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Monday, January 11, 2021

"Hyper-Local" Emeryville Blogger Rob Arias Purchased Home in Pleasant Hill in 2019, May Be Forced to Sell His Home Here

 Emeryville Booster/Blog Editor Reportedly Moved Out of Town in 2019

Possible Violations Against City's Affordable Housing Program

Editor Rob Arias Tells His Readers He Still Lives in Emeryville

The self styled 'voice of the community' hasn't
been seen in the community for quite some time.

Emeryville blogger, local booster and political pundit Robert Arias, apparently moved to Pleasant Hill nearly two years ago.  A move would tend to undermine Mr Arias' public positioning as the voice of the Emeryville community, if he's sleeping each night in another county.  The move would also have real consequences.  Mr Arias may have violated stipulations in an Emeryville affordable housing program by apparently retaining possession of one of City Hall's few subsidized units, if the Park Avenue unit in question is no longer his primary residence.

The Tattler learned Mr Arias apparently jumped ship in 2019, closing escrow on an 1,163 square foot, two story home with two bedrooms and two baths, in May, according to public records, in the Contra Costa County community.  At the same time, he has apparently retained his Emeryville unit, purchased (in 2003) through the City's Below-Market-Rate affordable housing program, rather than selling it to a qualifying buyer or obtaining a waiver as the housing program requires. 

Having built a fairly successful, heavily monetized web presence in Emeryville, offering generally positive coverage- the digital equivalent of an old time small town newspaper’s proud, if boosterish coverage, Mr Arias hasn't volunteered anything publicly on his E'Ville Eye about any move 30 miles to the east.

The E'Ville Eye editor purchased this
Pleasant Hill home in May 2019.  
According to Emeryville’s low income housing assistance regulations, BMR owners must live in their units as a ‘primary residence’ for at least 10 months per year.  Living elsewhere represents a breach of contract.  Renting out a BMR unit is also a violation, though it is unclear that this has occurred. The program requires the sale of units to applicants meeting the city's income guidelines, (just as Mr Arias had in 2003) after the owner relocates.  The goal being having a supply, albeit a small one, of affordable housing for purchase in Emeryville. 

BMR unit owners, even though they receive assistance in the initial purchase, are allowed to realize property value gains over the tenure of their occupancy.  By law, Mr Arias would be allowed to keep 20% of the sale price above his initial investment.  Being across the street from the long-planned ten-acre, 500-unit, Sherwin-Williams development and new public park now under construction, Mr Arias’ unit has likely increased in value in recent months, a windfall he will be able to realize the longer he holds the unit.

This story will continue to evolve as new facts are revealed and we will report as our investigation continues.

Mr Arias declined to comment for this story.  

Rob continues to tell his readers he lives in Emeryville.  If the City's housing assistance director finds he has defrauded City Hall's BMR program, Mr Arias will be forced to sell his unit.  Bio pulled from his E'Ville Eye this week.