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Council Addresses Rent, Leasing Issues During Lively Meeting

Council amends Rent Control ordinance, discusses De-Pave Park Master Plan, Annual Reports, Faction Brewing lease, and delays Gold Bar Spirits lease

On March 19, City Council voted to amend Alameda’s Rent Ordinance, clarifying the City’s authority to enforce state rent control laws. The amendment will allow the City to enforce state limits on rent increases for properties built after 1995.

Alameda Post - a diagram of the Regulation of Rental Units in Alameda
Regulation of rental units in Alameda. Image presented at the March 19, 2024 City Council Meeting, Agenda #7-C, Presentation.

Council also voted to accept 2023 annual reports on housing, transportation, and climate action, approve the Master Plan design for De-Pave Park, and execute a second lease amendment with Faction Brewing for a three-month rent deferral and 12-month repayment plan.

In a surprise decision, Council voted to amend the lease with Gold Bar Spirits, which they had voted to approve on March 5. The amendment, which sets a six-foot maximum height requirement for outdoor operations, delays final lease approval.



City to enforce state rent law

Alameda’s Rent Control Ordinance generally provides better protection for tenants than state law. A landlord may not evict a tenant without just cause, such as not paying rent or criminal activity. State law does not provide such protection until 12 months after tenant move-in.

For “no-fault” evictions, such as owner move-in, the Ordinance requires landlords to provide more generous relocation payments than required by state law. For multifamily properties occupied before February 1, 1995, the Ordinance provides that a landlord may not increase rents by more than the Annual General Adjustment, with a floor of 1% and a ceiling of 5%.

Notably, while state law limits rent increases on multifamily properties built after 1995 and single-family residences owned by corporations, local law is precluded from doing so, due to the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. Under state law, landlords of such properties may not increase rent by more than 5% plus the percentage change in the cost of living, or 10%, whichever is lower. When such landlords have imposed illegal rent increases, tenants have had to file lawsuits to enforce their rights. Senate Bill (SB) 567, effective April 1, now provides for local enforcement of state law.

For just-cause evictions, SB 567 provides that state law supplants local law unless, among other provisions, the City’s Rent Ordinance has a written finding that local law is more protective than state law.

Consequently, the City Attorney and Rent Program Offices recommended that Council amend the Rent Ordinance by:

  • Adopting a written finding that the just cause provisions of the Rent Ordinance provide more protection than the state civil code.
  • Clarifying the City’s authority to enforce state rent control laws.
  • Rephrasing the definition of rental units to be consistent with state law.

Councilmember Tracy Jensen’s motion to amend the Ordinance as recommended passed 4 to 1, with Vice Mayor Tony Daysog voting against it.

Alameda Post - the outside of Faction Brewing and the indoors during a market
Left: Faction Brewing exterior. Right: Faction hosts an indoor market. Photos presented at the March 19, 2024 City Council Meeting, Agenda #7-B, Presentation.

Support for Faction Brewing

Base Reuse and Economic Development Department staff presented a proposed lease amendment with Faction Brewing to defer rent for three months, retroactive to February 2024, with a subsequent 12-month repayment schedule.

Faction requested the amendment to offset financial impacts due to last year’s significant wet weather, shorter-than-normal summer, and impacts from street infrastructure improvements. In addition, Faction had to make recent payments of property taxes, stormwater utility fees, and water quality and flood protection fees, all due concurrently.

Faction anticipates revenues increasing based on the City’s enhanced marketing of Spirits Alley, increased sales during warmer months, and Faction’s partnership with St. George’s Spirits on this summer’s Head West Marketplace.

Faction has tenanted Building 22 at Alameda Point since 2013. Since then, Faction has established itself as a well-known Bay Area brewery, with patrons from all over the region enjoying its beers and views of the San Francisco skyline. The company demonstrated a past ability to repay deferred rent when, in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted its ability to make rental payments and shortened its hours of operation. Faction repaid all deferred rent within the first 12 months of repayment.

Council generally expressed strong support for Faction, with Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft lauding the company’s hosting of community events, such as the Firefighter’s fundraiser for victims of the Maui fire and Home Electrification Fair. Vice Mayor Tony Daysog, however, wanted to take the opportunity to impose a height restriction on outdoor operations.

