Politics

With the Bay Area’s housing crisis in the backdrop, the City Council on Tuesday took a small step toward giving tenants a way to combat rising rents.

By a unanimous vote, the council gave its initial approval to an ordinance that would require landlords to take part in hearings conducted by the city’s Rent Review Advisory Committee.

The committee's members mediate tenant landlord disputes over rent increases. But its recommendations are not binding, and renters have complained that the committee procedures are essentially unenforceable.

The council also agreed to undertake a formal study of what some are calling a local housing crisis.

City leaders on Tuesday unanimously okayed a $188 million budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1 and a $174.4 million budget for 2016-17.

“We’ve shown restraint. And we’ve also started to restore some of the cuts we made during the Great Recession,” said City Councilman Jim Oddie, who said the budget begins to address deferred maintenance and long-term retiree costs.

Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer, who voiced some concerns about the overtime budget for public safety, said she thinks the budgets serve the whole city.

“I think this is a step toward correcting (funding for) departments that have truly been left behind,” Spencer said.

The City Council signed off on budgets and police body cameras on Tuesday. Here's the tweet by tweet.

The City Council is set to consider a contract to purchase body cameras for Alameda police and access to a system that will store all the video they record.

City Council members have signed off on an $8 million contract to build a replacement mid-Island fire station and emergency operations center.

The approval, on a 4-1 vote, followed a wide-ranging discussion about what the city should be doing to better prepare for a disaster. Richmond-based Alten Construction was the winning bidder.

Once shovels hit dirt, construction of the two facilities, which will sit on a 0.57-acre site at the corner of Grand Street and Buena Vista Avenue, should be completed within 12 months.

Alameda’s Planning Board offered critical approvals Monday for a plan to develop a 68-acre slice of Alameda Point with new homes, commercial space, acres of parks and transit.

The seven-member board voted unanimously to move forward with a development plan for Site A, which is expected to serve as the long-awaited catalyst for revitalization of the former Alameda Naval Air Station.

“I am in support of this project,” Planning Board president Mike Henneberry said just moments before the vote. “It respects the past and positions us well for the future.”

The Planning Board voted unanimously Monday to approve a development plan for Alameda Point's 68-acre Site A. Here's the tweet by tweet, and your reactions.

City Council members agreed in principle on new rules intended to strengthen its process for mediating rent disputes but stopped short of passing an ordinance on Tuesday.

Council members said Tuesday that they are prepared to approve rules that would enshrine the existence of the city’s Rent Review Advisory Committee in the city’s code, require landlords to provide renters information about the committee when they hand out rent increases and require landlords and tenants to participate in scheduled rent dispute hearings.

City Council members narrowly approved four-year contract extensions for police and firefighters on Wednesday that include a trust to help cover Alameda’s ballooning retiree medical bills.

After five hours of heated debate punctuated at some times by the burble of a fire radio from one of the many safety workers who packed council chambers Wednesday and another by a shouting match in the hallway outside, council members voted 3-2 to amend the contracts to establish and fund a trust and extend them until December 18, 2021.

Alameda's City Council narrowly okayed a plan to extend public safety contracts by four years, including a new trust fund for retiree health costs that both the city and workers will pay into. Here's the tweet by tweet.