt would oppose it. “What have we gained? Nothing,” he said.

The Richmond Standard: Councilmember’s blindness mocked in ‘ugly’ display by RPA

Sep 14, 2016

Richmond Councilmember Jovanka Beckles “screamed” in the face of blind colleague Vinay Pimple following a vote Tuesday, calling him “disgusting” and reciting to him a message on an insulting banner held by members of her group, the Richmond Progressive Alliance.

“[Beckles] added loudly and multiple times that she wanted to tell me about the things I couldn’t see,” Pimple said.

On Wednesday, Pimple spoke out about the ugly episode described in Mayor Tom Butt’s e-forum newsletter. It occurred after a proposed 45-day moratorium on rent increases and no-cause evictions failed to garner six votes (East Bay Times) from the seven-member council.

Pimple said Beckles screamed in his face while reciting the message on one of the RPA banners that stated: “Vinay is the Pimple on Tom’s Butt.”

“During this entire display, I sat quietly, not speaking a single word,” Pimple said.

Richmond Mayor Tom Butt said Wednesday it was the RPA’s special brand of political theater. While the RPA, which currently holds three seats on council, knew the rent moratorium measure would fail, as it has failed in the past, “the sole purpose” of including it as an agenda item was to launch a demonstration, Butt said.

The RPA also used the City Council forum to promote its preferred candidates for City Council. During the council meeting, the RPA featured interviews on social media with their candidates Ben Choi and Melvin Willis. With Pimple up for re-election, the RPA took to Facebook Wednesday to target attacks against the mild-mannered, soft-spoken councilmember.

“Both Pimple and Bates [who voted against the temporary moratorium on evictions until the electorate votes on the Measure L rent control ballot measure in November] are up for reelection,”‘ the RPA post stated, adding, “Shame on you.”

It wasn’t the first such display. In June, as part of its campaigning alongside tenants’ rights groups, the RPA was accused of unfairly branding an 82-year-old Hispanic woman as a greedy landlord and sending protesters to her home.

“Unfortunately, we have become used to the RPA turning council meetings into political theater,” Pimple said. “But yesterday marked a new low that I hope we don’t see again.”

Councilmember Nat Bates, who also reportedly endured Beckles’ close-encounter shouting, at one point said, “This isn’t necessary.”

The debate over rent control has been heating up with Measure L on the November ballot. The measure would implement rent control and just cause for eviction policies in Richmond administered by a new city rent board.

Advocates of rent control — which include the three RPA members on council, Gayle McLaughlin, Eduardo Martinez and Beckles — argue the policy is needed as the technology boom and housing shortage have led to increased rents. Without rent control, low-income residents are being displaced, they say. The policy is being considered in several other Bay Area cities.

Opponents of rent control — including Mayor Butt, Pimple and Bates — say the policy hasn’t been implemented by a jurisdiction in decades because it has proven not to work as intended. And they add that while the RPA appears to fight for affordable housing, its members on council have recently blocked two proposals for affordable housing projects.

While Richmond opponents of rent control agree something must be done to keep rents down, such as increasing housing supply, they point to research showing that a majority of economists believe rent control does not accomplish its intended goals.

NBC Bay Area: Richmond Leaders, Tenants Battle Over Rising Rents and Displacement

By Gillian Edevane
Trending Stories*368/Richmong+Rent+Control++copy.jpg
Gillian Edevane/NBC Bay Area

Tenants gather outside Civic Center Plaza in Richmond to protest recent evictions in low-income communities. (Sept. 13, 2016)

Despite hearing emotional pleas from residents on the brink of losing their homes, Richmond City Council on Tuesday opted not to pass an emergency 45-day ban on "no-cause" evictions and rent hikes.

Mayor Tom Butt and council members Nathaniel Bates and Vinay Pimple voted down the moratorium, which some tenants described as their last hope for staying in the Richmond community. The vote, which followed several hours of public comment, required a super majority of six out of seven in order to pass.

