News

Water district plans to use Waverly Park homes for homeless

Neighborhood residents unhappy with plans for district-owned houses

Homeless encampments are a common sight along Stevens Creek in Mountain View. In the southern end of the city near Waverly Park, one such encampment sits across the creek from homes worth more than $2 million, representing the major gulf between the haves and the have-nots in Silicon Valley.

But in a move that appears likely to win support from board members, the Santa Clara Valley Water District could be bridging that divide by opening the doors of those multi-million-dollar properties to the homeless. Many of these single-family houses Mountain View along the creek are owned by the water district and leased out to tenants, and board members argue that offering these homes to the homeless as they become vacant is a small but meaningful way to help address the countywide homelessness problem.

The plan is meeting strong resistance from some Waverly Park residents, who say their neighborhood lacks services needed by the homeless and generally is an inappropriate for housing homeless people. Others say not enough details have been provided, and that the district didn't notify nearby residents of the unusual plan.

A regional water agency may seem like an unlikely ally in the fight to end homelessness and bring more affordable housing to Santa Clara County, but the Santa Clara Valley Water District is focused on several new efforts aimed at doing both. At their Nov. 22 meeting, water district board members agreed to declare five district-owned sites throughout the county as "excess land," which cities and the county will be able to buy for permanent housing.

Another proposal, which board members praised as a great opportunity to show compassion for the county's homeless population, is to provide district-owned residential rental properties as housing for the homeless.

Through various land acquisitions over the last four decades, the water district owns and leases out 53 residential properties in the county -- 19 of which are in the northern end of Mountain View's Waverly Park neighborhood, along the edge of Stevens Creek. These properties were purchased by the water district from 1974 through 1989 as an alternative to constructing a project to address creek erosion, according to a district staff report.

The district bought the first two homes in August 1974 when the board agreed to acquire 25 creekside properties at risk from "severe erosion and bank failure" that made them a hazard, according to board meeting minutes. The district determined that buying and maintaining the properties would be an environmentally sound and cheap alternative to a major construction project to install a concrete-lined channel and high retaining walls.

None of the creekside property owners was compelled to sell during the two decades of acquisitions, according to district spokesman Marty Grimes, and the properties were purchased for fair market value "based on comparable sales of the nearby "unendangered properties."

The water district bought 21 properties in Mountain View for a total cost of $2.6 million, and the estimated value of the 19 homes has since grown to an estimated $24.7 million, according to a staff memo last year. The water district collects $700,000 in rent each year, bringing in nearly $6.4 million in revenue over the last 11 years.

If the plan to shelter homeless people is approved, the district will contact the Santa Clara County Office of Supportive Housing whenever one of the houses becomes vacant; the agency would determine whether the dwelling would be appropriate for housing the homeless.

The decision would affect Mountain View in particular, because the water district has no plans to sell or demolish the 19 houses. Other district-owned residential properties are on project sites along the Guadalupe River, and are scheduled to be razed in the next few years.

"We're spending huge amounts of money on cleanup in our creeks, and we've got a chance to get people employed and get them some housing," board member Dick Santos said at the Nov. 22 meeting. "Along with Measure A ... a lot of good things are coming."

The water district, like many cities in the county, signed a resolution this year calling homelessness a "crisis," and board members vowed to find ways to help house the roughly 6,550 homeless residents by way of a new Homeless Encampment Ad Hoc Committee. The water district has a vested interest in reducing the number of the homeless, in part because the county's creeks and waterways are home to hundreds of homeless individuals and families who build encampments and leave trash and debris in their wake. During the 2014-15 fiscal year, the district removed 1,209 tons of trash from 368 encampments, costing an estimated $1.3 million.

Under the district's charter, called the District Act, the agency can't construct affordable housing on its land, but there are creative options that could circumvent that limitation. Over the last six months the Homeless Encampment Committee has considered everything from peppering creekside property with 200-square-foot "tiny" homes to establishing sanctioned, permanent encampment sites with designated trash pickup and stringent requirements for all homeless residents to perform hours of creek cleanup each week. The proposal to offer district-owned residential properties as housing for the homeless is one of several recommendations to come out of the Homeless Encampment Committee.

