News

Guest opinion: Battle for the soul of Mountain View

New housing shouldn't displace residents

There is a battle underway for the soul of Mountain View. For decades the Mountain View community has treasured diversity. We have long accepted people regardless of ethnic background, political or religious beliefs, or economic condition. In turn, they have helped build our community, performing jobs that we all need.

But the fabric that holds Mountain View together is at risk. Our extraordinary economic growth is causing gentrification and the displacement of many low- and middle-income residents. When we turn a blind eye, we lose part of our soul as a community.

On Dec. 11, while I was still mayor, the City Council voted 4-3 to approve a developer's proposal to tear down 20 rent-controlled, naturally affordable apartments on Rock Street to build 15 townhomes and rowhouses, displacing 75 predominantly Spanish-speaking residents. This is just one in a series of similar projects that have come before the council in the last four years. The one difference: This time the tenants organized in opposition. They reminded the rest of us of their long-term commitment to Mountain View.

The residents gave compelling testimony that demolition of their apartments would remove people we need in Mountain View to make the community tick. One of the tenant speakers reported that he works in a Google cafeteria. How will software engineers eat if there is no place nearby for food-service workers to live?

We do need new housing in Mountain View, but we don't have to displace people to build it. The city is encouraging both apartment and ownership housing construction on land that is currently in commercial use. We can't legally force the owners of old apartments to stay in business, but we can eliminate their incentive to demolish by denying redevelopments that displace low- and moderate-income tenants.

The people who are losing their apartments face the realistic possibility that they will have to commute hours every day and place their kids in less effective schools elsewhere or, they tell me, they will have to join the hundreds of residents already sleeping in vehicles on our streets.

We have over 500 vehicle households, split between various forms of motor homes and cars. A majority of the adults in these households have jobs. Though Mountain View has been working to create off-street overnight parking opportunities, progress has been slow. Continuing council members have signaled a willingness to further restrict overnight street parking in response to calls from a vocal minority to throw vehicle residents out of town. But driving vehicle residents out of sight will not solve the problem.

Meanwhile, thanks to our voters some 13,000 apartment households are protected by the Community Stabilization and Fair Rent Act (2016's Measure V) against rent gouging, as long as they don't move. However, on key policy questions, the council-appointed Rental Housing Committee (RHC) has tilted toward landlords, so it's important to keep an eye on the RHC with its two new members.

As written, Measure V restricts space rent increases in mobile home parks, but last year the RHC ignored its own legal advisers and exempted our 1,100-plus mobile home households from rent stabilization. They not only face unregulated space rent increases, but when they need or choose to sell their homes, the high rents discourage buyers and drive down the value of their homes. So if they move, like the people displaced from apartments, it will be difficult for them to stay in town. Either the RHC or the City Council should protect manufactured-home households against unreasonable rent increases.

If you value our apartment dwellers, vehicle residents, and mobile-home owners, please join me in signing the Soul of Mountain View petition at http://chng.it/TC7SFb4tPD. The soul of our community is at stake.

Lenny Siegel is a former Mountain View City Council member who served as mayor in 2018.

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Comments

287 people like this
Posted by Humble observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 25, 2019 at 10:50 am

I find the petition's wording seriously, gravely, logically flawed. It ignores vital parts of the picture that it claims to address. It is the wording of someone whose ideological blinders preclude perceiving the whole story -- who values wishful interpretation over reality. Specifically:

- It calls simultaneously for contradictory goals. Strict rent control, yet also complaining about the predictable and long-established downsides that go along with rent controls (owners redevelop property, take it off the market, etc.). Which do you want, more housing or rent control? (Thinking that you can somehow choose a policy without also getting its downsides does not reflect well on its advocate's problem-solving sense.)

- "opportunities for our vehicle residents to continue to live in Mountain View." Since no one really knows how many of the squatting RVs actually house people who ever lived before in MV (many other situations have been documented among them, including people drawn here specifically because RVs were tolerated), that element of the petition reflects wishful, not actual, information.