At times, the meeting devolved into a shouting match betweent tenants facing eviction and the city leaders who halted the moratorium. When it failed, a large group of people in attendance began chanting, "Shame on you!" while council members sruggled to be heard over the din.  

The mayor told the crowd of about 50 people that the issue is about supply and demand, stating that rent control would not fix the gentrification spreading throughout the working-class city of about 110,000. 

"I think it’s unfortunate that this whole discussion has been posed as a wedge issue," Butt told the incensed crowd. "Putting those who have compassion against those who don’t. It’s a lot more complicated than that."

Butt also called the situation a "manufactured crisis" orchestrated by the Richmond Progressive Alliance. "It's like throwing water on a grease fire," he said, unwavering from his long-held stance against rent control ordinances.  

But Sharon Brown, a 65-year-old woman who has been living in Richmond for six years, said her housing crisis feels anything but "manufactured." She and several others who attended the meeting are facing evictions at Creekview Condominiums, a roughly 200-unit complex on El Portal Drive.

Tenants say the property owner has given them 60 days to vacate so "major repairs" can begin on the building due to a serious mold infestation.  

Brown said she doesn’t have enough time to find alternative and affordable housing in the Bay Area, a region saturated with some of the nation's highest rents. 

"I started feeling like Richmond was my home,” Brown told the City Council, pointing out that she had joined a church and become a member of a close-knit community. "Please, just give us more time to find a place to stay. It’s not much."

Some tenants facing evictions at Creekview and other Richmond properties have alleged that recent evictions are a ploy to force them out, make repairs and improvements, and then hike rents past affordable levels.

Eric Hattrup, also a tenant at Creekview, fears that the complex’s owners are trying to evict tenants prior to Nov. 8, when Measure L, a rent control measure limiting rent hikes and no-cause evictions, will appear on the ballot before voters. Other Bay Area citie are also toying with similar measures, including Mountain View
and San Mateo.

"That’s absolutely what it is," Hattrup alleged. "It’s about money."

Hattrup has until Oct. 15 to leave his $1,600 a month, 2-bedroom apartment, which he shares with a roommate. He’s been unable to find affordable housing close to his two jobs in Berkeley and Albany, and worries he’ll soon end up living out of motels. 

On Wednesday, David Silver, a publicist who represents Creekview Condominiums, denied claims that the evictions are a front to raise rents. He told NBC Bay Area that the buildings must be torn down and reconstructed, and that the process would cost millions and take years to complete. 

"The owners brought in specialists — mold specialists, architectural and engineering firms, healthcare specialists — and they said, 'You have to take this building down. It’s toxic,'" he said. 

Silver also shot down claims that the evictions have anything to do with the upcoming rent control measure, calling the idea "financially insane." The process to fix the buildings, he said, has been in the works since late 2014, when they first discovered mold in one of the apartments. 

For people like Hattrup and Brown, however, the whys don’t matter much; their chief concern is finding a place to live in an area where low-income residents are seemingly being elbowed out.

An attorney from Bay Area Legal Aid said the organization has already helped 790 Richmond residents facing evictions so far this year, an increase from the 730 clients they helped in all of 2015. 

"We are seeing a huge increase in no-cause notices," said attorney Oraneet Shikmah Orevi. "We are seeing black and brown families evicted by the hundreds."

Orevi, who did not take a stance on the rent control ordinance, said she expects the group's Richmond-based clientele to increase by "about 65 percent" by the end of the year. 

As Tuesday's meeting came to a close, council members who voted in favor of the ordinance expressed weariness. Councilmember Jael Myrick compared Richmond to Berkeley and Oakland, both cities that passed similar ordinances after a large number of tenants faced displacement. 

"This is not a radical thing. This is not a (Richmond Progressive Alliance) thing. How come they can do it and we can’t?" he asked his colleagues. "Why in Richmond do we always have to dig our heels in and turn everything into a battle royale?" 

Gillian Edevane covers Contra Costa County for NBC Bay Area. Contact her at or (669) 263-2895. 

Source: Richmond Leaders, Tenants Battle Over Rising Rents and Displacement | NBC Bay Area
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