Rents blog: An introduction

Rents blog: An introduction

Michele Ellson

Rising rents are becoming a hot topic around town, and it's no mystery why: More than half of Alameda's homes are rentals, and nearly half of Island residents rent. As people flee rising rents in San Francisco for the comparatively cheaper East Bay and apartment building and rental home owners take advantage of a hot real estate market, some renters are saying they're experiencing big rent increases or losing their housing altogether - and more are experiencing fears that their housing situation isn't secure. But the scope of the problem posed by rising rents is unknown, and the solution, unclear.

We're starting this blog in an effort to answer your questions about the trajectory of rent costs in Alameda and the number of people whose housing may be impacted by them. We want to talk about what rules are already in place to protect both renters and property owners and how those are working, and also, and how are other cities handling these issues.

Last week we asked readers what they would like to know about rising rents and solutions to addressing the problems they may cause, and we've reproduced your responses below (click the comment bubble on our Facebook post to link to readers' comments there). We're happy to have your input too, so feel free to tell us what you'd like to know and what would help you understand the issue better, in the comment section below.

We're also happy to have your assistance. If you've got data to share or the ability to crunch it, let us know.

We're also interested in renters' stories, so please feel free to share yours by e-mailing me at And stay tuned for our first official post, next week.


Submitted by Anne Buckley (not verified) on Wed, Oct 1, 2014

I just want to say 'Thank you' Michelle, and the Alamedan for bringing this important topic to light!

Submitted by New Islander (not verified) on Wed, Oct 1, 2014

For every renter who is being pushed out by rising rents, a new renter is taking their place. Why is their a motivation to protect an existing renter at the cost of the new renter? Is one better than the other? While the existing renter may have contributed to the community, who is to say the new renter will not as well?

Alameda is a wonderful place to live. The word is out. We moved here from SF when we were looking for a place to start our family. And we love it! We are a young family and I recommend to all of my friends who are thinking of having kids/have kids/want to settle down to check out Alameda. And nearly everyone who does check it out loves it as well.

So that leads to this question: Are we to protect those who are not willing to pay the cost of living here at the price of those who are willing to pay for that privilege? With the exception of, perhaps, the elderly and disabled, I say no.

Submitted by Not rich islander (not verified) on Wed, Oct 1, 2014

To New Islander-- not willing to pay the cost of living here is very different from not able to pay the cost of living here. I guess you want to raise your kids in an economically homogeneous area. I guess you don't value diversity. And I guess, according to you, my family and I, regardless of our contributions to this community, don't deserve to live here because we don't make as much money as you do.

Submitted by Diana (not verified) on Wed, Oct 1, 2014

I agree with "not rich islander" . Thank you for the classy rebuttal. On another topic, what I would like to know is, -is it legal for a landlord to raise the rent as much as they want?,,, and thank you Michelle.

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Thu, Oct 2, 2014

Hey folks: I just wanted to post a reminder that we don't really do name calling here and that my goal in posting this is to get people the answers they need on the phenomenon of rising rents and the availability and efficacy of solutions that have been proposed. I did include the two anonymous comments (with an edit) to acknowledge the differing points of view around what is absolutely a hot button topic and because I think the latter comment specifically demonstrates the very real frustration and fear around rents right now. But ultimately I'm hoping to provide the information you all need to engage in a productive discussion. And Diana, I wanted to let you know that you keyed into what I am hoping will be my first actual piece on the blog: What are the rules around rents in Alameda. So thank you all, and stay tuned.

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Thu, Oct 2, 2014

P.S.: Forgot to add that anyone who wants to be involved with the community-based process exploring rents issues, which the City Council signed off on 9/16, can e-mail Jeff Cambra at

Submitted by Juanitta (not verified) on Fri, Oct 10, 2014

I have been a renter (too poor to buy), a homeowner (once I was able to make and handle money) and a homeowner with roommates (as building upkeep is quite expensive). I was a terrific tenant and a good "landlord " and had many wonderful roommates. I have to say that in all the years I lived with people, not one of them knew how to recycle! I spent numerous times sorting through the garbage to do my part at helping the planet. There were also the not so wonderful roommates: holes in the wall, bringing in vermin, leaving trash behind, watering the bathroom floor, and being careless with utilities Who do you think is doing most of the dumping on our city streets? It takes motivation, responsibility and hard work to own a home. If I had it to do over, I would move as far away from renters and live among homeowners.

Submitted by kathryn hopping (not verified) on Thu, Oct 16, 2014

I appreciate Jim Meyer's list of things we need to know. I think facts, demographics, and analysis are essential to changing things in Alameda. I would really like to know who's buying the properties. Does anyone know how to find out? I've been on-line with city of alameda site, but can't find anything. I'm sure I'm looking in the wrong place.