The purpose of the petition from the deceptively named group "Measure V Too Costly" is not to improve the Community Stabilization and Fair Rent Act (i.e. the CSFRA or Measure V); it's essentially to repeal it. Let this petition die the natural death it deserves. It can only get on the ballot if enough registered voters sign it.
"Measure V Too Costly" claims that the rent stabilization program is costing the city a great deal of money. That's fake news. Truthfully, the cost of Mountain View's rent stabilization program falls on the landlords. The fee this year was less than $13/unit, per month. That fee is designed to make the program self-sufficient. The city did front the program some funds to get started, but that money has all been returned.
The purpose of the petition is to repeal the CSFRA. It suspends the rent stabilization program if the apartment vacancy rate climbs above 3 percent. The vacancy rate is always above 3 percent!
All of the other new language in the proposed measure is window dressing, designed to appeal to voters who would like to see improvements without abandoning the entire program. Those changes won't matter because the vacancy rate is always above 3 percent.
Measure V is not too costly to taxpayers, because they don't foot the bill. Measure V is not too costly for the residents of rent-stabilized apartments. With rent hikes limited to a small increase each year, tenants who might be forced to leave Mountain View or live in vehicles on our streets are able to stay. Before Measure V took effect, many tenants faced rent increases of 10 percent or 20 percent each year.
Apartment owners might consider Measure V "too costly," but their mortgages are fixed and their property tax hikes are stabilized at 2 percent per year by Proposition 13. Measure V provides an opportunity for landlords to petition for rent increases above the inflation-based general annual increase.
Mountain View and surrounding communities are suffering a housing crisis of supply and affordability. This crisis impacts everyone. It's difficult to find people to work in our restaurants, mow our lawns, drive our buses, and even teach our children. Few of our adult children can afford to live in the community where they grew up. The entire fabric of our community is threatened.
The human cost of escalating rents is huge. Starting in September 2015, hundreds pleaded with the City Council to protect them from rent hikes that required them to leave our community. We heard from janitors, students, teachers, tech workers, scientists, retirees, and many more.
At the time, each of the three of us took different positions. While the council did pass modest protections, many residents didn't think we did enough. The proponents of rent stabilization circulated a petition for what became Measure V. In November 2016, it passed with 53 percent support, despite an expensive campaign against it.
Among our neighbors, our city leads in planning for more housing, and we are funding and requiring the construction of a steady stream of subsidized units where rent is based on income. This is how we're trying to solve the housing crisis, but even in the best of circumstances it will take many years. Until the crisis eases, the CSFRA makes it possible for many of the residents of our 15,000-plus apartments to stay in Mountain View.
The repeal of Measure V, as proposed by the deceptive petition, would be too costly, not only for tenants, but the entire community of Mountain View. Don't sign!
Pat Showalter and Ken Rosenberg are Mountain View council members and former mayors. Lenny Siegel is the current mayor. This represents their views and not necessarily the views of the entire City Council.
This story contains 651 words.
Stories older than 90 days are available only to subscribing members. Please help sustain quality local journalism by becoming a subscribing member today.
If you are already a member, please log in so you can continue to enjoy unlimited access to stories and archives. Membership starts at $12 per month and may be cancelled at any time.