News

Editorial: Time for City Council to show it's serious about housing

 

It's abundantly clear there's a housing crisis in Mountain View and the Bay Area at large. What isn't clear is what the Mountain View City Council plans to do about it.

From lengthy, emotional public comment periods to redevelopment projects that displace low-income renters, the housing crisis is a regular subject at council meetings. At a study session last month to set major work plan goals for the next two fiscal years, council members directed staff to study a number of potential projects to "promote a community for all with a focus on strategies to protect vulnerable populations" and "improve the quantity, diversity, and affordability of housing by providing opportunities for subsidized, middle-income, and ownership housing," according to a draft project list. And just last week council members unanimously approved an agreement with the Valley Transportation Authority to lease and then buy the parking lot for the old Evelyn light rail station for use as a safe parking space for homeless residents and eventually for affordable housing.

While we recognize the city has been working for years to address the dearth of affordable housing and related housing concerns — between 2016 and early 2018, city employees spent nearly 4,400 hours just on homeless-related issues, according to a March 2018 report — and we commend these steps taken recently, we'll be watching closely to see how quickly the city turns talk into action.

At the April 23 goal-setting meeting, people rallied at City Hall, calling for an end to the displacement of residents. After hours of public comment and discussion, the council directed staff to consider several options to address the housing crisis. They include identifying organizations that could partner with the city to purchase, rehabilitate and manage older apartment complexes; declaring a housing emergency, which would allow the city to swiftly create temporary safe parking sites in Mountain View and possibly regionally; and developing an approach to "use public property for maximum community benefit as housing, park space or other public space," according to the draft project list. Staff is set to make a recommendation about which projects should be included in the council goals work plan at the council meeting this Tuesday, May 21.

Some of the proposed projects, like using Shoreline Amphitheatre lots for a safe parking program and declaring a housing emergency, have been talked about for months and in some cases years. Case in point — in a July 2014 editorial about the city's jobs-to-housing imbalance, we wrote, "As desperation increases among residents unable to afford skyrocketing rent increases, would-be residents who work here can't find housing at all, and frustration mounts among locals trying to traverse gridlocked roadways. It is long past the time to get serious about this problem."

That was nearly five years ago. Five years in which the homeless population has increased and the jobs-to-housing imbalance has persisted.

It's past time for local leaders to dig in their heels and start working creatively — and in tandem — to find solutions.

Mountain View doesn't need to look far for inspiration. In San Francisco, where residents last year approved a measure that taxes the city's richest companies to fund homeless relief efforts, Mayor London Breed has proposed a November ballot measure that would eliminate restrictions that keep housing from being built on public property. If the measure is approved, hundreds of government-owned parcels could become sites for teacher housing and 100% affordable housing projects, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. In Oakland, the city's proposed two-year budget has $1.5 million earmarked for its safe parking program and $5.1 million for its Tuff Shed program, housing homeless individuals in Tuff Shed shelters as part of its "Community Cabins" program. And in East Palo Alto, a safe parking program recently opened for up to 20 local RV dwellers. The program allows people living in RVs to park in the lot between 7:30 p.m. and 7 a.m., and in exchange for working with a case manager to find transitional housing.

Meanwhile, Mountain View's safe parking program currently only has room for eight small vehicles, and no RVs.

While the city cannot unilaterally tackle the housing crisis gripping the Bay Area, it has the power to do more. Local leaders should be doing what they can to cut through red tape and stem the tide of displacement, including working with regional partners to identify locations for affordable housing, restricting redevelopments that cause a net loss of housing and declaring a housing emergency to allow the city more flexibility in creating safe parking spots. Without swift action, the city stands to lose more of the people that make up its most vulnerable populations and see its cultural and socio-economic diversity suffer.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.

Comments

45 people like this
Posted by Gladys
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 20, 2019 at 3:42 pm

The city council should not take away any property rights from any owner. If a rental business wants to exit the rental business and sell his property to a developer for redevelopement, that is their right. This is a core value of this country where we value and protect property rights.

If council deems that those displaced people are due some forms of compensation for being displaced, then it should come out of the general fund where everyone contributes to it.

Then council will have to decide who and how much compensation will then be due people who lose their jobs and will have to move out of the area.


46 people like this
Posted by Hard to believe
a resident of Cuernavaca
on May 20, 2019 at 3:51 pm

Would be nice if the writer of this editorial took some time to learn about basic economics and housing development. Other than that it’s a well written article


55 people like this
Posted by Gladys
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 20, 2019 at 4:08 pm

It sounds like it was written by Lenny Siegel.

We are fed up with this council dragging it's feet with starting an living in the streets ban.

