Glossary

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  • AB 1505
    AB 1505, signed by Gov. Brown on September 29, 2017 and generally referred to as the “Palmer fix”, will allow local jurisdictions to once again require BMRs or inclusionary units in rental housing. It is expected that Mountain View will act shortly to clarify that its BMR ordinance is once again in effect and, in addition, that there will no longer be Rental Housing Impact Fees  collected in lieu of requiring BMR units to be built. It is also expected that Los Altos will make it clear that its BMR ordinance is in effect with regard to rental units.
  • ABAG
    The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) is our regional council of governments, which allocates regional housing need to the city and counties in the Bay Area. When considering allocation, past RHNA performance, better public transit and existing jobs are key factors. The RHNA numbers are broken down into categories with an allocation for extremely low, very low-income, low-income, moderate-income and above moderate-income. Most typically, sufficient units are built at the above moderate-income level, but very few at the lower-income levels.
  • Accessory Dwelling Unit
    Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) (also referred to as Granny Units, Companion Units and Second Dwelling Units) are generally defined as a dwelling unit on a residential lot in addition to a primary dwelling. An ADU provides independent living facilities for one or more persons and includes permanent provisions for living, sleeping, cooking and sanitation. The State of California passed legislation requiring all jurisdictions to update their ADU ordinances by Jan. 2017, liberalizing requirements for ADUs. Mountain View has updated its ordinance, but Los Altos and Los Altos Hills haven't done so yet. Los Altos Hills uses ADUs to comply with its RHNA allocation, regardless of whether the units are occupied by low-income households or not.
  • ADU
    Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) (also referred to as Granny Units, Companion Units and Second Dwelling Units) are generally defined as a dwelling unit on a residential lot in addition to a primary dwelling. An ADU provides independent living facilities for one or more persons and includes permanent provisions for living, sleeping, cooking and sanitation. The State of California passed legislation requiring all jurisdictions to update their ADU ordinances by Jan. 2017, liberalizing requirements for ADUs. Mountain View has updated its ordinance, but Los Altos and Los Altos Hills haven't done so yet. Los Altos Hills uses ADUs to comply with its RHNA allocation, regardless of whether the units are occupied by low-income households or not.
  • Affordable housing
    Affordable housing is housing that costs 30% or less of a household's gross monthly income. Housing costs include rent, principal and interest, utilities, homeowner insurance, and assessments. Although many pay a higher percentage of their income towards housing cost, this is the standard definition.
  • AMI
    Area Median Income (AMI) is computed annually by County: Extremely Low Income (ELI) means less than 30% AMI; Very Low Income (VLI) means less than 50% AMI, Lower Income (LI) means less than 80% AMI; Moderate (M) means less than 120% AMI Above Moderate (AM) is greater than 120% AMI. AMI limits can be found at 2017 State Income Limits, Santa Clara County or on our Housing Reference Tables page.
  • Annual General Adjustment
    Annual General Adjustment is the percentage by which rent may be increased each year; this is part of CSFRA. It is equal to the Consumer Price Index of the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose region. For the year beginning Sept 2017 it is 3.4%.
  • Area Median Income
    Area Median Income (AMI) is computed annually by County: Extremely Low Income (ELI) means less than 30% AMI; Very Low Income (VLI) means less than 50% AMI, Lower Income (LI) means less than 80% AMI; Moderate (M) means less than 120% AMI Above Moderate (AM) is greater than 120% AMI. AMI limits can be found at 2017 State Income Limits, Santa Clara County or on our Housing Reference Tables page.
  • Assisted Housing
    Assisted Housing is housing where the monthly costs to the tenants are subsidized by federal, state or other programs. Sometimes the term affordable housing is used for assisted housing and sometimes subsidized housing is used. Most commonly, such housing is built as a development that is totally affordable to lower-income households. Often, there is a mixture of units in terms of affordable rents, with some units affordable to those at extremely-low incomes, others at lower incomes, etc. This type of housing is exempt from all provisions of the CSFRA. Today, these developments usually have financing through the federal low income housing tax credit program. Tax credits are available to investors for investing in these developments. Developments such as Ginzton Terrace, San Antonio Place, Franklin Street Family Apartments, Maryce Freelen Place and The Fountains are all tax-credit financed projects in Mountain View. Google has been an investor in such tax credits. Applications for tax credits are extremely competitive in California and in order to be competitive the developments need not only to be near public transportation and other amenities, but the local jurisdictions have to finance much of the development cost. Los Altos and Los Altos Hills have no assisted (subsidized) units.
  • Association of Bay Area Governments
    The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) is our regional council of governments, which allocates regional housing need to the city and counties in the Bay Area. When considering allocation, past RHNA performance, better public transit and existing jobs are key factors. The RHNA numbers are broken down into categories with an allocation for extremely low, very low-income, low-income, moderate-income and above moderate-income. Most typically, sufficient units are built at the above moderate-income level, but very few at the lower-income levels.
