News

Polls by landlord group influenced council's rent control measure

Mountain View City Council members gave plenty of reasons for why they decided to draft a hasty rent-control ballot measure last week, but one that was barely mentioned was information from an undisclosed pair of surveys commissioned by the California Apartment Association.

Two separate sets of polling data reportedly showed widespread concern among likely Mountain View voters over the local rental housing crisis as well as a willingness to do something about it. Voters, according to the data, were inclined to approve a rent-control measure regardless of what actions had been taken by elected leaders in recent months. In other words, a rent-control measure by the Mountain View Tenants Coalition, which would essentially tie rent increases to rises in the Consumer Price Index, stood a good chance of being approved by voters in November.

"Voters would still vote for some form of rent control regardless of whether they were told the city had done a number of things," Councilman Mike Kasperzak said in an interview with the Voice. "Even if the city had adopted a rent-control measure, that message wouldn't get through. The voters would say: 'Fine, but we want to weigh in on this situation."

But the polls also indicated something else, Kasperzak said. Voters weren't necessarily interested in an aggressive rent-control package. If a second, "less-intrusive" alternative was put onto the ballot, then most voters would likely favor that one, he said.

Kasperzak and Mayor Pat Showalter were both informed of the polls and their conclusions, and collaborated to call a special meeting last week. Showalter delivered a report she co-authored with Kasperzak recommending that the council put forward an alternative ballot measure. In the end, four of the six council members at the July 14 meeting voted in favor of drafting an alternative based on a previously rejected binding-arbitration program. They did this despite vociferous complaints from tenants' advocates that this would split the vote and cause both initiatives to lose.

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The surveys were commissioned by the California Apartment Association, a landlord-advocacy group that bills itself as the nation's largest statewide organization representing the rental housing industry, and is strongly opposed to any form of rent control.

The apartment association is poised to spend "several millions of dollars" this election season to defeat policies throughout the state, such as rent control, that they deem as hostile, said Joshua Howard, the association's vice president. That would include Mountain View's citizen-backed rent control measure, as well as any potential binding-arbitration plan, he said. Landlords perceive the two as being essentially the same thing, he said.

In an interview with the Voice, Howard confirmed that his organization shared polling data with some Mountain View City Council members prior to the special meeting. He declined to describe that data or share it with the Voice because it was considered "confidential."

"We shared some information about the climate in Mountain View," he told the Voice. "I wish I could share that information with you, but I can't."

Howard said he couldn't speak to why city leaders called the special meeting or why they decided to draft a dueling ballot measure. For now, CAA officials are waiting to see what city officials include in any binding-arbitration proposal before they take a stance on the issue, he said. City staff is working on the ballot measure and the council is set to act on whether to place it on the Nov. 8 ballot at a special Aug. 9 meeting.

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"We appreciate the Council's willingness to explore other options, but it's difficult to comment on a ballot measure that's still being drafted," he said.

Showalter said she heard about the polling results from a number of sources, and she described it as "hearsay," she said. When asked if she knew who was conducting the polling, she declined to say.

"I'm going to keep that to myself," she told the Voice.

Both Kasperzak and Showalter say they saw no reason to be skeptical of the poll results, regardless of the political stance of its source. The poll results showing voters' support for rent control seemed like an accurate bellwether of the community, especially given the recent news that 7,300 Mountain View voters signed a petition for a ballot measure. Showalter said.

Councilmen John McAlister and Chris Clark, the other supporters of the city's ballot alternative, did not immediately respond to questions about whether they received any polling information from the apartment association. Councilman Ken Rosenberg told the Voice that the first he knew of a survey being conducted was when pollsters called to ask him to answer questions.

Joan MacDonald, an organizer with the Mountain View Tenants Coalition said she wasn't surprised to hear that California Apartment Association (CAA) may have influenced council members prior to their decision.

"We're facing deep pockets with the CAA, but an alternative like what the city is proposing is not really a protective measure compared to our charter amendment," she said. "We're just going to follow through with whatever happens after Aug. 9 and launch as strong a campaign as we can."

The Tenants Coalition conducted its own polling, and determined that 69 percent of Mountain View voters supported restricting rents and enacting just-cause eviction protections.

For her part, Showalter said the real impetus for her decision to call a special meeting was when she learned the Tenants Coalition's ballot measure would qualify for the November election. It wasn't a hypothetical anymore, and city officials had to quickly decide if they wanted to present voters with another option, she said.

"I know that people are going to say (the city's measure) is a spoiler, but we want a system that's good for the long haul," she said. "There's so many things that could pass through the initiative process and only later on do you find out that they don't work well."

Kasperzak said CAA's polls did play a role in his decision to seek a ballot alternative, and he briefly referred to the survey results at last week's council meeting, the first public indication that such data existed and had been shown to city officials. Kasperzak said the city needed to offer voters an alternative because the citizen-backed measure would have been a charter amendment, making it irrevocable except by another ballot vote.

