News

Council opts to leave holes in Measure W

Delaying changes to tenant relocation law leaves ambiguity in rent-control measure on Nov. 8 ballot

In a setback for Measure W, the Mountain View City Council's alternative to rent-control, council members voted narrowly on Tuesday to table a closely intertwined discussion on the city's tenant-relocation ordinance until after the November election. In effect, the delay means the city-sponsored Measure W will go before voters with ambiguity over how aggressively it will regulate the local rental housing market.

In a tense turnaround that drew gasps from the audience, the council majority that had supported Measure W fell apart in a 4-3 vote to put off a planned update of city's Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance, with Mayor Pat Showalter, John McAlister and Chris Clark opposed.

The ordinance, which has been in effect since 2010, is referenced numerous times in Measure W to set the rules for how landlords could circumvent eviction protections by paying a fine to ousted low-income tenants.

The dilemma that played out on Tuesday night came about as a result of the hasty efforts by the council majority to draft an alternative to Measure V, a citizen-backed rent control initiative they criticized for being too inflexible and costly. In their desire to craft a milder version of rent control, the council majority took the eviction-protection language in Measure V and included a loophole that would allow landlords to pay a one-time displacement fee to tenants who were being evicted without "just cause."

The swing vote of the night was Councilman Mike Kasperzak, a Measure W supporter who nonetheless sided with the measure's opponents. Kasperzak explained that he was concerned that making hurried changes to a city program would create unknown ramifications even if both ballot initiatives failed.

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"This is a large expansion of the program which I'm not prepared for," he said. "I want the voters who favor rent control to have two options, but this isn't my choice."

Other council supporters were clearly distraught that Measure W would go before voters with some major policy holes in its language.

Measure W points to the Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance to set the rules for the penalty landlords must pay tenants being evicted without just cause, but City Attorney Jannie Quinn pointed out to council members that the policy needed a significant overhaul in order to work in tandem with W. The city last updated that program in 2014, and it currently affects landlords only if they displace four or more households within a year. Households are eligible only if they earn less than 80 percent of the local median income (currently about $85,000 for a family of four).

In her staff report, Quinn laid out a series of questions the council needed to answer to determine which tenants and apartments would be eligible for the displacement fee. The city's Environmental Planning Commission reviewed the update earlier this month and recommended making all tenants eligible for displacement payments, even if only one household is evicted.

Such changes would represent a significant expansion of the program, and Quinn said the city wouldn't know how much the program would cost until early 2017. Any expansion would likely require more staffing to enforce its provisions, she said. The costs would depend upon the council's decision, but she said city staff were planning to recoup those expenses by putting a surcharge on any relocation fees paid by landlords.

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The complexity of the questions they were being asked came as a surprise to council members, who said they had thought it would be relatively simple to align the relocation fees with the language of Measure W.

Kasperzak said he felt he was being forced into a corner, asked to rewrite the tenant-relocation rules on the shaky possibility that Measure W would pass. In agreement, Councilman Ken Rosenberg quizzed his colleagues on whether Measure W actually stood a chance of being approved by voters.

"Are you going to actively campaign for this?" Rosenberg said. "I think Measure V might have a chance, but I think Measure W does not."

In response, Councilman Chris Clark began describing his efforts to advocate for Measure W, but he was quickly cut off by City Manager Dan Rich, who reminded the council they were prohibited from discussing political campaigns at a public meeting.

Quinn suggested the council could make the expansion of the tenant relocation ordinance contingent on Measure W passing, but this idea found little support among the council. It became clear the council members had little enthusiasm for rejiggering a complex policy, and Quinn tried to remind them that Measure W contained various blanks that needed to be filled. Until the council updated the tenant relocation ordinance, Measure W would essentially have the same just-cause eviction protections as Measure V, she said.

Over warnings from other council members, Rosenberg made a motion to table the discussion until after the election, explaining that they needed more time to discuss any changes.

The council's main supporters of Measure W -- Clark, McAlister and Showalter -- were emphatic that the city needed to give voters specifics on what their initiative would do. Clark proposed going forward with the ordinance changes, but timing the second reading for after the election.