  • Banking
    Banking allows the landlord to give the tenant a larger percentage increase in rent if the landlord has not increased the rent in the year(s) prior. CSFRA spells out what banking is allowed.
  • Base Rent
    Base Rent is the rent upon which rent adjustments will be made. For tenancies beginning before October 19, 2015, the base rent is the rent in effect on Oct. 19, 2015, otherwise the Base Rent is the rent in effect of the lease sign date. This is a provision of CSFRA.
  • Below Market Rate
    Below Market Rate units (BMRs) are financed and built by market-rate developers; this requirement is often referred to as inclusionary zoning. Typically, a certain percentage of the total units in a development are built to rent at below-market-rate rents. These are dispersed throughout the market-rate development, either in exchange for certain concessions from the city such as higher density, or because of a requirement to build these units due to local inclusionary zoning ordinances. Mountain View and Los Altos have inclusionary zoning requirements, which differ in terms of the percentage of units required and income levels targeted. Mountain View requires 10% of the units in a rental development to be affordable to those at 65% AMI and 10% of the units in a condo development to be affordable to those with incomes from 80 - 100% AMI. However, Mountain View has had a policy of allowing developers to pay fees instead of building ownership units. The in-lieu fees are 3% of the sales price, which is far lower than the cost would be to the developer to build the units. Los Altos requires 10% of the condos to be affordable to moderate-income households. In rental developments in Los Altos, the developer can provide 10% very-low income units or 15% low income units. In either case, if more than one unit is required, one unit must be an LI unit. In 2009 a California appellate court ruled in the Palmer decision that cities could no longer require BMR or inclusionary units for rental housing (with certain narrow exceptions such as when the developer is using the State Density Bonus Law), as this violates the Costa-Hawkins law passed in 1995. Inclusionary zoning for ownership housing was still allowed. BMR units in Mountain View are exempt from the rent control part of CSFRA, but not exempt from the just cause requirements.
  • BMR
    Below Market Rate units (BMRs) are financed and built by market-rate developers; this requirement is often referred to as inclusionary zoning. Typically, a certain percentage of the total units in a development are built to rent at below-market-rate rents. These are dispersed throughout the market-rate development, either in exchange for certain concessions from the city such as higher density, or because of a requirement to build these units due to local inclusionary zoning ordinances. Mountain View and Los Altos have inclusionary zoning requirements, which differ in terms of the percentage of units required and income levels targeted. Mountain View requires 10% of the units in a rental development to be affordable to those at 65% AMI and 10% of the units in a condo development to be affordable to those with incomes from 80 - 100% AMI. However, Mountain View has had a policy of allowing developers to pay fees instead of building ownership units. The in-lieu fees are 3% of the sales price, which is far lower than the cost would be to the developer to build the units. Los Altos requires 10% of the condos to be affordable to moderate-income households. In rental developments in Los Altos, the developer can provide 10% very-low income units or 15% low income units. In either case, if more than one unit is required, one unit must be an LI unit. In 2009 a California appellate court ruled in the Palmer decision that cities could no longer require BMR or inclusionary units for rental housing (with certain narrow exceptions such as when the developer is using the State Density Bonus Law), as this violates the Costa-Hawkins law passed in 1995. Inclusionary zoning for ownership housing was still allowed. BMR units in Mountain View are exempt from the rent control part of CSFRA, but not exempt from the just cause requirements.
  • Boomerang funds
    Boomerang funds is a term being used for the Redevelopment Agency (RDA) tax increment receipts that are now (since dissolution of the RDAs) being paid to various taxing entities, rather than to the RDA. There has been some success in persuading these taxing entities, including Mountain View, to return a small amount of these funds (typically equivalent to the 20% set aside) for affordable housing purposes.
  • Building Homes and Jobs Act
    SB 2, the Building Homes and Jobs Act, was signed into law by Gov. Brown on Sept. 29, 2017. This bill creates a permanent funding source for affordable housing through a $75 fee on real estate transaction documents. The fee is capped at $225 per transaction and exempts commercial and residential sales; most of the fees will be raised on refinancings. It is estimated to bring in $200-$300 million annually.
  • CDBG
    Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) are federal grants to help local jurisdictions meet their housing and community development needs. The program provides annual grants on a formula basis to carry out a wide range of community development activities directed toward neighborhood revitalization, economic development, and improved facilities and services for low and moderate-income people. The amount of CDBG funds has been diminishing in recent years.
  • Community benefit
    Community benefit is a term used somewhat interchangeably with public benefit to describe a bonus program whereby a developer offers an additional component in exchange for a project bonus. The project bonus is most often additional density or additional FAR, but other benefits for the developer are possible. The community or public benefit is often affordable housing (perhaps onsite BMRs), but it covers a wide range of benefits including street tree plantings, sidewalk and crossing improvements, creation of park space, etc.
  • Community Development Block Grants
    Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) are federal grants to help local jurisdictions meet their housing and community development needs. The program provides annual grants on a formula basis to carry out a wide range of community development activities directed toward neighborhood revitalization, economic development, and improved facilities and services for low and moderate-income people. The amount of CDBG funds has been diminishing in recent years.
