News

Mountain View council fine-tunes plan for housing on downtown parking lot

Lot 12 could become city's largest affordable housing project

An untapped parking lot right in the heart of downtown may be the best opportunity Mountain View has ever had to build a large-scale affording housing complex. But the housing project still faces a considerable set of hurdles, namely how the city will make up for the lost parking and funding to build it.

City officials believe the site could fit a six-story complex with up to 120 apartments, which would be the largest affordable housing project ever attempted in Mountain View. The location for dense housing could hardly be more suitable, right across the street from the library and near transit, jobs and retail. City officials envision the future building could also host ground-floor retail, a community center or perhaps some kind of kitchen incubator.

But that location also presents some problems. The site, known as Lot 12, is currently the city's largest public parking lot by area. On a daily basis, all 160 spots are occupied, and city officials agreed that any future development should replace that parking.

At its Sept. 10 meeting, the City Council reviewed initial proposals from six developers on how they would build the new Lot 12 housing and parking garage. The developers, which included several housing nonprofits, all informed the city they would need a hefty subsidy. Their requests ranged from $11.5 million up to $40.7 million.

At the meeting, city staff members sought further direction from the City Council as they prepared to send out a formal request for proposals to the developers. To fine-tune those bids, city staff urged elected leaders to clearly spell out all their requirements and preferences.

For the City Council, including ample parking in the project was not negotiable, even though it is considered one of the main drivers of cost. Building a new garage was calculated to cost about $53,000 per parking space, according to past city reports.

From talking with business owners, Mayor Lisa Matichak said she was convinced that parking is absolutely vital to the economic success of downtown shops and restaurants.

"Every single business I spoke with said their top issue is parking, especially the restaurants who think they're losing business because their customers can't park," she said. "I hope that in the future we won't be as car dependent, but we don't know when that will be."

City staff warned that funding to pay for parking may have to come out of the city's general fund. Mountain View's parking in-lieu fees that the city draws from new developments could not be touched for this project because those funds were meant for new additional parking, not replacing existing spaces. City Manager Dan Rich hinted there might be a way to use money from the downtown parking district. Meanwhile City Council members proposed mitigating the loss of parking at Lot 12 by building a larger garage on a different downtown parcel.

Over the course of the meeting, council members repeatedly emphasized that they want developers to find any and all sources of outside money to help finance the housing and parking. In the past, Mountain View's affordable housing has primarily relied on federal tax credits while the city has footed the bill for one-third or more of the cost. The last approved subsidized housing project, a 71-unit building at 950 W. El Camino Real, ended up costing the city about $327,000 per apartment, or about half the total cost.

This time around, city officials were insistent that finding other funding sources for Lot 12 was imperative. In particular, council members wanted to draw on Measure A, the 2016 Santa Clara County bond that provided $950 million for affordable housing projects.

About one quarter of Measure A's total funding has already been spent on 19 housing projects. Recent subsidized housing projects in Mountain View have been passed over for funding because they did not focus on addressing homeless individuals. Nonprofit housing providers speaking at the meeting gave assurances that the Lot 12 project could be designed to tap Measure A.

"We're here today because we think Lot 12 could be the spot where the nexus comes together," said Ray Bramson, chief impact officer with Destination Home. "We're anxious to see how we can bridge this gap."

To that end, council members emphasized that the Lot 12 project should target people in the low-income category because Measure A funding tends to be directed to the groups in greatest need. A majority of the City Council agreed that any future Lot 12 housing should be designated for households earning in the range of 30% to 80% of the median income, or about $40,000 to $105,000 for a family of four.

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Comments

58 people like this
Posted by Ok
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 12, 2019 at 1:56 pm

I do not understand how is it rational spending of money: pick the most expensive piece of land (downtown is not cheap) and build an affordable housing there. The rational thing would be to pick the most affordable pies of land for this and spend more for the actual housing and not for the land.


33 people like this
Posted by ShorelineWestDude
a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 12, 2019 at 2:20 pm

ShorelineWestDude is a registered user.

#OK...
The MV City government has not been very rational for a very very long time.....


24 people like this
Posted by Slad
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 12, 2019 at 2:21 pm

Has the city council sold it's soul. Here we go again making it more impossible to find parking in this city plus adding another 100 or so vehicles for the new residents moving into another downtown monstrosity. Character is disappearing fast on city council. Almost no places to shop, Tap just left, instead we have nothing but tons of restaurants filling the old businesses up rapidly, and the developers are having a heyday. Sad, and glad were leaving MV, our family moved here in 1955.


10 people like this
Posted by ShorelineWestDude
a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 12, 2019 at 2:21 pm

ShorelineWestDude is a registered user.

hi #OK...
The MV City government has not been very rational for a very very long time.....


31 people like this
Posted by ShorelineWestDude
a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 12, 2019 at 2:28 pm

ShorelineWestDude is a registered user.

This sounds like a fast track to turning the downtown into a slum.

sanctuary city + questionable "affordable" housing + uber liberal progressive policies based on virtue signaling

(rather than pragmatism) + social engineering gone amok = recipe for disaster


34 people like this
Posted by Ed
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 12, 2019 at 2:32 pm

Nor does it seem rational to use some of the most expensive real estate in the country for free car storage. When the supply comes at zero cost, demand is unlimited.


15 people like this
Posted by Care about all of MV residents
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 12, 2019 at 2:47 pm

ShorelineWestDude:

First there are many other downtown housing options which allow people to walk around and patronize the parking.

Second, the proposed housing the council is talking about would likely target local teachers and police and waiters and janitors and other lower income folks who serve our town.

