HAYWARD — The City Council is scheduled to vote today to amend its condo conversion law, concluding more than a year's worth of debate over how much tenants should be protected when the owner of their apartment complex wants to convert the units into condominiums.

The real estate market demand for apartment-to-condo conversions has brought pressure on city officials to change Hayward's regulations, which were last amended in 1995.

Proponents say facilitating conversions provides more affordable opportunities for first-time homebuyers and increases the overall level of home ownership in Hayward. Detractors worry tenants forced to move will have a hard time finding somewhere else to live.

The proposed ordinance the council will vote on tonight includes the following tenant protections:

-Seniors older than 62 and disabled tenants would be allowed to live in their unit for five yearsfollowing the conversion.

-Families with students would be given six months or until the end of the school year, whichever is longer.

-Tenants would have the first right to purchase and get a 10 percent discount on their own unit or 5 percent discount on another unit in the complex. If they don't buy, they would receive $1,000 in relocation assistance, plus an amount equal to three months rent.

Provisions of the amended ordinance would also require owners to make the following improvements to the units upon converting them:

-Reduce noise and vibration disturbances and install draft stops in attics to meet state standards.

-To improve seismic safety, by meeting the International Existing Building Code, which has more stringent standards than what Hayward currently requires for improving soft-story buildings.

-Separate electric meters and gas meters when gas is provided to units. Water meters must also be separated unless it is "unfeasible."

The hearing will be at 8 p.m. today at Hayward City Hall, Council Chambers, 777 B St.

The council is expected to hear last-minute pleas to change some of the provisions, which the Hayward Planning Commission voted to recommend at its Jan. 11 meeting. Planning commissioners voted 6-1 to make the recommendations, with Commissioner Christopher Thnay dissenting because of a disagreement over parking lot requirements.

David Stark, a government affairs director for the Bay East Association of Realtors, is pushing for the city to make it easier for owners to convert. He said the health and safety provisions are fair and would "benefit everybody," though he characterized the tenant benefits as "extremely generous" compared with those of other cities.

Anne Biddell, a Hayward resident and Realtor, said she is going to ask for a provision that encourages seniors and disabled residents to move sooner rather than later. She said offering them a monetary contribution rather than delaying their stay by five years is better for residents as well as landlords.

Biddell said she believes more conversions will benefit the community as a whole.

"The buildings get improved, the landscaping gets improved," Biddell said. "And it's going to add to the stability of neighborhoods and add to the stability of schools."

Matt O'Brien can be reached at (510) 293-2473 or mattobrien@dailyreviewonline.com.