But the plan to house homeless people in the east end of Waverly Park didn't sit well with nearby residents, many of whom sent letters to the water district opposing the idea and arguing that the location was nowhere near public transit, grocery stores and other services.

Waverly Park resident Kathy Thibodeaux told board members in a letter that she believes the neighborhood will never be a good location for homeless housing under any circumstances and should be exempt from the water district's proposal. Thibodeaux, a member of the leadership team for the affordable housing advocacy organization SV@Home, said that while she is a staunch supporter of the Measure A affordable housing bond, putting homeless housing in Waverly Park would be a mistake.

"Without support and diligent property management, this could lead to problems that would create unfortunate social tensions in this well-established and stable neighborhood," Thibodeaux wrote. "I do not see any scenario in the foreseeable future under which the 19 district-owned homes in this location could ever be deemed suitable for housing the homeless."

City Councilman Ken Rosenberg sent a letter to the water district in September commending the district for seeking solutions to the affordable housing crisis, but also questioning how well-suited the properties are for traditional homeless housing given the distance from services and transportation. He suggested that the district could work with the city to provide the homes to low-income families, which would be a more effective use of the residential properties along the creek.

Waverly Park resident Carmen Bryant also asked board members to ditch the plan, saying that the neighborhood is a tight-knit community full of families who have put down millions of dollars for their properties, and risk seeing their home values decline because of a "perceived exposure to the danger, the drugs, and the 'Skid Row' feeling" that would result. The real estate websites Zillow and Trulia estimate that homes in the neighborhood are worth about $2.2 million each.

Other residents called out the district for failing to inform the neighborhood residents about the proposal prior to the meeting, and leaving them in the dark about the finer details of the plan. Laura Brown, the chair of the Waverly Park Neighborhood Association, said she was never notified by the district. A neighbor told her about the homeless housing proposal just days before the Nov. 22 meeting.

"It was very hard to get the word out to people that any of this was going on," Brown told the Voice. "The (district) needed more transparency and more information, and to reach out to the community and give us their plan and more specifics on it."

At the board meeting, Brown said she understands the need for more homeless housing and services, and that she spent many years as a manager of Social Security offices in Sunnyvale and Palo Alto, and had plenty of face-to-face interactions with "some of the most destitute homeless" in the area. But she said there are still far too many unknowns in the plan. She said it's not clear what criteria will be used to assign people to the 19 homes, whether families or a collection of unrelated people are going to reside in each home, and what ongoing services the county will provide once they move in.

A majority of board members supported the plan, but ultimately decided to table a decision until the nearby residents are better informed about the plan to earmark the 19 homes for homeless housing. Board member Gary Kremen said the district ought to consult with Mountain View City Manager Dan Rich and other city staff before making a decision, and wondered if there would be any legal conflicts with the plan now that the city's rent control ordinance, Measure V, has passed.

Santos said he wasn't buying the argument that offering the houses for homeless dwellings would change the complexion of the neighborhood and uproot the existing community, calling it a "scare tactic" focused on anything other than helping the people who are "down and out." District staff estimate that in any given year, only one or two tenants move -- leaving little chance for a sudden surge in homeless residents moving in, he said.

Board member Tony Estremera said the district is offering what it can as a public organization to solve the county's homeless crisis, and argued that leveraging the residential properties that the district owns is a small but important part of that plan. Although some of the neighbors alluded to drugs and things like "Skid Row," Estremera said, it's important to understand that people living on the county's waterways are from all walks of life.

"These people do not have a place to stay, most of them are families, and unlike what most people think, they are all employed," Estremera said. "These people get up from the creek, out of their tents, and they go to work every day and take their kids to school. That's a majority of the people who live in our creeks."

