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Oakland’s “Just Cause”

George Azar
Saturday October 19, 2002

To The Editor: 


Given its critical impact on renters, the Daily Planet's Oakland readers may be interested to learn more about Oakland ballot initiative Measure EE, the “Just Cause” eviction ordinance. Frank Davis, Jr.’s letter (Forum, Oct. 14) assailing Measure EE contained egregious misinformation. Mr. Davis serves as president of a local property owner association. 

Measure EE, if passed, will extend to Oakland renters the same stability and security that Berkeley, San Francisco, Hayward, San Rafael and Los Angeles renters (among other California cities) have been afforded for at least a decade. Currently in Oakland, a landlord can post a 30-day eviction notice upon a tenant's door without citing a reason or cause for eviction. Measure EE simply stipulates that a reason be given for eviction, including non-payment of rent, material violation of a lease, unlawful activity, damage, public nuisance/danger and owner move-in among other reasons. This is a reasonable and fair expectation for Oakland renters, who comprise 65 percent of Oakland households. Measure EE exempts small landlords, including buildings that are owner -occupied or contain three units or less. Measure EE is endorsed by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, state Senator Don Perata, the Green Party of Alameda County and the AFL-CIO Alameda Central Labor Council. 

At one point in his letter, Mr. Davis claims that Berkeley's voter-approved 1980 “Just Cause” ordinance has been a “disaster,” causing citizens to move from Berkeley. In reality, a real estate industry-backed majority on Berkeley's Rent Stabilization Board – which controlled the rent board between 1990 and 1994 – caused unprecedented renter hardship and dislocation across Berkeley. During these years, the rent board passed rent increases totaling 45 percent across-the-board, the greatest rent hikes in city history. 

Until a majority of affordable housing proponents was elected to the rent board in a 1994, this was the real social and economic “disaster” at the time – a disaster many Berkeley renters are still recovering from. 


George Azar