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Next item: Which version of No Eviction Without Presentation will be on the ballot? With rental assistance or without (and some Franken-version from council) Presentation here:…
NEWR got 3,589 valid signatures, so they are on automatically. But they will withdraw their version if council passes the rental assistance version
If changes are made, council has to do it and then put it on the ballot via vote, bc the ballot language that was circulated and was certified is already set, but council can put whatever it wants on the ballot
There was a unanimous vote to do the rental assistance version last time council discussed it (Aug. 4), on consent agenda, but I wouldn't be surprised if Yates and Wallach vote differently this time.
You can learn more about the ballot initiative here. I'll update it (and have it translated into Spanish!) after council action tonight:…
Council is still considering its own version, which would make the fee a tax, add in TABOR language and exempt affordable housing providers from the tax/fee.
The fee as proposed is $75/unit. There are ~23,000 rental units in Boulder, so that's $1.7M. City Attorney Tom Carr suggests that, if council makes it a tax, they write in language capping collection at $1.8M or $2M, to satisfy TABOR.
Again, to be clear, if council does a tax version, NEWR will NOT withdraw its version, so there will be two competing measures on the ballot.

NEWR is obviously against this. No precedent for a tax on landlords, they said. Other cities have all done fees.
Carr: A tax would be better for exempting affordable housing providers. "If it's a tax, it's pretty clear they don't have to pay it" under state law.
The reason council first gave for wanting a tax is that it's more defensible in case of a legal challenge. Landlords are opposed to this, so they may sue.

Carr has testified that a fee IS defensible "but a tax is more defensible."
NEWR disagrees. Again, no precedent for taxing landlords specifically. They went with a fee bc there are already fees on rental units (for rental licenses) and programs in other cities did fees.
Young: Would all affordable housing providers be exempt or just BHP?
Carr: I think any nonprofit would be exempt. But it's really difficult law to interpret, so we don't know.
Wallach asks the campaign to accept council's version (sounds like they're leaning toward a competing measure more than I thought they would) because it "greatly improves" the program.
Wallach: What number should we go with for TABOR? (As in, how much should we estimate we will collect?)
Carr: Anything from $1.7M-$2M is defensible. If you go too high, it may be seen as trying to discourage ppl from voting for it.
Brockett: "It was news to me that the tax version vs. the fee version would then leave affordable housing providers not subject to it." You mentioned state law, so can you go into that a bit more?
Carr: No. David Gehr told me this afternoon. That's the position of BHP.
Brockett: Would the fee approach have the same implication?
Carr: BHP takes the argument they are not subject to this fee.
Brockett: "I just want to make sure we treat the organizers fairly, bc we had a productive meeting with them yesterday and there was no distinction mentioned at the time" about this.
Brockett: We don't know 100% for sure the legal case of them being exempt from a fee or tax, but BHP thinks they are exempt from either?
Carr: That's correct.
Carr: I'm not sure how much capacity we have to do work on this. I can try, but there are several big projects going on in our officer right now and we're short-staffed.
Young: It has an impact on where we set the level.
BHP is exempt from the city's affordable housing fees, for instance... bc that would be stupid for them to pay into the pot they're taking from.
Joseph saying that NEWR was OK changing the funding from a fee to tax... I have not heard that.
Joseph: "Are we usurping their authority for our own?"
Carr: OK we're not usurping anybody. They got back to us at 5 today saying this was acceptable. We're doing this at the last minute.
He's getting a little uppity about this, IMO. Jesus, Carr, calm down.
Weaver: "I believe this is all being done with the petitioner's knowledge and cooperation."