All three voted against tabling the measure, but they ultimately came up short.

"I'm disappointed ... we wanted to do something fair as an alternative," McAlister said. "We made a commitment, but now it doesn't look like we're going to do it."

Following the meeting, the Mountain View Tenants Coalition, the main proponents of competing Measure V, seized on the council's inaction as evidence that city's alternative was never fully thought through.

"When the City Council put Measure W on the ballot, they acknowledged that it was half-baked, and promised to finish the job before the election," said Juliet Brodie, co-author of Measure V. "It's honestly a mess, and I don't know how they can ask voters to support Measure W when they are essentially promising to change its meaning immediately after the election.”

If Measure W passes, Quinn said the City Council could take up a new discussion to update the Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance before the end of the year.

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Council opts to leave holes in Measure W

Delaying changes to tenant relocation law leaves ambiguity in rent-control measure on Nov. 8 ballot

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Wed, Sep 28, 2016, 1:26 pm

In a setback for Measure W, the Mountain View City Council's alternative to rent-control, council members voted narrowly on Tuesday to table a closely intertwined discussion on the city's tenant-relocation ordinance until after the November election. In effect, the delay means the city-sponsored Measure W will go before voters with ambiguity over how aggressively it will regulate the local rental housing market.

In a tense turnaround that drew gasps from the audience, the council majority that had supported Measure W fell apart in a 4-3 vote to put off a planned update of city's Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance, with Mayor Pat Showalter, John McAlister and Chris Clark opposed.

The ordinance, which has been in effect since 2010, is referenced numerous times in Measure W to set the rules for how landlords could circumvent eviction protections by paying a fine to ousted low-income tenants.

The dilemma that played out on Tuesday night came about as a result of the hasty efforts by the council majority to draft an alternative to Measure V, a citizen-backed rent control initiative they criticized for being too inflexible and costly. In their desire to craft a milder version of rent control, the council majority took the eviction-protection language in Measure V and included a loophole that would allow landlords to pay a one-time displacement fee to tenants who were being evicted without "just cause."

The swing vote of the night was Councilman Mike Kasperzak, a Measure W supporter who nonetheless sided with the measure's opponents. Kasperzak explained that he was concerned that making hurried changes to a city program would create unknown ramifications even if both ballot initiatives failed.

"This is a large expansion of the program which I'm not prepared for," he said. "I want the voters who favor rent control to have two options, but this isn't my choice."

Other council supporters were clearly distraught that Measure W would go before voters with some major policy holes in its language.

Measure W points to the Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance to set the rules for the penalty landlords must pay tenants being evicted without just cause, but City Attorney Jannie Quinn pointed out to council members that the policy needed a significant overhaul in order to work in tandem with W. The city last updated that program in 2014, and it currently affects landlords only if they displace four or more households within a year. Households are eligible only if they earn less than 80 percent of the local median income (currently about $85,000 for a family of four).

In her staff report, Quinn laid out a series of questions the council needed to answer to determine which tenants and apartments would be eligible for the displacement fee. The city's Environmental Planning Commission reviewed the update earlier this month and recommended making all tenants eligible for displacement payments, even if only one household is evicted.

Such changes would represent a significant expansion of the program, and Quinn said the city wouldn't know how much the program would cost until early 2017. Any expansion would likely require more staffing to enforce its provisions, she said. The costs would depend upon the council's decision, but she said city staff were planning to recoup those expenses by putting a surcharge on any relocation fees paid by landlords.

The complexity of the questions they were being asked came as a surprise to council members, who said they had thought it would be relatively simple to align the relocation fees with the language of Measure W.

Kasperzak said he felt he was being forced into a corner, asked to rewrite the tenant-relocation rules on the shaky possibility that Measure W would pass. In agreement, Councilman Ken Rosenberg quizzed his colleagues on whether Measure W actually stood a chance of being approved by voters.

"Are you going to actively campaign for this?" Rosenberg said. "I think Measure V might have a chance, but I think Measure W does not."

In response, Councilman Chris Clark began describing his efforts to advocate for Measure W, but he was quickly cut off by City Manager Dan Rich, who reminded the council they were prohibited from discussing political campaigns at a public meeting.

