Renthics: The Ethics of Rent in the Bay Area

My current studio apartment is significantly smaller than my classroom.  Granted, I’m not trying to educate thirty 8th graders in my apartment, but I do have a queen size bed and a crap ton of cat toys to contend with.

When I moved from San Francisco to the South Bay almost four years ago I was paying 1050$ for a studio near downtown.  At the time that price took my breath away, but I didn’t have to turn sideways to fit down my hallway like other places I’d seen, I was not technically in the Tenderloin, and as friends continued to assure me, “Wow, you’re lucky.”  So, I felt lucky.  Little did I know how lucky and how much I would miss rent control when I moved.

Starting April 1st I will be paying 1400$ for the aforementioned bebbe studio, and doing so with begrudging gratitude because it is absolutely the cheapest place in Mountain View (I know, I looked/keep looking).  I’ve joined in rent control protests and rallies, full well knowing that it probably won’t change the prevailing trend, and I am writing the following letter to my landlord in the same spirit of being active and not passive about my life.  Feel free to send it to your own landlord with your next rent increase.

To whom it may concern:

I have lived at Park Lane for almost four years now.  In that time I have enjoyed the beautiful trees, an attentive manager, and well maintained grounds.  I have tried to be a responsible neighbor and tenant.  I recycle, pay my rent on time, help an elderly Indian lady up the stairs with her groceries, return lost keys to the office, and try to conserve resources.  As a responsible neighbor and tenant, I have a concern I’d like to bring to your attention today.

While I understand that property ownership is a business that takes money to run and not a charity, and that you want to remain competitive with the rents in the surrounding area, my rent has risen 310$ in less than four years.  As a teacher in the Mountain View Whisman School District, this means I now pay more than a third, and very close to half of my monthly income on rent.  I do not hold you responsible for the poor treatment of teachers everywhere, that would be ridiculous.  However, if I can barely make ends meet, I wonder what my neighbors who have young families are to do?  Leave is the “easy” answer, but is it the best long term answer?  Is it one that supports everyone’s interests?

As a property owner, you have the unique privilege of helping determine the make-up of a city.  So what happens to your city when I can no longer stay after school to help students or come to weekend events because of my forced commute?  Do they continue to stay out of trouble?  What happens when workers feel no connection to the local economy because they are all coming from elsewhere?  Do they keep spending at local businesses?  Community culture, sustainable expansion and building, and many other things depend on a diverse population that takes care of this place because it is ‘ours.’  This leads me to the question: Just because you have the right to keep raising rents, should you?

I know there are maintenance costs in running a property that are quite significant.  However, I humbly ask that you take a moment today to consider some of the other costs I have mentioned, the human costs.  Do you want a city or a world even where we do things just because we can get away with them?  What would it look and feel like if you stood heroically against that tide?

I appreciate your time immensely, I know you must be a busy individual.  I will continue to responsibly enjoy your property for as long as I am able, attempting to live in community and awareness of those around me.  Please feel free to contact me if you would like to speak in more detail about any of these matters.


Chelsea Delaney






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I am a former teacher, writer, dancer, aspiring Taiko drummer, and artist. I am trying to listen to the journey, no matter where it turns, and pump out a whole lot of magic while I do.

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