- It claims to address "gentrification," but fails to address (or even acknowledge) the obvious direct main cause (high-paid high-skilled job growth) or the policy factors that contribute to it, such as office-space approvals that increase jobs faster than housing for those taking them. Did you know that demand begets price increase, which begets "gentrification?"


11 people like this
Posted by Job Lopez
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 25, 2019 at 11:06 am

I Love this article. I Agree a hundred percent with what it says because it is nothing but the truth. Owners of old apartment buildings have the legal right to get out of the rental business, but it is immoral for them to do it by demolishing their buildings in the name of money displacing in the process dozens of low-income tenants to build instead townhomes to be sold for more than a million dollars that no displaced tenant can buy. The City Council and the Housing Rental Committee -both with new members in them- have the moral obligation as well to recognize and respect the human rights and human dignity of all low and moderate income members of our tenant community living in old apartments, cars or motorhomes.


496 people like this
Posted by Valerie
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 25, 2019 at 2:09 pm

@Mr.Siegel,

You where voted out of office for a reason.

The overwhelming population of Mountain View does not agree with your radical positions or the direction you wanted to take the city as a council member.

You and your friend, Job Lopez, would be best serving the people of our city if you would stop taking rights away from people.

You are free to buy up all the apartments you like and let everyone live in them for free.

It is really easy to tell other people to do that, but why do you not to do this yourself and leave others alone.


182 people like this
Posted by Sore Loser
a resident of Castro City
on Jan 25, 2019 at 2:20 pm

Rantings from a sore loser. It would be nice if he got some of his facts right before he criticized other people.


242 people like this
Posted by Darin
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 25, 2019 at 2:55 pm

Darin is a registered user.

If you want property owners to remain in the landlord business, then there need to be incentives for them to remain in the landlord business. If their MV rental properties can no longer provide the returns they seek, then they'll move their investment somewhere else. If you block one way of getting out of the landlord business, then they'll find another way to get out, as long as the landlord business fails to provide the returns they seek.

"Doctor, Doctor, it hurts when I do this."
"Then I suggest that you stop doing that."


277 people like this
Posted by Keep it local
a resident of another community
on Jan 26, 2019 at 8:36 pm

The RVs are often bought used, and rented out. If a builder wants to put up apts. he has to abide by laws governing parking, sewer and power hook-ups, access, etc. etc. The renters in those apts. have to pay for garbage collection, water, utilities, etc. etc.

These RV owners and their tenants don't have to pay for any of that. They get a free ride from everyone else. Why?

If you don't like gentrification, don't bring in high paying companies.

If the low wage earners can't afford it here some of them will leave. This will create a shortage of low wage earners so those remaining will get higher wages. This will continue until the low wage earners make enough to afford to live here. You might have to pay $10 for a latte (as I did in Switzerland) but that's the cost of living in a high wage area.

If companies don't like having to pay their cafeteria workers a wage appropriate to the area, then Austin, Raleigh, and Dalles will welcome you.

You can't fight economics. You also can't have your cake and eat it too.


257 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 26, 2019 at 8:39 pm

Thanks to our voters, we voted Lenny out of office as well. BTW, when is Job Lopez's next court date for violating some very basic rights of a candidate during an election?


15 people like this
Posted by Rajesh
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jan 27, 2019 at 6:04 am

Lenny is a good guy. I was disappointed that he lost in the most recent election.

However I believe that there are some serious flaws in this proposal. If there is one thing we all should have learned, after watching what strict rent control has done in other cities, is that the side effects are completely predictable and end up causing displacement and gentrification.

Apartments are removed from the market and converted to Tenants-in-Common for-sale housing because it is no longer financially viable to keep them as "naturally affordable" rental housing. When legal, owners will simply tear down the apartment buildings and build much nicer new market-rate housing.

Requiring large percentages of BMR housing as part of new developments is a much better approach than imposing rent control where there are no income qualifications.


In one forum on Prop 10, on KQED, one liberal opponent of Prop 10 said that it would be wrong to let cities shoot themselves in the foot by passing Prop 10, which would have greatly worsened the affordable housing problem. On the other hand, Prop 10 would have encouraged the construction of ownership housing, which would most benefit Californians, since no developer would build rental housing anymore.

