Re: 9.1 Initiate Recruitment Process for Upcoming Rental Housing Committee Openings and Vacant Alternate Seat

Dear Mayor Abe-Koga, Vice Mayor Kamei and Councilmembers Clark, Hicks, Matichak, McAlister and Ramirez:

The Mountain View Coalition for Sustainable Planning (MVCSP) appreciates the opportunity to provide comments on the proposed recruitment process for upcoming Rental Housing Committee (RHC) openings and the vacant alternate seat you will discuss at your next meeting.

MVCSP is a group of local volunteers dedicated to making Mountain View as beautiful, economically healthy, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian accessible, and as affordable as possible. MVCSP member interest and expertise covers areas such as housing, transportation, the environment, and the economy. We have supported the Community Stabilization and Fair Rent Act (CSFRA) since it’s passage because we believe it protects the economic and social diversity that is so important to a healthy, sustainable community.

MVCSP was surprised to see the request to appoint RHC members early. The RHC is crucial to the implementation of the CSFRA, which was passed in 2016. The community support for the CSFRA was reaffirmed in March 2020 with the defeat of Measure D. MVCSP supports the CSFRA because it protects so many community members and protects our economic and social diversity. A rigorous recruitment for the RHC is in the best interests of the Mountain View community. Rushing to recruit before the new Council is seated doesn’t provide adequate time for community members to be recruited and complete the application process.

It makes sense to have the new Council make the appointments because the new Council will have to serve with the new RHC members. This close working relationship will make the new Council take the RHC appointments very seriously, which is in the best interests of the community. Having the new Council make the appointments should better reflect the will of the voters from the election that is currently underway. Because several rent control related issues have been brought up during this election season, the new Council should be in tune with community sentiment related to the CSFRA.

MVCSP understands the desire to improve City efficiency by having the recruitment process for all of the City’s advisory bodies occur at the same time. From a transparency point-of-view, it would make sense to align these schedules in the future when there has been adequate notice to community members. Since the City has been processing appointments on the same schedule for many years, interested community members know when the recruitment is happening and plan accordingly. This time, that notice has not been available for the RHC.

It is not clear whether the City Council has the authority to move the starting dates of the CSFRA terms because the length of the terms is embedded in the charter amendment. Several legal questions are embedded in this request, which should be resolved in a written legal opinion by our City Attorney. For instance, does the current City Council have the authority to make this appointment early? If so, what is the limit of the Council’s authority to appoint into the future? Would it be legal for the current City Council to appoint for the four-year term that starts in April 2021 and then for a subsequent one that starts four years later in 2025? Based on language in the CSFRA that specifies the length of the RHC terms, can the Council change when the term starts to match when the other advisory bodies are seated in the future? Should the City Council make this change?

The City Council is always busy, but the pandemic has particularly increased the workload of City Staff and Council. In addition, the circumstances of working during the pandemic are more difficult than normal. There are numerous serious issues that need to be dealt with by the Council such as safely reopening businesses, avoiding evictions, and homelessness. Appointing the RHC members early is likely to create a controversy that will take up valuable Staff and Council time and resources. This controversy could strain the Council’s ability to deal with more important matters. By not approving this request, the controversy ends now. If approved, it could go on for months and lead to expensive litigation. The MVCSP respectfully requests that the schedule to recruit and appoint new members of the RHC be carried out in 2021 as planned.

Thank you again for the opportunity to comment.

Pat Showalter, PE
for the Mountain View Coalition for Sustainable Planning


Anky van Deursen, RHC Staff liaison
Krishan Chopra, City Attorney
Nicole C. Wright, Senior Assistant City Attorney Kimbra McCarthy, City Manager
Lisa Natusch, City Clerk