Local Democratic Party urges 'no' vote on Measure D | News | Mountain View Online |


Local Democratic Party urges 'no' vote on Measure D

Endorsement criticizes Mountain View council's measure for diluting renter protections

With early voting in the March primary election just two weeks away, the Santa Clara County Democratic Party is recommending that Mountain View voters reject the City Council's ballot initiative to modify the city's rent control law.

The organization's 80-plus member Central Committee voted overwhelmingly earlier this month to oppose Measure D, calling the effort to clean up aspects of Mountain View's rent control law one that would weaken renter protections and make it easier for landlords to make nonessential upgrades and pass the costs onto tenants.

The party typically makes endorsements on candidates for local public office as well as tax measures -- it's recommending a 'yes' vote on every school bond and parcel tax measure on the March ballot -- but selectively wades into debates on citywide topics, said Bill James, chair of the Santa Clara County Democratic Party. Though votes on endorsements are usually unanimous or nearly unanimous, there was some back-and-forth about whether to weigh in on Mountain View's rent control debate.

In November, the Mountain View City Council voted to place Measure D on the March 3 primary ballot which, if approved, would make dozens of changes to the city's Community Stabilization and Fair Rent Act (CSFRA). The rent control law was approved by voters in 2016, and caps annual rent increases on the roughly 15,000 apartment units built before 1995 based on the regional inflation rate -- 3.5% as of last year.

Measure D seeks to do away with the fluctuating rent cap, and would instead impose a flat 4% maximum annual rent increase permitted for rent-controlled apartments. It would also explicitly exclude mobile homes from the renter protections -- the current law is ambiguous, and has been the subject of lawsuits -- and create an expedited process for landlords to raise rents beyond the 4% cap in order to offset capital improvements.

After hearing from both sides and holding a debate on Jan. 9, James said around three-fourths of the committee voted for a "no" vote of Measure D, above the two-thirds supermajority needed to make an endorsement. The consensus, he said, was that any benefits from fixing small problems with CSFRA were far outweighed by substantial and unnecessary changes that weaken the existing law to the benefit of landlords.

"The rental protections that were obtained through (CSFRA) would be diluted or weakened under Measure D," he said. "And to the extent that there were cleanup items that might be required ... a narrower measure that addressed those shortcomings could've been sufficient."

Some of the changes felt unnecessary to the party's membership, James said. CSFRA already allows for a rent increase of up to 10% in order to offset the cost of safety upgrades or new city-mandated improvements to older apartment properties. Measure D seeks to streamline the pass-through rent increases, but in the process broadens the list of eligible upgrades to include environmental sustainability and projects that "extend the useful life" of the property.

Also questionable is the change proposed in Measure D that would prevent members of the city's Rental Housing Committee from paying themselves, which James said seemed disingenuous -- committee members have never tried to pay themselves for overseeing Mountain View's rent control program.

The Santa Clara County Democratic Party had previously encouraged voters to approve Measure V, which enshrined the rent control law in the city charter in 2016.

James said the party's committee membership has also evolved over the years, shifting in favor of stronger renter protections and pro-housing policies since he joined 25 years ago. It appears to be generational: Younger advocates involved with the party are trying to figure out how to make a life for themselves in an area where the cost of living is extraordinarily high and one unexpected bill could leave them without a stable home. This is true even among young adults who have gone to college and pursued professional careers, yet are still stuck with a feeling of fragility.

"The frustration I see among young people is that they've done everything they've been asked to do, and they still don't see a stable place for themselves in this economy and this community," James said.

The League of Women Voters of Los Altos and Mountain View is also recommending that residents vote against Measure D, along with other local advocacy groups that include the Mountain View Mobile Home Alliance.


Follow the Mountain View Voice on Twitter at @MVvoice, Facebook and Instagram at @MVvoice for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

What is it worth to you?


There are no comments yet. Please share yours below.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Choose a category: *

Since this is the first comment on this story a new topic will also be started in Town Square! Please choose a category that best describes this story.

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Redwood City gets two new barbecue restaurants
By Elena Kadvany | 3 comments | 4,855 views

Flying: How to lower your impact
By Sherry Listgarten | 19 comments | 3,219 views

Premarital and Couples: Here Be Dragons!
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 2,634 views

My angst about the disaster of these two debates
By Diana Diamond | 28 comments | 1,571 views

Finding Your Calling
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 1 comment | 1,257 views


Short story writers wanted!

The 34th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult and Teen categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 27, 2020. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

View Details