For mobile home parks, what happened in Palo Alto needs to happen in other communities as well. Government subsidies to keep them intact. Many people see mobile home parks as an inefficient use of land, but they are one of the only types of affordable ownership housing available. The owners that can qualify for financial assistance on space rents should receive subsidies. The worst thing that could happen is to convert mobile home parks into high-density housing which would further exacerbate traffic congestion.


75 people like this
Posted by JD Harlen
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 27, 2019 at 6:35 am

The proper way to provide affordable housing is via subsidized, income-qualified, Below Market Rate (BMR) housing for income qualified residents. Either developers build this housing as part of a project where the market-rate housing subsidizes the BMR housing, or the government provides the funding for housing projects through tax revenue.

Rent control of non-income qualified housing is unfair both to the property owner and to the low-income tenants that really need the affordable housing that BMR housing provides.

The unfairness of rent control, both to the property owner and to the residents that need affordable housing, is why the net effect of rent control is to reduce the amount of naturally affordable housing through gentrification, conversion to ownership housing as allowed by state law, and to remove ADUs from the market. There are approximately 31,000 empty ADUs (in-law units) in San Francisco because the homeowners would rather rent them as short-term rentals on AirBNB, or not rent them at all, because of rent control and vacancy control.

Mr. Siegel needs to learn to take a systems view of the housing situation and look at the big picture.


14 people like this
Posted by Lenny Siegel
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 27, 2019 at 11:13 am

Lenny Siegel is a registered user.

Mountain View is building more housing than just about any other Bay Area community. We are funding a steady stream of subsidized apartment buildings. These are long-term solutions.

We are converting office properties to housing. But there is an enormous backlog of approved office space. The jobs-housing imbalance is going to get worse before it gets better.

Some people who own their homes do not consider it a threat that many of our residents are being displaced, but where will their kids lives? Who will teach our kids, serve food in our restaurants, run the cash registers, build the homes, etc.?

The "Soul of Mountain View" petition isn't just about sympathy for our less fortunate residents. It's about the survival of our community.


376 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 27, 2019 at 1:32 pm

Lenny,

Give up your property if it bothers you so much. Don't go expropriating the property of others or causing their expenses to outpace their investment. We don't want your socialism and handouts. We own our homes because we worked hard for them and we continue to work hard. Our kids will do the same.


23 people like this
Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 27, 2019 at 2:29 pm

Observer, what's far more likely is that your kids will get a handout from Mom and Dad, as you pass down your property and its artificially low tax rates down to them. Doesn't sound like hard work to me...

God bless Prop 13 for allowing California to rebuild a landed aristocracy here!


233 people like this
Posted by JD Harlen
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 27, 2019 at 2:48 pm

Lenny, their kids will live where they can afford to live. It may not immediately be in the same city where they grew up because they don't make enough money.

Few of us expected the city where we really wanted to live upon graduation from college to offer us a subsidized house or apartment. We rented or bought where we could afford it, even if it required us to commute further than we might have liked.

We do need more 100% BMR projects like was recently approved in Palo Alto. The funding for these needs to come from somewhere. We also need higher percentages of BMR units in developer's projects, and they can receive density bonuses for doing this.

But please don't go down the rent-control path. You can see the disastrous effects of rent control throughout the Bay Area (and the country). Conversion of naturally occurring low-income housing to TIC. Gentrification. Displacement. Deterioration of the housing stock as owners can no longer afford to properly maintain their property. More traffic congestion as low-income tenants are forced out of the area and have long commutes to their jobs, while the new market-rate tenants also drive everywhere. Affluent tenants enjoying artificially low rent while truly needy tenants can't get into BMR housing. It may sound great to expropriate someone else's property, but it's not sustainable.


316 people like this
Posted by wateryourownlawn
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2019 at 2:54 pm

"Politicians are like diapers, they are dirty and need to be changed often." Mark Twain

The old adage about giving a man a fish versus teaching him how to fish has been updated by a reader: Give a man a fish and he will ask for tartar sauce and French fries! Moreover, some politicians who wants their votes will declare all these things to be among his 'basic rights.' Thomas Sowell

If you don't pay taxes, and want to spend someone else's money, sign the petition. The new political strategy for those seeking office and getting free medical care is at the expense and unbeknownst to the average taxpayer. Politicians tugging the heartstrings of those who have no money, but can vote, will take what little money other taxpayers have left. Pandering for votes is a losing strategy....or is it a recipe for tyranny?


