News

Mayor pitches plan for alternate rent control measure

Special July 14 meeting called to consider second ballot initiative

In a challenge to Mountain View's citizen-backed initiative to curb rising rents, city officials could draft a second ballot measure that would address the same issues. This week, Mayor Pat Showalter announced she was calling a special City Council meeting to consider putting forward an alternative measure to restrict apartment rent hikes this November.

The special meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on July 14 at the Second Stage theater at the Mountain View Center for Performing Arts at 500 Castro St.

While Showalter has been one of the council's few supporters of restricting rent increases, she said was nevertheless concerned about the inflexibility of the ballot measure being brought forward by the Mountain View Tenants Coalition. That measure would basically limit annual rent increases to the increases in the Consumer Price Index for the Bay Area.

Showalter indicated she had no problem with the spirit of the Tenants Coalition measure; in fact, she was among the 7,300 people who signed a petition to put it on the ballot. But she explained that she had concerns that the measure is calling for rental protections that would be enshrined as an amendment to Mountain View's city charter. To her understanding, that would make its provisions unchangeable except by another voter measure.

"If we were to find out there was some unintended consequence of this measure that pretty much everyone agreed wasn't a good thing, then they only way to fix it would be to have another vote," she said. "That's cumbersome, expensive and time-consuming."

Showalter is proposing some kind of alternative measure that would be classified as a city ordinance, meaning the City Council could amend and tweak the policy to suit future needs. As to the specific provisions, she said she was amenable to having language that would mirror the Tenants Coalition's measure. However, she was doubtful that proposal would find enough support among the rest of the seven-member council, of which five members had voted against past rent-control proposals.

One possible idea that could win support, Showalter said, would be to dust off the city staff's unapproved plan for a binding-arbitration program and use that as a template for a city-sponsored ballot measure.

"My real desire here is to provide a workable rent-protection program," Showalter said.

But tenants advocates don't feel very reassured by the mayor's sentiment, especially after weeks of pounding the pavement to collect signatures for their measure. Intentional or not, a second ballot measure would rival their initiative and possibly sap support from voters, said Tenants Coalition spokesman Evan Ortiz.

"There's some anxiety that having different measures would possibly be confusing and may inadvertently erode support by splitting the vote," he said. "We don't think a second ballot measure is the way to go."

The mayor's announcement came as a surprise to the Tenants Coalition, according to members. She first mentioned her idea back in May in a meeting with the group, but they say she never brought it up again and they assumed it was dead in the water. Only in recent days did they learn from city officials that Showalter was looking to schedule a special City Council meeting during the traditional summer recess. The mayor agreed to a hasty meeting on Monday with the Tenants Coalition, and she explained her position. She tried to make the case that voters could approve both initiatives.

The situation could become a "huge mess" if two near-identical measures wind up on the ballot, said Tenants Coalition spokesman Daniel DeBolt. DeBolt, who is a former Voice reporter, joined the group about a year after leaving the newspaper's employment. At the council meeting next week, the Tenants Coalition would likely speak in opposition to the mayor's proposal, he said.

"I don't see how this could be anything but an attempt to undermine what we're doing," DeBolt said. "This is very concerning and very unnecessary."

By all accounts, the exact legal and electoral ramifications of having two similar measures on the ballot are still unknown. Attorneys with the city and the tenants' group are looking into the matter. The city should have those questions answered in time for next week's meeting, Showalter said.

Tenants Coalition members say they decided to draft their measure as a city charter amendment as a deliberate move to prevent what happened in the city of Richmond. Last year, elected leaders in the East Bay city approved an ordinance for rent control by a thin majority, but they later rescinded that ordinance after landlords launched an organized opposition effort.

The mayor's desire for a special meeting also presented a challenge for city officials, many of whom are on vacation during the summer recess. Showalter said Councilman John Inks will likely be absent for the meeting although he might teleconference in. The Council Chambers won't be available because the city is renovating the room.

An agenda for the special City Council meeting will be posted online at mountainview.gov.

Email Mark Noack at mnoack@mv-voice.com

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Comments

209 people like this
Posted by The Thruth
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2016 at 4:42 pm

The city resident's are finding out that this radical outside group that wrote and funded this rent control initiative is very very bad for the city of Mountain View and ALL of it's resident's will be affected by it.

If our current council member, Lenny Siegel, had been successful with his first rent control initiative in 1982, thank God voters did not approve it then but if it would have passed Mountain View today would more resemble East Palo Alto and not the vibrant community we have today where people actually want to come to and live in.

You have the mayor expressing concerns now in its rigidity of the language. There is nothing fair about it as it was written to put landlords on the sideline's and this new rent board will make all the new laws that will tell a business how and what they can do and voters can not vote them out or change these new laws.

I will vote NO either way.


12 people like this
Posted by Voting yes to the first proposal
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 6, 2016 at 5:01 pm

Nice try Council! You get this ordinance passed and then a simple council vote could eliminate it.

In all the rent controlled cities, did the property values go up or go down? That's right, they went up. That means the desire to live there has grown.

It's a false argument to say rent control caused poverty in places lik EPA and Berkeley. The poverty was there FIRST and rent control came after.


213 people like this
Posted by MV Resident (& voter)
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 6, 2016 at 5:22 pm

Funny to watch the tenant's coalition panic when others publicly point out the many flaws in the half-baked proposed rent control ordinance. On one hand, they argue that things like the 2-5% increase cap can be "easily fixed" after the ordinance is passed, yet at the same time they argue against steps that would actually make flaws easier to fix. The currently proposed measure places all the power in the hands of an unelected, tenant-dominated "board," which will find every reason to punish landlords in favor of a very small but noisy group of existing tenants. Most people who express initial support for this measure quickly change their minds after understanding how the rules actually will work and how few people will benefit. Read the actual ordinance and vote no!


191 people like this
Posted by The Truth
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2016 at 5:37 pm

If property values is the test, then did East Palo Alto, East San Jose, Berkeley, Oakland, Hayward, San Leandro have higher property value increase equal to or more than Mountain View? Of course not. Who would pay $1 million dollars for a starter home in East Palo Alto.

Also, of the above rent control cities, who has more crime, Mountain View or the other rent control cities? Take a guess.

During the late 1980's we had 2 rival latino gangs that moved into the city and we had the first drive by shooting at the time. We made national news and a paper called part of the city "gang central"

Had the 1982 rent control passed, landlords would have been prevented from doing their jobs and evicting bad people. Landlords in all these other rent control cities do not even bother going to the rent board to ask permission to evict problem tenants because they know they will be denied. That is why once you have rent control in a city, you can never clean it up.

Just look around the bay, ask yourself how many rent control cities are there that you would live in and compare that to other non rent control cities that you would live in.
Even San Francisco is the number one city in all of United States for property crime.


8 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 6, 2016 at 7:59 pm

Mayor Showalter joined Councilmembers Kasperzak, McAlister and Clark in voting for an ordinance with mediation and non-binding arbitration but with the option of simply evicting tenants preemptively. All four were endorsed as candidates by a landlord group FOR A REASON. Anything Showalter and her comrads propose now is to be mistrusted. But let's see what it is. Binding arbitration with no protection against preemptive eviction would just be more landlord-backed trickery.


206 people like this
Posted by The Truth
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2016 at 8:20 pm

Everyone should read and understand what Gary just wrote.

This group of people who wrote and are pushing for rent control do not want any law that will allow a landlord to evict anyone for any reason. They could have wrote in detail, in the initiative what new law they wanted but if they did that no one would have voted for it. Instead they wrote that council will elect the new rent panel board and with council member Lenny Siegel hatred towards landlords for over 40 years you can be assured he will appoint only the most extreme members to the board.

If you are a tenant you have to understand that if you have a problem neighbor your options will be to move or live with it as your landlord will not be allowed to evict them and the trouble makers will know this and the problems will only get worse as they will be emboldened to do what they want with no fear of repercussions.


129 people like this
Posted by HalukO
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 6, 2016 at 8:21 pm

If Mayor Pat Showalter is so inclined for rent control, Mountain View residents should note that and vote her out of office at the next opportunity. While I am synphatetic to the plight of tenants, examples around us reveal that rent control is not good for the city in the long term.


7 people like this
Posted by The Real Truth
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2016 at 8:22 pm

june 2006
B 735 1020 +38%
MV 785 1490 +89%

I love it when the right wingers bring out East Palo Alto as proof that rent control is damaging. These people are so anti-science, it’s laughable when they make these unsupportable hypotheses.

Simply speaking, the numbers just don’t support this claim. Look at home prices in EPA and MV.

MV has no rent control.
In 2010, the average home price was 715k. As of June 2016, it is 1.45mil. That is a rise of 102%.

East Palo Alto has rent control.
In 2010, the average home price was 290k. As of June 2016, it is 682k. That is a rise of 135%.

Apparently, even a city with rent control has their home prices escalating at a higher rate than non-rent control Mountain View!


12 people like this
Posted by another MV resident
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2016 at 8:28 pm

Why do those who oppose rent control always focus on East Palo Alto? How about the other cities that have rent control like Fremont, Campbell, Santa Monica, and others? Here is a list: Web Link

The persistent poverty in East Palo Alto is caused by many factors far beyond rent control.

