‘A valued partner’: Leah Simon-Weisberg runs for reelection on Berkeley rent board

Headshot of Leah Simon-Weisberg
Simon Weisburg/Courtesy
Leah Simon-Weisberg, vice chair of the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, is running for reelection.

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Leah Simon-Weisberg, a tenant attorney who has been fighting for tenant rights nearly her entire legal career, is running for reelection on the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board.

As current vice chair of the rent board, Simon-Weisberg’s legal and policymaking experience is part of what makes her an important member of the board, according to Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín. If reelected, Simon-Weisberg hopes to strengthen tenant protections and increase rent control in Berkeley.

“Leah has been a valued partner with my office and the City Council in our efforts to protect our economic and cultural diversity and expand affordable housing,” Arreguín said in an email. “She is a Leading Attorney at the Eviction Defense Collaborative and is an expert and statewide leader on rent control, landlord-tenant law, and housing policy.”

An experienced legislator, Simon-Weisberg has written state and local housing laws as well as rent control policies for many California cities, including the Richmond Rent Control Ordinance.

Simon-Weisberg has also litigated more than 1,000 eviction cases over an eight-year period and is a founding member of California’s statewide tenants’ rights group, Tenants Together. Having represented Moms 4 Housing, Simon-Weisberg has fought widely for tenant protections.

“This is my day job as well,” Simon-Weisberg said. “I have been very involved in expanding local protections as well as working at the state level.”

Berkeley is one of the few cities that has an elected rent board, which Simon-Weisberg said is important to protect. She added that living in Berkeley, she sees serving on the rent board as something everyone needs to take their turn at.

In her first term on the rent board from 2016 to 2020, Simon-Weisberg contributed to several regulations modernizing the current rent control ordinance. She also helped pass a resolution that proposes protections for the rent board, and said she is excited for this resolution to be put on the ballot.

If she is reelected, she will continue to support tenants’ rights. According to Simon-Weisberg, a California law currently limits rent control and the protections it can provide. However, Proposition 21, on the November ballot, can amend this law and allow for wider implementation of rent control.

“I’m hopeful that Prop. 21 will pass,” Simon-Weisberg said. “We will be in a position to strengthen the rent control and be able to lower the rent again and make them affordable for people.”

She said the rent board will address this and contend with all the effects of COVID-19 on the housing shortage.

Contact Vani Suresh at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @vanisuresh_.