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Tenant Groups Push Concord City Council to Reject Anti-Harassment Proposal

CONCORD (CBS SF/BCN) – A coalition of tenant rights organizations called on the Concord City Council this week to reject a proposed anti-harassment ordinance that critics say is too weak to effectively protect residents.

A group of about 16 people, a mix of advocates and tenants, showed up at city hall Monday morning to deliver a petition signed by roughly 350 people demanding the council enact new rules barring landlords from harassing their tenants.

"This past Friday the city council released the proposal of the anti-harassment ordinance but after reviewing it and analyzing it, we came to the conclusion we can no longer accept it," said Tony Bravo, a community organizer with Monument Impact, a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of immigrants, refugees and low-income residents.

Bravo said the proposal, which the city has been working on for months, doesn't protect tenants from harassment by property managers and would put "more burden on tenants to prove harassment" by landlords.

It also fails to clearly define what services landlords are forbidden from withholding, among other things, he said.

"The ask right now is not to move forward with this ordinance and that (the city council) should regroup, listen to community advocates and listen to Concord tenants and come back with something stronger next year," Bravo said.

In a news release sent out Monday afternoon, tenant rights groups Todos Santos Tenants Union and East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy said the proposal won't stop landlords from retaliating against tenants asking for repairs and won't require them to provide notices or new leases in a tenant's primary language.

"This tool is so very weak and seems to favor abusive landlords more than tenants who have been harassed and abused," said Betty Gabaldon, tenant organizer and president of the Todos Santos Tenants Union.

City officials didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

The city council is scheduled to take up the proposed ordinance at its regular Tuesday meeting, which starts at 6:30 pm and will be live-streamed on the city's website.

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