Launching rent control has hefty price tag

City leaders dismayed at covering program's initial expenses

Rent control is touted as a way to clamp down on housing expenses, but in at least one regard it's fast becoming a money pit for Mountain View. Getting the controversial program off the ground has already been budgeted to cost more than $860,000, and city officials are grudgingly paying that sum in advance.

The costs attached to the Measure V rent control program went under the magnifying glass in recent days as the City Council reviewed the city's final budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year. Council members made it clear that this money is a loan they would insist on seeing repaid once the program begins collecting fees.

Mountain View's new rental program is at its most labor-intensive stage. The city's new five-member Rental Housing Committee is dealing with a series of complex and consequential decisions as it establishes the policy groundwork for citywide rent control. Given the stakes, routine committee meetings feature a panel of three attorneys and a team of housing staff, none of whom are working for free.

Designed to run independently of city government, the rent-control program eventually must pay for its own staffing, office equipment and material costs. For the new fiscal year, city officials are budgeting for three new full-time office positions, including an associate planner, a clerical assistant and an analyst. The rental committee will need to eventually hire perhaps its most important staffer -- a hearing officer who will adjudicate disputes between landlords and tenants. This position is expected to be filled by a retired judge or arbitrator, who could charge as much as $1,250 per case.

The $860,000 being paid by the city is expected to fund the program through the end of 2017, but it is possible that other costs will also need to be covered, said City Manager Dan Rich.

"We'll probably need to provide more until they become self-sufficient," he warned. "It's going to be a significant number when this is all filled out."

All of these costs will eventually be placed on the city's 15,000 rent-controlled apartments through an annual fee that will likely be determined later this year. In January, rental-housing staff are expected to administer the first new fee on these apartments.

As they looked at the costs, some City Council members were clearly unhappy that the city is forced to subsidize a voter-approved program that many of them opposed during last November's election. Council members John McAlister and Margaret Abe-Koga pushed for a binding guarantee from the Rental Housing Committee that these costs would be repaid.

Councilwoman Pat Showalter urged restraint, saying she didn't want to create an "adversarial relationship" with the committee.

In the end, the council struck a balance, deciding to bring up the costs as an informational staff report for the Rental Housing Committee.

The staff report was scheduled to be discussed by Rental Housing Committee members at their July 10 meeting, but it was postponed due to a lack of time. The committee is now planning to review the issue at its July 24 meeting.

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125 people like this
Posted by Mt. view Neighbor
a resident of North Whisman
on Jul 21, 2017 at 2:23 pm

Why not take the $860,000 and just use it to subsidize rent based on need? Duh.

250 people like this
Posted by taxpayer
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 21, 2017 at 2:29 pm

Wow, more fees levied onto apartment owners. I can only see this fee going up as renters will probably take the landlord to the new hearing officer. This fee will continue to climb in order for this committee to be self sufficient, and ultimately causing landlords to sell out to developers because it's too costly - in time and dollars - to be a landlord here in Mountain View.

98 people like this
Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 21, 2017 at 2:37 pm

$860,000 is a lot of money. What the hell are we doing people?

The voters might have approved it but is the City legally bound to pay it?

I promise you most of that $860,000 ends up going to lawyers.

112 people like this
Posted by Another neighbor
a resident of Gemello
on Jul 21, 2017 at 2:42 pm

Or massively raise taxes to buy up 15,000 apartments and rent them out at below market rates. At least it would avoid the hypocrisy of one bloc of do-gooders forcing someone else to foot the bill.

125 people like this
Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 21, 2017 at 2:42 pm

This rental program should be repealed in the next election. It's bad policy to take other people's property.

198 people like this
Posted by Outraged
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 21, 2017 at 2:44 pm

Let's make sure that the eventual fee to be owed by the landlords is included in their recoverable costs and cost base on which their "allowed profit" is calculated. The nanny state at its best - creating unaccountable bureaucracies to soak the taxpayers.

How many of the voters supporting the rent control measure would still do so knowing the costs to all of us?

196 people like this
Posted by David Moore
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 21, 2017 at 3:02 pm

And nobody on the council ever thought to do any risk or cost analysis when they so enthusiastically favored rent control? Shameful.

122 people like this
Posted by YIMBY #2
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 21, 2017 at 3:12 pm

It costs Berkely about $2.5 M to administer rent control on about 19,000 units
It costs Santa Monica about $4 M to administer rent control on about 28,000 units
In MV, we have about 15,000 units.

So far MV has said it would seek to recover $860K from landlords to pay for this program. This is not a full accounting of how much will be spent on rent control in

Clearly, the RHC is struggling with the very hard issue of "what is a fair return?"

We in MV are on track to spend a bunch of money. We will eventually find out how much. Think of it like a surprise birthday party, execpt you get to pay for it :).

Rents are slowing or flattening. Business is expanding in other areas because
cost of living. People are turning down jobs or leaving Silicon Valley. It is not
a mass exodus but clearly price/supply/demand equilibrium is working itself out.

