December 26, 2022

Mountain View Voice: As apartments make way for luxury condos, Mountain View should do more to prevent displacing residents


Emily Ann Ramos, Preservation and Protection Associate at SV@Home, writes in a powerful op-ed about the need for a stronger anti-displacement strategy in the city of Mountain View. Check it out to learn how you can get involved in upcoming events to make sure Mountain View has a strong strategy to prevent vulnerable residents from displacement!

Guest Opinion by by Emily Ann Ramos, SV@Home Preservation and Protection Associate

Without strong action, Mountain View could lose more longtime residents. In the last few years hundreds of older apartments that were more affordable to working families have been torn down and replaced by luxury townhomes leaving these residents with nowhere to go. As we watched the demolition of 2005 Rock Street1950 Montecito Avenue and other rent-controlled apartments, it became glaringly clear that we need more tools to prevent the displacement of Mountain View residents.

In 2019, the City Council added a “displacement response strategy” to its priorities and held an initial study session. However, with the pandemic causing severe health and economic impacts that required a significant government response, this anti-displacement priority was among the many that were delayed.

Fortunately, the state legislature had already stepped in and passed the Housing Crisis Act of 2019 (SB330), which requires developers to replace lost units with an affordable or rent-controlled replacement unit when they redevelop, and allows displaced low income tenant to return at rents they can afford.

The state law has created a temporary, but powerful reprieve for our city’s rent controlled units in danger of being lost, but the new rules only extend to 2030, and we are finding that implementing the law here in Mountain View has raised real challenges to its effectiveness. What happens to the tenant during construction? What do we do if a demolished unit was overcrowded with multiple families? What happens when the new homes are built for sale and the displaced tenant does not have the down payment or credit score to get a home loan, even if the home price fits the income level of the tenant?

We need a permanent displacement strategy here in Mountain View that addresses these challenges. It will require multiple policies and programs working together. Most importantly, it will need community support and knowledge.

At the start of the new year, the city will begin convening stakeholder meetings on this long awaited, comprehensive displacement response strategy. These meetings will cover the different policy options, including how replacement units will be made affordable and available to current residents, and how the city can create programs to support nonprofit, community, and resident purchases of existing apartments and rehabilitate them as permanently affordable homes. These policies will be essential local tools to keep our neighbors in our communities as Mountain View continues to grow.

I strongly encourage everyone to take part in their relevant stakeholder meeting and share their stories and ideas. See the schedule and links for the meetings below:

● General Session: Thursday, January 12, at 6:30 pm

● Property Owner Stakeholder Meeting: Wednesday, January 18 at 1:00 pm

● Nonprofit Developer Stakeholder Meeting: Wednesday, January 18 at 3:30 pm

● Market Rate Developer Stakeholder Meeting: Thursday, 1/19 at 2:00 pm

● Tenant Stakeholder Meeting: Wednesday, 1/25 at 4:00 pm

● Tenant Stakeholder Meeting (in-person): Thursday, 1/26 at 6:30 pm

● General Session- Summary: Tuesday, 2/21 at 6:30 pm

Mountain View, like surrounding communities, suffers from a prolonged housing crisis. There are simply not enough homes, especially ones that are affordable, to meet the needs of our residents. As we work on building the much-needed supply, we must also ensure that our neighbors do not get displaced. Our community created and fought for a Mountain View that is inclusive, welcoming and diverse. To get this right, the community needs to continue to show up to ensure that their needs are centered in policies that affect them and the future of our city.[spacer height=”20px”][spacer height=”20px”]

Emily Ann Ramos is the Preservation and Protection Associate at SV@Home, the vice chair of the Mountain View Rental Housing Committee, and a resident of a rent-controlled property in the Shoreline West neighborhood.