News

RHC member accused of bias for being a tenant

City attorney says AvalonBay complaint has no merit

A Mountain View landlord is seeking the resignation of Rental Housing Committee member Emily Ramos based on concerns that her role as a tenant creates a conflict of interest. City attorneys have dismissed the concerns as unfounded.

In a letter sent to the city last week, lawyers for AvalonBay Communities allege they will be treated unfairly by the city's rental committee because Ramos is a tenant in one of their Mountain View apartments.

In February, Avalon submitted a petition to increase rents beyond the normal limit at an apartment complex at 1600 Villa St. If approved, Ramos' rent would increase by $1,000 a month, the lawyers note. Thus, they argue that she has an "unavoidable conflict of interest" in her role on the rental committee.

This conflict has already been demonstrated, according to Avalon attorneys. They allege that Ramos asked Project Sentinel to give out her email contact to affected tenants at an informational meeting earlier in April. Project Sentinel helps administer the city's rent-control program, including hiring and training hearing officers who adjudicate rent petitions.

By getting involved, Ramos may have biased this process, Avalon attorneys say. They requested she resign.

"Even if Ms. Ramos has no further involvement concerning Avalon's Petition, her position on the Rental Housing Committee threatens to influence the decisions and actions of the Hearing Officer," wrote attorney Thomas Gibbs. "At the very least this creates an appearance of conflict and bias."

Those claims were disputed for being factually incorrect by the Rental Housing Committee's attorney, Karen Tiedemann. Ramos never contacted Project Sentinel regarding the rent petition or tried to give out her contact information to other tenants, Tiedemann said.

In any case, city attorneys say the idea that Ramos should be disqualified for being a tenant "had no merit." Ramos has no control over contracts with individual hearing officers, Tiedemann said, adding that job is entirely outsourced to Project Sentinel.

"It would be absurd for anyone to draw the conclusion that a hearing officer ... would be tempted not to be scrupulously fair in rendering a decision because an RHC member is impacted by the decision," she wrote.

Tiedemann did point out that Ramos would need to recuse herself if Avalon's petition is brought before the Rental Housing Committee.

Ramos did not respond to a request for comment.

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Comments

40 people like this
Posted by Shame
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 24, 2018 at 11:51 am

This is just another shady tactic by the landlords to divert attention from the alleged conflicts of interest and disregard of the advice of their own legal counsel demonstrated by the landlord faction on the RHC, Tom Means, Vanessa Honey, and Matthew Grunewald.

They have no shame.


76 people like this
Posted by It's only Fair
a resident of North Whisman
on Apr 24, 2018 at 11:55 am

This Measure V was a STUPID IDEA. It was brought to this city from outside activist groups who are now doing this in southern California cities.

There is no need for the costs, the divisiveness, that this Measure V has caused our community.

There should simply be a law that says rents can not be raised more than 7% in a year, have a simple set of laws regarding unlawful evictions that the local courts and the judge will hear and decide the case based on the merits.

Lets get rid of this Measure V and hope this can be put on the ballot to repeal it.


13 people like this
Posted by Measure V Fair
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2018 at 1:45 pm

Look at Measure V. It was passed by the voters. Then the city council undermined it by not paying legal costs to defend the modified city charter. They tacked those onto Measure V costs, which is just not fair. They jacked up the imagined costs and then someone makes a ballot measure saying the city is paying the jacked up costs (no, that's the whole reason the costs were jacked up, to offload expenses onto the assigned fees to landlords for Measure V). Now it turns out that money isn't even being spent.

So, yeah, Measure V is perfectly fair.


21 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2018 at 2:18 pm

The Business Man is a registered user.

In response to It's only Fair you said:

“This Measure V was a STUPID IDEA. It was brought to this city from outside activist groups who are now doing this in southern California cities.”

No it was signed by citizens of Mountain View and vote for passage. You do not represent history correctly. You also said:

“There is no need for the costs, the divisiveness, that this Measure V has caused our community.”

The problems existed for more than 2 years before Measure V was considered. Again, you fail to understand history, only perceive it the way that benefits you the most. You also said:

“There should simply be a law that says rents can not be raised more than 7% in a year, have a simple set of laws regarding unlawful evictions that the local courts and the judge will hear and decide the case based on the merits.”

I have no problem with this idea. But the devil is in the details.

As far as Emily is concerned, she will recuse herself in the appeal process and be substituted by the alternate RHC member. Thus she has no say in the outcome of any petition involving her current residence.

This claim can equally applicable to Tom Means, and Vanessa Honey. Of course if they recuse themselves that solves the problem. Just understand that your argument simply doesn’t make sense.

Thanks for identifying yourself in the RHC meeting, at least now you are not anonymous.


