Traffic claim on council candidate's mailer raises questions | October 31, 2014 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - October 31, 2014

Traffic claim on council candidate's mailer raises questions

Estimates vary wildly over potential traffic from new housing in North Bayshore

by Daniel DeBolt

City Council candidate Ellen Kamei has sent out a mailer that makes a controversial claim: Adding 5,000 new homes in North Bayshore — a key issue dividing the candidates in this year's race — would cause a 10,000-car "traffic nightmare" on Highway 101.

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Email Daniel DeBolt at [email protected]


Posted by MtnViewDan
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 31, 2014 at 9:35 am

Alas! A discussion on the issues. Let's get past mailers and have a real discussion about the candidates position on the issues and their preparation for office.

This article is helpful. It shows us that Ellen is not ready for office and should be a catalyst for discussion about what we need in our city---leaders who understand the issues, have experience in vetting tough issues, and will balance community needs with solutions not dogmatic positions.

I think this shows why we need Ken, Pat, and Lenny on the City Council--they get the issues and are willing to not be boxed into one position.

Posted by What??
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 31, 2014 at 9:39 am

To base a prominent campaign-mailer claim on such obviously shaky data (different assumptions yield wildly different traffic forecasts) reflects on Ellen Kamei's judgment.

Then with her back-pedaling in this Voice story and other things, Ellen Kamei is shaping up as our latest smooth would-be career politician, groomed no doubt by mentor Margaret "I'm not a career politician" Abe-Koga.

Abe-Koga herself is being termed out of Council, but has ambitiously declared for TWO new elected positions, health-care district board and 2016 County Supervisor ( Web Link and its comments); Abe-Koga "told the Voice that she has no intention for running for supervisor in 2016 if she is elected to the El Camino Healthcare District" Web Link so the Supe run is just a fall-back option, if she keeps her word. (Can't risk being out of office! "I am not a career politician.")

Kamei has worked in Washington, and will have a formidable political machine behind her, thanks to her close association with Simitian, Eshoo, and Lofgren. The Voice called her positions on issues "sometimes hard to discern" Web Link .

"I spend over 50 percent of my income on rent" currently, Kamei said Web Link . But she reportedly lived in her grandfather's MV house earlier. Her campaign has not mentioned her assets (just income), so that's not the whole picture and it doesn't address whether she owns residential property here, as well as renting.

It's evidently appealing to ambitious career politicians to spend terms on the MV City Council (we've had others too). But is it good for Mountain View?

Posted by David Lewis
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 31, 2014 at 10:16 am

I either didn't get Ellen Kamei's mailer on the traffic nightmare, or immediately consigned it to the trash bin, but I wonder who paid for what was likely quite an expensive mailer, especially if it went to most of Mountain View? Another thought is that Ms. Kamei, who has always been a fan of development, didn't address the impact of tens of thousands of new office workers in North Bayshore on traffic on 101-apparently only housing impacts local traffic conditions.

Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 31, 2014 at 11:04 am

Jim Neal is a registered user.

I don't have any phone messages from the Voice nor does there appear to be anything from them in my email account. When I saw Daniel at the City Council meeting on Tuesday and invited him to my election nigh event, he failed to say anything about this story to me or ask me for any type of comment on it.

That having been said, here are my comments:

I agree that it is highly improbable that adding 5000 houses of any type would add 10,000 cars to Highway 101. First, there is no way that 10,000 additional vehicles would even be able to park there. I don't think that there would be even 2500 additional vehicles, but even if there were; that would mean that every single car would have to make 4 trips on 101 every day or that all the cars would have to average that many. Either way, it doesn't make sense.

I also wish to make it clear that although I am in favor of housing in North Bayshore, I think that another study needs to be done to determine what type of housing, how much, and where it should be located there based on current conditions instead of using numbers based on other factors.

Jim Neal
Candidate, Mountain View City Council
Web Link

Jim Neal
Candidate, Mountain View City Council
Web Link

Posted by unbelievable
a resident of Rex Manor
on Oct 31, 2014 at 12:05 pm

About Kamei's use of "talking" campaign mailers, how many of the batteries attached will end up in the trash? Not very environmentally friendly!

Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Oct 31, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Why are there only two options, traditional housing or nothing? What about changing the North Bayshore commercial/industrial zoning to allow new housing only if it is not car based. Zero private cars.