17 people like this
Posted by JD Harlen
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 27, 2019 at 2:55 pm

Randy Guelph:

We need to fix Prop 13, but it seems hopeless. The passing down of Prop 13 valuation from generation to generation is inherently unfair. Everyone else ends up subsidizing those that receive the tax break.

Prop 13 should apply solely to owner-occupied residential property and not be able to be passed along. Prop 13 was sold to Californians as "ensuring that seniors are not taxed out their homes.

Prop 13 also discourages the sale of the type of housing most desired by residents, single family homes. Prop 5, though somewhat unfair, would have addressed this problem. They should have has some sort of revenue sharing in place between the cities where the property is sold and the city where the residents move to.


22 people like this
Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 27, 2019 at 3:03 pm

Thank you for acknowledging the inherent unfairness of Prop 13, as that understanding is the first step to fixing the problem. However, Prop 5 would have made Property 13 even worse! It would have allowed people to preserve their artificially low tax rates on new, more expensive houses they bought. I simply cannot endorse something that carves out even more the advantages to wealthy landowners in this state.


32 people like this
Posted by The Successful Businessman
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jan 27, 2019 at 10:10 pm

The Successful Businessman is a registered user.

Mountain View's particular housing crisis has its roots in the regional wide acceptance and competition between cities to attract large IT campuses to their communities. Mountain View and its city council (including Lenny Siegel) didn't think twice about the consequence of approving MILLIONS of square feet of office space in the city with its obvious impact on housing, traffic and infrastructure. Civic pride! We'll be the headquarters for Google! LinkedIn! Intuit! Mozilla! Synopsys! The list goes on and on.

Where were the gatekeepers, Lenny? Back in the day it was "beware of the military industrial complex!" (Eisenhour, 1961) Today it's beware of the industrial beast known as city planning departments with well paid staff needing to be fed a never ending stream of new projects--all funded by ridiculous fees that make housing unaffordable for anyone under the median income level.

Mountain View made its uncomfortable bed and now must sleep on it whether in an RV or $3,500 one bedroom apartment. City hall is to blame for all of this, 100%! The electorate was simply asleep while all of this civic pride BS was going on in council chambers. Affordable housing wasn't the problem two decades ago. Your city council, and that of neighboring cities has made it so today.

A moratorium on demolished outdated, unsafe, economically and functionally obsolete multifamily apartment complexes? No, Lenny, the moratorium needs to apply to adding even ONE more square foot of office space anywhere in the Bay Area until there's a housing equilibrium between the need and the supply.

And just to be sure this happens, the voters of Mountain View should insist that the City of Mountain View set the example for the rest of the Bay Area by laying off the planning department at city hall expect for those who are there to review and approve of housing projects.

The Bay Area does not need more jobs and it does not need more people. "Housing only!" Shout it from the rooftops.


16 people like this
Posted by JD Harlen
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 28, 2019 at 6:29 am

Randy Guelph

However unfair Prop 5 might have been, the result would have been freeing up some of the most sought-after housing stock, single family homes in areas that are jobs rich. You simply won't get seniors with low assessments to sell their homes and move to other areas unless it's financially viable for them to do so. It was the social engineering of Prop 13 that created the problem, and since Prop 13 is not going to be repealed, it will have to be other social engineering that works around it.

Seniors will continue to just live in a home that's too big for them and then pass their property on to their heirs, an even worse situation than letting them transfer their Prop 13 valuation to other property.

Worse yet, they will continue to own their home, but rent it out. When they're paying artificially low property taxes and renting out the property to families that need expensive public services, other taxpayers are subsidizing the public services. This happens all the time in my area. A house renting for $6000 per month, to a family with two kids going to public schools, with the homeowner paying $2000 per year in property tax on a house with a $3 million market value, is not sustainable. Where is the other $16,000+ per year to fund the public schools coming from? And as soon as the renters are done with the public schools they move to a lower cost area and the house is re-rented to new renters.

