News

With clock ticking, urgency law to protect Palo Alto renters wins approval

Short-lived measure aims to provide 'stability' to tenants before statewide rent-stabilization bill kicks in

After faltering its prior two attempts, the Palo Alto City Council approved on Monday night an urgency ordinance prohibiting landlords from evicting tenants without just cause.

The ordinance, which was proposed in November by council members Tom DuBois and Lydia Kou, was initially scheduled to be adopted on Nov. 18, though the council decided to defer the vote to Dec. 2 because members were under the impression that they would need six votes to pass an urgency ordinance and only five were participating in the discussion (they actually needed five votes as stated in city code).

As an urgency measure, the ordinance required support from four-fifths of the council members present at the meeting. Councilwoman Liz Kniss recused herself and Vice Mayor Adrian Fine was absent.

On Dec. 2, with six members participating and seven present, the council had another chance to pass the ordinance but failed to do so after Councilman Greg Tanaka demanded that the city take another week for community outreach. With him dissenting, the ordinance received five votes but needed six to pass.

The ordinance finally advanced on Monday, when the council approved it on its "consent calendar," where a list of generally non-controversial items get passed with a single vote and no discussion. All six council members voted to adopt the ordinance (Kniss once again recused herself because she owns a rental property), which will only remain in effect until Dec. 31.

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In the new year, the ordinance becomes obsolete because Assembly Bill 1482 will take effect, making evictions without just cause illegal statewide.

In proposing the ordinance, DuBois and Kou cited reports of an "escalation of harassment by landlords in order to encourage tenants to move out voluntarily." The two council members wrote in the memo that since Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill on Oct. 8, there has been a "surge of calls and inquiries from community advocates and tenants facing steep rent increases," some as much as 30%. Some tenants have also reported increases in costs of parking, lock services and other bundled amenities.

"While landlords may properly evict tenants for cause under the provision of state law, landlords should not be able to evict tenants in good standing without cause simply to avoid the limitation on rent-gouging afforded to renters under the new law," the memo stated. "Hence, it is imperative for the City of Palo Alto to issue an emergency ordinance to keep people housed and provide a sense of stability."

Palo Alto isn't the only city to adopt an urgency measure in preparation for AB 1482. Los Angeles, Redwood City and Menlo Park had all passed similar measures since the bill was signed.

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With clock ticking, urgency law to protect Palo Alto renters wins approval

Short-lived measure aims to provide 'stability' to tenants before statewide rent-stabilization bill kicks in

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Dec 10, 2019, 5:02 pm

After faltering its prior two attempts, the Palo Alto City Council approved on Monday night an urgency ordinance prohibiting landlords from evicting tenants without just cause.

The ordinance, which was proposed in November by council members Tom DuBois and Lydia Kou, was initially scheduled to be adopted on Nov. 18, though the council decided to defer the vote to Dec. 2 because members were under the impression that they would need six votes to pass an urgency ordinance and only five were participating in the discussion (they actually needed five votes as stated in city code).

As an urgency measure, the ordinance required support from four-fifths of the council members present at the meeting. Councilwoman Liz Kniss recused herself and Vice Mayor Adrian Fine was absent.

On Dec. 2, with six members participating and seven present, the council had another chance to pass the ordinance but failed to do so after Councilman Greg Tanaka demanded that the city take another week for community outreach. With him dissenting, the ordinance received five votes but needed six to pass.

The ordinance finally advanced on Monday, when the council approved it on its "consent calendar," where a list of generally non-controversial items get passed with a single vote and no discussion. All six council members voted to adopt the ordinance (Kniss once again recused herself because she owns a rental property), which will only remain in effect until Dec. 31.

In the new year, the ordinance becomes obsolete because Assembly Bill 1482 will take effect, making evictions without just cause illegal statewide.

In proposing the ordinance, DuBois and Kou cited reports of an "escalation of harassment by landlords in order to encourage tenants to move out voluntarily." The two council members wrote in the memo that since Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill on Oct. 8, there has been a "surge of calls and inquiries from community advocates and tenants facing steep rent increases," some as much as 30%. Some tenants have also reported increases in costs of parking, lock services and other bundled amenities.

"While landlords may properly evict tenants for cause under the provision of state law, landlords should not be able to evict tenants in good standing without cause simply to avoid the limitation on rent-gouging afforded to renters under the new law," the memo stated. "Hence, it is imperative for the City of Palo Alto to issue an emergency ordinance to keep people housed and provide a sense of stability."

Palo Alto isn't the only city to adopt an urgency measure in preparation for AB 1482. Los Angeles, Redwood City and Menlo Park had all passed similar measures since the bill was signed.

Comments

Anon
Evergreen Park
on Dec 10, 2019 at 8:34 pm
Anon, Evergreen Park
on Dec 10, 2019 at 8:34 pm
25 people like this

On December second with six members present
a four-fifths vote of Council members present, or 4.8 council members, was required to pass the emergency ordinance.
The mayor announced that the motion carried 5 -1
1 recused..

6 present and able to participate, 1 no and 1 recused, not present and not able to participate.