If no developer or residents can meet that threshold, then nothing is built, no harm is done. But imagine, what if they can, what if we can provide large amount of needed housing, reduce traffic, and model an ecologically visionary neighborhood for those who desire such? MV at that point would be as well known for housing innovation as it is for its search company.

Given the price of land in North Bayshore, the best way in my opinion is to allow them to build micro housing. See this 100 sq foot high vaulted design example: Web Link

Micro housing allows you to have the density to make development profitable, and provides the housing numbers to actually make a difference in cooling down rising rental prices.

This is all predicated on making sure any housing in NB does not design for cars. Bike garages instead of car garages, shared car service spaces instead of parking spaces, and extended shuttle services. Space for weekly farmer markets and community gardens.

The same creative and stringent restraint should be placed on commercial growth. Let the companies bring as many workers as they want to North Bayshore, but do not let them increase their number of car trips per day by any, hold them to the current traffic numbers, which already strain our streets. If and only if they can grow, yet keep traffic the same, then let them grow unrestrained. In some private schools around this area, they install daily car trip monitors that generate fines if they surpass their current traffic threshold as a compromise in order to increase their allowed enrollments.

Let our city throw down our version of a global sustainable housing X Prize, and if no land owner (since all development in North Bayshore happens on already built-out land, no one, absolutely no one is proposing building on open green space), if no developer, and if no resident wants to live without a car, then no harm is done, so why not?

Posted by Glenn Meier
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Oct 31, 2014 at 3:16 pm

@ MtnViewDan
You accuse Kamei of being dogmatic, who can be more dogmatic than Siegel? I guess the group you favor is not dogmatic because you agree with them.
Assuming that 75 percent of the workers who move into the 5000 new homes in North Bayshore will work in North Bayshore as Siegel has stated is just as wild a speculation as the 10000 cars added to 101.

Posted by Ellen Kamei has my vote
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 31, 2014 at 4:22 pm

She is right, normally families have 2 or more cars. The more housing crowd, can't use a calculator to figure that number out? Figures!!

NOT only the traffic will be a nightmare, but our infrastructure will be as well. Then they will be screaming they don't have enough money and they need to raise the property taxes.

The are building in San Jose, MT. View already has enough people for this small town.

People, get out and vote for Kamei, Lisa Matichak, Mercedes Salem and Margaret Capriles have all stated their opposition to changing zoning to allow housing there.

And of course vote for Jim Neal, a man of common sense, not brought off by google, yet. Just kidding with the yet Jim.

Lets not make life more miserable because of Google!!!!

Posted by Disappointed
a resident of North Whisman
on Oct 31, 2014 at 4:43 pm

We live in an area that drives technological innovation on a global scale, yet we are stuck trying to figure out how to solve our local housing crisis.

I was hoping that at least one of the candidates would have discussed how to engage and collaborate with neighboring communities as this is a regional issue and not confined to Mountain View.

It is also an opportunity to invite input from thought leaders and visionaries in the field and begin thinking outside the box.

Finally, when talking about North Bayshore, this is Google's very own backyard. Who contemplates how their work on e.g. self-driving cars might change the way we live and how it could shape future communities. If housing needs to be built in North Bayshore, show some forward thinking please.

It is time for a new approach.

Posted by mel
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 31, 2014 at 5:06 pm

ambition is a slippery slope that diminishes integrity


Posted by AMF
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 31, 2014 at 11:38 pm

I do agree with her. While the numbers might not be 100% accurate, if you are a family, we are in an affluent area and better believe most have at least two cars. Our public transit doesn't go anywhere really useful so one needs a car just for groceries, appointments, kids stuff, etc. I think the focus of Mountain View needs to be to not attempt to house the bay area. Look at the only place more expensive to live right now, SF. Do you really expect me to believe that everyone that works in the city lives there? No way! In my neighborhood they tore down 5 homes and put in 20 townhouses. Guess what now. There are weeks I can't fit the trash cans out in front of my own huge corner lot because all of the cars are overflowing out. We have dwindling open space and parks. I have driving around local parking lots on normal days for half an hour trying to find one single spot. Ever try parking at BMW of MV? Zero street parking and rarely anything in the lot. To draw to a close, whoever is elected (I still am thinking of running one day) needs to think several steps ahead of their decisions and as much as I know everyone wants us to be green or be like Europe, we need to face the fact that we are a fast moving area and time is money. We will not take a bus or ride a bike to pick up and drop off our kids or go to work. It just simply will not work and wanting an ideal has very little to do with logistics or reality.