You're wrong on another count as well. The new homes that these seniors purchased would almost always have a much lower market value than the homes that they sold, but they would have a higher assessed value than the home they are selling.

The losers in this deal would be the communities that the seniors moved to since the property tax revenue on the homes that they bought would be lower than if the home were sold to someone that would be paying taxes on the full market value. But the seniors also require less services, especially one of the most expensive services, public schools. Also, the communities that they would likely be moving to have no housing shortages so it's not like they would be displacing someone that would be paying full market value for a similar home.

It was a difficult Proposition to explain, and it was made worse by who was sponsoring it, real estate interests.


15 people like this
Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 28, 2019 at 7:56 am

If you're starting from the position that you're never going to repeal Prop 13, you've already given up. I have a line in the sand: I'll never vote for anything that strengthens Prop 13, like Prop 5. You're free to choose differently.


21 people like this
Posted by JD Harlen
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 28, 2019 at 11:01 pm

Randy Guelph: here is a typical scenario that explains why Prop 5 was a good idea:

Senior's Current Home in Palo Alto
$3,000,000 Market Value
300,000 Assessed Value
3,750 Property Tax based on Assessed Value
37,500 Property Tax based on Market Value
33,750 Property Tax increase when property is sold

Senior's New Home
$ 500,000 Market Value
$ 300,000 Assessed Value with Value Transfer
$ 3,750 Property Tax with Value Transfer
$ 5,250 Property Tax with no Value Transfer
$ 1,500 Property Tax Loss

Net Property Tax Gain: $32,250

So if 5% of the property tax gain to the high cost city could be transferred to the city to where the senior moves with their value transfer, that city could be made whole.

If the goal is to solve the housing shortage in Silicon Valley then Prop 5 made perfect sense.

If the goal is to prevent seniors from moving out of their homes, and instead to have them either rent them out or pass them on to their heirs, further exacerbating the housing shortage and school funding, the Prop 5 made no sense.

No one should be naive enough to believe that Prop 13 will be repealed. Instead, the revenue shortfall will be made up with more and more regressive taxes passed via bond measures, parcel taxes, sales taxes, bridge tolls, and any other taxes that can be thought up.


17 people like this
Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 28, 2019 at 11:19 pm

It explicitly allows them to carry it forward to more expensive houses, so I don't see why you're using their moving to a cheaper home as an example. We shouldn't be further entrenching handouts to wealthy millionaires in this state, but you may disagree.


36 people like this
Posted by JD Harlen
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 29, 2019 at 9:03 am

Randy Guelph:

The seniors aren't selling a $3 million home in Palo Alto and buying a $4 million home in Los Altos Hills.

What actually happens, almost all the time, is that a senior sells a home with a very high market value but a very low assessed value, then buys a home outside the Bay Area in an area where prices are much lower, but still at least a little higher than their current assessed value.

They are "cashing out" their home's equity, paying a huge amount of capital gains taxes, moving to a lower cost area, and living off the remaining profit. Their home in the high cost area is sold to someone paying the proper rate of property taxes. It's actually making Prop 13 less unfair since the net amount of property taxes being collected is now much much higher.

The reason so many non-urban counties opted out of Prop 90's intercounty base year value transfer is because they were having to accept lower property tax amounts from seniors moving into their communities. Those counties need to be made whole.

A provision where 10% of the increased property tax of the property that they sold is transferred to the county where they bought, for say 10 years, would benefit everyone.

What you have to realize is the unintended side effects of not having something like Prop 90 or Prop 5 available. Seniors stay in their homes until they die and they pass the Prop 13 valuation on to their heirs and the artificially low property tax continues. Even worse, they move to a lower cost area and rent their house out, at very high rent, to a family with multiple children in the public schools. The county is then collecting a pittance in property tax but the schools are having to spend a huge amount educating those children. On the plus side, they do have to pay income tax on the rent they receive, but it's a much lower amount than what the property tax would be if the property were assessed at market value.