"questionable "affordable" housing + uber liberal progressive policies based on virtue signaling"

Is this ELITIST statement a reflection of you and not the people you are branding a problem? I assume if you are "west shoreline" you work at Google? How absolutely appalling that you think affordable housing is somehow a problem? And that housing people who work in our town and don't make $300k as a mid-level engineer at Google or Apple are "questionable" and reflective of "progressive policies" that are a problem?

Affordable housing is for people making median income or less ($125k per year), low affordable is around $60k and low low affordable is for around $30k.

Who cleans your toilets? Serves you your free meals for breakfast lunch and dinner, and cleans your car? Do these people not deserve to live in MV?


31 people like this
Posted by letsgetreal
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 12, 2019 at 2:50 pm

I don't understand the thought process here. At All. I NEVER go to downtown Palo Alto because it is such a pain to find parking. Don't be a Palo Alto. How about focusing on something like recruiting retail partners? Getting rid of that SLEAZY night club? Taking away a parking lot should not be on the list, in my opinion.


9 people like this
Posted by RentIsTooDarnHigh
a resident of Jackson Park
on Sep 12, 2019 at 3:54 pm

"The last approved subsidized housing project, a 71-unit building at 950 W. El Camino Real, ended up costing the city about $327,000 per apartment, or about half the total cost."

Does it freak anyone else out to see this figure knowing that 20 years ago you could buy a nice 1800 sq foot single family home for 327K in Mtn View?


19 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 12, 2019 at 3:55 pm

"Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded." - Yogi Berra


14 people like this
Posted by William
a resident of North Whisman
on Sep 12, 2019 at 4:08 pm

Downtowns should be the epicenters of cities, which is what Mountain View is attempting to accomplish. I support this low-income housing in downtown for the many teachers and service workers who make the city function. Some of the best people I've met in the city are the lowest-income residents. These workers are the heart of the city and are struggling to overcome incredible financial obstacles to stay with their families. The core of a city is the services, the people behind the scenes who never get a thank-you.

"Low-income" workers did not bring the characters we're seeing more of around town and street intersections. The huge influx of high-income workers has brought beggars and confused attitudes to what was just a decade ago a more selfless city.


11 people like this
Posted by Tina
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2019 at 4:13 pm

Why not compromise and build 60 affordable apartments and a parking structure next to it that can accommodate 160 cars? Let Los Altos build 60 affordable apartments next to their library.


22 people like this
Posted by jordydog1
a resident of Slater
on Sep 12, 2019 at 4:13 pm

jordydog1 is a registered user.

YES, YES, YES. Get rid of the sleazy nightclub!!


9 people like this
Posted by Doug Pearson
a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2019 at 12:42 pm

Folks, you need to read the article again. It says, "...a six-story complex with up to 120 apartments...could also host ground-floor retail, a community center or perhaps some kind of kitchen incubator...[on] a daily basis, all 160 spots are occupied, and city officials agreed that any future development should replace that parking...the new Lot 12 housing and parking garage".

I think it's pretty clear the six-story complex will have at least 160 parking spaces and probably more than 300 to also accommodate the cars require for the 120 affordable apartments.

In my opinion, the biggest sticking point is the six-story height. I hope the city is able to pull it off.


10 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 13, 2019 at 1:57 pm

Get ready for a whole lot of wasted money at expense of the Mt. View resident. In the end, it’s going to lead to a worse situation, more expenses and lowered quality of life for all. This is all Mt View leaders are capable of doing. But hey they sure get some nice ‘donations’ from developers! Plus don’t even have to live with live with their choices!


1 person likes this
Posted by DC
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 13, 2019 at 9:52 pm

You have some of the highest prices land in Mtn View.....

Sell the high price land and use the money to buy lower cost land and help fund the building cost. win win win


3 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 15, 2019 at 6:24 pm

It’s not just businesses that would be affected by loss of parking in that lot. That’s where people park when seeing shows at the Performing Arts Center & when attending library programs. Other parking uses include large meetings at CPA, festival parking, & library staff parking 7 days a week (35-40 people) Building a new parking structure elsewhere in the City won’t help. Nor will telling people to not use cars. Some people come from a long way away.


14 people like this
Posted by From here
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 15, 2019 at 9:36 pm

No more buildings. Mountain View already is over crowded with google idiots walking around with their phones in their faces. We don’t need more. Used to be a nice city 30 years ago. Now over crowded with idiots and a city council with no balls.


Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Sep 16, 2019 at 4:13 pm

It’s not just businesses that would be affected by loss of parking in that lot. That’s where people park when seeing shows at the Performing Arts Center & when attending library programs. Other parking uses include large meetings at CPA, festival parking, & library staff parking 7 days a week. Building a new parking structure elsewhere in the City won’t help, nor will telling people not to use cars. Some people come from a long way away.


Like this comment
Posted by side1
a resident of Rex Manor
on Sep 16, 2019 at 8:25 pm

Parking in downtown?
Why would anyone need parking?
It is just next to the Library, the performing Arts Center and City Hall, and Pioneer park.

If they get rid of the parking spaces, they can get rid of the Library and don't have to worry about pesky voters coming the Council Meetings.

How about turning the Performing Arts Center into a parking garage?
I would bet the parking spaces would get more use then the Performing Arts Building.


Like this comment
Posted by countryroad
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 16, 2019 at 9:23 pm

countryroad is a registered user.

so our residential streets keep having to take the burden of commuter parking? shame on city council


Like this comment
Posted by yeah that makes sense
a resident of Slater
on Sep 17, 2019 at 4:46 pm

Since mountain views minimum hourly rate of $15.00 equates to a weekly pay of $600, monthly pay of $2,600, and an annual salary of $31,200. which is below the 40K to qualify.


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