Letters to the editor: Rent control, census | News | Mountain View Online |


Letters to the editor: Rent control, census


Landlord group supports Measure D

In 2018, the California Apartment Association (CAA) led a coalition of concerned housing providers and residents in a campaign to fix the city's 2016 rent control law through the initiative process.

The Mountain View Homeowner, Renter, and Taxpayer Protection Act (the "taxpayer initiative") has qualified for the November ballot and ensures the city's 2016 rent control law benefits low-income tenants and stems the exodus of units from the local rental market -- and resulting renter displacement -- caused by the 2016 law.

The taxpayer initiative also prohibits the Rental Housing Committee from paying itself a salary, misusing taxpayer money, and extends anti-gouging protections to more Mountain View renters, as the 2016 law only applies to renters living in units built before February 1995.

Things have changed since the taxpayer initiative was drafted and qualified.

For one, AB 1482 was introduced and ultimately signed by Gov. Newsom. This statewide legislation provides strong renter protections to more renters than the taxpayer initiative.

Two, the Mountain View City Council, in an effort to bring landlords, tenants, and the community together, crafted its own measure to address issues with the 2016 rent control law and is placing it before voters in March as Measure D.

The taxpayer initiative and Measure D both aim to keep units on the market, make it easier to improve aging rental housing, protect taxpayers, and keep the city's older rental units affordable, safe, and available.

Accordingly, the coalition applauds the leadership of Mayor Margaret Abe-Koga and council members Chris Clark and Lucas Ramirez, who spent many hours developing what is now known as Measure D. The coalition believes it is in the community's best interest that costly, divisive ballot fights be avoided if possible.

As such, should the voters adopt Measure D in March, the coalition will withdraw all support for the taxpayer initiative.

While no law is perfect, Measure D seeks to protect renters, encourage investment in the community's housing units, and ensure a good quality of life for all residents. We appreciate the City Council's efforts to work with all stakeholders and try to find some elements of common ground.

With Measure D's passage, the community, housing providers and elected leaders can focus on real solutions to the region's housing crisis -- the addition of affordable homes for the working families of Mountain View.

Joshua Howard

California Apartment Association executive vice president

Measure D loopholes

We oppose Measure D. It unnecessarily increases rents for those struggling to remain in Mountain View. The nonpartisan League of Women Voters local chapter also opposes Measure D.

The Community Stabilization and Fair Rent Act (CSFRA) was passed by voters in Mountain View in 2016 to slow down runaway rent increases for those living in older apartments. This law has been fair for both tenants and landlords. Measure D would disrupt this balance with hidden loopholes.

Currently, increases for tenants in rent-controlled apartments can be no higher than inflation. Apartment owners' profits are also protected. Since rent control doesn't apply when a tenant voluntarily moves out, the new rent on that apartment can be raised to market rate. For continuously occupied apartments, landlords can petition for increases above the inflation rate if their necessary costs prevent them from making the profit that they made prior to rent control. This is the "fair rate of return" provision in CSFRA that protects financial interests of apartment owners.

Measure D is backed by the deep pockets of the California Apartment Association's corporate apartment owners and their supporters on the City Council. Their claim to "protect rent control" is a deceptive smoke screen. Measure D introduces significant loopholes to increase landlord profits and as a consequence would lead to higher rents, forcing out more teachers, nurses, families, seniors and service workers from Mountain View.

The most serious loophole allows landlords to pass through to tenants costs of non-essential improvements that "extend the life of the building." These additional rent increases would be allowed even when the landlord is already making their customary profit without these increases. Please protect renters in our community from more displacement, which would surely occur. Vote no on Measure D.

Dave Offen and Gail Nyhan, homeowners

Barbara Avenue

Questioning Measure D

The main thing I don't get about Measure D is why our City Council believes that any landlord investments that "extend the useful life of the property" need to depend on incremental rent increases. Doesn't the bulk of monthly rent provide for those upgrades? Are landlords taking out all profits each year without setting aside funds for their foreseeable upgrades to buildings and grounds? I can understand extraordinary rent increases for mandated safety improvements, which may not be foreseeable, but our current law already allows for them!

Also, I'm concerned that Measure D and the anticipated landlords' measure in November both have backers who publish misinformation in their public materials. That's insupportable.

Frances Johnson, renter

Sierra Vista Avenue

It's time to get counted

We are less than two months from an important date: Census Day on April 1. Counting everyone is imperative for California and Mountain View to get proper representation and essential funding per the United States Constitution. In my April 1, 2019, op-ed in the Voice "The countdown to being counted," I highlighted that California is a "hard to count" state. In particular, Santa Clara County ranks as the ninth toughest to count in the nation. This is also the first time the census questionnaire will be primarily online.

Full participation is critical. Census data is used to allocate nearly $700 billion in federal program funding and designates political representation at various levels of government. States use this funding for essential programs like health care, social services, education grants and infrastructure. California's political representation in the United States Congress is decided through the census, and there has been talk of California losing a seat if there is an undercount. This information is also used to redraw state and local district boundaries.

