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Landlords rattled by specter of rent control

Original post made on Aug 19, 2016

With favorable polling and two separate rent stabilization measures going before voters this November, the possibility that Mountain View will enact some form of rent control is causing angst among some apartment owners.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, August 19, 2016, 12:00 AM

Comments (55)

Posted by Would have doubled the rent?
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Aug 19, 2016 at 9:38 am

One landlord laments that he cannot now sell at full price to Wall Street or other New York investors (that would have doubled the rent). GOOD.

Posted by No on Rent Control
a resident of North Whisman
on Aug 19, 2016 at 4:23 pm

I lived in Italy when rent control was in effect. Owners did not want to rent their properties with such restrictions. As a result, there were no available apartments for rent. Housing was available only on the short-term black market. Apartments were furnished and rented as holiday rentals, which was not under rent control. Rent control backfired there, and could do the same here. Restrictions could make Mountain View's apartments prime for Airbnb, and even less available for locals to rent. The City of San Francisco does not have enough staff monitor Airbnb. Would the city of Mountain View be able to enforce rent control?

Posted by Srihari Yamanoor
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 22, 2016 at 12:44 am

These things are so hard on the rich landlords, one cannot but feel sorry for them. I mean $2,400 a month for a pile of rubble just seems too much government control and all that!

Posted by Student
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Aug 22, 2016 at 1:15 am

@Srihari Yamanoor
Imagine paying about $3,500/mo for rent on top of being a full time student and working? Getting only 3 hours of sleep every night is how I'm able to just live in mountain view alone. I rely on food donations and soup kitchens.

Posted by Land Values
a resident of another community
on Aug 22, 2016 at 3:58 am

The Moffett Manor buildings are on 4 parcels of land which combined cover over 1.5 acres of land. The land alone is worth $25 Million. This is a perfect place to develop new housing Rent control doesn't affect the property value at all. Owning the 4 parcels of land together makes them quite valuable. You can level the buildings. They just make it worth less.

Posted by Cry me a river
a resident of North Whisman
on Aug 22, 2016 at 5:03 am

Many landlords were silent on any of the housing issues until an issue came along that *might* affect their future profits. Whether or not renters were experiencing hardships due to the increases were never their concern, and so their real and/or perceived issues are no concern of renters.

While I'm sure there are nice landlords out there (and there are), and I personally would like to see a market without rent control measures, this whole thing reflects a real problem for a lot of people. That landlords didn't care what this massive rent increases did to people makes me unsympathetic. Not vengeful, just not sympathetic to their loss-of-profit arguments. The old "supply and demand" argument -- as if landlords were just innocent participants following market rates... many of them could have conscientiously kept rents at a more reasonable level but chose not to.

Simple fact, you pushed people too far, and this is the result.

Posted by renter in MV
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 22, 2016 at 5:11 am

It is mind-boggling to read complaints of landlords discussing their woes in the millions. It truly amazes me that these owners who responded have no concept of what it is like living paycheck to paycheck as a normal part of life for thousands of renters in MV or how devasting it is for children to be uprooted from their schools and friends. They have so much money and still continue to only worry about losing a few million. Wish I had a few million to lose. "I'll just let this place rot".... what a study in contrast to the dignity of renters who try to maintain the rundown units as the only homes their children will know and remember. I hope the Charter passes with flying colors.

Posted by Reality
a resident of another community
on Aug 22, 2016 at 8:43 am

Charging $2k/month on average, that 56 unit property is pulling in $1.34M/year in rental income. Their property tax is so low it doesn't even register (there are single family homes in MV that pay more than he does) and the landlord is thinking he'll have to let the property rot? Seriously? He's probably making a steady 4% on the $25M value of the land which by the way, he paid nothing for. Except if he sold, he'd have to pay taxes on the proceeds before he could reinvest, so the return is more like 5 or 6% on the after-tax value vs. selling and reinvesting somewhere else? Meanwhile his property value continues to increase? It's hard finding a downside here.

Posted by History, it's no mystery
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2016 at 8:46 am

Economics. Study it.

When it no longer makes economic sense to try and run your business because unreasonable constraints have been placed on your business - by the government, in order to benefit a small percentage of the population - which in turn severely limits your ability to earn income on your business and your investment, which was once a stable asset - all because of the spectre of rent control. And,as a result that once stable business & asset is now rapidly losing value, because NO individual with a head for business would risk investing in a business with a lot of overhead, increased annual costs and maintenance, yet with a hard cap on return on the form of fixed prices for rent aka, rent control.

What will happen when the owners of the older, smaller apartments decide to sell because the economics of rent control is going to force them out of business? Those buildings will be sold to DEVELOPERS with deep pockets, and the first order of business will be that the current tenants WILL BE EVICTED, the old apartments will be demolished, and shiny new multi-story, market rate (EXPENSIVE) NON-RENT CONTROLLED apartments or condos or whatever, will be built in their place.

Don't believe it will happen?

Watch, as your friends and neighbors begin to get eviction notices as those older smaller apartment buildings get sold if rent control passes.

Go ahead, demonize, malign, cast aspersions etc. upon the owners of these smaller older apartment buildings here in Mountain View. Calling people names is not going to change reality, and reality here is economics based, whether you like it or not, And again, whether you like it or not, those landlords OWN their property and their business, plain and simple.

IMHO, you should be hoping those smaller apartment owners do not sell, because the fallout from that is sure to be mass evictions as those small apartment buildings get demolished and removed from the housing stock here in Mountain View and replaced with market rate - non rent controlled housing.

But, please, carry on with your shrill demonizing of those who have invested their life savings into property here in Mountain View, and are providing service for people here - a place for them to live. And some here see fit to castigate a owner about how much money their business and/asset is worth? Really?

Grow up.

Posted by True history
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2016 at 9:12 am

Hey History Tescher,

Your same arguments were used to prevent the abolition of slavery. Also, woman's right to vote, indentured servitude, anti-monopoly laws and the list goes on.

It's a good thing that this is America and there are checks and balances to keep the likes of you from turning us into a disaster (yet free market) like Somolia. Please keep pretending you are educated and not just regurgitating Fox News! It's so funny!

