News

Council shies away from rent regulation

Lighter package of protections endorsed at packed Monday night meeting on housing crisis

Following weeks of public outcry on rising rents, Mountain View leaders gave a clear signal Monday they would not consider controversial ideas such as capping rents or imposing "just-cause" eviction rules. Instead, the council majority backed a compromise package of programs to expand tenants' rights while continuing to study the problem.

The study session, held before a capacity crowd at the Senior Center Oct. 19, was a much-awaited occasion for city leaders to finally weigh in on what many describe as a housing crisis in Mountain View. In recent weeks, tenants and their advocates have protested that landlords and property owners were abusing a largely unregulated rental market to recklessly jack-up rents. They urged the council to pass an immediate moratorium on rent increases and to consider new tenant protections along with a rent-stabilization program.

But Monday seemed to mark the chance for the other side to take initiative. Speaking against new rental-market regulations were a large showing of landlords, realtors and their advocates from throughout the Bay Area, many of them wearing lapel stickers reading "I provide housing & jobs." A line of speakers issued a grim warning to city leaders that rent regulation and just-cause ordinances would create conditions that would be exploited by the worst kind of tenants. Such protections were a recipe for "pitbulls, pythons and pedophiles", warned one San Francisco real estate agent; rent control was an invitation for "slumlords," added a San Jose real estate agent.

What seemed to resonate most for city leaders was the warning that rent stabilization and just-cause protections wouldn't actually solve the immediate local housing problem.

"Rent control will have little impact in relieving renters from high-market rents," warned Joshua Howard, vice president of the California Apartment Association and one of the evening's featured panelists. "These are the same solutions that gentrified San Francisco, Santa Monica and Berkeley. We would do well to not make a bad situation worse."

That line of argument was persuasive for five out of the seven council members. Councilman Chris Clark conceded that such programs might provide quick relief, but those benefits would soon be enjoyed only by long-term tenants, he said.

"To me, rent stabilization is the biggest weapon in the tool shed. You don't go from free market to your biggest weapon in one fell swoop," Clark said. "When there's bleeding, you don't go and cut off the limb."

But other cities that passed rent regulations didn't experience such doomsday scenarios, said Melissa Morris, an attorney with the Fair Housing Law Project. As passed by several other Bay Area cities, rent stabilization would cap rent increases to about 2 percent per year while leaving exceptions for landlords to invest in property improvements.

"What (rent stabilization) is good at is protecting tenants from displacement by preventing large increases that outstrip tenants' ability to pay it," she said. "I would call on Mountain View to be a leader. The people who live in this city have called on the council to do something, and other cities may follow suit."

After four hours of public speakers and expert testimony, the council seemed visibly exhausted as the discussion finally came back to members for direction on how to proceed. Council members Lenny Siegel and Pat Showalter both made a case for asking staff to further investigate rent stabilization and just-cause tenant protections. While staff studied such programs, they wanted to accede to the tenants' plea for a temporary moratorium on future rent increases. If the city didn't investigate a sound way to regulate rents, then the likely alternative would be for housing advocates to force the issue forward through a voter initiative, Siegel warned.

"Whatever we come up with will be imperfect, but taking action with teeth is better than taking no action," Siegel said.

But those measures were characterized as too risky even for further study by other council members. Councilmen Ken Rosenberg and Mike Kasperzak both described rent stabilization as a "flawed" policy that they simply didn't trust. On the far end of the spectrum, Councilman John Inks cast the issue as a simple matter of free-market economics.

"There's people who want to stay in this community where they can't afford it," he said. "I don't think anyone has a right to live in a certain area."

Through much back and forth, a consensus emerged through a straw vote for a package of less onerous tenant protections and future measures. Those included a future urgency ordinance that would force landlords to offer tenants longer term leases for six or 12 months as well as a minimum of 90 days notice for any rent increases. For future study the council majority also backed investigating some type of mandatory mediation program for tenants' grievances that would be triggered by criteria that would be determined later.

In addition, city staff would also look into providing new funding for the Community Services Agency to help provide emergency relief for renters in danger of being displaced.

Finally, the council also came up an idea on the fly to create some kind of data collection program that would try to gather better information on rent increases and evictions.

Siegel and Showalter both denounced their colleagues' proposal as misguided.

"It looks like we're heading down the wrong path," Siegel said. "I can count the votes, but I don't think this is the end of the issue."

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Comments

28 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 20, 2015 at 2:30 pm

As I repeatedly announced at City Council meetings, rent control was Never On The Table as 6 of 7 Councilmembers had been screened and endorsed as candidates by fictitously named landlord groups including the "Housing Council" and the "Tri-County Apartment Association
"


21 people like this
Posted by Unbelievable
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 20, 2015 at 2:44 pm

""Whatever we come up with will be imperfect, but taking action with teeth is better than taking no action," Siegel said. "

Typical liberal thinking, lets screw up everything and find out later we made a mistake then we can say "at least we tried".


7 people like this
Posted by @Gary
a resident of North Whisman
on Oct 20, 2015 at 2:44 pm

Ooooh, Gary, you're so prescient. Can you tell me who will win the superbowl, too?