But if you step back and think about it, what will have been accomplished?
We're paying people to do centralized planning even though market forces are kicking in. We're seeking to transfer money from landlords to do centralized planning. What if those landlords were using that money to pay for maintenance instead of hearing officers? Or another way of looking at it, if you are spending
$15,000 for an electrical panel, and seek approval from a hearing officer to increase rents to pay for it, and they charge you $600 to $1200 to present your case (and the time collecting the data and formating it for a lawyer grade presentaton), then you have increased you costs a bit under 10% with no tangible benefit.

18 people like this
Posted by Longview
a resident of another community
on Jul 21, 2017 at 3:15 pm

Longview is a registered user.

Time for some math: $860,000 / 15,000 apartments = $57 per unit. This should be easy to recover either as a one time charge, or over time. If this is the ongoing annual charge, it would turn into $4.75 a month per unit. This is going to be okay. Even if the ongoing per unit charge is 4x higher, it will be under $20 a month.

24 people like this
Posted by Michael O'Brien, Tenant
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 21, 2017 at 3:16 pm

More than 60% of residents in MV rent. They have chosen to live here because they work here, teach your children, rescue you on a 911 call, even walk your dogs. Landlords, for the most part, do not live here and they have been making windfall profits and under measure V, they will make a profit as governed by the CA State Constitution, which ensures that they do. Landlords talk about their investment while running an unlicensed, and until now, unregulated business. All residents of MV pay taxes that support Measure V. Every tenant of every single apartment pays taxes to support this effort to protect their civil and human rights in what the Mayor has designated as a Human Rights city. So it is a double edged sword, what is more important to you? Anyone? The ability for the people of Mountain View to stay where they have, raised their children, worked longer hours to support their families or do you support the profits of outside investors that happen to run a private business, which by the way is a privilege, with their investment. Since the rent money goes to pay the mortgages, fees and taxes already, I would say the needs of the tenants outweigh the excesses of the landlords. I am not covered by measure V but not everyone can negotiate with their landlord. I support my landlord's business because she is reasonable and I take care of her property.

157 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 21, 2017 at 4:39 pm

Michael O'Brien, Tenant

Renter A is in a 12 month lease with Landlord A for amount A. At the end of the lease term Landlord A increases the rent by an amount she thinks the market can bear. Renter A can no longer afford this amount; however Renter B can and is willing to pay it and so enters a lease agreement with Landlord A.

- Rent control is protecting Renter A at the expense of both Landlord A and Renter B.

- Renter A is denying Landlord A the ability to maximise her investment and Renter B the ability to live in the area by requiring Landlord A to renew the lease with him at a pre-determined rate.

- Renter A is effectively being protected by what is nothing more than a seniority scheme.

14 people like this
Posted by M. O'Brien to Steve
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 21, 2017 at 5:35 pm

I go to local businesses and their prices go up by what is CPI and the rate indicated by Measure V. These same businesses do not like to pay more for labor, the one cost they can control, so some worker's pay increases but at most, even the highest performers won't get more than 5% raise, most get 1-2%.

In a nutshell, landlords have raised their rents so that only people, however temporary it is, that have high salaries can afford to rent, because if they could save enough for the downpayment, will still end up buying outside of MV/PA and mostly the rest of SV. Great for landlords, but not a great benefit to the community.

In a sense, I could care less that Landlord A "thinks" the market will bear because by the time it becomes clear, what the market will bear, the damage to the community is done. However, the market forces you describe don't consider people or society or even you who have so narrowly accounted for one variable cost while ignoring all others. For every single tech job that can actually afford it, there are about an avg. of four other jobs created that don't pay enough to afford it.

Council won't approve high density buildings and most of the apartment buildings have not been reinvested in and are barely livable as it is.

Currently we are in a real "housing crisis" in the Bay Area. It has more to do with the Real Estate Industry and Measure V is a band-aid until the realities the current economic condition truly change for the better of everyone and not just a select few that got lucky.

Between the two of us, I'm the only one truly holding themselves accountable for my comments. I am not an economist but even as an experienced engineer even I can actually "look things up!" and do enough research about what I write about.

10 people like this
Posted by Landlords well do fine under csfra
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 21, 2017 at 6:05 pm

People need to remember that a landlord can continue to make a hefty profit.

The administrative costs are spread across many, many rental units.

Csfra does not set a maximum rate of return, but rather a minimum rate of return . It does state that a landlord cannot ask for a rent adjustment, if *a individual unit* is covering its share of the minimum fair rate of return. Csfra covers multi unit rentals only. This means a landlord will be making different rates of return for different units. Some higher, some lower but all at or above the csfra minimum

Landlords also make money via equity appreciation. They get to deduct many expenses from their state federal taxes. A dollar of expense after deductions is really only costs 70 cents.

12 people like this
Posted by @steve
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 21, 2017 at 6:13 pm


1. Renter B may not exist
2. Renter A is an existing member of the community, their participation in the community has value and connections- that makes them more valuable than a hypothetical Renter B:
A.Renter A is a local worker who was trained by a local business
B. Local businesses spent marketing dollars to get Renter A business
C. Renter A volunteers and participated civically.

9 people like this
Posted by @outraged / rodger
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 21, 2017 at 6:23 pm

"How many of the voters supporting the rent control measure would still do so knowing the costs to all of us?"