Posted by History, it's no mystery
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2016 at 9:25 am

Watch, as the rhetoric gets turned up, but all we are really hearing is personal attacks, nothing of substance. Ignore the noise and listen to the truth, it resonates loud and clear.

Incidentally, 35 states have laws expressly prohibiting rent control, and 11 additional states have no laws expressly prohibiting it, but there is not rent control in those states.

46 out of 50 states in our nation understand the folly that is rent control.

Left is not always right. Think about it.

Posted by Linda Curtis
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 22, 2016 at 11:27 am

Linda Curtis is a registered user.

@"History, it's no mystery" sure has it right for a myriad of reasons.

@Lands Value-

"rent control doesn't affect the value at all"

Yes it does, because rent control affects the actual price of the property, even if it is only to be torn down. Sounds ridiculous, but that's what experts in this area tell me. Guess they use some antiquated old formula.

@ "Reality" (far from it) and "Renter in MV" and "Cry Me A River" and all the negative, hateful others:

Why does the assumption persist that apartment "owners" had the money to pay cash or in any way "own" free and clear? Many are mortgaged to the hilt and can end up forced into a "short sale" that would really mess up their tenants. Imagine a bank becoming your landlord. Banks don't do repairs on short sales, or care about tenants, or anyone they've loaned money to. It's a harsh world everywhere.

What I brought into at the height of the market, on credit, just before the dot com bubble burst, has (with the exception of my one unit which I've never had to paint or fix up in any way in 40+ years), only been made better: more accommodating, more beautiful and improved in so many ways. By me. Not by the partners I went in with 40+ years ago who used me as slave labor- hard labor, for 35 years. I've forced myself to continue the heavy labor, plus paid others to help work, too, to continue improvements and repairs that my tightwad partners never made. I've always been a renter and very poor, so I empathize with all who struggle, not the rich, which I sure am not. I care about residents here, that's why the rents here are kept stable. But I'm the one who hasn't had it so good. The partners did not even give me any free rent for all my work, much less any pay! I've had to work jobs, like a fry cook, that forced me up a 4:00 AM so I could work full time, and maybe two jobs, plus do all of the work here: Painting whole apartments, scrubbing appliances inside and out, washing windows, waxing and polishing floors the hard way, roof work, tree work endlessly, etc., etc. And all I've done is get even deeper in debt. I'll never get the mortgage paid off or ever make any money to retire on. So why would you want to alienate someone like me who identifies with those who also struggle and has always helped them? Do not imagine things like all property "owners" are rich. The banks are rich.

And no, I'm not trying to sell. I would have no place to live if I sold. The building and the debts it has incurred for me would maybe almost be paid off if I sold, but I would be left broke and homeless after more than 40 years of working everyday and nearly every single weekend, only taking "stay-cations" that were frequently interrupted with tenants' needs, affording to drive a car that was always decades old, always used to having holes in my clothes and in my shoes, and worse. Then now I discover that what I worked for is worth half of what I "brought" it for, and will never pay enough to offset my increasing debts.

I say this not to seek pity or sympathy. This is so people who don't have a clue can hear the other side of the story for once.

Until you've been on both sides of this issue, don't presume to know and then to judge me, or anyone else. With so many deserving greedy targets, don't take it out on me, in debt up to my forehead with no hope of ever making headway.

I even gave up having a family since my partners threatened to throw me out immediately (they never gave me a written contract) if I added kids or anyone to my unit. Sure, that's illegal as hell, but what could I do? Best I could do might have been to resist for three months, like a squatter, and then have to hit the streets with zero money for first, last or security deposit or anything. Reporting them would have really made things worse in so many ways. If you knew them you would understand how.

Don't mock others being honest with criticism based on the broadest assumptions and just plain, pure prejudice.

Posted by BD
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 22, 2016 at 2:02 pm

Landlords will set the initial rental amounts higher to compensate for the low increases in future years. Limiting rent increases to CPI also won't cover major repairs on 21 year old buildings, so tenants may end up living in units with significantly deferred maintenance. Lower quality for higher cost - like San Francisco. It's hard to feel bad for landlords, but I don't really think these measures are going to help tenants, either.

Posted by Mr. Big
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 22, 2016 at 2:08 pm

Hey 1%, the 99% are sick of your greed and are NOT going to take it anymore. We will unite and defeat you as history has shown time after time when the greed of the wealthy gets to the point where the poor can't even afford to eat.

The Revolution is here... be very afraid... we are legion...

Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 22, 2016 at 2:20 pm

Eh.. I'm totally against rent control because I'm a fan of freedom. That includes a person being able to do whatever they want with their property. You leave me alone, I'll leave you alone. That's fair.

But rent control doesn't really work. Rent is still high in places where rent is controlled. I have friends who lived in rent controlled units in San Francisco and guess what? They're still broke and still had to move..

Market Forces will not be denied.. no matter how hard you try. If you can't afford to live in Mountain View, move someplace you can afford. That's why I'm in Mountain View. I couldn't afford to live in Atherton.

See how that works?

Posted by No on Rent Control
a resident of North Whisman
on Aug 22, 2016 at 2:24 pm

I lived in Italy when rent control was in effect. Owners did not want to rent their properties with such restrictions. As a result, there were no available apartments for rent. Housing was available only on the short-term black market. Apartments were furnished and rented as holiday rentals, which was not under rent control. Rent control backfired there, and could do the same here. Restrictions could make Mountain View's apartments prime for Airbnb, and even less available for locals to rent. The City of San Francisco does not have enough staff to monitor Airbnb. Would the city of Mountain View be able to enforce rent control?

Posted by mvresident2003
a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 22, 2016 at 2:44 pm

mvresident2003 is a registered user.

What mr Noack fails to mention In his "poetic justice" is that renters have the choice and option to move if they can't afford to pay the rents. Owners, who took the risk and made the investment, cannot just walk away.


Posted by Learn Economics
a resident of another community
on Aug 22, 2016 at 2:48 pm

For those that want to impose rent control to "get back at greedy landlords" you will only make the problem worse. If you artificially hold prices low, it will not make business sense to rent and you will decrease the amount of supply of rental properties.