30 people like this
Posted by Longview
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2018 at 2:32 pm

Longview is a registered user.

Measure V is protecting 15,000 Mountain View households from being displaced from the community that is their home. Measure V has no cost to the City of Mountain View. Landlords are still making lots of money. This all sounds good to me!

How sad that the only way the landlords can seek to overturn Measure V is by telling outrageous lies. I truly hope that Mountain View residents will stand up to corporate landlords, and keep Measure V. Don't sign! Measure V helps Mountain View keep its small town feel, where people can stay and raise a family. Mountain View can't afford to lose Measure V.


36 people like this
Posted by Bruce Karney
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 24, 2018 at 3:30 pm

I've met Emily Ramos on several occasions and have been impressed by her. I'm neither a landlord nor a tenant, and it seems reasonable to me that both tenants and landlords should be represented on the Rental Housing Committee.

When a member of a deliberative body has a conflict of interest he/she must recuse themself. This means they do not take part in the decision. It's not at all uncommon for a Council member or Board member to have to do that. Calling for Ms. Ramos' to resign is a very arrogant thing for AvalonBay to do. I certainly hope that she does not resign. Serving on the RHC is one of the most thankless ways to serve our community that I can imagine. Stay strong, Emily!


20 people like this
Posted by Proof
a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 24, 2018 at 4:38 pm

@Longview, talk about lies! You claim Measure V protects 15,000 from being displaced. Prove it.


17 people like this
Posted by Robyn
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2018 at 4:48 pm

How much did the lawyers charge for the letter? Would all real property owners be banned from the committee as well? That just seems fair.


9 people like this
Posted by Amy
a resident of Shoreline West
on Apr 24, 2018 at 6:02 pm

Amy is a registered user.

@proof, actually it's twice that. Web Link but it covers me against greedy, huge rent increases, which are based on lies and mistakes in the petition process. I will be displaced if the petition succeeds, and I'll park my RV right here in mountain view where none of you are going to stop me.


3 people like this
Posted by Hmm
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2018 at 6:50 pm

Hmmm, Measure V only means one thing and that is that the rents will go up to cover the attorney costs and all the overhead that goes with it. Someone will have to pay for that and it sure won't be the property management people, but renters. Any business man can see that.


43 people like this
Posted by It's only Fair
a resident of North Whisman
on Apr 24, 2018 at 8:55 pm

Long time readers of the Voice online will remember that the poster calling himself "The Business Man", was just 2 years ago posting how wealthy he was by gauging all the tenants in his rental properties and if rent control passes he will make more money selling here and buying elsewhere, all the while posting comments that would be regarded by readers as a pom-pas and arrogant landlord. He did this during the time signatures where needed to get the initiative and then the measure passed by the voters and trying to portray himself as a landlord and all landlords in a bad light.
Once it passed "The Business Man" then turned and showed his true colors and shows that the only business he is in is Communism. He does not own anything and only seeks to take away from others. He says and does anything to promote division and only people with an IQ lower than their shoe size would believe him or reply to him.


6 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Apr 24, 2018 at 9:33 pm

Gary is a registered user.

If this landlord does receive permission to increase rents so much from the pro-landlord rental housing committee, there should be a lawsuit over whether the increase violates the criteria set forth in Measure V.


9 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 25, 2018 at 5:58 am

The Business Man is a registered user.

In response to It's only Fair you said:

“Long time readers of the Voice online will remember that the poster calling himself "The Business Man", was just 2 years ago posting how wealthy he was by gauging all the tenants in his rental properties and if rent control passes he will make more money selling here and buying elsewhere, all the while posting comments that would be regarded by readers as a pom-pas and arrogant landlord. He did this during the time signatures where needed to get the initiative and then the measure passed by the voters and trying to portray himself as a landlord and all landlords in a bad light. “

Boy are you not correct. I was always complaining about price gouging regarding rental properties. I have never owned any properties. I have only represented in my history, that the arguments against Measure V were misinformation or worse. I was always a supporter of Measure V. I cannot believe you would claim that I was trying to portray myself as a landlord. You should be much more careful before you make statements that can be proven as being completely wrong so easily. Just look at all of my posts in the last 2 years. You also said:

“Once it passed "The Business Man" then turned and showed his true colors and shows that the only business he is in is Communism. He does not own anything and only seeks to take away from others. He says and does anything to promote division and only people with an IQ lower than their shoe size would believe him or reply to him.”

Again, all I can say is WOW. Also, it just proves the point that you are free to say what you want, but by doing so under anonymity in this context is simply hearsay. If this was presented in any kind of legal proceeding, it would be dismissed and either a judge or the jury would be instructed to remove all of the information you provide to be not considered valid. If your identity was known to the public, and you were a landlord, it would in effect be good basis for NOT renting from you by the public.


