Forum to address housing concerns between landlords, tenants 

The Bay Area's ongoing housing crunch sometimes pits landlords and tenants against each other, but one Peninsula lawmaker hopes that bringing members of both groups together and providing them with accurate information about their rights and responsibilities could lead to fewer disputes around housing issues.

Hosted by Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, the Tenants and Landlords Informational Forum will feature a panel discussion and question-and-answer session beginning at 6 p.m. today at the San Mateo Public Library.

Mullin said he organized the event because so many of his constituents have come to him with concerns about landlord-tenant issues.

"Many people have contacted my office over the past several months with questions, concerns and complaints related to housing, and this forum should provide a venue where people can learn about the various challenges that exist for both landlords and tenants," the assemblyman noted. "Typically when people have the opportunity to become more informed and educated about an issue, they are better equipped to deal with how it impacts them."

The event's guest presenters will include Project Sentinel Executive Director Ann Marquart, whose nonprofit organization provides landlord-tenant mediation, fair housing services, and mortgage counseling.

Another presenter will be Jody Marshall, executive director of Westwood Properties in San Jose. Property management will be among the topics she addresses.

Panelists Joel Golub and Shirley Gibson will provide legal expertise from both sides of the landlord-tenant equation.

Golub is a contract attorney with the San Mateo Superior Court who helps landlords navigate the court's self-help services, while Gibson is an attorney with the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County, a nonprofit agency whose legal services include pro-bono eviction defense and enforcement of tenants' rights.

"We have convened a panel that represents a broad cross section of folks who are intimately involved with housing and it is my hope that everyone who attends will leave the event with a better understanding of the issues than when they arrived," Mullin noted.

Staffers at Mullin's office said they could not rule out the possibility that additional landlord-tenant forums might be scheduled if there is sufficient interest, but they emphasized that today's panel discussion is the only one currently planned.

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