Quinn suggested the council could make the expansion of the tenant relocation ordinance contingent on Measure W passing, but this idea found little support among the council. It became clear the council members had little enthusiasm for rejiggering a complex policy, and Quinn tried to remind them that Measure W contained various blanks that needed to be filled. Until the council updated the tenant relocation ordinance, Measure W would essentially have the same just-cause eviction protections as Measure V, she said.

Over warnings from other council members, Rosenberg made a motion to table the discussion until after the election, explaining that they needed more time to discuss any changes.

The council's main supporters of Measure W -- Clark, McAlister and Showalter -- were emphatic that the city needed to give voters specifics on what their initiative would do. Clark proposed going forward with the ordinance changes, but timing the second reading for after the election.

All three voted against tabling the measure, but they ultimately came up short.

"I'm disappointed ... we wanted to do something fair as an alternative," McAlister said. "We made a commitment, but now it doesn't look like we're going to do it."

Following the meeting, the Mountain View Tenants Coalition, the main proponents of competing Measure V, seized on the council's inaction as evidence that city's alternative was never fully thought through.

"When the City Council put Measure W on the ballot, they acknowledged that it was half-baked, and promised to finish the job before the election," said Juliet Brodie, co-author of Measure V. "It's honestly a mess, and I don't know how they can ask voters to support Measure W when they are essentially promising to change its meaning immediately after the election.”

If Measure W passes, Quinn said the City Council could take up a new discussion to update the Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance before the end of the year.

Comments

NotSurprised
Whisman Station
on Sep 28, 2016 at 2:24 pm
NotSurprised, Whisman Station
on Sep 28, 2016 at 2:24 pm

It's all about greed. My landlord raised our rent 200 because he had to repair our upstairs bathtub and said well look around, all the other places are charging more rent than I am charging you. I've lived there ten years. I shouldn't have to pay more because he replaced an old tub that broke. What's the old saying, harder for a rich man to get to Heaven than it is to get a camel through the eye of a needle. Increasing rents just because they can and however high they want to increase them doesn't mean they should. Soulless people making so many families homeless. And the city council, shame on them. Just because these rich folk can come up with 520k to oppose any form of rent control, should make you wonder, don't they already have enough money! I wouldn't raise rents if I were a landlord. So many haven't because they are decent people. Those that do are just despicable in my book.


Area mom
Cuesta Park
on Sep 28, 2016 at 3:56 pm
Area mom, Cuesta Park
on Sep 28, 2016 at 3:56 pm

What a disaster! It is becoming increasingly obvious that Measure W was a hastily thrown together effort to confuse and thwart voters from Measure V, the people's measure for which over 7000 residents signed a petition. City Council could have passed an ordinance but they took this tactic instead. It's no wonder, most of the council members are in the pockets of the California Apartment Association and Prometheus, who have made large donations to their campaigns.

Clearly the "W" in Measure W is for WEAK.

Measure V provides VITAL renter protections and is VERY fair to landlords.


Vote No
Cuernavaca
on Sep 28, 2016 at 3:59 pm
Vote No, Cuernavaca
on Sep 28, 2016 at 3:59 pm

Vote No on both. This is a nightmare. Council never should've jumped in with "W". They panicked because of some preliminary rumor "V" might pass.

Vote No on both. Rents will stabilize (and perhaps drop) when all the new housing stock comes online and the economy turns (which is starting to happen).


Vote No
Cuernavaca
on Sep 28, 2016 at 4:01 pm
Vote No, Cuernavaca
on Sep 28, 2016 at 4:01 pm

Where can we see a list of the 7,000 MV residents who signed the petition. That should be publicly available, right?


Longview
Registered user
another community
on Sep 28, 2016 at 4:35 pm
Longview, another community
Registered user
on Sep 28, 2016 at 4:35 pm

The 7300 signatures were submitted to the Santa Clara County registrar of voters, and like all initiative signatures are not available for review. This was an important point to many signers who rent, and might have feared retaliation if their signatures were published. To me, it seems similar to our right to privacy of how we vote.