Looking at the big picture and taking a systems view is vitally important. We will continue to have desirable neighborhoods, with good schools, mainly consisting of seniors with no school age children, with huge amounts of equity but low income, that are unable to afford to sell.



13 people like this
Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 29, 2019 at 12:07 pm

If that's the case, why allow them to transfer it to more expensive houses at all? You're trying to dodge it by saying they won't do it, yet endorsing codifying it into our Constitution that they be allowed to do it. Doesn't pass the smell test.


126 people like this
Posted by Bored M
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 30, 2019 at 11:17 am

I'm sick of the narrative that somehow change (meaning new comers to our city) have no soul or somehow a less valuable soul as the title suggests.

Lenny introduced programs, that while made with what he deemed as good intention, drew unsavory results. Stop with the agenda already.


184 people like this
Posted by Concerned MVer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 30, 2019 at 11:24 am

I am tired of this losing argument.
Lenny - WE VOTED YOU OUT FOR A REASON! No sitting mayor in MV has been voted out in 60 years, get a clue!
The reason you are out is due to your incompetence and your slanted political views.

One of which was to help keep the RVs on our streets.

While we should care for those in need, we, as a community should not have to ruin our city at the same time. It is time to try and keep MV as sightly and beautiful as possible. Keeping RVs on city streets is not sustainable.



292 people like this
Posted by Long Time MV
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 30, 2019 at 11:32 am

Lenny, you are so far from reality.
Most of the vehicle dwellers have come in from other cities. Most (per MVPD report on the subject) were never MV residents in the first place.
YOUR passive/inviting polices allowed them to stay, now there are here, mostly due to your policies. We are so glad we moved in a new direction with a new mayor.

Your policies are wrong, that is a reason we moved in a new direction without you.


19 people like this
Posted by ROFL
a resident of North Bayshore
on Jan 30, 2019 at 12:26 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


74 people like this
Posted by SomeYoungGuy
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2019 at 2:22 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


15 people like this
Posted by Recent MV resident
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jan 30, 2019 at 3:39 pm

So I retired and moved out of the area into the Sierra mountains. I rented out my MV house for $7500 a month to a family of four. I rent a slightly smaller house for $2500 per month. No way I will sell my house. Will pass it along to my kids who will receive the rollover in property assessment and in capital gains. My income from my rental property more than covers my cost of the rental and the new property I rent. Will be able to buy something cheaper w a small down payment. I know many couples that are doing this.


203 people like this
Posted by Cant Believe It All
a resident of Castro City
on Jan 30, 2019 at 3:48 pm

Lenny- you are going off the deep end. Can you please let an rv or two park in your driveway? You love talking about welcoming these homeless folks, but lets see you welcome your driveway. You think the community wants what you want? You were voted out specifically because you support RVs, campers, homelessness and the day laborers center over the larger community that wants this to end. Rengstorff and Eagle park has been taken over. My kids will not go there. I have seen police arresting these people on countless occasions. (Thank you MVPD!!) I have seen and smelled sewage from these RVs. I have seen the litter too. We do not want this. You can have your RV people sign the petition, but dont come to my door. You may risk a door in the nose.


264 people like this
Posted by psr
a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 30, 2019 at 4:38 pm

psr is a registered user.

It is so sad (and ironic) that Lenny Siegel doesn't see the inherent unfairness of what he wants to impose on others in the name of "fairness".

He wants to insist that landlords keep property for rent at rates far below what the market averages, yet he rails against these same people for renting deteriorating properties and "gouging" the tenants. Exactly how do you expect landlords to maintain and improve property when you won't allow them to rent the property at a rate that still allows them to make a living when they do that? You can't have it both ways, Lenny.

People that invested their hard-earned money in rental property did not enter the business as a charitable enterprise. You can't decide to change the rules for how that business operates, make it difficult or impossible to make a living from it, then whine when people sell their property because the rules you impose have made the investments unprofitable for them. That isn't their fault. It's YOUR fault.

Now, in addition to making owning the business unprofitable to operate, you also want to make it unprofitable to sell as well? Do you really not see how unfair that is? Why are the people who worked hard and earned enough to have property to rent now evil in your eyes? The whole idea behind the establishment of this nation is for everyone to be able to benefit from their own labor. Everyone - not just the people you like. Do you not understand that they ARE the American Dream? Why do you want to steal that from them?