If you really want to drive down prices, make it very easy to enter the market and let competition do its thing to drive down prices. If you don't believe me, look at the consumer electronics market. It used to cost $10,000 for a 48" 480p plasma TV. Because of that, dozens of manufacturers jumped in and the price of a 70" 4K TV is around $2000 now. They're pretty much giving away 720p TVs.

Competition will lower prices, forced regulation will just lower the supply and make the problem worse.

Posted by Sad
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 22, 2016 at 2:52 pm

In anticipation of the November vote for rent control, my landlord just raised my rent $1000. We will have to move. Not surprisingly, the house right across the street just sold. It was bought by a couple with no children who both work at Google. It's like a slap across the face. We have lived there for 9 years. I grew up in MV, and have been in this area since 1965.

Posted by Why Stop at Rent Control
a resident of another community
on Aug 22, 2016 at 3:09 pm

Why stop at just controlling rents? Why not place a limit on how much restaurants can charge for food or gas stations for gas? How about limits on how much Google can charge for ads? Or how about limiting the profit someone can make from selling their home or their business?

Only then will we achieve the socialist manifesto and drive out all the innovation and entrepreneurship that has fueled growth and made this such a vibrant area and important part of the world economy. We'll then be left with an abundance of cheap housing since all the jobs will have moved away.

Posted by Ignorance
a resident of another community
on Aug 22, 2016 at 3:21 pm

It's less disruptive to a landlord to sell a building than it is for a renter to move. Landlords are free to invest in another city. Funny how these ones coming forward inherited their buildings that were built with FHA money on free land. They don't even have to pay taxes if they sell. They can do a section 1031 Starker exchange and keep their basis intact. Ah, the poor landlords.

Posted by Michael
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 22, 2016 at 3:28 pm

@Sad: I'm very sorry to hear about your situation. Measure V takes into account this kind of predatory behavior by landlords, and therefore would roll back any rent increases that have taken place since October 19, 2015. If the city's measure passes, it might help you as well (I don't know exactly how it is worded). So I hope you can hang on and help pass Measure V, get your money back, and remain in our community. If you can't, that is indeed sad, and a good illustration of why tenants require the kind of protection that Measure V affords.

Posted by Learn Economics
a resident of another community
on Aug 22, 2016 at 3:53 pm

@Ignorance - Selling the building is easy? If the new owner is not going to be able to make money from it because of artificially restricted rent levels, who the heck in their right mind would buy that building?

Here is what will happen. If he can't make money off the property, the landlord will let each lease run out and not renew them. Once the building is empty, convert to condos and sell them off that way. Now all those rental units are off the market for good and only available through each individual owner if they decide to rent.

Happy now?

Posted by Another view
a resident of North Whisman
on Aug 22, 2016 at 4:12 pm

The rent control debate is starting to rise to the expected levels of vitriol, glittering generalities, and righteous indignation. But we're missing the point here. Those who lead have led us into a grossly imbalanced community where office space grows by leaps and bounds but housing stock stumbles along as a snail's pace. Until work-space and living-space are more in balance, we'll be faced with heavy handed strategies like rent control or tolerating escalating rents.
At some point we have to deal with the cause and not just the symptom. How about a ballot measure that limits office space growth to the size of the housing stock? For the City, office space is an income source, but housing stock is a liability (housing requires infrastructure, schools, libraries, parks, etc.). If city leaders are not acting rationally or reasonable, maybe the populace should rein them in rather than just to control landlords.

Posted by MyOpinion
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Aug 22, 2016 at 5:19 pm

MyOpinion is a registered user.

I am in tears sitting here reading Grant Huberty's sad story, the poor man living in Woodside counting all that cash. Must be a real hardship...
give me a break

With that said I do agree with him that newer apartments should not be exempt the newer places are the worst offenders, Carmel Village at San Antonio was listing their 500sf studios at ~3K per month... obscene.

I am a landlord with 3 properties (meaning units) , I have no trouble seeing the big guys take a hit.

Posted by My View Neighbor
a resident of North Whisman
on Aug 22, 2016 at 5:31 pm

It's amazing to me that renters insist that rents, already lower than the cost of a mortgage and taxes, should not increase with the rest of the market. Please, renters, as you're judging landlords, feel free to get your own mortgage. Once you've had a margate, rents don't seem high.

Posted by Off the fence!
a resident of North Whisman
on Aug 22, 2016 at 6:09 pm

I wasn't sure about whether to vote for rent control, but now that I've seen every local right-winger completely opposed, it is clear what the correct choice is.

Oh, and I'm not forgetting all the self-proclaimed Democrats, whom call themselves that to avoid complete embarrassment among their peers. They are very conservative and agree with Fox News more than disagree.

Posted by Gardener
a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 22, 2016 at 6:11 pm

Gardener is a registered user.

After 18 years in the area my wife and I are planning on leaving Mountain View in the coming year. The cost of living (mainly housing) is simply too high to justify living here any longer, even on a good salary.

We're sad to leave but I'm still planning on voting against rent control. Rent control is a misguided attempt to try to solve the problem of housing costs. I understand that the Mountain View Tenants Coalition is trying to help and this is the only way they think they can since the NIMBY homeowners and city council refuse to approve sufficient housing growth.

Unfortunately the only way to reduce housing costs is to reduce demand or increase supply. So far this and neighboring cities have shown no desire to increase supply to meet demand. We're going to do our part to reduce demand by moving somewhere cheaper.

Though we rent here (and have housemates) I am a small-time landlord (3 properties) in a distant state where the cost of living is about a tenth of what it is here. I have never raised the rent on my tenants in 8 years of ownership but if rent control were enacted I would most certainly sell get out of real estate there.

Posted by Howard Hirsch
a resident of another community
on Aug 22, 2016 at 8:08 pm

I have an interesting perspective on all this. I lived in a rented apartment at 1776 California Street in MV from 1981-83 while working up on Page Mill Road in Palo Alto. I paid $450 a month back then. I remember the constant parade of vans and U-Hauls every Saturday on the street moving new tenants in and old ones out. The apartment next door to me turned over four times in my twenty months there, suggesting a vibrant rental market.

