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Palo Alto to explore new laws to protect renters

Original post made on Sep 6, 2018

Fresh off adopting an emergency law that offers relocation assistance to low-income tenants facing eviction, the Palo Alto City Council is preparing to consider on Monday broader and potentially stronger measures to aid local renters.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, September 6, 2018, 9:55 AM

Comments (36)

Posted by Renter Protections Help Everyone
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 6, 2018 at 10:28 am

Comuncilmembers DuBois, Filseth, Holman, Kou, and Wolbach are heroes for finally moving to protect renters, who are a huge part of our community.

Many Palo Altans cannot afford to purchase homes here, so we need to ensure excellent rental options remain. When a project like the Hotel President comes along and wants to remove 75 housing units, that means we are going to lose many community members, including people who help teach in our schools, work in our government, and provide services. We all lose.

We need protection against removing properties from the residential market. And we don't want existing units turned into luxury housing -- we instead need housing options that benefit a wide segment of our community. Let's urge the Council majority to do a great job -- and quickly!


Posted by Profiles in Cowardice
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2018 at 10:47 am

Thank you DuBois, Holman, and Kou, for helping protect the 45% of Palo Altans who are renters!! The best first step in addressing our housing needs is to protect those who are already here, and living in Palo Alto!

Other members of our city council continue to show their cowardice on these issues, they choose to either support wealthy land developers who will always place their bottom line ahead of the interests of Palo Altans. Council members like Tanaka shows he cares more about the interests of non-Palo Altans over actual Palo Altans by saying protecting us renters is "putting up a drawbridge" to the city. With all due respect, it is our council members' jobs to protect us Palo Altans! They represent us, our interests, our homes, our families.

Other council members like Wolbach only express real interest in protecting renters when it becomes politically expedient for him to do so. Never forget, it was Wolbach's decisive vote last fall to not even allow the colleagues memo written by DuBois, Holman, and Kou to be studied! However, Wolbach is now fighting for re-election, so he must conveniently don his resident's hat to appear like he represents our interests...do not be fooled.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

This fall the choice is clear - vote for DuBois and Filseth for City Council. Vote for Holman for Midpeninsula Regional Open Space Board.


Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 6, 2018 at 11:53 am

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@Renter Protections Help Everyone

Amen, but Filseth's name is not on the memo. Maybe you know from his previous actions, comments, and voting record where he stands on this issue.

This sounds like a good first attempt at solving (just partially though) our housing problem in PA. But, we are looking into a very murky crystal ball as far as predicting the impact and future based on the proposed ordinance passing. And there is probably no way to track it and enforce it, thus, it'd be much like our ADU ordinance. What is the real measurable gain in improving our housing problem? That will probably remain a mystery, but will be talked about a lot by our CC members come election time.


Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 6, 2018 at 12:47 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@Profiles In Cowardice

Just a little grammatical advice. When you use the word 'either' you should present two choices. Words are powerful and important, and when used incorrectly or at the wrong time and place (out of context) can be very easily misinterpreted and get us in trouble. I have a little different take and interpretation of Tanaka's statement, for example.

You raise questions about Cory's seemingly new position. He's always been a consistent advocate for housing. What type of housing wasn't always made clear. Don't guess and speculate and prejudge. Do your homework. Stop using this format as a source of information and a sounding board. Go to candidate meetings and ask hard questions. Challenge him just like Supreme Court candidate Kavanaugh is being challenged/questioned now. Ask enough hard questions to try to determine whether he's being a chameleon for the sake of getting re-elected, or if he's had an epiphany and wants to help lead the way for real affordable housing for very low, and low income people who work for us every day. I think he's already made his position clear on the 'work force' housing for BMR incomes. Present hypothetical challenges to him. How would he vote on future proposed conversions of affordable apartments to market rate condos, e.g.




Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 6, 2018 at 1:50 pm

Ironic name, "Renter Protections Help Everyone"

Because they don't.


