Mountain View Voice

News - June 20, 2014

Landlords to pay more for displaced tenants

by Daniel DeBolt

The City Council voted Tuesday to require landlords to compensate a larger number of tenants who are evicted during renovations and redevelopments, and to increase compensation to as much as $13,000 per household.

After hearing of more than a few instances where tenants have been evicted from entire apartment complexes to allow landlords to renovate and raise rents, the council voted to significantly beef up the city's tenant relocation ordinance that was first adopted in 2010. It remains the only such ordinance in Silicon Valley. The City Council voted 5-1 to adopt the changes, which member John Inks opposed. Mayor Chris Clark was absent.

A key change is a raise to the income limit for those who would qualify for help, which was previously set at 50 percent of the area median income, equal to $101,900 for family of four. Few households qualified at that level, so a raise to 80 percent of AMI was approved Tuesday, which doubles the number of qualified tenants in one particular downtown complex where evictions are taking place, said city planner Linda Lauzze. Council member Jac Siegel moved to increase the income limit to 100 percent AMI, but no council member seconded his motion.

The local chapter of the League of Women Voters supported raising the income limit to 100 percent of the AMI, because "there is still a gap between what these tenants can afford and market median rent, particularly with larger units," the group said in a letter to the council.

"Unfortunately at this point, 80 percent AMI is also low income," said council member Ronit Bryant.

According to a city staff report, a household earning the AMI for two people, $81,500, could afford rent of $2,037. But median rent for a two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in Mountain View is $2,310.

The council also voted to increase compensation for displaced tenants. Previously tenants would receive their full deposit plus two months of their current rent. Now, displaced tenants will receive the deposit plus three months of median market rent, which would equal $1,690 a month ($5,070 total) for a studio apartment and $3,390 a month ($10,170 total) for a three bedroom apartment. "Special needs" households with a senior citizen or disabled member will now receive an additional $3,000, up from $2,154.

"We are a small city with a big heart and we are causing this displacement somewhat ourselves," said council member Siegel, apparently referring to the city's land use policies favoring office development, adding to pressure on the housing market.

There was little sympathy for the growing number of displaced tenants from Don Bahl, a property manager and developer who helped elect John Inks to council.

"People are saying, 'It's not my fault,' but they are really suffering the consequences of their freely chosen actions they took earlier in life," Bahl told the council.

Inks said it would put a financial burden on landlords wanting to renovate or upgrade their properties, though Lauzze said, "I'm not sure the ordinance would be a disincentive to doing remodeling or upgrading."

The ordinance applies any time a landlord evicts four or more tenants within a year. Environmental Planning Commission members can be credited for catching a possible loophole in a previous iteration of the ordinance, which would have allowed landlords to get around the requirement by evicting only three households at a time.

Email Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

Comments

There are no comments yet for this post

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


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