Comments

236 people like this
Posted by The hypocrisy is painful
a resident of Rex Manor
on Dec 2, 2016 at 1:11 pm

"Waverly Park resident Kathy Thibodeaux told board members in a letter that she believes the neighborhood will never be a good location for homeless housing under any circumstances and should be exempt from the water district's proposal. Thibodeaux, a member of the leadership team for the affordable housing advocacy organization SV@Home, said that while she is a staunch supporter of the Measure A affordable housing bond, putting homeless housing in Waverly Park would be a mistake."

This makes me so angry. How hypocritical to support putting affordable housing in other people's neighborhoods, but not your own! There is absolutely no reason a low-income person or family couldn't live quite happily in a Waverly Park home. Their children would benefit greatly from attending a well-funded school like Huff.

These types of projects get built in my neighborhood all the time, and while I'm not crazy about it, I live with it. But why should I be supportive if the person pushing this on me and my neighbors (who also spent over $1.5 million for our homes) isn't willing to host these people in her neighborhood as well?!


20 people like this
Posted by Not a NIMBY
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 2, 2016 at 1:11 pm

I think it is a great idea. I'm willing to donate money to allow these new residents to use Uber to get to and from the services that my neighbors seem to think are too far away from us.

Way to go SVCWD!


64 people like this
Posted by The hypocrisy is painful
a resident of Rex Manor
on Dec 2, 2016 at 1:40 pm

@Not a Nimby

I commend you. But the complaint about services is all a smoke screen. There is a Ranch 99 grocery store, Marshalls, and a Walgreens drug store a short bike ride away. El Camino to catch a bus is also a short bike ride along Steven's Creek Trail. Since these houses back up on the trail, residents wouldn't even have to fight traffic. I call BS.


21 people like this
Posted by Kaaren Marquez
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 2, 2016 at 2:26 pm

In my opinion, this could be an excellent use of these properties, especially for the many homeless families with school age kids. I agree they don't make sense for a mentally ill single man, but for parents struggling to support their family in this area of crazy rental prices, it could be a great way to help them find some stability for their kids. Their kids can walk or bike to school. There is the free community shuttle at Eunice and Grant or they can walk on the trail less than a mile to El Camino to get the vta bus. It would need to be setup in a way that doesn't have people moving in and out all time, but if it provided housing for a needy family for 6 months to a year while they managed to save for first and last month's rent and establish themselves as a reliable employee, I'm all for it. Based on all the posts on nextdoor, I bet you'd even have some friendly neighbors who'd be willing to help them furnish the house.

I'm happy more work is being done to define this better and neighborhood involvement is important. With proper planning those properties can address some of the housing needs in the community. In fact, I believe they are already providing a slightly below market rental option for families. Maybe this could be even further subsidized. Please don't believe that all Waverly Park residents aren't open to a range of housing options in our backyard.


25 people like this
Posted by NotInOurHood!
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 2, 2016 at 2:38 pm

Waverly Park is a neighborhood for high-end single family homes, not low-end flophouses.


28 people like this
Posted by Bob G
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 2, 2016 at 2:38 pm

In addition to housing the homeless, how about also considering these homes to provide low-cost housing to school teachers who can't afford to live close to the local schools where they teach?


15 people like this
Posted by Martha Young
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 2, 2016 at 2:42 pm

I am in support of this proposal. For one thing, as the article made clear, they are only making the properties available to un-housed people as they become available, so it's not a sudden conversion from traditional renters to homeless residents in all houses in one fell swoop.

Also, quoting the above article:

"Although some of the neighbors alluded to drugs and things like 'Skid Row,' Estremera said, it's important to understand that people living on the county's waterways are from all walks of life.

'These people do not have a place to stay, most of them are families, and unlike what most people think, they are all employed," Estremera said. "These people get up from the creek, out of their tents, and they go to work every day and take their kids to school. That's a majority of the people who live in our creeks.' "

So many of Mountain View's homeless are working people. Many live in their cars (and if they have cars, then the [rather shaky] argument that all homeless housing must be closer than a mile to shopping, transit, etc. is removed). Many are families. I think they would be excellent candidates for a home in Waverly Park.


13 people like this
Posted by Martha Young
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 2, 2016 at 2:46 pm

@NotInOurHood! - Wow. Just... wow.


