Renter Protections 101

Most of us don’t know much about the complexity and diversity of renter protection rules. But as Palo Alto gives them a closer look and voters statewide consider Proposition 10 that would eliminate major restrictions on local rent control rules, it’s time to get a better sense of the basics and where Palo Alto law stands.

Renter protections vary extensively by local jurisdiction, but they essentially fall into three main buckets reflecting increasingly more intensive regulation of the landlord-tenant relationship. The summary of key strategies below is drawn primarily from the Palo Alto Municipal Code and a September 23, 2015 County of San Mateo Interdepartmental Correspondence on the “Continuum of Residential Tenant Protection Measures.” The full county memo appears as Attachment A accompanying the Palo Alto Colleague’s Memo on renter protections. Click here for excerpts outlining commonly advanced pros and cons of policies regarding just cause eviction, relocation assistance, and rent stabilization.

Notice requirements, minimum lease terms, and mediation

Notice of Lease Termination

In California, state law sets a minimum standard of 30 days prior written notice of lease termination. Tenants who have resided in the rental unit for at least a year must be given 60 days prior written notice. Local governments are permitted to exceed that standard. Palo Alto has not done so.

Notice of Rent Increase

State law preempts local regulations regarding notice of rent increases, setting a statewide standard of at least 30 days advance notice if a proposed rent increase is less than or equal to ten percent of the rent charged at any time during the preceding year. If the proposed increase exceeds that ten percent, the landlord must give 60 days prior written notice.

Minimum Lease Terms

Palo Alto Municipal Code Section 9.68 requires that a tenant be offered a lease term of at least 12 months during which the rental rate cannot be increased. If the tenant rejects the offer of a one-year term, a shorter lease may be negotiated, but once that tenant has occupied the unit for 12 months, the landlord must again offer a 12 month lease. A 12 month lease must be offered annually, (or at the conclusion of a longer lease) but at the end of each lease term, the rental rate may be increased.

Mediation of Rent Increases

Some jurisdictions offer or require a mediation process to address certain rent increases or other landlord-tenant disputes. Palo Alto Municipal Code Section 9.72 defines a mandatory dispute resolution process (conciliation and mediation) that can be triggered by a written request from either tenant or landlord regarding rental rate increases, deposits, repairs and maintenance, utilities, occupants, parking and storage facilities, privacy, quiet enjoyment, or use of common areas.

Retaliatory acts or omissions against any party to the dispute resolution process are prohibited and, if identified within six months of the party’s participation, may be referred to the city attorney for remedial action. Every rental agreement must include notice of the right to mediation and protection from retaliation, including contact information for the city facilitator.

Palo Alto’s dispute resolution ordinance applies to any residential rental property that contains two or more units (except two-unit properties in which one of the units is owner-occupied) and any residential rental property when the owner owns two or more residential rental units anywhere in the city.

Just cause and relocation assistance

Just Cause Evictions

Palo Alto does not currently have a just cause eviction ordinance. Just cause eviction ordinances define a specifically enumerated list of reasons that permit a landlord to evict a residential tenant. They also often require a landlord to identify the grounds and supporting facts for the eviction. Typical examples include:

  • failure to pay rent, damage to the property, creating a nuisance or interfering with other tenant’s safety or comfort, illegal activities, or unauthorized subtenants;
  • new occupancy by owner, family member or resident manager;
  • substantial renovations; or
  • removal of the property from the rental market.

Relocation Assistance

Many local governments require landlords to pay relocation assistance when an eviction is not the fault of the tenant (“no-fault evictions”). Such requirements typically include lump sum payments and/or relocation assistance services. Sometimes the payments are required for all no-fault evictions, other times they apply only based on certain types of eviction (such as to facilitate owner occupancy of the unit) or the status of the affected tenant (such as income or disability).

The emergency ordinance enacted in Palo Alto on August 27 requires a base relocation payment based on the size of the unit being vacated, ranging from $7,000 for a studio to $17,000 for 3 or more bedrooms. They will increase annually based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The base payments are set at approximately three times the current market rate for each type of unit, reflecting high start-up costs of a new tenancy, in addition to the cost of moving and potential lost wages. A single additional payment of $3,000 will be added where the unit is occupied by a low-income household or one or more tenants who is elderly, disabled, or a minor child.

