News

Editorial: A dishonest debate over rent control

 

There's nothing wrong with a fair debate over rent control. Rent control has always been a controversial issue, and there are compelling arguments on both sides.

There is something wrong, however, with trying to roll back rent control by lying to voters.

A landlord-backed group spent more than $260,000 in an attempt to circumvent an honest debate about Mountain View's new rent control law with a dishonest signature-gathering campaign in support of a truly duplicitous ballot initiative aiming to kill rent control in Mountain View.

While the false assurances of the paid signature gatherers (It will keep rent control from ending! It will extend rent control to mobile homes!) drew protests and countermeasures, the California Apartment Association's initiative itself was remarkable for its crass attempt to deceive voters.

Although proponents have tirelessly pitched the initiative's bells and whistles, you sure don't hear much from them about the poison pill hidden inside its 20 pages of text. It's kind of like selling people a dietary supplement that contains several good things -- say, vitamin C, organic protein and probiotics -- and also contains a lethal dose of arsenic.

At first glance, the "Mountain View Homeowner, Renter, and Taxpayer Protection Initiative" appeared to offer a milder version of the voter-approved rent control provisions contained in Measure V. It was similar to the City Council-backed Measure W, which was defeated, and promised to keep high-income residents from benefiting from rent-controlled apartments and to roll back just-cause evictions, making it easier to get rid of problem tenants. It promised to keep the unpaid members of the Rental Housing Committee overseeing rent control from ever getting paid for their work.

Only a close reading of the initiative's full text reveals its poisonous center. Whenever the vacancy rate in Mountain View is above 3 percent, the proposed initiative would set no enforceable limit on rent increases. For as long as the city has gathered reliable data on the rental housing vacancy rate, it hasn't gone below 3 percent. The current vacancy rate is around 4 percent, and Mountain View is hardly what anyone would call a favorable market for renters.

The fact that a rent control law was approved by over 53 percent of voters in November 2016 may say more about the increasingly unaffordable local housing market than it does about the popularity of rent control. Certainly, no one can say the rollout of Measure V has been smooth. A costly legal challenge from the California Apartment Association delayed its implementation for months, and an anti-rent control majority on the council stacked the Rental Housing Committee with several members who appear to be fundamentally opposed to the idea of rent control (and one, Tom Means, who is avowedly anti-rent control).

Even so, it's hard to imagine spending more than a quarter-million dollars, telling registered voters whatever they wanted to hear, and still failing to gather the 5,500 or so signatures needed to put the "Mountain View Homeowner, Renter, and Taxpayer Protection Initiative" on the November ballot.

CAA vice president Josh Howard has vowed to continue the fight and said he aims to put the initiative on the 2020 ballot. We hope that the second time around, the CAA and its backers will see fit to engage Mountain View citizens in an honest debate about rent control to find out if they have changed their minds. If they don't, Mountain View voters will have to remain vigilant and be sure to always read the fine print.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.

Comments

10 people like this
Posted by Which 2020 ballot?
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 22, 2018 at 11:08 am

2020 is a Presidential election year. There will be a primary moved up from June to March. Is that the election date the landlords and their cohorts wish to use? They have 180 days to circulate their petition. Time's up in October. No one (except landlords and sleazy politicians) should sign.


75 people like this
Posted by Voter
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Aug 22, 2018 at 12:55 pm

Hopefully the percent of home owners in MV will increase from low 40% with all these apartment to condo conversions. 53% pro rent control number is not that impressive considering 60% of people in MV are renters.


12 people like this
Posted by Renters Will Continue to Win!
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 22, 2018 at 3:49 pm

Renters Will Continue to Win! is a registered user.

Measure V and rent control for Mountain View is here to stay and the next victory for renters across all of California will be the repeal of the Costa Hawkins Act in November! Don't Sign the Sneaky Repeal petition in Mountain View and Vote Yes on Prop 10 in November!


42 people like this
Posted by Voice-You are not serious!
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2018 at 5:01 pm

The editorial board of the Voice, what a joke you are.

You did not cover the Mountain View Tenants Coalition in the same way that you did this recent initiative. In fact you tried to squash any truth that people where saying about what was in Measure V, and you never once posted anything about the contents of it to the public.

To this day we still do not know where all the money came from to fund Measure V. At least 2 polling's where done, or where the money came to pay for their signature gathers and what happened when they said they had enough signatures and did not the professionals. Why did they do it and again-who paid for it? Makes no sense.

The Voice ran a hit piece against 1 landlord just weeks before the 2016 election so as to foment hatred towards landlords and to have voters pass Measure V. Never mind that the Voice sat on that story for several months before running it so they could get the most impact.

The Voice does not have the moral high grounds on this issue. Calling for a honest debate, what a joke you are. You are a pure advocate who pushed this. Not one of your employees lives in Mtn.View yet you think your are smarter than most most people and you can them how to vote on issues. None of you have to suffer any negative consequences to our city because none of you live here.

Voice, editorial board, in your "honest debate" scenario, what do you dislike like about Measure V?

What would you change in Measure V?

Start the debate!

Otherwise, you are just the pot calling the kettle black.


4 people like this
Posted by The Trollbots Are Here Again
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2018 at 5:20 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


73 people like this
Posted by Russian overlord
a resident of another community
on Aug 22, 2018 at 6:20 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


Like this comment
Posted by The Trollbots Are Here Again
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2018 at 6:23 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


6 people like this
Posted by lan
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2018 at 10:19 pm

lan is a registered user.

Yes, exactly. My encounter with a woman representing this group, who was sitting outside Safeway on Rengstorff, is when I pointed out their sneaky clause about the 3% vacancy rate, she flipped the vacancy rate statement in the opposite direction. When I told her she was wrong, and lying, she said I had to read the entire document (no I didn't) and started throwing papers around the table and became visibly angry.

My current landlord/management company is of the ethos of prop v too costly (management company is a proud member of the California Apartment Association). The management company's behavior in managing my building is teaching me the importance of standing up to bullies and not letting them get away with treating renters -- you know, humans -- like dirt.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

After experiencing harassment, owner of Zareen's restaurants speaks out about Islamophobia, racism
By Elena Kadvany | 27 comments | 5,698 views

Don't Miss Your Exit (and other lessons from an EV drive)
By Sherry Listgarten | 12 comments | 2,045 views

Goodbye Food Waste!
By Laura Stec | 5 comments | 1,883 views

"Better" Dads and "Re-invigorated" Moms: Happier Couples
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,386 views

 

Register today!

On Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

Learn More