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Rent control foes deliver signatures to city

Landlord-backed group seeks to put measure on 2020 ballot

A ballot measure designed to drastically weaken Mountain View's rent control program will likely be heading to voters in 2020. On Monday afternoon, Oct. 8, supporters Brian Danforth and City Council candidate John Inks delivered thousands of signatures to the city, seeking to put their initiative to roll back rent control on a future ballot.

City Clerk Lisa Natusch reported on Monday that the submitted petition had more than 7,100 signatures, putting it well above the 5,150 minimum needed to qualify for an election. She planned to forward the petition later this week to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters so their office could verify the signatures.

If certified, the proposed measure could appear on the March or November 2020 ballot, Natusch told the Voice.

The proposed initiative contains some modifications for rent control, such as adding income eligibility requirements and spending caps on the program's costs. But those reforms will likely never take effect because the measure also forces all rent control policies to be suspended unless the city's housing vacancy rate drops under 3 percent. The rate hasn't dipped that low for nearly two decades, leading tenant advocates to allege the measure is really a repeal of rent control under the guise of reforming it.

Collecting signatures for the measure had been an ongoing struggle for its supporters, who organized under the name Measure V Too Costly. The group raised about $260,000, mostly from landlords, to hire signature gatherers to canvass the city. The frenzied push for signatures led to many reports of paid workers bending the truth or outright lying in an effort to get registered voters to sign. About 350 residents later wrote to the city demanding that their names be removed from the petition, many saying they'd been told the petition was to save or expand rent control.

Originally, the Measure V Too Costly group was aiming to deliver their signatures to the city by June to get it placed on the November ballot, but they later announced they couldn't make that deadline.

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