12 people like this
Posted by it's only RED BAITING
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 25, 2018 at 8:58 pm

Gee, the RED MENACE, right here in Mountain View. Wow, I did not really notice.
Thanks SO MUCH @It's only Fair !!!


9 people like this
Posted by Nora S.
a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 26, 2018 at 9:20 am

@Red Baiting, you beat me to it!

As Thomas Jefferson said, "eternal rent increases are the price of freedom."


5 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2018 at 10:12 am

The Business Man is a registered user.

In response to Nora S. you said:

“As Thomas Jefferson said, "eternal rent increases are the price of freedom."

I believe you misquoted Thomas Jefferson because he is usually quoted as ‘Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,’ which has been attributed to Thomas Jefferson, but no one has ever found this in his writings. Atkinson’s Casket, Sept. 1833, has ‘The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.’(Web Link)

I do not think there is any resource that discussed Thomas Jefferson making the statement you quoted.



7 people like this
Posted by Nora S.
a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 26, 2018 at 10:36 am

@ Business Man,

Wrong?!?!? Oh, I guess so. But definitely funny, don't you think?


5 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2018 at 11:57 am

The Business Man is a registered user.

Nora,

I love the joke, thanks


7 people like this
Posted by Longview
a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2018 at 4:18 am

Longview is a registered user.

@proof here is link to city of Mountain View 3-26-2018 staff report.
Web Link

Agenda item 10.3. Exact units covered listed as 15,088


16 people like this
Posted by Darin
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2018 at 3:23 pm

Darin is a registered user.

Re: "Agenda item 10.3. Exact units covered listed as 15,088"

That doesn't mean that they're being protected from being displaced.

In our neighborhood, I'm seeing more and more old rentals being torn down and rebuilt as owner-occupied townhomes/rowhouses. It isn't hard to see why. If the likely returns on the investments no longer meet the landlords' expectations, then they sell and invest in something else. And who is going to offer the best price? Another landlord who is interested in continuing to rent the property, or a developer who is interested in tearing down and rebuilding?


10 people like this
Posted by Theory vs Reality
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 1, 2018 at 1:28 pm

The discussion of rent control inevitably brings out closet economists and "Better Dead Than Red" anti-Communists who spout nonsense. One can make arguments over an over-simplified theory of economics or politics to support their points, yet be completely wrong.

Some examples:

Theory: The more expenses landlords have, the higher the rents.
Reality: Landlords do not price the rentals based on expenses. The rents are priced the highest they possibly can while maintaining a low vacancy rate.

Theory: Rent control is causing landlords to get out of the rental market, tearing down and building up new, expensive housing.
Reality: Even before Measure V passed, landlords were tearing down and building expensive row houses.


3 people like this
Posted by Closet Economist
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 1, 2018 at 1:50 pm

So I assume reality already knows he's not even a close closet economist. Your reality points are not what an economist would say. On you first point, there is a trade off between vacancy rates and rental price and other factors. Landlords charge a rate taking into account all factors, even the rent of other places that are similar.

On your second point you are correct, but fail to understand the impact of rent control. Does the policy increase the likelihood of a landlord deciding to demolish his building? If so is there a difference in demolition rates between cities that have rent control.


6 people like this
Posted by Darin
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 1, 2018 at 2:54 pm

Darin is a registered user.

@Theory vs Reality

Yes, old rentals were being torn down to make way for new townhomes and rowhouses before Measure V passed. That describes the townhomes that were built on the property across the street a few years ago. But there are a lot more properties in various stages of redevelopment now than there were at any given time before Measure V passed. This may not describe the entire city, but it certainly describes the neighborhoods within several blocks of our home.

But regardless of why those rentals are being torn down and rebuilt as owner-occupied housing, my point remains: the tenants in rentals slated for redevelopment are not protected from being displaced.


7 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 2, 2018 at 12:27 pm

The Business Man is a registered user.

Just watch out landlords.

Costa Hawkins is dying. And then all tenants can unite to engage in collective bargaining and bring forth rent control to everyone. Not just the "old" buildings.

This is going to be a good fight.


5 people like this
Posted by Waldo
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 6, 2018 at 7:40 am

Waldo is a registered user.

@ It's Only Fair: I don't waste my time reading the bloated and tedious posts of The Business Man.


6 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 6, 2018 at 11:58 am

The Business Man is a registered user.

Waldo,

Where's Waldo?

Thanks for pointing out you do not listen to opposing points of view. Only try to attack those who do not agree with you with personal attacks.

That is typically a sign that you have no independent information you can use to argue with.


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

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