BY SONYA HERRERA
Daily Post Staff Writer
Former Mountain View Mayor Lenny Siegel said the California Apartment Association is being “deceptive” in their mailers supporting Measure D, a proposal on the March 3 ballot that would allow higher rent increases on rent-controlled apartments.
Measure D, which was put on the ballot by City Council, would replace the current limit on rent increases — which is the consumer price index — with a 4% ceiling.
The measure would also allow non-Mountain View landlords to serve on the city’s Rental Housing Commission, which oversees rent control, if those landlords own rental property in the city.
The ballot argument in favor of Measure D — whose authors include City Council members Margaret Abe-Koga, John McAlister and Chris Clark — said that the measure allows landlords to fix up older apartments instead of tearing them down.
The group also wrote that Measure D lowers rent increases from 5% to 4% per year, though the measure would actually raise the allowable rent increase from the consumer price index, which most recently was 3.5%.
Siegel said the California Apartment Association, a political group representing landlords, has sent out “deceptive” mailers saying that the measure will protect rent control.
“The two renters they had on their initial mailer were saying things that weren’t true,” Siegel said. “The guy who wants to be protected against earthquakes doesn’t live in a soft-story building (a type of building prone to collapse in an earthquake), and the guy who says that Measure D will help lower his rent isn’t in a rent-controlled apartment.”
Pamela Baird, a former member of the city’s planning commission, said she has recycled the apartment association’s mailers.
“The system that was put in place, with rent increases tied to the consumer price index, is a more fair way of doing things,” Baird said. “It fluctuates, but I think it’s tied to a more realistic cost of living.”
Local housing organizer Alex Nunez said that the consumer price index has not risen to 4% since 2001, and that it was deceptive for landlords to suggest that changing the allowable rent increase to 4% would save renters money.
“That is not an honest way of communicating the issue to voters,” Nunez said.
In addition, Nunez said that the measure would allow landlords to raise the rent for renovations, which could allow for annual rent increases up to 10% under the recently passed state law AB1482.
David Watson, a volunteer with the pro-housing group South Bay YIMBY, said his group is not “wild” about the measure.
“It seems relatively anti-tenant,” Watson said. “I don’t like that it’s somewhat deceitful in its advertisements.”