News

Voter guide: City Council

Nine candidates vie for three council seats; housing policies hinge on council election

One of the most important City Council elections in decades will take place on Nov. 4 when voters will pick three candidates to replace outgoing council members Jac Siegel, Ronit Bryant and Margaret Abe-Koga.

More so than in any other election in the last decade, the issue taking center stage in this election has been about how to preserve housing affordability amidst booming job growth.

Each candidate says it's a top priority, but they differ in their solutions. All of the candidates say that increasing housing supply and restricting office growth will contain prices, but only five support a significant change in course for the city by building a new neighborhood around Google headquarters with as many as 5,000 homes. It's a move Google, the Chamber of Commerce and a growing number of residents support, but a slim majority of the current council, including all three outgoing members, have opposed.

Other key issues this year include how to address growing traffic and the need for new transportation systems and bike infrastructure. Some candidates are more willing than others to embrace bike boulevards, narrower streets to make way for bike lanes, and dedicated bus lanes. The need for rent control and a $15 minimum wage have also been hot topics, and are addressed in the following candidate stories. The candidates are listed in the same order as they are on the ballot.

Pat Showalter

Help sustain the local news you depend on.

Your contribution matters. Become a member today.

Join

Pat Showalter's unique passion for policy detail was evident to her when she first joined the city's planning commission in the early 1990s and she found herself enjoying a long and technical environmental impact report. "I thought, Patricia, what is wrong with you? You're reading an EIR and having so much fun."

Showalter works as civil engineer with the Santa Clara Valley Water District and says her expertise in reading technical environmental documents would be valuable on the council.

Showalter says she "throughly enjoyed" being on the city's planning commission for nine years, where she helped champion the city's original below-market-rate housing ordinance, which subsidizes affordable housing projects with fees on market-rate development.

"The problem I have most passion about is really the housing issue," she says. In 2012, she helped lobby council members to approve housing around Google headquarters in North Bayshore, to no avail. Now she hopes to approve it herself as a council member. She says she wants to create a better balance between jobs and housing in order to reduce commuter traffic and meet the city's goals to fight climate change.

As a bicyclist she expressed awareness of existing efforts to improve bike infrastructure and stood out by saying she supported a "pilot program" to see how residents would like California Street with a lane removed in each direction to calm traffic and encourage bike riding.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox in our Express newsletter.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox in our Express newsletter.

Showalter has lived in Mountain View for 30 years, has two grown kids and lives with her husband in Waverly Park, where they own a home. She has been endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce, the Sierra Club, county Supervisor Joe Simitian and Carl Guardino of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

Website: votepatshowalter.com

Mercedes Salem

Candidate Mercedes Salem is a new face in local politics, a family law attorney who has experience working in tech and as an aid to Congress members on Capitol Hill. She says she aims to represent middle-class families and immigrants as the only foreign-born candidate in a city with over 8,000 foreign-born registered voters. She is Iranian-American and speaks fluent Farsi.

"The biggest problem we have in Mountain View is livability and that encompasses a multitude of things," Salem said. "All we do in life is work so we can have better lives and our kids can have better lives, but that's not happening anymore."

Though she acknowledges the city's housing shortage, Salem opposes housing in North Bayshore, "We have a massive jobs-housing imbalance," Salem said. "I don't believe housing in North Bayshore is the answer. There aren't enough services to support a community as it stands" and businesses there are struggling because Google and other employers provide "everything from soup to nuts." She says the East Whisman area is better for housing, and would like to see the 3.4 million square feet of office slated for North Bayshore reduced.

Salem has a unique interest among the candidates in helping working families through city services, such as better summer programs for kids from families who can't afford summer camp or special summer classes, calling such programs "a huge relief it means a lot. There's so many things we can do to ease the pain for them."

When it comes to the city budget, she said, "I don't believe in cutting pensions, salaries or health benefits for workers. The city works because workers do."

Salem is a renter in the Sylvan Park area and has lived in Mountain View for four years. She is endorsed by the local chapter of the Democratic party, Congressman Mike Honda, and former mayors Laura Macias, Jac Siegel and Sally Lieber, among others. She holds an anthropology degree and a law degree from Santa Clara University.

Website: votemercedes.nationbuilder.com

Lenny Siegel

Of all the candidates, Lenny Siegel is the most familiar to residents, having been involved in Mountain View civic life since the 1970s and early 1980s, when he ran for City Council three times, led two failed efforts to institute rent control, and helped lead efforts to address toxics left behind by early tech companies which turned into a decades-long career as director of Mountain View's Center for Public Environmental Oversight. His expertise in environmental work is sought by communities around the country.

"I have a history of getting people from diverse perspectives and backgrounds to work together," says Siegel, who also led the fight to keep air cargo traffic out of Moffett Field and to save Hangar One. "We don't always agree but we maintain dialogue."

Siegel is also a known lefty who has opposed America's wars since he was a member of Students for a Democratic Society at Stanford. He often rides a bike to get where he's going and says anyone making decisions on bike infrastructure should do the same.