Mountain View has not been ruined by its long time home owners - they are part of Mountain View's community fabric.

Mountain View will also benefit from finally protecting its renters so they can also continue as members of the community for the long run - unafraid of sudden rent increases. Yes on V!


Gladys
Old Mountain View
on Sep 28, 2016 at 5:36 pm
Gladys, Old Mountain View
on Sep 28, 2016 at 5:36 pm

This is just false information that the proponents of measure V keep claiming, the city council at a public city council meeting stated that people keep claiming to be evicted just so landlords can increase rents is not true. They have been asking people to come forward with said information to show that, and they said no one comes forward.

What measure V does it takes away the right from responsible landlords to manage their property by evicting trouble Tenants. Measure V copies other cities rent control ordinance like East Palo Alto, San Jose, San Francisco and others and takes away this right, one must file an application with the rent board and ask permission, which all rent boards deny the request and you no longer have landlords even try to do an eviction.

This is one of the top reason why neighborhoods deteriorate and the city gets a bad name. No one but trouble makers will live their.

Had council member Lenny Siegel been successfull in his first attempt at rent control 30 sum years ago, our city would look like other neighbouring cities like East Palo Alto today, instead of the vibrant city we have now where people actually want to come and live in.

Remember this, Council member Siegel has said at a council meeting that this is just the start, he wants to go after other businesses but knows he does not have the votes yet.

Is this what we really want to turn Mtn.View into?

It you support rent control that has had public review and can be amended
Vote yes on measure W.

Please do not support measure V that has had no public review and has not been advertised in its entirety to the voters so they know what's in it.

Believe me, there is so much more in it that the proponents do not want the public to know about for now. You do not need to create a new 5 panel rent board just to cap rent increases. This is a new expense for the cities tax payers as well.


Maher
Martens-Carmelita
on Sep 28, 2016 at 7:10 pm
Maher, Martens-Carmelita
on Sep 28, 2016 at 7:10 pm

Choosing ambiguity is the ultimate cop out vav what the Measure W is meant to accomplish ie it means "NOT MUCH" re protecting the renting residents. What bought and paid for cowards we have sitting on that dias now. Look forward to new faces with more intrepid ovaries and gonads.


eric
another community
on Sep 28, 2016 at 7:25 pm
eric, another community
on Sep 28, 2016 at 7:25 pm

I think people on both sides of the rent control issue can agree that this is just further evidence of a dysfunctional and incompetent city council


mvresident2003
Registered user
Monta Loma
on Sep 28, 2016 at 9:27 pm
mvresident2003, Monta Loma
Registered user
on Sep 28, 2016 at 9:27 pm

I think people who understand basic economics can agree that neither measure is going to help or change renters. It will dramatically help developers (all those older units that will be sold and parceled into smaller, even more profitable units) or it will lead to slums and units not kept up because the landlords cannot afford to keep up with costs.

And I will say it here again. For those of you homeowners reading this, thinking "yes! let's protect those renters who can no longer afford to pay rent here" I will say this:

Unless and until you are willing to step up and take the same hit/limit on your equity gains then you had best vote no.

If you think it's OK to limit an investor (landlord) on their profit/gain then you should be just as willing to limit your gain in equity.

It's that simple.


basic economics
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2016 at 11:11 pm
basic economics, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2016 at 11:11 pm

Hey mvresident2003. You want some "basic economics"?

If you screw over a heck of a lot of people (renters in this case), there will be a backlash in a democratic society.

You want some more "basic economics"? Homeowners already have their equivalent of rent control. Prop 39 (tax control on owned properties) is artificially lifting our home values. Guess how the lost tax revenue is raised? By having high sales tax and state income taxes that are paid mostly by people who do not benefit from Prop 39. (Renters)

Make you a deal. We will pass Measure V and as soon as Prop 39 is repealed, we will repeal rent control.


Jim Caroll Jones
Old Mountain View
on Sep 28, 2016 at 11:59 pm
Jim Caroll Jones, Old Mountain View
on Sep 28, 2016 at 11:59 pm

What is Prop 39 and how does it affect the price of housing?