25 people like this
Posted by MV
a resident of The Crossings
on Oct 20, 2015 at 2:55 pm

At least there's truth to Gary's words. Just like the Council stumbled through there words and admitted: "we didn't know we were taking money from the landlords."


41 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 20, 2015 at 3:05 pm

I cannot tell you who will win the Super Bowl because the outcome is not pre-arranged.


50 people like this
Posted by Michael
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 20, 2015 at 3:33 pm

Those who argue in favor of a "free market" for real estate costs should explain why it's OK to distort the free market for the benefit of homeowners, but not for renters. I am a homeowner myself, and I recognize that a number of policies, most notably Proposition 13, the mortgage interest deduction, and the property tax deduction, mean that the government helps to control and subsidize my housing costs. Those who advocate rent stabilization are not asking for some crazy socialist plan - they are just asking for a little balance and fairness in a field where the government is already intervening heavily in favor of some. If Inks and his ilk truly believe their own free market rhetoric, I hope they will devote as much time to repealing Prop 13 and the mortgage interest deduction as they are spending on defeating tenant protections.


16 people like this
Posted by Waldo
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 20, 2015 at 3:37 pm

Waldo is a registered user.

In a market based economy, such as ours, price controls eventually limit supply. For Mountain View, housing currently costs investors about $1,000 per square foot, and they are not going to invest that sort of money in a rent restricted market, which will make the housing crunch even worse in the future. The local economic boom has made it possible for some people to better compete for available housing, resulting in higher rents, and forcing others to move to a less expensive area. This is not new; it's happened with all of the previous booms in Silicon Valley. That is why we have people commuting to MV from the central valley. The creation of limited low income housing in MV is not going to fix the problem, especially considering better alternatives, such as creating long distance mass transit for workers living in lower cost communities.


17 people like this
Posted by Free Market
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Oct 20, 2015 at 4:18 pm

@Michael

Here's a difference. At the time of passage, Prop 13 served to benefit existing property owners who'd made a real estate investment.

On the other hand, restricting rents would adversely effect existing property owners who've made a real estate investment.

Pretty big difference.


33 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of another community
on Oct 20, 2015 at 4:51 pm

Prop 13 is not the reason of high housing prices. Stockton, Fresno and Bakersfield are under Prop 13 too. So are many other cities in California with depressed housing markets.

Prop 13 enables low-income seniors to stay in Mountain View and other cities in Silicon Valley. Many seniors would be forced to move out of the area if their properties are taxed Texas-style.

Frankly too many people moved into Silicon Valley in recent years. High housing price is just one of the disappointments they encounter, but not the last. The huge bubble is about to bust. By then rents will come down a lot.


9 people like this
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Whisman Station
on Oct 20, 2015 at 5:11 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

An idea: Why not just seize the property that was housing at Moffett Field and that motel that was used by visiting families of servicemen stationed at Moffett Field and use STACKED CONTAINERS for housing like other countries do?
That is how Hawaii is handling a homeless problem; it looks like MV may have the same problem soon.
Used 40' containers are everywhere; even building contractors convert them for mobile job site offices.
Just install windows and a community bathroom with showers, like what is seen at many RV and other campsites. Or RUSSIAN " block of flats " housing. No one need know that your City Council already sold their souls to big housing interests.
Start a new trend in affordable housing! Build a HOUSING GARAGE instead of just a new PARKING GARAGE. Finally put the empty VTA trains to some good use! Walking to the trains and to your jobs in MV is good for you! A new era of affordable housing will show what MV can do! [/sarcasm]


18 people like this
Posted by Grail Nitsch
a resident of another community
on Oct 20, 2015 at 5:34 pm

This is my note to The Local Real Estate Board:SILVAR. I am a realtor. My name is Grail Nitsch 650 335 5557

LAST NIGHT, I BELIEVE WAS THE OPENING OF THE DISCUSSION RE: RENT CONTROL: What became very clear is that the council did not do their home work on having data on ACTUAL RENTAL MARKET IN MOUNTAIN VIEW AND PER UNIT .... The council must get real and hire a BROKERAGE TO DO THE ANALYSIS AND PRESENT REAL DATA ON THE MOUNTAIN VIEW RENTAL MARKET. We as an association have an ethical duty that The City of Mountain View does not gloss over this issue: 1) There is an 80 percent rent increase in 4 years with 8 percent wage increase in 4 years 2) Landlords are not giving services (acting like slum lords) 3)buildings are not to code (many buildings have pages of red flags).... 4)The council had no real study or cma to present or any Brokerage representing the tenants or landlords ...(THE CITY MUST HIRE A BROKERAGE FOR REAL "REAL ESTATE DATA) .5)The bottom line cities in SANTA CLARA COUNTY DO HAVE SOFT RENTAL CONTROL PROGRAMS: Why is Mountain View being treated differently? 6)Included in the study we must reach out to the county shelter program to see how much money these landlords are costing the county by increasing homelessness? People who are becoming homeless in Mountain View do not look for another town the county picks the dollars up another way: (Landlords should be have penalities if they are found at fault) 6)We must create rental clinics for renters who are paying $6000 - $24,000 a month need to look at different buying options 7) We must offer Landlord clinics for if these landlords were offering more services I am sure the tenants would not have a problem paying their increases but call the city and speak to the inspectors and find out how many of these buildings are red flag and are not to 2015 building code ....(there are streets of apartment buildings in mountain view not to code) ....I am sorry but many of these land lords have become slum lords not by their fault but they simply do not know how to run an income property as a business and this association has an ethical duty to come up with some ways to educate these landlords and create a win win for all ...our clients, the city of mountain view and our future clients. This discussion has just begun .... and we have not gone deep enough ..... it is beyond dollars or greed .... this is our ethical duty to make sure the information and data used is correct such as: How many times a year is a tenant's rent going up? Why are tenants being evicted? Is the building to 2015 code? Is the tenant getting services?How are these leases being written? What kind of leases are being used by x building? Examine Mountain View leases vs Palo Alto leases vs Los Gatos leases ..... And Mountain View tenants need to be educated on how to break a lease and have the option to move to a Los Gatos or Palo Alto who celebrates soft rental control or they must be educated when is a good time to buy and get out of this cycle. I AM HAPPY TO HEAR THAT THE REAL ESTATE MARKET CAN TELL THEIR INVESTORS THAT MOUNTAIN VIEW THE STREETS ARE LINED IN GOLD IN THE PROFITS THEY CAN MAKE ....but we as industry have ethical duty to the tenant and the landlord/investor these doors we sell are for human beings and it is our ethical duty to raise the bar and educate the council, the landlord and tenants. Thank you for the learning lesson. Grail Marie Nitsch


