Town Business: Stopping Bogus Evictions, Police Misconduct App, and Peter Van Kleef Way


Cafe Van Kleef.
  • Cafe Van Kleef.
Leading up to their August recess, the Oakland City Council has a raft of legislation to deal with at its committees this Tuesday. Some highlights:

Bogus Owner Move-Ins: Tenant attorneys claim that since the passage of Measure JJ last year, which strengthened rent control and just cause eviction protections, Oakland landlords have been increasingly using a loophole to wrongfully evict renters they don't like, or who can't pay higher rents.

Under the city's existing rent control and eviction protection laws, if a landlord lives in a building that has three or fewer units, they don't have to abide by the city's rent control or just cause eviction protections. Also, a tenant can be evicted if a landlord or a close family member intends to move into a unit.

These exemptions were meant to protect small “mom and pop” landlords by giving them more control over their property.

But as the Express has reported, some landlords appear to have evicted tenants through fake owner move-ins. Instead of actually moving into the apartment and living there, the landlords are simply subverting rent control by taking advantage of tenants who don't know the law, and a city that doesn't strictly enforce owner move-in requirements.

And in other cases, landlords have claimed that they already live in their small apartment buildings in order to raise rents and carry out evictions. But their tenants allege it's a charade – that the owners really live somewhere else.

Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan wants to amend the city's housing laws to prevent landlords from abusing these loopholes. She's asking the Rent Board to study the problem and propose stronger rules.

Van Kleef Way: Back in 2004, before Telegraph Avenue had much of a nightlife, Peter Van Kleef opened a bar on an otherwise quiet block and started serving greyhounds. Cafe Van Kleef quickly became the watering hold of choice for the cognoscenti of Uptown. A dimly-lit hall crowded with clashing objets d'art and random crap, the bar emits an always-has-been-here vibe, even though it's young in saloon years.

Van Kleef died at age 65 in 2015. To celebrate him, Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney is proposing to rename the block of Telegraph Ave. where the bar is located "Peter Van Kleef Way."

Police Misconduct App: For years, the Oakland Police Department has used a complex software system that draws on police personnel files and other data to figure out which cops are violating department policies and abusing the public.

Just some of the data the system draws from: use of force reports, canine deployment, tear gas canister use, pepper spray use, vehicle collisions and pursuits, prosecution clearance rates on cases individual cops send to the DA, etc.

The current iteration of this system is called PRIME, and it's being built by the city's IT department and Microsoft.

PRIME is one of the major reforms the police department adopted after the Riders scandal and the negotiated settlement agreement which put the police under federal court oversight. The court now wants OPD to expand PRIME, add more data, and figure out how to use it more effectively to train officers and prevent wrongdoing.

This week, the city council will consider whether to spend another $1.8 million developing PRIME so that it can incorporate more data. The department has already spent millions on this system.