top of page

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is OPA necessary?

San Mateo County is one of the least affordable housing markets in the country. In East Palo Alto, the Median Price for Existing Single-Family Homes jumped from $285,000 in 2012 to $1,030,000 in 2021, outpacing wages at an impossible rate. Opportunity to Purchase levels the playing field by giving local potential purchasers the chance to make the first market rate offer with timelines that make it possible for tenants to organize, negotiate a contract, secure financing, and close a deal. Additionally, Opportunity to Purchase gives East Palo Alto an innovative policy framework to use to leverage Affordable Housing Preservation funding to bring new investment into the city, and moving forward to compete for that funding that otherwise gets left on the table.

How does OPA work?

There are three key components that make Opportunity to Purchase work. First, the Policy grants the rights to potential purchasers to be able to compete. Second, funding for Affordable Housing Preservation, whether from local, regional, or Statewide sources, can be leveraged to help acquire and renovate the property. Third, tenants considering a purchase offer work to coordinate financing and a purchase offer. Fourth, technical assistance from a network of Affordable Housing Preservation specialists helps local efforts to exercise and refine best practices.

What does OPA do?

Opportunity to Purchase creates legal rights for Tenants, Qualified Non-Profit Developers, and the City of East Palo Alto to make the first market rate purchase offer when the owner of their building chooses to sell. If a seller rejects the initial offer and receives a third-party offer on the market, then the initial offering party has the right to match the best offer and purchase the property. Opportunity to Purchase serves multiple priorities – supporting homeownership for tenants, stopping displacement, preserving housing affordability by making units permanently affordable, and increasing investment into EPA from both regional and CA state sources.

Who came up with OPA?

Opportunity to Purchase was co-created by local government and EPA community leaders through a participatory policy design process. As part of the Affordable Housing Strategy, EPA officials sought a policy to preserve Affordable Housing in addition to producing new units, because Affordable Housing Preservation can be quicker and cheaper per unit as compared to production and because both strategies are fundamental to addressing the intense housing crisis. Through several series of Affinity Group Meetings and Focus Group Meetings, the OPA policy was produced and refined to reflect the feedback and priorities of East Palo Alto Residents. The policy has been further refined through a process of public comment and City Council and City Staff review.

Which properties does OPA apply to?

Opportunity to Purchase is a policy that has been carefully designed to target properties of owners who live outside of EPA. If you live in East Palo Alto, your properties are exempted. 8 categories of Property Type exemption and 10 categories of Transfer Type exemption limit the total number of properties to which Opportunity to Purchase applies. Analysis by David Rosen & Associates (2021) estimated that during a typical year, roughly 12 transactions would be qualified for Opportunity to Purchase.

bottom of page