18 people like this
Posted by #5
a resident of Rex Manor
on Oct 20, 2015 at 7:15 pm

@Grail
Your not kidding slumlords is right. Our landlord won't fix the heater that's broken. Says it's an issue with PG&E. I called. then to check out the problem they say it's the owners problem. I'd be crazy to give the owner reason to raise my rent again. Well make due with space heater.


22 people like this
Posted by Al
a resident of Whisman Station
on Oct 20, 2015 at 7:24 pm

Our old complex here on Easy Street evicted my roommate and I. Then jacked the rent almost double.
Saw the listing a month later fresh pain and s new bathroom sink. Shameful. Good riddance MV, hello east bay.


4 people like this
Posted by uncpaul
a resident of Castro City
on Oct 20, 2015 at 7:41 pm

missed the stats about % rent increases vs. income!


12 people like this
Posted by Doug Pearson
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Oct 20, 2015 at 8:15 pm

John Inks and some commenters are right: The fundamental problem is high demand, low supply for both rental and owner housing.

The Mountain View General Plan projected a Mountain View population of 90,000, but deliberately left most of the homeowners in the city out of the process (at their insistence when the planning process started) and made too little provision for the required housing in the Plan's Change Areas.

I think combined housing-business development is the best approach and I was deeply disappointed that the City Council of the time required that new housing be eliminated from the General Plan for the North of Bayshore Change Area, leading to complete rejection (a really bad idea) of Google's plan to develop big housing in their North of Bayshore properties.

I also believe that, since there is so little undeveloped property in Mountain View, redevelopment of existing Change Area properties must go higher, higher than contemplated by the General Plan, recognizing that Mountain View is no longer a rural town but is a suburban city.


25 people like this
Posted by keep MV livable
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 20, 2015 at 8:51 pm

Doug, you are mistaken.

New construction of office space would only drive up demand for housing. That's basic.

As for new housing construction, it will be almost entirely high-priced apartments, because that's where the money is for developers. There will be only a very small, token amount of "affordable" units. In order to build enough apartments to drive down rents, we would have to go to a density that would ruin the city. I don't think there is a good solution to affordability, but we should try to avoid making the city unlivable as it grows.

Bicycles and BRT will not save us, by the way. That's a delusion. The bicycle coalition would like to believe that it is true, though, and developers are more than happy to promote this delusion, to justify greater density.

No one thinks that MV is a "rural town". That's a straw-man argument. Of course we are a "suburban city". But it's not either/or, is it - all or nothing? As a suburban city, we can try for a moderate pace of development. We are not obligated to house everyone who wants to live here. That would be crazy.

Rent control? I would have been opposed to it 5 years ago, but given the way landlords have behaved in this market, it's starting to look like a good idea.


21 people like this
Posted by Plan to buy
a resident of Rex Manor
on Oct 20, 2015 at 9:43 pm

@ Michael

You say, "Those who argue in favor of a "free market" for real estate costs should explain why it's OK to distort the free market for the benefit of homeowners, but not for renters."

Honestly the first thing that comes to my mind is simply because we should be encouraging home ownership, not long-term rentals! Period. I think this whole fiasco proves that someone is better off owning something, even if just a small condo, than renting.

Renting has it's time and place, for sure. Can make sense when you're young, or want to live close to work and need flexibility, or if you're just checking out the neighborhood, or not sure you want to stay long, etc. But people need to be focused on trying to buy something if they want stability.

When you rent, the house is not yours. It's your landlords and you are just borrowing it. I say this as someone who rented for many years of my adult life.

However, I do believe the city can help encourage home ownership by building more apartments. But all of those new apartments should be for purchase, not for rent! Mountain View has enough rental apartments, we don't need more. Build 2 and 3 bedroom apartments for families to settle into long term. Those will sell for a slightly more affordable price. Not perfect for a family, but certainly better than renting long term with little stability and building equity rarely hurts anyone in the long run.

