Is a rent control initiative in the cards for San Jose?

By Bryce Druzin | Silicon Valley Business Journal | Link to Article

In the last three weeks, tenant advocates in Burlingame, San Mateo and Mountain View have pulled papers for rent control initiatives after their city councils failed to pass substantial renter protection measures.

Could the same thing happen in San Jose?

Following the Thursday rent control memo signed by three councilmembers, a majority of San Jose's city council has declared their opposition to tying maximum allowable rent increases to changes in local inflation.

That inflation-based rent control model is recommended by the city's housing department, endorsed by San Jose tenant advocates, and is the basis for the proposed initiatives in the three aforementioned Peninsula cities.

San Mateo's rent stabilization initiative was prepared with assistance from Faith In Action Bay Area, a sister organization of People Acting in Community Together in San Jose. PACT, a faith-based group, is an important member of the tenants coalition calling for stricter rent control in the city.

PACT housing team member Luis Inostroza said the possibility of going the initiative route has been discussed.

"We haven't made any decision, but we are considering it," he said earlier this week.

But the clock is ticking if San Jose tenants want to get an initiative on this November's ballot. Election consultant Martin & Chapman Co. recommends that the approximately 19,000 valid signatures needed be turned in to the county Registrar of Voters by May 20.

It should be noted, however, that this does not represent a hard deadline. Depending on how long the registrar takes to count the signatures and decisions taken by the city council, an initiative could make the November ballot even if signatures are submitted at a later date.

The success of such an effort could turn on the fact that the South Bay Labor Council, which has formally endorsed an inflation-based rent control model, has experience with such campaigns and has the resources to hire paid signature gatherers.