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Rent Board Member’s Residency in Question

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday July 31, 2007

Rent Stabilization Board Member Chris Kavanagh, a Green Party member first elected to the board in 2002, may not live in Berkeley, a requirement for all elected officials in Berkeley.  

The question was raised in a piece by Matier & Ross in Monday’s San Francisco Chronicle. It’s not the first time the question was asked. 

In late 2002 or 2003, the city attorney turned a question of Kavanagh’s residency over to the Alameda County District Attorney’s office, according to City Clerk Pamyla Means. It appears that the DA declined to file charges at the time. Neither the DA’s office nor Means could confirm that as a fact, however. 

Kavanagh did not return numerous calls for comment. 

At issue is a cottage at 338 63rd St., Oakland, for which Kavanagh signed a lease in 2001.  

H. Wayne Goodroe, an attorney working on behalf of new owners of the cottage and the house in front of it, says he is trying to evict Kavanagh from the property and provided the Daily Planet with a copy of the 2001 lease. He said Kavanagh is the only person named in the eviction proceedings for the cottage. A woman who answered the door at the cottage Monday afternoon said she had no comment.  

A review of Kavanagh’s voter registration filings shows him living at that Oakland address for a brief time when running for his first seat on the rent board, but not during the time he has been serving on the board. 

It appears that he was registered to vote in early 2002 at 2828 College Ave., then on May 10, 2002, moved his registration to the Oakland address. Following that, on Aug. 19, 2002 he moved his registration to 22 Tunnel Road in Berkeley. He was elected in November 2002 and took office Dec. 10.  

On Jan. 9, 2003, he moved his registration to the 2709 Dwight Way Apt. 16 address, where he has told fellow rent commissioners he now lives. 

“In light of today’s allegations, we will try to determine his residency,” Means told the Daily Planet on Monday.  

Glen Kohler, manager of the apartment building at 2709 Dwight Way, responded to the Planet’s inquiry, saying: “No, he doesn’t” live at that address. 

Questioned about how long the elected official had been “gone,” Kohler answered: “I don’t know if ‘gone’ is the correct word,” explaining he meant that during the two and one-half years that he had been managing the apartment, Kavanagh had, to his knowledge, never lived there. 

A postal worker delivering mail while the Daily Planet was at the Dwight Way apartment house said Kavanagh had previously received mail there, but hadn’t for more than a year and a half. 

The mailbox at apartment No. 16, where Kavanagh has said he lives, bears no name. 

Asked if he knows where Kavanagh lives, Rent Board Executive Director Jay Kelekian told the Daily Planet on Monday, “To my knowledge he resides in Berkeley.”  

Kelekian said that Kavanagh had informed the rent board of a change of address to 2705 Webster one time, but had informed Kelekian that address is actually a box at the Elmwood Post Office and that he continued to live at the Dwight Way apartment. 

Kelekian said Kavanagh picks up his rent board materials at the rent board office. 

If it is determined that Kavanagh doesn’t meet the residency requirements of the City Charter, Kelekian said he thinks the rent board would agree that he should step down.  

Determining residency is not the rent board’s call, he said, explaining it is up to the city clerk’s office to investigate. 

Rent Board Chair Jesse Arreguin said he is aware that this is not the first time the question has been raised. Reporting a conversation with Kavanagh on the topic, Arreguin said, “He assured us that he rents an apartment in Berkeley and stays with his girlfriend in Oakland.” 

Apparently the question of Kavanagh’s residence has not come before the city’s Fair Campaign Practices Commission. “It’s never been drawn to our attention,” said Eric Weaver, FCPC chair. 

“We looked at the fact that he is the most chronic late filer,” Weaver added.