  • Community Stabilization and Fair Rent Act
    The Community Stabilization and Fair Rent Act (CSFRA) is the name given to the Charter Amendment (Measure V) passed by Mountain View voters in November 2016.
  • Condo conversion
    Condo conversion refers to rental units being converted to condominiums. Typically not considered condo conversions are any rentals that were built and filed a condo map at that time, allowing use as condos later; usually done to avoid litigation regarding construction defects during the first 10 or 15 years after construction. Mountain View has a unique condo conversion ordinance passed by voter initiative in 1979. It states that rentals cannot be converted (with a few exceptions) unless there are at least 15,373 rental units in the City. Since rental units have been approved in high numbers in the last few years, it is very unlikely that the number of rentals will ever fall below this threshold. More typical condo conversion ordinances tie conversions of rental units to the vacancy rate of apartments. Most common is a 5% vacancy rate over a period of time, as is used in Los Altos.
  • Consumer Price Index
    CPI or Consumer Price Index is data reflecting changes in prices paid for  a representative basket of goods and services. CPI Housing only takes into account the changes in prices for housing.
  • Costa-Hawkins
    Costa-Hawkins is a state law passed in 1995 which prohibits buildings placed into occupancy after February 1, 1995, from rent control. These units, however, are subject to the just cause provisions of CSFRA if placed in occupancy before the effective date of CSFRA (12/13/16).
  • CPI
    CPI or Consumer Price Index is data reflecting changes in prices paid for  a representative basket of goods and services. CPI Housing only takes into account the changes in prices for housing.
  • CSFRA
    The Community Stabilization and Fair Rent Act (CSFRA) is the name given to the Charter Amendment (Measure V) passed by Mountain View voters in November 2016.
  • Density
    Density refers to the number of dwelling units per acre of land. The size of the units is irrelevant.
  • Department of Fair Employment and Housing
    Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is the California agency charged with enforcing California's civil rights laws. California law prohibits discrimination in housing based upon race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, disability (mental or physical), sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, marital status, familial status, or source of income.
  • Development Agreement
    Development Agreement in affordable housing parlance is a voluntary agreement between a local jurisdiction and a developer that typically includes a concession from the city in exchange for the developer's giving something of value to the city. These are often used when the developer agrees to provide BMR units in exchange for waiver of some fees, additional density over what is allowed by zoning, or other such concessions. Development Agreements were specified by the Palmer court as an exception for cities requiring the building of BMR units.
  • DFEH
    Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is the California agency charged with enforcing California's civil rights laws. California law prohibits discrimination in housing based upon race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, disability (mental or physical), sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, marital status, familial status, or source of income.
  • Effective Date
    Effective Date of CSFRA is Dec. 23, 2016, the date Measure V was certified as approved by the voters, declared by the RHC on Sept. 11, 2017. Opponents had contended that the effective date was April 5, 2017, the date the court set aside the temporary injunction (sought by landlords/apartment owners) that prevented CSFRA from being enforced. It is important because the Base Rent is to be charged beginning on the effective date of CSFRA.
  • Ellis Act
    Ellis Act is a state law passed in 1985 that allows an owner to evict tenants if he takes the building off the rental market. The Ellis Act allows landlords to get out of the renal business short of selling their property but does permit ways for a city to maintain some affordable units.
  • Eminent Domain
    Eminent Domain is the power to take private property for public use, usually a power exercised by a municipality, state, or the federal government. Typically, the property is needed for public utilities, highways, railroads, or public buildings. Fair market value must be paid as compensation to the property owner.
  • Eviction
    Eviction is the result of a court decision in an unlawful detainer case. An unlawful detainer case can be filed when there is just cause, or when there is no cause. In situations with no cause, the landlord needs to give the tenant a 30-day (or 60-day depending upon the length of the tenancy) notice to vacate without stating any cause or reason. If the tenant does not leave within that time, the landlord can then file an unlawful detainer, and, assuming the tenant has no legal defense, the court will order eviction of the tenant.
  • Exempt Units
    Exempt Units are units in hotels, motels, etc., rental units with government subsidies or tax credits, hospitals and extended care facilities, single-family homes and condominiums, duplexes, and companion units, also called accessory dwelling units, second dwelling units and granny units.
  • Fair Market Rent
    Fair Market Rents (FMR) are rents determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to be fair rent for a particular area, published annually for counties and by zip codes. Section 8 rents are based on these rents, which are typically a bit low in our area.
  • Fair Rate of Return
    Fair Rate of Return is a key term as landlords may petition for an upward adjustment to the rent, above the Annual General Adjustment (AGA), if they can show that the AGA does not give them a fair rate of return. CSFRA excludes many factors that can be considered in determining a fair rate of return, but the decison of how to calculate a fair rate of return was left to the Rental Housing Committee (RHC). Fair rate of return per the RHC uses the maintenance of net operating income (MNOI) methodology. This method identifies the net operating income (NOI) in the Base Year (i.e., 2015 gross income from the property, less 2015 operating expenses.) The second step adjusts the NOI based upon the CPI-Rent of Primary Residence.
