Candidates running for Rent Stabilization Board, top from left, Soli Alpert, Stefan Elgstrand, Carole Marasovic, Vanessa Danielle Marrero; bottom row, from left, Ida Martinac, Wendy Saenz Hood, Nathan Mizell, Wendy Saenz Hood, Negeene Mosaed. Credit: Ximena Natera, Berkeleyside/CatchLight

Last updated, Nov. 18, 8:30 p.m. Pro-tenant candidates won four of the five seats on the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board after the registrar’s office released completed results Friday night.

Incumbent Soli Alpert, Nathan Mizell, Vanessa Danielle Marrero and Ida Martinac, and independent Stefan Elgstrand will make up part of the new board.

At an election night party on election night at Victory Point Cafe in Downtown Berkeley, Alpert and others watched results roll in from national and local elections. Alpert, the only incumbent in the race, had gathered the most votes on election day.

Supporters of the rent board slate watch election results roll in at Victory Point Cafe in Downtown Berkeley on Nov. 8, 2022. Credit: Supriya Yelimeli

The eight candidates vying for five Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board seats want to guide tenants and property owners as the city moves forward from emergency pandemic housing laws in an ongoing region-wide housing crisis.

The rent board oversees all properties in Berkeley that fall under rent control (including the new rent registry), sets the rent ceiling and provides resources and education for tenants and property owners of rentals in the city.

The board also pushes for expanding rent board policies citywide — like implementing good cause eviction laws for golden duplexes and accessory dwelling units, and reviewing grievance cases from tenants and property owners. 

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In 2020, the rent board successfully campaigned for Measure MM, which created a database of rental properties in the city. Owners of partially exempt properties have to pay a fee and provide rental unit information (like tenancy numbers) so that the rent board can maintain inventory.

And during the pandemic, the rent board pushed for Berkeley to be one of the first jurisdictions to implement an eviction moratorium for all tenants — even before the state did the same.

Five candidates seeking board seats are running on a "progressive, pro-tenant" slate that swept the election in 2020: Soli Alpert, Ida Martinac, Marrero, Mosaed and Mizell. They are all using public financing.

Carole Marasovic, Stefan Elgstrand and Wendy Saenz Hood are running independently; Marasovic and Saenz Hood were candidates in the 2020 election and are using public financing.

Elgstrand, who serves as Mayor Jesse Arreguín's legislative aide, has a supermajority of endorsements from the City Council and the Berkeley Unified School Board.

In a forum with the League of Women Voters in early October, Saenz Hood pushed back against rent board attempts to extend good cause eviction protections to golden duplexes and accessory dwelling units (or in-law units), saying it discourages property owners from offering up their existing properties for the rental market.

Saenz Hood ran as part of a property owners slate in 2020 but is now a renter after she sold her Berkeley Hills home to move into an elderly neighbor's duplex, where she helps maintain the property.

Alpert, the only incumbent in the race, is a legislative aide for Councilmember Rigel Robinson. The "pro-tenant" slate of Alpert,  Martinac, Marrero, Mosaed and Mizell was selected by the Berkeley Tenants Convention, which represents local union groups, the Berkeley Tenants Union and neighborhood organizations like Friends of Adeline.

The slate strongly supports extending good cause evictions to golden duplexes and ADUs.

Most candidates in the election are critical of Costa-Hawkins and want it overturned. But Saenz Hood said while the legislation "has its flaws," including "arbitrary" date ranges for rent control, it was designed to encourage property owners to keep their units on the market. She believes supporting property owners, especially small ones, goes hand in hand with building more housing to tackle the housing crisis.

The pro-tenant slate pooled its resources, nearly $50,000 altogether, to purchase advertisements on behalf of all five of its candidates — making it the most powerful force in the race. Alpert, the only incumbent in the race, is the only candidate on the tenants slate to have raised more than $2,000. The rest of the candidates have raised between $1,350 and $1,850, plus matching funds.

Elgstrand, who’s running on an independent platform, had the most cash — $15,057 — to spend of any of the eight candidates in the race. Elgstrand, the legislative aide to Mayor Jesse Arreguín, is the only candidate who opted out of public financing, reasoning that it would be challenging to raise enough money for an at-large race with the $60 donation limit. He raised half his funds from contributions averaging about $150, and the other half from a $7,500 loan he made to his campaign.

Saenz Hood and Marasovic, both opted into public financing and have each raised more than $2,400 as of Oct. 22. Saenz Hood had $10,535 to spend on her campaign; Marasovic had $10,535. They’ve maxed out the city’s matching funds for rent board candidates at $8,000, like all but one of the candidates.

Staff reporter Ally Markovich contributed to this report. Check back for updates to this breaking news story.

The deadline to register to vote online or by mail in Alameda County is Oct. 24, and the election is Tuesday, Nov. 8. We put together a guide to the essentials of how to register and vote, what’s on the ballot, voters’ rights and more.

Here are some other helpful election resources:

See complete 2022 election coverage on Berkeleyside.

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Supriya Yelimeli is a housing and homelessness reporter for Berkeleyside and joined the staff in May 2020 after contributing reporting since 2018 as a freelance writer. Yelimeli grew up in Fremont and...