It is the redevelopments that usually bring the most concerns because most of those projects are seeking to improve or replace structures where people already live or work; and any project large enough to come before the City Council will likely result in people being displaced.
Most of those displaced are poor or very poor, but some are in the middle class. In this area, I consider anyone who makes under $150,000 a year to be middle class. If that sounds like a lot of money to you, it really isn't because about 38% of that goes to State and Federal taxes, and another 10%-15% goes to many other taxes and fees. So they get maybe $75k after all that. I mention this because of issues that were raised during the Council's deliberations tonight.
The main points that the Council discussed were:
Should the AMI (Average Median Income) requirements be raised from 50% of AMI?
Should 'Special Circumstances' (those with disabilities, at least one member of the household is a child or senior, etc) assistance be increased to $3000?
Should the timing of the assistance payments be changed to 'Within 15 days of Request by Tenant and No Later than the Date to Vacate'?
Should the Relocation Consultant Be Hired By the City?
Should the Median Monthly Rent Be Used to Calculate Eligibility?
By far the most contentious issue was the AMI requirements. Initially, it seemed that a majority of the Council was leaning toward having no limit on income. (The five other cities in the study that was cited all do not have limits on income). However, Council members Kasperzak and Abe-Koga expressed concern that individuals who make $150,000 or $200,000 per year might then be eligible for relocation assistance.
I find myself in strong disagreement with those conclusions. First, anyone who makes that kind of money will most likely be living in a property that has ALREADY been redeveloped! And very likely recently. I also think that it is grossly unfair to those of us that are in the middle class that we will get nothing if the owner(s) of our buildings decide that they want to renovate or rebuild.
Many of us work very hard and long hours, have long commutes, and have children in school. We can't just find another place to live in 5 minutes! Instead, we have to take time of from work, put in applications, get credit checks, find a babysitter for the kids while we go house/apartment shopping, and sometimes get a babysitter as well. All these things take time and money out of our pockets. Why shouldn't we be compensated, especially when we are not the ones choosing to move?
Apparently only Jack Siegel sees things the same way, because in the end, he was the only one that stayed with wanting no limits.
Some members of the Council talked about getting "Stakeholder Feedback". My understanding of this is that they meant those who own the buildings, because there was plenty of feedback from the community tonight.
I spoke out in favor of 'no limits' for the reasons I mentioned and because the relocation assistance might be the difference between those in the middle class being able to remain in Mountain View or having to relocate. For those who are poor an very poor, the relocation assistance is basically a 'get out of town' payment and that is unfortunate. I think additional programs and/or solutions will be needed to address that problem.
The fact is that according to the City's presentation, the median price for a 1 bedroom is $2170/month. So that means that a person needs to earn about $84,000 for it to be 'affordable'. How many of us make that kind of money?
While I applaud the fact that the City Council is looking at making significant increases in the assistance, as Harry Mudd once said in Star Trek "Twice nothing is still nothing".
We can do better.
Candidate, Mountain View City Council