A measure that aimed to rescind Mountain View’s voter-approved rent control ordinance has failed to qualify for the fall 2018 ballot, but may still have a shot in 2020.
The landlord-backed group called Measure V Too Costly hired signature-gatherers to help collect the 5,150 names needed to qualify the initiative, but failed to submit any to the city in time to get it on the November ballot.
Measure V Too Costly spokeswoman Laura Teutschel has yet to return a call for comment, but other news outlets are reporting that the campaign was several hundred names short of the threshold. Signatures collected this year, however, can be used to qualify the measure for the 2020 election.
Mountain View voters authorized rent control with the passage of Measure V in 2016. The local measure inspired similar grassroots, tenant-led initiatives throughout the Bay Area in the year to follow.
But a coalition of landlords vowed to overturn the Mountain View ordinance that caps annual allowable rent increases to 3.6 percent. The landlord-led group hoping to overturn the rent cap by yet another ballot measure have led a spirited campaign that has also drawn criticism from the Mountain View Tenant Coalition, the Mountain View Mobile Home Alliance and the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.
“Landlords were attempting to repeal Measure V in this year’s signature gathering effort,” Shanti Singh, a coordinator for the nonprofit Tenants Together, said in a press release. “Many voters felt misled by the pro-landlord signature gatherers and rescinded their signatures, and luckily the effort did not gather the signatures they needed.”
Mountain View City Clerk Lisa Natusch confirmed that nearly 300 people filed signed signature withdrawal forms with the city because they didn’t want their name associated with the proposed repeal measure.
“Paid signature gathering companies are compensated per valid signature they collect,” Singh explained. “It’s normal to see something like a $4 to $7 rate per signature, but the landlord lobby in Mountain View was offering $40, which is unheard of. Because of that, activists as far away as San Francisco had a hard time gathering signatures for homelessness prevention and other ballot measures.”
Pro-renter activists celebrated news that the landlord measure would be delayed, if not called off altogether. On the Mountain View Tenants Coalition Facebook page, commenters commended each other for opposing the effort to overturn Measure V. Others talked about how they felt duped into signing the initiative to repeal it.
“I was one of those who was tricked into signing,” Mountain View resident Shanna May Bengtson said. “Thankfully, I saw a FB post about the sneaky tactics and sent in my signature recall form. Thank you for educating me, MVTC and concerned citizens!! I will be more diligent in my research efforts before signing things in the future.”
Fellow Mountain View denizen Jill Rakestraw said it took a lot of work to fight the anti-rent stabilization campaign.
“Behind the scenes were weekly meetings, email threads for notifying others when paid signature gatherers were in front of local stores, and volunteers walking in the heat to post fliers at every residence in town,” she said in another Facebook comment.