An Open Letter to the League of Women Voters from Lisa Stephens, Chair of the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board
Dear Ms. Bickel and Members of the Board of the League of Women Voters,
The Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board will be holding a Budget Workshop at our regular meeting on Monday, April 21. The Workshop is an opportunity for the general public to review with us the current Rent Stabilization Program and the proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2014-2015. I expect that we will also receive a mid-year budget update and discuss the registration fee level.
On behalf of the full Board, I would like to invite you, the rest of your board members and the membership of the League of Women Voters to attend and provide public comment on the scope and level of service our program provides and any specific recommendations for changes to those services. This would also be the appropriate time to comment on the registration fee level.
I am extending this invitation specifically to the League in response to your letter of November 7, 2013. The letter contains a great number of inaccuracies and misconceptions regarding the current functions of the Rent Stabilization Program, our budget and the appropriateness of the current registration fee. The letter also makes a number of assertions, including that the Board does not fully exercise its fiduciary responsibilities – these assertions are not supported by specifics and are contradicted, in fact, by our extensive open and public budget process.
I am very heartened that the League of Women Voters continues to support a program that protects tenants from unreasonable rent increases, discrimination and unfair evictions while providing a fair return for landlords. I believe that our current Program is very much in line with your policy position on rent control, and that imposing unnecessary austerity measures at a time when tenants are facing unprecedented high rents and profit-motivated eviction notices would be irresponsible and not in the interest of good government. We are always looking for ways to make the Program more efficient and effective, and welcome specific suggestions from the community.
I hope that you will be able to attend and ask that you extend this invitation to the full membership of the League. The meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. We will take comments from the public at the beginning of the meeting and after the Budget presentation by the staff. Supporting materials for the meeting will be posted to our website as they become available. For those who cannot attend, our meetings are broadcast live on BTV by Berkeley Community Media with several re-airings, and on the air live on KPFB 89.3 FM.
Chair, Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board