The Mountain View Homeowner, Renter, and Taxpayer Protection Act (the "taxpayer initiative") has qualified for the November ballot and ensures the city's 2016 rent control law benefits low-income tenants and stems the exodus of units from the local rental market — and resulting renter displacement — caused by the 2016 law.
The taxpayer initiative also prohibits the Rental Housing Committee from paying itself a salary, misusing taxpayer money, and extends anti-gouging protections to more Mountain View renters, as the 2016 law only applies to renters living in units built before February 1995.
Things have changed since the taxpayer initiative was drafted and qualified.
For one, AB 1482 was introduced and ultimately signed by Gov. Newsom. This statewide legislation provides strong renter protections to more renters than the taxpayer initiative.
Two, the Mountain View City Council, in an effort to bring landlords, tenants, and the community together, crafted its own measure to address issues with the 2016 rent control law and is placing it before voters in March as Measure D.
The taxpayer initiative and Measure D both aim to keep units on the market, make it easier to improve aging rental housing, protect taxpayers, and keep the city's older rental units affordable, safe, and available.
Accordingly, the coalition applauds the leadership of Mayor Margaret Abe-Koga and council members Chris Clark and Lucas Ramirez, who spent many hours developing what is now known as Measure D. The coalition believes it is in the community's best interest that costly, divisive ballot fights be avoided if possible.
As such, should the voters adopt Measure D in March, the coalition will withdraw all support for the taxpayer initiative.
While no law is perfect, Measure D seeks to protect renters, encourage investment in the community's housing units, and ensure a good quality of life for all residents. We appreciate the City Council's efforts to work with all stakeholders and try to find some elements of common ground.
With Measure D's passage, the community, housing providers and elected leaders can focus on real solutions to the region's housing crisis — the addition of affordable homes for the working families of Mountain View.
California Apartment Association executive vice president
Measure D loopholes
We oppose Measure D. It unnecessarily increases rents for those struggling to remain in Mountain View. The nonpartisan League of Women Voters local chapter also opposes Measure D.
The Community Stabilization and Fair Rent Act (CSFRA) was passed by voters in Mountain View in 2016 to slow down runaway rent increases for those living in older apartments. This law has been fair for both tenants and landlords. Measure D would disrupt this balance with hidden loopholes.
Currently, increases for tenants in rent-controlled apartments can be no higher than inflation. Apartment owners' profits are also protected. Since rent control doesn't apply when a tenant voluntarily moves out, the new rent on that apartment can be raised to market rate. For continuously occupied apartments, landlords can petition for increases above the inflation rate if their necessary costs prevent them from making the profit that they made prior to rent control. This is the "fair rate of return" provision in CSFRA that protects financial interests of apartment owners.
Measure D is backed by the deep pockets of the California Apartment Association's corporate apartment owners and their supporters on the City Council. Their claim to "protect rent control" is a deceptive smoke screen. Measure D introduces significant loopholes to increase landlord profits and as a consequence would lead to higher rents, forcing out more teachers, nurses, families, seniors and service workers from Mountain View.
The most serious loophole allows landlords to pass through to tenants costs of non-essential improvements that "extend the life of the building." These additional rent increases would be allowed even when the landlord is already making their customary profit without these increases. Please protect renters in our community from more displacement, which would surely occur. Vote no on Measure D.
Dave Offen and Gail Nyhan, homeowners
Questioning Measure D
The main thing I don't get about Measure D is why our City Council believes that any landlord investments that "extend the useful life of the property" need to depend on incremental rent increases. Doesn't the bulk of monthly rent provide for those upgrades? Are landlords taking out all profits each year without setting aside funds for their foreseeable upgrades to buildings and grounds? I can understand extraordinary rent increases for mandated safety improvements, which may not be foreseeable, but our current law already allows for them!
Also, I'm concerned that Measure D and the anticipated landlords' measure in November both have backers who publish misinformation in their public materials. That's insupportable.
Frances Johnson, renter
Sierra Vista Avenue
It's time to get counted
We are less than two months from an important date: Census Day on April 1. Counting everyone is imperative for California and Mountain View to get proper representation and essential funding per the United States Constitution. In my April 1, 2019, letter to the Voice "The countdown to being counted," I highlighted that California is a "hard to count" state. In particular, Santa Clara County ranks as the ninth toughest to count in the nation. This is also the first time the census questionnaire will be primarily online.
Full participation is critical. Census data is used to allocate nearly $700 billion in federal program funding and designates political representation at various levels of government. States use this funding for essential programs like health care, social services, education grants and infrastructure. California's political representation in the United States Congress is decided through the census, and there has been talk of California losing a seat if there is an undercount. This information is also used to redraw state and local district boundaries.
Now is the time for an accurate count, one in which each and every person is counted. Every individual regardless of age, immigration status or residency counts. The Santa Clara County Complete Count Steering Committee, of which I am a member, has been focused on community engagement, particularly with families of children under 5, seniors, individuals with disabilities, immigrants and the unstably housed. Statewide, California leaders have invested $187 million toward an outreach and communication campaign.
As April 1 approaches, keep an eye out for your census postcard. This postcard will contain your unique census ID number for your household. There are four ways to complete your census information: internet self-response form, paper form, by phone and in-person via enumerator visits.
I invite you to join the city of Mountain View and Santa Clara County's joint "Multicultural Census Party" on Thursday, Feb. 13, at the Rengstorff Community Center, Maple Room, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. to learn more about the census. Refreshments, games, and translation services will be available.
Let's make sure Mountain View counts.
Ellen Kamei, Mountain View vice mayor and Santa Clara County Complete Count Steering Committee member
This story contains 1181 words.
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