I admire charity. Nothing is more admirable than to help your fellow man. However, I was taught to reach into my own pocket when I give to others. You seem to think it is your right to reach into the pockets of others to provide for those you deem worthy. It isn't and the other voters generally seem to think that way as well. They see the way the quality of life is deteriorating here over a very short period of time. You may have good intentions, but your approach to this problem is ill-informed and misguided. Perhaps you need to walk in the shoes of a landlord for a while before you try to fund your charity from their bank accounts.


105 people like this
Posted by Voter
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2019 at 4:59 pm

Dear ex-mayor, you were decidedly voted out by the Mountain View voters for good reasons. No amount of proselytizing here will do you any good. Perhaps it is time for you to get off your high horse and move away from Mountain View. Probably better for your health.


16 people like this
Posted by Buh-bye
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 30, 2019 at 5:37 pm

You were voted out for a reason, bud.


12 people like this
Posted by ROFL
a resident of North Bayshore
on Jan 30, 2019 at 5:43 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


6 people like this
Posted by Longview
a resident of another community
on Jan 30, 2019 at 6:08 pm

Longview is a registered user.

All the posters referring to "strict rent control" are not describing Mountain View's Measure V rent stabilization. The state bill "Costa Hawkins" makes all California rent control moderate in several ways:

New apartments - built after 1995, are exempt from rent control.

When a new tenant moves in, the landlord can charge market rent at move in. (increases there after are limited to inflation, with a 5% cap. Prop 13 limits on property taxes are limited to only 2% annual increase.

By state "fair rate of return" court decisions, if a landlord's expenses grow faster than his rental income, they can petition for higher rents. The only reason this doesn't happen more is that tenant turn over does take place, and landlords reset the rent to market rent then, thus keeping their rental income ahead of increased expenses.

Measure V was passed when rents were very high. Mountain View landlords are making money - they just can't double their rents over night anymore.


14 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 30, 2019 at 6:24 pm

Lenny partially caused the problem by never seeing a new rental housing development he did not like while providing waivers on the affordable housing component. These rentals were for high earners getting Google, LinkedIn, etc on their resume and then moving on. So these, Lenny approved, developments are ripping out the soul of MV as most of these tenants have little interest in building roots and community here. I know because rental around us are revolving doors as Googlers move on.

Rent control only works in the short-term. In the longer term developments become run down. Also, there is major abuse. I know a person in a rent-controlled apartment in SF who owns two rental properties and another who keeps an SF rent-controlled apartment as their weekend pad. They live in Atherton!

Lenny's proposal to create a homeless encampment at Shoreline just legitimizes the situation and makes it permanent and a magnet for folks from other less inviting cities.

Lenny's heart is in right place and I thank him for his service but I feel many of his policies were misguided. These are tough regional issues that need regional solutions.


7 people like this
Posted by Ginger
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 30, 2019 at 6:52 pm

I find it quite disturbing that some people on this thread are blaming “seniors”, (I hate that word) for housing problems in Mountain View. I get no benefit at all from prop 13. I bought my first time in 79 work my way up, lived in Los Altos for 23 years and moved to Mountain View 21 years ago. My taxes have gone up every year. I am definitely in favor of affordable housing for everyone, residential homes being built where there is available space. I do not like the discriminatory attitude that the downtown area is nothing but seniors holding onto their homes, paying low taxes, with no younger residents or children in the neighborhood. I believe that seniors have a lot to give to the community whether they are covered under prop 13 or not. I am not selling my home because I love living here. The types of bullying seniors that they should sell their beloved homes is not valuing their contributions to our community. Let’s try to find a solution that allows more people to live here in a more affordable way. Apartments are way too expensive for the average person. Commute times that were mentioned before are not the answer. I was quite involved in the last election for city Council. I plan on attending as many city Council meetings as possible. That’s for the change occurs plus as someone mentioned keep a sharp eye on the planning dept. office space in, housing out. IMHO.