To be eligible for relocation assistance under the emergency ordinance, a displaced residential household must have an annual household income that does not exceed one hundred (100) percent of the area median household income for Santa Clara County as adjusted for household size. Affordable housing developments are exempt and the emergency ordinance only applies to multi-family housing of 50 units or more. It is expected to impact approximately 25 parcels.

Rent stabilization

Rent stabilization ordinances take a wide variety of forms, but generally speaking they include some combination of limits on increased rents, limits on landlord conduct that has the effect of imposing a rent increase (such as reduction in services), or eviction controls. The implementation of a rent stabilization ordinance can be managed by a rent board or integrated into the jurisdiction’s staff responsibilities.

Rent Control

There are two forms of allowable local rent control in California. The least restrictive type (permanent decontrol) limits rent increases for units occupied at the time of adoption, but expires altogether as soon as those units become vacant. The other type (vacancy decontrol-recontrol) allows a landlord to set the initial rent, but limits increases as long as the same tenant occupies the unit. Once the unit is vacant, rents typically rise to the market rate which then becomes the new “base rent” on which the rent increase limits apply. All rent control ordinances “make some allowance for automatic periodic rent increase, and also for additional rent increases when required to ensure the landlord receives [a] fair rate of return.”

Eviction Controls

Because landlords can raise rents between tenancies, rent control alone can create an incentive for landlords to evict tenants for the very purpose of increasing rents. As a result, most rent stabilization ordinances include carefully crafted just cause eviction limits. For example, California’s Ellis Act gives landlords an almost absolute right to evict tenants for the purpose or exiting the rental business, but jurisdictions can still require relocation assistance in such cases and can potentially impose additional requirements should the landlord try to re-enter the rental market.

Evictions to allow owner occupancy are typically (though not always) considered just cause, but localities can impose requirements that the owner take occupancy within a certain period of time or that they maintain occupancy for minimum tenure. Finally, evictions for major renovations are often allowed, but some cities require the landlord to demonstrate that the evictions are actually necessary or require that the tenants be given a right to return following construction and even a comparable base rent, adjusting for amortized capital improvements.

Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act

California’s 1995 Costa Hawkins Act imposed strict limits on the reach of local rent stabilization efforts. Under the Act, all housing built after February 1, 1995 and all single family homes and condominiums are exempt from local rent stabilization laws. Also, localities are prohibited from regulating the initial rent offered to a new tenant following a vacancy. Statewide Proposition 10, on the ballot this November, would repeal the Costa Hawkins Act, opening the door to much greater impacts from local rent stabilization rules.

Should Stanford meet housing demand it creates?

New analyses show current housing fees insufficient and confirm heightened congestion impacts particular to housing development.

Public comments related to Stanford’s proposed academic expansion raised big concerns about obscured impacts in Stanford’s analysis and unmet new housing demand. Under the leadership of Board President Joe Simitian, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors stepped up to the plate to clarify costs and implications.

The original Draft Environmental Impact Report for Stanford’s pending General Use Permit application, (commonly referred to as the Stanford GUP), relied on surrounding communities to provide 2,245 new housing units to support the university’s growth. But vagueness about how much would go where led to limited, generalized analysis of potential impacts. To offer the public a fuller picture, the county commissioned a nexus study to quantify the cost to the county (i.e., taxpayers) of meeting below-market-rate housing needs created by Stanford’s planned expansion. Also at the county’s initiative, Stanford analyzed two alternative housing scenarios in which Stanford would build on-campus housing for more of the faculty, staff and students its expansion would generate. Updated findings are published in a Recirculated Draft Environmental Impact Report.

Together, the new data and analysis highlight a fundamental conundrum. Unless there is a major adjustment to housing impact fees, allowing Stanford to shift its housing burdens to off-campus communities would also shift significant costs to taxpayers (and may risk that the housing won’t get built). But requiring the university to house the new demand it creates will cause additional, substantial, and concentrated impacts in Palo Alto. In addition to teeing up those key trade offs to inform the county’s decisions about the project, the new housing analysis also reveals that even in a truly transit-rich environment, residential development, by its nature, makes it harder to get cars off the road. Read on to learn more about impact fees and key takeaways from the updated DEIR analysis.

If you want to tell the Board of Supervisors your thoughts on housing impact fees, you can email Joe Simitian (our District 5 supervisor) here and find contact info for other supervisors here. The public has until July 26, 2018 to submit comments on the recirculated DEIR to Santa Clara County.