We do not want it expanded like Siegel has wanted, we want it ended.


Like this comment
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 20, 2019 at 5:08 pm

The Business Man is a registered user.

In response to Posted by Gladys you said:

“The city council should not take away any property rights from any owner. If a rental business wants to exit the rental business and sell his property to a developer for redevelopement, that is their right. This is a core value of this country where we value and protect property rights.”

Gladys, evidence that private property rights are NOT a core value is the fact that it can be taken at any time for only the land value under eminent domain. And eve a private business can TAKE another business or land away under the U.S. Supreme Court. You said:

“If council deems that those displaced people are due some forms of compensation for being displaced, then it should come out of the general fund where everyone contributes to it.”

It is not the responsibility of the public regarding displacement if it is done by NO FAULT of the tenant, you know this is true. That is why Tenant Relocation Assistance has been validated by court decisions. So you cannot expect the public to fund this activity. You said:

“Then council will have to decide who and how much compensation will then be due people who lose their jobs and will have to move out of the area.”

Yes they will but it will come from those who displace them by no fault of their own.

In response to Hard to believe you said:

“Would be nice if the writer of this editorial took some time to learn about basic economics and housing development. Other than that it’s a well written article”

The TERNER CENTER of Berkley (Web Link) states:

“Affordable Housing Costs: The cost of building a 100-unit affordable project in California increased from $265,000 per unit in 2000 to almost $425,000 in 2016. per unit to build an apartment in the areas.”

But a recent report described that a new project in Mountain View is paying $700,000 per unit. This is very suspicious because if a project is overpriced by as little as 35% it satisfies the initial criteria for being likely to be mortgage fraud. The estimated markup of this project is 64%. The likelihood is that the builder will get the $49,000,000 loan, but then pocket $19,000,000 dollars and charge the tenants for the right to pocket that money.

In response to Gladys you said:

“It sounds like it was written by Lenny Siegel.

We are fed up with this council dragging it's feet with starting an living in the streets ban.

We do not want it expanded like Siegel has wanted, we want it ended.”

So, what are you trying to contribute to the discussion?


Like this comment
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 20, 2019 at 5:43 pm

The Business Man is a registered user.

And by the way, I grew up next door to Concord Mass.

THe First battle of the revolutionary war.

THe principle of the revolutionary war was:

"Taxation without representation".

You are represented in the City Council by the owners of the properties. Thus that principle has been validated.

I have watched the battles of Concord and Lexington, the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, and have been a memeber of the "Sons of Liberty" heritage club.

So you cannot argue that my observation is not historically correct.

The Taxes were on stamps and tea. Any letter sent by the colonies and every cup of tea was taxed. The Colonies technically were "OWNED" by private interests in England. the "Colonists" were no longer citizens of England, and the land they lived on was "Privately" owned by England. Here is some information:

Massachusetts Bay Colony, one of the original English settlements in present-day Massachusetts, settled in 1630 by a group of about 1,000 Puritan refugees from England under Gov. John Winthrop and Deputy Gov. Thomas Dudley. IN 1629 THE MASSACHUSETTS BAY COMPANY HAD OBTAINED FROM KING CHARLES I A CHARTER EMPOWERING THE COMPANY TO TRADE AND COLONIZE IN NEW ENGLAND BETWEEN THE CHARLES AND MERRIMACK RIVERS. The grant was similar to that of the Virginia Company in 1609, THE PATENTEES BEING JOINT PROPRIETORS WITH RIGHTS OF OWNERSHIP AND GOVERNMENT. THE INTENTION OF THE CROWN WAS EVIDENTLY TO CREATE MERELY A COMMERCIAL COMPANY WITH WHAT, IN MODERN PARLANCE, WOULD BE CALLED STOCKHOLDERS, OFFICERS, AND DIRECTORS. BY A SHREWD AND LEGALLY QUESTIONABLE MOVE, HOWEVER, THE PATENTEES DECIDED TO TRANSFER THE MANAGEMENT AND THE CHARTER ITSELF TO MASSACHUSETTS. By this move, they not only paved the way for local management, but they established the assumption that the charter for a commercial company was in reality a political constitution for a new government with only indefinable dependence upon the imperial one in England. Among the communities that the Puritans established were Boston, Charlestown, Dorchester, Medford, Watertown, Roxbury, and Lynn.”

Management did not mean government. It was nothing but a business and nothing more.

So if the U.S. was born to protect private property interests, the fight would be that the Americans were violating Privatee Property rights in the revolution. This is proof that you made a factually false claim.


53 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 20, 2019 at 8:07 pm

This editorial shows how out of touch these people are at the Voice.