He dismissed the criticism from tenants' advocates that the city's alternative could be a ploy to split the vote.

"They're entitled to their opinion. I'm entitled to my opinion that a charter amendment is not good policy," he said. "For me personally, this wasn't a cynical move, this was an effort to get a less-onerous measure on the ballot."

The City Council will make a final decision on whether to put forward a ballot measure on Aug. 9. At the same meeting the tenant coalition's ballot initiative will also formally be placed on the Nov. 8 ballot.

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Polls by landlord group influenced council's rent control measure

by Mark Noack / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 4:55 pm

Mountain View City Council members gave plenty of reasons for why they decided to draft a hasty rent-control ballot measure last week, but one that was barely mentioned was information from an undisclosed pair of surveys commissioned by the California Apartment Association.

Two separate sets of polling data reportedly showed widespread concern among likely Mountain View voters over the local rental housing crisis as well as a willingness to do something about it. Voters, according to the data, were inclined to approve a rent-control measure regardless of what actions had been taken by elected leaders in recent months. In other words, a rent-control measure by the Mountain View Tenants Coalition, which would essentially tie rent increases to rises in the Consumer Price Index, stood a good chance of being approved by voters in November.

"Voters would still vote for some form of rent control regardless of whether they were told the city had done a number of things," Councilman Mike Kasperzak said in an interview with the Voice. "Even if the city had adopted a rent-control measure, that message wouldn't get through. The voters would say: 'Fine, but we want to weigh in on this situation."

But the polls also indicated something else, Kasperzak said. Voters weren't necessarily interested in an aggressive rent-control package. If a second, "less-intrusive" alternative was put onto the ballot, then most voters would likely favor that one, he said.

Kasperzak and Mayor Pat Showalter were both informed of the polls and their conclusions, and collaborated to call a special meeting last week. Showalter delivered a report she co-authored with Kasperzak recommending that the council put forward an alternative ballot measure. In the end, four of the six council members at the July 14 meeting voted in favor of drafting an alternative based on a previously rejected binding-arbitration program. They did this despite vociferous complaints from tenants' advocates that this would split the vote and cause both initiatives to lose.

The surveys were commissioned by the California Apartment Association, a landlord-advocacy group that bills itself as the nation's largest statewide organization representing the rental housing industry, and is strongly opposed to any form of rent control.

The apartment association is poised to spend "several millions of dollars" this election season to defeat policies throughout the state, such as rent control, that they deem as hostile, said Joshua Howard, the association's vice president. That would include Mountain View's citizen-backed rent control measure, as well as any potential binding-arbitration plan, he said. Landlords perceive the two as being essentially the same thing, he said.

In an interview with the Voice, Howard confirmed that his organization shared polling data with some Mountain View City Council members prior to the special meeting. He declined to describe that data or share it with the Voice because it was considered "confidential."

"We shared some information about the climate in Mountain View," he told the Voice. "I wish I could share that information with you, but I can't."

Howard said he couldn't speak to why city leaders called the special meeting or why they decided to draft a dueling ballot measure. For now, CAA officials are waiting to see what city officials include in any binding-arbitration proposal before they take a stance on the issue, he said. City staff is working on the ballot measure and the council is set to act on whether to place it on the Nov. 8 ballot at a special Aug. 9 meeting.

"We appreciate the Council's willingness to explore other options, but it's difficult to comment on a ballot measure that's still being drafted," he said.

Showalter said she heard about the polling results from a number of sources, and she described it as "hearsay," she said. When asked if she knew who was conducting the polling, she declined to say.

"I'm going to keep that to myself," she told the Voice.

Both Kasperzak and Showalter say they saw no reason to be skeptical of the poll results, regardless of the political stance of its source. The poll results showing voters' support for rent control seemed like an accurate bellwether of the community, especially given the recent news that 7,300 Mountain View voters signed a petition for a ballot measure. Showalter said.

Councilmen John McAlister and Chris Clark, the other supporters of the city's ballot alternative, did not immediately respond to questions about whether they received any polling information from the apartment association. Councilman Ken Rosenberg told the Voice that the first he knew of a survey being conducted was when pollsters called to ask him to answer questions.

Joan MacDonald, an organizer with the Mountain View Tenants Coalition said she wasn't surprised to hear that California Apartment Association (CAA) may have influenced council members prior to their decision.

"We're facing deep pockets with the CAA, but an alternative like what the city is proposing is not really a protective measure compared to our charter amendment," she said. "We're just going to follow through with whatever happens after Aug. 9 and launch as strong a campaign as we can."

The Tenants Coalition conducted its own polling, and determined that 69 percent of Mountain View voters supported restricting rents and enacting just-cause eviction protections.