Posted by 2 cent Grace
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2018 at 1:50 pm

Hello All , this is a dazzling topic :). I am wondering what are the tenant Laws? Where can I read about them? I would be fascinated to hear from the 45% of renters living here with regard to their renting experiences over the years, their journey.
For us, having moved here in 2000 the same home that was $2950 per month where we lived now rents for $5 k. The present home we live in has been managed by a property management company and the rent has increased atleast 400 per year . The increase in rent this year also necessitated a collection of 2k to add to the security deposit.
There are other interesting twists and turns that occur that may be interesting to some but I dont want to bore you. Presently, we are not living at the President hotel, and my heart goes out to those. I will be moving soon, calling it by another name , eviction seems like it makes moving that much more dire/stressful, no?
I think about moving every day. Imagine. Imagine you would need to move in 5 months time.
Theres much to do :).
Hopefully we can all help each other along the way and in the long run avoid stress and strife. My gratitude to those who try to walk in others shoes and make a positive difference. Now , off to pack a few boxes! Ciao


Posted by Good News
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2018 at 1:58 pm

I currently reside in Santa Cruz COUNTY (Aptos) where I operate a small ceramics studio. I will be relocating to Palo Alto within the next two months & sincerely hope that this new ordinance will be enacted by then.

I intend to have my prospective landlord include a relocation/rebate provision in my rental contract and if possible, I will request that he/she pay me the $7000.00 upfront as they will eventually owe it to me at later date if/when thy decide to sell or further develop the property.

Kudos to Palo Alto for protecting the rights and interests of the renter. Though some landlords may beg to differ on this issue, they owe all renters a certain degree of consideration in no-fault notices to vacate and this council action is a step in the right direction.

With inflation raging on, landlords have had it way too easy and now it's their turn to pay the piper.



Posted by pickpocket
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 6, 2018 at 2:03 pm

This new "emergency law" will require landlords to pay a tenant up to $17K if they decide not to renew a lease. Where do you think that money is coming from?? Landlords will have to jack up rents in order to generate reserves to pay this extorted fee.

So much for promoting affordable housing! Another do-gooder initiative that will actually make things worse.


Posted by Good News
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2018 at 2:15 pm

>Landlords will have to jack up rents in order to generate reserves to pay this extorted fee.

Or include a lease-option provision in the rental contract. That way the renter has an opportunity to be an owner as well.

Landlord days are numbered in PA.


Posted by Cindy C.
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 6, 2018 at 2:16 pm

@ Gale Johnson.

Always interesting how people who do not have good rebuttals choose to attack a surface issue like a post's "grammar"instead of its merits. You said that Profiles had a grammatical issue with the word "either". It seems to me like Profile's thought on that sentence was cut short, but a logical interpretation of his/her post would be that members of our city council can either support landowners or residents. It does not appear Profiles was trying to mislead anyone, you just chose it as a point to attack, and ignore the underlying argument. Also, interesting you bring up Kavanaugh's hearings and suggest Profiles ask Wolbach questions like the SCOTUS hearing. The SCOTUS hearings (which I have been following closely) have been a sham, and Kavanaugh has consistently avoided answering questions from the senators...just like Wolbach often does. So perhaps you were making an argument that Wolbach and Kavanaugh have similar leadership qualities, that I would agree with you on, both equivocate on policy questions.


Posted by Todd
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2018 at 3:27 pm

@pickpocket

Landlords are sitting on a goldmine of unearned and untaxed equity, they deserve no sympathy.


Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2018 at 3:50 pm

"For us, having moved here in 2000 the same home that was $2950 per month where we lived now rents for $5 k....I will be moving soon..."

I wish you the best. As a veteran mover, I know the work of planing and moving are challenging. However...

It should be pointed out that $2950->$5000 over 18 years is an annual increase of...drum roll please...

2.975%/year

That's barely at/above inflation.

It seems to me (and any reasonable person) that an average increase in rent that roughly aligns with inflation is a very very reasonable increase in rent.


