Article Image
San Rafael Considering Mandatory Mediation Program to Deal with Evictions

Thursday, February, 28, 2019

Mediation programs have proven successful for tenant-landlord disputes and the city of San Rafael is now considering a mandatory mediation program to deal with a significant type of tenant-landlord dispute – eviction.


Housing advocates are encouraging the city to consider the program that would increase protection for renters and allow tenants and landlords to reach mutually beneficial resolutions when eviction is in question. The program is modeled after Marin County ordinances that require just cause before a tenant can be evicted.


In the mandatory mediation program, a third-party negotiator would work with tenants and landlords to resolve their issues. According to San Rafael’s director of homeless planning and outreach, Andrew Hening, the program follows the lead of the Marin program. He also pointed out that there are some “nuances” that need to be reviewed by the council. For instance, “…we do not have in-house mediation services, so that would be an investment. The question would be, does the council want to do that? Is the council comfortable with that investment?”


Assuming the San Rafael program is the same as the Marin County one, the just-cause eviction ordinance would apply to properties with three or more units. About half of all housing units in San Rafael are rented, but only about 40 percent of its entire stock of housing is made up of multi-family units.


San Rafael Mayor Gary Phillips is interested in the program, but withholding judgments until he knows how it will work. He wants to know how effective it is in other communities and would like to learn more about what other communities are doing to make it work. He acknowledged the program could take some time to draft, but hopes it is up and running within a month.