Mountain View approves demolition of rent-controlled apartments to make way for market rate units

Is the stock of affordable housing going away in one Bay Area city? That's the fear in Mountain View Tuesday night, as city leaders there voted 6 to 1 to approve the demolition of 59 rent-controlled apartments for 55 market-rate town homes. 

The apartment complex is located at 2310 Rock Street. Dozens of people rallied ahead of the city council meeting.

Tuesday’s vote comes four months after city leaders approved a similar demolition project down the street from this one.

Families held signs outside Mountain View City Hall. Their message is to slow down the demolition of affordable housing.

“Right now, the boat's really sinking and the cart's before the house,” said Mountain View Renter Jackie Cashen. “We need to right that a bit and understand the impact.”

Cashen is among the renters rooted in the community. As a long-time tenant, she pays $1,100 for a one-bedroom apartment. 

“We are forced to move out, we are forced to leave the area, we are forced to take on rent,” said Cashen. “My neighbors who have moved out have taken rent $1,000 or more.”

Last December, city leaders approved the demolition of 20 rent-controlled units at the Royal Viking Apartments half a mile away for 15 $1 million town homes. Housing advocates call it a worrisome trend.

“We are losing the people who are the backbone of our community,” said Lenny Siegel of Mountain View. “We cannot afford to be a city of software engineers and retirees.”

“I do believe that property owners do have the right to go out of the rental housing business if they want to,” said Mayor Lisa Matichak. 

Matichak said the city's hands may be tied given the developer's proposal is 100 percent compliant.

“The developer is required to provide them with assistance to help them find a new location to live,” said Matichak. 

“Stressed, trying to figure out where to go,” said Mountain View Renter Ana Segovia. “Everything is super expensive here.”

However, renters argue that tenant assistance program doesn't make it any easier.

“I grew up in Mountain View so I want to stay here,” said Segovia. “I don't think we can afford it. That's how it is.”

The developer must give a 120-day notice to tenants. Renters are hoping other landlords will hear their concerns and step up and help displaced residents.

The vote was six for the demolition with one abstention. The developer plans to tear down the apartments for $1.5 million in row homes.