This point was debated during the election. Clearly the mv voters were comfortable with the answer. The costs certainly seem reasonable to me as a voter.

The landlords can keep the fees low by not wasting time with rent increase challenges.

@rodger you are welcome to duplicate the 1000s of hours the MVTC volunteers spent in a repeal effort.

Lastly, everyone should remember that measure v was borne out of desperation and the city council's inaction and the landlords active frustrating of any meaningful alternative.

The landlords have no one to blame but themselves.

3 people like this
Posted by $300 per hour
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 21, 2017 at 7:35 pm

Attorney-Arbitrators here start at about $300 per hour. The program costs should be passed along to landlords and potentially passed through to tenants. But would that be allowed under the measure?

7 people like this
Posted by Greed
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 21, 2017 at 9:25 pm

The republicans and greedy landlords are tto blame. For gods sake, trump is researching how to pardon himself and he would despise this rent control law. That should tell us all how good it is.

14 people like this
Posted by MVRenter
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 21, 2017 at 9:42 pm

My rent has gone up, but it's only 3.4% instead of the 40% my landlords wanted a couple of years ago, thanks to Measure V. I'm willing to pony up a few bucks for housing stability for families like mine. Are you? If not, maybe you should question your humanity.

26 people like this
Posted by @MVRenter
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 22, 2017 at 7:33 am

Wow, MVRenter, you're willing to subsidize ... yourself? How generous of you! That's quite a sacrifice.

18 people like this
Posted by @Obrien and others
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2017 at 8:20 am

Ok, so that bmw in your garage, are you pissed that the dealer made a huge profit on your new car? Or that house you brought, you must really be upset that the previous owner only paid 1/4 of that price back in 2000. Your advice is so anti-capitalize it stinks. Landlords get screwed when the economy goes down and no one complains. Also you want to take out the View from Mountain View, if you want hi density buildings. Do you really want to make Mt. View look like San Francisco or NYC? You're an engineer, you should be able to figure out that since we live on a peninsula, that there is a certain amount of people that can fit into a small compact place. We have reached that saturated point, where our traffics a mess our lines at stores a quite long and our quality of life will greatly diminish with the addition of more and more people and cars. Our infrastructure can't handle the mass influx of people. And soon the environmentalist will take our water away once they remove the hetch hetchy dam, where will all the water come for all the people here. And with our govnor wanting to divert most of the delta water to the south we will be left with no water. The govt. environmental engineers just concluded that there will be no effect to the environment if the delta tunnels are build. Our air is already back to 1970 level, thanks to all the people flooding in here. Don't believe me, drive up to one of the higher mountains and you can see for yourself.

@greed, you are the type that wants something for nothing, at the expense of someones else. Typical of your type to blame someone else for your short comings.

@mvrenter, so your still probably paying 750 dollars for you place. Good, make sure you your landlord can't bring the rent up to current levels. You must really be glad.

I'm not even a landlord. Renters have the biggest advantage when they get stuck with higher rent if there landlords get greedy, they can move, because not all landlords are greedy. Landlords still have the upper hand, because the rental contract you make, by the end of it, the landlord can decide on not to renew it, so you'll have to move out.

If it costs 2.5m for Berkely to administer 19,000 apartments, it's reasonable to assume Mt. Views cost will be that much as well, or a little less once all the dust settles and the real cost come into play. Guess who will flip the bill on that. The Renters.

Also another thing, most rental properties are owned by big business, so if they decide on making condos out of it, then renters will get screwed again. Then the remaining appts the few that will be left will be 5x the cost they are now.

12 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2017 at 11:52 am

As long as Prop 13 is in effect there's no reason to not also have rent control.

10 people like this
Posted by @ @Obrien and others
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 22, 2017 at 4:51 pm

> Ok, so that bmw in your garage

Micheal doesn't have a BMW. But I guess you do?

> Or that house you brought, you must really be upset that the previous owner

He is a renter (not paying attention are we?)

> Your advice is so anti-capitalize it stinks.


> Do you really want to make Mt. View look like San Francisco or NYC?
yet ...

> We have reached that saturated point

Clearly no saturation point if MV is nowhere close to SF. Choose. Are we like SF or not.

> our lines at stores a quite long

Maybe because people who would work at the store can't live here.

> our quality of life will greatly diminish with the addition of more and more people and cars.

So you are saying that rent control will lead to more people being able to live here? More apartments and condos being built? Sounds great.

> And soon the environmentalist will take our water away once they remove the hetch hetchy dam,
> And with our govnor wanting to divert most of the delta water to the south

... wow! I didn't know this.

Dogs and cats living together!

Sounds like you should move before the apocalypse.

7 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2017 at 9:23 pm

The Business Man is a registered user.

I am not going to bother with a hearing with the RHC. It is NOT required or necessary at least with regards to a blatant violation of the CSFRA where the tenants overpaid rent from December 23rd 2016 to April 30, 2017. This option means that the only hearings that will be performed are ones where there is a “gray-area”. This is going to be the petitioners that are the landlords. Thus one petition will involve a group of apartments simultaneously, thus it will be very cost effective.