The county will host a public meeting to hear and receive comments on the recirculated DEIR in Palo Alto on July 10, 2018 from 6:00- 8:00 pm (Palo Alto Art Center, 1313 Newell Road).

Housing impact fees fall far short of full mitigation for newly created below-market-rate housing needs.

 

2018 Santa Clara County nexus study on housing impact fees. According to county staff report, “The Administration is recommending the maximum supportable fees per square foot for Academic Space and Faculty and Staff Housing.”

Santa Clara County and many municipalities, including Palo Alto, impose housing impact fees on new development to help offset the cost of public subsidies to meet related affordable housing needs. The new county nexus study indicates that the cost to support below-market-rate housing demand created by Stanford’s planned growth comes to $143.10 per square foot of new academic space. A similar nexus study commissioned by Palo Alto in 2016 found that a housing impact fee charged to commercial developers (office/R&D) could be justified at up to $264 per square foot. Stanford currently pays the county a housing impact fee of $35 per square foot. The 2018 Stanford GUP proposed reducing that payment to $20 per square foot.

On May 8, the County Board of Supervisors discussed raising impact fees to better reflect nexus study findings. County staff recommended charging the maximum supportable fee of $143.10 per square foot for Stanford’s academic development:

“Fee levels below the maximum will exacerbate the existing jobs-housing imbalance and wage disparity – the root causes of the housing affordability crisis.”

Stanford strongly objected, claiming that such a change would “cripple” the university’s ability to fulfill its mission. Board President Simitian countered that even the highest fee would amount to only 0.2 percent of the university’s annual budget, or a mere 2 to 3 days worth of growth in its endowment. Simitian contrasted that impact with 30 percent to 50 percent increases in rent, within a mere couple of years, faced by area residents. The Board of Supervisors expressed support for raising the floor of an impact fee to $68.50 per square foot (roughly double the current charge), with a ceiling of $143.10. It has been reported that Stanford has since offered to increase its housing contribution to about $24.60 per square foot, which they claim aligns with the housing fees paid for office development “in most Bay Area cities.” 

The nexus study indicated that a fee of $75 per square foot would be sufficient to provide affordable housing in the county for new Stanford workers with household incomes up to 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). In 2017, the AMI for a family of four was $113,300 per year in Santa Clara County. The board will take a final vote after review by two other county committees.

[Note:  In March 2017, City Council voted 5-4 (DuBois, Filseth, Holman, Kou dissenting) to set Palo Alto’s housing impact fees for office/R&D development at $35 per square foot, a significant reduction from the $60 per square foot fee approved by the previous council in December 2016.]

Stanford says more on-campus housing will significantly increase car trips and local congestion, despite transit-rich environment.

 

Stanford’s free shuttles create comprehensive transit system.

Policy makers at every level of government make great hay over the promise of car-light housing in “transit-rich” areas to reduce car use and ownership, thereby reducing traffic and parking congestion impacts. The new Stanford analysis, however, confirms what many Bay Area residents have long contended is a weakness in that approach: it turns out the complicated transportation demands created by residential development – for trips to school, child care, shopping, medical care, religious services, socializing, recreation, entertainment, etc. – make it less likely people will get out of their cars.

The recirculated DEIR studies two new alternative scenarios: Additional Housing Alternative A, in which all newly created housing demand is met through on-campus construction (adds 2,483 additional multi-family housing units and 66 student beds to the original project); and Additional Housing Alternative B, in which approximately half of the housing demand (1,209 multi-family units and 66 student beds added to the original project) is met on-campus. Even with Stanford’s rich transportation resources, on-campus residential development under both alternatives will lead to more car trips and greater congestion. Stanford also notes that although vehicle miles traveled are reduced when people live near where they work, many new Stanford households (as in all cities), would include folks who commute to work elsewhere, offsetting some of those reductions.

“[O]ne might think having more housing on campus will reduce car trips. But campus residents will need to drive on local roads to do things like take kids to school, buy groceries and commute to off-campus jobs. Analyses show that residents generate more local car trips than commuters to campus.”

– Catherine Palter, Stanford’s associate vice president for land use and environmental planning. 

