Alameda County landlord and tenant groups came together to strike a compromise on a legislative agenda, but tenant advocates walk out of the room

Supervisor Miley attempted to bring both sides together. After a walkout, some cooler minds remained at the table and decided to engage and there was a consensus to continue the dialogue at a later date. 

Tensions between housing providers and tenant activists  have been at times militant. Take, for instance, when the California Apartment Association erected a website to educate Alameda County renters on their rights. Seems innocuous enough.

Yet a tenant group likened the educational resource to a "fake abortion clinic set up by anti-choice groups." The rhetoric can't get much more toxic than that.

In a long-awaited July 31 meeting, Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley brought several constituents together in his conference room to lower the temperature of the discussion.

The name of the scheduled hour-and-a-half pow wow: D4 Tenant-Rental Housing Providers' Meeting to Negotiate a Compromise. Its stated purpose: everyone understands the parties' positions, areas of agreement and disagreement, and areas of compromise.


This turned out to be too lofty of a goal.

Among the attendees that came to the table were tenant advocates from My Eden Voice, accompanied by a staff attorney from the Alliance Of Californians For Community Empowerment (ACCE) Institute. Since this was set up to be an informal discussion, it was surprising to see that tenant advocates brought in legal guns. A very nice and reasonable gentleman serving as a voice for disabled and elderly tenants was also in attendance.

On the other side of the table were landlord groups fully willing to engage in a constructive conversation, including representatives from the East Bay Rental Association, the Rental Housing Association of Southern Alameda County, the California Apartment Association, and the Bay East Association of Realtors.


Before, during, and after, it was a cantankerous, circus-like atmosphere.

There were protesters staged before the meeting began. Granted, landlords and their advocates have shown up in full force and staged protests during City Council meetings in Oakland and San Leandro, but the July 31 symposium was not public.

It was a meeting of the minds and a forum to discuss pathways moving forward and quickly got off on the wrong footing. After Supervisor Miley suggested going around the room to make introductions, My Eden Voice availed the opportunity to lay the groundwork for the meeting, stating that they would simply walk out if demands were not met.

The tenants’ advocates pointed out that many of their cohorts “self-evict,” a term to describe the event of an intimidated tenant leaving when confronted with an issue with their landlord or being harassed by the owner.


Paul Taylor, the Executive Director of the Rental Housing Association of Southern Alameda County, conceded that there were some bad actors on both sides.

There are housing providers that cut corners and tenants who are problematic, but the overarching message is that collaboratively, we can resolve issues that seem unresolvable.

He stressed the importance of moving forward, and that with both landlord and tenant camps sitting at the table, there was a golden opportunity to have a productive dialogue, and this sentiment was echoed by others in the room.


It's a symbiotic relationship... which is a great word because this side of the table doesn't exist without that side of the table. That side of the table doesn't exist if this side of the table says, 'We're out'. So, we should look at the impact it will have on both sides.

~ David Stark, Chief Public Affairs and Communications Officer, Bay East Association of REALTORS®


My Eden’s Voice was unpersuaded and decided to leave, but the protest doesn’t end there. It’s one thing to make demands and not be willing to compromise.

After hastily walking out of the meeting, they went to a pre-scheduled press conference in order to state their position and create the optics that the inflexible landlording community was not willing to capitulate to their demands.

In fact, they were right. The symposium was designed to establish a framework for continued discussion and not sign an ironclad agreement on the spot. Especially not during the opening minutes of the meeting.

With protests planned before the meeting, tenants’ advocates walking out during the meeting, and then using a bully pulpit to advance their agenda afterward, the only conclusion we can come to is that certain tenants’ activists came to the get-together in bad faith.


We applaud the efforts of tenants’ advocates and share their goals. 

We want unincorporated areas of Alameda County to chart their own destiny and in conjunction with many like-minded partners, My Eden Voice is a vehicle to do so. Their mission statement seems to bring residents together to discuss their joint concerns and their struggles. We wholeheartedly agree with their stated purpose. Take a look at what they stand for.


There is no doubt they are doing a lot of good. What we take exception to is this “us versus them” mentality where landlords are left out of the discussion. Housing providers are part of the tapestry of the community and they should be embraced, not made a pariah.

What demands were made?

  • Extending just cause eviction protections to single-family homes, in contravention of AB-1482.
  • Guaranteeing tenants the right to return when they have been relocated through no fault of their own.
  • Prohibition on evictions during the school year for educators, school staff, and minor children in the household.

The tagline is “no renter left behind,” and the latest demands are part of a larger agenda that is spelled out here.


Parting thoughts

We thank Supervisor Miley for his initiative in bringing together groups with diverse views. He had no idea of the theatrics that would occur. We give Supervisor Miley an A for effort.

We thank our industry partners for their diplomacy and for not capitulating to demands before a more thorough, thoughtful discussion occurs. If this logjam continues and there is no meaningful dialogue, it will be up to the Supervisors to craft their own policies on tenant protections in a post-COVID world.

Despite a walkout of several people, others remained to express their viewpoints and carve out a plan to talk again, with a second meeting slated on September 11. We trust that cooler minds will prevail, but until then, rest assured that there is work being done behind the scenes.

As always, Bornstein Law will keep you in the know.