When disputes between landlords and tenants erupt, involved parties go before the Rent Stabilization Board for adjudication. And when that happens, commissioners and the rent board staff must deal with complaints brought before them in the most even-handed, fair way — following the letter of the law.
When big landlords already hold so much power over their tenants, it becomes particularly important to elect rent board members who ensure fairness to tenants, who often get the short end of the stick.
The members of the CALI slate — Christina Murphy, Alejandro Soto-Vigil, Leah Simon-Weisberg and Igor Tregub — have demonstrated beyond measure that they’ll best consider the needs of tenants. And each brings something unique and important to the board.
Murphy works during the day at the Berkeley drop-in center, where she spends her time finding roofs, both permanent and temporary, for those in Berkeley who need them most. In a housing market as tough as Berkeley’s, Murphy demonstrates an ability to think in creative, brilliant ways to solve the problems she faces, and having this perspective on the rent board is essential to having a balanced, nuanced discussion about tenants and landlords in Berkeley.
Soto-Vigil is currently on the board, where he’s shown effective leadership not only on the political issues the board faces but also internally. He spearheaded a movement to put more of the board’s work online, which not only saved paper and funds, but made things more efficient.
Simon-Weisberg works as an attorney who focuses on housing and tenants rights. She’ll bring a firm legal background and a strong commitment to defending tenants to the board — something much needed in this hostile environment.
Finally, Tregub probably has the most experience of any of the slate members when it comes to city politics. He’s served on the board before, and as a member of the Zoning Adjustments Board. He’s a strong progressive voice who can also reach effective compromises.
Nathan Wollman and Judy Hunt, the two members of the FAIR slate, have emphasized a need to look at tenants and landlords evenly. While this is an admirable goal, using it as a campaign platform also implies that members of the CALI slate won’t do that. When most cases brought before the rent board come from landlords who are looking for the easiest way to comply with regulations, suggesting that CALI slate members won’t treat them fairly is ludicrous.
There’s nothing to suggest CALI slate members, who all emphasized the need to protect small, mom-and-pop landlords, won’t be treating property owners impartially. Each of them unequivocally deserves a vote.