Measure to weaken rent control won’t reach the ballot this fall

rent control

Daily Post Staff Writer

A campaign for a ballot initiative that would have effectively repealed the city’s two-year-old rent control ordinance failed to pick up the roughly 5,000 signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot, but may still have a shot for 2020, according to tenant advocate Steve Chandler.

Tenant advocates, as well as Mayor Lenny Siegel, called the initiative a “sneaky repeal.” It buried language that would have suspended rent control under proposals for moderate adjustments to the rent control law, allegedly to distract voters.

“It was a very sneaky trick, trying to say things that are not true,” Chandler told the Post. “They had put out a window dressing of things to distract people.”

The Measure V Too Costly campaign’s initiative, filed by former Mayor John Inks and realtor Bryan Danforth and funded by the California Apartment Association, included components that Siegel said were designed to attract votes. Those included preventing Rental Housing Committee members from paying themselves a salary and limiting rental protections to families who earn less than the median household income, currently $125,000 when adjusted for family size.

But the initiative also would have suspended rent control when the city’s vacancy rate rose above 3%, which it always is.
City data shows that since 2009, vacancy rates across all rental housing in Mountain View have hovered between 3.9% in 2011 and 5.8% in 2016. It’s currently 4.4%, down from 4.7% last year.

Chandler said volunteers from the Mountain View Tenants Coalition, the Mountain View Mobile Home Alliance and the Democratic Socialists of America had canvassed the city more than once, going door to door to tell residents that they may have been duped by a paid signature gatherer.

“We just had so many amazing volunteers,” Chandler said.

Chandler said he had also distributed signature withdrawal forms by taping them to people’s doors. He said 290 had been turned in to the county.

The Measure V Too Costly campaign may still be able to qualify for the November 2020 ballot, however, if they can turn in enough signatures by mid-October, Chandler noted.

Laura Teutschel, the political consultant hired by the Measure V Too Costly campaign, wasn’t available for comment last night.