A group of renters in the expensive California suburb Berkeley stormed an event where landlords were celebrating the end of a COVID-era ban on evictions, plunging the event into violence and sparking a brawl that saw an elderly landlord get punched in the face. The bayside city was among the last in Alameda County to abolish the protection that landlords claim was being used as cover for widespread rent avoidance. It forbid them from evicting anyone who did not pay rent, but the landlords say it cost them tens of thousands of dollars over the last three years.
The unemployment rate in Berkeley is 3.8 percent – on par with the national average – and the median rent is $3,800. It is known to be a wealthy enclave with a deeply academic community thanks to its eponymous college. To celebrate the end of the milestone, the Berkeley Property Owners Association (BPOA) arranged a party in a bar. But more than 100 angry renters crashed the soiree, calling it ‘deeply cruel’.