Now is the time for an accurate count, one in which each and every person is counted. Every individual regardless of age, immigration status or residency counts. The Santa Clara County Complete Count Steering Committee, of which I am a member, has been focused on community engagement, particularly with families of children under 5, seniors, individuals with disabilities, immigrants and the unstably housed. Statewide, California leaders have invested $187 million toward an outreach and communication campaign.

As April 1 approaches, keep an eye out for your census postcard. This postcard will contain your unique census ID number for your household. There are four ways to complete your census information: internet self-response form, paper form, by phone and in-person via enumerator visits.

I invite you to join the city of Mountain View and Santa Clara County's joint "Multicultural Census Party" on Thursday, Feb. 13, at the Rengstorff Community Center, Maple Room, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. to learn more about the census. Refreshments, games, and translation services will be available.

Let's make sure Mountain View counts.

Ellen Kamei, Mountain View vice mayor and Santa Clara County Complete Count Steering Committee member

Send letters to the editor to letters@mv-voice.com. Letters must be signed and no more than 300 words long.

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8 people like this
Posted by whtcabo
a resident of Castro City
on Feb 9, 2020 at 12:39 pm

What puzzles me about this new found sadness for poor corporate landlords and the reason they are suffering under current rent control, is that they can't afford to make neccessary updates to current stock. So when it was the wild rental west a few years back and still for recently vacant rentals. What the hell did you all do with that money. Rents raised over 70% in ten years prior. So as long as you can raise rents against tenants as you see needed, you didn't need to do those so very needed upgrades. But when you can't raise rents as ruthlessly as you feel or want. Oh how You need these very needed upgrades all the sudden. When is the last time a occupied rental was updated. Which by the way how the game works for those who don't know. They have contractor licenses under a LLC (so it won't show there actual name) they can claim astronomical costs. Say $4000 for fence replacement on a patio. But what they really do is get a no licensed subcontractor who by law can't lawfully charge more then $500 for and quoted job (these guys aren't licensed so they can't legally charge over $500). You do the math they claim a $4000 upgrade and hardship with the city so they can raise the rent. If the city accepts. The numbers are crunched and now you have a off cycle rent increase. But the kicker is the job only ever costs $500 or less. And this will be done over and over for esthetic but not actually helping the renter until you can't afford it. You'll move and they lick chops and really get to raise that wild west style rental rate. Thus is why they are caring hard working poor old landlords. Oh and if you use the csfra as a tenant your bilking the system.

7 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Castro City
on Feb 9, 2020 at 1:26 pm

I just had a bizarre situation.

I just returned from working off-site and I was having a dispute with my landlord becasue he illegally charged late fees in violation of the CSFRA.

I recently wrote a check for this months rent, but forgot to drop it into the slot.

I got my 3 day demand letter, but it indicated that it onbly demanded $330 to balance the rent payment for this month.

BUT my rent is $1530. But I indicated for months that the landlord had collected in total up to today of $1200.

So I get back and testify in the RHC and the City Council the fact that if a landlord violated the CSFRA but declares they comply with it during a petition, they committed fraud against the tenants and the City.

I looks like the landlord finally got the point that it made a serious error in conduct. I am about to get the petition voided based on the false declaration.

The CSFRA states no petition can be even considered if the landlord violates the CSFRA.

3 people like this
Posted by Daniel
a resident of Castro City
on Feb 10, 2020 at 2:40 pm

Wow suprising the pro landlord anti rent control trolls aren't blasting every renter as a bum in this article. That's how you know it's a farce.

5 people like this
Posted by MV Renter
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 10, 2020 at 2:49 pm

@The Business Man

Having been a Mountain View resident for 27 years and having had trials, tribulations, and heartache with rent increases and the like, I have to mention that I'm glad for you that you have managed to pay a not-overly-inflated rent. I tried to maintain the same by staying put, being a good tenant, and not moving; but when my apartment buildings changed owners, management, and in one case was torn down; my rent skyrocketed and there was nothing I could do to prevent it. I had only lived in two places in Mountain View in 27 years, so I thought I was relatively stable. It was hard to weather the changes; and I had to make peace that even though I make a reasonable income my cost of living is high. It's a good thing I'm content with a relatively simple non-extravagant life.

So I have to admit to being slightly jealous, but mostly happy that you've been able to make it work.

6 people like this
Posted by Jake
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Feb 11, 2020 at 1:04 am

The "coalition" cited in the first letter is not the proponent of the "sneaky repeal" of local rent control headed for the November 3 ballot. The proponents are two Mountain View voters. Mr. Howard is not one of them. Only the official proponents can withdraw the initiative. In fact, the official proponents could withdraw the initiative NOW conditionally - the condition being passage of Measure D in the March 3 ballot. They could - but have not. Why is that?

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