In the past decade, about 1,000 rent-stabilized units have been demolished or redeveloped in Mountain View to make way for new development projects, leaving their occupants displaced, according to the city.
Displacement has far-reaching impacts on residents. Some are forced to leave behind a neighborhood and a network of connections they’ve depended on for decades. Others must take on an exorbitantly higher rent. Others have to leave the city altogether to find housing they can afford.
“If we were to have to move out of the area, I don’t know how we would survive, without all the help we have here,” said Mountain View mobile home resident Anna Marie Morales at a Jan. 12 community meeting.
In response to the growing number of development projects that displace longtime residents, the Mountain View City Council identified the issue as a high priority item in 2019. Since then the council has held two study sessions to discuss the city’s displacement response strategy, one in October 2019 and a second in September 2020.
Now, Mountain View is ramping up its efforts with a six-part community meeting series, during which city staff will gather public input about potential policies and programs for preventing and addressing tenant displacement. The first meeting, which aimed to gather general input from all types of community members, was held Jan. 12. The next meeting is slated for Jan. 18, with a full schedule available here.
Before hearing from the public, city staff outlined a few policy ideas they already have for addressing displacement in Mountain View. These included replacement requirements for developers, city acquisition and preservation of naturally affordable developments, and opportunity to purchase programs for tenants.
Under SB 330, state law already requires that developers replace rent-stabilized units with deed-restricted affordable units based on the former tenant’s income, city Housing Manager Micaela Hellman-Tincher said at the Jan. 12 meeting. But with this law slated to expire by 2030, the city could consider implementing replacement requirements of its own to protect tenants well into the future.
Another idea staff presented is that the city could purchase “naturally” affordable developments itself, in order to preserve and protect them from being redeveloped in the long-term. Naturally affordable housing in Mountain View typically means older apartment complexes that fall under the city’s rent control law, and are often the types of properties that get razed to make way for expensive condo developments.
“The city is currently looking for funding partners to pursue this, but we haven’t yet developed a partnership that would make this happen,” Hellman-Tincher said.
The third idea proposed by staff is to develop “opportunity to purchase” programs for tenants.
“The way it works is that before a property owner sells a property, they must publicly notice the sale for some fixed period of time, and that notification is meant to allow community led groups, such as tenants or nonprofits, to make an offer to purchase the property at a market rate sales price,” Hellman-Tincher said.
She said the city is currently studying other jurisdictions that have programs like this already in place to understand the process and whether it would work well for Mountain View.
“We know that we would have to find funding to support these purchases,” Hellman-Tincher added.
The schedule for the rest of the community meetings is as follows:
• Property owners stakeholder meeting on Jan. 18 at 1 p.m.
• Nonprofit developer stakeholder meeting on Jan. 18 at 3:30 p.m.
• Market rate developer stakeholder meeting on Jan. 19 at 2 p.m.
• Tenant stakeholder meeting on Jan. 25 at 4 p.m.
• Tenant stakeholder meeting on Jan. 26 at 6:30 p.m.
The city will finish off the outreach process with a general session summary meeting on Feb. 21 at 6:30 p.m.
“This is something that I’m hoping will happen sooner rather than later,” mobile home resident Morales said during the Jan. 12 meeting. “Displacement shouldn’t happen in the first place, but there are definitely some landlords that don’t care. … Mountain View really needs to be aware of that and take action now.”