It's wrong to make people believe that renting long-term will offer the same stability as being the actual owner.


12 people like this
Posted by Not an Economist
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 21, 2015 at 5:01 am

"Those who argue in favor of a "free market" for real estate costs should explain why it's OK to distort the free market for the benefit of homeowners, but not for renters. I am a homeowner myself, and I recognize that a number of policies, most notably Proposition 13, the mortgage interest deduction, and the property tax deduction, mean that the government helps to control and subsidize my housing costs."

If I'm not mistaken, all landowners , not just homeowners but also landlords w rentals can deduct mortgage interest, property taxes , and lock in prop 13 tax assessments. So renters also receive the same benefits as homeowners indirectly.


11 people like this
Posted by Economist Wannabe
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 21, 2015 at 7:58 am

There's never any real "Free" market. Especially when "Demand" is created artificially by Tech monsters such as Google, Facebook, etc.

A (city) government's duty to its people is to stabilize the economy and wellbeing of its community. In turbulent times as we are in, rent control is critical in achieving such stability.

Rent control is NOT going to stop greedy rent property owners from renting to NEW renters at high rent rate. It serves to mitigate the pain & hardship of the community's CURRENT renting residents, as their income can NOT rise fast enough to catch up with the artificial demand created by tech monsters such as Google.

I own many rental properties all over the bay area and have NO PROBLEM with rent control measures in various cities. Any councilman/councilwoman who can not understand the above needs to be pushed OUT. They are simply NOT up to their jobs.

When rent goes up 10 to 20% EVERY few month, there's serious problem in that local (or regional/national) economy! Ask a simple question, If food prices, interest rate or housing prices (or CPI for argument's sake) change 20% every few month, do you still think the government should sait there do nothing?

In short: Mountain View City Council should:
1. As a temporary measure, immediately put a cap of 3% per year rent increase for current renters, pending a formal rent control law is passed or rejected in ballot below.
2. Get lawyers to prepare and put "rent control" (similar to many rent control cities such as Oakland) in the ballot for the community people to decide!


18 people like this
Posted by OldMV
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 21, 2015 at 8:17 am

I'm glad to see that Mike Rosenberg has learned from the storm of negative reaction to his disastrous pro-VTA vote (Yes, we voters remember campaign promises). Too bad Pat Showalter didn't learn her lesson too from her VTA flip-flop; too ideologically rigid? As for Lenny Siegel, I'm truly disappointed. I thought he was a lot smarter than this. He doesn't seem to realize that is is he and Pat who are "misguided". "Rent stabilization" is just another word for "rent control", only disguised with kinder, gentler gift wrapping for the gullible and people desperate to "Just do something, anything!"


7 people like this
Posted by Economist Wannabe
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 21, 2015 at 8:28 am

To "Plan to buy" above:

Your comment is so out of touch with reality, it reminds me of Marie Antoinette's comment on peasants had no bread & starving: "Let them eat cake."

It is false to assume "encouraging home ownership" is the right public policy. Many economies DO NOT encourage its residents to by. (e.g. Germany and a few European nations). Ask yourself, HOW MANY YEARS of savings at WHAT income level can people afford to buy a house in M.V. right now?

Hint:
1. You think they can catch up with the out of control housing price increase? The out of control rent increases are causing pain right now, not 10-20 years down the road.
2. How many people can actually SAVE enough to buy house? No, for people who can not catch up with rent, they likely will NEVER make enough money to buy!


14 people like this
Posted by Solving MV's Rent Problem
a resident of another community
on Oct 21, 2015 at 8:48 am

Just look at the projects that are in progress such as:
(1) "More development on the way for The Village at San Antonio" Web Link
(2)"High-rise apartments win council's praise"
Web Link

MV is on breakneck speed of development.
Looks like MV is forgetting the detrimental IRREVERSIBLE effects
such as congestion, pollution, and perils for pedestrians
and bicyclists.

MV needs to first stop adding any more office spaces.
MV is a small town with not much space left for widening roads, etc.

It is a fallacy to keep adding office spaces and then look helpless about
the office-housing imbalance. Logical thinking is required to see
this no-win situation. The residents of MV need to wake up.

Cities such as San Jose have plenty of room to add offices *AND*
rental units.

There is no reason to make MV into an unlivably congested town.
Enough damage has been done already.


6 people like this
Posted by Economist Wannabe
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 21, 2015 at 9:17 am

To Waldo: You totally missed the real points:
1. Rent control does NOT stop new developments (e.g. Oakland). New rental property development gets to rent out at the then high market rent rates!
Less supply (rental available property) is even better for them.

2. Rent control does NOT affect residential property market. Rent control does one thing, stabilize the current population.

We DO NOT want more real estate "investors" in MV. We already have too much money congested in MV (e.g. Google, linkedIn etc.) SFH house buyer for living in is NOT an investor you are talking about.

3. Rent control DOES NOT create limited low income housing in MV. It limits the % raise of current renters rent rate.

4. Lastly, creating long distance mass transit is decades away, that will NOT address the immediate pain these renters face day in day out. When Mass transit happens, MV can change it's rent control policies accordingly.