In addition to any other remedies provided by law, Landlords and Tenants covered by this Article shall have the following remedies for violations of this Article.

“(a) Landlord's Demand for or Retention of Excessive Rent. When a Landlord demands, accepts, receives, or retains any payment or payments in excess of the lawful Rent pursuant to this Article and the regulations promulgated hereunder, including in violation of the provisions ensuring compliance with habitability standards and maintenance of Housing Services, the Tenant may file a Petition pursuant to Section 1710 OR file a civil suit against the Landlord. A Landlord who demands, accepts, receives, or retains any payment of Rent in excess of the lawful Rent shall be liable to the Tenant in the amount by which the payment or payments have exceeded the lawful Rent. In such a case, the Rent shall be adjusted to reflect the lawful Rent pursuant to this Article and its implementing regulations. “

Now that the City Attorney and Staff in fact now conclude the enforcement date for the CSFRA is December 23rd, 2016 as of July 17, 2017, The word OR in this provision clearly means is the as of the tenants can move forward to file a complaint in court rather wait for a petition process to be initiated to enforce rent refunds for a prorated December 2016 and January to April of 2017. My significant suggestion is to start this process right NOW.

The refusal to do so will be significantly more costly because if you read this part of the CSFRA it states:

“(b) Civil Remedies. A TENANT MAY BRING A CIVIL SUIT IN THE COURTS OF THE STATE ALLEGING THAT A LANDLORD HAS VIOLATED ANY OF THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ARTICLE or the regulations promulgated hereunder, including that the landlord has demanded, ACCEPTED, RECEIVED, OR RETAINED A PAYMENT OR PAYMENTS IN EXCESS OF THE LAWFUL RENT. In a civil suit, a landlord found to violate this article shall be liable to the tenant for all actual damages, including but not limited to the damages described in subsection (a) herein. A PREVAILING TENANT IN A CIVIL ACTION BROUGHT TO ENFORCE THIS ARTICLE SHALL BE AWARDED REASONABLE ATTORNEYS FEES AND COSTS as determined by the court. ADDITIONALLY, UPON A SHOWING THAT THE LANDLORD HAS ACTED WILLFULLY or with oppression, fraud, or malice, the tenant shall be awarded treble damages. No administrative remedy need be exhausted prior to filing suit pursuant to this subsection. “

In this situation, a tenant is ENTITLED to have the situation resolved in the courts, can hire an attorney at this time, and the costs of the attorney will be required to be paid by the landlord as long as they are REASONABLE, And the landlords’ WILLFUL actions in refusal to return overpaid rent will require that the court will multiply the overpayment by 3 because of this provision. This will mean that the landlord will incur the costs of their own attorney, the tenants’ attorney, and the triple damages if they choose to not cooperate as of NOW.

Finally the Santa Clara Court will have jurisdiction on the case given this section of the CSFRA:

“(c) Jurisdiction. The appropriate court in the jurisdiction in which the Rental Unit is located shall have jurisdiction over all actions brought under this Article.”

The landlords MUST understand that since the same court will hear the complaint, a court that already clearly stated in the denial of the preliminary injunction, that the CSFRA is valid law. The court went further to demonstrate that it finds it unlikely that the CSFRA could be determined as unconstitutional.

So the landlords MUST understand that:

First, the legal history of the various provisions of the CSFRA and its’ provisions are not ambiguous.

Second, the legal history regarding the challenges in the Santa Clara court indicates it has certified the validity and enforceability of the CSFRA.

Third, that as long as a tenant can demonstrate the effective date is accepted under the City of Mountain View is December 23rd 2016, that this is the start of rent overpayments under the CSFRA

Fourth, that the record of date of residence was within the base rent provisions, meaning whether a person was living continually since October 2015, or in the in between period from October 2015 until December 2016.

Fifth, That the rent paid during the period of December 23rd 2016 to April 30th 2017 was NOT the base rent under the CSFRA and the base rent, the rents were paid in surplus the LAWFUL rent regarding the continuous residence since October 2015, or the in-between period of October 2015 and December 2016,

And finally, that the landlord WILLFULLY refuses to comply with the overpayment refund requirement to the CSFRA.

That this is enough for the court to order triple damages, the cost of legal representation will be required to be paid by the landlord. The rights provided by the CSFRA are not up for interpretation because there is no ambiguity. There is simply no legal basis available to the court to refuse this remedy under the CSFRA. Thus it is simply not likely that the landlord under this situation will prevail in such a court complaint.

I am starting my process and I encourage anyone not provided their refund to do the same.

14 people like this
Posted by Day Worker Center should pay
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 22, 2017 at 9:27 pm

I think the Day Worker Center should pay the bill until the committee is self funded. This was their idea to begin with. They weren't happy taking our donations, volunteer hours and other support from the community, they just had to have more. Now they should pay to help make this work if they believe in it so much.

6 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2017 at 12:36 am

The Business Man is a registered user.

In response to Day Worker Center should pay

You said:

“I think the Day Worker Center should pay the bill until the committee is self funded. This was their idea to begin with. They weren't happy taking our donations, volunteer hours and other support from the community, they just had to have more. Now they should pay to help make this work if they believe in it so much.”