That is news to me.
But, as Carr says, it is a recent development, apparently.
Carr: State law exempts housing authorities from local taxes AND fees.
Public hearing: 32 speakers. That's over an hour. List here:…
Nick Grossman: NEWR volunteers have donated their time on Fridays for the past year+ to observe 400+ eviction court proceedings
Grossman: This is an example of how direct democracy is SUPPOSED to work. They ID'd a problem being ignored by council, crafted a solution, followed petition guidelines and got the signatures. Voters now get the say.
I think he was a Bedrooms organizer. Quite a few of those on this list.
(None of the previous speakers who were opposed to changing occupancy limits are signed up, I noticed.)
LOL Mark Gelband asks Weaver to "reflect on (his) hypocrisy" around occupancy limits. (Weaver in 2013 said occupancy was about trash, parking, noise so should be addressed that way, and last year said it was an issue for voters, not council.)
All speakers so far have asked that council follow the will of NEWR campaign.
Jacquie Richardson had a q for Carr, which will be answered when the public hearing is over: Does BHP pay the rental license application fee?
Amanda Mercado addresses a point I forgot: NEWR didn't want to means-test the program (some cities have; others haven't) but council was thinking of including it last time. That has since been dropped.
Cameron Netherland: I attended eviction court having been a law student and working in a law office. "I would have been hopeless" if I was facing eviction without an attorney.
He speaks to the issue of mediation in a really eloquent way: It is not equal to legal representation. It does nothing to acknowledge the tenant's rights under the law.
EFAA, which is considering an endorsement (I worked there but no longer do), also has rental units and has had to evict ppl before. They NEVER do an eviction without a lawyer, staff said. It's just too complicated.
Correction: I didn't work THERE. I was a paid consultant for EFAA. Helping them track local and state legislation.
Anyway, all supporters so far, but I see BARHA (landlord group) president Todd Ulrich down the list, and they are opposing it.
Ruy Arango, NEWR's chair: "I'm surprised like a lot of other ppl on the call today bc there was no mention at all of a possible exemption from BHP in the many communications we had with the city about this."
We've never meant to exempt them from the fee, Arango says, bc they evict people. In fact, they evict more ppl than many other landlords bc they serve poorer people and have hundreds of units.
Arango: The reason NEWR didn't get back to the city until 5 p.m. today is because we're workers. I work in a restaurant. I didn't have access to a phone. We are workers and renters.
Brockett q to Arango: Are you OK with council's version of the ordinance, sent out at 5 p.m. today?
Arango: I would say yes. I would really love some input from Carr to clarify if BHP is exempt.
NEWR will go ahead with a tax "with no small amount of hesitation," Arango says.

Very interesting development.
Weaver: This is being looked up on the fly and is not binding legal advice.
Carr: There's a good argument they're exempt, but Boulder has previously argued that BHP pays certain fees. They do NOT pay the rental license application fee.
V interesting. BHP pays all kind of fees when it comes to building permits, water, utilities, etc. It's a story I was working on pre-pandemic: How much $$ they give to the city in fees. It's A LOT.
Friend: I'm also concerned by the last-minute curveball. Can BHP say they will pay it even if state law says they don't have to?
Carr: I'm not sure why, but yeah. They have limited funds.
Friend: If they decided to pay that, could they also charge tenants the way I imagine that will happen in other units?
Carr: There are limits in affordable housing, so I'm not sure.
Friend: Even if they don't pay, their tenants would still be able to access it, right?
Carr: Yes
OK, back to public hearing.
Shelly Bobbins: I've witnessed a mom and developmentally disabled son thrown out on the street over a disagreement on payment. They're still homeless today. This could have been prevented with legal representation.
Bobbins: I attended eviction court last year. "What I witnessed shocked me. An assembly line of evictions that were rubber-stamped." 3 minutes to a case; mediation in the hallway for a few minutes with no privacy.
Charlotte Pitts: We need to do everything we can to prevent evictions at this time. "It's hard to stay at home when you don't have a home."
William McGrew, NEWR organizer: We modeled this on successful programs in other cities, placing fees on landlords.
Been trying to find how many units BHP has. Over 1,000 is the closest I've come (per their own FAQ)

So that would be ~$75,000 per year.
Also didn't know they do market-rate units, too. Found that on their site.
Anyway, $75,000 is like one cheap lawyer.
I expect this to come up again, but Kurt Firnhaber said last time this was discussed that amount = 3 units of affordable housing each year (seems a bit high to me, as city subsidies for AH averaged $70K per unit in 6 recent projects)…
BUT since permanent supporting housing for formerly unhoused persons costs the city $20K per unit per year, I suppose $70K does = 3 units.
Although it kinda sucks to be comparing things in this way instead of just, you know, funding things better.
Anyway, halfway through the public hearing.
I opened my windows bc it's hot in here but now I'm going to pass out bc of the smoke.
Mike Stengel has issue with the wording of "loss of housing" in the measure. "I find the term inflammatory and unnecessary." It makes eviction sound "predatory," he says.
Asks that council make the ballot language "fair and balanced."

Probably our first landlord, though he didn't say so. (No wonder, given the crowd so far.)
I mean, we're not in person so it's not like they're going to boo him.
Bruce Mock, another property owning or management person: We've had to evict fewer than one-half of 1% of our tenants over the past years, mostly for non-payment.

NEWR is a "solution in search of a problem."
Attorneys won't help ppl, Mock said. It collects too much $$, and I hope more $$ will go to rental aid than representation, which I believe is "less important."
Liz Marasco, from SURJ (Showing Up For Racial Justice): Eviction disproportionately impacts lower-income residents and people of color.

