Mountain View council sides with developer, votes to demolish rent-control units

City leaders in Mountain View voted early Wednesday morning to tear down dozens of rent-controlled apartments to make way for market-rate townhomes. 

Just after midnight, the council voted 4-3 to demolish 20 rent-controlled units at the Royal Viking Apartments to make way for 15 market-rate townhomes at $1 million each on Rock Street. The council asked the developer to wait through 2019 to have the tenants reclocate.

Oscar Rios rents a two-bedroom apartment for $2,100 in Mountain View. It’s been his family’s home for the last eight years. The construction worker was notified his family has to leave by July. 

“Now I have to find a new place and it's expensive,” said Oscar Rios of Mountain View. “I have to pay more rent and move my kids in school.”

The Rios family is one of 20 families who will now have to move out of rent-controlled units. Developer Dividend Homes plans to demolish the units in the 50-year-old complex and replace it with 15 townhomes selling for more than a $1 million each. 

Outside City Hall, tenants and housing advocates rallied to stop the demolition.

“Mountain View has always been a progressive city,” said Housing Advocate Guadalupe Rosas. “Mountain View has always been a city about valuing their community and diversity.”

“I think the reason developers have been proposing teardowns is because the property is already zoned for housing and they don't have to pay high park fees for a new housing development,” said Mayor Lenny Siegel.

Siegel supports building housing in commercial areas instead of tearing down existing housing.

“We need the people who live in these buildings to make our community tick,” said Siegel. “We can't have everyone here be a software engineer.”

Curt Conway owns a 70-unit complex in Mountain View. He said, from a property owner's perspective expenses are up and at times, it's hard to make the budget work. He supports the demolition to move forward.

“One of the problems is the old units that should be torn down and replaced with higher density rental units,” said Curt Conroy of Mountain View. “It never happens effectively. The land is tied up forever.”

The developer is offering a relocation package. One household has accepted it. The issue of tearing down affordable housing units won't be going away anytime soon. The proposal is one of more than a dozen projects proposed for redevelopment in Mountain View.