When your people are in pain, you do not tell them you'll invest in medical research of a powerful pain medicine that will be available in 20 years.


15 people like this
Posted by AllYouCanEat
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Oct 21, 2015 at 9:23 am

Some of you soapboxers are Waaay to long winded. Most will not read your long rant.

Please, less is more


5 people like this
Posted by Mv
a resident of The Crossings
on Oct 21, 2015 at 10:29 am

Pat Showalter and Lenny Siegel are a lot smarter, since they actually listened and heard the problems of the majority, 60 percent of the community. It's unfortunate the others aren't as intelligent and more importantly unable to identify with the diverse community we live in. Clearly, corruption has shown through in the faces and words of your Council. They honorably backed the money flow. I guess there's something said for loyalty.


26 people like this
Posted by Plan to buy
a resident of Rex Manor
on Oct 21, 2015 at 12:01 pm

@Wannabe Economist

Actually, my comments are totally in touch with reality. Just because you don't want to hear them doesn't make them any less reflective of the reality we live in.

"How many people can actually SAVE enough to buy house?"

So don't buy a house. I couldn't afford to buy a house either and I'm not complaining. We bought a small condo in the "bad" part of Mountain View that feeds to the "bad" elementary school. For the same we are paying on mortgage + insane property taxes + insurance and home maintenance every month we could rent in the Huff neighborhood and send our kids there. Not saying that's a bad decision, but we cannot have it all so therefore we must make trade-offs. We decided to put down roots and invest in a neighborhood and a school that may need some work, the trade off we gain is stability.

For people who make other decisions, that's fine, but then you have to live with the downsides of your decision. For what people pay in rent in Mountain View, many people could afford to buy in other places. We all must make that decision.

Buy a small townhome or condo. Or don't buy in Mountain View, buy in another city. Many people currently living in MV bought here because they couldn't afford to buy in Palo Alto or Los Altos. Stop assuming that you are entitled to live in a certain place.

The reality is no amount of tenants laws will give you the same level of stability as owning your own place. Any owner at any time could have a completely fair and legitimate reason to need their place back from you. As a renter you should never assume you are entitled to the property your whole life. That's all I'm saying. It's a tough reality, but one that people should be prepared for.


3 people like this
Posted by grail
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 21, 2015 at 1:41 pm

In response to Number 5 re: NO HEATER. YOU NEED TO CALL THE CITY'S OF MOUNTAIN VIEW BUILDING INSPECTOR. MAKE AN APPOINTMENT FOR HIM TO INSPECT YOUR UNIT. He can red flag the unit. Also ask him for the city's report on how many red flags your building has. Take that report to an attorney you will probably have to pay no rent for the next 6 months. Heat is a must. All tenants should get copies of the red flags by the city's building inspector. All tenants should pass into law that all income properties have 6 months to meet the 2015 building codes with no rent increase if not met then a 50% reduction in rent to all tenants. You have the right to live in buildings that meet today's code and the safety code for you and your children. Stand up for your rights and that there is no red flags in your unit, building or property: Do tho for the children of mountain view. Stand up. Grail 650 335 5557


7 people like this
Posted by Not an Economist
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 21, 2015 at 3:40 pm

"There's never any real "Free" market. Especially when "Demand" is created artificially by Tech monsters such as Google, Facebook, etc.

A (city) government's duty to its people is to stabilize the economy and well being of its community. In turbulent times as we are in, rent control is critical in achieving such stability. "

Totally silly statements. In what sense is demand for housing by high tech workers artificial. It's the city that is artificially restricting supply.

Also its the federal govt by law that's supposed to provide a stable economy. Whats turbulent about our local economy other than its growing at a fast pace as predicted by tremendous growth in companies and employment. There's no crisis. Its a huge win-win for our city. Wealth and well being are increasing. As council member Inks stated, no one has a right to live in a certain city without being willing to pay for that right. The market is working perfectly given the city is not allowing the supply of housing to grow as fast as demand.


The city's mission statement is to provide pubic services in a financially responsible manner.


6 people like this
Posted by Economist Wannabe
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 21, 2015 at 4:42 pm

Sigh, many people like to argue and defend themselves while totally missing the real issues at hand: "fast rising rents hurting many current renting MV residents."

You won't hear homeowners ranting. Cause they enjoy the fast rising real estate value.

STOP posting solutions to different issues, different problems, different time horizons, etc.

These renting MV residents of many years now facing evictions from greedy property owners, landlords. Their family, friends, children facing unwanted fast changes (schools, friends, etc.)

Ask yourself:
1. What is MV City? who belongs to MV city? Only the rich and the high income ones?
2. Are people below certain income level NOT good enough to be our neighbors? to continue staying in "our" city?
3. Put yourself in their shoes, would you, your family, children be happy to be forced out of a neighborhood and go through the harsh changes? Is it fair for them? for their children?

You can give whatever "logical" "unemotional" answers you like. You can NOT answer in good conscience that you should watch them suffer!

