San Rafael City Council reviews anti-discrimination for recipients of rental subsidies

At their October 1, 2018 meeting, the San Rafael City Council discussed development of an ordinance barring discrimination against rental applicants who use Section 8 or other vouchers towards paying for rent.

Andrew Hening, Director of Homeless Planning and Outreach, began the session with a presentation. He summarized the goals and history of the Section 8 voucher program as well as typical results. He showed examples of current online ads for San Rafael rentals which specifically stated "No Section 8" applicants.

The Mayor and four members of the City Council expressed general support for a source-of-rental-income anti-discrimination ordinance.

During the public comment period, representatives from the Community Development Agency of Marin County and Legal Aid of Marin advocated for widespread adoption of uniform protections for tenants.

Historically, the Marin Board of Supervisors has taken the lead on rental housing measures, and once they pass an ordinance, supporters then urge local city councils to follow suit with a similar measure. The cities of Fairfax and Novato passed their own anti-discrimination ordinances on source-of-rental-income earlier in 2018.

Leelee Thomas, planning manager of the CDA, spoke in support of a San Rafael ordinance, providing information on the County's source-of-rental-income anti-discrimination ordinance, as well as responding to numerous questions posed by Council members.

There were concerns expressed by some Council members over the possible unintended consequences of a broadly applied ordinance. In particular, questions were raised whether Junior Accessory Dwelling Units and Accessory Dwelling Units should be covered by a possible ordinance.

It was noted that JADU's and ADU's are a potentially large resource for increasing rental stock in San Rafael. But as these types of rentals are so new, there is little information on what factors influence a homeowners decision to create a JADU or ADU. Some members noted that they did not wish to discourage creation of JADU’s/ADU’s. The question was implied, “Would an individual homeowner be less inclined to offer a JADU/ADU if the process became more complex, more bureaucratic, and more risky in terms of costs and legal penalties?”

The City Council directed staff to return at a future meeting with more information addressing the issues raised.

The full agenda for the City Council meeting can be viewed here.

The proceedings of the session, 7a. Rental Discrimination, discussing source-of-income anti-discrimination can be viewed/streamed from this link.

To read more about the meeting, here is a story in the IJ.