Graphic from http://www.ci.east-palo-alto.ca.us/
Earlier this summer, the East Palo Alto City Council agreed to place three City measures on the November 8, 2016 ballot. If passed, these measures, P, O and J, will increase city revenue and streamline and improve the current Rent Stabilization Ordinance. Measures P and O are revenue-generating initiatives and seek to increase funding for critical City services, including addressing affordable housing, homelessness, preventing housing displacement, and assistance to those who have lost their homes. The much-needed revenue from the measures is estimated to be $2,400,000 annually.
Measure P is the East Palo Alto Neighborhood Safety and Vital City Services Measure. It would provide a locally-controlled source of funding to address community priorities such as reducing crime, road maintenance and basic infrastructure needs by creating a half-cent local sales tax which visitors who are shopping or staying in East Palo Alto will also pay. It does not apply to prescription drugs or food purchased as groceries. The projected earnings are $1,800,000 annually, with the bulk of that coming from nonresident visitors shopping in our city at stores like IKEA and Home Depot.
Services impacted include neighborhood law enforcement programs, investigation of both violent crimes and property crimes, improved traffic flow and signal timing, drinking water and storm drain infrastructure, and our street maintenance and pothole repair program. Funding from Measure P will move us toward comprehensive public safety and preserve our quality of life in East Palo Alto.
Measure O is the East Palo Alto Residential Rental Business License Tax Measure. It would help provide a locally-controlled source of funding to address community priorities such as affordable housing, displacement and homelessness via a one and one half-cent tax on the gross receipts of large landlords. The measure prohibits landlords from passing the cost along to rent controlled tenants.
The city estimates this revenue to be $600,000.00 annually. Measure O was carefully crafted to encourage new housing by exempting newly built units for the first 10 years after they are built. The measure would not apply to “mom and pop” landlords (those leasing fewer than five units), nonprofit operators of affordable housing, Section 8 units, or below market rate units with deed restrictions. It also allows for hardship exemptions when there are extenuating circumstances for particular landlords.
The revenue generated from Measure O would contribute to the city’s financial stability, maintain neighborhood law enforcement initiatives, increase affordable housing and protect local residents from displacement and homelessness. Currently East Palo Alto’s local funding for public safety services is scheduled to expire. Additional funds generated from Measure O would help replace this funding.
Measure J will streamline and clarify the East Palo Alto Rent Stabilization and Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance of 2010, while continuing to provide protections for residential tenants and limiting rent increases. Measure J was placed on the ballot because tenants and landlords expressed difficulty understanding parts of the 2010 Rent Stabilization Ordinance.
The city commissioned an expert study on potential reforms to the Rent Stabilization Program that would refine and update the law as well as save taxpayer dollars. Measure J was developed with landlord and tenant input to continue current rent stabilization and assure landlords the right to a fair return.