Years later I bought a house and was the homeowner representative on the rent control board in Ewing Township, NJ, a suburb of Trenton, in 1992-93. We had very limited jurisdiction as there were very few units (only 4+ unit buildings) were covered by the ordinance, and we had hardly any complaints brought before us. I was always opposed to rent control, and disclosed this to the mayor, but he didn't seem concerned and appointed me anyway.

The most prominent flaw in the ordinance was that rent increases were limited to one-half the increase in the average of consumer price indices for New York and Philadelphia, thus insuring that rents would always be cheaper in constant dollar terms.

Given California's (and especially Silicon Valley's) ongoing lurch to the Left, I fully expect this measure to pass. Too made MV's residents don't understand the mistake they're making.

Posted by Gardener
a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 22, 2016 at 9:26 pm

Gardener is a registered user.

@Howard Hirsch

I appreciate the insight your experience provides. However, I'm a bit saddened by your last sentence. I hadn't considered this a left versus right issue but maybe I'm naive because I avoid partisan politics. Does this have to be a left versus right issue? Can't it be decided purely on the data and experiences of other communities?

Posted by ann
a resident of another community
on Aug 22, 2016 at 9:32 pm is rent control even legal...its mind boggling that a tenant or a city can tell a property owner what he can charge for his own property... whats control on office or commercial space? or how much you can sell your house for.... if Mountain View passes this.....i think it is a HUGE mistake

Posted by Who Provides For Whom??
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 22, 2016 at 9:51 pm

Landlords have gotten away with murder, so to speak, far too long. Let them find real work instead of living off the labor of tenants. No apartment in the Bay Area is any longer worth what the landlords charge. But then that's how profit is made: by charging more than the true value of what is sold... or rented. The value of an apartment or any commodity for that matter is one thing. The price is entirely another. And prices are not set by "supply & demand" as the conventional wisdom holds and as landlords would love us to believe -- as though they are simply innocent bystanders in a natural process. Prices are set by THEM according to one dictum: "What can we get away with?" That is the one and only operating principle for landlords with few exceptions and those few only prove the rule.

So all power to the tenants. In a better world, in a sane world, we tenants would have owned the properties by now since it is we and only we who pay all the taxes, all the maintenance, all the profit, all the everything. We have paid many times over and the LL's should be grateful we have not taken over whats rightfully ours in a revolution. Revolutions DO happen when workers are pressed to the wall, as someone else here noted. that is history. So, landlords, don't push us to the wall. "Whatever we can get away with" will be turned on you, I guarantee.

Landlords are merely investors, parasites mainly. Let them work for a living. The landlord-tenant relationship is a crystallization of the class conflict inherent in capitalism, no different from the struggle between labor and capital. Who truly provides for who?

Not only should there be rent control and strong Just Cause eviction laws, there should be a massive rollback of rents to before 2012 levels. Thats unlikely to happen at this beginning stage of tenant organization, but get this: I am sick and tired of forking over massive rents and rent increases to landlords for doing nothing other than owning. THEY MAKE MY LIFE MORE DIFFICULT. BOTTOM LINE.....As well as the lives of millions of others. Then we are hit with rightwing claptrap that we are lazy and stupid for not being able to make ends meet as they jack up rents and prices. And as as I said there is the true price and the "what can we get away with price". Sorry, no tears for landlords. This is a situation of their own making. Tenants have NO CHOICE but to fight back and that's what we are doing. As landlords are fond of saying when they inflate rents: "Take it or leave it!" TENANTS UNITE! YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BUT YOUR LANDLORDS.

Posted by Who provides for whom?
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 22, 2016 at 10:04 pm

oh, and one more thing.... it occurs to me that before I can support myself and my family, As a tenant I am compelled to first support my landlord and his family. I get to live on the leftovers if any. But it must be my fault, I must be lazy in that I make only $60,000 a year which not long ago was ok. Now its crap thanks to landlords and other "entrepreneurs" intent on not working for a living and instead having others work for them. How about landlords developing a little work ethic? Last time I looked, when your livelihood is completely provided by others, and all you have to do is collect rent and offer leases (haaaard work indeed) its called "welfare". And I just love it how almost all landlords call themselves "small" landlords because they "only" own X number of properties, charging us through the nose. Should we care that they are "small"?? what freaking difference does it make? Theft is theft. Hey Mom & Pop! How's about giving the working class a break!?

Posted by History, it's no mystery
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2016 at 10:32 pm

Most of us live off leftovers. What do you think is the first thing a homeowner has to support every month? Homeowners who carry a mortgage are compelled to support the bank who carries the mortgage, pay the insurance required by the lender, pay all utilities, and holdback monies for property taxes (no small sum). Any scraps that are leftover can either be used to pay for medical bills, food, maintenance, auto repairs, children's school needs, etc. etc.

Owning a home or being a landlord does not necessarily mean one does not struggle to make ends meets. To infer as much is ridiculous.

Posted by Wow
a resident of Waverly Park
on Aug 22, 2016 at 10:36 pm

Wow. Just wow. I am seriously scared that there is such a contingency of people like "who provides for whom" who actually feel this way, think this way.

Question for you "who provides for whom". When these same "greedy landlords" were running negative rents after the .com bust (just one example, there have been other times as well), what would you say then? Would you say, as a tenant, Hey Mr Landlord, looks like you're not getting enough in rent to cover your expenses, let me cut back from supporting my family and help you out.

No. You wouldn't. You'd be happy you had cheap rent.

You people amaze me. You have absolutely no concept of investment, risk and income/expenses. I just honestly, frankly, completely cannot believe the things I'm hearing! It's scary. Downright scary.

Posted by New Parent
a resident of Rex Manor
on Aug 22, 2016 at 11:19 pm

Small rental building landlords have mortgage to pay, and have to fix up the units that are trashed by renters lot of times. There is lots of work involved. I know what is like because I own a few rental units.

Many landlords start as tenant for years, and they are not different than most renters who have a full time job. Those landlord invest their time and saving in real estate that is available in the market. At the beginning, the mortgage is cover up to their eyebrow. It's not the kind of risk everyone like to take. In 2009 market crash, many property owners went under because their renters move out their properties to better and cheaper places. The ones who survived has to run on negative cash flow for years before they see the change. As a landlord, we did not blame tenant more moving to another places that were cheaper and better. I think renter will understand the situation better when they own their home one day hopefully.