The problem Siegel is most passionate about fixing is the city's jobs-housing imbalance, which he's been fighting since the start of the year as the founding leader of the Campaign for a Balanced Mountain View. Siegel has been organizing residents to support at least 5,000 new homes in North Bayshore and to build housing instead of office in the San Antonio shopping center area, which he says is one of the few places in the city where a lot of housing could be built. He has often called for new family friendly neighborhoods with schools.

Siegel said he would consider but not necessarily favor road diets, like the one proposed for California Street to reduce car lanes and allow buffered bike lanes. "Philosophically I believe in enticing people out of cars, not forcing them out of cars. A lot of people, they don't really have that option."

Among his endorsements are community organizers who say Siegel can be trusted, such as Job Lopez, the co-founder of the Mountain View Day Worker Center who wrote a letter to the Voice in support of Siegel; and former mayor and state Assembly member Sally Lieber, who notes that Siegel's ability to listen has helped him work "on some of the toughest issues facing our community." Siegel is married and lives in Old Mountain View.

Website: lennysiegelforcouncil.net

Ken Rosenberg

Ken Rosenberg is financial adviser for Morgan Stanley. He came to the city in 1997, and got his introduction to local politics as an active member of the Old Mountain View Neighborhood Association. He's been a member of the Human Relations Commission since 2011 and a board member of the Chamber of Commerce. He organized the city's "Civility Roundtable" discussions on such issues as immigration and gun control. He's married, with a daughter and a son.

"I am passionate about open communication, open dialogue, and (engaging in) collective decision making as much as possible," Rosenberg says, adding that having an ideology doesn't fit well with the job of council member. "Everybody will attest that when I'm the person in charge of a meeting, I don't allow the meeting to go forward without everyone getting a chance to speak."

Rosenberg has earned endorsements from a wide swath of the community, including local police, landlords, the Chamber of Commerce, housing advocates and city and county elected officials.

His priorities include advocating for adequate housing growth, building new infrastructure to reduce traffic, and preserving the city's character while making it more vibrant.

As a member of the Campaign for a Balanced Mountain View, along with candidates Greg Unangst and Lenny Siegel, Rosenberg says he has "tremendous commitment" to seeing housing being constructed in Mountain View, especially in the North Bayshore and East Whisman areas. "Housing near work seems like a solidly, fundamentally, good idea," Rosenberg said. In North Bayshore that means "swapping out commercial or office space and not encroaching on wetlands."

Unlike some other candidates, Rosenberg doesn't take a clear position on what sort of transit systems the city needs, but says it is a priority to figure it out as a way to reduce the amount of housing that might need to be built for all the jobs expected to come to the city. He disagrees with the position taken by the Campaign for a Balanced Mountain View about prioritizing housing in the San Antonio precise plan area, saying that not putting jobs near train and bus lines would be a wasted opportunity.

At the start of the year Rosenberg lamented the loss of city Human Relations Commissioner Nilda Santiago because rent increases forced her to move away. "I don't know if there's equity or fairness in capitalism, but capitalism is rearing its ugly head right now, and it's really affecting people," he said.

Rosenberg expressed excitement about maintaining the city's healthy budget reserves and AAA bond rating. He said he wouldn't have approved housing or office on the city's Moffett Gateway site, and would have gone with hotel development instead to generate the most lease revenue while relieving some pressure on the housing market. He would also support a look at narrowing California Street to three lanes to calm traffic and allow buffered bike lanes.

Website: mountainviewken.com

Greg Unangst

"The housing situation is one of the primary reasons I got involved in this I think we're jeopardizing the future of our younger generation," says Greg Unangst, a retired aerospace engineer who served as an Army colonel during the Vietnam War, for which he received a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. He's lived in Mountain View since 1998.

"High tech workers are starting to say they can't afford to live here either something is very wrong," he says. His own daughter, who has a good job with the Department of Veterans Affairs, can't afford to relocate to work in the Palo Alto office as much as she would like to, he says.

Unangst is the only candidate who is advocating for rent control, or what he calls "rent stabilization."

Unangst has a passion for bicycle and pedestrian mobility, is chair of the city's bike and pedestrian advisory committee, and has been the city's most vocal proponent of a bike boulevard along Latham and Church streets.

When the committee expressed interest in buffered bike lanes on California Street, he said, "city staff recommended against it because they didn't know how to clean the streets with that there." His thought: "Maybe you should call Portland they've had that for some time and they've figured it out. That's the mentality we've been dealing with."

Unangst strongly supports housing in North Bayshore and is a member of the Campaign for a Balanced Mountain View, which has called for 5,000 homes there, considered to be enough to support a neighborhood grocery store. At one time he was opposed to the idea, but has since spoken out strongly in favor if it. "I really didn't understand the magnitude of the housing problem," he says.

More housing there is necessary if the city is to meet its emission reduction goals under AB32, he says. "Half the carbon generated by the city of Mountain View is by cars and trucks," including many commuters, he says. To get a regional perspective on the problem, Unangst got involved with the Non-Profit Housing Associations' Housing Advocacy Network.

He doesn't want a cap on office growth, but instead favors replacing some amount of office slated for North Bayshore with housing. "I get the sense people want Google and LinkedIn to stay, but we're being punished by prosperity," he says. He's also got an affinity for Google's driverless car technology, which he says has promise for use in automated transit systems.