  • FAR
    FAR (Floor Area Ratio) is a term that measures the ratio of the total building square footage to the size of the parcel. A building that completely covers its entire parcel and is two stories high would have a FAR of 2.0. FAR measures the intensity of the building better than does density, since density does not consider the size of the building, simply the number of dwelling units.
  • Floor Area Ratio
    FAR (Floor Area Ratio) is a term that measures the ratio of the total building square footage to the size of the parcel. A building that completely covers its entire parcel and is two stories high would have a FAR of 2.0. FAR measures the intensity of the building better than does density, since density does not consider the size of the building, simply the number of dwelling units.
  • FMR
    Fair Market Rents (FMR) are rents determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to be fair rent for a particular area, published annually for counties and by zip codes. Section 8 rents are based on these rents, which are typically a bit low in our area.
  • GBI
    Grand Boulevard Initiative (GBI) is a plan for redevelopment of El Camino Real from Daly City to San Jose that stresses collaboration between two counties and 19 cities, along with numerous other private and public agencies, in order to realize a regional vision that links land use and transportation. The GBI hopes to reduce climate change by supporting smart land use practices that will reduce the number and length of trips in single occupancy vehicles and encourage the use of public transit. Both Los Altos and Mountain View have agreed to the principles of GBI and have council representatives on the GBI Task Force that was formed in 2006.
  • Grand Boulevard Initiative
    Grand Boulevard Initiative (GBI) is a plan for redevelopment of El Camino Real from Daly City to San Jose that stresses collaboration between two counties and 19 cities, along with numerous other private and public agencies, in order to realize a regional vision that links land use and transportation. The GBI hopes to reduce climate change by supporting smart land use practices that will reduce the number and length of trips in single occupancy vehicles and encourage the use of public transit. Both Los Altos and Mountain View have agreed to the principles of GBI and have council representatives on the GBI Task Force that was formed in 2006.
  • HOME Funds
    HOME Funds are federal grants (like CDBG) to states and local jurisdictions to implement local housing strategies designed to increase home ownership and affordable housing opportunities for low and very low-income people.
  • Housing Accountability and Affordability Act
    The Housing Accountability and Affordability Act (SB 35), was signed by Gov. Brown on Sept. 29, 2017. This bill streamlines the approval process for affordable housing in many jurisdictions. Cities must now report annually how they have met their RHNA goals. If the goals are not met, or an annual report has not been filed, approval of qualified housing projects will be streamlined, so long as the developments are consistent with existing zoning, density, design standards and other locally adopted objective and ministerial policies and required public benefits, until these cities meet their RHNA goals. Housing developments proposing 10% Lower Income units or higher percentages if there is a local BMR/inclusionary ordinance requiring a higher percentage, will be fast-tracked where the local jurisdiction has not met its RHNA goals for the Above Moderate category. This is generally aimed at cities that are totally no-growth; as most cities in our area meet their goals for Above Moderate, this will have little impact. Where the RHNA goals have not been met for those categories under 80% AMI, if a development proposes to include at least 50% of the units as Lower Income units, the project will be fast-tracked. The streamlining means for example, that they if the development contains 150 or fewer units, it must be approved within 90 days of submittal. Typically, these will be all-affordable developments, and, of course, they usually need local funding.  
  • Housing Element
    A Housing Element is one of seven mandatory elements which must be included in a jurisdiction's General Plan. General Plans are more comprehensive than Housing Elements and must include Land Use, Circulation, Housing, Open Space, Noise, Safety and Conservation. There is no specific timeframe for when General Plans must be updated, so many are in place for decades before they are updated. Mountain View completed an update of its General Plan in 2012. Housing Element cycles are now supposed to be consistent with SB 375, which requires strategies to achieve greenhouse gas reductions through regional transportation planning and funding. Therefore, Housing Elements will now be on an eight-year cycle. SB 375 requires the region to have a Sustainable Communities Strategy as a mandatory element of the regional transportation plan. Part of this strategy includes identifying areas within the region sufficient to house an 8-year projection of regional housing need. Plan Bay Area was recently adopted as a result of the requirement for a sustainable communities strategy.
  • Housing Trust
    A Housing Trust is a nonprofit entity that receives financing, typically from local businesses and local jurisdictions, which it then allocates for various affordable housing programs. The Housing Trust of Silicon Valley is one of the largest in the US. Most local jurisdictions have contributed funds, as has the Santa Clara Association of Realtors, many businesses, and many banks. This local Housing Trust focuses on three main programs: First-Time Homebuyer Loans, which are loans to new low and moderate-income homebuyers in the form of low-interest second mortgages and down payment assistance; Multi-Family loans, which are loans to nonprofits for new construction or rehabilitation of housing for lower-income households; and Home Grant Programs, which provide aid to those moving from homelessness or unsuitable housing into permanent housing in the form of security deposit assistance.