I am not sure people understand this: the cost for running the rental increase year over year--- thanks to the our government. The increase of cost get passed down to renter in the form a rent increase.

Posted by I-Got-mine
a resident of North Whisman
on Aug 22, 2016 at 11:54 pm

Not surprised at the rancor of people from the LEFT COAST as the rest of the US calls it. With rent control comes the beginning of SOCIALIZATION as espoused by Karl Marx. ( at Foothill College,I had to defend Karl Marx for my final project in Debate/Public Speaking ).

What many people do not know is the money you pay for RENT is more than the payment for BUYING A HOUSE OR CONDO in other tech heavy places like Denver. When my parents die, their children will get a cool $million for that corner lot which happens to be next to Moffett Manor. I expect after we sell, our house for over 40 years will be demolished to be added to the Moffett Manor properties. Our family still owns 700 acres in Wisconsin that we rent out. We know the other side of the argument of rent control; nobody complains about the 40 acre parcels rent we charge. We are considered " kinfolk " up there. Think back 40 years; we lend and borrow tools knowing they will be in the same condition when we get them back. That kind of place.

The obvious solution : find the companies out of California businesses they do and move out to the other operation; even Google has a site in Boulder. Boulder even shares some of your Left Coast ideas.

I saw this strong possibility 40 years ago when I was not able to afford housing there in Mountain View; I could live cheaper when Cray Research gave me an offer I couldn't refuse. $79,000 for a nice tri-level house 5 min. away from Cray Research and 10 min. from the boat ramp on Lake Wissota.When Cray Research folded up, our family moved to Colorado: $99,000 for a bi-level; 30 min. to Boulder. I ran into too much " Smug " in Boulder. So we left to go to Evergreen, $153,000 for a " fixer upper ".

The point is that the rest of the US and other countries have better opportunities and more reasonable costs of living. I COULD rent out the bottom half of the house and become an EVIL landlord....

Simple SUPPLY AND DEMAND Economics; Go East on I-80, South on I-25. There are plenty of areas to choose from and the DTC has been building more nearby housing to meet the demand...the way it should be. Bike to work? yes, RTD to downtown? yes. The only 45 minute commute is to the ski areas West of the Denver Metro area.

Posted by Hippo
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 23, 2016 at 1:47 am

Moving is a stupid suggestion, it's a proven fact that long commutes (20+ mins) make people unhappy, no matter how rich they are.

If landlords sell and developers build condos, that's win-win, more supply of condos will stabilize prices and more can buy rather than rent.
And good riddance all those rentals are as pretty as vomit.

If you have invested in real estate to rent out, what are you complaining about? Any investment has risks, you miscalculated why should the government protect you?

Those that inherited property, guess what you are the welfare queen in the room, with government giving you taxpayer money in the form of cheap taxes.

Posted by Duke
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 23, 2016 at 9:35 am


Price controls remain the most controversial element of a system of rent regulation. Historically, economists such as Adam Smith and David Ricardo viewed landlords as producing very little that was valuable, and so regarded "rents" as an exploitative concept. Modern rent controls were intended to protect tenants in privately owned residential properties from excessive rent increases by mandating gradual rent increases, while at the same time ensuring that landlords receive a return on their investment that is deemed fair by the controlling authority (which might, or might not be a legislature). Sometimes called rent leveling or rent stabilization, rent regulation is argued to promote social stability by slowing displacement in booming economic cycles.

It is argued by most economists, including a number of neo-classical and Keynesian economists that some forms of rent control creates shortages and exacerbate scarcity in the housing market by discouraging private investment in the rental market. This analysis targeted nominal rent freezes, and the studies conducted were mainly focused on rental prices in Manhattan or elsewhere in the United States. These studies were criticized on the basis that poorer standards in housing conditions were also seen in states which had no rent controls, and so the evidence was inconclusive in demonstrating a causal link.

Evidence based studies, particularly conducted by a few American economists in the 1990s found that new methods of regulation, allowing for nominal rent increases in defined situations (for instance, linked to inflation or behind wage rises) were "so different, they should be evaluated largely independently of the experience with first-generation rent controls" studied in the 1970s. A view at the time was that "a well-designed rent control can be beneficial".

Regardless, studies of opinions held by economists still show a near universal consensus on the ineffectiveness of rent control, both first generation and second generation. According to Gregory Mankiw the statement, "A ceiling on rents reduces the quantity and quality of housing available" is believed by 93% of economists, and has the highest consensus rate on the survey.

Posted by Economy
a resident of another community
on Aug 23, 2016 at 10:12 am

It depends on what you measure as to whether rent control is effective. The local
markets are not operating efficiently because there is such a huge imbalance in buildings for corporations and jobs versus residences. If your theory is people should live far away and commute in, then there's no need to worry about giving landlords a return on
residential properties. They should all be converted to business use to create still more
jobs. Rent control could be effective at encouraging that, but that would run afoul of what little zoning controls there are in limiting business growth.....

SO in other words, all bets are off in such an unstable situation. Rent control doesn't have to be justified economically, as the current situation itself can't be and isn't getting any better with or without rent control. If rent control is unpleasant it could be a motivator to take action to really make a difference.

Posted by Save our schools, Vote YES on V
a resident of Rex Manor
on Aug 23, 2016 at 10:27 am

Homeowner here.

Our schools have 20% teacher turn over EACH year for the last 3 years. The number one reason cited for leaving is the high cost of housing. If we lose our experienced teachers, expect that the quality of our kids' education will decline.

No matter how much more we pay teachers - it will not help if the landlords just raise rent even more.

But its not just schools.

Landlords are destroying the fabric of MV. Our small businesses cannot compete if they have to pay so much just so their workers can pay rent.

Going out to eat can be cut back if the price gets too high; and restaurant owners will have no choice but raise prices so their workers can pay the rent.

Already it is hard to find dishwashers and servers at a price that downtown restaurants can afford. Rents that go up 80% in the last 7 years make it even more impossible.

