“PALO ALTO — When dozens of families living in a downtown apartment building found eviction notices slipped under the doors last June, they reached out to their local elected officials, pleading for help. The response came this week: the City Council pushed through Palo Alto’s strongest ever renters protections, approving an emergency ordinance that forces large landlords to compensate displaced low-income tenants with cash.
The controversial ordinance highlights the growing pressure on local leaders to come up with solutions as a shortage of affordable housing pummels the Bay Area’s low-income renters.
After three hours of contentious debate, which dragged on into early Tuesday morning, council members voted 7-1 to require owners of buildings with 50 or more units to provide relocation payments of up to $17,000 to some tenants who are evicted through no fault of their own.
“This is a big deal for Palo Alto,” said Mathew Reed, policy manager for SV@Home, an organization that advocates for affordable housing. “It’s a big deal because it does provide some protection, but I think it’s also a big deal in that it indicates that council has recognized this challenge in a way that it hadn’t in the past.”
The emergency ordinance went into effect immediately after it was passed and will apply to some tenants being displaced from the Hotel President apartment building in downtown Palo Alto, as the new owner converts it into a hotel.”