For her part, Showalter said the real impetus for her decision to call a special meeting was when she learned the Tenants Coalition's ballot measure would qualify for the November election. It wasn't a hypothetical anymore, and city officials had to quickly decide if they wanted to present voters with another option, she said.

"I know that people are going to say (the city's measure) is a spoiler, but we want a system that's good for the long haul," she said. "There's so many things that could pass through the initiative process and only later on do you find out that they don't work well."

Kasperzak said CAA's polls did play a role in his decision to seek a ballot alternative, and he briefly referred to the survey results at last week's council meeting, the first public indication that such data existed and had been shown to city officials. Kasperzak said the city needed to offer voters an alternative because the citizen-backed measure would have been a charter amendment, making it irrevocable except by another ballot vote.

He dismissed the criticism from tenants' advocates that the city's alternative could be a ploy to split the vote.

"They're entitled to their opinion. I'm entitled to my opinion that a charter amendment is not good policy," he said. "For me personally, this wasn't a cynical move, this was an effort to get a less-onerous measure on the ballot."

The City Council will make a final decision on whether to put forward a ballot measure on Aug. 9. At the same meeting the tenant coalition's ballot initiative will also formally be placed on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Comments

Gladys
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 20, 2016 at 6:41 pm
Gladys, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 20, 2016 at 6:41 pm

This shows why the Voice never did one story from the business side of running an apartment building.
If people actually saw the numbers, people would have a better understanding of the bills that come with running this business. You also can not look at it at one point in time, but rather one complete economic cycle is necessary because you have to put money away in the good times to get you thru the bad times.

The rents are only up 35% over the past 15 years. These people are using the artificial low rent level from the recession when it fell 45% in 2 years to claim that rents are now up 50% over the past 6 years. Not fair.

These older smaller buildings are run by Mom and Pop families who many of them will go out of business in the next recession with rent control on them.

There are an awful lot of naive people here who only want people who take risks in purchasing these properties to suffer the consequences of a failed business.

This will effect all of Mountain View residents.


Gary
Sylvan Park
on Jul 20, 2016 at 9:49 pm
Gary, Sylvan Park
on Jul 20, 2016 at 9:49 pm

Six of 7 councilmembers were endorsed as candidates by a landlord advocacy group FOR A REASON. They now want to defeat the rent control initiative. Four of the 6 want the option of offering voters a competing measure. Whether any of them would want a competing measure to actually pass will probably depend upon its details. The devil is in the details. I look for two tricks: (1) the measure could simply be amended or repealed promptly after the election by the city council, and/or (2) the measure will not outlaw preemptive evictions (i.e., terminating tenancies instead of raising rents higher than allowed). We shall soon see.


another MV resident
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 20, 2016 at 10:44 pm
another MV resident, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 20, 2016 at 10:44 pm

None of this feels right because it is dishonest.

It's dishonest for any city council member to purposely avoid admitting when their information comes from lobbyists.

It's dishonest for any of the city council members to vote for an initiative, not because they like it, but because they think their initiative will cause it and the voter referendum to both fail. I'm not saying this was the intent of all four council members who voted for it, but it's obviously the intent of the California Apartment Association that paid for the polls, and likely the intent of some of the aye votes on the council. Why else would the California Apartment Association not more vigorously oppose the city council's initiative? Why else would city council members who rejected similar initiatives in the past vote for it now?

The California Apartment Association has a history in MV of misleading voters through their misleading group called the Neighborhood Empowerment Coalition.

Now the city council has joined in similar shameful practices. City council members, if you don't like rent control, then come out and say it, you have that right, and even good economic rationales to oppose it, but what you are doing now is disingenuous and disgusting.


@Gladys
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 20, 2016 at 11:06 pm
@Gladys, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 20, 2016 at 11:06 pm

@Gladys

"The rents are only up 35% over the past 15 years" I think many MV renters would disagree with the claim you assert so confidently as "fact."

Many renters would prefer more housing be built, rather than rent control. But the opposition and regulations against more housing has led to the shortage we now face.

A housing shortage benefits current homeowners and landlords, at the expense of renters. In a normal market, new supply would fix this. If we restrict supply, we are simply exploiting renters. Thus rent control, an otherwise onerous solution, begins to seem reasonable.

Selecting just parts of free market principles to justify the status quo that benefits oneself is fine to state as a personal opinion, but shouldn't be used as an "economic truth" on why renters deserve to suffer high rents and long commutes, not when prices are unregulated, and supply overly regulated.


Gary
Sylvan Park
on Jul 20, 2016 at 11:13 pm
Gary, Sylvan Park
on Jul 20, 2016 at 11:13 pm

We need more candidates for city council. There are 6 announced candidates for 4 seats up in November - including two incumbents (Clark and McAlister) engaged in alternative measure trickery and a former incumbent (Abe-Koga) who spent 7 years working with the VTA and supported (and presumably still supports) bus-only lanes on El Camino.