Posted by pickpocket
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 6, 2018 at 3:52 pm

@Good News:

Not sure if you're joking but I really don't see how lease-option could be realistic. Since we're talking large multi-unit apartment buildings, would a landlord really be willing to have a hodge-podge of both owned and leased units? Nor would this address the supposed dearth of "affordable" rental units since you are now telling renters to pay the option fee (3-5%) up front plus a likely adder on the monthly lease for the option.

Face it: free markets work best. Social engineering by activist governments will backfire.


Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Sep 6, 2018 at 3:56 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Thanks Cory for getting this back on track where it can succeed.

this is in line with the renter protection initiatives that have overwhelming support at CASA the committee to house the Bay Area.

The rent control part is contentious in all broad based venues and not having to deal with a wedge issue means that Palo Alto can move forward. And thanks to the others for joining in so can get something done quickly and avoid election politics.


Posted by pickpocket
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 6, 2018 at 4:00 pm

@ Todd

The landlord's equity will be taxed if and when they sell, just like all us homeowners. Until then, that equity is not very useful.

The landlord is paying taxes on the rental income.

If rental apartments are such a goldmine, why is PA Council wringing its hands over the lack of apartments in the city? And why would they put up bigger barriers ($7-$17K payouts) to any new builder/owner putting up an apartment building.

BTW, I'm not saying I want more apartments or condos in PA...I don't. We are built out. I'm just pointing out the illogic of simplistic proposals.


Posted by Asher
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 6, 2018 at 4:38 pm

To add to stephen levy's point, all of these renter protection initiatives (measure C, proposition 10) have overwhelming support, despite all the noise drummed up by landlord interests.


Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2018 at 4:40 pm

I think more renter "protection" ordinances are better for Palo Alto. For example the relocation package should be $50K to as high as $100K. This will give landlords less incentive to rent, less incentive to speculate on properties.

45% rental population, which presumably has been growing, is not good for a community. Before long Palo Alto will have a renter majority. The city council will tilt towards them. Landlords should instead sell their houses to home owners, converting apartments to condos if necessary, and invest in rental properties elsewhere. Palo Alto would be much better if housing is 90% owner occupied.


Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 6, 2018 at 4:41 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by @ Pick Pocket
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2018 at 4:53 pm

The landlord’s equity won’t be taxed if they use a Section 1031 like exchange when they sell. And they get to depreciate the building, for an asset going up in price. And the most recent tax cuts did a lot to help landlords and those in the real estate business.

We could already have renter protection provisions in place today if Cory Wolbach had gone along with moving forward on last year’s colleagues memo instead of criticizing the motives of those who wrote it. And that’s from someone who campaigned on civility.

During the urgency ordinance Council meeting, Tanaka said keeping the President Hotel Apartments tenants would reduce diversity. It seems to be that the residents are a diverse group. How does eviction of diverse tenants help diversity. And if they are replaced by people of means who move in instead, wouldn’t that reduce diversity.

Passing some sort of rental price controls allows a lot of provisions of the Ellis Act to take effect. So why is Cory opposed? There does not seem to be blight in Mountain View from the rent control there. And it hasn’t seemed to slow down their building boom either.


Posted by pickpocket
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 6, 2018 at 5:48 pm

^^^

1031 exchanges don't unlock equity, they just roll it into a new income producing building. Depreciation will actually increase the capital gains when the time comes to sell. But my point is not to debate accounting issues.

Rent control invites cheating and buildings falling into disrepair.

I'm not sure you really want to be saying that wealthy or long-time residents are not 'diverse' or contributing to the vitality of our town, do you?

I don't know if the current President Apts tenants are a 'diverse group' nor even how you would measure that. I'm not sure they are more "diverse" or worthy of special CC emergency expensive programs that residents of College Park or Midtown or....

The simple fact is that PA is a pretty nice place to live, and nice places are more expensive. Efforts to undermine basic economics will lead to fraud and backfire. The only way to make PA cheaper is to make it less attractive, and most of us don't want to go that route.