12 people like this
Posted by Polomom
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 2, 2016 at 2:54 pm

Polomom is a registered user.

Homelessness in MV has many faces. The single male on his bike living on the Stevens Creek Trail and his friend pushing a shopping cart are the images we all associate with the Water Districts plan. The countless non- visible homeless people are really the ones fitting well into my Waverly Park neighborhood:
Families and Seniors displaced from their MV rentals when their landlords sold out to developers. Some seniors have lived here most of their lives and did not plan for an uprooting move. Families do not want to change the school district with their children. Some live-in cars, drive the bus all night or are lucky enough to find a temporary spot in a shelter.
As far as the water district telling people in MV their plan, that is really a nice gesture. I cannot find anything in the city’s code that would require this. The water district always had tenants, this wouldn’t be any different. Nobody can tell the landlord in MV who to rent to or not.
If the city had an ordinance about multiple leases in a single residence it would be a different story. But we don’t, the water district renting homes to multiple independent adults would be legal. If the City Council wants to have families move into my R-1 zoned neighborhood, they will have to create an ordinance that makes multiple leases in a home situated in a single family residential district illegal. Businesses like residential care homes in an R-1 area are a different story, they require permits etc.
Sunnyvale has SRO (single Room Occupancy) guidelines in their municipal code. R-1 zoning does not allow single room occupancy. Palo Alto is suggesting to allow SRO’s in high density and commercial parts of the city. (Not R-1)
Creating an ordinance like this would also put a stop to the dormitories sprouting up in our neighborhoods, entire homes are rented out per room with individual leases. I have 7 rooms rented out in a 5-bedroom house on my street. There are a lot more dorms advertised like this in MV. Not Airbnb, different concept.


11 people like this
Posted by Dan Hoover
a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2016 at 3:09 pm

My God, an agency with a heart. Thank you, water district...you've made my month.


34 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 2, 2016 at 3:26 pm

What is Valley Water doing getting into the housing business? The mission of the district is to provide Silicon Valley safe, clean water for a healthy life, environment, and economy. Their vision is to be a nationally recognized as a leading water resources management agency. They have no business becoming landlords. If they don't want the houses, sell them or give them to the city. Deliberately circumventing their charter should get them all fired.


16 people like this
Posted by Polomom
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 2, 2016 at 3:40 pm

Polomom is a registered user.

@Rick, they have been landlords since 1974. No change there. Living close by, we always knew who owned the rentals. The properties are kept up, everything is fine. Any landlord will be vetting their new tenant(s), I do not think it will be in the best interest for the Water District to hand over the keys to just any creek dweller.I trust they will find suitable tenants, like they did before. Maybe the city can help by making lists of displaced people available.


21 people like this
Posted by @Dan Hoover and others
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 2, 2016 at 4:36 pm

I think that the SCVWD trustees, the editors of the Voice and all those with big hearts who post here that this is a great idea should go the final step and take in one or two of the homeless into their homes. We could eliminate homelessness here in Silicon Valley if only a few good-hearted people like you step up.


5 people like this
Posted by @Cuesta Park
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 2, 2016 at 4:42 pm

So why haven't you done your part yet? Or are you far too "special" for that?


28 people like this
Posted by Finances
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 2, 2016 at 6:25 pm

I'm curious how the finances work.
If the water district was taking in $700,000/year in rental income and now they're just going to let people stay in the houses for free...
1). Are they going to come back to us to say they need more money from us?
2) don't they have a fiduciary responsibility to manage resources in a way that benefits us, their customers?


8 people like this
Posted by Biff
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 2, 2016 at 7:17 pm

Fret not. It shant happen. ;)


18 people like this
Posted by Solution
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 2, 2016 at 7:31 pm

The solution to homelessness here in the bay area is to give them a one way bus ticket to Sacramento.


15 people like this
Posted by MVresident
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 2, 2016 at 8:20 pm

MVresident is a registered user.