Proof
Old Mountain View
on Jul 21, 2016 at 6:22 am
Proof, Old Mountain View
on Jul 21, 2016 at 6:22 am

Wow! Even the group most opposed to rent control agree that most residents want it!

It's time for the greedy, Trump-loving landlords to leave the area. They don't belong. As our residents grow more intelligent, the political climate will grow more and more to the left.

There are still many areas in the country full of uneducated citizens that will more than welcome these red state refugees. Good-bye!


Bob
Blossom Valley
on Jul 21, 2016 at 8:57 am
Bob, Blossom Valley
on Jul 21, 2016 at 8:57 am

What I'm reading from renters and landlords is a desire for stability. Renters seek stability in rent to avoid eviction when wages do not increase at the same rate. Landlords manage stability by charging more in good times and increasing less during lean times.

Yet, I've not heard anyone talk about the supply chain the landlord encounters. Landlords must pay for maintenance and improvements. The costs of construction workers and building materials are not regulated and hence the burden in this relationship rests on the landlord to maintain the property where renters live in both good and bad economic times. If we could compel the supply chain upstream of the landlords to observe cost controls, perhaps the landlords wouldn't have to manage their properties in this way. With our capitalistic system of supply and demand, when times are good, prices go up well beyond the cost of living, especially in this area.

Though I wish I had a solution, I do not. This comment is to raise awareness that we seem to be focused on this single link connection in the supply chain and there are many other issues in this complex situation. Let's consider the big picture when proposing changes. Perhaps the landlords need to advocate for controls in their upstream supply chain. Yet, I suspect we would hear from the construction industry that they also have to manage swings in good and bad times.


Geek
Sylvan Park
on Jul 21, 2016 at 10:40 am
Geek, Sylvan Park
on Jul 21, 2016 at 10:40 am

Let's also have gas price control, groceries price control, etc. Let's build
Web Link
in one city


vonlost
Cuesta Park
on Jul 21, 2016 at 2:25 pm
vonlost, Cuesta Park
on Jul 21, 2016 at 2:25 pm

How about a compromise that leaves both sides unhappy?

One problem faced by tenants experiencing price gouging is time. For a one-year lease, a controlled increase for one more year provides time to find an alternative, without shackling landlords to long-term losses. Help for tenants, help for landlords.


Member
Monta Loma
on Jul 21, 2016 at 2:26 pm
Member , Monta Loma
on Jul 21, 2016 at 2:26 pm

@Proof

It does not prove a thing. My View is now 67% renters, which is not good for the city either. All these new buildings are going to create a nightmare and more % of renters is bad for the city. Uncontrolled growth without the planning and infrastructure will bite us in the rear soon enough.

This has nothing to do with your obvious political views either, which certainly detract from your integrity.


Svsportz
Willowgate
on Jul 21, 2016 at 2:31 pm
Svsportz, Willowgate
on Jul 21, 2016 at 2:31 pm

I have zero faith that this city council is representing the citizens of Mountain View. Kasperzak is one who I especially do not trust. He has been there too long and is a waste for the community - always on the wrong side of the decision. My personal opinion. If he plans on moving up in the political ladder, that thought is what's probably driving his votes. Bad apple.


Ugh
North Whisman
on Jul 21, 2016 at 3:06 pm
Ugh, North Whisman
on Jul 21, 2016 at 3:06 pm

@Member

One of the main reasons Mountain View is now 67% renters is because none of who are renting can afford to buy houses. We're long-term renters and have been saving for a down payment and trying to buy our home for YEARS. We would love nothing more than to not be renters. That's pretty difficult to do when our rent has literally doubled since 2013. With the combination of rising home prices and rising rents, tons of middle-income families in the area are simply stuck with no sense of stability. Something has to give.


Simple
Monta Loma
on Jul 21, 2016 at 3:31 pm
Simple, Monta Loma
on Jul 21, 2016 at 3:31 pm

If you can't afford to live here...move. Where ANYWHERE does it say you have a RIGHT to live here?

I want to live in Los Altos. I can't afford it. I don't expect someone there to make it possible for me.


Memebr
Monta Loma
on Jul 21, 2016 at 4:45 pm
Memebr, Monta Loma
on Jul 21, 2016 at 4:45 pm

@Ugh

Most renters are not long term renters in Mt. View, average job these days is a year so half the people will be working in another city next year. Then they will be happy to have to mobility. All this growth and arguements it will reduce traffic are erased by the fact people change jobs daily.

Rent Contol will never allow you to save up enough to keep up with costs of housing. When houses go up $5-$10k a month you will always be behind around here. You need a bigger windfall like options or something. Rent control will only create worse conditions for the folks clinging to their precious units and a new lottery for when one becomes available.

