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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Dean Preston
July 17, 2014 415.495.8100 ext. 1001
Less than a week after Tenants Together released documents between Equity Residential (EQR) and City Manager Magda Gonzalez, the City has revealed that Gonzalez will be replaced and that EQR’s Managing Director, Christopher Peter, is being removed from the EPA Rent Stabilization Board on which he served as Vice Chair.
“It is encouraging to see the City taking decisive steps to protect its residents and protect the rent control law that allows low and moderate income tenants to continue to reside in East Palo Alto,” commented Dean Preston, Executive Director of Tenants Together.
On July 9, Tenants Together called for the replacement of East Palo Alto’s City Manager based on a comprehensive review of documents obtained through a Public Records Act request from the City of East Palo Alto. The request included a demand for all communications to or from City Manager Magda Gonzalez concerning the Rent Stabilization Program. Tenants Together reviewed over 3,000 pages of documents produced pursuant to the request. The documents reveal that the City Manager has effectively given control over the regulatory process to the biggest landlord in East Palo Alto, Equity Residential (EQR) and interfered with enforcement of the Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO).
Following a groundswell of community opposition to City Manager Gonzalez at a city council hearing on July 14, the City Council announced on Tuesday that it would begin a search for a new City Manager.
According to a city memo just obtained by Tenants Together, Rent Board Vice Chair Christopher Peter, Managing Director at EQR, was notified on July 16 by the City that he was removed from the Rent Board. The reason cited was failure to appear for three consecutive regular meetings.
The Rent Board was scheduled to discuss at its July 23 meeting whether Peter should continue as Vice Chair, a discussion item fellow Rent Board members had called for in light of recent controversy regarding EQR, the City Manager, and a disputed “review” commissioned of the Rent Stabilization Program.
“I’m sure the last thing EQR wanted was further public discussion of what they thought they were getting away with behind closed doors,” said Dean Preston. “The documents we obtained show a very troubling picture of a major corporate landlord trying to undermine local tenant protections. Let’s hope the City can get back to enforcing critical tenant protection laws without further interference.”