There is a problem with that idea if you read this:

Section 1709. - Rental housing committee.

“(j) Financing. The Committee SHALL FINANCE ITS REASONABLE AND NECESSARY EXPENSES, including without limitation engaging any staff as necessary to ensure implementation of this Article, BY CHARGING LANDLORDS AN ANNUAL RENTAL HOUSING FEE AS SET FORTH HEREIN, IN AMOUNTS DEEMED REASONABLE BY THE COMMITTEE IN ACCORDANCE WITH APPLICABLE LAW. The Committee is also empowered to request and receive funding when and if necessary from any available source including the City for its reasonable and necessary expenses.”

So the CSFRA specifically dictates that the committee will finance its own required functions via a fee that is REQUIRED to be paid by the landlords.

“(1) Rental Housing Fee. ALL LANDLORDS SHALL PAY A RENTAL HOUSING FEE ON AN ANNUAL BASIS. The first Committee convened after the effective date of this Article shall determine the amount of the Rental Housing Fee. The amount of the Rental Housing Fee may differ between Rental Units subject to the entirety of this Article and those that are Partially Exempt. THE COMMITTEE MAY ADJUST THE AMOUNT OF THE RENTAL HOUSING FEE AT ITS DISCRETION TO ENSURE FULL FUNDING OF ITS REASONABLE AND NECESSARY EXPENSES, IN ACCORDANCE WITH ALL APPLICABLE LAW.”

This specifically directs that financing of this committee is REQUIRED to be funded by the landlords at this time.

“(2) City to Advance Initial Funds. During the initial implementation of this article, the city SHALL ADVANCE ALL NECESSARY FUNDS TO ENSURE THE EFFECTIVE IMPLEMENTATION OF THIS ARTICLE, until the committee has collected rental housing fees sufficient to support the implementation of this article. The City may seek a reimbursement of any advanced funds from the Committee after the Rental Housing Fee has been collected.”

Thus the CSFRA REQUIRES that the city advance the funds necessary to initiate the Committee and the new programs under the CSFRA. The term SHALL is a mandatory expression. In the legal realm if the term MAY was used there is some discretion regarding the legal actions defined under statute. If you ever read the book titled “Scalia and Garner's Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts , it contains the following :

“(Scalia, Antonin; Garner, Bryan A. (2012-07-05). Scalia and Garner's Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts (Kindle Locations 1820-1842). Thomson West. Kindle Edition.)”

“11. Mandatory/Permissive Canon

Mandatory words IMPOSE A DUTY; permissive words GRANT DISCRETION.

The text of this canon is entirely clear, and its content so obvious as to be hardly worth the saying. The trouble comes in identifying which words are mandatory and which permissive. The traditional, commonly repeated rule is that shall is mandatory and may is permissive:

The tenant SHALL provide written notice of an intent to vacate no fewer than 30 days before moving. (This states an obligation.)

The tenant MAY vacate the premises on 30 days’ written notice. (This grants permission, with a condition.)

When drafters use SHALL and MAY correctly, the traditional rule holds—beautifully. But alas, drafters have been notoriously sloppy with their SHALLS, resulting in a morass of confusing decisions on the meanings of this modal verb. Volume 39 of Words and Phrases contains more than 55 pages of digested judicial holdings on the word—and the cases are anything but uniform. Have the courts been wayward in their holdings? Not really. The problem is that drafters have used the word improperly—even promiscuously. Consider the different types of sentences in which shall can appear. As you read the sentences, remember that SHALL ought to be replaceable by either HAS A DUTY TO OR IS REQUIRED TO:

Shall, in short, is a semantic mess. Black’s Law Dictionary records five meanings for the word.1

Responding to this sloppy usage, courts have treated shall as having variegated meanings. In the Supreme Court of the United States alone, the pronouncements on its meaning have been widely diverse:

• For existing rights, shall means “must,” but it need not be construed as mandatory WHEN A NEW RIGHT IS CREATED.2.”

• If a duty is imposed on the government, “the word ‘shall,’ WHEN USED IN STATUTES, is to be construed as ‘may,’ unless a contrary intention is manifest.”3

Before you try to say that this text makes it discretionary, realize that this is in terms of a statute, when it comes to a Federal or State Constitution, or City Charter, there is no discretion at least in the U.S., the state of California Constitution, or the City of Mountain View City Charter.

This was one of the reasons why such a fight was made by the apartment industry to attempt to get the voters to reject this Measure. But that simply failed and now it is a codified City Charter mandatory duty until another initiative is approved to reverse or amend the measure.

5 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2017 at 2:24 pm

The Business Man is a registered user.

Hello All,

This posting is to balance things out. This is because I understand that the legal liability for willfully violating the CSFRA by landlords are caused by a very serious problem completely unrelated to the RHC.

If one would read the letter issued by the City Attorney and City Staff attached to the agenda for the RHC meeting on July 24th you would see it discloses something that may result in serious costs to the City. These costs are related to actions taken on behalf of the City Staff, the City Attorney, and the City Council, and excludes any responsibility to the CSFRA Rental Housing Committee. The City recommendation clearly shows it knew when the landlords were required to repay rent based on the CSFRA enforcement date of December 23rd 2016 and neglected to inform them for political reasons and NOT LEGAL ONES.