"I definitely enjoy working as part of a team," Unangst says. "I'm also used to working in bureaucracies. I listen to what people are saying, and why." When it comes to the city budget, he says he doesn't favor across-the-board cuts, calling it the "easy way" out.

In 2012, Unangst became a board member of the Friends of the Stevens Creek Trail and the Moffett Field Restoration Advisory Board, where he made an unlikely friend in Lenny Siegel, who led protests against the Vietnam War while Unangst was serving in the Army in Vietnam.

Unangst graduated from West Point military academy and got an MBA from the Wharton Business School. He lives with his wife in a townhouse they own north of the Monta Loma neighborhood. He's raised two kids and worked as an engineering manager for 33 years, most recently at Lockheed Martin.

So far, Unangst has not taken any campaign contributions and has loaned his campaign $21,000 to "side-step any appearance of a conflict of interest." His endorsement list is also relatively short, though he is endorsed by Mountain View Voters for Housing Diversity, which has also endorsed Ken Rosenberg and Lenny Siegel.

Website:unangst2014.com

Jim Neal

After becoming involved in local politics to oppose bans on smoking and plastic bags, Jim Neal is making his second run for council; he has refined his brand of moderate libertarian individualism while speaking at and attending numerous council meetings.

"The number one priority has to be affordable housing; it's something I've been talking about for well over a year," he said. "Too much office is being approved and it is exacerbating the problem of rents increasing."

He is the only candidate to express concerns about increases to the minimum wage and its impacts to businesses like Ava's downtown market. He opposes the congestion pricing that might be used to charge rush-hour drivers going to and from North Bayshore, saying it is a "regressive tax" that "definitely hurts small businesses and poor people more."

Neal's libertarian bent seems to not be quite as strong as current member John Inks. He mentioned that at one point the city wasn't getting a fair exchange in community benefits, which Inks often opposes, for the proposed density of the Prometheus apartment project replacing the old Western Appliance building. He also says of potentially privatizing some city services, "I don't think that's a good idea -- that would mean displacing a lot of the current workers."

He's also concerned that "smaller businesses are being forced out by redevelopment," such as the Milk Pail market and the Rose Market.

Neal says he didn't seek campaign contributions and endorsements for a reason, but did get the endorsement of former mayor Tom Means, the owners of the Sports Page bar, and resident Linda Curtis. Neal is a renter who lives with his wife in Old Mountain View. He works as an IT administrator at U.C. Berkeley.

Website: electneal.org

Margaret Capriles

Margaret Capriles nearly won a council seat in 2012 and has served on the city's planning commission since then.

"The most pressing problem in Mountain View right now is housing and transportation. I think they all go together," Capriles says. "We have many folks that can't live in Mountain View because the price of housing is so high."

She says she wants to know if residents want to cut in half the 3.4 million square feet of office space slated for North Bayshore so there would be 10,000 new jobs instead of 20,000 or so to reduce the demand and the price of housing. "If employees cannot even afford to live here and they want to live here, we have a problem."

Capriles opposes a big contribution to the city's housing stock by building a new neighborhood in North Bayshore with thousands of new homes. "The reason for that is several: There's no public transportation near the North Bayshore area, which has a really heavy traffic problem already, and there are not services out there."

Capriles said she supports road diets to "continue to improve the bike and pedestrian routes and give people alternatives to get people out of their cars and make sure it is practical."

She is a retired data analyst for Hewlett Packard, and she touts a "pro-business background" and ability to listen well. Capriles is also proud of her relationship with labor and says she strongly supports prevailing wages on city projects. She has been endorsed by the South Bay Labor Council, the Sierra Club and the California Apartment Association, which represents landlords.

She owns a home in the Waverly Park neighborhood with her husband, Bob.

Website: margaretcapriles.com

Lisa Matichak

Lisa Matichak is a tech executive who became involved in city government seven years ago by rallying opposition to a housing project on the Hetch Hetchy aqueduct behind her home.

She has made her positions on development known over the last five years she has served as a planning commissioner, voting against including housing in North Bayshore. Matichak, who is endorsed by outgoing council members who also oppose housing in North Bayshore, cites most of the same reasoning: struggling retail near Google, the need for a a new school on expensive land, a lack of transportation, and potential impacts to wildlife. She says East Whisman is a better place for housing, pointing to a smaller Google property at 700 East Middlefield Road that could be rezoned for residential development.

"The biggest challenge we are facing is the quality of life for residents," Matichak says. "I do believe we want to retain the character of Mountain View."

With 2,500 housing units in the pipeline, "if we are looking to add homes more quickly, it could happen more quickly in the Whisman area," she says.

Adding park space is a top priority for her, and she indicates a desire to continue outgoing member Jac Siegel's legacy of advocating for the inclusion of park space in developments. She says she is interested in major regional transportation infrastructure so people can commute from farther away. "I would love it if we had BART on the Peninsula."

Matichak is a founding member of the Wagon Wheel Neighborhood Association. She touts her 25 years of work experience in high tech. "A lot of things you can bring from a business perspective you can apply to a government perspective."

Her key endorsements include the Sierra Club, the Chamber of Commerce, Mountain View firefighters, and former mayor Laura Macias.

