Protesters made up of a coalition of community groups supporting renters' rights gathered at San Jose City Hall Thursday to confront Mayor Sam Liccardo ahead of next Tuesday's City Council meeting where amendments to the city's Rent Control Ordinance will be discussed.
What was unknown to many of the 15 or so people who arrived to try to speak with Liccardo on the 18th floor of City Hall was that Liccardo is in Washington D.C. through Friday for the final meeting of the Federal
Communication Commission's Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee, his spokesman David Low confirmed.
The mayor's secretary said she received no warning of the protest prior to the group showing up in the lobby.
The group chanted, sang songs and asked to speak with the mayor as they waited to see him. Many in attendance chastised him for meeting in recent months with groups they said are lobbyists for property owners but ignoring at least 10 email requests to meet with tenants.
The protest comes in advance of next Tuesday's city council meeting, where a vote will take place to amend the city's Apartment Rent Ordinance with one of two options. The first option would cap rent increases
to 5 percent and to remove "banking", which allowed landlords to roll over percentage-point rent increases from one year to the next if they don't use the full 5 percent rent increase in one year.
The other option is to modify the annual rent increase maximum to 100 percent of the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, with a 2 percent floor and 8 percent ceiling and to allow what the city calls a "maximum allowable rate form of banking with a limit of 5 percent in one year."
During the protest, which lasted about 40 minutes, the mayor's Director of Policy Ragan Henninger met with the protesters in the lobby and offered to talk to them in a conference room at least twice, but protesters instead said they wanted to speak to Liccardo himself.