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Palo Alto delays 'urgency' law to protect renters -- again

Original post made on Dec 3, 2019

A proposal in Palo Alto to pass an "emergency law" to protect tenants facing evictions before California's new renter-protection law kicks in faltered on Monday night despite broad political support.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, December 2, 2019, 10:24 PM

Comments (30)

23 people like this
Posted by Bill Bucy
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 3, 2019 at 7:42 am

Bill Bucy is a registered user.

How Palo Alto to delay action on a temporary emergency measure for more "outreach" and "input." I shudder to think what would happen should we ever face a real emergency that required leadership and prompt action.


4 people like this
Posted by Redmond Sims
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 3, 2019 at 8:14 am

It would be good to stop and take a deep breath before taking drastic measures. I would hope we could cap compensation increases for all Palo Alto citizens and also provide an absolute prohibition on firing or dismissal for other than good cause. These are good things for society and consistent with our national profile. If we lead on these issues, the nation will follow. Unilateral actions are often required. But pause to think before you jump.


7 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2019 at 8:24 am

I really understand the urge to protect non-wealthy tenants from arbitrary evictions, but, at the same time, state law makes it really difficult to get rid of nuisance tenants. From the article, "While landlords may properly evict tenants for good cause under the provision of state law" is supposed to be true, practically speaking, it is extremely hard to get rid of troublemakers.


48 people like this
Posted by An Embarrassment
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2019 at 8:34 am

Oh for Pete’s sake - drastic measures has nothing to do with this. And a pause only weakens this measure in making a difference. This measure lasts only to the end of Dec. when the permanent State law that it mirrors takes effect.

That Council member Tanaka blocked this was totally for gratuitous and downright loopy reasons ( if one can even call them reasons). He was once again was an embarrassment to his colleagues and the public, and should he run again for council, he needs to know he has no chance of any serious endorsement or to win.


44 people like this
Posted by Tanaka doubletalk
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 3, 2019 at 9:38 am

It was mind-bending listening to Tanaka repeating 'we need more information' and 'we need more outreach.' The city manager made it clear there was no public request for that.
The Item had been postponed earlier for 2 weeks.

And the many many public speakers made it obvious that the public was well informed.

Tanaka's repeating those two phrases again and again showed him to be dishonest, he wouldn't vote against it so he put meaningless roadblocks in the way.
What a disgrace.


9 people like this
Posted by Dissent
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 3, 2019 at 10:00 am

This state law is counter democracy and counter property rights. It also retroactively changes the rules under which we live. None of this can be good.

Why can adults not agree to a contract and be held to it. The only justification is that its a tyrannical majority is ignorant that this can happen to them as well. The tables can turn on the mob. It is government sanctioned theft.

We had such an emergency ordinance in mountain view. Rent control transfers money from owners to existing renters, with no means test, increases asking rents, decreases supply and quality of housing, and increases the admin burden, thus the cost, of housing. Project Sentinal gets paid though, so it must be ok.

It just makes our problem worse.


45 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2019 at 10:57 am

The Hypocrisy Parade rolls on, of the so-called “pro-housing” types who cry rivers about affordability for renters, but actually vote only for their Real Estate political backers and lux cribs for tech hipsters.

The weirdest part was Fine lashing out at “anti housing” Kou and DuBois for authoring the measure in the first place. If you look at their voting record, Kou and DuBois are actually very moderate on housing and strongly pro renter and affordability; while Fine himself voted TWICE against the council even considering renter protections, disdains commercial impact fees for affordable housing, and consistently opposes all restrictions on tech office development whether there’s housing for it or not. Kniss who voluntarily recuses herself on renter protections because Developers hate them but she can’t be seen voting against them in public. Tanaka who opposes the whole thing but got peer-pressured by Cormack into just delaying it, once he realized he was the deciding vote. And finally the naïve public “advocates” who eat up this bait-and-switch, you know who you are, because they can’t tell political posturing from real actions.


8 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 3, 2019 at 11:25 am

Politicians are somehow unable to acknowledge that the reason rent control laws always require lots of bandaids is because rent control is bad public policy. It creates perverse incentives for both landlords and tenants while constructing disincentives for what they claim to be supporting: affordable quality housing.


2 people like this
Posted by Old Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 3, 2019 at 11:58 am

@An Embarrassment “ Oh for Pete’s sake - drastic measures has nothing to do with this. “

“ Palo Alto delays 'urgency' law “

“ A proposal in Palo Alto to pass an "emergency law" to protect tenants “

“Urgency”....” Emergency” .... sounds pretty “drastic” to me !
What article are you reading, Mr/Mrs Embarrassment ?


26 people like this
Posted by DINOs?
a resident of University South
on Dec 3, 2019 at 12:00 pm

@Resident
Those are shocking voting records for Fine and Tanaka showing their patterns of opposition for renter support and funding for affordable housing.
On top of that, Tanaka and Kniss are opposing any consideration of a business tax for affordable housing and transportation, and Fine is lukewarm at best.
Is it true that Fine and Tanaka got the county Democratic Party endorsement even though Tanaka had been a lifelong Republican and Fine a decline-state- until they decided to run for office?