Just wait until the homeless dramatically increase the crime rate in that neighborhood. There are many jobs in other states where housing is lower cost. Why doesn't the county send them to Detroit where homes can be bought for < $10,000.


19 people like this
Posted by Genuity
a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2016 at 8:38 pm

They take in a net $700K in income for these rentals, but they provide the
tenants with free gardening service as part of the rent. Of course there
are also maintenance services to keep the properties habitable and functional.

Would the water district continue to provide gardening service and maintenance oversight for the properties if made available to the homeless services agency? If so that has to cost an additional $50K per year. Who pays the utility fees for these homes?

They are likely not energy efficient. They are probably around 2000 sq feet each,
single story, 1950's era construction. As you know, the water district does not
provide water directly to anyone. The water reseller there is Cal Water. The City of
MV collects for sewer and garbage collection services which are provided by Waste Management under city contract. Gas and Electric are PG&E.

So how many homeless unemployed individuals would be housed by one of these $2 Million homes with the high operating costs? It seems to me you would need to get 20 or more
to justify such a large capital gift. Otherwise, the homeless agency would be better off simply renting out these units at market rate ($4K or so per month) and then use the funds to support homeless efforts elsewhere.

What about teacher housing? Are there "homeless" teachers who might benefit from
sharing such houses?

I'd say this idea deserves more examination. Also, the San Jose based housing agency has no operations AT ALL in Mountain View. Witness the 100's of people living in RV's on MV streets due to the generosity of the city. Would it not be better to involve the Community Services Agency of Mountain View/Los Altos and ask them to use the housing to address the LOCAL homeless RV dwellers, many of whom work in the area????

I think these water board members are idiots for proceeding along this track without
due diligence BEFORE stirring everyone up.


14 people like this
Posted by Jobs
a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2016 at 8:47 pm

Wow, also, what a lot of jobs for social workers to staff all these individual homeless shelters all across the county, including Mountain View. All in one place, the temporary winter shelters have a high ratio of clients to staff. But spread out like this, you'd need quite an operation to supervise, feed, clothe, and otherwise monitor the residents in disparate little houses like this.

What a great job increase for social workers. Will the water district pay the bill for the staffing also? How about the grocery bill, and the cooks to feed unrelated people living in a single family home?


3 people like this
Posted by @Monta Loma
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 2, 2016 at 8:49 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment/personal attack]


9 people like this
Posted by DJW
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 3, 2016 at 12:11 pm

I generally agree with what @genuity posted.. There are working families living in motorhomes. Last month I read here about more families being evicted. Rents continues to rise.. If there is a plan to prioritize families. I'd like to hear it. Involving the City of Mountsin view and the CSA is a critical step.

Helping those less fortunate is an admirable endeavor. There needs to be a plan and those in the neighborhood need to be infomed of the plan.

How is this going to work fiscally for SCVWD. Forgive my cynicism but I never viewed the water district as altruistic so my apprehension to their motives

I'm for helping those in need but we all need to understand the plan and its impact to our neighborhood.


11 people like this
Posted by Janet Lafleur
a resident of Rex Manor
on Dec 3, 2016 at 1:20 pm

I'm not surprised that many of the neighbors fear the water district housing people to poor to afford a place to live, but I am deeply disappointed. We have a rental housing crisis that is forcing people of limited means out of their homes on a daily basis. We see some dozens of them living in RVs and vehicles by Rengstorff Park, on Latham St and in many other locations throughout town.

A street a few blocks from mine in Rex Manor now has a growing number of RVs and other vehicles housing people. I would much rather see these people living in actual homes with full services on my street than in vehicles. Kudos to the water district to considering the needs of our most vulnerable residents.


14 people like this
Posted by ST
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Dec 3, 2016 at 1:22 pm


When coming to affordable housing, I understand that people often get emotional. But we need to be practical. IMHO, this proposal is pretty flawed and shows how naive SCVWD is when coming to housing issues (not their business anyway).
Will this proposal solve the problem of homeless people living along the creek or in MV in general? The answer is likely NO. As admitted in the article, only few houses become available per year when existing tenants move out, therefore the proposal can move only few people per year. But more importantly, what make SCVWD think that there is no new homeless people moving to the fill in the empty spaces left behind in the creek?