Do we really want a downtown with only offices? This is what happens if landlords continue to price gouge.

Posted by Deniece Smith
a resident of Shoreline West
on Aug 23, 2016 at 10:28 am

Our local renters need help and they need it yesterday. Rent control is NOT the answer. It would only create a small patch then open a bigger wound. It fools those who do not understand long-term effects.

I support providing every possible unit we can provide through decreasing regulation on granny units and separate units that owners can build on their lots. I support maximizing units provided on unused land where general support (fire, police, etc.) are also added to ensure continued safety.

When our proposed rent control is only placed on buildings built before 1995, it would cause big developers to buy out the smaller owners and tear the older buildings down, the ones with the rent control, to build new units that do not have rent control. This would mean even less available low rents.

Rent control takes away the money necessary to maintain buildings and keep up the grounds. Historically it has shown to be the cause of dilapidated buildings, which, in-turn encourage neighbors not to maintain their properties either. Then, the renters live in even worse conditions, unhealthy conditions.

There are better ways to help tenants. Let's do them now! Encourage council to change the regulations on granny units and eliminate the fees that discourage owners to build. Tenants win. Landlords win. The city wins.

When we choose one group to lose over another winning, it's never the answer.

Posted by Linda Curtis
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 23, 2016 at 10:30 am

Linda Curtis is a registered user.

@Mr. Big-

You think any landlords on this blog are the 1%? Ha.

The actual 1% manipulate the working class to turn them against each other while they stay above the fray. You play into their hands perfectly. You talk of revolutions. Have you actually studied history? How have those revolutions really helped anybody but the officials who come into power afterwards? Lots of graft and corruption, oh joy.

You're probably just a troll having fun by being way out there, so we will get back to the actual discussion now.

Posted by Linda Curtis
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 23, 2016 at 10:34 am

Linda Curtis is a registered user.

Real discussion: Deniece Smith has it right.

Posted by Jean-Francois Cornil, FYI, Landlords
a resident of another community
on Aug 23, 2016 at 11:58 am

[Post removed due to promoting a website]

Posted by Candice
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Aug 23, 2016 at 5:17 pm

I just read through the proposed rent control (Measure V) on the November ballot. Has anyone here even read it closely? It’s kinda scary what’s being proposed. Some of the things I noticed:

The arguments for rent control at the beginning seem misleading:

Using average rents for the area which includes thousands of apartments exempt from rent control since they were built after 1995 and likely charge two or three times the typical rent for an older apartment building.

References to our “area median income” (the highest in the nation @ $93,500) which includes millionaires and billionaires who aren’t renting Mountain View apartments yet their income is used as a factor in claiming the majority of renters earn less than 80% of the area median income. Well, duh!

Whoever drafted Measure V used outdated housing and income data from 2007-2011 to argue for rent control when that time frame reflects the worst economy in the nation’s history (besides the Great Depression) and doesn’t reflect the present-day economy. There is more recent data available.

The General Plan Housing Element for Mountain View is cited as a justification for rent control yet there is no recommendation of a rent stabilization ordinance that I could find.

A study by Bay Area governments projecting the need for housing 25 years from now was used as justification for rent control.

People living in poverty and/or living in cars (unemployed) was used as justification for rent control when the Supreme Court has made it clear that poverty is a public burden to be shared by all residents, and not the sole responsibility of certain landlords.

Other issues:

The Rental Housing Committee would be a completely autonomous group of five people with absolutely no accountability to the City of Mountain View; City Council, City Manager or City Attorney. The Committee would be skewed in favor of tenants 3 to 2.

Three committee members can constitute a quorum which leaves the possibility of no representation on the committee for landlords during a hearing or appeal.

The Committee can set any budget they deem necessary or desirable. Hire employees, retain attorneys and assess fees and penalties to landlords with no accountability to the City whatsoever and absolutely no limit on what operating expenses are passed along to landlords owning properties built before 1995. Moreover the landlords must absorb the cost of these annual per unit assessments.

The Committee alone selects “Hearing Officers” to field complaints and render judgments on issues before the body. The only recourse is a judicial appeal using the court system. Was this whole thing devised by attorneys?

There is no mechanism to remove a Rental Housing Committee member for cause. Their appointment is permanent.

If a judicial court determines that any part of the Article is unenforceable or illegal, the Rental Housing Committee is free to replace it with something different even though it was not voted on by the citizens.

A landlord can not justify any rent increase due to an interest rate increase on their commercial mortgage despite the nature of commercial mortgages almost always being adjustable rates (I work for a lender).

There’s a “right to fair return guaranteed” for the landlord’s investment yet there is no reference in the Article to what constitutes a fair return. It’s undefined and obviously begs for lawsuit after lawsuit.

Multiple citywide surveys would have to be conducted any time the vacancy rate for “controlled” apartments approaches, exceeds or recedes from a 5% threshold. Who knows if that’s the case unless surveys are done regularly?

Six or twelve month leases will no longer be required of landlords since this Article would replace all housing related ordinances in the City of Mountain View.

A landlord who happens to hold their property in a trust, LLC or corporation can not exercise their right to “move-in” a parent, themselves or a child based on Section 1705(a)(7)(A) since title is not held by a “natural” person.

Measure V would become an amendment to the city charter and can’t be changed without another vote by the citizens or a court order.

I really find this Measure V on the ballot to be way over the top. I can’t imagine any other business in our city putting up with price controls and intrusion like this. The fact that our city has allowed millions of commercial square feet to be built without giving a second thought to how that would impact our housing is simply irresponsible and reckless.

I will definitely vote NO on Measure V. I’m still undecided about Measure W. At least Measure W is overseen by our city government and open to revision if something in it doesn’t work as intended. It also preserves protective leases for tenants in our city. I don’t want to lose my little apartment because of all these unpredictable changes. My landlord has been more than fair to me. I hope our relationship doesn’t change because of this. I don't think they're even aware of any of these possibilities since they live out of the area.

Crazy local politics!

Posted by Misleading
a resident of another community
on Aug 23, 2016 at 6:25 pm

The apartments built since 1995 charge more than those built before based on how MUCH after 1995 and how much before 1995 the respective units were built.