It's terrible for everyone except a few lottery winners

The amount of developer rental housing going in is absurd and nothing to do with rent control. They are not building with families or community in mind, they are building on how many people can we squeeze into a given space and get maximum rental income from them, and who cares about the people who want a good city to live in.


vonlost
Cuesta Park
on Jul 21, 2016 at 5:06 pm
vonlost, Cuesta Park
on Jul 21, 2016 at 5:06 pm

The Mountain View purpose of high density housing is to cut down on commuting, getting people closer to jobs (thankfully we have them), reducing pollution, increasing quality time. These homes can be rented or bought; developers get a windfall either way, so blame "developer owner housing" as well. In both cases, every new unit reduces overall upward price pressure (but not by much!). They're not building with the few in mind who could afford a single family house.


I_got_mine
North Whisman
on Jul 21, 2016 at 5:07 pm
I_got_mine, North Whisman
on Jul 21, 2016 at 5:07 pm

The parents live on a corner lot. Apartments on one side, single family housing on the other. When they die, us children will take the money and run. I'll bet that when the house is sold, a scrape-off with new apartment buildings will be built.
The MVCC has no past, nor a future. They live in the NOW and the money thaT matters NOW. 67% RENTERS!!!???!!!. UNHEARD OF when I grew up in Mountain View. Where is my Class of 1973 High School? Where is my downtown when Dog City was the unused office space. Where is my Minton's Hardware that allowed you to fix ANYTHING. Where is the BART I PAID FOR? What is this CALTRAIN thing where BART WAS SUPPOSED TO BE? What is this empty train thing called the VTA?
Mountain View is on life support. Just kill it and create SAN-SAN in it's place; San Jose to San Francisco. Every town in between are basically the same overpriced buildings. You lost your community years ago. Face the facts: Fill up the U-Hauls and move East about a Thousand Miles on I-80. Then South on I-25 and stop anywhere you see a place that says COMMUNITY. If you want Daly City, I-25 South of Denver called Highland's Ranch. if you want rural, all compass points from Denver. Hurry though, the local areas are being built out fast!


Mel
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2016 at 2:59 am
Mel, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2016 at 2:59 am

@Gladys I actually lived in a small complex you speak of, it was great until they switched over to BT Properties Mgmt who doubled my rent in the course of 3 years, forcing me to move. Prior to them taking over I had steady and manageable increases over the prior 7 years.

Since I left one year ago my neighbor who had the same doubling of rent has now received another $400 per month increase.

I am an accountant by trade and there are no expenses that a landlord is receiving that would justify a $4,800 increase per unit x 10 = $48,000+ for a small complex in one year while removing basic services - pest control, reduction of waste bins, landscaping and charging now for utilities that were included.

Nothing wrong with gaining deeper pockets but when it's happening year over year and the entire Community is changing - it's just plain greedy..




Mt. View Neighbor
Whisman Station
on Jul 22, 2016 at 9:27 am
Mt. View Neighbor, Whisman Station
on Jul 22, 2016 at 9:27 am

1. Many landlords in MountainView are small, private parties, who've lived many years in the area, not big corporations. Are there any studies that look at the size of rental properties? People who manage their own properties tend to be compassionate and make efforts to care for properties in a more personal way than corporations.
2. The transiency of Mountain View has increased in recent years due to corporate practices of hiring folks on a 6 month or one year contract. They dangle a carrot of permanent hiring do motivate these contract workers to work extremely long hours. The workers stay their contract time and leave, creating a transient environment.
3. The city has forced landlords to act as long term hotels by requiring them to offer one month leases to new tenants. The city's idea of rent control, recently, has been to require landlords to offer new tenants choices of a one month, six month or one year lease, under the same conditions. This means landlords cannot offer incentives fto encourage long term renters.
4. While forcing landlords to act as hotels, the city has implemented a zero waste program. So these short term renters have to learn the recycle system. But they don't. So landlord are stuck with short term renters and a giant garbage bill because the shirt term renters don't abide by recycle rules...
5. Rent control is often a recipe for the lowering real estate values because landlord have no incentive to upgrade properties. With some types of rent control, property owners don't receive any benefit from higher maintenance. So you get properties that do the bare minimum.

Those are just a few thoughts that people don't consider when they're screaming for rent control. In the end, this is Califirnia and as property values increase, so does rent. As property values decline, so do rents.


Sunshine
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2016 at 1:48 pm
Sunshine, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2016 at 1:48 pm


The Voice has been shamefully remiss in it's choice to not report objectively on the rent control issue. This decision to show such a clear bias in favor of rent control while completely ignoring all other 'sides' of the issue not only does a dis-service to the community as a whole, but this lack of objectivity by our local newspaper is divisive and tearing our community apart. Furthermore, The Voice's choice to use it's powerful media reach to report on issues while choosing to tell only ONE SIDE of an issue should be a wake up call to everyone in the community...ask yourselves, "what AREN'T we being told, and why isn't anyone reporting the other side of this important issue?"