Is there a better way to use these houses, the answer is easily YES. For example, selling them or renting them at market rate, then use the money to support more affordable houses in area where the housing cost is less. It is simply more people (e.g. double or triple) got supported this way. Sure you can put few families there, but then what's about the rest?

We need to have a broader view and solve problem close to the root not just this patchy idea.


14 people like this
Posted by Betsy
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Dec 3, 2016 at 2:38 pm

This is an interesting problem because we've got three forces that the government usually deals with colliding: poverty, the housing shortage, and creek erosion. The forward-thinking answer is this: Knock down the houses, reinforce the creek, build condos on the newly reinforced land that can house MORE than 21 families. You've dealt with the erosion for good, and helped the housing crisis in a more meaningful way, thus impacting poverty. Selling the condos will pay for the creek reinforcement, leveraging the inflated price of housing now to keep the Waverly Park neighborhood safe from erosion in the future.
The current solution shuttles a few people temporarily into different houses, and leaves the erosion problem for someone else to deal with later. Doesn't do anything to build for the future.


8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 3, 2016 at 3:20 pm

I understand only one or two of these houses come on the market every year. this entire thing is a non-issue. also it's none of anyone's business if someone rents their house out to a family the water district has no plans to rent amount is flophouses families only please read the water district website


10 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 3, 2016 at 3:24 pm

I live near that neighborhood. the SCVWD maintains those houses meticulously.. They have been gr at neighbors for years and years.

I strongly support the proposal!


7 people like this
Posted by Lenny S
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 3, 2016 at 3:31 pm

If anyone spent the time to read the report you would know that over 25% of the homeless in Santa Clara County live in the creeks. The Water District is legally responsible to keep the creeks clean this Homelessness is clearly in their mission.

Also our representative on the water District intervened to be sure any program involving the homeless in those houses taking into Account the cities consent if people have an issue they should contact their city Council person in Mountain View


4 people like this
Posted by ADU
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2016 at 11:26 pm

Sounds like a great idea worth exploring; certainly a lot of homeless families with kids who could benefit from a safe roof.
Wondering if any of the houses could also accommodate a granny unit (now that the City has relaxed its requirements in order to increase the stock of more -affordable- housing),


8 people like this
Posted by DC
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Dec 4, 2016 at 10:23 am

What happened to housing for the low income?

Why are they not offered these before they may become homeless?.


10 people like this
Posted by Diericx Drive
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 4, 2016 at 10:54 am

I support this idea. They'll vet the tenants. These folks don't want trouble any more than we do. It's a very small number of people. Not sure they're getting any better transit service or amenities living in the creek than they would living in Waverly Park.


4 people like this
Posted by D Man.
a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 5, 2016 at 2:47 pm

All good let them eat cake ! Your right homeless comes in many versions but why not just buy them motor homes so they can own a piece of this golden pie like all the other " homeless " people on side streets next to Target or by the car wash moving the vehicles every 3 days. That way they can at least pay registration ! just a thought. Or take @solutions Idea that one works..


11 people like this
Posted by Wav Park
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 5, 2016 at 3:45 pm

I don't think this is a good proposal. It's a huge use of resources that will benefit few people all while hurting the residents of Waverly Park (and ultimately the county when property values/ taxes fall).



15 people like this
Posted by True
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 5, 2016 at 7:03 pm

On it's face this seems like a neat idea provided the folks will be vetted appropriately before being allowed to move into these Water Dist owned properties.

But with a bit of critical thought it becomes absolutely absurd. The homes in that corridor are worth between 1.5 and 2M each. The Water District owns 19 homes in that area. Conservatively, that is $28 million dollars worth of real estate....and they want to use it to house 19 homeless families.

How many homeless families, and individuals and veterans could be housed if those properties were sold and the revenue was instead used to fund apartment rent in a more reasonable rental market than Mountain View? Or heck, to purchase an apartment building in Mountain View. Here's one for sale, 21 units, $7.5M and another of 56 units for $26M. Web Link

The Water District could easily house far more than just 19 families if they use the resources at their disposal wisely. Someone needs to ask why they aren't?

