Concord council to continue rent protection discussion Feb. 13

Concord council to continue rent protection discussion Feb. 13

Dozens of speakers shared their thoughts at the Jan. 30 City Council meeting, including (clockwise from top left) Linda Mandolini, Rev. Steve Hong, Rev. Millie Phillips, Devin Williams, Jeffrey Weil and a volunteer from Rising Juntos.

CONCORD, CA (Feb. 1, 2024) — The Jan. 30 City Council meeting on renter protections was punctuated by cheers and jeers, prompting Mayor Edi Birsan to threaten to put the audience in a timeout.

During the more than five-hour meeting, 83 residents, landlords and community advocates lined up for their turn at the podium. With the council chambers at capacity, they set up an overflow room and limited each speaker to two minutes instead of the usual three.

At the end of the evening, the council decided yet again to continue the discussion on a draft Residential Tenant Protection ordinance. That followed a December continuance on the same issue.

The council will renew its efforts to increase “just cause” eviction protections, expand the city’s rent registry and establish a rent stabilization program at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 13. There will be no public comment period.

Opposing viewpoints

Speaking on behalf of the Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy on Jan. 30, the Rev. Millie Phillips urged the council to pass the ordinance. “The greed-driven and racist housing crisis is tearing apart our neighborhoods, schools and faith communities. This will be a truly amazing victory for Concord families,” she said.

But landlord Jeffrey Weil, who has an eight-unit apartment on Galindo Street, said a cap on rent increases would be unfair to small business owners like him. Noting that he “worked for 40 years and saved and saved,” he asked the council: “Would you make your corner grocery store sell a half-gallon of milk for a dollar if it costs them $1.50?”

The Rev. Steve Hong of Concord’s Ygnacio Valley Presbyterian Church told the council not to be fooled by the landlords. “These rich people don’t need your help,” Hong said, drawing a chorus of boos as he compared them to the Biblical goats who ignored those in need.

Meanwhile, Linda Mandolini of Eden Housing said the proposal would be “unnecessarily punitive to our projects.” The city is in negotiations with the affordable housing agency on how the ordinance would affect its Coral Court and Sunset Pines units in Concord.

Acknowledging that the issue is “emotionally charged,” Councilmember Laura Hoffmeister told the audience: “This is a very difficult challenge because you’re looking at something that’s going to affect everybody, but not everybody has had a negative experience in our community. So, it’s trying to find a way to address those who are not being treated fairly – which is not everybody – and not adversely impacting those who are trying to do the right thing.”

Bev Britton
Bev Britton
Copy Editor at The Concord Clayton Pioneer |

Bev Britton graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of North Dakota and moved to the Bay Area with her soon-to-be husband Jim in 1986. She was features editor at the Contra Costa Times in Walnut Creek before becoming managing editor of the Contra Costa Sun in Lafayette in 1995. She retired from newsrooms in 2001, but an ad for the Clayton Pioneer drew her back in. The family moved to Lake Wildwood in the Gold Country a few years ago - but working at the Pioneer keeps her in touch with her old neighborhoods in Concord and Clayton.