I am not yet certain if I will vote for it myself, since I find the measure too rigid, more rigid than other cities with similar protections. Yet the more people who oppose rent control resort to attacking the character of rent control proponents, the more they present yet proved claims as fact, the more I can't stomach being associated with a group that can't rebuke the proven misrepresentation by the apartment association's Neighborhood Empowerment Coalition, yet so readily launches not yet proven attacks against the MV-Voice and poorer residents in MV. There is a lack of empathy and smugness in the comments above that I find very sad.


147 people like this
Posted by HalukO
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 6, 2016 at 8:28 pm

Anectodal evidence / "statistics," like comparing Mountain View with East Palo Alto does not invalidate the fact that long term, rent control leads to decay.


119 people like this
Posted by The Truth
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2016 at 8:33 pm

Interior Real Estate Services has put out a chart for the average prices in Mountain View.

In 2011 it was $1,001,630
In 2016 it is $1,874,843

If what you say is true about EPA being $682,000 in 2016, your math does not add up.


147 people like this
Posted by The Truth
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2016 at 9:16 pm

@another MV resident

You should review your list of "rent control cities"

An example is Fremont, which does not have any rent control or prohibits evictions. It is all non binding mediation. Just because cities have mediation does not make it rent control, two totally different things.

Go to the city's website for yourself,
Fremont.gov


17 people like this
Posted by Real truth
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2016 at 10:18 pm

It is obvious that the anti-rent control posts are having their "likes" bumped up artificially by some sort of script or macro. Clearly, their argument holds no water to resort to such tactics.

I'm voting for this rent control law for no other reason than to oppose fraud.


136 people like this
Posted by @real truth
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 6, 2016 at 11:43 pm

Or maybe there's just a lot of average Mountain View residents that don't believe rent control is a good thing for Mountain View. I am not a landlord or landlord supporter, but I don't want rent control in Mountain View.


19 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 7, 2016 at 9:30 am

If someone is going to use "THE TRUTH" as an online name, he or she might want to consider telling the truth. Of course, the proposed rent control law lists the allowable grounds for eviction - all "just cause eviction" laws do so. Read thw initiative for yourself. As to the current City Council, 6 of 7 members were endorsed as candidates by a landlord group FOR A REASON. It is reasonable to believe and expect that most of these landlord-endorsed councilmembers will place a competing measure on the November ballot to reduce the number of votes for the initiative and increase thd likelihood of its defeat. If the competing measure were to pass, it would likely have the same GIANT LOOPHOLE Showalter, Kasperzak, Clark and McAlister maintained in the mediation ordinance they adopted earlier this year: existing tenants may lawfully be evicted before ever being offered a rent increase - even if clearing the way for higher rents is the motivation of the landlord. Under existing state law, the initial rent for new tenants cannot be restricted (as long as the ouster of the former tenant was lawful). The competing measure will simply be a political dirty trick.


111 people like this
Posted by The Truth
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2016 at 10:12 am

@Gary

The "grounds for evictions" mean nothing. As soon as the new rent board is in place they will have the power to make and change laws, council will not have this power and voters can not change that. This is exactly how the San Francisco rent control started and today an owner of a rental property can not even ask to move a son and family into an occupied unit as the rent board routinely denies this and says landlord has ulterior motives.

This rent control will only affect the older,smaller buildings that are run by Mom and Pop small businesses. Those that require more upkeep and money to do that. The newer post 1994 buildings are exempt from rent control. Those newer buildings are owned mostly by institutions. The Mom and Pop buildings do not have the resources so many of them belong to the apartment association to stay up with the laws, get forms and to have an organization to speak for them. Every business has a trade group that represents them and it is not illegal and just because you do not like them and automatically discredit anything they say does not make your statements accurate or factual.

Regarding "current evictions" council member McAlister has said at the council meetings that people keep claiming to be evicted just to increase rents, but they can not find any to verify that this is true. This has been nothing but a scare tactic from your side so you can push for the ultimate law which is to deny any landlord the right to evict any one for any reason.

We have existing laws that protect tenants rights and those issue's belong in the court before an impartial judge who follows the law and not make the laws.


My auto spell check changed an earlier post I made about the real estate firm which is Intero Real Estate that showed the prices here in Mountain View.


7 people like this
Posted by PeaceLove
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 7, 2016 at 2:45 pm

PeaceLove is a registered user.

Can we stop trying to blame the economic situation in East Palo Alto on rent control? The real reason EPA is poor and the rest of PA is rich is the legacy of racist policies and white supremacy in the area: Web Link


73 people like this
Posted by Thomas Jefferson
a resident of another community
on Jul 7, 2016 at 3:22 pm

Thomas Jefferson is a registered user.

What about the basic concept of private property rights? It's one of the core tenets of the founding of this country. And arguably one of the core reasons the country is the success it is today. Rent control is simply another step toward more authoritarian government. Show me in history where that's ended well.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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