26 people like this
Posted by The Votes
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 30, 2019 at 10:29 pm

I'm so tired of reading or hearing Lenny Siegel going on about the "vocal minority". He was resoundingly voted out of office. It wasn't even close. Obviously, the voting majority didn't agree with his policies and performance.


35 people like this
Posted by Lenny time to move on
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2019 at 10:35 pm

“We have over 500 vehicle households”

Let’s re-phrase that to say we have 500 RVs and vehicles used as illegal sub-standard housing units which Mtn View code enforcement completely ignores creating a safety hazard to those living in them. If I rented my garage with an air mattress and a camp toilet would the city allow it? Absolutely not! Would the city demand to inspect the property if it was reported? Absolutely!!!!

Lenny. Mountain View has not lost its soul, but you have lost the election, the people have spoken, time to move the on.





12 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2019 at 2:32 am

"I get no benefit at all from prop 13. I bought my first time in 79 work my way up, lived in Los Altos for 23 years and moved to Mountain View 21 years ago."

Really? You get no benefit at all from Prop 13? You don't think your taxes might be just a little bit higher if you were paying on the market rate it your home bought 21 years ago?



17 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2019 at 2:36 am

"So I retired and moved out of the area into the Sierra mountains. I rented out my MV house for $7500 a month to a family of four. I rent a slightly smaller house for $2500 per month. No way I will sell my house. Will pass it along to my kids who will receive the rollover in property assessment and in capital gains. My income from my rental property more than covers my cost of the rental and the new property I rent. Will be able to buy something cheaper w a small down payment. I know many couples that are doing this."

Prop 13 has created a new landed gentry. Everything about this post, especially the inheritable tax rate, shows why it needs to be abolished.


13 people like this
Posted by Cog
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jan 31, 2019 at 12:00 pm

I may not agree with all of Segal's recommendations, but he cares about the city and it's residents. A lot of the problems with Mountain View are people oblivious to the problems others are facing.

Diversity has long been a strength for this city, but when Google doesn't hire and train locally and has less than a fraction of !% of Santa Clara county born residents as employees, there is a problem. When Yahoo sells itself to avoid paying taxes, and Apple creates entire economic infrastructures offshore to drive down it's effective tax rate, there is a problem.

Rent control is last resort measure. It doesn't work well, there are serious problems, but there is a need it is trying to fix. We need a city council that can strip out all the unnecessary fees regulations and bs, and make it affordable or at least feasible to build housing in Mountain View. We need employers who can hire and train locally, pay a minimum effective tax rate, and contribute to housing crisis solutions. Look at Vancouver. Housing speculation there has created a couple other last resort measures, some that Mountain View should consider.

I'm sick of the I've got mine, we don't need to do anything for anyone else attitude that is too often expressed here. There is a crisis, let's start taking the hard steps to fix it. Why on earth is Mountain View spending a million + to examine a parking lot solution for RV's at Shoreline? We legitimately could have built the lot for that. We need to be smarter.


14 people like this
Posted by Truth
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2019 at 1:18 pm

Two comments.
1) you lament that low income residents would have to move to places with “less effective” schools. Well, guess who makes those schools less effective. Like they made Castro a school to be avoided.

2) google et all do not hire locally because the quality of education in schools crippled by prop 13 is subpar. The graduates cannot compete for good colleges and the best jobs.

Actually here is a comment number 3. I don’t mind gentrification on the least if it lowers the crime rate and improved the schools.
It is time to decide if MV will become a new Los Altos or a new Berkeley.


5 people like this
Posted by MtViewReader
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Jan 31, 2019 at 4:16 pm

MtViewReader is a registered user.

Thank you for continuing to speak for minorities, the meek, and those in need in Mountain View, Lenny. Until we learn, as a community, to care for others outside of ourselves and our families, these problems will continue to grow. There is nothing we can't solve together, but unfortunately right now we're too individualistic.

I'm also surprised, considering the voting record of our Congressional District, that the readers of the MV Voice are so opposed to "Socialist" efforts to insure the poor can continue to live in our communities. I hear a lot of free market capitalist ideas floating around... always thought that was more of Texas' deal... not that there's anything wrong with Capitalism as long as we remember to also show compassion for the meek.


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