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Fwd: Menlo Park Housing Commission to Review Rental Relocation Assistance Ordinance

From: domainremoved <Mical>
Date: Tue, 14 Aug 2018 00:58:13 -0700

Mr. Curtin, I appreciate your response to my e-mail and I do hope you shared my message with the Housing Commission.

I have just read the draft language for the ordinance that you provided and I am even more outraged. Please pass on these additional comments to the Housing Commission and to the City Council.

This is the preamble to the ordinance:

The City of Menlo Park currently does not regulate rent increases or reasons for evictions from residential property and certain aspects of public peace, health, and safety are not adequately protected due to the lack of regulation.
The increasing rents combined with a housing shortage places substantial pressure on the existing city residents who rent housing. In particular, rising rents can lead to tenant displacement of residents.

The very premise of this ordinance is RUBBISH. The idea that the entire landlord/tenant relationship can only be a good one if there is governmental rental regulation is FALSE. If that were true, no contractual relationship between any two private parties over anything would be reliable. The idea that without rent regulation there will be no protection of public peace, health and safety is appalling. That is what a LEASE AGREEMENT does: protect landlord and tenant with the written terms of their agreement with each other. The government doesn’t need to be a part of this contractual relationship and shouldn’t be. This ordinance would give tenants privileges way in excess of what property owners get. What about a property owner who is forced to move because of rising mortgage rates on his adjustable rate mortgage or rising property taxes because of poor fiscal management by county and city governments? Why doesn’t a bank pay relocation assistance to a displaced mortgagee or a city or county pay relocation assistance to a property owner unable to pay his property tax and forced to move from his home? If this ordinance passes in Menlo Park, I would advise every single landlord in the city to convert his property into condos and get out of the rental business entirely. I would certainly advise no one to ever rent to the “protected groups” that will get EXTRA rental relocation assistance under this ordinance: seniors over age 62; the disabled; households with children under 18.

The proposed rental relocation assistance is THREE times the current citywide average rent, plus a 60-day subscription to a rental relocation assistance service, plus another month’s assistance for “protected class” tenants. Yes, if the average rent in Menlo Park is $5000/month (I think this could be the number, averaging in the rents on all homes, big luxury apartments, etc. in the city), the landlord would have to pay $15,000 to relocate ANY tenant who says, “Sorry, I can’t pay the rent you are now asking” or if the landlord wants to substantially modify or remodel the rental property (or even move into it himself). Who on earth would rent anything with this potential penalty payment hanging over his head?

Menlo Park and its socialist sister cities in the People’s Republic of California had better realize sooner rather than later that this type of market interference will ELIMINATE housing; it will surely not create more “affordable” housing. And here is a catch: a tenant is only eligible for this rental relocation windfall if he has resided in the rental unit for more than 36 months. Therefore, if this abomination passes, I would advise every landlord in the city to force out every tenant before his occupancy reaches the 36-month marker. Even a high earning tenant should be forced out: you never know — that tech guy could lose his $200K/year job and then he’d be eligible for the rental assistance just as much as the part-time street sweeper. Yup, churning your tenants every 3 years will improve the housing stability in the community.


Mrs. Mical Atz Brenzel

Begin forwarded message:

From: "Curtin, Clay J" <cjcurtin_at_(domainremoved)
Subject: RE: Menlo Park Housing Commission to Review Rental Relocation Assistance Ordinance
Date: August 3, 2018 at 6:50:15 PM PDT
To: 'Mical Atz Brenzel' <brenzel1_at_(domainremoved)

Hello Mrs. Brenzel,
I wanted to acknowledge the receipt of your email and let you know that I will share your email with the Housing Commission when it considers this item on August 8, 2018.
The staff report (attached) has been released with the updated draft language requested by the Commission. I anticipate a robust public outreach effort before this comes before the City Council for its consideration.
Clay J. Curtin
  Clay J. Curtin
  Assistant to the City Manager
  City Hall - 2nd Floor
  701 Laurel St.
  tel 650-330-6615
  menlopark.org <http://www.menlopark.org/>
From: Mical Atz Brenzel [mailto:brenzel1_at_(domainremoved)
Sent: Monday, July 30, 2018 6:19 PM
To: Curtin, Clay J <cjcurtin_at_(domainremoved)
Cc: _CCIN <councilmail_at_(domainremoved)
Subject: Menlo Park Housing Commission to Review Rental Relocation Assistance Ordinance
Dear Mr. Curtin, Interim Housing and Economic Development Manager for the City of Menlo Park,

I received an e-mail message on July 27 that stated that “the Housing Commission will be reviewing and considering a draft ordinance that would require rental relocation assistance payments for eligible tenants within Menlo Park.” The staff report on, and draft of, this ordinance will be issued on August 2.