Faction Owner and Operations Manager Claudia Pamparana responded that the company had no plans to alter its outdoor operations which had not changed since Faction’s opening. Mayor Ashcraft objected to “throwing extra conditions at Faction as a quid pro quo.”

Councilmember Jensen’s motion to authorize the lease amendment, as recommended by staff without further restrictions, passed 4 to 1. Vice Mayor Daysog voted against it.

Alameda Post - 2505 Monarch Street, the building that Gold Bar Whisky will occupy
Gold Bar Whisky hopes to occupy 2505 Monarch Street, Building 22. Photo Maurice Ramirez.

Gold Bar lease delayed

As part of the Consent Calendar of items expected to pass without further discussion, staff proposed the final passage of an ordinance authorizing a lease for part of Building 22 with Gold Bar Spirits Company at 2505 Monarch Street.

As covered by the Post, Council debated the lease at its March 5 meeting and voted to approve it with a stipulation proposed by Vice Mayor Daysog that the enclosure of outdoor operations remain transparent and no higher than what currently exists.

Councilmember Trish Herrera Spencer pulled the item for further discussion, arguing that illustrations presented by staff at the March 5 meeting were inaccurate as to how much views would be blocked by Gold Bar’s outdoor operations and a desire to clarify whether there would be restrictions on the length or height of outdoor equipment.

Staff responded that items to be stored outdoors are specified in the lease, and Gold Bar President Elliott Gillespie indicated his intent to work through the use permit process lawfully and not have anything taller than six feet.

Five public speakers responded with concerns about the possibility of blocked views. Clarisse said she wanted views protected for everyone’s benefit, not just those who can pay to sit in the establishment.

Mayor Ashcraft responded that Gold Bar was not proposing to fence the driveway where a beautiful view is visible, and its storage of items by the side of the building would not materially impede that view. Further, lease revenues would go into the Base Reuse Fund to improve infrastructure and end blight in the area.

Vice Mayor Daysog motioned to add a phrase to the lease specifying that items stored outside be no higher than six feet. Staff noted that further amending the lease would delay approval for weeks, resulting in a vacant building becoming the City’s responsibility. In the meantime, Gold Bar is holding off securing equipment and filing for licenses and permits until the lease is approved.

Mayor Ashcraft called for a recess, allowing City Manager Jennifer Ott to call representatives of Gold Bar Spirits, who agreed to the lease change despite being greatly upset by the resulting delay.

Vice Mayor Daysog’s motion passed 4 to 1, with Councilmember Herrera Spencer voting against it. Mayor Ashcraft apologized to Gold Bar for the “shabby way you were treated.”  Daysog responded that each Councilmember has their perspective, and it wasn’t fair to call him shabby. The Mayor responded that Council had an agreement with him at the previous meeting, which all had relied on, and that is what she considered shabby.

Staff hopes to bring the newly amended lease to the next Council meeting for final approval.

Alameda Post - a map of Alameda Point indicating where De-Pave Park will be
De-Pave Park location. Image presented at the March 19, 2024 City Council Meeting, Agenda #7-E, Exhibit 1: De-Pave Park Master Plan.

Annual reports and De-Pave Park

In other decisions, Council:

  • Accepted the 2023 Annual Report (link downloads report) on the General Plan/Housing Element, the Climate Action and Resiliency Plan (CARP), and Transportation Plans. The Post previously reported on the Planning Board’s review of these plans.
  • Approved the Master Plan for De-Pave Park (link downloads plan) at Alameda Point. The design is a 21-acre ecological park including 14.3 acres of tidal wetlands and upland habitat, a wide pedestrian and bicycle promenade extending the length of the park, wildlife viewing overlooks and an educational gathering space, tide pools, a beach, picnic areas, parking lot and restroom, fishing areas, seating throughout, and nature play. In November, Council approved the removal of Buildings 25 and 29 to create four additional acres of habitat. The Post recently reported on oversight panel reviews of the Plan. The design team will now complete 30% design documents to apply for required regional permits.

Contributing writer Karin K. Jensen covers boards and commissions for the Alameda Post. Contact her via [email protected]. Her writing is collected at https://linktr.ee/karinkjensen and https://alamedapost.com/Karin-K-Jensen.

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