Since her initial run for the City Council in 2014, Councilwoman Lisa Matichak has built a reputation for supporting strong neighborhoods and quality of life for residents.
When a project is up for consideration, Matichak is usually the first to ask about parks and raise concerns about parking. When housing density comes up, her worry is less about the total number of units and more about how it looks and fits with the suburban neighborhood character that still dominates much of the city.
With so much development in the pipeline, particularly in crafting entirely new neighborhoods in North Bayshore and East Whisman, Matichak said she hopes to serve another term on the council and see those projects through. North Bayshore in particular, she said, is practically a blank slate with little infrastructure, and it's important not to shortchange those future residents.
"As we grow as a city ... I want to make sure that we have great neighborhoods," Matichak said. "It's really important that people live in areas where they have access to retail, goods and services, parks, open space, trails and the ability to walk to places."
When she started her 2019 stint as mayor, Matichak described her approach to growth as a sort of balancing act. She said she is not opposed to new housing construction, but looks at projects through the lens of whether it will detract from the quality of life of current residents. The approach may fit in well with other suburban cities, but occasionally puts her at odds with colleagues pushing for more housing growth.
Matichak said she does not want to let those disagreements amount to bad blood or get in the way of good policy making.
"I bring a very collegial perspective, wanting to work well my colleagues, and over the past couple years we've worked well together," Matichak said. "We don't always agree on the issues, but we work well together to come up with compromises."
With large swaths of the city now rezoned for housing growth during her first term, Matichak said it's time to double down on developers and ensure it actually gets built. She touts that the city's blueprint, if achieved in both areas, would effectively double the number of affordable housing units in the city.
From there, Matichak said the city could consider revamping the Terra Bella area of the city, but the next candidate for rezoning is likely the Moffett Boulevard corridor. As a resident living near East Whisman, she said she was interested to see Google's recent megaproject for the area, which she said could be bring some much-needed amenities to an underserved area of the city.
"I think we have been wanting to have more infrastructure in the East Whisman area, like a grocery store, more retail, better bike lanes," she said. "So the plan that Google is proposing could help benefit the rest of the Whisman area."
Matichak was opposed to Mountain View's rent control law on the 2016 campaign trail, arguing it would take away the incentive for landlords to invest in their properties and choose instead to tear them down. Today, she said she still has concerns about the law, and said it puts a serious barrier on some of the city's priorities.
In particular, she said the city wants to require seismic retrofits to all "soft story" residential buildings vulnerable to collapse in an earthquake. Yet landlords would have to foot much of the bill for the upgrades due to constraints in the Community Stabilization and Fair Rent Act (CSFRA), the language of which makes it difficult to pass the costs onto tenants. This was one of the solutions proposed in Measure D, which was defeated in March.
Another conundrum in the law is whether rent control should extend to mobile homes, Matichak said, which is a thorny issue that remains a problem today. She believes mobile homes are not covered by the CSFRA, and that people who argue otherwise are likely conflating the text of the law with the 2016 ballot arguments in favor of the measure.
"If you go back to the ballot statements that were written, it says it could be extended to cover mobile homes," Matichak said. "So that says to me that the CSFRA does not cover them, otherwise it would say they cover them rather than it 'could' be extended."
When asked whether she would support rent stabilization for mobile homes, Matichak said she would -- but under certain conditions. She believes the city needs to offer a second option called a model lease, in which mobile home residents and the park ownership enter into a binding, long-term lease agreement that balances rent increases for future years. The idea has been supported by mobile home park owners at recent meetings, and Matichak believes it would be a good alternative to at least offer in lieu of rent control.
Matichak voted in favor of the RV parking ban that is now subject to a voter referendum, and will appear on the November ballot as Measure C. She calls it one of the most challenging issues that the city has ever faced, straining council members and city staff alike on how to best respond.
On the whole, she said Mountain View has responded to the growing homelessness problem well, and has invested millions of dollars into support for the several hundred people living in cars and RVs in the city. But at the end of the day, living along city streets is not a sustainable way to live, she said, and the lack of services creates a safety and public health concern. With Mountain View doing its part combating the problem, Matichak said it's time to start encouraging neighboring cities to do more.
"Other cities need to step up in this area and help those who are homeless," she said. "Mountain View can't address the homelessness issue in the region on our own."
Up until recently, Matichak said she hadn't heard concerns about the Mountain View Police Department's conduct, but that she remains open-minded about the calls for police reform. She said she wants to have an open community dialogue and listen to what people have to say about their experiences with police, and said she wasn't opposed to some changes.
Though the process is still underway, Matichak said she would be willing to consider a "reallocation" of resources to handle calls that the police department may not be best equipped to handle, particularly emergency responses for those experiencing a mental health crisis, homelessness or drug abuse. It could be a social worker or case manager, with or without the presence of an officer.
"Let's dig into the data so that we are making fact-based decisions," she said.
With budget cuts looming, Matichak said she does believe there are some important investments that shouldn't be cut. The city can defer payments to something like pension liability and other post-employment benefits, but the city's fight against climate change can't wait.
"I very strongly feel that we shouldn't cut our sustainability budget," she said. "This the time, it's either now or never and we need to keep that on track."