Posted by Hell No on Kamei
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Nov 1, 2014 at 4:50 am

I officially wrote off Ellen after speaking with her. The topic we discussed showed her inability to accept the results of her own actions, as she blamed others for the issue that she and she alone had caused. This is a very telling mindset that shines a bright light on her core values as a person.

*Someone who can't accept responsibility for her own actions, but instead tries to blame the actual victim has ZERO INTEGRITY.

Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Nov 1, 2014 at 8:22 am

I created a spreadsheet to help me process the stances, endorsements, and issues the candidates brought up.

You can find it here: Web Link

My takeaway from making it is that we have candidates with complex layers of support, indicating complex views for complex problems. All 9 genuinely seek to preserve Mountain View's diverse soul. Not a single one of the 9 candidates seeks (actively or quietly) to cast off our city's low-income population or dump the housing crisis on to another cities.

I recognize that on my spreadsheet, the attempt to differentiate the candidates on the issues is a splitting of hairs in a field that largely agrees on many of the issues. We should be proud MV produces such a progressive field, even if it makes picking the candidates that much harder.

What isn't captured in the spreadsheet, and what hasn't received enough attention is the candidates’ character and affect. Can they work in a team since our government is a collective body? Can they stay true to their principles all the while compromising to get things done? Are they willing to not themselves be the center of attention, and even sacrifice their own interest for the city? Can they inspire and focus on solutions, rather than deride and focus simply on problems? Can they be professional in a city that is at the center of the world’s 21st century economy?

I don’t have much insight on that, though all 9 seem promising. I will say our voters have immensely messed up on the character/affect front in recent past local elections, so we should be more careful.

Posted by Scarlet
a resident of Jackson Park
on Nov 1, 2014 at 8:28 am

Ellen makes a very valid point. THANK YOU Ellen!! We have a traffic problem NOW. We've had studies since the SIXTIES (including the recent General Plan) that all recommend NO HOUSING in North Bayshore. Let's fix the infrastructure and traffic, and quit adding to it. As for the example of 75% parking occupancy at the new Madera complex: have you seen how crowded the neighboring streets are?? Even in neighboring condos there are more people parked on neighboring streets (perhaps they are using their garages for storage? Or have more cars that can fit?) We have problems that need to be fixed. Let's not create more problems by building in North Bayshore.

Posted by @Scarlet
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 1, 2014 at 10:21 am

By adding more roads (or widening existing ones) all we accomplish is that more cars can fit. That's not a path to green house gas reduction.

Ellen is wrong in her assumptions and she shouldn't be playing the fear card. This decision (to put out a voice mailing) will haunt her her entire political career.

Posted by concerned citizen
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 1, 2014 at 10:49 am

By instituting road diets or otherwise intentionally making auto use inconvenient, while ramping up housing construction, all we would accomplish is gridlock - cars idling in stopped traffic, or circling the block repeatedly, looking for parking. I'm all for increased bike/ped/public transit, but I resent the idea of the City trying to social-engineer everyone out of their cars. It won't work; it would only create misery.

Ellen may or may not be right about the numbers, but her point is valid. Lenny, however, is certainly wrong in expecting 75% of residents of his future NB 5,000 units to all work in North Bayshore. That's ridiculous.

Ellen's record on the EPC has been one of compliance with the wishes of developers. That's the reason I'm not voting for her, not because of a questionable projection, and not because of the $20,000+ in outside support that came via the cynically-named "Neighborhood Empowerment Coalition", probably originally routed there from developers.

As one who wants to see neighborhoods respected, moderate growth, and existing affordable housing preserved, I'm voting for Matichak, Salem, and Neal.

Posted by A senior veteran
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 1, 2014 at 4:37 pm

For those who don't think of traffic congention will be a problem think again.

Adding 5,000 new house will mean increase in police, fire, parks, maintenance crews, garbage trucks, postal delivery, all delivery trucks, ambulances, Teachers driving into new schools, grocery workers etc, I know I don't have anywhere near a complete list, but it is not just the people who will live there.

Most of us go on one or two car trips daily. If anything 10,000 additional trips is an underestimate.