Website: lisaforcouncil.com

Ellen Kamei

Ellen Kamei joined the city's planning commission in late 2012 and has quickly forged many ties in the community, garnering a long list of endorsements, including nearly every local state and federal legislator and county Supervisor Joe Simitian, for whom she works as a policy aide.

Kamei says her top priority is balancing the preservation of Mountain View's character with increased job growth. But that doesn't mean she supports housing in North Bayshore. "I don't think that there's enough services to support residential. I also don't think there's the transportation infrastructure necessary to create a vibrant neighborhood." She adds that the land is too expensive for affordable homes.

Kamei tends to seek the middle ground on issues, sometimes making her position hard to discern. She is a renter who says rent control is a "noble idea," but also says she isn't supporting it, saying it is "not a panacea."

When asked what she was most passionate about, she said, "It's hard to choose just one. Something I am passionate about is the transportation issues we have in Mountain View." She's already begun talking to county transportation officials about dedicated bus lanes in Mountain View.

Kamei is clear about wanting better bike and pedestrian infrastructure. "I love the idea of complete streets," she says, with activated ground-floor retail and "protected bike lanes so people feel safe on bicycles."

Another top priority is fiscal discipline, and she says she'd like to see the city request more feedback on its budget decisions through its new Open City Hall website feature.

Kamei is a third-generation Mountain View resident. Her family first came to Mountain View 70 years ago and eventually ran a plant nursery, which later moved to Morgan Hill, where she grew up. Kenzo Court is named after her grandfather. She recently returned to rent a home near Moffett Boulevard and Middlfield Road.

Website: democracy.com/ellenkamei

Craving a new voice in Peninsula dining?

Sign up for the Peninsula Foodist newsletter.

Sign up now

Follow Mountain View Voice Online on Twitter @mvvoice, Facebook and on Instagram @mvvoice for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Voter guide: City Council

Nine candidates vie for three council seats; housing policies hinge on council election

by Daniel DeBolt / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Fri, Oct 17, 2014, 11:09 am

One of the most important City Council elections in decades will take place on Nov. 4 when voters will pick three candidates to replace outgoing council members Jac Siegel, Ronit Bryant and Margaret Abe-Koga.

More so than in any other election in the last decade, the issue taking center stage in this election has been about how to preserve housing affordability amidst booming job growth.

Each candidate says it's a top priority, but they differ in their solutions. All of the candidates say that increasing housing supply and restricting office growth will contain prices, but only five support a significant change in course for the city by building a new neighborhood around Google headquarters with as many as 5,000 homes. It's a move Google, the Chamber of Commerce and a growing number of residents support, but a slim majority of the current council, including all three outgoing members, have opposed.

Other key issues this year include how to address growing traffic and the need for new transportation systems and bike infrastructure. Some candidates are more willing than others to embrace bike boulevards, narrower streets to make way for bike lanes, and dedicated bus lanes. The need for rent control and a $15 minimum wage have also been hot topics, and are addressed in the following candidate stories. The candidates are listed in the same order as they are on the ballot.

Pat Showalter

Pat Showalter's unique passion for policy detail was evident to her when she first joined the city's planning commission in the early 1990s and she found herself enjoying a long and technical environmental impact report. "I thought, Patricia, what is wrong with you? You're reading an EIR and having so much fun."

Showalter works as civil engineer with the Santa Clara Valley Water District and says her expertise in reading technical environmental documents would be valuable on the council.

Showalter says she "throughly enjoyed" being on the city's planning commission for nine years, where she helped champion the city's original below-market-rate housing ordinance, which subsidizes affordable housing projects with fees on market-rate development.

"The problem I have most passion about is really the housing issue," she says. In 2012, she helped lobby council members to approve housing around Google headquarters in North Bayshore, to no avail. Now she hopes to approve it herself as a council member. She says she wants to create a better balance between jobs and housing in order to reduce commuter traffic and meet the city's goals to fight climate change.

As a bicyclist she expressed awareness of existing efforts to improve bike infrastructure and stood out by saying she supported a "pilot program" to see how residents would like California Street with a lane removed in each direction to calm traffic and encourage bike riding.

Showalter has lived in Mountain View for 30 years, has two grown kids and lives with her husband in Waverly Park, where they own a home. She has been endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce, the Sierra Club, county Supervisor Joe Simitian and Carl Guardino of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

Website: votepatshowalter.com

Mercedes Salem

Candidate Mercedes Salem is a new face in local politics, a family law attorney who has experience working in tech and as an aid to Congress members on Capitol Hill. She says she aims to represent middle-class families and immigrants as the only foreign-born candidate in a city with over 8,000 foreign-born registered voters. She is Iranian-American and speaks fluent Farsi.

"The biggest problem we have in Mountain View is livability and that encompasses a multitude of things," Salem said. "All we do in life is work so we can have better lives and our kids can have better lives, but that's not happening anymore."

Though she acknowledges the city's housing shortage, Salem opposes housing in North Bayshore, "We have a massive jobs-housing imbalance," Salem said. "I don't believe housing in North Bayshore is the answer. There aren't enough services to support a community as it stands" and businesses there are struggling because Google and other employers provide "everything from soup to nuts." She says the East Whisman area is better for housing, and would like to see the 3.4 million square feet of office slated for North Bayshore reduced.

