The costs of Mountain View's experiment with rent control now has a clear price tag -- about $160 annually for each apartment in town.
At a meeting scheduled for Monday, Oct. 9, the city's Rental Housing Committee will take its first look at a proposed $2.5 million budget for launching the citywide rent control program.
The budget will be brought back to the committee for final approval on Oct. 23.
Mountain View's new rent control program is at its most labor-intensive stage. The city's five-member Rental Housing Committee is dealing with a series of complex and consequential decisions as it establishes the policy groundwork for citywide rent control. Given the stakes, routine committee meetings feature a panel of three attorneys and a team of housing staff, none of whom are working for free.
Designed to run independently of city government, the rent control program eventually must pay for its own staffing, office equipment and material costs. For the new fiscal year, city officials are budgeting for four new full-time office positions, including a program manager, a clerical assistant and two analysts. The rental committee will need to eventually hire what may be its most important staffer -- a hearing officer who will adjudicate disputes between landlords and tenants. This position is expected to be filled by a retired judge or arbitrator, who could charge as much as $1,250 per case.
As a one-time cost, the rental committee must pay back about $431,595 borrowed from the city of Mountain View. That loan helped the committee get established during the first months of 2017.
To pay that bill, city officials plan to divide up the cost between nearly all the apartments listed in Mountain View. That means apartment owner would be expected to pay about $160 annually for each unit. This fee will be levied on all apartments in the city built prior to Dec. 23, 2016, regardless of whether they are rent controlled. State law does not allow rent control to be imposed on apartments first occupied after Jan. 1995, as well single-family homes and small buildings such as duplexes.
It still remains an open question as to whether that cost can be passed through to tenants as a modest rent increase. The Rental Housing Committee could discuss this at the Oct. 9 meeting, but a final decision likely won't be made until Oct. 23, said City Associate Planner Anky van Deursen.
More information about the Rental Housing Committee budget can be found in the staff report.