Letters to the editor | January 6, 2017 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

Opinion - January 6, 2017

Letters to the editor

View of mountains threatened by project

It's no secret that the valley view of the Santa Cruz and Hamilton mountain ranges inspired our city's name in the 1850s. Standing in Mountain View's Cuesta Park Annex (the last majestic publicly accessible visual corridor to the Santa Cruz Mountains), visitors still appreciate why early Spanish explorers named these mountains "Las Montanas Azules" (the blue mountains).

This mountain vista, stretching from the Los Gatos foothills all the way to Black Mountain can be seen by Cuesta Park Annex visitors, as well as pedestrians and motorists commuting daily on Cuesta Drive between Montalto Drive and Begen Avenue. On rare occasions when a late spring snow dusts the Santa Cruz Mountains, viewers can experience a crystal clear view of the hillside oak trees contrasted with the bright pink blossoms and yellow mustard flowers of the front annex meadow.

Plein air painters, and nature, wedding and portrait photographers all use the Mountain View Cuesta Annex's rural splendor (in the spring and fall) as inspiration for their artistry.

This cultural asset is going to be compromised by a construction project on the El Camino Hospital property behind it (a five-story parking garage currently under construction). I hope the hospital's board of directors pays attention to the building project's impact on this historic vista, and halts construction before the building's height compromises the view of the mountains disappearing gracefully behind the Cuesta Annex's southern tree line.

Robert Schick

Cuesta Drive

Bravo to police for quick action

Bravo to Mountain View police department! After realizing my car was burglarized on New Year's Day while it was parked in my garage, I immediately called 911. The police showed up at my door in less than a few minutes and asked some questions; I was then taken to the location where the suspect was located. After I confirmed this was indeed the person who ransacked my car, I was brought back home. After three hours, the officer brought back my missing items.

I would like to caution my neighbors in Mountain View: Although we live in a fairly safe environment, we need to be more cautious not to provide any opportunity to any uninvited guests. It is an awful feeling that my private space was invaded. Some items may not be valuable to others; however, it is important to the owners.

My special thanks to our police department for its timely response. The officers I worked with were professional and helpful. This is an excellent example of their commitment to keep Mountain View safe. Thank you!

Rae Tso

Centre Street

Fight efforts to pit one against the other

To those who wish to effectively counter the onslaught of right-wing reactionaries trying to demolish government: Remind people that our shared government is the only thing that can hold us all together as Americans.

The decision taken over 200 years ago to unite as a single nation has enabled us to attain to the highest standard of living in the world. Much of this was due to a strong central government supporting portions of the nation that would have languished otherwise (rural electrification, land grant colleges, federal water projects).

The coming administration will try to pit us against one another, but our shared history must be recalled, and any attempts to shatter our historic mutual bonds must be fought as fiercely as our forefathers fought for independence, or against the onslaught of fascism.

Ed Taub

Devoto Street

Google and the North Bayshore vision

A recent article in the Mountain View was Voice headlined: Google veers from city's vision for North Bayshore. Let's not panic. Let's continue to pursue the NBS vision vigorously and persistently.

Some points to remember:

1. Google and Mountain View have shared long-term interests for NBS. Recent comments by the Google project team may not reflect those longer-term interests and should not be allowed to interfere with the design and planning process. If needed, the mayor and City Council can open a fresh channel of communication and collaboration with senior Google management to accomplish our shared interests.

2. Mountain View has the authority to design and plan NBS and to implement the design and plan through adoption of a precise plan, and all development must comply with the precise plan. The city does not need approval by Google or anyone else of the precise plan.

3. It is normal for development to pay for its own infrastructure. If you live in a single-family home in Mountain View, the chances are the developer of your neighborhood installed and paid for the streets, utilities and other infrastructure that serve the neighborhood. It is not unreasonable to expect Google, or anyone else developing in NBS, to pay for the supporting infrastructure. That may be expensive, but the high land values and the high values of the companies that will be the future users of the land justify paying the cost. The developers and long-term users may seek public subsidies, but the public sector should be cautious about unnecessarily shouldering that financial burden.

4. High land values are an asset, not a problem. They reflect strong economic energy that, if managed wisely, will contribute to project success.

5. Mountain View deserves the best. Google and NBS offer a great opportunity. Let's work together and make it a world-class success.

Bruce Liedstrand

Former Mountain View city manager

Bentley Square

A historical view of Electoral College

Before investing effort into converting from our Electoral College system for choosing presidents, consider a few examples in which the college provided benefits.

1860: Lincoln's almost 40 percent of the popular vote converted to an almost 60 percent majority (180 of 303).

1912: Wilson's 41.8 percent to Taft + Roosevelt 's 50.6 percent came out with 435 electoral votes for Wilson and 96 for Taft and Roosevelt.

1960: JFK's 49.72 percent to Nixon's 49.55 percent converted to 303 beating 219. Obvious cheating in Chicago was not contested because the 27 electoral votes of Illinois were not enough to change the outcome.

1976: Jimmy Carter's 50.08 percent vs. Ford's 48.01 percent converted to 297 vs. 240 (55 to 45 percent).

1992: Clinton's 43 percent to Bush's 37 percent (almost 20 percent for Perot) converted to 370 to 168.

The Electoral College produced a clear majority on one side, making it hard to justify fighting (except in 1860) about it or litigating in court.

Raymond R. White

Whitney Drive

Landlord arguments don't hold up

The arguments that the landlords (CAA) are using against Measure V rent control taken to their logical conclusion could have dramatic consequences, given some business-friendly judges.

Saying that a limit on rents is an unconstitutional taking of property, limiting the ROI for landlords, would logically imply that the government could never impose any limits of this type. Arguing that limits on evicting tenants is a transfer of property from landlord to tenant implies similarly that there can't be any limits on landlords removing tenants — why should tenants even get a 30-day or 60-day notice?

As far as an arbitrary and capricious windfall for tenants being wrong, what about government actions that grant an arbitrary and capricious windfall for developers and landlords, such as changes in the master plan, or rezoning of parcels to permit higher density development or different kinds of development, or state laws that give density bonuses to developers; shouldn't all these be wrong too?

Finally, with regard to the inadequate rate of return for landlords, the Madera project when proposed to the City Council argued that it needed 220 apartments in the development to make a decent ROI, with rents of about $2,000 per month; the complex is now charging about triple that amount, so the return to Prometheus must now be astronomical. I don't think they're suffering very much, and you can assume the rents and the profits on their newer projects will be comparable, at a time when the cost of money for developers is extremely low.

David Lewis

Oak Street

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