April 11, 2024

Mountain View City Council Study Session on Displacement Response Strategy— Acquisition/Preservation, Community Ownership Action Plan, and Other Efforts


On March 19th, the Mountain View City Council held a study session to provide feedback on city staff’s plans for major components of the city’s Displacement Response Strategy, including leveraging funds for acquisition/preservation activity, developing a Community Ownership Action Plan, and other anti-displacement protection measures.  

All of the Displacement Response Strategy items were included in the city’s certified Housing Element, which laid out the work items with targeted goals and timelines. (See complete table below.)  This study session allowed the council to engage on the tangible ways these programs would come together.

Much of the discussion revolved around how potentially interconnected the preservation goals were with the community ownership strategies, while they were separate programs that needed focused attention.  The city set a goal of preserving at least 50 units of existing market-rate housing through acquisition and conversion to restricted affordable homes.  Staff estimated that the associated costs would be roughly $20 million. The plan outlined in the Housing Element was that the city would commit a proportion of these funds with the expectation that this would leverage additional public, corporate, and philanthropic investments.  Staff explained that there is interest and willingness among foundations and private-sector organizations to partner with the City, but the City needs to make both policy and funding commitments to catalyze and leverage outside resources. 

During the study session, the Council approved a city investment of $4 million towards this fund and indicated an interest in pursuing preservation opportunities in coordination with the Community Ownership Action Plan.  This was a significant step. Mountain View joins only San Jose in Santa Clara County in committing to funding housing preservation activity.

The council also supported the basic approach to the Community Ownership Action Plan, which would support community ownership model/structure(s) that, with community partners, could address housing needs that are not met through traditional affordable housing and that could take part in preservation and acquisition activities. To propel the work, the council gave staff the authority to engage a consultant to assist in evaluating community ownership strategies

Staff explained that there might be different forms of community ownership, from community-controlled development to co-op models, and that the city was in contact with a local group working on developing a community land trust.

City staff was clear, however, that significant work needed to be done to determine how a community ownership entity would be established with the capacity and structure to access public funds from the city.  The council was supportive of the need for ongoing engagement and support in identifying partnerships and sources of additional technical assistance for local organizations to develop this capacity.  The council discussion showed that, while there was a recognition that the path forward contained outstanding questions and clear challenges, the city remained committed to establishing community-based ownership opportunities and wanted staff to figure out what programs and policies would facilitate this outcome.

One example was the potential for an “opportunity to purchase act,” or OPA, with elements of Community and Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Acts (COPA/TOPA) being considered around the region.  Rather than see this policy as an outcome, staff explained that specific policy options would be considered part of the whole preservation and community ownership model.     

The staff presentation and the council discussion acknowledged that the need for additional funding to cover new affordable construction and acquisition/preservation was at the center of the city’s plans.  The following actions are included in the city’s housing element:

  • Participate in the planning process for a 2024 regional housing funding measure and support such measure. 
  • Develop local revenue ballot measures to fund affordable housing if a regional measure is not implemented. 
  • Examine new revenue sources and increases to existing revenue sources to meet extremely low- to moderate-income housing needs, including increasing housing impact fees on office development, and periodically consider updates to fees.

The March 19th study session follows one late last year that moved forward a local replacement requirement for lower-rent apartments in cases where the property is redeveloped. SV@Home has formally collaborated with the City of Mountain View through a Partnership for the Bay’s Future Policy Grant since 2022 and has been directly engaged in policy development and community engagement processes surrounding the Displacement Response Strategy. This partnership’s formal structure will end in the coming months, but we are committed to this work and look forward to continued collaboration with our partners at the city.