Daniel DeBolt can you try not being so biased? Wow it's a sad reflection on the Voice that he continues to get away with this.

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 2, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Christopher Chiang has my Vote! (if he eventually runs for Council :). It almost seems that he took an Urban Design course somewhere and knows how to quantify and 'spreadsheet' judgement citeria.

Who will work together? Who does deep research? I always liked the depth of Laura Macias' research. Lisa M. and Pat S. seem to do deep research - but come up with slighly different 'answers'. Mr. Neal seems to do 'wide research' and cover many city issues. Lenny S. - about as deep (and wide) as they come in the decades he has been working on our community problems. (But - you may not like his answers). Ken R. and Greg U. both seem to have good depth in the issues they are most concerned with.
I have not been impressed with Ellen K.'s depth, and some observers say they are not impressed with Margaret C's. They are at opposite ends of 'community experience'. And Ms. Salem - a good start in community involvement (but heck, it took native John McAlister a Second Try to get on Council!)

This will be a fine election IMO. And No Neal, North Bayshore housing is not THE defining issue - but it 'sure is instructive'.

Posted by Greg Coladonato
a resident of Slater
on Nov 3, 2014 at 10:36 am

Greg Coladonato is a registered user.

I'd like to respond to the comment made above:

"We've had studies since the SIXTIES (including the recent General Plan) that all recommend NO HOUSING in North Bayshore. "

I would be interested in reading the reasoning in those older studies. From the 1940s through the 1960s, pigs were farmed out in NB. I probably would have agreed that no housing should be built in a pig farm. From the early 1970s through 1983, refuse from the City of San Francisco was deposited in NB to fill and level the land. I probably would have agreed that no housing should be built in an active dump.

But things have changed. And just because a policy made sense 50 years ago does not imply that the same policy still makes sense. We should be intelligent and informed enough to support the right policies for now and for the future, whether or not they were the right policies in the past.

Posted by SVTA Robo-Calls
a resident of another community
on Nov 3, 2014 at 12:04 pm

@Greg Coladonato - Indeed "things change". What's your current stand on the SVTA robo-calls against school facilities (Measure N) for your neighbors?

Posted by Steve
a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 3, 2014 at 2:13 pm

We already did the "more traffic" thing with Prometheus and 455 Evelyn. The result was (and always is) that residential development results in *less* traffic than commercial development.

Posted by What??
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 3, 2014 at 2:26 pm

I don't know where Steve of Shoreline West got that last notion from, but increased traffic and parking hassles since the 455-Evelyn property became apartments is a perennial theme from the people I know who live near that location.

Not sure what it has to do, either, with either North Bayshore (where everyone is citing "logic" to support their favorite conclusion, take your pick and you can find answers all over the spectrum), or the topic of this Town Square discussion (Ellen Kamei carelessly repeating one particular package of "logic" about North Bayshore, without acknowledging how much the result varies with the starting assumptions).

Posted by floored
a resident of another community
on Nov 3, 2014 at 10:21 pm

this is a summary of 2 posts from: NEC finances "toilet water" attack ad in Water District race" Original post made on Nov 3, 2014 Web Link

- NEC's treasurer Gary Crummitt has 2 violations and 1 warning from the FPPC this year alone! see here: Web Link
- in addition, NEC also paid 5,000 dollars to Barry Wyatt Associates
- Barry Wyatt Associates was until recently (it's still in Google's cache) part of Robinson Communication's team see here: Web Link
- and guess who's running Kremen's water district campaign.... Rich Robinson
- Ellen Kamei also used Robinson. She paid Robinson close to 18,000.00 (according to her campaign)for that awful mailer.
- There is a NEC mailer supporting her regarding traffic and then she sends out that mailer about traffic that was created by essentially the same people.
-Gary Kremen and Ellen Kamie share an office space and are having their election night party together.

This is all making sense.

WOW. This is bad.

Maybe the expenditures are truly independent but what a series of coincidences...

Posted by DC
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Nov 4, 2014 at 10:25 pm

Parking is 75 full at any given night because the resident save the space for late returning autos. Try counting spaces in the morning or at 2 AM.

Posted by Good Results
a resident of Bailey Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 9:26 am

I like to think this thread had something to do with keeping the right people out. It's tough to hide in the digital age. Best thing now? No more mailers and robo-calls!

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