  • HUD
    HUD is a cabinet department in the Executive Branch of the U.S. federal government, founded in 1965. CDBG and HOME funds are distributed by HUDHUD also provides financing for affordable housing complexes, especially for developments that house developmentally disabled and chronically mentally ill. Section 8 vouchers are also distributed by HUD.
  • Impact fees
    Impact fees (also called commercial linkage fees) are fees paid by developers of office, retail, and hotel developments. The fees must be based on a Nexus Study, and are assessed at different amounts per square foot of development.
  • In-lieu fees
    In-lieu fees are fees that developers are allowed to pay to a City's affordable housing fund instead of building units. Los Altos has not allowed in-lieu fees, but is reconsidering this issue. Mountain View encourages the payment of in-lieu fees instead of building ownership BMRs, and because of the Palmer case Mountain View adopted RHIFs.
  • Just Cause
    Just Cause for eviction means the Landlord has a good reason for terminating a tenancy, generally either failure to pay rent, or breach of the lease by the tenant. Reasons are stated in California Code of Civil Procedure and detailed in Dept. of Fair Employment and Housing definition. Tenants in all rental units (unless exempted as described above) with an initial certificate of occupancy before the Effective Date of CSFRA, 12/23/16,  are subject to Just Cause protection.
  • Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program
    The Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program is a program to generate equity for investment in affordable rental housing. The program requires a certain percentage of units be restricted for occupancy to households earning 60% or less of AMI. The rents on these units are restricted accordingly. The tax credits are sold to investors, such as PG&E, Intel, and Google, to offset their earnings.
  • Maintenance of Net Operating Income
    The concept of Maintenance of Net Operating Income (MNOI) is the concept that the landlord was presumably receiving a fair rate of return in 2015, for example, and that the landlord should be able to maintain this NOI in the following years if they are to have a fair rate of return.
  • Measure A
    Measure A is a bond measure passed by Santa Clara County voters in November 2016, allowing the County to borrow up to $950 million by issuing general obligation bonds. $700 million will be used to provide housing for those with extremely low incomes, especially the chronically homeless. $100 million will be allocated to those with very low-incomes, up to $100 million for those with moderate incomes and $50 million for moderate-income first-time homebuyers.
  • MNOI
    The concept of Maintenance of Net Operating Income (MNOI) is the concept that the landlord was presumably receiving a fair rate of return in 2015, for example, and that the landlord should be able to maintain this NOI in the following years if they are to have a fair rate of return.
  • Net Operating Income
    NOI is net operating income. It is calculated by subtracting operating expenses from gross income.
  • Nexus Study
    A Nexus Study is an economic study that analyzes the impact of a particular kind of development on the need for affordable housing, or other needs. A jobs/housing nexus study was done in 2001 in Mountain View to document that creating new jobs leads to a need for affordable housing. In 2011, another nexus study was prepared to show the demand for affordable housing created by market-rate rental and for-sale housing. Los Altos joined other cities to prepare a nexus study that was completed in 2017 as the basis for consideration of impact and in-lieu fees.
  • NOFA
    Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) is a notice given by the local jurisdiction that funds are available for a particular project. In Mountain View a NOFA has typically been issued when the City has substantial funds to expend on affordable housing and is requesting developers to come forward with proposals, which the Council will evaluate. Sometimes a NOFA has specific priorities or requirements.
  • NOI
    NOI is net operating income. It is calculated by subtracting operating expenses from gross income.
  • Notice of Funding Availability
    Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) is a notice given by the local jurisdiction that funds are available for a particular project. In Mountain View a NOFA has typically been issued when the City has substantial funds to expend on affordable housing and is requesting developers to come forward with proposals, which the Council will evaluate. Sometimes a NOFA has specific priorities or requirements.
  • Overlay Zone
    Overlay Zone is a regulatory tool that is placed over an existing base zone to identify special provisions in addition to those in the underlying base zone. Regulations or incentives are attached to the overlay district to protect a specific resource, guide development within a special area or provide guidance for development of a specific use. Overlay zones are sometimes used to provide incentives to build affordable housing.
  • Palmer decision
    In Palmer/Sixth Street Properties L.P. v. City of Los Angeles, the California Court of Appeal held that local inclusionary requirements (also known as BMR requirements) applied to rental housing and in-lieu fees based upon those requirements violated the Costa-Hawkins Act, the State law governing rent control. The Court concluded that since Costa-Hawkins allows landlords to set the initial rent for a new unit and to increase the rent to market levels whenever a unit is vacated (vacancy decontrol), Los Angeles could not limit the initial rental rate of the Palmer units. Since the in-lieu fee was based upon the number of BMR units required, the in-lieu fee was inextricably intertwined with the preempted rent control option disallowed by Costa-Hawkins. In-lieu fees adopted after Palmer were based on new nexus studies. Effective Jan. 1, 2018, AB 1505 will "fix" Palmer and allow local inclusionary (BMR) units in rental housing once again.
