If Measure V passes, proponents won’t pay legal city’s fees if suits are filed

Daily Post Staff Writer

The leaders behind Menlo Balance say they won’t indemnify the city against any future lawsuits brought against the city if their initiative to make it hard to build apartment complexes wins in November.

Menlo Balance volunteers, worried about a 90-unit housing project proposed by the Ravenswood School District, gathered signatures to get Measure V on the ballot, which will require a vote if the city tries to rezone single-family housing into apartments or anything else.

Opponents of the measure have said it could violate state and federal housing law and prove costly to the city to defend if challenged. They cite an analysis done by a city contractor that raises the issue the city could become “further racially and economically” segregated, which could trigger lawsuits.

But Menlo Balance co-founders Nicole Chessari and Tim Yaeger said they wouldn’t indemnify the city in case of a lawsuit. Yaeger pointed out that if approved, it would be the city’s initiative, representing the will of the people.

Chessari said it’d be the No on Measure V group suing the city, which would just make Menlo Balance pay to defend themselves.

Previously, City Attorney Nira Doherty confirmed to the Post that if the city is sued with a claim that the measure is illegal, it’d be up to the city to defend the measure in court.

A “ballot measure impact analysis” put together by city employees and some consultants that the city council reviewed before putting the measure on the ballot, warns the city that its possible the ballot measure, if approved, could be considered a ban on subsidized housing, because it would “place a very high barrier to any land use change that would allow higher density residential uses in single family zoned” areas.

But Yeager and Chessari were quick to point out in an interview yesterday that portions of the analysis were only included because former housing commissioner, and No on Measure V funder, Karen Grove, had requested topics be included. Topics requested included impacts on black and Latino communities, educational equity and if it would impact the city’s ability to comply with state housing laws.

Previous stories on Measure V, Menlo Balance

Menlo Park City School Board to vote on whether to oppose Measure V

Donors who oppose Measure V — they include Sobrato, Grove

Donors who support Measure V — money is from just one part of town

If Measure V passes, the city would get stuck paying legal fees to defend it in court

Measure V may delay remodeling of fire station

Fire chief won’t take sides on Measure V

Ravenswood School Board votes to oppose Measure V — ballot measure called ‘disgraceful’

Council hears from both sides in the Measure V controversy


  1. That’s convenient! They put this on the ballot but if it goes wrong, they’re not willing to pay! If Measure V we’re well written, we wouldn’t be worried about lawsuits, But it’s not. it’s flawed.

  2. There are always threats of lawsuit over anything by anyone. This is no different. In order for a lawsuit to prevail a court would have to speculate that a future council or councils would make rezonings that future voters would deny. Since law is based on facts in evidence and not future speculation, I’m not real worried that a court would make a finding based upon what it thinks might happen in future.

  3. Isn’t Saratoga a good case study in how many lots would ever get rezoned? That would have been an interesting comparison for the article.

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