Real Estate

Alamedans are feeling pinched by rising rents, new survey results released by housing advocates Renewed Hope show.

Photos by Cece Reinhardt; Airstream photo by Y Studio Photography.

Cece Reinhardt and Brenda Daugherty were living the California dream in a cottage in the Santa Cruz Mountains, with two cars and “all the things that most people get excited about.” But having all of that didn’t really make them happy.

Daugherty was commuting to San Francisco for work every day, and even though both had good jobs, they were unable to save the money they wanted to for retirement or for the travel they wanted to do.

“We felt like we were just treading water. And we weren’t happy,” Reinhardt said. “The more stuff we had, the less happy we were.”

City leaders said Tuesday they could consider imposing rent controls in Alameda after an emotional hearing about rent increases that drove an elderly couple and their disabled daughter from their home of 17 years.

“I’m not advocating for rent control this point – I’ve been on the City Council for two months. But if we keep hearing about cases like this, I’ll certainly consider it,” Vice Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft said.

Jose and Aura Lyla Gonzalez lived in a bright, roomy unit at the rear of 1514 Benton Street for 17 years that was surrounded by trees, birds and good neighbors. But a few months ago the couple, who are in their late 70s, received word that the building had been sold to a new owner and then, a letter that their rent was going to increase by $600 a month – a 67 percent jump from the $900 a month they were paying.

1617 Central Avenue is getting a makeover. Photos by Peter Lyons; click for slideshow.

An historic home that languished for years as its owner and the city battled in court is set to get a makeover.

Mila Zelkha’s Mint Condition Homes, an Oakland-based design and development firm that acquires and rehabilitates troubled homes, has purchased the mansion-turned-apartment house at 1617 Central Avenue, and efforts to tidy up the property began this past weekend. Zelkha said she has developed preliminary plans to rehabilitate the site.

Foreclosure filings are declining here in Alameda and across California, recent data show, though local real estate professionals said the numbers don't reflect a “shadow inventory” of homes with troubled mortgages and others lenders own but haven't put on the market.

But they said banks are more aggressively pursuing short sales to get some of the properties off their books. And with a dearth of homes on the market, they said the short sales in Alameda are producing market-rate results.