Yes, progress is inevitable, changes are inevitable. YET, look at the rent control cities, where they provide some relief to a more stable resident community, WHAT are the pros & cons of that alternative? I own many rental properties. I have tenants renting from me for decades, watching their children growing up and doing well. I get huge satisfactions from that. Many of my rental properties although NOT in rent control cities, I impose a self controlled rent increase of no more than 3% per year. But HOW MANY (percentage) landlords can claim to be kind hearted?

I am for rent control, but don't listen to me. Let the rent control issue decided by the (current) MV people! Put it on ballot. THAT is the least we owe our people, a true democracy! If MV people vote it down, so be it. If they support rent control, let it be!

All the talks of free market or not, demand outstripping supply or whatever, should or should not buy a home etc, are really, just noise.


3 people like this
Posted by grail
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 21, 2015 at 4:42 pm

You are right! A perfect artificial example of an apt building being totally leased was by Standford University a month ago (The 142 units never hit the market : Thus the market never got a chance to create value) The buildings were pre-leased and will be given to teachers (who knows if they will be paying market value or below market but there stats are hidden and we need for tho Mountain View Market Apt market to start disclosing and have a real study done on value. We need a professional brokerage to help The City to see the real value and create a win win


10 people like this
Posted by @wannabe
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 21, 2015 at 4:56 pm

"It is false to assume "encouraging home ownership" is the right public policy. Many economies DO NOT encourage its residents to by. (e.g. Germany and a few European nations)."

Yeah, look at those nations, socialistic/communistic, all looser nations, like their VW diesel cars.

Major companies are moving their low pay jobs out of CA and keeping their higher paid employees, or essentially needed employees here in the bay area. These people can pay the price.


13 people like this
Posted by Plan to buy
a resident of Rex Manor
on Oct 21, 2015 at 5:52 pm

@ Wannabe Economist

"You won't hear homeowners ranting. Cause they enjoy the fast rising real estate value."

Sorry, I'm afraid you are wrong there. I hear homeowners complaining ALL THE TIME. The value in your current home most often is useless unless you plan to move out of the bay area. Most people I know, even if they sold their current small home or condo could not afford to buy a bigger one (or to upgrade to an single family home).

Prices of bigger homes have just gone up so much so fast. Thus you see many families, like ours, crammed in small places, even if we do own.

Your other questions are great. Someone who is against rent control, like me, is not necessarily against other measures. I agree we should treat people fairly, humanely, the way we would like to be treated ourselves.

Our landlords in Mountain View were always great to us. Let us sign 1 year leases, only raised rent once a year and a reasonable rate. Gave us 3 months notice before moving out, if required. One even paid our moving expenses. Didn't have to, but they thought it was the right thing to do under the circumstance. I think most landlords are like this, especially private individuals.

I still say any new housing should be for purchase, so that people are able to own in Mountain View at a lower price point. That is something reasonable the city council can do as they have a say in what and what types of new housing gets built.


12 people like this
Posted by HomeOwnerSucker
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 21, 2015 at 7:28 pm

> You won't hear homeowners ranting. Cause they enjoy the fast rising real estate value.

I rented in Mountain View before buying a house. After 3 years of 10% annual increases, the landlord switched to 20% annual increases citing market conditions.

This meant my $1500/month 1BR/1BA apartment had grown to $2400/month — with no improvements. I couldn’t comprehend paying that.

So I paid $1M+ to buy a rinky-dink 1000sqft 3BR/2BA house. The property is worth nowhere near that by any reasonable stretch of imagination, but after 20+ failed offers I was like “y’all win — pay whatever it takes.”

I've traded those rent payments for a $13,000+ property tax bill (increasing every year).

I wish taxes were based on the actual value of the property, not what some idiot is willing to pay to have a short commute.

There’s my homeowner’s rant.


8 people like this
Posted by MV Landlady
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 21, 2015 at 7:50 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


10 people like this
Posted by Liz
a resident of another community
on Oct 21, 2015 at 8:43 pm

The city council and our mayor aren't doing anything about RV encampment - at the corner of Latham and Showers - either. They're not doing much about anything. Pitiful.


4 people like this
Posted by OMG!
a resident of Rex Manor
on Oct 21, 2015 at 9:47 pm

MV Landlady

"Take one look at these people and tell me you want them living next door..."

You're mean. Have you met these folks? Certainly not, because you'd know how kind hearted and sweet they are.


28 people like this
Posted by big sigh
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 21, 2015 at 10:57 pm

@EconomistWannabe

Another big sigh. Of course homeowner aren't ranting, we're celebrating. We made an investment and it's paying off. And I am most certainly NOT going to apologize for it. It wasn't given to me, I didn't inherit it. I worked 15+ years saving for it and I am THRILLED to be lucky enough to hit "this jackpot"

Greedy Landlords....and where were you when landlords weren't getting market rate?

Let's answer each of your bullet points now:

1. What is MV City? who belongs to MV city? Only the rich and the high income ones?
People who can afford to live here can and will.
2. Are people below certain income level NOT good enough to be our neighbors? to continue staying in "our" city?
People who can afford to live here can and will.
3. Put yourself in their shoes, would you, your family, children be happy to be forced out of a neighborhood and go through the harsh changes? Is it fair for them? for their children?
No, I wouldn't be happy but such is life. Is it fair? Explain FAIR. No really.....explain FAIR. Don't go off on this "should be" and "these people should have". Explain FAIR to me. And then answer is it FAIR that people live in mansions 2 miles up the road from us here in MV that are worth even that much more than here. Because I would LOVE to live in one of those homes. But life didn't deal me that, even though my kids go to school with a lot from there we certainly aren't. But I'm not complaining and I'm not expecting. It just wasn't my lot, I'm not sure what "fair" has to do this this.

