Expansion of rent control
Earlier this year, I wrote in this blog about the housing crunch in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley, and its effect on a variety of issues in this region, including increased support for the expansion of rent control. Since that time, this situation has become so critical that it has drawn the national spotlight to a number of the more extreme aspects of this phenomenon as it manifests itself around our environs.
Three Peninsula cities had unveiled plans
When I last reported on the status of efforts in Silicon Valley to advocate for rent control a few months back, organizations in three Peninsula cities—Burlingame, San Mateo, and Mountain View—had unveiled plans to bring initiatives before their voters. As Election Day gets nearer, it would be a good idea to review where matters currently stand.
In Burlingame, where the eviction and subsequent death of 97-year-old Marie Hatch sparked a firestorm of controversy, the Burlingame City Council voted unanimously to place a measure on the November 2016 ballot that would overturn Measure T (prohibiting the city council from enacting rent control without voter approval) and enact in its place an ordinance providing for just cause evictions, rent stabilization, and relocation assistance, among other benefits for renters. This action was supported by Burlingame Advocates for Renter Protections, a local tenant’s rights organization, but faced opposition from real estate professionals and property owners.
San Mateo possible rent control
Meanwhile, in San Mateo, rent control proponents were successful in placing a charter amendment initiative on the November ballot that would, if approved, cap rent increases based on CPI and impose a just cause eviction process. Although the city council’s formal action to place the initiative on the ballot was a ministerial act due to of the number of signatures gathered by its supporters, the mayor, the city council, and local property owners took the opportunity at the city council meeting to set forth their concerns about the measure and offer alternative proposals.
Mountain View’s measures
Finally, in Mountain View, there may be two competing measures up for consideration by the voters in November. The Mountain View Tenants’ Coalition has succeeded in gathering sufficient signatures to require the city council to certify that group’s proposed initiative linking rent increases to CPI. At the same meeting in which this initiative is to be formally approved for the ballot, however, the city council will also consider putting a competing measure to a vote that would revive a system of binding arbitration for rent disputes that was previously rejected by the council.
In the interim, local housing prices have hit an all-time high, rising beyond levels reached during the housing bubble. With these pressures continuing to mount, all you can say is: Stay tuned.