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Rent increases may be ahead for EPA tenants

Page Mill Properties is in the process of informing the tenants in its East Palo Alto apartments of a pending decision, possibly the rent increases that had been scheduled to take effect Feb. 1.

"We are notifying people," Page Mill spokesman Lance Ignon said. "We aren't saying (publicly) what the decision is."

The company owns 1,600 apartments in East Palo Alto and tenants in about 1,300 of those apartments earlier received notice of rent increases averaging 9 percent due to take effect Feb. 1.

The East Palo Alto City Council voted unanimously in January to pass a moratorium on all rent increases exceeding 3.2 percent, the current maximum allowed by the city's Rent Stabilization Board. That delayed the Page Mill rent increases.

Page Mill then sued the city challenging the rent moratorium.

In February, a San Mateo County Superior Court judge decided in Page Mill's favor, ruling that the rent moratorium violated two state laws and the city's own rent stabilization ordinance.

The city has since decided to appeal that ruling.

"We will aggressively pursue that," Assistant City Attorney Rafael Alvarado said today (Tuesday). Mayor Pat Foster said last week that a local law firm had agreed to do the work on the appeal on a pro bono basis, but did not name the firm.

Meanwhile, Page Mill's Ignon declined to comment on whether the notification being made to Page Mill tenants is of a rent increase.

"The tenants are being notified," he said. "The tenants are always going to be notified first."

Ignon said that tenants will have the chance to petition the company about any rent increases.

The pending rent increases caused about a dozen Page Mill tenants to formally petition the city against the rent increases. Two January City Council meetings each were jammed with more than 200 tenants, many of whom spoke out against the proposed rent increases.

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