There is a wealth of solid - unbiased - information regarding rent control out there. I believe it is up to us as residents of the community to educate ourselves about the issue because, honestly, we"re not getting enough of the complete story here to be able to make a properly informed decision about this issue.

JMHO

**For anyone interested in doing some research on the subject of rent control, The Urban Institute published an interesting article about the subject in 2013 is worth reading. The article also contains links to reference/source articles which are also interesting. Link here Web Link

In summary the Urban Institute article says, "The conclusion seems to be that rent stabilization doesn’t do a good job of protecting its intended beneficiaries—poor or vulnerable renters—because the targeting of the benefits is very haphazard. A study of rent stabilization in Cambridge, for example, concluded that “the poor, the elderly, and families—the three major groups targeted for benefits of rent control—were no more likely to be found in controlled than uncontrolled units.” And, as noted earlier, those in uncontrolled units tend to pay higher rents, so they are actually hurt by rent control.

Given the current research, there seems to be little one can say in favor of rent control. What, then, should be done to help renters obtain affordable, decent housing? A better approach may be adopting policies that encourage the production of more diverse types of housing (different densities, tenure types, unit sizes, etc.), implementing strong regulations and practices to ensure housing quality and to protect tenants from abuses; and providing targeted, direct subsidies to people who need help paying their rents."




@ sunshine
Monta Loma
on Jul 22, 2016 at 5:15 pm
@ sunshine, Monta Loma
on Jul 22, 2016 at 5:15 pm

Yes, it has become apparent to me through reading the stories on rent control that this paper is horribly biased and uses their power to manipulate readers by reporting only their view on issues effecting our community. It's not that I'm not against rent control, bUT their completely one-sided reporting of the pros and cons of this plan has made me not trust this paper with anything.

If I were wealthy I'd create a new paper for Mountain View and I'd work hard to report all sides of issues so voters could make up their own minds and not be manipulated either way.


another MV resident
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2016 at 9:10 pm
another MV resident, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2016 at 9:10 pm

While I am not a proponent for rent control, I am a proponent for fair political representation. As long as the city council continues to have disdain for the voice of renters, I am comfortable with the newspaper taking an active role speaking for renters in their editorial sections.

While there does appear to be some bias in the balance of non-editorial news coverage, the picture rent control opponents paint in their attacks of the Mv Voice are akin to Donald Trump's attacks of Hillary Clinton's emails. Both have a pinch of truth, but a wallop of sensationalism.

All because someone keeps accusing someone of something, doesn't make it true in local or national politics.

Are we an oligarchy, where the privileged few override the will of the people by changing the rules, we will soon find out.

The voters deserve to be able to vote up or down rent control without the city council's manipulation.


Agreed
Monta Loma
on Jul 22, 2016 at 11:01 pm
Agreed, Monta Loma
on Jul 22, 2016 at 11:01 pm

@another mountain view resident, yes, there is bias, there is sensationalism, hard to sort truth, all true. Our media is a huge mess and absolutely slanted towards a certain agenda.

I don't think anyone who is fair and kind and empathetic doesn't hope for everyone to have equal chances. I would think and hope that the majority of us want that. But we also need to have a certain pragmatism, a certain realism, that throughout history and forever-more there will always be the "haves" and the "have nots". And we need to recognize that the foundation of our country, the foundation of our CAPITALISM, has allowed the greatest, most expansive, most opportunistic time for someone to make something of themselves. From nothing. Or from very little. Are there still going to be the very rich? Always. Are there still gong to e the very poor? Always.

It's interesting, I've been reading a series about ancient people learning how to come together and form societies. Within these groups, there were always those who had more status and that was based on their value, what they could give back to their "tribe".

It was never about what their tribe gave back to them. In fact, it they weren't deemed worthy, they were asked/made to leave. Think about it. We are nothing new. This is an age-old issue, And frankly I believe that our capitalistic based governe,net has created the best society ever.

And rent control goes against every tenant of that system. VOTE NO ON RENT CONTROL


questoin
Old Mountain View
on Jul 22, 2016 at 11:30 pm
questoin, Old Mountain View
on Jul 22, 2016 at 11:30 pm

I thought rent control cannot apply to anything built after 1996. Is this not state law? As so much was built after, what % would rent control apply to?


vonlost
Cuesta Park
on Jul 22, 2016 at 11:42 pm
vonlost, Cuesta Park
on Jul 22, 2016 at 11:42 pm

It's only a little bit complicated, but 1995 and 1996 are the general cutoff dates:

Web Link


vonlost
Cuesta Park
on Jul 22, 2016 at 11:43 pm
vonlost, Cuesta Park
on Jul 22, 2016 at 11:43 pm
Think about it
Old Mountain View
on Jul 23, 2016 at 12:02 am
Think about it, Old Mountain View
on Jul 23, 2016 at 12:02 am

I was waiting for my car to be smog checked and started talking to a nice couple who were also waiting. They brought up that they wish they could vote in this November election, but they are not citizens. Then they brought up the rent control issue and how hard it is to save to buy a house in this area.

