San Mateo turns down rent control plan

Rent control will not be coming to the city of San Mateo anytime soon; this after the city council rejected a plan Monday night that advocates said would curb the housing affordability crisis.

Hundreds of people attended the meeting; tenants, landlords and their respective supporters.

The proposed "urgency ordinance" would have imposed up to a 90 day moratorium on rent increases and evictions.

City staff told KTVU that they asked for a new ordinance to be brought before the council next Monday that would offer relocation assistance, but still no rent control.

"Things have gotten outrageous in San Mateo. There's been egregious rent increases," says Barbara O'Neil, a tenant.

The 58-year-old tells KTVU she's a middle school teacher.

She says her rent increased from $1,750 a month to $2,850 for a two-bedroom apartment she's lived in for 11 years

That's an increase of $1,100.

"Left me sleepless nights and worrying,” says O'Neil.

At the meeting, she and other tenants came to ask the city for help.

"My husband and I are trying to get another place to live, a low income place,” says one woman who spoke at the podium to city council members.

Months ago, the city had formed an affordable housing task force to come up with recommendations including how to increase supply and preserve existing affordable housing

"We don't want to see record evictions. We don't want to see when people get displaced...they have to move completely out of the area," San Mateo Mayor Joe Goethals.

"Once you open the door to rent control, the landlord is screwed. Stop it. Don't even go there because you've taken my rights away," said one landlord who spoke at the podium.

The City Council chambers were filled with many people wearing green tags, which indicates they are landlords or their supporters.

They said rent control was not the answer.

"Let's make it mandatory for landlords to lease. At least tenants will have some predictability. For a period, they'll know their rent will stay the same," said Steve Blanton, San Mateo County Association of Realtors

For Barbara O'Neil, whether she can afford to stay in San Mateo and what she'll have to live on during retirement, now hang in the balance.

“Having to stop contributing to my pension. I won't be able to retire at 62 and when I retire, I won't be able to live here," says O'Neil.

The mayor says it's a balancing act  that whatever the city council does must take into consideration of keeping San Mateo residents in their home... while respecting the rights of landlords at the same time.