New tenant rule would soften gentrification's sting

Displaced low-income renters would receive compensation from landlords

Residential landlords may soon have to pay higher compensation costs to renters being displaced by renovations and redevelopments around the city, City Council members indicated Tuesday.

"Rents have gone up very, very steeply," said council member Jac Siegel. "I don't believe this is going to keep anyone in Mountain View, I really don't. This will at least help to keep their dignity (to) get by and live in a decent place."

Council members voted 6-1 for city staff and planning commissioners to develop an ordinance in which landlords would have to pay three months rent to displaced households, based on average market-rate rents (now $2,320 for a two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment). Renters would qualify if they earn less than 80 percent of the "area median income" or AMI, which was $101,000 for a family of four in 2013. The ordinance may see final council approval by summer break at the end of June and go into effect 30 days later.

It was found that a 2010 tenant relocation ordinance was inadequate, serving only 17 households since 2010 because few displaced tenants met a requirement that they earn less than 50 percent of the AMI. It also provided only two months of rent to displaced tenants, based on their rent at the time of being displaced. There was also $2,154 for households with "special circumstances," which would be raised to $3,000 in the new ordinance. "A special-circumstances household is defined as having at least one person that is either over 62 years of age, handicapped, disabled or a legally dependent minor child (less than 18 years of age)." Lauzze wrote.

Council members did not support an option to provide significantly more assistance to displaced renters. That option was based on a state-required practice which was used to relocate tenants above La Costena Taqueria. Because state funds were used for the affordable housing project that displaced them, tenants had to be given enough funds to help cover 42 months of higher rents (residents are still expected to pay rent equal to 30 percent of their income or their prior rent cost, whichever is less). The formula meant that compensation would have been at least $51,240 for renters of two-bedroom units at 819 N. Rengstorff, plus a little more than $1,100 for moving expenses.

Council member Margaret-Abe-Koga and the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors expressed concern about passing the costs of relocation onto future homeowners and tenants, but resident Vicki Proseck disagreed. She said she was being displaced by a renovation of her complex so the landlord can raise rents over $3,000, which is a story council members say they hear about quite often. She's looking for a new home as far away as Salinas or Hollister.

"These relocation fees are not paid by city of Mountain View, they are going to be paid by the developer and they have theoretically more money than they know what to do with," Proseck said.

"The amount doesn't really matter," said Day Worker Center member Job Lopez. "It is just something to make the whole thing look nice and appear fair." Displaced residents still "have to struggle to find where they can afford the rent they can afford. I know hundreds and hundreds of people around me in my own community who do not make more than $24,000 a year. How can they pay apartment rent somewhere else?"

Council members expressed concern about how to help tenants who aren't named on leases, as a mother complained was the case with her disabled son. Council members acknowledged that it was a "painful" issue, but expressed concern that not requiring that those who receive funds be named on the lease could open the door to dishonest people wanting to take advantage of the situation.

"If there was an adequate supply of housing in the region, we probably would not be having this conversation tonight," said Joshua Howard of the California Apartment Association. He added that the state's closure of redevelopment agencies "turned our affordable housing program up on its head," along with cuts to section 8 funds and court rulings against the city's practice of charging the cost of housing subsidies to developers. "All of these problems made our problem 10 times worse," he said.

To prevent issues with landlords and tenants, the proposed ordinance also introduces a new rule that tenant relocation be paid within 15 days of a request. A tenant relocation consultant who provides advice to the displaced tenant at the landlord's cost must be selected by the city, not the landlord, as is the practice now. Tenants facing eviction have complained that landlord-hired consultants are "less likely to be sympathetic to their situation," Lauzze wrote.

A survey of large cities, including San Francisco and Berkeley, found that tenant relocation assistance ranges from $7,600 to a high of $16,950 per household and special circumstance assistance ranges from $2,500 to $8,950. Not other city in Santa Clara County provides tenant relocation help to the extent that Mountain View does.


Posted by IV Stalin, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 27, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Now that all the "unskilled" workers are being forced to move out of Mountain View, does that mean we can close down the Day Workers Center?

Posted by AFL, a resident of Shoreline West
on Mar 27, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Hope this passes!

Posted by Martin Omander, a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 27, 2014 at 2:39 pm

This will maybe make life a little easier for a few families, for a short time. Good for them.

But what is really needed is more housing (of all kinds) and walkable neighborhoods. No matter how much you tune the rules, you can't make up for a basic lack of housing.