They do not reflect or represent the people who actually live here, and are fed up with these RV's and all the tax payer money that has already been spent on this.

Way to go Voice!

P.S
You should really think about giving back that excellence award in journalism you got recently.


7 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 20, 2019 at 8:22 pm

Time for Atherton to do something about housing.


2 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 21, 2019 at 6:15 am

The Business Man is a registered user.

In response to Joe you said:

“This editorial shows how out of touch these people are at the Voice. “

In what way? Please provide us with some kind of information that justifies that comment? Do you have any ideas to improve the situation? You said:

“They do not reflect or represent the people who actually live here, and are fed up with these RV's and all the tax payer money that has already been spent on this.”

My information here will solve the problem without any “TAXES” for example:

Google made a profit of about $40 Billion dollars in 2018. Why should any public funds be used to encourage them opening a new location?

Facebook made a profit of about $22 Billion dollars in 2018, Why should any public funds be used to encourage them opening a new location?

Apple made a profit of about nearly $60 Billion, Why should any public funds be used to encourage them opening a new location?

Intel made a profit of about $20 Billion. Why should any public funds be used to encourage them opening a new location?

The sum total profit of these alone are $142 Billion dollars. THIS IS PROFIT. AFTER TAXES.

If these groups are good corporate citizens, why not take 5% of that profit and donate it to build the housing that is lacking in the area? That would be an annual $7.1 Billion. Now lets say it costs $360,000 to build an apartment unit in the area based on the TERNER CENTER report, that would fund 19,722 units of housing annually.

It is reported that there is a shortage of housing in Santa Clara County of 58,870 units.

If that was done the economic equilibrium could be safely accomplished in 5 years.

Such an increase would result in the rent reductions because of the greatly increased inventory. This is not even "Rent Control"

Why can't this happen? You said:

“Way to go Voice!

P.S

You should really think about giving back that excellence award in journalism you got recently.”

Again, do you have anything other than criticism to contribute? We need to find answers. If your attitude is clear, you are instead of putting a hand on the leak in the boat, you want to kill all the rest of the people on the boat. Is this a reasonable approach?

In response to John you said:

“Time for Atherton to do something about housing.”

Who or what is Atherton?


9 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 21, 2019 at 9:10 am

Atherton, CA
Population 2010 6,914
Estimated 2017 7,238
+324
Density 1,438.97/sq mi

Mountain View CA
Population 2010 74,066
Estimated 2017 81,438
+7372
Density 6,000/sq mi



1 person likes this
Posted by Don Keedick
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 21, 2019 at 3:02 pm

Don Keedick is a registered user.

I can't belief that this is being discussed so cavaleirly here. So many peoples are having so muCH hard time doing the right thing that it make me so sad when I go thru the drive thru at the el camino taco bell and find that there are no peoples near the valley hospital when they need to be only there


2 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 21, 2019 at 6:43 pm

The Business Man is a registered user.

In response to John:

I understand your observation, that Atherton experienced a .6% population increase per year an Mountain View experienced a 1.4% population per year.

But let’s look at job growth comparisons. Atherton has seen a 6.19% increase in employment in 2016-17 with 2,850 jobs. Mountain View has seen a 2.79% increase in employment with 46,400 jobs.

The job count increase in Atherton is 180 jobs in that year, in Mountain View it was 1293 jobs.

So you propose we outsource homes to Atherton. It is 12.5 miles away. That stretch of 101 is notorious to take 30 minutes to drive 12.5 miles a speed of 25 mile an hour. If we outsource the housing you the most generous traffic impact will be 2 persons for every car which adds 644 more cars on the road to the already strained roads of the bay highways.

The poverty rate in Atherton is 3.54% so there are 254 people in Atherton in statistical poverty whereas the poverty rate in Mountain View is 7.87% so there are there are 6,300 in Mountain View in statistical poverty.

It looks like Atherton is doing a better job doesn’t it? But you really cannot expect outsourcing housing will improve our poverty in Mountain View, it is likely to make it worse.


17 people like this
Posted by Dumb Guy
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 23, 2019 at 5:42 pm

Gee, when I voted for rent control a couple of years ago I thought these problems would be solved. You mean that didn’t work?


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

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields


Be the first to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Nationally renowned Indian restaurant expanding to Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 2 comments | 2,619 views

Summer travel: Is anything changing?
By Sherry Listgarten | 10 comments | 1,148 views

Premarital and Couples: "Our Deepest Fear" by Marianne Williamson
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 831 views

Cap On? Cap Off? Recycling Bottles is Confusing
By Laura Stec | 12 comments | 668 views