Perhaps the most controversial figure on Mountain View’s most controversial body, Tom Means announced Monday night he would resign his position on the city’s Rental Housing Committee, effective immediately. The news came as a surprise to committee members and city staff at the tail end of the Aug. 27 meeting.
In a brief statement, Means said he needed to resign because he was leaving Mountain View to be closer to his children and grandchildren. His family is planning to relocate to El Dorado Hills, he said.
Means could not be immediately reached for further comment by the Voice.
A free-market advocate who nevertheless was appointed to the body in charge of citywide rent control, Means frequently drew complaints that he was ideologically incompatible for the job. Tenant advocates routinely blasted him for his active opposition to Mountain View’s rent control measure as it went before voters in 2016.
Those critics were incensed when the City Council appointed Means to one of the five seats on the Rental Housing Committee last year. Elected leaders picked Means over about 20 other candidates, saying he brought valuable local government experience from his two terms on the City Council. But tenant advocates alleged his presence created a case of the fox guarding the hen house. They later learned that Means was paid to write an economic study portraying rent control as a misguided policy for a political group fighting rent control. Means described the contract work as consistent with his full-time job as an economics professor.
During his time on the committee, Means has been actively involved in many of the crucial policy decisions. Often bringing his economics pedigree into talks, he has sometimes sparred with the city's risk-averse staff and consultants on drafting essential components of the rent-control program. The city's team frequently aimed for legal cover by modeling Mountain View's program after other rent-stabilized cities, but Means was inclined to craft more precise methods to tie the program more closely to what he saw as the housing market's realities.
With Means’ departure, his seat will be temporarily filled by Julian Pardo de Zela, the committee’s alternate member. Under the rent control policy, the City Council will need to eventually appoint a new committee member to fill the vacancy.