Our Backyard: Landlords v. Firefighters

Our Backyard: Landlords v. Firefighters

Alameda landlords are expected to spend heavily next year against Councilmember Jim Oddie because of his support for tenant protections.

The 2018 election is shaping up as a fight between two of the city’s most influential groups.

Critics of the Alameda firefighters’ union have argued that it wields too much power in Island politics. And that’s probably true. The union’s influence in City Hall has been considerable over the years, especially as the council and Alameda have grown more liberal.

But landlords are making it clear that over the next 12 months, they plan to flex their political muscles, too. And in a big way.

According to a recent email from the landlords’ group Alamedans in Charge, landlords plan to raise $500,000 by year’s end and a total of $2 million by next fall to elect their favored candidates to the city council and block tenant protections on the Island.

Journalist Steven Tavares, writing for our sister publication, the East Bay Express, noted that landlords intend to back Mayor Trish Spencer, a moderate, in her re-election bid next year because of her pro-landlord stances. And they plan to spend heavily against progressive Councilmembers Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft and Malia Vella if they run for mayor, because they voted for the city’s just cause eviction ordinance. The ordinance was designed to protect tenants from unjust evictions, but landlords spent big to overturn it and have placed a charter amendment on the 2018 ballot that would block the council from enacting just cause in the future. Landlords also may back Councilmember Frank Matarrese’s mayoral bid, because he voted against just cause.

Alamedans in Charge also plans to try to defeat liberal Councilmember Jim Oddie, who is up for re-election, because he also voted for just cause. And the group is expected to support ex-Councilmember Tony Daysog, a moderate, if he runs for council. “We need to wrestle political control away from the far left and restore it to the middle,” wrote Don Lindsey, who leads Alamedans in Charge. “The way to achieve this is to run a vigorous and ubiquitous campaign to win the charter amendment and to elect a mayor and councilmembers who are fair and open-minded.”

The firefighters, meanwhile, are expected to support Oddie and Vella, and perhaps Ashcraft, and oppose Spencer, Matarrese, and Daysog.

In other words, 2018 is shaping up to be the year of Landlords v. Firefighters in Alameda.

Except that landlords plan to spend 20 times more cash than the firefighters ever have.


Our Backyard is an occasional column by news editor Robert Gammon.