Salem has a unique interest among the candidates in helping working families through city services, such as better summer programs for kids from families who can't afford summer camp or special summer classes, calling such programs "a huge relief it means a lot. There's so many things we can do to ease the pain for them."

When it comes to the city budget, she said, "I don't believe in cutting pensions, salaries or health benefits for workers. The city works because workers do."

Salem is a renter in the Sylvan Park area and has lived in Mountain View for four years. She is endorsed by the local chapter of the Democratic party, Congressman Mike Honda, and former mayors Laura Macias, Jac Siegel and Sally Lieber, among others. She holds an anthropology degree and a law degree from Santa Clara University.

Website: votemercedes.nationbuilder.com

Lenny Siegel

Of all the candidates, Lenny Siegel is the most familiar to residents, having been involved in Mountain View civic life since the 1970s and early 1980s, when he ran for City Council three times, led two failed efforts to institute rent control, and helped lead efforts to address toxics left behind by early tech companies which turned into a decades-long career as director of Mountain View's Center for Public Environmental Oversight. His expertise in environmental work is sought by communities around the country.

"I have a history of getting people from diverse perspectives and backgrounds to work together," says Siegel, who also led the fight to keep air cargo traffic out of Moffett Field and to save Hangar One. "We don't always agree but we maintain dialogue."

Siegel is also a known lefty who has opposed America's wars since he was a member of Students for a Democratic Society at Stanford. He often rides a bike to get where he's going and says anyone making decisions on bike infrastructure should do the same.

The problem Siegel is most passionate about fixing is the city's jobs-housing imbalance, which he's been fighting since the start of the year as the founding leader of the Campaign for a Balanced Mountain View. Siegel has been organizing residents to support at least 5,000 new homes in North Bayshore and to build housing instead of office in the San Antonio shopping center area, which he says is one of the few places in the city where a lot of housing could be built. He has often called for new family friendly neighborhoods with schools.

Siegel said he would consider but not necessarily favor road diets, like the one proposed for California Street to reduce car lanes and allow buffered bike lanes. "Philosophically I believe in enticing people out of cars, not forcing them out of cars. A lot of people, they don't really have that option."

Among his endorsements are community organizers who say Siegel can be trusted, such as Job Lopez, the co-founder of the Mountain View Day Worker Center who wrote a letter to the Voice in support of Siegel; and former mayor and state Assembly member Sally Lieber, who notes that Siegel's ability to listen has helped him work "on some of the toughest issues facing our community." Siegel is married and lives in Old Mountain View.

Website: lennysiegelforcouncil.net

Ken Rosenberg

Ken Rosenberg is financial adviser for Morgan Stanley. He came to the city in 1997, and got his introduction to local politics as an active member of the Old Mountain View Neighborhood Association. He's been a member of the Human Relations Commission since 2011 and a board member of the Chamber of Commerce. He organized the city's "Civility Roundtable" discussions on such issues as immigration and gun control. He's married, with a daughter and a son.

"I am passionate about open communication, open dialogue, and (engaging in) collective decision making as much as possible," Rosenberg says, adding that having an ideology doesn't fit well with the job of council member. "Everybody will attest that when I'm the person in charge of a meeting, I don't allow the meeting to go forward without everyone getting a chance to speak."

Rosenberg has earned endorsements from a wide swath of the community, including local police, landlords, the Chamber of Commerce, housing advocates and city and county elected officials.

His priorities include advocating for adequate housing growth, building new infrastructure to reduce traffic, and preserving the city's character while making it more vibrant.

As a member of the Campaign for a Balanced Mountain View, along with candidates Greg Unangst and Lenny Siegel, Rosenberg says he has "tremendous commitment" to seeing housing being constructed in Mountain View, especially in the North Bayshore and East Whisman areas. "Housing near work seems like a solidly, fundamentally, good idea," Rosenberg said. In North Bayshore that means "swapping out commercial or office space and not encroaching on wetlands."

Unlike some other candidates, Rosenberg doesn't take a clear position on what sort of transit systems the city needs, but says it is a priority to figure it out as a way to reduce the amount of housing that might need to be built for all the jobs expected to come to the city. He disagrees with the position taken by the Campaign for a Balanced Mountain View about prioritizing housing in the San Antonio precise plan area, saying that not putting jobs near train and bus lines would be a wasted opportunity.

At the start of the year Rosenberg lamented the loss of city Human Relations Commissioner Nilda Santiago because rent increases forced her to move away. "I don't know if there's equity or fairness in capitalism, but capitalism is rearing its ugly head right now, and it's really affecting people," he said.

Rosenberg expressed excitement about maintaining the city's healthy budget reserves and AAA bond rating. He said he wouldn't have approved housing or office on the city's Moffett Gateway site, and would have gone with hotel development instead to generate the most lease revenue while relieving some pressure on the housing market. He would also support a look at narrowing California Street to three lanes to calm traffic and allow buffered bike lanes.

Website: mountainviewken.com

Greg Unangst

"The housing situation is one of the primary reasons I got involved in this I think we're jeopardizing the future of our younger generation," says Greg Unangst, a retired aerospace engineer who served as an Army colonel during the Vietnam War, for which he received a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. He's lived in Mountain View since 1998.

