Mountain View's six mobile home parks are populated mostly by seniors and disabled people. They were originally created in the 1960s for seniors, who purchased their homes and rented the spaces they were in. They are a large vulnerable population that has been asking for protection for decades. Unfortunately, the majority of the members of this City Council do not share their concern.
Over the years, the mobile home population gradually evolved to include renters of the homes as well as the spaces. Many of these renters work in the service sectors that keep our local economy running. They sign the same California Apartment Association leases that apartment renters sign, but they are not protected because they live in mobile homes. Why?
In November 2016, the voters of Mountain View passed an initiative that created the Community Stabilization and Fair Rent Act, and the Rental Housing Committee that administers it. Like other Mountain View tenants, mobile home residents immediately applied for coverage by the Fair Rent Act, but their petition was denied, and they filed suit on behalf of all Mountain View mobile home residents.
One year later, the Rental Housing Committee’s legal counsel informed them that the city must extend rent control to mobile homes, and added that the original ballot arguments showed that the initiative specifically included protections for mobile home residents.
But the RHC members disregarded that legal determination, and the residents of 1,130 homes learned that the committee would arbitrarily choose to not protect them under the Fair Rent Act because they lived in mobile homes. Why?
Because the City Council, which was allowed by CSFRA law to appoint at most two RHC members who own or manage rental property, additionally appointed a member ideologically opposed to rent control. They deliberately stacked the committee with members who did not believe in the basis of the law itself or in their mission to administer it.
Since 2018, the California Apartment Association has been trying to place a deliberately deceptive initiative on the ballot that would trick voters into repealing the CSFRA. It failed to make the 2018 ballot, so in 2020, the City Council tried to help CAA weaken the CSFRA with a measure (D) that also deliberately excluded mobile homes from CSFRA protections. Mountain View voters soundly rejected it. Undeterred, the City Council voted to put the “sneaky repeal” on the November ballot.
It's clear that the City Council and the CAA are determined to destroy rent stabilization in Mountain View. Despite platitudes to the contrary, they have done absolutely nothing to protect mobile home residents.
Recently, the City Council included mobile homes under their COVID-19 protections for renters - but only because the crisis forced them to recognize that there are no differences between renters of apartments or mobile homes.
In a democratic society, the will of the people is expressed by the voters, and implemented by its elected representatives. It's time to elect a City Council that will appoint a Rental Housing Committee that respects the will of the people.