The family of Palo Alto teacher Kyle Hart has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Redwood City and members of its police department for the December 2018 officer-involved shooting that mortally wounded Hart while he was having a mental health crisis.
Hart's wife, Kristin Hart, filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Northern California on Tuesday, April 13, after nearly two years of fruitless negotiations and failed mediation with the city, she said during a press conference on Wednesday.
The lawsuit asks for an unspecified sum of money for damages and accuses the police department of violating the late Greene Middle School teacher's civil rights, causing his wrongful death and being negligent. Responding officers did not use any de-escalation attempts and officers allegedly failed to administer emergency medical care. Instead, they handcuffed Hart and left him on the ground to bleed out, according to the lawsuit.
The city of Redwood City, police Chief Dan Mulholland, and Officers Roman Gomez and Leila Velez are named as defendants.
— Sue Dremann
City explores new policies to protect renters
Seeking to address the plight of low-income residents in a city with famously astronomical rents, Palo Alto is considering a wide range of new programs designed to protect and assist tenants facing displacement.
Some of these programs — including, most notably, rental stabilization — have been brought up in the past, only to fizzle in the face of political opposition. Others, including limits on security deposits that landlords can charge and a "fair chance" ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on criminal backgrounds, would be discussed for the first time.
The wide-ranging effort kicked off on Wednesday night, when the city's Planning and Transportation Commission unanimously endorsed two new initiatives to support renters: establishing a survey program that would allow the city to track its inventory of rental properties and expanding renter relocation assistance, with a particular focus on the "cost-burdened" households — those that spend more than 30% of their income on rent.
The commission split over a third program: expanding protections for renters facing eviction beyond those already included in Assembly Bill 1482, the 2019 legislation that capped rent increases and, in many cases, prohibited property owners from terminating tenancies without just cause. By a 4-3 vote, with Chair Bart Hechtman, Vice Chair Giselle Roohparvar and Commissioner Michael Alcheck dissenting, the commission voted to recommend extending just-cause protections to properties that had been built within the past 15 years as well as to renters who moved into their residences less than a year ago. Both of these categories are currently exempt from the state bill.
Other ideas that are on the table and that the commission plans to debate in the coming months include enacting rent stabilization and providing tenants with a right to counsel when dealing with eviction. The commission plans to discuss these ideas in the coming months before they go to the City Council for review and approval.
— Gennady Sheyner
City hikes development 'impact fees'
Developers looking to build in Palo Alto will have to pay significantly more to support local parks, libraries and community centers under a fee revision that the City Council voted to adopt on Monday.
By a 6-1 vote, with council member Greg Tanaka dissenting, the council agreed to overhaul its "impact fees" for new commercial and residential projects.
The most significant change pertains to park fees, which for residential projects currently range from $4,116 for a small apartment or condominium to $18,570 for a single-family home with more than 3,000 square feet of floor area. Under the revised fee schedule, a builder of any single-family home would have to pay $57,420 in park fees, while multifamily developers would pay $42,468 per unit.
While park fees represent by far the largest change, impact fees for libraries and community centers are also going up. Today, a single-family home pays $3,321 in community center fees and $1,126 in library fees. These would go up to $4,438 and $2,645, respectively, under the new schedule.
Overall, someone building a single-family home would have to pay $64,504 in impact fees for the three categories, up from the current level of $16,883. For a small unit in a multifamily residence, the total cost goes up from $5,557 to $47,707.
Commercial developers would have to pay $18,914 per 1,000 square feet in impact fees, while hotels would be assessed $3,322 per 1,000 square feet. That's up from current levels of $5,863 and $2,641, respectively.
— Gennady Sheyner