"High tech workers are starting to say they can't afford to live here either something is very wrong," he says. His own daughter, who has a good job with the Department of Veterans Affairs, can't afford to relocate to work in the Palo Alto office as much as she would like to, he says.

Unangst is the only candidate who is advocating for rent control, or what he calls "rent stabilization."

Unangst has a passion for bicycle and pedestrian mobility, is chair of the city's bike and pedestrian advisory committee, and has been the city's most vocal proponent of a bike boulevard along Latham and Church streets.

When the committee expressed interest in buffered bike lanes on California Street, he said, "city staff recommended against it because they didn't know how to clean the streets with that there." His thought: "Maybe you should call Portland they've had that for some time and they've figured it out. That's the mentality we've been dealing with."

Unangst strongly supports housing in North Bayshore and is a member of the Campaign for a Balanced Mountain View, which has called for 5,000 homes there, considered to be enough to support a neighborhood grocery store. At one time he was opposed to the idea, but has since spoken out strongly in favor if it. "I really didn't understand the magnitude of the housing problem," he says.

More housing there is necessary if the city is to meet its emission reduction goals under AB32, he says. "Half the carbon generated by the city of Mountain View is by cars and trucks," including many commuters, he says. To get a regional perspective on the problem, Unangst got involved with the Non-Profit Housing Associations' Housing Advocacy Network.

He doesn't want a cap on office growth, but instead favors replacing some amount of office slated for North Bayshore with housing. "I get the sense people want Google and LinkedIn to stay, but we're being punished by prosperity," he says. He's also got an affinity for Google's driverless car technology, which he says has promise for use in automated transit systems.

"I definitely enjoy working as part of a team," Unangst says. "I'm also used to working in bureaucracies. I listen to what people are saying, and why." When it comes to the city budget, he says he doesn't favor across-the-board cuts, calling it the "easy way" out.

In 2012, Unangst became a board member of the Friends of the Stevens Creek Trail and the Moffett Field Restoration Advisory Board, where he made an unlikely friend in Lenny Siegel, who led protests against the Vietnam War while Unangst was serving in the Army in Vietnam.

Unangst graduated from West Point military academy and got an MBA from the Wharton Business School. He lives with his wife in a townhouse they own north of the Monta Loma neighborhood. He's raised two kids and worked as an engineering manager for 33 years, most recently at Lockheed Martin.

So far, Unangst has not taken any campaign contributions and has loaned his campaign $21,000 to "side-step any appearance of a conflict of interest." His endorsement list is also relatively short, though he is endorsed by Mountain View Voters for Housing Diversity, which has also endorsed Ken Rosenberg and Lenny Siegel.

Website:unangst2014.com

Jim Neal

After becoming involved in local politics to oppose bans on smoking and plastic bags, Jim Neal is making his second run for council; he has refined his brand of moderate libertarian individualism while speaking at and attending numerous council meetings.

"The number one priority has to be affordable housing; it's something I've been talking about for well over a year," he said. "Too much office is being approved and it is exacerbating the problem of rents increasing."

He is the only candidate to express concerns about increases to the minimum wage and its impacts to businesses like Ava's downtown market. He opposes the congestion pricing that might be used to charge rush-hour drivers going to and from North Bayshore, saying it is a "regressive tax" that "definitely hurts small businesses and poor people more."

Neal's libertarian bent seems to not be quite as strong as current member John Inks. He mentioned that at one point the city wasn't getting a fair exchange in community benefits, which Inks often opposes, for the proposed density of the Prometheus apartment project replacing the old Western Appliance building. He also says of potentially privatizing some city services, "I don't think that's a good idea -- that would mean displacing a lot of the current workers."

He's also concerned that "smaller businesses are being forced out by redevelopment," such as the Milk Pail market and the Rose Market.

Neal says he didn't seek campaign contributions and endorsements for a reason, but did get the endorsement of former mayor Tom Means, the owners of the Sports Page bar, and resident Linda Curtis. Neal is a renter who lives with his wife in Old Mountain View. He works as an IT administrator at U.C. Berkeley.

Website: electneal.org

Margaret Capriles

Margaret Capriles nearly won a council seat in 2012 and has served on the city's planning commission since then.

"The most pressing problem in Mountain View right now is housing and transportation. I think they all go together," Capriles says. "We have many folks that can't live in Mountain View because the price of housing is so high."

She says she wants to know if residents want to cut in half the 3.4 million square feet of office space slated for North Bayshore so there would be 10,000 new jobs instead of 20,000 or so to reduce the demand and the price of housing. "If employees cannot even afford to live here and they want to live here, we have a problem."

Capriles opposes a big contribution to the city's housing stock by building a new neighborhood in North Bayshore with thousands of new homes. "The reason for that is several: There's no public transportation near the North Bayshore area, which has a really heavy traffic problem already, and there are not services out there."

Capriles said she supports road diets to "continue to improve the bike and pedestrian routes and give people alternatives to get people out of their cars and make sure it is practical."

