In a significant development following a contentious administrative hearing, an Independent Hearing Officer has rendered a decision concerning the application of Alameda’s rent control regulations to 150 units of former naval housing in Alameda. According to a statement released by the City on Monday, the Hearing Officer’s ruling rejected the landlord’s argument that state law, specifically the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, prevents the City from imposing rent increase limitations on tenants living in the Admirals Cove Property.
The Admirals Cove Property contains refurbished townhomes situated on a 15-acre parcel of land situated between Alameda Landing and the Main Street Alameda Ferry Terminal. Consisting of 27 four- and six-unit buildings, these housing structures were originally constructed in 1969 to accommodate personnel stationed at the Naval Air Station Alameda, and their families. In 2017, the U.S. government auctioned off the property and its vacant buildings, and developer Carmel Partners of San Francisco was the winning bidder. The developer subsequently undertook renovations of the property and started leasing to tenants in October 2019.
Alameda Rent Program Director Bill Chapin said, “The Hearing Officer’s decision affirms what the Rent Program has maintained from the beginning and what courts have held in several cases since the passage of Costa-Hawkins. Namely, that the legislature intended the limits it placed on local rent control to apply to only newly constructed units that expand a city’s housing stock. The Admirals Cove Property apartments have been used to house members of the Alameda community as far back as the 1960s, and their current occupants are entitled to the full protections of the Rent Control Ordinance.”
Beginning in September 2019, Alameda’s Rent Control Ordinance instituted restrictions on annual rent increases, enforced through an annual cap known as the Annual General Adjustment (AGA). The AGA is calculated at 70% of the change in the Consumer Price Index, and as of September 1, 2023, stands at 2.9%.
“The City of Alameda’s Rent Control Ordinance is a centerpiece of the City’s strong policy of protecting and preserving affordable housing in our community,” stated Alameda City Attorney Yibin Shen. “The City Attorney’s Office, including the Rent Program, is committed to justly enforcing state and local housing laws and ensuring that Alameda remains a place that people from all backgrounds and income levels can call home.”
It is worth noting that while certain provisions of the Rent Control Ordinance, including registration requirements and limitations on “no fault” terminations of tenancy, apply to all rental units within the City of Alameda, the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act restricts local governments from applying AGA limits to specific housing units. These exceptions include units constructed after February 1995, and units that can be individually purchased, such as single-family homes and condominiums.
Residents of Admirals Cove, or any other rental property in Alameda who may have inquiries or concerns regarding rent increases they have received, can reach out to the Rent Program staff at 510-747-7520 or contact them via email at [email protected] for further information and assistance.