Bay Area Landlords Contest New Rent-Control Laws

Residents of Mountain View, California won’t be getting the rent rollback they voted for last November just yet. The California Apartment Association, a landlord trade group, filed a lawsuit challenging the ordinance Dec. 21, a judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking it from going into effect, and the city government signed off on the order Dec. 22.

Measure V, which won 53.6 percent of the vote in the Silicon Valley city of 80,000 people, would roll back rents to what they were on Oct. 19, 2015. It also would prohibit evictions without just cause and limit rent increases to between 2 percent and 5 percent a year. The CAA argued that it unconstitutionally deprived owners of their property, and the city government did not contest that. 

“Ironically, the City Council declared Mountain View a ‘human rights city’ this week, but they refuse to honor and defend the renters’ rights that voters approved on Nov. 8,” Daniel DeBolt of the Mountain View Tenants Coalition told the San Jose Mercury News. “It has become obvious over the last year that the Mountain View City Council cannot be trusted to protect renters or to protect renters’ rights.”

Mayor Pat Showalter said that he and the Council agreed to the restraining order because they wanted to preserve an “urgency ordinance” that enacted the just-cause eviction provision while the case is being litigated.

The CAA also challenged the similar rent-control measure enacted by voters in Richmond, a working-class city of 100,000 people north of Berkeley. But the City Council there decided to defend the law, which will cover about 10,000 apartments. In early January, Contra Costa County Superior Court judge refused to grant a restraining order delaying it from going into effect.