In order to meet its highly touted No Net New Commute Trips standard (set under the previous, 2000 GUP), Stanford has created a sophisticated Transportation Demand Management program, imposed permit parking requirements across campus, and embraced multi-modal infrastructure to encourage bicycle and pedestrian transportation. Perhaps most importantly, it has effectively deployed an extensive free shuttle system, the Marguerite, that zig zags the entire campus and connects riders to Stanford, Town and Country, and San Antonio Road Shopping Centers, Stanford’s Medical Center and Research Park, downtown Palo Alto and the Palo Alto Transit Center on University Avenue. 

“[T]he No Net New Commute Trips standard may not be achieved because travel demand management (TDM) measures are not as effective in reducing residential trips, compared to commute trips.”

– Recirculated DEIR, p. 2-54

Yet according to the recirculated DEIR, even in that enviable and uncommonly transit-rich environment, and with the addition of new parking and “40,000 square feet of trip reduction amenities such as onsite childcare and mobility hubs,” enough additional residents will still drive that new congestion impacts will be significant and unavoidable.

If Stanford were to build the housing itself, but with all or some of it off-campus (outside Stanford’s transit rich environment), the needed housing units “would disproportionately affect [Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Mountain View] compared to other communities in the Bay Area that house Stanford affiliates.” Though not noted in the original GUP analysis, that also of course would be true without new Stanford housing, but in that case the impacted communities would also have to find a way to get the housing built (or face more long distance commuters).

Even if Stanford builds its own housing, Palo Alto will experience heavy new impacts.

Greater building heights and density along local roads; increased traffic and school growth; and new demands and costs for safety services, water, and parks.

 

Distribution of on-campus development under 2018 GUP with Additional Housing Alternative “A”

Perhaps most revealing, the new housing alternatives give the public its first concrete description of what 1,200 to 2,400 units of local housing could look like, as well as the on-the-ground impacts of such a sizable increase in population (12,573 new residents by 2035 under Alternative A). Stanford proposes that the new housing would be concentrated in East Campus (near Stanford Avenue), along El Camino Real, in the Quarry Road area, and on West Campus (between Sand Hill Road and Campus Drive). Although designated on-campus open spaces are preserved in the new housing alternatives, Stanford suggests that the increased on-campus development density  may increase pressure to develop outside the Academic Growth Boundary after 2035.

Key impacts of new housing alternatives:

Development

The housing itself would add 2.3 million square feet of additional development under Alternative A. Alternative B would add 1.14 million square feet of additional construction and associated environmental impacts. The proposed multi-family housing projects could include densities of 40 to 80 dwelling units per acre, building heights from 50 feet up to 100 to 135 feet, and setbacks of less than 20 feet along local roads. Stanford asserts that the development standards in the El Camino Corridor Plan and the Stanford Community Plan would need to be amended.

Traffic

As for traffic, 55 percent of residential car trips are expected to stay local to Palo Alto and both housing alternatives will increase peak-hour traffic volumes on Palo Alto streets, with a notable (but not deemed technically significant) volume increase in the Crescent Park area. Alternative A will also create new significant impacts at the intersections of Stanford Avenue and Bowdoin Street and Charleston and Middlefield Roads. Under both alternatives, impacts at the intersection of Alma Street and Charleston Road will be significant and unavoidable.

Schools

Alternative A is estimated to add 1,446 new school-aged children to the Palo Alto Unified School District, beyond those counted in the original analysis, while Alternative B would add 861 more new PAUSD students. However, Stanford-owned rental housing is eligible for property tax exemptions and therefore rarely contributes to local property tax revenues that make up the vast majority of local school funding. By contrast, many other universities such as Harvard, Brown, and MIT do pay property taxes for their non-student rental housing. Dartmouth pays property tax for all on- and off-campus housing, including dormitories.

According to PAUSD Trustee Todd Collins, the current enrollment of about 350 students from tax-exempt Stanford housing represents approximately $4.5 million in annual unfunded costs for Palo Alto schools. An influx of new students from tax-exempt housing could have a severe economic impact on the school district.

Public Services

Other population related impacts include substantially greater demands on city-provided Fire and Emergency service to the campus, police dispatch, parking enforcement, and bicycle and pedestrian safety services, including crossing guards. Both alternatives will substantially increase consumption of both potable water and groundwater, including additional use and treatment of groundwater for emergency use to supplement the potable water supply. The water detention basin in the West Campus will have to be relocated, affecting city flood control facilities. Use of city parks, particularly in the College Terrace neighborhood will notably increase, impacting the quality of the facilities and increasing maintenance costs beyond the impacts identified in the original DEIR.

