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Springs Splash - May 2016 - Thomas Martin


Springs Splash - May 2016 - Thomas Martin

by Tom Martin

Housing Dominates Northbay Headlines

Northbay county readers find articles everyday detailing stories about the housing crisis. Whether it is a daily like the Santa Rosa Press Democrat or Marin I-J, or local community paper like the Sonoma IT, Sonoma Sun, Healdsburg Tribune or the Russian River Times articles abound on affordable housing, housing availability, tenant rights, evictions, high rents, and homelessness.

Residents Voice Fears At El Verano School Housing Forum  

In early April residents filled the El Verano Elementary School auditorium to discuss housing problems in the Springs. Affordability, rent increases and evictions topped the list of concerns. The bilingual discussion was led by Chairperson Mario Castillo and Davin Cardenas of the North Bay Organizing Project. Legal representatives provided guidance and answered questions. People broke into small discussion groups after a general presentation.

What happens if…?

Small group discussion lasted 15-20 minutes during which pertinent questions were raised. Samples of questions…, 

“Can we be denied housing because we have four children?”

“I wasn’t given a lease agreement, what are my rights? 

“What happens when a new landlord takes over the property?”

“How often can a landlord raise my rent? How high can it go?” 

Tenant Guides…

Among those providing counsel was Ronit Rubinoff, Executive Director of Legal Aid of Sonoma County. Ms. Rubinoff answered questions and offered general information. Seven (7) recommendations were provided. 

1. Learn – Know your rights – Assert them.

2. Keep a file – document everything.

3. Have a problem? Seek legal assistance.

4. Report problems to Code Enforcement.

5. Contact the media when problems arise.

6. Talk to a tenant’s association. Organize one if none exists.

7. Bring concerns to the city council or Board of Supervisors.

Be certain to attend another housing meeting at El Verano School, April 18, at 6:30 p.m.

A Case In Point: One of Three Families at
841-845 West Napa Street! 

Three families were given 60 day eviction notices in February to vacate their cottages by April 15. Developer Steve Ledson planned to start destruction and excavation of the properties for a new set of homes. 

One of the families with four children ranging in ages from elementary through high school had no place to go. They had paid fees to two property agencies to search for housing for them to no avail. One location reported they would take a family of five, but not six. They were also told they did not qualify for homes/apartments because they did not earn sufficient income. Some of the income levels required to rent ranged from $1,895 to $5,000. 

The tenants sought help from La Luz Bilingual Center and, in turn, from Legal Aid of Sonoma County. At press time Legal Aid reported that the Ledson notice to vacate was insufficient. Thus, the families likely have an additional sixty (60) days to find housing.

“I have a problem, what do I do?”
“Tengo un problema, que hay que hacer?”

Here are references and websites where information is available for tenants and landlords:

• La Luz Center 938-5131

• Legal Aid of Sonoma County – 707-688-4034

• City of Sonoma, David Goodison, Relocation Requirements, 938-3681

• Sonoma County Housing Authority, 707-565-7500,

• Petaluma People’s Services (Housing Search), Kira Kayler, 707-765-8488

• Burbank Housing, (Affordable Housing) 707-526-9733.

“Just Cause Eviction” – Tenant/Landlord Rules – Why don’t Sonoma County Cities Adopt Rules of Procedure?  

Fifteen California cities have landlord-tenant rules that protect and assist the parties. Instead of costly litigation and fear about what to do, cities and the county should adopt rules of procedure to help renters and landlords. Read an example of one set of procedures. Visit the City of Berkeley website….

Springs Residents! Be Ready. Applications Available May 30 For Highway 12 Housing.

Applications for the first sixty units of MidPen housing on Highway 12 will be available on May 30. Applications will be accepted between June 13 and June 24. Of sixty units, the first thirteen “Section 8” (County Rental Assistance) units will be selected by the County. The remaining units will be selected in a lottery by MidPen. There is no guarantee that Springs residents will be selected before other County residents! Occupancy will be sometime between November and January. 

Questions? Call 707-398-2382, or 650-356-2900