East Palo Alto residents to get 30-day notice in red-tag evictions

City forms a task force to address long-term solutions to crisis

East Palo Alto residents who face eviction for living in illegal or dangerous housing received a reprieve from the City Council Tuesday night when the council unanimously decided to give tenants 30 days, rather than 10, to leave when their residence has been deemed hazardous.

The move is intended to address the spate of evictions occurring since the city hired more code-enforcement officers. About 40 families have been evicted so far because officers have been cracking down on illegal second dwellings, such as converted garages, trailers, sheds and cottages on properties.

Advocates asked the city to invoke a two-year moratorium against the red-tagging. But city staff told the council the moratorium would violate state law. State building codes require cities to eliminate hazardous dwellings within 30 days.

But there is a caveat to the city's ordinance change: The 30-day notice can be shorter if the enforcement officer thinks there is an immediate threat to the health and safety of the public or the tenants.

In addition to the 30-day notice, city staff have also outlined a six-point program to address problems associated with the renewed red-tagging effort: issue a request for proposals to a nonprofit to provide services to those evicted; train staff on de-escalation and conflict resolution through the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center; hold periodic informational meetings with the public about how to legally convert second units and garages; prepare a technical guidebook to assist owners with the legal construction of second units; add information to the Affordable Housing Strategy request for proposals to include survey policies such as amnesty and funding sources used by other nearby cities and counties; and identify and prevent unintended consequences by strengthening second-unit occupancy standards.

The first, second and fifth items could be initiated soon while the others would be more long term, staff said.

Council members, however, questioned the need to spend money on displacement services if agencies would only offer referrals to programs that are already filled. They also questioned giving more than $34,000 to Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center through a single-source contract, noting that other groups, such as Project Sentinel, might be more conversant in issues specific to housing.

The council asked staff to solicit a proposal from Project Sentinel.

On Oct. 18, when the council first discussed the red-tagging problem, members directed staff to create a community task force to address the crisis and to implement the six-point goals.

Last Tuesday, Councilwoman Lisa Gauthier noted the proposed list of members seemed limited to professional groups and nonprofits and did not include individual community members, such as representatives of tenant organizations.

The council then recommended a list of 14 positions, including five from the community. Each council member would choose one member.

In addition, the task force would include council members Gauthier and Carlos Romero; a city staff representative; two individuals from the nonprofit Faith in Action; San Mateo County Housing and Health Departments; Menlo Fire Protection District; the nonprofit Rebuilding Together; Community Legal Services; and one city planning commissioner.


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44 people like this
Posted by Jason
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 21, 2016 at 4:59 am

[Post removed.]

30 people like this
Posted by susan zhang
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 21, 2016 at 7:47 am

[Post removed.]

21 people like this
Posted by Nicole
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 21, 2016 at 9:49 am

The compassion exhibited by those two comments is overwhelming

Like this comment
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 21, 2016 at 10:33 am

38 year resident is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

23 people like this
Posted by Ellen
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 21, 2016 at 12:08 pm

These are the people who serve you in restaurants, clean your houses, blow your leaves, deal with your trash. They work hard. Many have already left the area and are commuting from places like Tracy for minimum wage jobs wherever they can find them. This is their home. Where would you like them to live now? On minimum wage.

22 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 21, 2016 at 12:08 pm

Those who post the disparaging remarks about people who live in the "bad" part of town need to remember that many of those same folks are your gardeners, house cleaners, laborers, restaurant help, janitors, and other service jobs that facilitate our affluent population's daily lives.

16 people like this
Posted by vmshadle
a resident of Meadow Park
on Nov 21, 2016 at 12:25 pm

vmshadle is a registered user.

Thank you, "Enough" and "Curmudgeon."

I find the lack of common decency from "Jason" and "susan zhang" absolutely appalling. Apparently, now that Trump has been elected, you find it not only permissible perhaps even mandatory to dehumanize our neighbors whose lives are far, far more precarious than those of us who live in Palo Alto.

You have said explicitly that they are (1) beneath your notice; and (2) clearly a write-off because they live in a bad part of town (the latter in perhaps the most outlandishly expensive real estate market in the country).

[Portion removed.]

3 people like this
Posted by vmshadle
a resident of Meadow Park
on Nov 21, 2016 at 1:26 pm

vmshadle is a registered user.

Thanks also to Nicole. I missed your point the first time through.

21 people like this
Posted by Shame
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 21, 2016 at 1:58 pm

Shame is a registered user.

@susan zhang-- shame on someone whose parents and grandparents were immigrants.

You should have a better clue than most!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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