Judge upholds Alameda's rent control protections for houseboats

A federal judge has affirmed the city of Alameda’s rent control protections for houseboats.

The East Bay Times called it a landmark decision by Chief Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

That's because her Nov. 20 decision is the first of its kind with respect to rent control for maritime uses, the East Bay Times noted.

The ruling protects about 49 such maritime residential units at Barnhill Marina & Boatyard against too-high rent increases and unjust evictions.

Valley Investments-Redwood LLC bought the floating home marina in 2021, and immediately tried to evict residents of the house boats by jacking up the rent by as much as 178%. 

The AlamedaCity Council tried to fight that aggressive campaign by extending full rent control protections to maritime residential units.

Ryu ultimately sided with the city, and dismissed Valley Investments' suit against Alameda. 

She ruled that Alameda's ordinance was "drawn in an appropriate and reasonable way to advance a significant and legitimate public purpose and serves a "legitimate nonpunitive purpose of protecting vulnerable populations from the risk of displacement — particularly amid a housing crisis and a pandemic."