BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
A proposal many criticized as “rent control” was rejected by Menlo Park City Council last night (Feb. 26) in favor of an ordinance that will force landlords to pay tenants they evict if the property is going to be redeveloped.
Council was split 3-2 over the dueling proposals.
Betsy Nash and Cecilia Taylor favored the plan proposed by the city’s Housing Commission that would force landlords to pay tenants the three months’ rent if they raise the rent more than 9.3% and the hike forces tenants to move. The 9.3% figure is based on 5% plus the cost-of-living rate, which is currently 4.3% per year. The ordinance also has other reasons that landlords would have to pay tenants if they have to move.
The other proposal, the one that ultimately passed, was based on an ordinance Redwood City passed last March. It requires landlords to pay tenants if they’re being evicted because they plan to redevelop the property. Payments would be required for a couple other reasons, too.
The proposal passed with the votes of Mayor Ray Mueller and council members Drew Combs and Catherine Carlton.
Those three also voted to create a “community fund” to help tenants who wouldn’t receive assistance from the ordinance.
Council didn’t hammer out the mechanics of how the community fund would work last night. Instead, Combs and Taylor were assigned to work out the details and bring it back to council next month.
When it became clear that the proposal favored by Nash and Taylor would fail, Nash attempted to add a “just-cause eviction” clause to the Redwood City ordinance. Just-cause eviction laws limit landlords to evicting people only for non-payment of rent and breach of a lease.
However, the just-cause eviction addition only received her vote and that of Taylor.
The vote came after some two and a half hours of public comment and about two hours of council debate. The vote came just before midnight.
All sides were represented during the public comment period. For instance, former Menlo Park resident Nicole Evans called for the Housing Commission ordinance, saying it could help people in a similar situation as she was in to stay in Menlo Park.
On the other hand, landlords like Curt Conroy supported the Redwood City ordinance, calling it a good compromise. Landlord Mike Haddock suggested that the council abandon both options altogether.