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 6, 2018 at 5:57 pm

A new day is dawning for Palo Alto because the dynamics are changing, and close to 50% of voters will soon be long term renters in the City. We hope that the Council will recognize this growing population and do what they can can to adopt a broad set of renter protections. Kudos to the brave ones that are fighting this good fight. We thank you and will not forget you in November at the ballot box.


Posted by An Alternative
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2018 at 5:59 pm

In lieu of any relocation assistance, what if the landlord's simply waived the first two months of rent? Monetarily, it amounts to the same thing.



Posted by Another Giveaway
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2018 at 6:14 pm

"Palo Alto to explore new laws to protect renters"

Palo Altans should be prepared for a lot of "exploration" but little action.

The Palo Alto City government is all about protecting developers and commercial property owners, NOT renters.


Posted by Trouble bubble
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 6, 2018 at 6:50 pm

Ah yes, looks like the Mountain View Tenants Coalition and backers have been firing up the PA renter group, good job guys! Now instead of just ruining MV, you can add PA to the list!

PA beware. Read the comments of the pro-rent control. Read the underlying theme of "greedy landlords and why can't I live here for cheaper rent and look out PA we will be a majority and you can't stop us". Do you really think they're the people who are committed to the community as a whole, here for the long term and willing to make sacrifices and actually VALUE your town?

MV fell to the lies and bullying of the Tenant Coalition, don't make the same mistake. Rent control NEVER creates lower cost of housing. Look at SF, Oakland, Berekely, they are a hotbed of deteriorating rent controlled units OR buildings that have been torn down and rebuilt as expensive upscale high-rent micro units.

RENT CONTROL DOES NOT WORK.


Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 6, 2018 at 7:18 pm

Renter "protection" is Trump-style populism.. Renters think it helps them, except they actually hurt them in the long term.

[Portion removed.]


Posted by Who does it help?
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 6, 2018 at 7:50 pm

Why does someone living in a rental property have more of a right to get a low rent than someone who wants to move there?

It’s more drawbridge. No immigration to Palo Alto. If you’re living here now, you get to stay. Otherwise, you should pay extra to live here. Extra over the already outrageous rents!


Posted by Question
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 6, 2018 at 8:57 pm

Does the requirement of "complex of 50 or more units" apply only if they are under one owner? Does it apply if the complex is made up of 50 condos and each unit is individually owned by different people?

Can someone please clarify?


Posted by Pat Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 10, 2018 at 9:52 am

Pat Burt is a registered user.

It is good that the President Hotel mass evictions have brought attention to the broader issues effecting the over 40% of Palo alto residents who are renters. Our longtime renter residents have been getting driven out of our community, leaving us with ever fewer nurses, teachers, public safety workers, and others who can live here.
Unfortunately, the latest Colleagues Memo coming before the council tonight, Web Link has been severely watered down from the one put forth by DuBois, Kou and Holman last year. As Wolbach stated to the council two weeks ago, he remains opposed to even having a thorough public discussion of the two most meaningful renter protections, caps on annual rate increases and the related issue of Just Cause Evictions. He made it clear that he had made his willingness to have the memo conditioned on removal of these elements from consideration.
This is despite the fact that over 60% of the county population already has similar protections. Even with these protections, San Jose and Mountain view lead the county in construction of new rental housing.


Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 10, 2018 at 11:04 am

"Our longtime renter residents have been getting driven out of our community, leaving us with ever fewer nurses, teachers, public safety workers, and others who can live here. "

That's because the other long-term residents (the owners) are driving them out.


Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 10, 2018 at 11:52 am

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Haven't you renamed it Hotel President Obama yet? I think that would be fitting concerning rent control, since he favor rent control.