  • Partially exempt unit
    A partially exempt unit is a unit otherwise eligible that was issued a certificate of occupancy after Feb. 1 1995. Partially exempt units are subject to just cause but not rent stabilization.
  • PDA
    A Priority Development Area (PDA) is a neighborhood within walking distance of frequent transit service. Cities, including Mountain View, suggested PDAs as Plan Bay Area was being developed. 80% of housing needs/production in the next 25 years is expected to be in PDAs. Mountain View envisions five PDAs: Downtown, El Camino Real, San Antonio, N. Bayshore and Whisman Station. Not only are the PDAs supposed to be near good public transit, but there is supposed to be a close jobs-housing connection.
  • Plan Bay Area
    Plan Bay Area (also known as One Bay Area) is a plan adopted by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Executive Board of ABAG in July 2013, incorporating the 9-county region's regional Sustainable Communities Strategy and its 2040 Regional Transportation Plan, along with the associated final Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The Plan includes initiatives to expand housing and transportation choices, create healthier communities, and build a strong regional economy. All 18 metropolitan areas of California were required to complete similar plans to comply with SB 375's requirements. These include a Sustainable Communities Strategy to accommodate future growth and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks. Housing production is focused in Priority Development Areas (PDAs).
  • Precise Plan
    Precise Plan as used in Mountain View is a planning tool for coordinating future public and private improvements on specific properties where special conditions of size, shape, land ownership, or existing or desired development require particular attention. Recent and pending examples are the San Antonio Area, El Camino Real, and North Bayshore.
  • Priority Development Area
    A Priority Development Area (PDA) is a neighborhood within walking distance of frequent transit service. Cities, including Mountain View, suggested PDAs as Plan Bay Area was being developed. 80% of housing needs/production in the next 25 years is expected to be in PDAs. Mountain View envisions five PDAs: Downtown, El Camino Real, San Antonio, N. Bayshore and Whisman Station. Not only are the PDAs supposed to be near good public transit, but there is supposed to be a close jobs-housing connection.
  • Proposition 13
    Proposition 13 was an amendment to the California Constitution enacted in 1978 through an initiative process. It was declared constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1992. Prop. 13 limits the property tax to an annual increase of assessed value to an inflation factor not to exceed 2% per year. It also reduced property taxes at the time by assessing property values at their 1975 value. It prohibits reassessment except for changes in ownership. Prop. 13 was largely supported as a way not to price older Californians out of their homes through high taxes. Recently, there has been some support for a "split roll", whereby commercial property would not be protected in the same way. The LWVC has joined this Make it Fair Coalition.
  • RDA
    A Redevelopment Agency (RDA) (called the Revitalization Agency in Mountain View) was a governmental agency, typically focused on a particular geographic area that meets specific legal criteria for being blighted. Cities often issued tax-exempt bonds backed by the real estate tax increment to pay for capital improvements, land acquisition, and on-going services in the RDA district. RDAs passed a portion of the tax increase through to local taxing agencies within the district, but, important in terms of affordable housing, 20% of the tax increment funds had to be used for affordable housing (often called the RDA set-aside). In 2011, legislation was passed dissolving the 400 RDAs throughout California, partly due to abuses on the part of some RDAs, but mainly because Gov. Brown wanted all these increment funds to be paid to other taxing entities rather than to RDAs. RDA funds were an important source of financing affordable housing in Mountain View.
  • Redevelopment Agency
    A Redevelopment Agency (RDA) (called the Revitalization Agency in Mountain View) was a governmental agency, typically focused on a particular geographic area that meets specific legal criteria for being blighted. Cities often issued tax-exempt bonds backed by the real estate tax increment to pay for capital improvements, land acquisition, and on-going services in the RDA district. RDAs passed a portion of the tax increase through to local taxing agencies within the district, but, important in terms of affordable housing, 20% of the tax increment funds had to be used for affordable housing (often called the RDA set-aside). In 2011, legislation was passed dissolving the 400 RDAs throughout California, partly due to abuses on the part of some RDAs, but mainly because Gov. Brown wanted all these increment funds to be paid to other taxing entities rather than to RDAs. RDA funds were an important source of financing affordable housing in Mountain View.
  • Regional Housing Needs Allocation
    The Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) is the fair share of the regional housing need for all economic segments of the community, and is closely related to the Housing Element. The most important aspect of housing element law is that each city must include an inventory of sites that can accommodate its RHNA allocation. If the inventory can't accommodate the need, then the housing element must include a program to rezone sites to accommodate the need. However, identifying a sufficient number of sites that are properly zoned does not necessarily mean affordable housing is built there. Often nothing is built, or more often market-rate housing is built on these sites.
  • Relocation benefits
    Relocation benefits typically include various forms of assistance to tenants displaced if their building is to be torn down or converted from apartments to condominiums. If public funds are being used for the new development, then federal and/or state guidelines are triggered. In situations where a private developer is evicting tenants in order to build a new project, Mountain View currently requires the developer to pay  all households being displaced three months of rent at the current median rent for a similar-sized apartment in Mountain View if their income does not exceed 80% AMI, with additional amounts required for tenants with special circumstances, spelled out in the ordinance. For tenancies subject to CSFRA, all households whose income does not exceed 120% AMI income are entitled to at least the minimum that the applicable Mountain View ordinance requires.
