Landlords to pay more for displaced tenants


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 such as those with a disabled member, a senior citizen or a child 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.


Like this comment
Posted by Bored M
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 19, 2014 at 12:42 am

Bahl's comments are unpopular, but true...

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Posted by Mtviewresident
a resident of North Whisman
on Jun 19, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Mtviewresident is a registered user.

Glad to see they made it for 4 or more tenants per year. It's really important to exempt small landlords who rent a home or rent out rooms in their personal resident, because these people provide additional needed housing. If the renter's laws do not protect small landlords, it is not in the best interest of homeowners to offer up their spare room for rent during a time when space is much needed.

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Posted by Hmm
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 19, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Get rid of all property tax and have only one flat tax for state and federal. People would have more money to spend and the money could be better accounted for, not all this waste that is today.

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Posted by Unintended Consequences
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 19, 2014 at 3:11 pm

Now apartments will never get updated. The city staffers have condemned Mountain View to become ground zero of lousy, outdated, filthily, run-down apartments. Think tenderloin, bay view, and hunters point.

But if you are a slacker, rejoice! Now you can continue to slack your way through life while the liberal pandering city council members continue to buy your votes with my tax dollars.

Good work council, good work!

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Posted by Becoming the City you don't want to live in.
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 19, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Hmmm. Mountain View. A city with a big heart? Let me make sure a certain kind of person can not live here. But hey we will give you a little bit of money to go away without a fuss. Of course not enough to live in Mountain View.

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Posted by Good or bad?
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 19, 2014 at 5:48 pm

I can't tell if this is good news for low-income people or not. I guess if you already rent an apt here it's good for you. If you make below that $81,000 cut-off, your chances of moving into MV and getting a rental are now probably pretty slim. Does anyone think landlords will rent to future tenants making below $81,000 going forward? I doubt it. Even if the place is rundown and outdated, they'll probably wait until they can rent to someone who earns $82,000 or more. These policies may have good intentions, but many backfire...

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Posted by Robert
a resident of Slater
on Jun 19, 2014 at 5:54 pm

Robert is a registered user.

Bahl and Inks got it right. Dear staff lady, please show us the proof that this kind of law does not discourage landlords from keeping their rental properties in good condition and we will be inclined to believe you. While I am happy that the trigger is 4 tenants, thereby helping the small mom & pop landlords, it's akin to saying how happy one is because only the hand was cut off and not the entire arm. This is the camels nose under the tent for rent control.

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Posted by Duke
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 19, 2014 at 7:39 pm

Is all of this "BIG BROTHER" or "ROBIN HOOD"?

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Posted by VTA
a resident of Bailey Park
on Jun 19, 2014 at 11:20 pm

NBC3 reports on June 19 that the VTA has been found in volation of safety standards by the State. You won't read the story in local newspapers.

Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of another community
on Jun 20, 2014 at 6:48 am

"We are a small city with a big heart"
Translated into layman's terms, that reads: "We are a small city with an equally tiny brain"

Like this comment
Posted by Casey
a resident of another community
on Jun 20, 2014 at 10:12 pm

Is the new ordinance really that big of a deal? The penalties imposed on the landlord seem to be completely preventable. Just structure the leases to expire before the demolition.

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Posted by Susan
a resident of Castro City
on Jun 23, 2014 at 2:33 pm

I ask again...what is the definition of Affordable Housing? One thing to a Googleite, another to an hourly service-worker.

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Posted by Lisad
a resident of another community
on Jun 23, 2014 at 4:52 pm

"It remains the only such ordinance in Silicon Valley."

Actually, East Palo Alto's Rent Stabilization Ordinance includes a requirement for relocation monies. A landlord in EPA could be required to pay up to $36,000 under certain circumstances to remove tenants in order to build condos.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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