The issue is having a ripple effect on rental prices across the nation. The SFBA residents fleeing the insane rental prices are finding the raised rents elsewhere. This causes hardships to the rental residents being evicted from properties in anticipation to Californian new residents who still find these new rates still attractive. Landlords all over the US are rejoicing at the possibility of making more money; they do not care if they hurt people in the process. Just like the problems Palo Alto faces. Insanity. Drive businesses out, then the workers. Google is setting up another Googleplex in Boulder, CO and is encouraging their employees to move there. Buy a house, ride a bike, go mountain climbing and Ski areas close by.

The rents are becoming a problem in the SFBA and other Metro areas. Why not just buy a house, instead? For a rental deposit, you can put a down for buying a house. the monthly payments are less than the rents they paid on the West Coast. No worries about the " big One ", either.


Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 10, 2018 at 1:56 pm

"Even with these protections, San Jose and Mountain view lead the county in construction of new rental housing."
Unless I am mistaken, new construction is NOT subject to these rent controls in any case. Only existing older affordable housing stock is ... so one would expect these kind of rent controls to increase conversion of older affordable rentals into newer (more expensive) rental construction. If they manage to repeal Costa-Hawkins and cities go to apply these price controls on new construction, then expect it to have a real negative impact ... more pressure to bias development towards commercial / office space.


Posted by Renters Unite!
a resident of University South
on Sep 10, 2018 at 2:18 pm

Just keep it affordable for the majority of those who choose to reside in PA.

No need to gouge people. Greed is not good...it's ugly.


Posted by Pat Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 10, 2018 at 3:28 pm

Pat Burt is a registered user.

There are actually two important renter protection items before the council tonight.
Besides the Colleagues Memo, the council will vote on a second reading of the non-emergency ordinance from two weeks ago, requiring relocation assistance for tenants in large apartment complexes who get evicted without cause, such as the President Hotel, Web Link Five council members voiced support for strengthening this ordinance at that meeting, but were defeated by a minority who threatened to oppose the emergency ordinance if the ordinary ordinance was strengthened at the same time, Web Link The emergency ordinance is now fully adopted since it was effective immediately upon getting a 4/5 vote of the city council. Consequently, Scharff, Kniss and Tanaka should no longer have leverage to defeat the majority.


Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 10, 2018 at 4:11 pm

Annette is a registered user.

@Stephen Levy: you wrote: "Thanks Cory for getting this back on track where it can succeed." HUH?

My recollection aligns with what @Pick Pocket wrote. Let's give credit where it is really due: with DuBois, Kou, and Holman.

There's a disturbing tenor in some of the posts on this subject. I guess that's to be expected given the subject. We've not only ignored reality and built in far more demand for housing than we can ever come close to accommodating, we've nurtured hostility in the process.

One poster wrote that he or she intends to have his or her prospective landlord include a relocation/rebate provision in the rental contract and, if possible, pay the $7k upfront as that money will eventually be owed if the landlord decides to sell or further develop the property.

I don't understand that at all. The protections CC is considering apply only to buildings with 50 or more units. And why assume a landlord will eventually owe a relocation fee? I think landlords should be reasonable about rent and lease termination, but I wouldn't expect a landlord to lease to me if I started the negotiation with unrealistic demands. In fact, that would scare me away. (And no, I am not a landlord.)


Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of another community
on Sep 10, 2018 at 6:08 pm

Renters Unite! wrote:
"No need to gouge people. Greed is not good...it's ugly."

In a prior post, '2 cent Grace' wrote that their rent went from $2,950/month to $5,000/month over 18 years.

Question: is going from 2950 to 5000 an example of gouging, in your opinion?


Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 10, 2018 at 8:50 pm

"Consequently, Scharff, Kniss and Tanaka should no longer have leverage to defeat the majority."

"I don't understand that at all. The protections CC is considering apply only to buildings with 50 or more units."

Be prepared for any new apartment construction (at least the ones that the residentialists would allow) to be have no more than 49 units.

It's amazing how much the longer-term residents feel like they need to keep newer residents out through these laws. It's almost xenophobic.


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