Last week, we wrote a post about a meeting in East Palo Alto to discuss whether or not area nonprofits should be accepting money from notorious predatory landlord, Page Mill Properties.
This week we had opportunity to attend the meeting. It was very well attended with over a dozen local nonprofits represented as well as the office of San Mateo County Supervisor Rose Jacob Gibson.
The meeting and discussion was facilitated by Dr. Faye McNair-Knox the Executive Director of One East Palo Alto and Chief Financial Officer of Community Wireless. Community Wireless (CW) is a nonprofit with the mission of bringing community-wide wireless broadband to East Palo Alto.
Several months ago Page Mill Properties approached CW about creating a "partnership" in which Page Mill would give access to roof space for wireless internet base station, a few thousand dollars for equipment, and $15oo per year for operating costs. As part of the deal Page Mill would publicize the agreement as philanthropic for PR purposes. Before agreeing to the partnership, CW decided to hold a meeting to gain input from other organizations from the community on whether or not it was a good idea to partner with Page Mill Properties.
Though everyone in the room understood the great importance of bridging the digital divide and providing broadband service for all East Palo Alto residents, the majority sentiment was clearly that there had to be a better way to achieve CW's goals than by partnering with Page Mill Properties.
Chris Lund and Matthew Fremont from the Fair Rent Coalition provided detailed evidence of Page Mill's mass evictions and explained that Page Mill's intentions for it's holdings in East Palo Alto had no place for affordable housing.
Organizers for Youth United for Community Action (YUCA) said they believed that what Page Mill was doing was actually not at all philanthropic, but a rather a savvy business decision and that Page Mill would be using the wireless access in their properties as yet another excuse for excessive rent increases.
CW promised to take the community concerns into account before making their decision.