Making sense of Measure W
Measure W is a complicated subject and many people are confused. Here’s what you should know:
- Voting only for Measure W is risky if you want to protect renters because there is no serious campaign for Measure W and it is unlikely to pass.
- Measure W is backed by rent control opponents on the City Council, Measure V is backed by a large grassroots campaign
- Measure W specifies no limits on rent increases. Rent increases over a 5 percent “trigger” allow tenants to seek mediation and binding arbitration with apartment owners. Market rents are one of the criteria for how contracted arbitrators will decide on rent increases in these cases, so it is uncertain how much your rent may go up under Measure W. Measure V’s limits on rent increases are very clear. It specifies a fair and public process for tenants and landlords to request downward and upward adjustments on a case by case basis.
- Measure W lacks transparency. Arbitrators decide your fate as a renter in meetings held behind closed doors. The process is not public until the decision is made. Measure V’s Rental Housing Committee and hearing officers make decisions in public meetings, a proven practice in other cities.
- Measure W allows unaffordable rent hikes to continue: even if rents rise no more than 5 percent a year under Measure W, it adds up quick, and is much faster than the rate wages increase. Measure V keeps rents to inflation, typically 2-3 percent a year, which is moderate compared to other rent controlled cities where investors still line up to buy apartments.
- Measure W was intended to allow evictions for any reason if a landlord pays tenant relocation expenses. This encourages apartment owners to evict tenants to make large rent increases allowed under state law when an apartment is vacant. It also leaves the door open for retaliatory evictions against tenants who complain about building conditions. Measure V has the best eviction protections possible under state law.
- Measure W leaves voters in the dark about what exactly it does. Council members did not realize until AFTER the ballot measure was printed that it is very complicated to rewrite the city’s tenant relocation assistance ordinance (TRAO) to accommodate their loophole around just cause eviction protections (the TRAO was intended for whole complexes facing demolition). Because of this, the scope of just cause eviction protections in Measure W — a central component of the law — will be left uncertain and may change soon after it passes. Measure V has been clear to voters since signature gathering started in June.
- Measure W does nothing to empower renters, whose interests are marginalized in Mountain View’s city government, despite being 60 percent of the population. Measure V protects renters who stand up to the well funded landlord lobby from retaliatory evictions. It creates a Rental Housing Committee where renters can serve and make their voices heard on a regular basis. It allows renters to stay in our community long enough to encourage their civic engagement.
- Measure W could be repealed by an anti-rent control Council, like today’s council, as early as 2018. Measure V lasts as long as voters want it to.
- Measure W explicitly excludes mobile home residents. Measure V’s Rental Housing Committee can include them.
- It is safe for rent control supporters to vote for both Measure V and Measure W. If both pass, the Tenants Coalition-backed Measure V (charter amendment) supercedes rent control opponents’ Measure W (an ordinance).
- Measure W is weak in its protections, but better than nothing.
- Whether or not you vote for W, it is VITAL that you VOTE YES on V!
Comparison chart based on the City Council’s intention for Measure W: