Richmond rent control proponents are fuming following the reveal that Mayor Tom Butt, who voted against a moratorium on rent hikes and evictions earlier this month, is a current landlord.
Butt’s critics argue that the landlord gig constitutes a conflict of interest and say he should have excused himself from the Sept. 13 vote, which would have imposed a 45-day ban on some evictions and rent hikes. The emergency ordinance required a super majority of six out of seven "yes" votes to pass, but it could only muster four.
The mayor owns four properties in the city, three of which he rents out. He also collected contributions from the California Apartment Association, a political action committee against rent control, at a March fundraiser to the tune of $1,000, according to public records.
Butt did not break any city council rules when he voted, nor was he required to disclose the alleged conflict of interest, he told NBC Bay Area. The properties he rents out would also be exempt from the rent control portion of moratorium — but not the clauses limiting eviction — due to their age.
Still, it came as a surprise to some Richmond natives, who called into question the mayor’s objectivity on the matter.
“I don’t get it,” said Eric Hattrup of Richmond. “How can he be unbiased on the issue if he’s a landlord?”