The city attorney said no, four -fifths of 7 was required including the council member who was recused

So where in the code, local or state does it say that
recused members count for a vote?


george drysdale
Professorville
on Dec 11, 2019 at 11:08 am
george drysdale, Professorville
on Dec 11, 2019 at 11:08 am
5 people like this

Go along to get along. Conformity is the key to success within the herd. Palo Alto city council, don't you realize what a turn off your stance is to real estate investors? Rent control and it's handy maid "just cause evictions" don't exist in the real world outside of California and few other entitlement demanding states. Only a fool would invest in Palo Alto's rental market now. One must think of the future. This is why we have evolved the frontal lobes of our brains. City council: you flunk out of Palo Alto.

George Drysdale the tireless social studies teacher and initiator


Gouging families and community.
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 11, 2019 at 12:07 pm
Gouging families and community., Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Dec 11, 2019 at 12:07 pm
16 people like this

Seriously? You are concerned about real estate investors who have been gouging tenants for years? Let's be clear--They aren't investing. Long-term landlords are taking advantage of Prop 13. They pay comparatively little in property taxes while they bring many new families into our schools and charge exhorbitant rents. They profit off community largess that was provided by the fools who voted for Prop 13.

I have a friend who lived with her family (with young children) in a small south PA rental condo for $3,500/month that was infested with rats, had dangerous, subgrade electrical. She and her husband solved all the problems her landlord would not (painting, electrical, vermin removal--in other words, made it marginally livable) and two years later the landlord increased her rent so much she had to move.

I'm pretty sure a special place in hell is being reserved for people who take advantage of young families and our community this way. The situation has gotten very bad. I have met several young families (who also are local workers, including two PAUSD teachers) who have been through experiences like this. I wonder how our community can maintain excellent quality of life with landlords who take advantage of community resources and their tenants this way.

Mind you...More than half of Palo Alto residents are renters. This is a non-trivial problem.

BTW...I am a senior who is done with the public schools, but I think Prop 13 needs to be gradually rolled back. It's very bad policy. There are other ways to insure that seniors can stay in their homes without giving unfair tax advantages to longer term property owners like big corporations (HP, Facebook, Google, Cisco, etc.) and predatory landlords who are worthy of central casting in a Dickens novel. Shame on them.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 11, 2019 at 12:22 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 11, 2019 at 12:22 pm
8 people like this

>> BTW...I am a senior who is done with the public schools, but I think Prop 13 needs to be gradually rolled back. It's very bad policy. There are other ways to insure that seniors can stay in their homes without giving unfair tax advantages to longer term property owners like big corporations (HP, Facebook, Google, Cisco, etc.) and predatory landlords

Well said. A simple way to fix this is to repeal Prop 13, equalize property tax rates across all owners of all properties, and then give "refundable" income tax credits to the less wealthy, seniors, and some non-profits. It would actually be quite simple to do this. The biggest problem, which we already have, is how to deal with self-serving non-profits.


Cat Mom Leonorilda
Registered user
Midtown
on Dec 11, 2019 at 6:52 pm
Cat Mom Leonorilda, Midtown
Registered user
on Dec 11, 2019 at 6:52 pm
2 people like this

It's about time this was passed!


Fr0hicket
Old Palo Alto
on Dec 11, 2019 at 9:20 pm
Fr0hicket, Old Palo Alto
on Dec 11, 2019 at 9:20 pm
Like this comment

I think Prop 13 is fine the way it is.

Actually, I would go a step further and say after 25 years of purchasing a property, said property will be exempt from property taxes unless it is being rented out or used for business purposes.


Takeourstateback
Greenmeadow
on Dec 12, 2019 at 12:00 am
Takeourstateback, Greenmeadow
on Dec 12, 2019 at 12:00 am
3 people like this

Unlucky 13 has hurt California and Californians for decade - except for a few tax winners. It stripped our schools, roads, libraries, law enforcement overnight. Repeal now.


george drysdale
Professorville
on Dec 12, 2019 at 10:02 am
george drysdale, Professorville
on Dec 12, 2019 at 10:02 am
3 people like this

The most important subject in school: social studies. Many commonly held assumptions are wrong. Supply and demand. How can there be "gouging" if a property owner can get a higher rent? Meanwhile because of a real estate interrupt, the great recession, we have a temporary supply problem. The problem is because of supply and demand there really isn't enough usable land to develop "affordable housing" a misstatement because somebody is finding the rental affordable. People want to live in the big tech winner cities or Paris and so they want subsidized housing and they feel they have a moral right. Fear not, there is always the fairy god mother.

George Drysdale the econ teacher and initiator


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 12, 2019 at 11:10 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 12, 2019 at 11:10 am
8 people like this

Posted by george drysdale, a resident of Professorville

>> The most important subject in school: social studies. Many commonly held assumptions are wrong. Supply and demand. How can there be "gouging" if a property owner can get a higher rent?

Of course, rentwise, "the market" is never wrong. It is always the "best of all possible worlds". Leibniz was correct, Web Link, and, you are our Dr. Pangloss, bringing us the high school version of this philosophy. Which, coincidentally, endorses a situation in which the deck is stacked in favor of the plutocracy.

But, however perfect you think the rental markets are, they aren't working very well right now for people of median income, because there are too many jobs concentrated *right here*.


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