Let the county know what you think of the new alternatives and their impacts, either at the July 10 public meeting (6:00-8:00 pm, Palo Alto Art Center), or by submitting your comments by July 26 to:

County of Santa Clara
Department of Planning and Development Attention: David Rader
County Government Center
70 West Hedding Street, San Jose, CA 95110
Email: David.Rader@pln.sccgov.org

City staff are seeking a courtesy extension in order to allow the council an opportunity to review the city’s comments before submittal to the county. If granted, the council likely will discuss them at its special meeting on July 30. The PAUSD Board of Trustees is likely to meet on July 17 or 19 to discuss the GUP.

SB-827 height overlay map

“Transit rich” housing. Sounds good, right? Is this what you expected?

State Senator Scott Weiner (D-11th District), the author of last year’s “By-right Housing” law, (SB-35), has a pair of new “go-big” proposals. Designed to incentivize construction of dense, multi-family housing near transit, SB-827 would “up zone” all parcels, statewide, within 1/2 mile of a major transit stop or within 1/4 mile of a high quality transit corridor. Residential development projects in those “transit rich” areas would receive a “transit-rich housing bonus” exempting them from local rules regarding density, parking, floor area limits and design standards. Height limits would be set between 45 feet and 85 feet, depending on location. SB-827 does not specify any affordability requirements or minimum residential component.

Following on the heels of new State penalties for failure to meet regional housing allocations (RHNA), Senator Weiner’s second proposal, SB-828, would effectively double the RHNA requirements for all local jurisdictions, requiring that they “plan and accommodate for 200 percent of the local housing allocation for every income category in its housing element.”

So what would SB-827 mean for Palo Alto? More than a third of the city’s built environment would be eligible for conversion to dense “housing developments” up to as much as 85 feet high: approximately 6,000 parcels (out of 18,050 total parcels in the city), including 3,694 parcels currently zoned for single family homes and 1,416 zoned for multi-family residential (which currently have height limits of 30 to 40 feet). As written, SB-827 appears to apply across all zoning categories.

Click the image below for a story map with multiple tabs analyzing the impacts of SB-827 on Palo Alto (created by AnimaDesigncourtesy of the Embarcadero Institute, 501(c)3).

The zoomable map shows the new maximum building heights in the areas impacted by the Weiner proposal. Yellow = maximum height of 45 feet, Orange = maximum height of 55 feet, and Red = maximum height of 85 feet. If the project is eligible for another state “density bonus,” heights could go up to 105 feet. On site parking, area wide, will be left entirely to the discretion of the developer.

What do 55 foot and 85 foot buildings look like?

It is widely agreed that passage of SB-827 would substantially curtail the decision-making powers of local government, but community advocates are lining up both for and against the bill. Many avid housing proponents see less local control as a good thing, but it does raise some thorny questions.

Will it disrupt carefully crafted area plans, such as SOFA I/II and the soon to kick off North Ventura Coordinated Area Plan or the local balance and distribution of schools, parks and other community facilities? How will it impact the local economy when all commercial uses within the transit-rich area have to compete with more highly entitled housing developments (akin to government incentives for office growth in recent years)? Will they have to move farther from transit? Will it promote displacement of low and moderate income residents from older, more affordable housing stock? What happens if transit routes change? Will it deter the creation of new transit routes? What will be the likely service demands and fiscal impacts on the City?

The City of Palo Alto announced its opposition to the bill in a letter signed by Mayor Kniss on February 13. The League of California Cities also opposes SB-827. On the other side of the debate, in an unusual departure from Mayor Kniss, Councilmember Adrian Fine plans to actively support the bill. The California YIMBY Tech Network recently gathered signatures from 130 tech leaders on a letter of support.

Whether SB-827 will move out of committee and forward to passage is still an open question. Let your local representatives know what you think about the bill: City Council, County Supervisor Joe Simitian, State Assemblymember Marc Berman, and State Senator Jerry Hill.

Assemblymember Berman will hold a community open house on February 22 from 4:00-6:00 pm at his District Office in Los Altos, and will join Menlo Park Mayor, Peter Ohtaki for a community coffee on February 26, 8:00-9:30 am in Menlo Park.