I have worked since I was 14, all the way through college until finally graduating and becoming an accountant. I saved money all along, and when I married, I only had two children because I believed that was personally what I could afford and educate. I have ALWAYS worked (part time when my sons were born, until they were in school full time) and then I worked full time again. My husband and I had very few vacations and lived conservatively because saving for a house was vital to us.

This nice couple, who I met at the smog place, began telling me about themselves. They have five children and the wife doesn't work "because she must be home with the children". The husband smoked one cigarette after another and barely spoke English although they said they had been in this country for 8 years. They complained that their rent was too high and that they needed at least a four bedroom apartment/house, and they hope rent control passes in Mountain View.
I didn't make any comment, because it was so demoralizing to hear their story. They have brought on a lot of their frustration simply by their life choices, but I doubt they see it that way. They told me "housing is a right" and I think they were simply repeating what they have been told by sympathetic rent control organizers. I wanted to say that everyone needs housing, but you cannot demand WHERE just because it's what you want! As another poster said, he'd "like to live in Los Altos, but he lives where he can afford".

I'd like to live in Woodside, so should a developer lower the price on a house so I could afford it? I'd like to eat dinner every night on Castro Street. Why won't restaurants lower their prices for me? I want to go to a fancy hair salon, so should they have price controls so I can? Who cares that these contractors, restaurant owners and salon owners planned and worked for what they have - I want it given to me for less! (Does that make any sense at all?)

Is forcing apartment owners to be restricted by rent control any more fair? Just because we WANT something, doesn't mean we get it. Plan ahead, budget for what you want, work hard for it, save, live within your means, and if necessary, relocate to where you can afford. There is no free lunch.


another MV resident
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2016 at 9:35 am
another MV resident, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2016 at 9:35 am

The claims that rent control will lead to the downfall of society and our economy either don't know or ignore the fact that similar policies exist in very well functioning economies like Canada and Germany. Even in those nations, it's not certain that rent control has helped, but it no way have they resulted in the calamity some describe here.

The vote isn't to destroy private property, but a vote to determine whether the rental industry needs additional regulations. There are more price regulations in airline tickets than renting property. To equate any price regulation as a free handout is an exaggeration.

How would you feel if an airline tried to raise your airfare midflight because their cost changed or there is an increased demand for your seat?

It's a silly analogy, but not more or less accurate than the opposite apologies that equate this vote with people's desires to move to affluent cities.

The reality is the lack of public investment in transportation, and housing mean that some MV renters don't have the same fluid mobility to move when their landlord raise their rent, as landlords have fluidity in raising rent.

How is that a free market, when only one side of the free market equation is truly adjustable?

As a voter on the fence, I am far more convinced by arguments that the current proposal's 5% increase cap is too low to allow any landlord to maintain their properties and make a profit. I am sympathetic that specific costs often rise far above 5%.

I would be even more sympathetic to landlords if they were investing in properties at the same rate as rents increase (this is referring specifically to current on-going tenants, who face rent increases without upgrades, not to new customers who often see upgrades). The sheer fact there is a difference in the level of investments made to renewing tenants and new tenants, is evidence that current renters don't enjoy the benefits of a rising unregulated free market, just the pains.


Sunshine
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2016 at 11:59 am
Sunshine, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2016 at 11:59 am

...Additional reference material found linked within the Urban Institute piece I cited in my above post. This is an often cited scholarly research paper, and The Urban Instutute (which also cited this research paper) is generally pretty neutral (perhaps a more liberal leaning) policy think tank.

It's this type of research that we should be reading and educating ourselves about. This is not theoretical, it is the real world empirical data and conclusions -- gathered and reported by neutral (as I could find) scholarly folks. If The Voice won't provide us with this type of information, someone should...

Link to research paper, Rent Control: Do Economists Agree

Web Link

Snipped from page 33 of 40 - Summary Assessment of the Findings -

"My review of the rent-control literature indexed by EconLit (or cited by such indexed articles) finds that economic research quite consistently and predominantly frowns on rent control. My findings cover both theoretical and empirical research on many dimensions of the issue, including housing availability, maintenance and housing quality, rental rates, political and administrative costs, and redistribution. As Navarro (1985) notes, “the economics profession has reached a rare consensus: Rent control creates many more problems than it solves” (90). I see the literature as supporting the point of view that there are few long-run winners from the policy, that it is an example of the transitional gains trap.

If rent-control is such a “no-brainer,” why bother to scrutinize the literature? The cluster of restrictions persists in roughly 140 jurisdictions in the united States as of 2001. As hazlett (1982) notes, “economists have been notoriously thorough in convincing themselves of the destructive effects of rent control and notoriously inept at convincing anyone else” (278). Better understanding of the issue might help correct the error, prevent other governments from falling into it, and promote an understanding among more than just economists. Also, better understanding is an end in itself."