But still, the newer units aren't renting for 2 to 3 times as much if they are the same size and have the same amenities. If an older unit is rundown, than it goes for less. If it has been maintained and can be shared, it gets the same rent as a similar newer apartment. You find more cases of well paid individuals sharing in the newer units because they were built to be shared more than the older unis.

Posted by Lifelong Renter
a resident of another community
on Aug 23, 2016 at 9:09 pm

"What will happen when the owners of the older, smaller apartments decide to sell because the economics of rent control is going to force them out of business? Those buildings will be sold to DEVELOPERS with deep pockets, and the first order of business will be that the current tenants WILL BE EVICTED, the old apartments will be demolished, and shiny new multi-story, market rate (EXPENSIVE) NON-RENT CONTROLLED apartments or condos or whatever, will be built in their place." —History, it's no mystery


I think the following comment proves History's point:

"Neighbors- if you happen to be an apartment property owner or asset/property manager and you would consider selling your building, please reach out to me. We are actively looking to acquire larger apartment communities in the 50-200 unit range on the peninsula, South Bay or San Francisco. This particular market cycle is very favorable to owners looking to cash out or trade into another asset. Thanks very much. Looking forward to hearing from you." — Jean-Francois Cornil, FYI, Landlords

* * *

Full disclosure: I am a lifelong renter in the bay area and I do not own any real estate anywhere and I am not associated or related to any landlord, to any realtor, to any developer, to any banker, to any city council member, or to any investor who has interests in real estate.

I suspect the rent control measures in Mountain View and in Burlingame will mainly benefit those parties that I suspect brought forth the rent control measures: Realtors, developers, banks, cities, relevant investors, and possibly other parties with financial interests in bay area real estate.

Banks will finance only housing that they consider to be luxury. Developers sometimes fail to build low income housing that they promise to include in luxury housing and city council members have sometimes overlooked this oversight.

I suspect the cities of Mountain View and Burlingame hope to collect higher property taxes once new apartment buildings (e.g., luxury housing) are built on the former grounds of older apartment buildings. Other cities will follow suit.

Do city council members give themselves a raise every time they approve of projects that generate more money for their respective cities? Who are their major campaign contributors? For whom will the members work once they leave office? I have noticed that realtors and developers consistently appear to be big contributors to bay area city council members' election campaigns.

As for the rent control measure in Mountain View, the clue is in this caveat: The rules under the rent control measure would affect only apartments that were built before 1995.

Ironically, the rent control in Mountain View and in Burlingame will likely cause:

* developers to build more luxury housing (which I suspect many bay area renters cannot afford) in place of more affordable existing housing;

* higher rents; and

* higher property taxes (included in rental costs).

Cui bono?

Vote NO on rent control.

Posted by Kyle
a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 23, 2016 at 10:05 pm

A landlord of a property that's 20x the value of my house and pays the same property tax as me, gets market rate housing people with kids who fill up seats in schools......

BOO HOO. Cry harder. Now I'm definitely voting for rent control. Prop 13 is a scourge and needs to be amended to not apply to commercial real estate or non-primary residences.

Posted by Please read!
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 24, 2016 at 12:09 am

I keep reading that the committee will be selected by the organization that has started the initiative. Linda Curtis stated this and it was echoed again in this discussion.

Can someone please point me to the verbiage in Measure V that supports this claim? All I see in the text of the initiative is that the committee will be APPOINTED BY THE CITY COUNCIL!

There is also text in the initiative allowing the rents to be raised to allow for repairs and a "reasonable rate of investment return".

Nobody arguing against Measure V appears to have actually READ it or they would know better.

Maybe I'm wrong? Prove it. Point out the exact text that supports these errant claims.

Posted by Amelia
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 24, 2016 at 6:52 am

What an amusing article. Guy's family buys apartment complex in 1960s. Probably still paying 1960s property tax rate. Guy gets to increase rents for his rentors while his own rent does not increase. Guy is angry that someone might stop the 50-year gravy train.

Posted by You've been warned
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 24, 2016 at 8:26 am

To the person asking about how the Rental Housing Committee is appointed:

(a) Composition. There shall be in the City of Mountain View an appointed Rental
Housing Committee comprised of Mountain View residents as set forth in this Section. The Committee shall consist of five (5) Committee members appointed by the City Council, and an alternate Committee member. The alternate Committee member shall be permitted to attend all Committee meetings and to speak, but not be authorized to vote unless a regular member of the Committee is absent at that meeting or is recused from voting on an agenda item. There shall be no
more than two (2) members of the Committee that own or manage any rental property, or that are realtors or developers. Anyone nominated to this Committee must be in compliance with this Article and all other local, state and federal laws regulating the provision of housing. Annually, the Committee shall elect one of its members to serve as chairperson.

(b) Eligibility and Appointment. Committee members shall be appointed by the City
Council at a public meeting. Applicants for membership on the Committee shall submit an application to the City Council. The application shall include a statement under penalty of perjury of the applicant's interests and dealings in real property, including but not limited to, ownership, trusteeship, sale, or management, and investment in and association with partnerships, corporations, joint ventures, and syndicates engaged in ownership, sale, or management of real
property during the three years immediately prior to the applicant’s application. This documentation shall be made available to the public.

(c) Term of Office. Committee Members shall serve terms of four (4) years and may
be reappointed for a total of two (2) full terms. Committee member terms shall be staggered. Therefore, initial appointments shall consist of two (2) members with two-year terms, an alternate with a two-year term, and three (3) members with four-year terms.

