Mountain considers tinkering with rent control once again, and kicks the can down the road

Bornstein Law has observed a lot of rancor in Mountain View surrounding proposed tweaks to local rent control laws over the years and there seems to be no end in sight. After City Council reached an impasse in an October 14 meeting, lawmakers are expected to decide in November whether to put a ballot measure in front of the voters in the 2020 election.

A council subcommittee has finalized recommendations for what the city-sponsored ballot measure may look like. First, some background. Under Measure V passed in 2016, rent increases that exceed the rate of inflation are prohibited. This draconian standard is being challenged, with a couple proposals being floated.

In terms of rent caps, one option is a flat increase of 4% or 5%. The other proposal: An increase in the annual permissible rent adjustment from CPI to a formula of CPI+1%, while maintaining the guarantee that the annual allowable increase would never be below 2% or exceed 5%.

More from the press: Council subcommittee punts on how to raise Mountain View’s rent control limit

Under the existing regulatory regime, landlords are hamstrung to pay for needed upgrades. To make matters worse for rental property owners saddled with rising costs, the city is considering a mandate for seismic retrofitting on older apartments.

With so much financial stress and uncertainty faced by landlords, it should come as no surprise that Mountain View has lost nearly 700 older apartment units, many of them slated for demolition and redevelopment into townhomes or new apartments, something has not escaped lawmakers.

The subcommittee has urged a streamlined process for landlords to communicate the costs of certain capital improvements. It also recommends rules that provide greater clarity on who can sit on the Rental Housing Committee, and what canons of ethics members are bound by.

The soap opera is far from over, but of course, you can rely on Bornstein Law to keep you updated on new laws in Mountain View and throughout the Bay Area.