RPA New LogoThe Activist

Issue #205, 9-15-2016

The RPA Steering Committee's statement: 
Just like that, homeless

The RPA did not organize a disruption at the 9/13 City Council meeting.  On Tuesday night, after dozens of public speakers and four Council members respectfully advocated for a temporary 45-day moratorium on evictions and rent increases over 3%, which required a 6/7 vote supermajority, the item failed. Nat Bates, Tom Butt and Vinay Pimple voted no. 

And just like that, there were people in the room who were made homeless. Some audience members, including tenants who have recently been unjustly evicted, were so frustrated that they erupted into a spontaneous chorus of "Shame on you!" This chant was directed at council members who appeared to have not heard nor responded to the reasoned explanations for enacting a temporary moratorium until voters can make the decision in November.

The Mayor described this yesterday, in an article, as “a riot.” Nat Bates and Vinay Pimple wrote long articles to explain how they felt disrespected by those in the room. Instead of defending their position, instead of defending their choice, these politicians are projecting a political sideshow to deflect the gravity of what they had done to our community.

We urge all Richmond residents to watch the full council meeting of 9/13 and judge for themselves who was uncivilized. http://richmond.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=11&clip_id=4057  (at 2:42:40).

The council members who voted against it have not and will not want to talk about the merits of a moratorium specifically. In the Mayor’s comments he tried odd discussion points such as equating the moratorium with chickens and turkeys. This seriously is not funny nor illuminating discourse from Mayor Butt. He wants to divert the conversation as much as possible from this indefensible position.

It was frustrating to hear the lecture by Councilmember Bates that the people who had come to the Council meeting to plead their case for temporary action by the Council were wasting the Council’s time.  It was clear that the three had made up their minds prior to the meeting that they would not let anything said at the meeting change their minds.

In the frustration following the vote some individuals made verbal personal attacks on Councilmembers.  We do not support these and we do not support disrupting the normal process of the Council.  But we understand where the strong feelings are coming from when people are losing their homes.  RPA member and Council member Jovanka Beckles became understandably angry at the thought of seniors, families and children not getting the support of their Council members, and has since apologized.

Denying the moratorium not only denied people their homes, they were denied the right to vote. One tenant discussed in her testimony how these evictions may function as a form of voter suppression. When tenants don’t get the chance to vote, and instead have to uproot their lives, the community loses its voice.

This moratorium was not a radical move to make. As Jael Myrick pointed out, in Alameda and Oakland, the much more conservative City Councils voted unanimously for an emergency moratorium on evictions and high rent increases. They understood that it was not fair to the public to deal with a market panic in the run up to a rent control vote. A few of our council members are dead set on sabotaging rent control and blaming anyone else possible for their inaction. Tom Butt and Nat Bates are both landlords themselves.

We could have stopped the evictions. Whether you agree with rent control or not doesn’t matter, just let people stay long enough to vote and figure out places to go and vote. The moratorium would have cost almost nothing and would have hurt no one. A lot of people are needlessly suffering.

So while tenants take their evictions to the courts, what we have left is to pass Measure L. If passed, it will go into effect January 1st, 2017. Join us at www.fairandaffordablerichmond.com. Thank you.

The RPA Steering Committee