The day after Election Day, it will be back to business for the Menlo Park City Council. On Wednesday, Nov. 9, the council will consider ways to help residents stay in the community despite soaring rents.
Two proposals are on the table:
• Requiring landlords to offer some renters 12-month leases.
• Requiring renters and landlords in disputes to go through a non-binding arbitration process.
Following consideration of those policies, the council is expected to discuss setting priorities about what other anti-displacement measures the city staff should look into.
The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the council chambers at 701 Laurel St. in the Menlo Park Civic Center.
Under this proposed ordinance, landlords in Menlo Park would have to give renters an option to sign a 12-month lease, and would have to notify renters of this option.
However, the law would not apply to single-family homes, condos, secondary dwelling units, dwellings where a landlord and tenant share a living space, existing rent-controlled or subsidized dwellings, or boarding houses, among other conditions, according to a city staff report.
Mandatory non-binding arbitration
The council is also expected to talk through some questions about mandatory non-binding arbitration. For instance: What types of disputes would be covered by such an ordinance? Who will mediate the disputes? Who do the parties contact to get mediation? What happens if people don't comply? Should there be a provision in the ordinance that includes an end date?
The council is expected to take into consideration existing similar policies in Mountain View, Campbell and Palo Alto.
The city staff report has a table that presents five other housing policies that could be enacted, along with a list of factors the council should consider: what benefit the policies could have, what resources or costs might be required, how long it would take to implement them, and what kind of housing they would protect.
The policies are:
• Requiring landlords to provide rental relocation assistance in some situations.
• Amending the city's "below market rate" policy to allow displaced residents to stay on the list for three years, even if they move away.
• Creating a displacement fund, which would be generated by fees developers would pay to make up for the displacement impacts that new development would create.
• Limiting the amount that rent can be increased.
• Requiring landlords to justify their reasons for evicting a tenant.
In other business, council will hear a presentation by SamTrans on the Dumbarton Transportation Corridor Study, funded by Facebook, and get an update on efforts to reduce aircraft noise.