She is a retired data analyst for Hewlett Packard, and she touts a "pro-business background" and ability to listen well. Capriles is also proud of her relationship with labor and says she strongly supports prevailing wages on city projects. She has been endorsed by the South Bay Labor Council, the Sierra Club and the California Apartment Association, which represents landlords.

She owns a home in the Waverly Park neighborhood with her husband, Bob.

Website: margaretcapriles.com

Lisa Matichak

Lisa Matichak is a tech executive who became involved in city government seven years ago by rallying opposition to a housing project on the Hetch Hetchy aqueduct behind her home.

She has made her positions on development known over the last five years she has served as a planning commissioner, voting against including housing in North Bayshore. Matichak, who is endorsed by outgoing council members who also oppose housing in North Bayshore, cites most of the same reasoning: struggling retail near Google, the need for a a new school on expensive land, a lack of transportation, and potential impacts to wildlife. She says East Whisman is a better place for housing, pointing to a smaller Google property at 700 East Middlefield Road that could be rezoned for residential development.

"The biggest challenge we are facing is the quality of life for residents," Matichak says. "I do believe we want to retain the character of Mountain View."

With 2,500 housing units in the pipeline, "if we are looking to add homes more quickly, it could happen more quickly in the Whisman area," she says.

Adding park space is a top priority for her, and she indicates a desire to continue outgoing member Jac Siegel's legacy of advocating for the inclusion of park space in developments. She says she is interested in major regional transportation infrastructure so people can commute from farther away. "I would love it if we had BART on the Peninsula."

Matichak is a founding member of the Wagon Wheel Neighborhood Association. She touts her 25 years of work experience in high tech. "A lot of things you can bring from a business perspective you can apply to a government perspective."

Her key endorsements include the Sierra Club, the Chamber of Commerce, Mountain View firefighters, and former mayor Laura Macias.

Website: lisaforcouncil.com

Ellen Kamei

Ellen Kamei joined the city's planning commission in late 2012 and has quickly forged many ties in the community, garnering a long list of endorsements, including nearly every local state and federal legislator and county Supervisor Joe Simitian, for whom she works as a policy aide.

Kamei says her top priority is balancing the preservation of Mountain View's character with increased job growth. But that doesn't mean she supports housing in North Bayshore. "I don't think that there's enough services to support residential. I also don't think there's the transportation infrastructure necessary to create a vibrant neighborhood." She adds that the land is too expensive for affordable homes.

Kamei tends to seek the middle ground on issues, sometimes making her position hard to discern. She is a renter who says rent control is a "noble idea," but also says she isn't supporting it, saying it is "not a panacea."

When asked what she was most passionate about, she said, "It's hard to choose just one. Something I am passionate about is the transportation issues we have in Mountain View." She's already begun talking to county transportation officials about dedicated bus lanes in Mountain View.

Kamei is clear about wanting better bike and pedestrian infrastructure. "I love the idea of complete streets," she says, with activated ground-floor retail and "protected bike lanes so people feel safe on bicycles."

Another top priority is fiscal discipline, and she says she'd like to see the city request more feedback on its budget decisions through its new Open City Hall website feature.

Kamei is a third-generation Mountain View resident. Her family first came to Mountain View 70 years ago and eventually ran a plant nursery, which later moved to Morgan Hill, where she grew up. Kenzo Court is named after her grandfather. She recently returned to rent a home near Moffett Boulevard and Middlfield Road.

Website: democracy.com/ellenkamei

Comments

Go JIm
Monta Loma
on Oct 17, 2014 at 2:47 pm
Go JIm, Monta Loma
on Oct 17, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Go Jim, a man of common sense.


Member
Cuesta Park
on Oct 17, 2014 at 7:52 pm
Member, Cuesta Park
on Oct 17, 2014 at 7:52 pm

I love the idea of claiming to adhere to the $22K cap while having outside organizations like the AFL-CIO and Community Empowerment Coalition pay for the mailers. I could heat my home with all of the mail, except for not having a fireplace. Maybe I could use if for lighting for the 'fine print'.

I really got feeling depressed and disaffected about the election - just like everyone else, except perhaps the 'true believers'.


Jim Neal
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Oct 19, 2014 at 5:32 pm
Jim Neal, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Oct 19, 2014 at 5:32 pm

Thanks for the support Go Jim!

I would like to note that my primary issues for this campaign include Affordable Housing (which was mentioned above), as well as Preserving Neighborhoods, Parking and Traffic issues, and Saving the Milk Pail. I was the first candidate to speak out about these issues in January of this year when I launched my campaign, and all four issues have become the focal point of the other candidates campaigns as well.

I also am not a Libertarian. I speak out about issues that are of importance to residents as well as try to provide common sense alternatives to over-regulation. I do not think that creating toll roads within the city, nor the indiscriminate use of license plate readers are particularly good ideas.

While other candidates talk about "getting people out of their cars", I am the only one that has done so. I take public transportation or walk 99.9% of the time, but I don't want to force everyone else to do the same. I think that people should use the method of transportation that works best for them, and that the city should try to make it easier for all modes of transportation, not just the ones it favors.

