A proposed ballot measure to suspend Mountain View's rent control program appears unlikely to qualify for the November election, since supporters have yet to submit their petition signatures to the city. On Tuesday afternoon, June 19, City Clerk Lisa Natusch told the Voice that she believed it was "unrealistic" at this point for elections officials to have enough time to review and verify thousands of signatures.
"For all practical purposes, this is likely closed," Natusch said. "It's after the timeline in which the council can call the election, unless the registrar of voters can do it in less time."
Reached for comment, Laura Teutschel of the group Measure V Too Costly denied that time had run out for the petition. She declined to say when the signatures would be submitted.
"So, the city clerk has an insight as to how long this will take the County Registrar of Voters? Interesting. How does she know that?" she wrote in an email. "By statute the county has 30 days and they have accomplished similar counts in less time."
There is no hard deadline for when the ballot initiative materials must be turned in, but Natusch has strongly recommended that the measure's supporters deliver everything by June 5. That date would provide 30 business days for the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters to authenticate a portion of the signatures. After those signatures are verified, the ballot measure would need to be brought to the City Council, no later than its July 24 meeting, so it can be placed on the November ballot.
Natusch said she has received no recent updates from the ballot measure's supporters on the status of their signature petition. If the signatures were delivered, she said her office would still process them, but she couldn't guarantee what would happen.
"The registrar can process this in a shorter time frame, but you can't guarantee how long it will take," she said. "I suppose it's possible that they don't need the full time, but it seems unrealistic."
About 5,150 signatures of registered voters in Mountain View need to be collected to place the measure on the ballot, but it is unclear how many have been gathered. In recent weeks, signature gathering has become a pitched battle between paid workers and tenant advocates, who say that signature-gatherers have misled voters by telling them the initiative would expand or improve rent control.
The ballot measure, dubbed "The Mountain View Homeowner, Renter, and Taxpayer Protection Initiative" and backed by landlord group the California Apartment Association, would almost certainly halt the provisions of Measure V rent control, which was passed by voters in 2016. Most rent control protections would take effect only if the city's vacancy rate dips below 3 percent, which hasn't been the case for nearly two decades. Tenant advocates are calling it the "sneaky repeal," saying the initiative would repeal rent control under the guise of reforming it.
While the measure may not qualify for this November's election, Natusch said that the signatures that have been collected will remain valid for up to 180 days. Supporters could use these signatures to place a ballot measure on a future election, she said.