The text of the analysis included:

“From a legal perspective, CAA and proponents both have interesting legal arguments regarding the effective date. CAA will argue the temporary restraining order prevented the CSFRA from becoming effective and, therefore, it only became effective when the TRO ended. Thus, the effective date is April 5, 2017. The proponents will argue December 23, 2016 is the effective date based on the CSFRA, and since it was an initiative passed by the voters, only the voters can change the effective date of the charter amendment. CASE LAW DOES NOT PROVIDE CLEAR DIRECTION ON THIS ISSUE.”

There is clear evidence that this statement is not accurate if you read the following:

“Stopping Enforcement of a Law

A California court will not prevent government officials from enforcing a law unless the law is unconstitutional or if enforcement of a valid law is done illegally. [Code of Civil Procedure Section section 526; Civil Code Section 3423(d); Alfaro v. Terhune (2002) 98 CA4th 492, 500; Novar Corp. v. Bureau of Collection & Investigative Services (1984) 160 CA3d 1, 5]”

In the Alfaro v. Terhune case, the courts initially ordered a injunction, but that injunction on appeal was overturned, the discussion came down to:


The judgment is affirmed insofar as it rejects plaintiffs' constitutional challenge to the Act. The judgment is reversed insofar as it permanently [98 Cal. App. 4th 513] enjoins defendants from implementing the Act. The matter is remanded to the trial court with directions to enter judgment in favor of defendants. The parties shall bear their own costs on appeal. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 26(a)

Davis, J., and Raye, J., concurred.”( Web Link)

Since the courts could not determine that the CSFRA was unconstitutional or if enforcement of a valid law is done illegally because on December 22nd 2016, the law was not yet in effect. Thus there is no way the City Attorney can claim what she said here.

In regards to the Novar Corp. v. Bureau of Collection & Investigative Services case the court stated:



Appellant, the Bureau of Collections and Investigative Services of the Department of Consumer Affairs of the State of California (Bureau), appeals from a preliminary injunction enjoining it and its agents, servants, employees and representatives from making statements that respondent, Novar Corporation, is an "alarm company operator" and must be licensed by appellant.”( Web Link)

This case is inapplicable in this situation because this opinion clearly was based on the fact that the TEXT of the law being discussed here clearly defined the proper course of action, and the agencies discussed went outside the scope of the text. The CSFRA text in this situation was not ambiguous, section 1720 clearly stated that 10 days after the December 13th, City Council entry of the certifies election result by the Santa Clara Registrar of Votoers, the CSFRA was to be made enforceable. Section 1719 removed all discretion regarding what the City Staff, the City Attorney, and City Council because it expressly prohibited making any changes to the text of the CSFRA.

Thus the City Attorney simply was trying to avoid its required actions under the CSFRA and had no basis to do so. The City Attorney and Staff went on to say:

“There are three ways to establish an effective date for the CSFRA. First, the City contemplated filing a declaratory relief action to resolve the controversy created by the conflicting positions taken by the CAA and the proponents regarding the effective date. This approach offered the most expedient and cost-effective option to resolve the dispute regarding the effective date of the CSFRA. However, when informed the City was considering this approach, neither the CAA nor the proponents were inclined to support such an approach and in fact may challenge this approach, resulting in an unnecessary use of resources and exposure to attorney fees. BASED ON THE OPPOSITION EXPRESSED BY CAA and the proponents, staff does not recommend this approach.”

So what this statement declares is that the City Staff and City Attorney instead of acting on fully valid law, it took steps to prevent the implementation of the CSFRA based on POLITICAL MOTIVES and NOT LEGAL ONES. The statement made by the City Staff and City Attorney went on to state:

“The two remaining options are for the Rental Housing Committee (RHC) to adopt a resolution establishing the effective date or wait for a tenant petition for unlawful rent to reach the RHC on appeal and rule on the effective date of the CSFRA at that time. ADOPTING A RESOLUTION PROVIDES A FASTER ROUTE TO A COURT DETERMINATION AS BOTH OF THESE OPTIONS ARE LIKELY TO LEAD TO AN EVENTUAL DETERMINATION BY THE COURT AS IT IS NOT POSSIBLE FOR THE RHC TO SELECT BOTH DATES.”

This claim simply is an attempt to avoid all required actions as defined in the City Charter CSFRA AND Section 506 regarding the City Council. The City Council is required to uphold and act on the City Charter and has no discretion to deviate from it based on Section 506 which states: “ Powers vested in the council.; All powers of the city, EXCEPT AS OTHERWISE PROVIDED IN THIS CHARTER, shall be vested in the council, and said council may establish the method by which any of such powers may be exercised.” This action was made solely for POLITICAL reasons and NOT LEGAL. It was successful in misinforming the landlords their obligatins to return overpaid rent starting on December 23rd, 2016. The statement went on to say:

“It is likely the RHC's decision will be challenged and the matter will ultimately be decided by the court. To get this issue before the court, the RHC must take a position on the effective date. The RHC has the option to select either December 23, 2016 or April 5, 2017 by adopting the attached resolution (Attachment 5) or wait for an unlawful rent petition to be filed and reach the RHC on appeal. IN TERMS OF A RECOMMENDATION ON THE DATE TO SELECT, STAFF WOULD RECOMMEND THE RHC ADOPT A RESOLUTION ESTABLISHING THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF DECEMBER 23, 2016 BASED ON THE EXPLICIT LANGUAGE IN THE CSFRA, California law establishing that a ballot measure may only be by another vote of the people, unless the measure authorizes amendment by the legislative body, and the absence of any language in the temporary restraining order suggesting that the court intended to reform the CSFRA to modify the effective date.”