MV Resident
Old Mountain View
on Jul 23, 2016 at 11:34 pm
MV Resident, Old Mountain View
on Jul 23, 2016 at 11:34 pm

Regardless of how you might feel about rent control, the behavior of the Council in this matter is absolutely shameful.

In the last Council election, the California Apartment Association was a major source of funds for the "Neighborhood Empowerment Coalition," a shell organization that funneled $90,000 into the Council race, on behalf of Pat Showalter, Ken Rosenberg, and Ellen Kamei. This dark money helped a great deal in getting Showalter and Rosenberg elected. See this Voice article: Web Link

So now the CAA runs two polls, discovers that the tenants’ initiative has a good chance, contacts the Council members in secret, and guess what? The Council comes out with a competing initiative, which will probably split the vote and defeat both proposals.

When Showalter is asked by the Voice about the polling data, she calls it "hearsay," and when asked if she knew who had conducted the polling, she says "I’m going to keep that to myself."

Rosenberg says that "the first he knew of a survey being conducted was when pollsters called him to answer questions." That wording neatly evades the question of any subsequent contact between Rosenberg and the CAA regarding the polling and the Council's counter-proposal.

Kasperzak was happy to talk about it, but framed the Council’s proposal as "an effort to get a less-onerous measure on the ballot." Kasperzak has always worked with the big landlords, and he’s not stupid. He had to know that a likely result would be the defeat of both measures.

The CAA had to know this, too. A good question would be if this tactic has been used anywhere else before, to defeat a rent-control proposal.

Thanks to Mark Noack for this article. I really hope he can get some statements from Clark and McAlister on the nature of their contact with the CAA and its influence on the Council’s competing ballot proposal.


agreed
Monta Loma
on Jul 24, 2016 at 2:56 pm
agreed, Monta Loma
on Jul 24, 2016 at 2:56 pm

Regardless of how you might feel about rent control, the complete and utter lack of factual information presented by pro-rent control is shameful.

Sunshine nails it. Everything else is hearsay, emotional pandering.


resident
Old Mountain View
on Jul 24, 2016 at 10:36 pm
resident, Old Mountain View
on Jul 24, 2016 at 10:36 pm

We need cheaper housing because demand outstrips supply. Seriously outstrips it. Demand comes because companies hire more and more workers. How many more people work in Mountain View than five or ten years ago. In Palo Alto? In Sunnyvale? In Menlo Park? In Cupertino? In SF? New Office buildings are constantly going up all over. Providing more places for workers, and the cities do not see any need to restrict the number of workers. Some say they are afraid the companies will move out. Yet, only controlling one parameter of the situation, that of rent, will not resolve other issues. It won't change house prices probably. It won't alleviate congestion. It won't help the water crisis. It will probably only complicate the problems with schools. It won't address pollution. It is not a serious way of making Mountain View and the surrounding areas a better place for those who live here. It is looking at only one parameter and not at the equation that shapes the organic whole of how our society operates.


Jim Neal
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Jul 25, 2016 at 9:01 am
Jim Neal, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Jul 25, 2016 at 9:01 am

From the article, it sounds like the survey is not part of the public record. How can that be? If it is a document or electronic file which one or more members of Council is using to make their decisions and/or add items to their agenda, then why isn't it available under FOIA?



Jim Neal
Old Mountain View


Thanks Jim
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2016 at 10:51 am
Thanks Jim, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2016 at 10:51 am

Jim has a good point. Why aren't they sharing the polling data and methodology? This could be manufactured simply to get the council to offer a less effective rent control ordinance. Not surprising really...this dark money organization is fighting tooth and nail against rent control.

Thank you Jim for exposing this conspiracy. We should all vote for the citizen initiated option!


I_got_mine
North Whisman
on Jul 27, 2016 at 8:07 pm
I_got_mine, North Whisman
on Jul 27, 2016 at 8:07 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


voting FOR rent control
Cuesta Park
on Jul 28, 2016 at 10:58 am
voting FOR rent control, Cuesta Park
on Jul 28, 2016 at 10:58 am

Dear Jim,
The legal device you want to use (please do) is the California Public Records Act. (not the Federal FOIA). The request you want to make should go through the city clerk's office. You should request all emails to/from the accounts of Council members Showalter, Kasperzak and Rosenberg,(etc.) for "the time period May 1, 2016 to July 28, 2016" referring to "survey." and/or "rent control" either in the subject header or message text.

The City Clerk, and her office, has always been extremely professional and forthcoming on any emails that I have requested from them, having to do with the public business, and the public right to have public documents. Email to/from elected council members ARE PUBLIC DOCUMENTS.

I hope reporter Novak is up on using the PRA.


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