Lastly, please note that no special interest groups have spent a single penny on my campaign. I think this is very likely because in the three years that I have been attending almost every Council and EPC meeting, as well as community meetings and study sessions. In that time I have attended and spoken out on the behalf of residents and local businesses at more Council meetings than all the other candidates combined! I think this is one of the primary reasons that I have had so much support from Mountain View residents. Those are the primary reasons that I am running, and if elected, I will continue to be the voice of residents and local businesses that too often are not heard.

Thank you again for all your support.

Jim Neal
Candidate, Mountain View City Council
https://electneal.org (Campaign Website)


concerned citizen
Old Mountain View
on Oct 19, 2014 at 11:29 pm
concerned citizen, Old Mountain View
on Oct 19, 2014 at 11:29 pm

If you are in favor of a rush to high-density development and congestion, go with Siegel, Rosenberg, Showalter, or Unangst. They have all been pretty clear about what they have in mind for Mountain View.

Trying to "balance" housing with jobs is a futile, destructive idea. 20,000+ new jobs are projected in Mountain View by 2030, and by all indications, we'll get there a lot quicker than 2030. At one residence per new job, that's one hundred developments the size of the Madera complex. Where will these buildings go?

Don't expect that there would be much affordable housing in this rush to build, and don't expect that much of it would be ownership housing either. Developers are in the business of making money, and "luxury" apartments are where the money is. That's what is mostly being built these days in Mountain View.

Most people own and use cars. I don't for a minute buy the line that younger workers will all ride bikes and public transit. I'd like to see non-auto alternatives encouraged, but I don't think the real-world numbers will bail us out of the gridlock that massive overdevelopment would cause.

Of the remaining candidates, Kamei and Capriles have a record on the EPC of an inability to say no to developers. They say many of the right things, but when it is time to vote, they "go along to get along".

Lisa Matichak definitely gets my vote. As an EPC commissioner, she has consistently listened to residents' concerns, and has been willing to question some of the most ill-considered development proposals. She favors moderation and sensible development.

I don't always agree with Jim Neal (e.g., on North Bayshore housing, which he seems to favor), but he is well-informed, and has attended most EPC and City Council meetings in the two or three years. He has said he is in favor of neighborhood preservation, and supporting small businesses like Milk Pail. I think Jim is less likely to drink the developers' Kool-aid.

Mercedes Salem gets my third vote. Quoting from the article, "She says the East Whisman area is better for housing, and would like to see the 3.4 million square feet of office slated for North Bayshore cut in half." That seems to show rare good sense.

There it is. We need to get to work and get these candidates elected. Please tell your friends and neighbors what is at stake, and get them to the polls on Nov. 4.



puzzled
Waverly Park
on Oct 20, 2014 at 9:38 am
puzzled, Waverly Park
on Oct 20, 2014 at 9:38 am

@concerned citizen, I still not understanding what your chosen candidates would do about the impact of 20,000+ additional workers in MV. Build in East Whisman instead of North Shoreline, cut new office space in half, don't expect people to give up their cars and use alternative transportation, is that it? Please elaborate on what you believe our council SHOULD do?


Jim Neal
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Oct 20, 2014 at 11:08 am
Jim Neal, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Oct 20, 2014 at 11:08 am

Puzzled - I would not approve any new office space, that is not already underway. With regard to cars, I expect that most people will still continue to drive, so the best way to try to resolve the traffic issue is to try to remove as many conflicts as possible such as car/bike (separated bike lanes in certain areas) and car/pedestrian (create pedestrian over-crossings at large intersections) to permit cars to travel more freely and pedestrians to cross quickly and safely.

I would be in favor of building new homes in the identified change areas in Mountain View as long as:

* The density and heights are nearly the same.
* The majority of residents approve or at least are not opposed to the project.
* Eminent domain is not used and/or no persons or businesses are involuntarily evicted.

In my opinion, the only place where high density housing makes sense at this time is in the North Bayshore area, but I would not go above 4-6 stories even there. Chris Chiang has had some ideas on microhousing for that area that I would at least like to study, and would only approve if it makes sense, and after getting significant input from Mountain View residents.


Jim Neal
Candidate, Mountain View City Council
https://electneal.org ( Campaign Website )


concerned citizen
Old Mountain View
on Oct 20, 2014 at 12:02 pm
concerned citizen, Old Mountain View
on Oct 20, 2014 at 12:02 pm

@puzzled - I favor Matichak, Neal, and Salem because I think they would be responsive to residents, and less likely to pander to developers.

Siegel, Rosenberg, Showalter, and Unangst are pushing an agenda of rapid, high-density development (not just in North Bayshore, but wherever possible in MV) that would only degrade the city. This rush to build high-density would not produce any significant amount of affordable housing, would not lower prices, and would worsen our traffic problem significantly. Their agenda would only benefit developers, not residents.

To answer your question: What do I think the City Council should do? First, do no harm.

Positive ideas? A shuttle system that really works, improvements to VTA so that it is practical for more people to use, bike lanes where they will not impede flow of traffic, preserve existing affordable housing, higher developer fees to support new affordable housing, and well-considered housing development, at a more moderate pace.

Also, see Jim Neal’s first paragraph, in his post above.

Here is a link to an article posted in another Town Square discussion by former MV mayor and councilmember Laura Macias, regarding the problem of affordable housing in San Francisco. Please read it! Some positive suggestions are listed at the end of the article: Web Link


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.