Let's talk the reverse; people live in utter slums in Tijuana. Would you rather be there? Is it "fair" for them to be there while you complain about our situation here?

What's FAIR?


5 people like this
Posted by Derp
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 22, 2015 at 12:10 am

@Plan to buy wrote: "I'm pretty sure "MV Landlady" is a hoax post. Someone in our community thinks it's funny to leave stupid comments on all these story pages. Troll is another word for it. Someone needs to find something more productive to do with their time."

I agree. Based on @Plan to buy's own definitions, he is a troll and so is every other landlord shill here.

Listen up trolls. You remember that Michael Douglas film, "Wall Street"? I hate to break it to you, but the Gordon Gecko character in there was the antagonist! Sorry, but Greed is NOT Good. Have some morals. Have some ethics. Please!


10 people like this
Posted by Plan to buy
a resident of Rex Manor
on Oct 22, 2015 at 10:02 am

Hi Derp. Just wanted to clarify. I'm not a landlord, just a recent homeowner trying to survive in Mountain View like everyone else.


5 people like this
Posted by Economist Has been
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 22, 2015 at 10:47 am

@ MV Landlady, your disguised racist post is despicable.

IME, I have met many latino (as well as all walks of life) neighbors who are hard-working, neighbor friendly, family loving and very nice people.

While they are the hard working people continue serving most of the labor works in MV. I don't believe you'll see new latinos moving in MV with the current high rent rate. Just so you know, Rent Control does NOT address new rent rate to new tenants. It only protects the CURRENT renters. They have settled down for a peaceful life (& kids schools/education) in MV. Why not show some kindness (which is the foundation of fairness IMO)?


10 people like this
Posted by Liz
a resident of another community
on Oct 22, 2015 at 10:53 am

@The Crossings: "the Council stumbled through there words and admitted: "we didn't know we were taking money from the landlords." The Council stumbles through everything. They have totally abandoned MV residents and are allowing some blocks to become slums due to RV homeless encampments. Then they can declare our condo buildings blighted and allow developers to swoop down and steal our homes. They are housing the homeless on our streets on our tax money.

Then the council spams our telephones asking us to come out for a neighborhood chat at the Farmer's Market. Very disappointed in our governing bodies for dumping the homeless issue onto tax paying homeowners.


8 people like this
Posted by Marcin Romaszewicz
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 22, 2015 at 11:02 am

Marcin Romaszewicz is a registered user.

I'm a recent home owner who's paying basically everything I earn to live here, and it's hard for me to imagine anyone other than dual high income families being able to buy in Mountain View at all in the future. I happily rented for over a decade, until I had to find a bigger place because my family was getting bigger, so I've seen both sides of the housing situation around here.

This area has so many problems with housing it's hard to know where to begin.

First, we have a huge supply shortage. Mountain View is a land of opportunity and people are coming here for great jobs. However, as the city has approved tons of office space, but no housing. This forces housing demand into other cities and also congests the commute corridors. Neighboring cities seem to have the same attitude towards office/housing balance, so they're all pushing people into commuting farther and farther out, clogging highways, wasting more gas and precious time. Every city needs to approve enough housing to accommodate growing population.

Given the inability to build sufficient housing for everyone, developers focus on the most profitable projects - luxury houses and condos. They can't build many units due to anti-housing city councils, and NIMBY neighbors, so they try to maximize per-unit profits. You end up with low density luxury housing that's expensive.

You can't build really cheap housing here at all, even if you wanted to. Land is expensive, so you have to build dense to amortize its cost, however, cities limit density. Even if you can build dense, the permitting fees for each unit are astronomical, we're talking close to a hundred thousand per unit.

My landlord didn't raise my rent too much during the astronomical rent spikes in the previous housing bubble or this one. I more than covered his costs, and he was happy not to squeeze me for all I was worth. Some people will say "market price" and raise rents to the maximum possible. However, they can't do this if there is sufficient, competitive housing, which is the fundamental problem.

Prop 13 creates a huge tax disparity between neighbors. It forces CA to have a high property tax so that the average rate is what they need, and this front-loads the tax onto new buyers. The other 49 states have different ways to deal with high property taxes screwing people over. They lower the rate for seniors, or don't tax some fixed amount of a property's value, making the property tax effectively progressive based on property value.

We need more housing, lots more. The city council eventually reflects the desires of its residents, and that's where the problem with resistance to housing begins. People buy into the area then resist change, not accepting the fact that cities change and grow over time, especially when there is an influx of new people due to opportunity. SF and NYC were once nothing but little towns too.

If we want more affordable housing, and an inclusive community where people of all incomes can afford to live, we the property owners have to stop resisting development and finding scapegoats for what we perceive as the issues. I'll take the problems of increasing affluence over the problems of crime-ridden cities in decline, as in much of the rust belt. It's really unfair to slam the door shut to others once you've gotten in yourself.