If only we had a local newspaper that engaged in the practice of journalism rather than misguided social activism....they'd be the ideal group to ask such a question.


10 people like this
Posted by huh $28M?
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 6, 2016 at 10:08 am

Think again @True. The only reason that the water district owns these homes IS NATURAL CREEK EROSION. Many decades ago, they calculated the cost of litigating with dozens of creekside property owners, or concrete channelizing the entire creek. The natural evolution argument won out.

Let the buyer beware - the properties, if in private hands, would be worth MUCH LESS than properties across the street, that are not subject to continuing NATURAL CREEK EROSION. Remember the mobil home park units that 'started to fall into the creek'? When that eventually starts to happen to a house or two, the water district will experience NO LIABILITY or settlement costs, for the properties that they own.

True


12 people like this
Posted by kh
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Dec 6, 2016 at 5:17 pm

It seems that renting out these properties at 5K (or more) per month would then allow the water district to place the homeless in suitable housing. Are they planning to move a group of individual unrelated homeless people into a 4 bedroom home? Who will monitor the situation? It sounds like a well intentioned but bad idea that will not work.


20 people like this
Posted by ivg
a resident of Rex Manor
on Dec 6, 2016 at 9:00 pm

I heartily agree with those who have criticized the allocation of resources. It would be nice if every homeless person could be housed in a 2000 sq. ft. single-family house, if money grew on trees and the moon were made of cheese. Creek erosion is a long-term liability for those houses, but has little impact on short-term rent. I suggest that the water district take the fat rental proceeds from those houses and deposit them in Mountain View's affordable housing fund. That way, we'll be able to pay for housing for *more* homeless people.


8 people like this
Posted by Xa
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Dec 8, 2016 at 10:02 pm

Is the Santa Clara Valley Water District going to pay for the heat, electricity, water, and other utilities for all of these homes? What about furniture? What if the tenants try to rent it out on Air BnB? This seems like a very odd arrangement for a Water District board to oversee and monitor. I think this would better if it were run by social services or a humanitarian group like Catholic Charities.


4 people like this
Posted by Xyz
a resident of Rex Manor
on Dec 9, 2016 at 6:55 am

First is rent control, now it is free housing for the homeless. MV is really a heavenly city to live.


2 people like this
Posted by Jessie
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2017 at 4:22 pm

This idea is another sign the Water District has lost focus on its mandate. First they start with the 100 year flood planes destroying environmentally sensitive habitats and baseball fields which after a 100 hundred years we have never had a problem with. Then they choose not to enforce the laws of the County like those affecting people living in creek beds, allowing homeless encampments, which brings victim intensive crime, shoplifting,drugs and drug sales and vandalism to every city where it exists, and now they want to destroy a Mountain View neighborhood with some redistribution agenda. If you review the comments of Tony Estrema it is clear this is a social engineering mandate disguised in a feel good wrap. Sorry, the Water District should sell the homes "as is" and then use the money to fund homeless housing where appropriate. Sense when is the Water District a homeless advocacy group with social engineering as their mandate. Maybe it is time to review the Board. Of course the Water District could ask the Fairmont Hotel to put the homeless up in downtown San Jose as well. It makes the same sense and the homeless would be closer to City homeless services 24/7


1 person likes this
Posted by G.Ocho
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 27, 2017 at 8:08 am

G.Ocho is a registered user.

@Rick -- "What is Valley Water doing getting into the housing business? The mission of the district is to provide Silicon Valley safe, clean water for a healthy life, environment, and economy."

Did you even *read* the article or by pass that part and just jump into the comment section? The article clearly explained: Why the Water District owns homes (since 1974): creekside properties at risk from "severe erosion and bank failure" that made them a hazard [...] determined that buying and maintaining the properties would be an environmentally sound and cheap alternative to a major construction project to install a concrete-lined channel and high retaining walls.


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