The City Staff, the City Attorney, and the City Council clearly knows there was a clear absence of any language in the temporary restraining order suggesting that the court intended to reform the CSFRA to modify the effective date. No court would ever dare to change the date given the reasoning described above. In effect, it took almost 4 months for the City to simply understand section 1720, and it was doing so for POLITICAL and no legitimate LEGAL basis. These action can be said to be the sole cause of landlords placing themselves in serious legal jeopardy because the results of this behavior encouraged illegal business decisions on the part of the landlords.

I would support that the City Staff, the City Attorney, and the City Council has brought serious legal financial liablilty on itself. Most importantly, the Rental Housing Committee cannot be in any way a contributing factor. The landlords should target those whose actions caused their serious financial costs, and no statements should be made to infer that the RHC has done any harm to them. The RHC simply is responsible for enforcement of the CSFRA,BUT the City Council was required to do so in the first place as of the court decision made on April 6, 2017. This course of action was done because of POLITICAL reasons and not any legitimate LEGAL ones.

So any financial reimbursement for having to pay for triple damages, the legal costs to the landlords and the plaintiffs should be reimbursed by the City of Mountain View. I in fact strongly encourage any landlord that did willfully withhold refunds for the tenancies during December 24rd, to April 30th where the rent paid was unlawful based on the CSFRA to file a lawsuit against the City at this time.


28 people like this
Posted by Really?
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 23, 2017 at 7:54 pm

I have been reading these comments with much frustration and sadness. I bought a house in Mountain View after many years of working, saving, cutting back, and only having the family I can afford. I bought here because it was a happy community with many wonderful city services that enrich us all.

Now, because they demand and/or feel entitled to live here, some people want massive apartment buildings to line our streets. Do they not realize that these new apartments will NOT be under rent control and probably priced out of their budget? Be careful what you wish for.

Older units, under rent control, are mostly owned by small business owners. Many have these units as their entire income and/or retirement. If they are constantly being threatened with fines and are not allowed to recoup utility price increases, upkeep, etc. you can bet they'll cash out and sell for condos, where they can make a GREAT deal more money and not have these constant threats and hassles.

Some commenters here, think ALL Mountain View residents should be taxed to support renters... you've got to be kidding. It's not that Mountain View is an island - workers can live in Sunnyvale, Milpitas, and other surrounding cities (well within decent commute) for lower costs. Nobody has a RIGHT to live where they want, just because they want to do that. And NOBODY has the right to expect others to subsidize their living standard. I am saddened by the sense of entitlement some seem to exhibit here.

I hope, when many apartments are undoubtedly turned into condos, many renters can buy here and truly have "a dog in this race". Yes - renters can volunteer in the community (though in all my volunteering I have encountered very few) and some value the entirety of Mountain View's future - not just a free ride on the backs of landlords or taxpayers. Your contributions are welcomed with open arms - but great cost to taxpayers in supporting this committee, and demands for entitlements are not.

8 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2017 at 8:57 pm


I totally agree with you that nobody has a right to expect others to subsidize their living standards. When do you plan on giving up your Prop 13 subsidy and paying taxes on the true cost of your home? It would be hypocritical otherwise to block new housing development from happening in Mountain View while not paying your share of the resultant rising housing costs that blocking such development would incur, and we shouldn't have to subsidize you just because you want to maintain a suburban standard of living.

24 people like this
Posted by Really?
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 24, 2017 at 1:46 am

@Yimby: Your "one trick pony" act is getting a bit counter-productive and repetitive. You think ending Prop 13 is a resolution to your problem of not being able to afford living here? Perhaps you should read about Prop 13 and educate yourself instead of parroting the same unfounded argument.

It's also odd that you insist that massive new housing will make life easier for you in Mountain View. The new housing will undoubtedly have much higher rents, as these units/homes are NOT subsidized through Measure V - don't you get that? In your eagerness to think abandoning Prop 13 is going to solve your problem, you don't seem to understand that fact. Measure V is going to be a much greater obstruction for you, but your refusal to see that is clear - and unfortunate for your future.

I suspect you'll just continue to repeat yourself about Prop 13 as your savior, and continue to insist that others should make your life easier. You ignore the destructive force of Measure V, what it will do to reduce rentals in this city, and end up costing you and all of us more in taxes. Therefore lies our different approaches to life. Good luck and all the best to you.

