East Palo Alto Rent Control Ordinance, Measure N (November 2009)

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An East Palo Alto Rent Control Ordinance, Measure N ballot proposition was scheduled to be on the November 3, 2009 ballot in San Mateo County for voters in East Palo Alto.

However, in mid-September 2009, San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Beth Labson Freeman ordered that the measure be removed from the November ballot after Page Mill Properties, a real estate firm in Palo Alto, filed a lawsuit arguing that the city council violated state laws when they drafted the proposed ordinance.[1]

The City of East Palo Alto submitted the ordinance to the San Mateo County elections office in early August. Attorneys for Page Mill attorneys then filed a lawsuit accusing city officials of committing numerous open government violations. The lawsuit said the city had also failed to analyze the environmental impacts of the proposed law as required by the California Environmental Quality Act.[1]

The ballot measure may instead go on a ballot in 2010.

Details of the proposal

Measure N would:

  • Repeal the existing East Palo Alto Rent Stabilization and Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance.
  • Incorporate changes in state law and update procedures regarding permissible rent levels, just cause for eviction, and fair return adjustments for lndlords.
  • The base rent ceiling for each rental unit eligible for an annual adjustment would be increased by 65% of the increase in the prior year’s CPI for All Urban Consumers (“CPI-U”) in the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose area.
  • The allowable increase is limited to once yearly and is an increase over the current rent. The rent ceiling could not be reduced by the annual adjustment.
  • Rent Ceiling: The base rent is set at the tenant’s move-in rent.
  • Banking of Rent Increases: Banking of annual general adjustments is authorized, but is limited to 10% in any one year. Landlords are required to provide annual notification of any banking rights in order to preserve these rights.
  • State Vacancy Decontrol: The requirements of the Costa-Hawkins Act are incorporated.
  • Exemptions: The exemption of units owned by owners with four or less units is replaced by an exemption that is limited to units in owner-occupied duplexes and triplexes. An exemption for roommates has been added.
  • Fair Return Adjustments: The fair return adjustment procedure for landlords is updated. An interest allowance for amortized capital improvement expenditures is authorized.
  • Just Cause for Eviction: Landlords are required to give tenants notice of an alleged violation of a lease and a reasonable opportunity to cure the violation before serving a three-day-notice to quit.
  • Evictions for repairs are limited to those required to meet codes and applicable laws and costing more than 8 times the monthly rent and that require at least 30 days to complete.
  • Some owner move-in evictions are limited.
  • Registration and Certification: The Rent Board is required to provide a certificate of permissible rent upon written request by a landlord or tenant.
  • Landlords are required to register yearly, provide the City information on existing tenancies and notice of any new tenancy, and provide tenants notice of their rights under the ordinance.

Text of measure

The ballot question is, "Shall the Rent Stabilization and Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance – which would repeal the City’s existing rent stabilization ordinance with respect to residential tenancies other than mobile home park space tenancies and adopt new procedures to establish permissible rent levels, protect residential tenants from unreasonable rent increases and from arbitrary discriminatory or retaliatory evictions, and assure landlord’s right to a fair return on their property – be adopted?"

Path to the ballot

Measure N was put on the ballot through a vote of the East Palo Alto City Council.

External links