Posted by Steve, a resident of another community
on Mar 27, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Yet another reason that as a landlord you're foolish to rent to low income tenants. Harsh statement? Yes. True statement? Also yes.

Posted by Peter, a resident of Whisman Station
on Mar 27, 2014 at 2:47 pm

A friend's rent went from 1,500.00 to 23,00.00 over night a year ago. Had been living there 17 years. His water dripped in shower, heaters didn't work, changed carpet with cheap carpet once and when he complained rent went up a couple of months later, so he learned very quickly how to keep quiet
Fair is fair and greed is still just greed. Nothing wrong with making money (That's the American Dream) but this was just highway robbery, without the highway.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Bailey Park
on Mar 27, 2014 at 2:48 pm

"they have theoretically more money than they know what to do with"

I'm sure that they have a few ideas.

Posted by USA, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 27, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Ironically, every time the government tries to manipulate a market, they decrease incentive to build or renovate housing and increase overall costs.

Unlike the government, landlords and other businesses cannot print money. Every dollar added to their cost has to come from somewhere. In this case, it is us "rich" folks that will have even higher rents to subsidize this latest feel good policy.

Posted by USA, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 27, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Years ago I bought a house in north Los Altos for $250,000 then sold it a while later for $330,000. Now, I cannot afford that house or any other house in Los Altos.

I am a victim! I demand the tax payers give me a million to live in Los Altos again.

Posted by Garrett83, a resident of another community
on Mar 27, 2014 at 3:44 pm

Garrett83 is a registered user.

I am low income, I rent and I am against this.

Look at San Francisco. The same people who think these crazy ideas are the same ones causing the rents to rise due to shortages.

Posted by @ steve, a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 27, 2014 at 3:54 pm

@Steve, you are correct, but you left out the following.

"A special-circumstances household is defined as having at least one person that is either over 62 years of age, handicapped, disabled or a legally dependent minor child (less than 18 years of age)." Lauzze wrote."

The older people and the people with children will find it also tough to find a place now.

Thanks city council, just like the obum a care, lets pass it without reading the bill or really thinking of the implication it will cause.

Posted by Justin, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 28, 2014 at 12:31 am

That's ridiculous, no amount of compensation can take care of forcing someone to commute all the way from Hollister. If we're going to have low-wage workers, there needs to be a better solution than having them spend all the precious free time and money they have on traveling to and from work.

Posted by Garrett83, a resident of another community
on Mar 28, 2014 at 6:32 am

Garrett83 is a registered user.

We need to build more housing for all income levels and densities. We do not need to build 10, 15 or even 30 story buildings.

Granny flats. Duplexes and triplexes in 2 to 3 story buildings. Basement apartments. More row homes. So many different styles that can be mixed together.

Posted by @Garrett83, a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 28, 2014 at 2:50 pm

You are so wrong, what makes you think that the people that will occupy those new builds will work in MT.View? That will only create way more traffic.

And also how do you think the low income workers will afford these new places? Oh ya, the govt will provide for them, ya right, dream on.

Posted by Otto Maddox, a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 31, 2014 at 11:07 am

Here's how I see it:

We can either make it easier to be a low income work, thereby helping someone stay a low income worker, but giving them money when they can't afford things.

OR we let them see how hard it is to be a low income worker living in one of the most expensive places in the world and inspire them to become middle income workers or better!

I say we inspire people to improve themselves and their lots in life.

Who is with me?

Posted by UsaNumberOne, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 31, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Them guys need personal responsibility love america or leave! Tce everywhere

obama bad guns good

Posted by Garrett83, a resident of another community
on Mar 31, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Garrett83 is a registered user.

As a American I have a full right to live anywhere if I can afford it.

As a American I have a full right to work anywhere I desire.

I am American citizen.

As for non high end tech workers can't afford to live.

There is no rule that people have to live or work in the same community. If that is the plan, better start rounding.up people. Start with those who live in Mountain View, send them to Los Altos, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Cupertino.and San Jose.

It works both ways.

Posted by Garrett83, a resident of another community
on Mar 31, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Garrett83 is a registered user.

Not everyone will attend college to get a high paying job in tech.

Also want to point about the others job not anyrhing low income but those that serve a vital need to the community.

Not public employment but just regular jobs that require a workforce but can not pay high wages to afford a house let alone apartment. Remember people retire and regular non tech workers have to fill those positions.

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