(d) Powers and Duties. The Committee shall have the following powers and duties:
(1) Set Rents at fair and equitable levels to achieve the purposes of this Article.
Notwithstanding any other provision of this Article, the Committee shall have the
authority to adopt regulations authorizing Rent increases and/or adjustments
required by state or federal law. (2) Establish rules and regulations for administration and enforcement of this Article. (3) Determine and publicize the Annual General Adjustment pursuant to this Article. (4) Appoint Hearing Officers to conduct hearings on Petitions for Individual Rent Adjustment pursuant to this Article. (5) Adjudicate Petitions pursuant to Sections 1710 and 1711 herein and issue decisions with orders for appropriate relief pursuant to this Article.
(6) Administer oaths and affirmations and subpoena witnesses and relevant
documents. (7) Establish a budget for the reasonable and necessary implementation of the provisions of this Article, including without limitation the hiring of necessary staff, and charge fees as set forth herein in an amount sufficient to support that budget. (8) Administer the withdrawal process for the removal of Rental Units from the rental housing market pursuant to Subsection 1705(a)(8) herein. (9) Hold public hearings. (10) Conduct studies, surveys, investigations, and hearings, and obtain information to further the purposes of this Article.
(11) Report periodically to the City Council on the status of Covered Rental
Units. Reports shall include (a) a summary of the numbers of termination of
tenancy notices served pursuant to Section 1705 of this Article, including the bases upon which they were served, (b) a summary of any and all Petitions submitted to and/or decided by a Hearing Officer and/or the Committee pursuant to Sections
1710 and 1711, including the bases on which the Petitions were submitted and the
determinations on the Petitions. (12) Publicize through reasonable and appropriate means the provisions of this Article, including without limitation the rights and responsibilities of Landlords and Tenants. (13) Establish a schedule of penalties that may be imposed for noncompliance with this Article or with rules and regulations promulgated under this Article. (14) Pursue civil remedies as provided by this Article in courts of appropriate jurisdiction, subject to City Council approval. (15) Intervene as an interested party in any litigation brought before a court of appropriate jurisdiction by a Landlord or Tenant with respect to Covered Rental Units, subject to City Council approval. (16) Any other duties necessary to administer and enforce this Article.

(e) Rules and Regulations. The Committee shall issue and follow such rules and
regulations as will further the purposes of the Article.

(f) Meetings. The Committee shall hold regularly scheduled meetings as necessary to
ensure the performance of its duties under this Article. All regular and special meetings shall be called and conducted in accordance with state law.

(g) Quorum. Three (3) members shall constitute a quorum for the Committee.

(h) Voting. The affirmative vote of three (3) members of the Committee is required for a decision, including on all motions, regulations, and orders of the Committee.

(i) Vacancies. If a vacancy occurs on the Committee, a person qualified to fill such vacancy shall be appointed by the City Council in accordance with this Article.

(j) Financing. The Committee shall finance its reasonable and necessary expenses,
including without limitation engaging any staff as necessary to ensure implementation of this Article, by charging Landlords an annual Rental Housing Fee as set forth herein, in amounts deemed reasonable by the Committee in accordance with applicable law. The Committee is also empowered to request and receive funding when and if necessary from any available source including the City for its reasonable and necessary expenses.

(1) Rental Housing Fee. All Landlords shall pay a Rental Housing Fee on an
annual basis. The first Committee convened after the effective date of this Article
shall determine the amount of the Rental Housing Fee. The amount of the Rental
Housing Fee may differ between Rental Units subject to the entirety of this Article
and those that are Partially Exempt. The Committee may adjust the amount of the
Rental Housing Fee at its discretion to ensure full funding of its reasonable and
necessary expenses, in accordance with all applicable law.

(2) City to Advance Initial Funds. During the initial implementation of this
Article, the City shall advance all necessary funds to ensure the effective
implementation of this Article, until the Committee has collected Rental Housing
Fees sufficient to support the implementation of this Article. The City may seek a
reimbursement of any advanced funds from the Committee after the Rental Housing
Fee has been collected.

(k) Integrity and Autonomy of Committee. The Committee shall be an integral part
of the government of the City, but shall exercise its powers and duties under this Article independent from the City Council, City Manager, and City Attorney, except by request of the Committee. The Committee may request the services of the City Attorney, who shall provide them pursuant to the lawful duties of the office in Article 711 of the City Charter. In the period between the effective date of this Article and the appointment of the initial members of the Committee, the City shall take whatever steps necessary to perform the duties of the Committee and implement the purposes of this Article.

(l) Conforming Regulations. If any portion of this Article is declared invalid or
unenforceable by decision of a court of competent jurisdiction or rendered invalid or unenforceable by state or federal legislation, the Committee and not the City Council shall have authority to enact replacement regulations consistent with the intent and purpose of the invalidated provision and applicable law. Such replacement regulations shall supersede invalidated or unenforceable provisions of this Article to the extent necessary to resolve any inconsistency. The subject matter of such replacement regulations shall be limited to the matters addressed in this Article.

(m) Designation of Replacement Committee. In the event the establishment of the
Committee under this Section is adjudged to be invalid for any reason by a court of competent jurisdiction, the City Council shall designate one or more City departments, agencies, committees, or commissions to perform the duties of the Committee prescribed by this Article.

(n) Conflict of interest. Committee members shall not necessarily be disqualified
from exercising any of their powers and duties on the grounds of a conflict of interest solely on the basis of their status as a Landlord, realtor, developer, or Tenant. However, a Committee member shall be disqualified from ruling on a Petition if the Committee member is either the Landlord of the Property or a Tenant residing in the Property that is involved in the Petition. The provisions of the Political Reform Act, Government Code Sections 87100 et seq. shall apply.

Government intrusion at its finest. VOTE NO ON MEASURE V.

Posted by Charter Amendment
a resident of another community
on Aug 25, 2016 at 10:48 pm

Very well written. Doesn't make that mistake described in New Jersey of trying to lower rents. Allows
normal escalation but not profiteering. Well done! MV will be well served by the board and the regulations. .

Posted by Awesome!
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2016 at 11:42 pm

Yes! Thank you for posting the amendment text. I now see that all the people that are arguing AGAINST this amendment are liars.

It clearly states that the committee is appointed by the City Council.

It allows rent increases to allow for maintenance and a reasonable profit!

Why did I ever listen to these awful people??? I now am in full support of this amendment!

Posted by Not so awesome
a resident of Castro City
on Aug 26, 2016 at 6:39 am

While it sounds awesome, in practice, bureaucrats will not allow rent increases to cover all maintenance expenses and who decides what a fair return is on rentals ? I'd rather have voluntary exchanges decides what a fair rent is and what is a reasonable profit.

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