8 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2017 at 9:06 am

I think ending Prop 13 is the resolution to unshield the wallets of folks like you from the repercussions of your actions. The rest of us deal with higher rents as no new supply is added to the housing market (or did until rent control), and so you should be there right alongside us paying out more every year as the housing costs go up.

New apartments are always expensive because they're new. But they take demand off of older apartments and lower competition across the existing supply. That's what reduces the rate of (and ultimately reverses) rents and housing costs.

9 people like this
Posted by Disappointed
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2017 at 3:04 pm

I was always hoping they would eventually rebuild all the old apartments along California and Latham which would on turn improve school scores and make MV overall a nicer city to live. I wonder if rent control will make it happen faster. We have too many old dilapidated apartments. Instead of rent control it would be wiser to make sure that teachers, firefighters, and police could afford to live here.

4 people like this
Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 24, 2017 at 6:28 pm

USA is a registered user.

This is just creating more Trump supporters.

9 people like this
Posted by LOL
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 24, 2017 at 6:56 pm

@USA, keep telling yourself that. I'm just so tired of all this winning ;-)

24 people like this
Posted by Common sense
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 24, 2017 at 9:24 pm

Pretty sure I (along with many others) said this was going to happen. At this point, all we can hope is that the tenants are required to bear their fair share of the fees from the absolute mess.

23 people like this
Posted by Old timer
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2017 at 11:37 pm

Well, it is sad that some think Santa Monica, Berkeley, and SF are good examples to follow. Have you gone to Market street and Telegraph Ave lately?

If rent control truly benefits all MV citizens due to the subsidized renter providing valuable social services, then the cost of such rent subsidy must be born by the city as a whole.
Most rent control violate this basic principle, and amounts to usurping the property rights of the small number of land lorfds of older buildings. This is a form of bullying.

Would rent control would pass if renters were minority in the city? And how many subsidized renters actually work in the city?
If being a landlord is such a desirable business, why doesn't city or the renters team up to become the landlord themselves?

8 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2017 at 12:14 am

The Business Man is a registered user.

Hello All,

The RHC chose to place responsibility of the current problems with the CSFRA back in the hands of the City. They instructed the City to go to court to get a court decision to for once and for all make it clear that section 1720 requires enforcement of the CSFRA for December 23, 2016. I totally agree, the City wanted to pass the hand grenade to the RHC, which who was not responsible for the mess we are in. They were sworn in weeks after the April hearing and decision. They have their own responsibility to take care of getting the CSFRA off the ground, and not pick up the pieces of a broken plate.

23 people like this
Posted by Zekkular Bulgaris
a resident of Willowgate
on Jul 25, 2017 at 10:41 am

Zekkular Bulgaris is a registered user.

Can't afford housing? Move out!

3 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2017 at 2:35 pm

The Business Man is a registered user.

In response to Zekkular Bulgaris who said:

“Can't afford housing? Move out!”

The attorneys that represents the CAA and the Intervenors Alamo Walker Venture, LLC, Lindsay Properties, LLC and Del Medio Investors, LP (Dori Y. Kilmer) must really be careful if they in fact will act to try to argue that the TRO permanently prevented enforcement of the CSFRA. From what little I could find on the subject, there is no court that has ever issued such an order. On the contrary most courts are NOT inclined to take that action.

But more importantly, if these parties pursue this course of action and lose, the ramifications for them and countless others could be catastrophic. And those with a more rational basis for doing so in the future could be permanently impaired by such a court precedence. If the parties representing the CAA et al don’t understand, they are playing Russian roulette with not just 1 bullet in the chamber, but it could be as many as 5 in six or all full.

I know we in Mountain View are frustrated with all the delays, but realize, the Marathon is a long race, and that our finish line is approaching. We just have to maintain vigilance.

11 people like this
Posted by @YIMBY
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 26, 2017 at 12:42 pm

Mountain View already had one of the most liberal building policies in the bay area well before all this new construction and rent control! Your anger should be focused not at Mountain View but at cities like Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Los Altos, and Cupertino. All these cities provide just as many jobs as Mountain View (Palo Alto is actually more) and yet are building hardly any new housing. Mountain View is the only silly city diving in head first with little thought to the risks that come with expanding the community so rapidly and with so little planning.

If you really want to help, push these other cities to build more diverse, more affordable housing. The cities above have mostly single family homes (also why their schools are so good while ours suck.) Mountain View already has affordable housing in bulk. There are thousands of affordable housing units near me, many run through Mid Pen Housing and we all know California Ave has some of the cheapest housing in the area (East PA might be cheaper). Go find the right tree to bark at and you'll accomplish much more.

8 people like this
Posted by Chuck
a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 19, 2017 at 11:42 am

Thou shall not mess with the free market.

Its going to be Biblical when the whole man made affordable rental housing thing crashes.

Mountain View renter residents have no idea of the financial opportunities that are available outside their little bubble city.
The moneys moving folks as landlords bulldoze their buildings for the dirt that lies under them and reinvesting elsewhere. The land is worth more now without a rent controlled building sitting on it.
Everyone renting better get ready to pony up $500K to buy there $1.5M slice of pie in the American dream.
Absolute stupidity on the part of the renting voters.

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

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