Wednesday: Menlo Park may act on renter-protection measures


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.

12-month leases

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.

Other policies

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.

Other business

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.

Read the agenda.

Watch the meeting online.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.


3 people like this
Posted by watcher
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 8, 2016 at 12:42 pm

According to the staff report Staff Report# 16-191-CC, the city wants to add staff to provide these services.

Notice how they vote on this after the council election.

Like this comment
Posted by a concerned tenant
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 8, 2016 at 1:08 pm

A one year lease is good to keep the rent from being raised during the 12 mo. period, but a month to month rental agreement is better in case the tenant must move before the lease is up. We need rent control to limit how much and how often a landlord can raise the rent.

2 people like this
Posted by Beth
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 8, 2016 at 1:24 pm

It sounds like they're making this more complicated than necessary. Why not have rent control, across the board so everyone is equally covered. It's a moral matter, simple. Arbitration board I know little about, and assume it involves other aspects of renting, perhaps moreso, than rent increases or outright evictions (Sand Hill Apartments).

I'd like to see that the city government must follow set guidelines referring to firm obligations of developers when displacing groups of residents. Again, a moral guide to follow and would affect the developer's bottom line, but I think those folks would still make out will in this area.

2 people like this
Posted by Roy
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Nov 9, 2016 at 12:28 am

We've seen how well rent control has worked for San Francisco--not! Why would someone invest in rental property if the regulations are so stringent that the landlord's return on the investment is reduced? Certainly, we desperately need more rental units at a rate that the average person can afford, but why is it a property owner's obligation to provide that charity?

1 person likes this
Posted by Humanity
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 9, 2016 at 1:48 pm

It's not charity, it's humanity.

Certainly there's some happy medium version of rent control. Tie it to inflation plus 1-2% max annual increase.

Here's the SF policy. Edit away to something reasonable for both parties.
Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 9, 2016 at 2:05 pm

Just as an FYI to city officials

A side effect of passing rent control is landlords will raise rents before it starts especially to the one's that are under market,

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

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Su Hong Palo Alto's last day of business will be Sept. 29
By Elena Kadvany | 14 comments | 4,692 views

Electric Buses: Challenges and Opportunities
By Sherry Listgarten | 23 comments | 2,768 views

Natural Wines?
By Laura Stec | 1 comment | 1,052 views

Premarital, Women Over 50 Do Get Married
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,021 views

Stay a part of their day
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 497 views


Register now!

On Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

More Info