Three years ago, Mountain View was in the vanguard of Silicon Valley cities boosting their minimum wage to balance out the area's high cost of living. But that enthusiasm may be waning -- on Tuesday night, the City Council will consider consider slowing down the wage increases.
In a plan spearheaded by Councilman John McAlister, the city is being asked to pause its minimum-wage increases that were approved in 2015. Back then, Mountain View's minimum wage was $10.30 an hour, and as of this year that hourly pay has jumped up to $15 an hour.
For every year going forward, the city's plan was supposed to increase its minimum wage by the cost of inflation. That means that as of Jan. 1, 2019, the minimum wage would increase to $15.65 an hour.
Speaking to the Voice, McAlister said the city's wage increases should be paused in order to align Mountain View's base pay with other nearby cities. San Jose, Palo Alto, Los Altos and other regional cities were all one year behind Mountain View, and aren't going to be at $15 an hour until next year, he said. Waiting one year would make it so Mountain View isn't a higher wage "island," putting its small businesses at a disadvantage, he said.
"Our minimum wage has gone up some 40 percent since this was initiated," McAlister said. "That's a really quick increase, and at some point we have to give our small businesses a break and move forward."
While Mountain View is ahead of other cities in increasing its minimum wage, the city is not entirely alone. The city of Sunnyvale is also currently at a $15-an-hour minimum wage, which it plans to increase by inflation starting next year.
McAlister has a stake in the issue as the owner of a Baskin-Robbin's franchise and a self-styled champion of small businesses. He gave assurances that there was no conflict of interest for him, and he said the city attorney had already vetted the issue.
The City Council will discuss the proposed pause to the minimum wage increases at its Tuesday, Dec. 4, meeting.