Many live far from Atherton, and speakers at an earlier meeting said that as many as seven officers and dispatchers were sleeping in two shifts in a house they had been allowed to use in Holbrook-Palmer Park.
But that arrangement, which had been made with the Atherton Police Officers Association in 2014, ended in April after Atherton Police Chief Steve McCulley couldn't find affordable living quarters near Atherton for himself and his wife, and they moved into the house.
The town was considering revamping another town-owned building in the park to make two bedrooms and bathrooms for the police employees, but council members saw problems with that idea.
Council member Elizabeth Lewis suggested that the town could put a modular home somewhere in the park or rent a house for the employees.
Council member Bill Widmer pushed back against providing the temporary housing. Being provided a place to sleep is "not a right. It looks like it's becoming a right," he said. "They knew where Atherton was when they got hired. They knew where they lived when they got hired.
"Maybe what we need to do is give a stipend for people who live close," Widmer said. "I just don't think we should be in the housing business."
But council member Rick DeGolia said some of the employees made decisions to work in Atherton because the sleeping arrangement was an option. "We have a responsibility to address an issue we know exists," he said.
Town Attorney Bill Conners said he had the answer to one question council members had at an earlier meeting. Local residents really can't offer police employees free or reduced-price housing, he said. The law says that "you have to avoid even the appearance of impropriety," and providing housing could give the appearance that something was expected in return, Conners said.
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