SURJ endorses; asks council to pass amended version.
Chelsea Castellano taking issue with something Weaver said yesterday ("If someone could get word out to the NEWR folks it’s probably not necessary to have this many" people speak at the public hearing) arguing that people need to speak up for what they believe.
And council needs to listen, she says.
Eric Johnson with probably the shortest testimony I've ever heard: "Thank you for your work, and I'll leave it at that."
Misha Toor asks council members: What would you do if you lost your house tonight?

Go to their second one, duh.
Todd Ulrich from BARHA: "Landlords don't like eviction either. We would rather work with the tenant than pay for an eviction. ... We'd like to be part of the conversation, not the other side of it."
BARHA supports rental assistance, tenant education, mediation, Ulrich says. But wants means testing and a cap on how much can be spent on lawyers.
Mark Grueskin, who the city hired to fight the Bedrooms lawsuit, has also repped (is repping?) BARHA.

He wants to change the ballot title but not the text of the measure.
The Supreme Court often invalidates measures with language that doesn't "provide insight" to the measure but is meant to appeal to the "passion" of voters, he says.

Particularly at issue: "vulnerable to eviction" and "loss of housing" in the ballot language.
Austin Bennett: Ulrich told Complete Colorado (another media outlet) that he wants to see a healthy eviction rate. "Healthy for him and his checkbook, not for those of us who actually work for a living."
I linked to that interview in my NEWR piece, if you're interested in seeing it. It's a bit iffy, journalistically, but still important perspective.
Krista Nordback is back but with no song this time.
Weaver says: We missed your singing. I agree.
Dylan Satterfield is quite passionate: We've had 0 renters arguing against this. The only ppl who are opposed are those making money off housing.

"Landlords are the problem, not the solution. And this debacle with Bedrooms Are For People is a disgrace."
He called out a confusing timing mistake with an earlier speaker, who will now get another crack at it.
and omgosh maybe she's Canadian bc of the way she said "been" like "bean."

That's a Canadian thing, right?
But the last word goes to Lynn Segal.
Didn't she already speak? I'm confused.
So NVM. Not speaking again.
Kicking it back to council.

Friend: Let's put on the ballot what NEWR wants and not do any "last-minute shenanigans."
Joseph asking qs about funding for BHP and possible exemptions.

Carr: The city provides legal services for BHP; not as much as we used to. We have an IGA with them which requires them to pay some fees and not others.
IGA = intergovernmental agreement
Yates (who used to be on the BHP board): They get millions of $$ in city funding, state funding and federal funding. About 2/3 the cost of every unit comes from gov't funding.
Joseph: "To me I don't understand the vilification of BHP. ... I understand why NEWR wants to include them. ... They're already providing a public service" and they are using city $$.
Brockett: "I want to congratulate NEWR organizers getting this done in an incredibly difficult year. It's also an incredibly timely year. I think we all realize" that evictions might increase due to COVID.
Brockett: We did some legal discussions in the past few days, and organizers determined a tax would be more legally defensible.

Wants to make a motion.
Swetlik wants to second.
Finds the BHP thing, "interesting. ... Anyone who evicts someone probably should be responsible for who they are evicting, in one way or another."
OMG Wallach: "Idk how effective legal representation will be."

You would if you read my story or did literally any research on programs in other cities. NYC and SF both had double-digit drops in evictions.
Wallach: BHP has ~1,400 units, so this would be $105,000 if they pay the $75/year tax.
He's on their board now.

During COVID, they gave free rent to tenants who couldn't pay and have taken a no-eviction stance, Wallach says. "There's been a lot of unwarranted hostility and criticism that I don't understand."
Young: I'm glad NEWR compromised and did a tax. The fee "would have inevitably led to a lawsuit."
Yates: There were a few speakers who said providing tenants with attorneys would be effective. "I disagree with that. I represented tenants who were being evicted as a young lawyer in law school. ... We were able to buy them time."
"Having legal representation does help," he says.

Funny, that's not what he said in an email to EFAA.
He wrote " ... the Evictions measure addresses the wrong end of the problem. I would much rather see the fees that the proposal contemplates be provided to eviction prevention, rather than paid to lawyers who really can't do much after the tenant has become seriously delinquent."
Anyway, tonight he says that adding rental assistance will reduce the need for legal representation. Supports passing the amended version.
Weaver supports, too, so Brockett makes his motion, which Swetlik already seconded.
It's to move the amended version, making it a tax and adding rental assistance.
I didn't get the email he's referencing that was sent out at 5 p.m. Maybe he'll send it to me later.
He proposes putting the TABOR language at $1.9M. So anything collected above and beyond that will have to be returned to voters or the city will have to go back to the voters to keep it.
Yates suggests checking in with NEWR co-chair Arango again to make sure he's OK with what council is doing.
Unanimous council support for this.

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