  • Rent Stabilization
    Rent Stabilization includes a variety of ordinances (or in Mountain View a charter amendment) limiting the amount rent can be increased, usually within one year. Some jurisdictions tie the increase to CPI and others state a percentage such as 3 or 4%. Nearby, East Palo Alto, San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, Los Gatos and San Jose have some form of rent control.
  • Rental Housing Committee
    The Rental Housing Committee per CSFRA shall consist of 5 Mountain View residents appointed by the City Council; no more than 2 members can own or manage rental property, or be realtors or developers.
  • Rental Housing Fee
    Rental Housing Fee is a fee to be charged all landlords on an annual basis. The fee may be different for those units that are partially exempt. The fee will likely be set by the RHC in October and per CSFRA is to cover the costs of implementation of CSFRA.
  • Rental Housing Impact Fees
    Rental Housing Impact Fees (RHIF) are imposed upon developers of market-rate rental housing for the purpose of constructing affordable housing in the City. The fee is based upon a nexus study, which shows the linkage or nexus between the market-rate housing and the demand for affordable housing created by the market-rate units. Mountain View adopted RHIF in December 2012 and has increased the fees since then. Now that AB 1505 has been signed into law, presumably Mountain View will not collect RHIF from future developments but will require BMR units to be built.
  • RHC
    The Rental Housing Committee per CSFRA shall consist of 5 Mountain View residents appointed by the City Council; no more than 2 members can own or manage rental property, or be realtors or developers.
  • RHIF
    Rental Housing Impact Fees (RHIF) are imposed upon developers of market-rate rental housing for the purpose of constructing affordable housing in the City. The fee is based upon a nexus study, which shows the linkage or nexus between the market-rate housing and the demand for affordable housing created by the market-rate units. Mountain View adopted RHIF in December 2012 and has increased the fees since then. Now that AB 1505 has been signed into law, presumably Mountain View will not collect RHIF from future developments but will require BMR units to be built.
  • RHNA
    The Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) is the fair share of the regional housing need for all economic segments of the community, and is closely related to the Housing Element. The most important aspect of housing element law is that each city must include an inventory of sites that can accommodate its RHNA allocation. If the inventory can't accommodate the need, then the housing element must include a program to rezone sites to accommodate the need. However, identifying a sufficient number of sites that are properly zoned does not necessarily mean affordable housing is built there. Often nothing is built, or more often market-rate housing is built on these sites.
  • Rollback date
    Rollback date is a term referring to the date (Oct. 19, 2015) taken to calculate the Base Rent for current tenancies whose establishment predates the rollback date. It is called a “rollback” date because the CSFRA required upon its effective date that rents could not be higher than the Base Rent.
  • SB 2
    SB 2, the Building Homes and Jobs Act, was signed into law by Gov. Brown on Sept. 29, 2017. This bill creates a permanent funding source for affordable housing through a $75 fee on real estate transaction documents. The fee is capped at $225 per transaction and exempts commercial and residential sales; most of the fees will be raised on refinancings. It is estimated to bring in $200-$300 million annually.
  • SB 3
    SB 3, the Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond of 2018, placed a $4 billion bond measure on the November 2018 ballot to fund numerous critical affordable housing programs in California.
  • SB 35
    The Housing Accountability and Affordability Act (SB 35), was signed by Gov. Brown on Sept. 29, 2017. This bill streamlines the approval process for affordable housing in many jurisdictions. Cities must now report annually how they have met their RHNA goals. If the goals are not met, or an annual report has not been filed, approval of qualified housing projects will be streamlined, so long as the developments are consistent with existing zoning, density, design standards and other locally adopted objective and ministerial policies and required public benefits, until these cities meet their RHNA goals. Housing developments proposing 10% Lower Income units or higher percentages if there is a local BMR/inclusionary ordinance requiring a higher percentage, will be fast-tracked where the local jurisdiction has not met its RHNA goals for the Above Moderate category. This is generally aimed at cities that are totally no-growth; as most cities in our area meet their goals for Above Moderate, this will have little impact. Where the RHNA goals have not been met for those categories under 80% AMI, if a development proposes to include at least 50% of the units as Lower Income units, the project will be fast-tracked. The streamlining means for example, that they if the development contains 150 or fewer units, it must be approved within 90 days of submittal. Typically, these will be all-affordable developments, and, of course, they usually need local funding.  
  • Section 8 Voucher
    A Section 8 Voucher (also called a Housing Choice Voucher) is a rent voucher provided under Section 8 of the U.S. Housing Act. Eligible households can use the voucher for the housing of their choice. The voucher payment generally subsidizes the difference between the rent and estimated utility cost and and the tenant's contribution of 30% of adjusted income. (In Santa Clara County due to federal budget cuts, the tenant's contribution in some instances is 32% of adjusted income.) Often people with Section 8 Vouchers cannot find landlords who will accept the vouchers in a tight rental market, as the rents that HUD allows are not as high as market rents actually are.
