Both sides in the courtroom battle over Mountain View's Measure V rent-control law could be getting some extra muscle.
On Monday, a Santa Clara County judge gave approval for a team of pro bono and nonprofit lawyers to join the city's defense of the rent-control law. Landlords and property-management firms last week made their own request to assign a second law firm to aid the plaintiffs in the case.
In December, the California Apartment Association sued Mountain View just days before the city's new voted-approved rent-control law was scheduled to take effect. The lawsuit blocked implementation of the measure, including its plan to roll back rents on most Mountain View apartments to October 2015 rates.
By a unanimous vote, the Mountain View City Council directed the city attorney, aided by law firm Remcho, Johansen & Purcell, to defend the measure. Meanwhile, several organizations also requested to join the case on behalf of the Measure V proponents. On Monday, March 13, Judge William Elfving allowed the defense team to expand to include the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, the Stanford Community Law Clinic and the Public Interest Law Project. In addition, the Mountain View law firm Fenwick & West also joined the defense side on a pro bono basis.
"All of these organizations bring different experience that will help to uphold Measure V," said Nadia Aziz, senior attorney with the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley. "We all understand the importance of Measure V and just-cause evictions and want to make sure this is upheld."
Three property investment firms also filed a motion last week to have the firm Hopkins & Carley assist the CAA in their suit. As of Wednesday, the Voice's press deadline, the judge had not made a decision on that request.
Both sides in the case are circling April 4 on their calendars as the crucial date in the case. A hearing is scheduled on the CAA's request for a preliminary injunction, which would effectively block Measure V from taking effect for as long as it takes to litigate the case. If that request is denied, the city could immediately take action to implement rent control.
In related news, the window is closing this week for a second round of applications for the city of Mountain View's rental housing committee, the panel that would be in charge of administering the new rent control law.
Nineteen people had already applied for the committee during an application round that closed in December. But some council members last month said that the pool of candidates didn't have enough representation from landlords. They voted to make one last-ditch effort to draw in more candidates.
As Wednesday, only one new applicant had submitted paperwork to the city. Izzie Tiffany, a resident of Mountain View for 13 years, explained in her paperwork that she is not a property owner or landlord. Instead, she presented herself as an advocate for the community's downtrodden.
"I'm interested because someone needs to stick up for the people whose income is below poverty level," she wrote in her application. "I live there, and I could shed some light on what low rent really means."
The application window for the rental housing committee closes on Friday, March 17.