I am writing to you on July 30, in advance of even seeing the staff report and the draft ordinance, because I can tell you a priori that any such rental ordinance is a TERRIBLE IDEA for City of Menlo Park — indeed for any city on the planet.
If there is one precept that must be inviolate in the residential rental market, it is that no government interference in the workings of the marketplace, no matter how well intentioned, ever turns out well. There are always negative consequences to any attempts to regulate rent increases, eviction requirements, rental tenant screening practices, lease tenors, and now this, relocation assistance requirements.

Rental housing exists because investors build or buy residential properties to rent them at a profit. That is how capitalism works: it is underpinned by private property ownership. Property ownership has risks and it has rewards. The owner takes on both. The tenant is not an owner; he takes none of the risks of property ownership and gets none of the rewards. He has a contractual arrangement with his landlord to pay periodic rent in return for the opportunity to occupy the property. The government needs to steer absolutely clear of that relationship, just as it should in other contractual business relationships. If rents are regulated and a property owner’s return on investment is limited or eliminated, he will cease to rent, buy or develop residential rental property. Rent controlguarantees a decline in a city’s habitable rental housing stock. This has been proven again and again, in rental markets from New York City (my home town) to San Francisco to Caracas, Venezuela. Imposing other rental regulations, like so-called just-eviction rules, the elimination of vacancy rent de-control, the requirement to consider tenants presenting Section 8 housing vouchers (this is NOT a requirement of the Federal Section 8 program, I will add) and now here, the requirement to provide relocation assistance to tenants whose leases are not being renewed after the lease term, inevitably reduces the return on rental housing and quickly diminishes the quality and quantity of rental housing stock in the city. Tenants have no right to occupy a rental property outside the terms of their lease and the consent of their landlord. The landlord has NO OBLIGATION WHATSOEVER to house or relocate his tenants beyond the term of the lease. The very concept of a “rental relocation assistance payments” flies in the face of this rental contract limitation.
If I own an exercise studio and decide to change it from one catering to adults to one catering to teenagers, am I obligated to find my existing exercise clients — even if they have loyally come to my studio for decades — a new gym and pay for their new gym’s initial membership cost? I have a membership contract with my gym clients, and that is the full extent of my obligations to them. A residential rental contract is absolutely identical in nature.
Menlo Park has started down a very dangerous and destructive road in the housing sector. First, the City Council unwisely passed an ordinance requiring landlords to be indiscriminate in viewing the source of a prospective tenant’s income — directly implying that Section 8 housing vouchers must be considered on an equal footing with earned income, something every landlord in the country knows is not true. Section 8 tenants have a long, long history of being more difficult, destructive, and abusive tenants than individuals who earn their rent themselves. Forcing a landlord to take on Section 8 tenants simply will drive landlords who offer lower rent properties out of the marketplace. They will sell their buildings to investors who will develop them into luxury housing, which will not be subject to the Section 8 tenancy requirement. The next step down this destructive housing road is to make that redevelopment process more onerous, by requiring tenant rental relocation assistance payments from property owners who want to redevelop their property. I can guarantee you that this will be the final nail in the coffin for middle and lower middle income housing in Menlo Park. No one will wait to unload properties immediately for redevelopment, before the relocation requirements and costs are litigated even higher as a result of whatever ordinance you pass.
Scrap this idea before it even reaches the drawing board, or you will be very unhappy with its eventual consequences.
Mrs. Mical Atz Brenzel
(30 year Menlo Park resident and homeowner)
Received on Tue Aug 14 2018 - 00:58:08 PDT

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