The Menlo Park City Council on Tuesday rejected “rent control in disguise” in favor of a more reasonable tenant relocation measure.

The rejected proposal, labeled Alternative B, proposed to limit rent increases and restrict an owner’s ability to evict tenants unless the owner paid the tenant up to four times the monthly rent. It was developed by the city’s Housing Commission and modified and endorsed by Mayor Pro Tem Cecelia Taylor and Councilwoman Betsy Nash. Alternative B was criticized as “rent control in disguise” and failed to receive the three votes needed to pass.

Instead, the City Council majority adopted Alternative A – a relocation ordinance that requires relocation assistance only to households displaced as a result of their unit being taken off the market for renovation, redevelopment or demolition. It will only apply to households making 80 percent of the area median income or less and to rental properties of five units or more. It will neither regulate the amount of rent that can be charged nor mandate automatic lease renewals.

Mayor Ray Mueller, Councilwoman Catherine Carlton and Councilman Drew Combs championed the approval of Alternative A. They were concerned that Alternative B would expose the city to costly litigation due to its rent control elements and questioned whether the city had the infrastructure needed to implement and enforce the program.

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