5 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2019 at 12:19 pm

Posted by Dissent, a resident of Mountain View

>> This state law is counter democracy and counter property rights. It also retroactively changes the rules under which we live. None of this can be good.

Mostly agree, but, watch the "property rights" language. As an urban landlord, you are not just living quietly in Hobbiton, you are providing a service in an urban economy and are subject to a lot more laws for a lot of good reasons.

>> Why can adults not agree to a contract and be held to it.

Good question. Mostly agree.

>> The only justification is that its a tyrannical majority is ignorant that this can happen to them as well. The tables can turn on the mob. It is government sanctioned theft.

Unfortunately, your language is becoming intemperate. As stated above, a landlord is not just any old property owner. You are providing a service in the urban service economy, and in some cases, you even have life-and-death power over some of your tenants. Being a landlord can be a big responsibility. Absolute "property rights" don't exist-- there is always a balance of multiple rights against each other. That's why we need, and, have, "the rule of law", and, courts to adjudicate situations where rights conflicts.

>> We had such an emergency ordinance in mountain view. Rent control transfers money from owners to existing renters, with no means test, increases asking rents, decreases supply and quality of housing, and increases the admin burden, thus the cost, of housing. ... It just makes our problem worse.

Now this, I understand. Pragmatically speaking, rent control never works out well over a long period. Sometimes it is handy in an emergency. If the Developers and their political minions would pipe down about the alleged "housing crisis" we are having, then we could have a rational discussion about how to proceed. Unfortunately, the Developer "community" (LOL) continues to whip up a frenzy of public sentiment in the hopes of capitalizing on up-zoning properties. The result will be sub-optimal.

Posted by Dan, a resident of Midtown

>> Politicians are somehow unable to acknowledge that the reason rent control laws always require lots of bandaids is because rent control is bad public policy. It creates perverse incentives for both landlords and tenants while constructing disincentives for what they claim to be supporting: affordable quality housing.

I agree with you, but, the politicians see this as the lesser of two evils.

The root cause of the situation is the perverse incentives that software companies have that drive them to concentrate jobs in the San Francisco <=> San Jose corridor.


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 3, 2019 at 12:45 pm

^ Better weather than anywhere else is certainly a perverse incentive.


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2019 at 12:49 pm

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde

>> ^ Better weather than anywhere else is certainly a perverse incentive.

So, all those folks who live in Tracy and commute here to work do so because they really like their cubicles to be located in a place with better weather? :rolleyes:


5 people like this
Posted by reality distortion
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 3, 2019 at 12:55 pm

@resident

Lydia Kou has voted against the majority of housing changes over the past few years:
-The affordable housing overlay, which makes it easier to build.. affordable housing
-The workforce housing overlay, which makes it easier to build... workforce housing
-Accesory dwelling unit changes, which make it easier to build... accessory dwelling units
-Housing incentive program, which makes it easier to build.. housing in commercial areas

And Tom DuBois, while supporting many of those measures, used his vote to water them down.

Yes, Kou and DuBois have been big proponents of rent control. Which is absolutely terrible public policy. Especially when Palo Alto is building NO housing.

Fine was right to call them out for there hypocrisy.

Oh yah, Lydia Kou and Tom DuBois were both instrumental in killing the MAYBELL LOW INCOME SENIOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROJECT.


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 3, 2019 at 1:13 pm

Weather is all we have that I hear no complaints about.


11 people like this
Posted by mjc
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 3, 2019 at 1:37 pm

With council having approved a large housing project on El Camino where the old Nissan dealership used to be (more recently Mikes Bikes) it's too bad the developer has decided not to go ahead. Also, the developer who purchased of the huge Fry's site, knowing it was zoned for multi-family housing, is now refusing to build unless offices can be built on the property. Then there is the developer of the large zone busting apartment building on El Camino that the council approved is having problems and construction is held up. And so on.

Seems to me it is the developers who are in the construction business not the council.


13 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2019 at 1:54 pm

Posted by reality distortion, a resident of Midtown

>> MAYBELL LOW INCOME SENIOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROJECT.

So, any project, no matter how badly conceived, should be approved if it has all of these magic words in the title:
"low income senior affordable housing" ?

How about Sobrato proposes the FRYS LOW INCOME SENIOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROJECT? That could work. Ask Sobrato about it.

"Never trust an upzoner"

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde

>> Weather is all we have that I hear no complaints about.

touché


34 people like this
Posted by mjc
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 3, 2019 at 1:54 pm

@Resident
Tanaka gots major financial support from commercial property owners during his election campaign. Fine made it clear the last time he voted down even having a council discussion about protections that he takes a regional position and how important renter turnover is for the tech industry. In Palo Alto, existing renters need to be encouraged to move on because if they don't it's not fair to renters who don't live in Palo Alto but would like to. Tanaka's position during that council discussion was that we need existing renters to move out because otherwise there won't be "diversity" without renter turnover. Both their positions appeared to be Palo Alto would stagnate without renter turnover. Of course, with Fine's term coming to an end and presumably a reelection to fight he had to vote yes last night, however demonstrably reluctantly.