About Proposition 39 (Facilities) - California Charter Schools Association
www.ccsa.org/2010/09/about-proposition-39.html
Proposition 39 was written to ensure that all public school students share equally in district facilities. The bargain made when Prop. 39 was passed by California ...

Web Link


Prop 13
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2016 at 12:05 am
Prop 13, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2016 at 12:05 am

Prop 13 sets a cap on annual property tax increases.
Measure V sets a cap on annual rent increases.

Sounds fair to me!


Prop 39
another community
on Sep 29, 2016 at 2:08 am
Prop 39, another community
on Sep 29, 2016 at 2:08 am

There 2 Prop 39's, one for charter school facilities access and one to close a tax loophole created to allow companies to avoid state income tax. No connection between the 2. Neither one has anything to do with rental prices.


mvresident2003
Registered user
Monta Loma
on Sep 29, 2016 at 8:09 am
mvresident2003, Monta Loma
Registered user
on Sep 29, 2016 at 8:09 am

@basic economics, here's the real world way to look at it. You keep discouraging people to make Investments, be it rental property or home ownership for equity then you REALLY create a problem.

Just because you want to live somewhere does not guarantee you can. Period.


A supporter of Measure W
Cuesta Park
on Sep 29, 2016 at 10:48 am
A supporter of Measure W, Cuesta Park
on Sep 29, 2016 at 10:48 am

Rosenberg was ABSENT at the August 9th meeting where changes to the tenant relocation ordinance were discussed in conjunction with approval of what is now Measure W. Though apparently legal, it is simply not just that he would be able to move for and vote on tabling the discussion.


Laurel
Old Mountain View
on Sep 29, 2016 at 11:14 am
Laurel, Old Mountain View
on Sep 29, 2016 at 11:14 am

@A Supporter of Measure W

Do you even understand how MV's council works? It takes 4 votes to pass a motion. Anybody can make a motion. If it doesn't have support, it won't get a second and won't go for a vote of the full body. The three people who were NOT a surprise in this motion to table were Rosenberg, Inks, and Siegel - who are all opposed to Measure W. The surprise with this vote, to the extent a surprise was evident by the "gasp" from the audience), was that Kasperzak voted to table the topic. He didn't back-up Measure W - an ordinance he voted for in the first place!

Is your contention that a council member who misses a meeting shouldn't be allowed to comment or act on agenda items during a meeting that they are sitting in? You don't understand democracy or Robert's Rules of Order, apparently. Think through that logic.


Polomom
Registered user
Waverly Park
on Sep 29, 2016 at 12:35 pm
Polomom, Waverly Park
Registered user
on Sep 29, 2016 at 12:35 pm

@A supporter of measure W: Rosenberg never supported W:

Web Link


A Supporter of Measure W
Cuesta Park
on Sep 29, 2016 at 1:28 pm
A Supporter of Measure W, Cuesta Park
on Sep 29, 2016 at 1:28 pm

@Laurel

I did not assert that this was illegal or even incongruous with Rosenberg's position. I was pointing out that the effect was akin to "I wasn't here when this was initially discussed and now I'm going to move to postpone any discussion." I do realize Kasperzak is arguably the one who shifted positions. Both of these things do not improve people's opinion of the City Council.

On a side note, society a whole could benefit from a change in tone in internet discussions. It is not necessary to resort to insulting someone's intelligence or level of knowledge on a given subject to get your point across. It caused me to think that I really struck a nerve with you.


The Donald
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 1, 2016 at 9:56 am
The Donald, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 1, 2016 at 9:56 am

After V passes, I will suck up all these slum properties it creates and tear them down to make way for my new century city including casinos and $5000/month units. Vote yes on V!!!!


eric
another community
on Oct 6, 2016 at 3:06 pm
eric, another community
on Oct 6, 2016 at 3:06 pm

Rosenberg is absent during a lot of controversial votes


Council Watcher
Monta Loma
on Oct 6, 2016 at 4:04 pm
Council Watcher, Monta Loma
on Oct 6, 2016 at 4:04 pm

Eric,

You may have your reasons for posting this, but your statement is demonstrably false.

Which controversial votes are you referring to?


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