  • Senior Housing
    Senior Housing under California law means projects developed for and used as housing for seniors. This means that the housing is occupied by at least one person who is 55 or older in at least 80% of the units and adheres to a policy that demonstrates intent to house persons 55 and older. Under Federal law, housing that satisfies the legal definition of senior housing can legally exclude families with children. State Density Bonus Law provides that density bonuses can be given to Senior Housing, even if none of the units are "affordable".
  • State Density Bonus Law
    State Density Bonus Law provides that if a developer agrees to build a certain percentage of units as BMRs (or Senior Housing with no BMRs) the developer is entitled by law to additional density. The law is very specific as to what income levels must be targeted, and for each percentage of the project built as BMRs, a specific additional density must be granted by the city. The Palmer court specifically allowed this exception regarding requiring BMRs. In addition to increased density, developers who include BMRs are entitled to incentives and waivers of local zoning, if necessary to make the project financially feasible.
  • Tax increment funds
    Tax increment funds are the increase in the total real estate taxes paid in the RDA district after the base year in which the RDA was created accrued to the RDA. Tax increment funds were used to pay for eligible activities within the RDA.
  • TDM
    Transportation Demand Management (TDM) is the application of strategies and policies to reduce travel demand, especially in single-occupancy vehicles, or to distribute the demand over space or time. Some techniques include expanding alternatives (i.e., wider use of free Marguerite bus system in Palo Alto in exchange for Stanford being allowed to construct more buildings), providing incentives for alternatives (i.e., owners of apartments providing Clipper cards or other incentives to tenants to encourage them to use public transit), and charging for the right to drive a car into the inner-city. Recently, Mountain View has been requiring TDM in exchange for granting developers the capacity to build new office space, especially in North Bayshore.
  • TOD
    Transit-oriented development (TOD) is the focus of Plan Bay Area as well as SB 375. The concept is to encourage mixed use (housing, office and/or retail) within close proximity to good public transit. Most often, this is within 1/2 mile of BART, Caltrain, light rail or bus routes with a high frequency.
  • Transit-oriented development
    Transit-oriented development (TOD) is the focus of Plan Bay Area as well as SB 375. The concept is to encourage mixed use (housing, office and/or retail) within close proximity to good public transit. Most often, this is within 1/2 mile of BART, Caltrain, light rail or bus routes with a high frequency.
  • Transitional Housing
    Transitional Housing under California law is buildings configured as rental housing, but operated under program requirements that require termination of assistance and recirculating of the assisted unit to another eligible program recipient at a predetermined future point in time that shall be no less than six months and no more than two years from the beginning of assistance.
  • Transportation Demand Management
    Transportation Demand Management (TDM) is the application of strategies and policies to reduce travel demand, especially in single-occupancy vehicles, or to distribute the demand over space or time. Some techniques include expanding alternatives (i.e., wider use of free Marguerite bus system in Palo Alto in exchange for Stanford being allowed to construct more buildings), providing incentives for alternatives (i.e., owners of apartments providing Clipper cards or other incentives to tenants to encourage them to use public transit), and charging for the right to drive a car into the inner-city. Recently, Mountain View has been requiring TDM in exchange for granting developers the capacity to build new office space, especially in North Bayshore.
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
    HUD is a cabinet department in the Executive Branch of the U.S. federal government, founded in 1965. CDBG and HOME funds are distributed by HUDHUD also provides financing for affordable housing complexes, especially for developments that house developmentally disabled and chronically mentally ill. Section 8 vouchers are also distributed by HUD.
  • Unbundled parking
    Unbundled parking is the practice of separating payment for rent of the apartment from the rent for a parking space. If the tenant opts not to drive, the tenant can save money by not paying the additional cost of the parking place.
  • Vacancy Decontrol
    Vacancy Decontrol refers to the situation that occurs when a tenant voluntarily vacates a unit; the landlord can then charge whatever the market rent is at that time.
  • Vega Adjustment
    Vega Adjustment addresses situations where the base year NOI was unusually low, typically because the rent charged for 1 or more units was unreasonably low. Vega refers to a court case which required such adjustments when using the MNOI methodology for fair rate of return. The RHC adopted a Vega Adjustment methodology which allows the landlord, as part of a petition for a fair rate of return, to identify units that were rented for less than the HUD Fair Market Rents (FMR) for Santa Clara County. The Vega Adjustment assumes that the rent charged for such units would be the higher HUD FMR rent, rather than the lower rent actually charged, thereby raising the gross income for the base year, which then affects the MNOI for the base year and allows an additional increase in rent for the year for which the landlord is petitioning. The increase in rent allowed would then be spread across all the units in the apartment complex that were subject to the Vega petition.
  • Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond of 2018
    SB 3, the Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond of 2018, placed a $4 billion bond measure on the November 2018 ballot to fund numerous critical affordable housing programs in California.