Accused by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office of lying about where he lives in order to maintain his seat on the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, Rent Board Member Chris Kavanagh stepped down temporarily from his post, while he battles the question in court.
“He’s voluntarily stepping down,” Rent Board Executive Director Jay Kelekian told the Daily Planet on Tuesday. Kelekian said he had encouraged Kavanagh to do so on a temporary basis.
In a letter addressed to Rent Board Chair Jesse Arreguin, Kavanagh said that continuing to sit on the board had become “a distraction to the board and to the program and risk[s] impacting the critical work and mission of the Rent Stabilization Board.”
Kavanagh asked for the leave between Oct. 2 and the end of the year. “I will return to the board if the charges are resolved before the end of the year,” Kavanagh wrote in the letter, further asking for his $500 stipend to be held in escrow.
Grand theft was among the specific charges leveled by the district attorney, charging Kavanagh with illegally accepting the stipend and benefits accorded by the city.
Other charges, all felonies, include registering to vote where he is not eligible; voting where he is not eligible to vote; filing false nominating papers and perjury.
“I continue to believe that when all the facts are presented that I will be cleared of the charges and allowed to continue representing the citizens of Berkeley….,” Kavanagh wrote.
Kavanagh is scheduled to return to Alameda County Superior Court Oct. 26 to have a preliminary hearing date set.