14 people like this
Posted by @Marcin
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 22, 2015 at 1:57 pm

'We need more housing, lots more.' Such BS, when will it ever be enough? Is traffic not bad enough already, you want more? The quality of life in cities such as NYC is like living in a sardine can, is that really what you want?

Just think in a few years you will also be enjoying the protection of prop 13. When prices are really through the roof.

Change is ok, but to much to quick is not the way to do it and it needs to be well thought out.


24 people like this
Posted by Economist Has been
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 22, 2015 at 2:06 pm

WE DO NOT want more housing. We want Google and the like to move/expand somewhere else for their ever expansions!


11 people like this
Posted by Marcin Romaszewicz
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 22, 2015 at 2:29 pm

Marcin Romaszewicz is a registered user.

Really? You want a large local employers that pay their people great wages to leave town so that it doesn't change? This happened in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Detroit. Worked out great for them, didn't it?


22 people like this
Posted by Economist Has been
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 22, 2015 at 2:56 pm

Google HQ is unlikely to go away. But their expansion can certainly move to somewhere else! Most google employees DO NOT live in MV. The can expand into San Jose, East Bay, or even central valley. Many choices. MV is overly congested already.


6 people like this
Posted by Listening
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 22, 2015 at 5:17 pm

Were Lenny and Pat trying to distort our "free market" or were they seeking some moderate constraints around how tenants are treated here in Mountain View as some landlords seek to maximize their profits? Raising the monthly rent from $1690 to $2700 with 60 days notice to a family who has rented from you for 10 years; what kind of a business plan is that?


14 people like this
Posted by Liz
a resident of another community
on Oct 22, 2015 at 6:48 pm

When we were renting here in Mountain View, I stopped to chat with our landlady one afternoon. She literally danced a jig and told me "oh the economy is improving so now I can raise the rents!" I mean really? THAT IS greedy considering we were already paying $1800 for a one bedroom. We bought a condo and gave our 30 day notice. Sickening moment in my life to come face to face with someone so joyfully greedy.


26 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 23, 2015 at 12:33 am

Dear Renters,

You are not owed housing at a price you can afford at the expense of the people who actually own the property and those who are willing to pay market rates. I hear a lot of talk about greedy landlords and none of renters with a sense of entitlement.

Over the past number of years, mountain view has become a much more desirable place in which to live and work. That equals more competition for housing. When your lease is up, that means you have to compete with others for the rental property. If you can't afford the new price and someone else can, then you have to move to a place you can afford. That's just a fact of life.

Why should both the landlord and another tenant who is willing and able to pay market price be penalised so that your housing is subsidised?


7 people like this
Posted by Yay steve
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 23, 2015 at 11:16 am

Couldn't have said it better


5 people like this
Posted by Economist Has Been
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 23, 2015 at 11:34 am

@ Steve and all non economists.

The answer is very simple.
Why is the Fed manipulating interest rates when the market will naturally reflect what the borrowers are willing to pay for the borrowing?

If you can answer this question, you have the answer.
One biggest reason for the rate hype is ONE largest company hiring in the city: Google.

Every (local) government is responsible to it's residents. Adding humanity into the equation, a reasonable rent control is not a bad thing. It provides stability and a balanced society. ANy fas changes may do more harm than people realize. e.g. inflation rate. Mild inflation is necessary for healthy economic growth. BUT, when CPI fluctuate out of control, it's hurting not just the people, but the system (we all live in) as a whole!

In short, it's called better control (of one micro economy) plus humanity.


5 people like this
Posted by EasyStreet
a resident of North Whisman
on Oct 23, 2015 at 7:16 pm

Dear Steve,

You aren't owed a subsidy on your property tax, just because you've lived in your home longer. How about we work together to repeal Prop 13?


24 people like this
Posted by James
a resident of Willowgate
on Oct 24, 2015 at 10:30 am

It is really sad to see that the politics of Washington, dividing people into groups, class envy and divisive talk to put other people down who do not agree with them, has come to our city. What happened to our city as being tolerant and inclusive for everyone, and not taking rights away from any one.

We had Prop. 8 pass in this state that banned same sex marriage, the majority voted to pass it, but it was wrong. Passing rent control on property owners is equally wrong.

I can not believe that people who are complaining about high rents, but then say we need to repeal Prop.13, that shows they have no idea what they are talking about. If you are outrage over the annual rent hikes, just wait and see how high your blood pressure will be with the yearly and ever increasing higher property taxes that will be passed on to renters.

What needs to be said to the low income people is this, if you can not save enough money to buy a home and to put extra money away for your retirement, the very best thing for you and your family is to move to a part of the country that you can accomplish this. When you have no financial stress on you and your family, everyone will be much better off.


5 people like this
Posted by LoveMV
a resident of North Whisman
on Oct 26, 2015 at 1:09 am

As an immigrant from Asia where huge multi-story apartment complexes are common, I find it hard to understand why the City Council won't let Google and other big employers build "dorms" along with new offices on their campuses. Doing so will greatly alleviate housing pressure on the rest of the city and not create too much traffic bottleneck. I'm sure people wouldn't mind living in an environment which mimics their college lives.


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

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