21 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 3, 2019 at 2:29 pm

Actually the municipal code 2.04.270 (d) says:

“Emergency ordinances.....may be introduced and adopted at one and the same meeting if passed by a vote of four fifths if the council members PRESENT”

No mention if exceptions for those council members not present due to recusal

Perhaps the weekly can cite another place in the code that establishes recused and not present members as part of the count?


19 people like this
Posted by Fred Balin
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 3, 2019 at 2:47 pm

Fred Balin is a registered user.

Recusals, such as that of Liz Kniss last night, are still counted as "present." This can lead to an absurd situation that if two (of the 7) council members recuse (yet still counted as present), six votes are still need to pass an emergency ordinance, but only 5 members are present.


22 people like this
Posted by Fred Balin
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 3, 2019 at 3:25 pm

Fred Balin is a registered user.

Following up ... The above code interpretation of the city attorney, not me, that someone "recused" is still "present" is not easy to grasp.


28 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 3, 2019 at 3:36 pm

To answer this question:

Is it true that Fine and Tanaka got the county Democratic Party endorsement even though Tanaka had been a lifelong Republican and Fine a decline-state- until they decided to run for office?

Yes yes and yes


15 people like this
Posted by Zoe Salem
a resident of Southgate
on Dec 3, 2019 at 5:21 pm


It feels like the city attorney is not taking this seriously!


14 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 3, 2019 at 5:29 pm

Not following why it is ever necessary for any Council member to get nasty towards another but it happens frequently; nothing to be proud of in that. Where's Miss Manners when we need her?

And the "not there but still present" paradox is, somehow, fitting for this now weird and contradictory city.


21 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 3, 2019 at 5:46 pm

This is NOT a surprise. Follow the money. Councilmembers Tanaka, Cormack, Kniss and Fine are all pro-development and had HUGE sums contributed to their campaigns by developers. It is not a stretch to imply there is a financial linkage between developers and landlords who buy from developers.

If you want honesty and integrity, VOTE next time for Council Members who COMMIT to not having any economic or political interest to developers.

This problem happens EVERY time Council is up for election. Gregg Scharff is the best example: a real estate attorney with developers as clients. And he has had dealings with Michael Alcheck who is on the Planning Commission and clearly had ethical lapses. Yet the pro-development council majority does nothing despite his bad behavior.



6 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 3, 2019 at 7:16 pm


Rent control is another band-aid on a ruptured artery; dooming the patient to an even worse condition in the near future.

The solution is to fix the ruptured artery.
California is short 2 million plus homes right now. The solution is to build several million homes in a short period of time; but not even Gov. Newsome's housing plan will mitigate the loss of blood or the continued bleeding.
Web Link

What are the liberal/democratic policy makers attempting to do with all this legislation? They are attempting to reverse the policies they implemented over the last 40 years that created the housing emergency and save face doing so.

They cannot admit that they have been wrong all along; and this failure to admit they have made a mistake prevents them from implementing policy that would truly solve the housing emergency.

So due to their greed and cognitive dissonance we will be burdened with outrageous housing costs for the next couple of decades at least.












19 people like this
Posted by paloaltoyimbynot
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 3, 2019 at 8:54 pm


@mjc "Of course, with Fine's term coming to an end and presumably a reelection to fight he had to vote yes last night, however demonstrably reluctantly."

When you say "demonstrably reluctantly", are you referring to Adrian Fine's hissy tantrum lashing out at Dubois and Kou? It was quite entertaining watching Fine's childishness.

When are the voters going to get that disruptive government just takes more money out of their own pockets because special interests manages to spin the narrative.

#ostrich



5 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 3, 2019 at 10:44 pm

Rent control does not work and is taking someone's property.

The effect of the state law is to ensure every landlord makes sure to be at market rate.

Thank you Greg Tanaka for delaying an ineffective and probably illegal bandaid to a stupid and counterproductive law.


1 person likes this
Posted by Madias
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 4, 2019 at 8:01 am

@musical : “Weather is all we have that I hear no complaints about.”

Smoke, smog, drought, constant spare the air days, we’ll i
Over 100 deg temps, your weather is pretty bad. You should try living in the PNW a while. You’ll see how dead and dry.the Bay Area is. Your weather is not good, unless you’re comparing to Texas.


1 person likes this
Posted by george drysdale
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 4, 2019 at 11:31 am

Stop posturing city council. Do something until the end of the year just several weeks to go? You've got to pay to play including all the congestion. Palo Alto and Atherton flat farm county, you think you're living in the mid west. With global warming our political leaders are going to learn how to be harsh but accurate in terms of economics. Rent control is gut shot with the San Jose Property Rights Initiative. No money, no development.

George Drysdale the teacher


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