Editorial: Caution on teacher housing

Palo Alto Weekly – by Palo Alto Weekly editorial board / January 26, 2018

Simitian vision for subsidized teacher housing has long road to travel

Every organization in Palo Alto — business, nonprofit and government — is struggling with the lack of affordable housing and the resulting employee-recruiting and commute challenges. So before letting teacher housing become the sole focus, we’d like to see clear evidence of need and demand and a policy discussion about whether and why teacher housing should be a higher priority than other subsidized housing when considering the re-purposing of limited public property.

The value of teachers living within the community may very well be worth making it the priority for the use of this county property, but the public deserves a lot more analysis showing such a plan will actually result in the desired outcome before reaching that policy decision.

North Palo Alto residents ramp up traffic battle

Palo Alto Weekly – by Sue Dremann / January 26, 2018

Neighborhood warms to new and creative activism to unclog residential streets

Riled by daily traffic snarls on their residential streets, about 70 Crescent Park residents met with Palo Alto police and transportation officials on Jan. 18 to discuss how to end commuters’ occupation of their neighborhood.

Greg Welch, a Center Drive resident, spearheaded the neighborhood advocacy.

“As our next steps, we will have almost weekly meetings and will be coordinating (with the city),” he said, noting they plan to form a stakeholder group to develop a pilot traffic-management program. The group would work with Palo Alto’s transportation department on creating the program.

The meeting, just the latest movement in a wave of neighborhood activism, covered the expected discussion of pavement markings, traffic circles and stop signs — but also ventured into the realm of politics, with residents talking about potential candidates to support during this year’s City Council election.

County blesses plan for teacher housing on Grant Ave.

Palo Alto Daily Post – by Allison Levitsksy / January 25, 2018

Santa Clara County supervisors voted unanimously yesterday (Jan. 23) to usher ahead a plan to house public schoolteachers on a 1.5-acre plot of county-owned land across the street from the Palo Alto courthouse.

“This is an idea that has been rolling around in my head and my office for the last couple years,” Board of Supervisors President Joe Simitian of Palo Alto said at the meeting. “There’s an opportunity for us to not just do a good thing for a particular part of the county, but to explore some new models.”

The lot at 231 Grant Ave. could fit between 60 and 120 apartments, according to Simitian’s proposal. The site is currently home to a modest 8,000-square-foot building that houses nonprofits and part of the public defender’s office.

New housing laws rolling out

The Daily Journal – by Samantha Weigel / January 22, 2018

Legislation affecting local governments draw statewide attention, could spur more construction

As the new year unfolds, local governments are expected to begin unraveling the practical implications of new statewide laws designed to promote affordable housing.

The laws touch on a range of issues including streamlining the planning process for certain housing developments, which some worry will strip local control; creating a new permanent affordable housing funding source, the first since the dissolution of redevelopment agencies; and encouraging governments to plan for transit-oriented developments.

Supervisor Simitian proposes teacher housing in Palo Alto

Project would require ‘innovative’ partnerships with school districts, cities

Palo Alto Weekly – by Elena Kadvany / January 21, 2018

To help teachers cope with the increasingly high cost of living in the Bay Area, Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian is proposing the county partner with local school districts and cities to build a 60- to 120-unit affordable housing complex in Palo Alto.

The teacher housing would be built on a county-owned, 1.5-acre site at 231 Grant Ave. in Palo Alto, near the California Avenue Business District.

New accessory-dwelling units law brings hope, confusion

City’s 2017 ordinance sparks big questions about little dwellings

Palo Alto Weekly – by Gennady Sheyner / January 15, 2018

The city has seen some modest successes with the new law since its passage in April. Traditionally, the city has seen only about four accessory-dwelling units constructed per year, according to staff. Last year, planners had issued permits for nine new ADUs. Another 14 applications are currently under review, according to a report from the Department of Planning and Community Environment.

But as the commission learned on Wednesday, the new law is also riddled with kinks and ambiguities, which at times lead to confusion and unintended consequences.

New mayor signals heavy push on housing

Liz Kniss proposes new housing committee, senior-housing complex

Palo Alto Weekly – by Gennady Sheyner / January 12, 2018

In a rare departure during an annual meeting typically devoted to pomp and plaudits, Kniss proposed on Monday establishing a special council committee to focus exclusively on housing. She also called out housing for seniors as a particularly urgent need and pointed to long waiting lists at all of the city’s senior-housing complexes. A new development for this population, she said, is a “serious project we can do this year.”