Update January 14th! See the revised Ordinance just published including a machine translation in Spanish.
Also updated: Scenarios; Mythbusting
The next discussion of EPA OPA will be on regular City Meeting on Tuesday March 1st, 6PM. Please attend and "raise hand" as soon as there's that option (if there is)! (What do we mean "if"? There may not be a chance to speak again on OPA (live comments may be considered "closed"). If you have thoughts that you haven't expressed yet please WRITE in to be sure they are READ. Email addresses to write to are below:)
Zoom link: https://us06web.zoom.us/wc/88482922133/join
Or join by phone: Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location): US: +1 669 900 6833 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1 929 205 6099 or +1 301 715 8592 Webinar ID: 884 8292 2133
Prepare and write your comment beforehand, prepare your 1 minute statement, be present, raise your hand and have your voice heard.
No OPA in EPA! Sign Maya's petition!
We are a group of homeowners in East Palo Alto California, organizing ourselves to stop a rushed attempt by certain East Palo Alto Council Members, to pass an "Opportunity to Purchase" Ordinance, initially WITHOUT sufficient consultation with stakeholders in EPA, and excluding homeowners.
Even when the promoters of this ordinance, say that this type of ordinances have been implemented in other cities in USA such as SF and Washington DC, those ordinances do NOT include Single Family Houses. The case for East Palo Alto is unique in that sense, and the risk of damages to the single family houses' market, is clear and possible. It's basically impossible to say that other cities "have had success" in similar ordinances, since they target different dwellings that what this ordinance is trying to cover.
While we all realize the challenge of high house prices and the desire to own property, this ordinance WON'T WORK to produce the supposed benefits for the city and its residents. It will not help turn long-term, low-income EPA tenants into homeowners (It doesn't include things such as subsidies, for example). Instead it will harm existing residents and homeowners in East Palo Alto, by interfering in the interaction of homeowners with potential buyers, that either plan to move into East Palo Alto or to offer the property for tenants to rent. This ordinance limits the free market, creates an extra layer of bureaucratic non-profits (Which are yet to be defined), reduces the property tax revenue and thus income for the city (Non-profits pay no taxes), and disincentives housing developers to enter East Palo Alto to develop new houses.
This ordinance gives power and control to non-profits (With the assumption that they are incorruptible, and they always "do the right thing"), and in some cases, delays the sales by several months. It also creates lots of different levels of fines and extra costs to the homeowner that needs or wants to sell their property. It is also not clear how the non-profits will get funded to buy the houses that are affected by this ordinance.
OPA was suddenly introduced by (then) Mayor Carlos Romero on November 16th at a City Council with little publicity and no outreach to EPA homeowners. The city provided the bare minimum of economic analysis of this proposal and did not follow best practices on OPA ordinances in other cities. The city does not even have enough resources to regulate this ordinance, so it also adds a potential bureaucratic problem that will delay even more the normal sales process.
Due to homeowners pressure, they're diluting the ordinance, but it still has the potential to damage the city if we let it pass. It is a grossly unfair, ill-conceived and poorly written ordinance that would have a significant negative impact to East Palo Alto. It's based on the gross premise that homeowners are "investors" with a lot of money, and points all the weight of evidence and extra expenses to the homeowners looking to sell, included fines and extra costs. There are no fines nor costs for tenants nor non-profits, even in case they do not act in good faith.
Things to do right now:
Contact all your city council representatives to express your opposition to this ordinance and how it will negatively affect you. We need three councilmembers to vote against the ordinance for it not to pass.
Council Member emails:
firstname.lastname@example.org - Ruben Abrica Mayor
email@example.com - Lisa Gauthier - Vice Mayor
firstname.lastname@example.org - Carlos Romero
email@example.com - Antonio Lopez
firstname.lastname@example.org - Regina Wallace Jones
It's not too late for you to have your voice heard! Write to your councilmembers to tell them where you stand. Write to city staff to ask questions and ask for changes in the ordinance and also to tell them what you think about the policy. All this input still goes to the decisionmakers before they decide.
Also, write to these City Management team (All of them):
Request that they translate the proposed ordinance into Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Tongan, and Samoan and that they provide translation in all those languages for the next meeting.
Express displeasure that homeowners were not consulted in the outreach process.
City Manager Jaime Fontes email@example.com
City Attorney Rafael Alvarado firstname.lastname@example.org
Assistant City Manager Patrick Heisinger email@example.com
City Housing Manager - Rachel Horst firstname.lastname@example.org
Meetings page: http://eastpaloalto.iqm2.com/Citizens/Default.aspx
If you cannot attend - emailing email@example.com your comments. Emailed comments should include the specific agenda item on which you are commenting. The length of the emailed comment should be within the two minutes customarily allowed for verbal comments, which is approximately 150-200 words.
With OPA, the external perception of East Palo Alto as a place to invest will get damaged. We must block this ordinance, so there's no intervention in the free market process, to buy/sell dwellings in EPA.
There's a possibility to start a process to recall Council Members who vote in favor of this ordinance. We need to do more research on this, but it may require less than a thousand signatures. Some homeowner groups separately are considering lawsuits to stop the process.
Organize Homeowners as a political force in EPA, so something like this never, ever happens again. Let's make a positive out of this negative event and activate our community.
Support candidates in the next elections that will strongly advocate for our concerns on city council.
If you are a EPA homeowner living in EPA but haven't updated your registration since you were previously registered in another city, please consider registering to vote locally!
Please do share this page with your neighbors, family, friends or acquaintances that own property in EPA, we must stop this!
We keep regular conversations here, please join if your have Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/groups/EPAHomeowners
Please direct your emails to our group to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Form (For us to contact homeowners)