I am 50 years old, born in Mountain View, been a landlord here, currently own a home in Mountain View and have a son in our schools. I have also had the honor to serve as the commissioner for our local youth soccer league that provides soccer to nearly 2,000 children ages 5 to 19 in our community. That youth sports organization offers scholarships to approximately 10 percent of its player families because we need to help those who are less fortunate in our community with a hand up. Many of the dedicated, hard-working volunteers I work with in the soccer community are renters currently being protected by Measure V. Measure V is working as it is and doesn't need to be fixed.
Currently, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is the baseline for determining citywide rent increases on eligible apartments. The proposed initiative would temporarily lift the CPI cap if more than 3 percent of the city apartments are vacant and suspend just-cause eviction protections in the current laws. The protections would only be reinstated if the vacancy rate dips below 3 percent for six consecutive months, after which the damage to many lower-income families would be done. Vacancies have not been under the 3 percent threshold for roughly the past couple decades and are currently at 4.5 percent, so the effect of passing this would be to remove all renter protections immediately. All the renter soccer kids and renter volunteers would lose all protections.
How can we in good conscience treat those with less so harshly, effectively pushing many out of our city and increasing the coffers of corporate landlords? Do not sign this petition. I am proud of this city and confident we will do the right thing for our neighbors' sake.
Facts still matter
In 2016, voters passed Measure V to protect families from unreasonable rent increases. During the past several weeks the corporate landlord lobby, known as the California Apartment Association (or CAA), paid signature gatherers to persuade Mountain View residents to sign their deceptive petition by any means necessary, including outright lies.
Paid signature gatherers falsely claimed their petition would "improve" rent control, when it's actually a sneaky repeal of Measure V. Buried deep in the legalese is a poison pill mandating that renter protections end. This clause is easy to miss, but it is the goal of the CAA, and the reason local tenant advocates have dubbed this petition a "sneaky repeal." Recently, retirees at Sahara Mobile Home Park were tricked into signing by paid signature gatherers claiming the petition would extend rent control to mobile homes, which couldn't be further from the truth.
Can the CAA justify preying on the elderly? Lying to get signatures for ballot measures is already illegal, but no one will be charged without hard evidence. The CAA heavily incentivized this fraud by reportedly paying up to $40 per signature. Recently passed California Senate Bill 1394 puts paying on a per-signature basis on the road to illegality, because it puts our democracy at risk by incentivizing lies. The Trumpian tactics used throughout the CAA's campaign may be banned completely if this bill passes the Assembly and is signed into law by the governor.
I would like the truth to be respected again in this country. We have a right to accurate information to make informed decisions, a right that has now been affirmed by the state Senate. Facts still matter. Remember that if the sneaky repeal makes it to the ballot this November.
Truth in local politics
As a longtime homeowner in Mountain View, I care about building community. When someone stops me on the street and asks me to sign a petition for a ballot initiative, I take time to listen politely and consider their request. Democracy works when we listen to each others' perspectives and then vote our conscience based on the information we've gathered. We are all harmed when paid signature gatherers lie to us about the implications of their ballot initiative. It may mislead us into voting against our own interests. Or, at the most basic level, it may cause us to be distrustful and disengaged from the political process.
If you were misled by a paid signature gatherer, please call the California Secretary of State — Election Division at 916-657-2166.
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