Community Brief | June 28, 2019 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - June 28, 2019

Community Brief

Subcommittee to propose rent control changes

At its June 25 meeting, the Mountain View City Council appointed a new subcommittee to study an unspecified package of changes to the city's rent control law, known as the Community Stabilization and Fair Rent Act (CSFRA). The three-person subcommittee will consist of City Council members Margaret Abe-Koga, Chris Clark and Lucas Ramirez.

The new CSFRA subcommittee is expected to meet over the summer to figure out what aspects of the rent control law should be amended, and will reach out to various stakeholders including tenants, landlords and the city's Rental Housing Committee. A list of proposed changes will eventually be brought back to the full City Council, which will decide whether to bring it to voters as a ballot measure sometime in 2020.

As an amendment to the city charter, CSFRA can't be altered by the City Council. Instead, it requires approval by a majority of Mountain View voters.

The future ballot measure could have dramatic political consequences, depending on what is proposed. A coalition of landlords has been seeking a way to torpedo the Mountain View rent control law ever since voters approved it in 2016. A landlord-backed measure that would essentially block rent control from being enforced, dubbed the "sneaky repeal" by opponents, has enough signatures to put it before voters in 2020.

A variety of other groups have been seeking milder changes. Mobile home residents have demanded coverage for space rent at mobile home parks under the law, but city officials say the only surefire way to grant this would be to rewrite the law's provisions through a ballot measure.

Another possible change would be seismic retrofitting for older apartments. City officials have flagged 5,123 apartments that may need costly upgrades to become earthquake-safe, and they say CSFRA has made it difficult for apartment owners to pass through these costs to tenants.

The push to consider changes to the rent control law was spearheaded by Abe-Koga, who proposed it during the city's goal-setting process earlier this year. Speaking to the Voice, she blamed rent control for a string of redevelopment projects that displaced low-income tenants from older apartment buildings, but she has not proposed any specific changes so far.

It will be up to the City Council to decide whether to schedule the ballot initiatives for the March 2020 or the November 2020 election.

Mark Noack

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