President Hotel Apartments, Palo Alto. Courtesy Palo Alto Online.
September 14, 2018

Palo Alto: City Council Considers Raising Income Limits for Tenant Relocation


On September 17th, the Palo Alto City Council will have another opportunity to strengthen its new tenant relocation ordinance by either raising income limits for tenants who may be eligible for relocation benefits when they are displaced from their homes, or to waive the limits altogether.  The action follows an August meeting where the Council required new owners or developers to provide relocation benefits to existing tenants in response to the imminent displacement of the current residents of the 75-unit President Hotel Apartments.

The relocation ordinance currently applies to all rental developments in the City with 50 or more units.  During last month’s discussion, the ordinance was amended to restrict benefits to households earning no more than 100% of the Area Median Income.  In Santa Clara County, a family of four earning $125,200 is considered median income.  A one-person household earning $87,650 is also considered median income.

During that August meeting, a majority of council members did support the original proposal, which did not include these income limits.  However, a four-fifths super majority was required to pass the action given its urgency nature, and one council member was able to hold the immediate response hostage and demand the income restrictions.

Palo Alto is one of the most expensive housing markets in the Bay Area, and housing costs far outpace the ability of households with average incomes to pay.  These households are generally ineligible for subsidized housing, yet they are largely priced out of the market.  We need housing solutions and protections for the “missing middle” population that include essential members of our communities from teachers and small business owners to entry level tech workers.

SV@Home invites all in the affordable housing community concerned about tenant displacement and housing options for the “missing middle” to come out and support the Council’s efforts to raise the income limits on who can receive relocation assistance when they face displacement.