News

Commissioner latest victim of housing crisis

HRC's Santiago, priced out of home, moving to state of Washington

Residents driven away by Mountain View's escalating rents now include Human Relations Commissioner Nilda Santiago, who has spent more than a quarter-century in Mountain View.

"It's been pretty hard and sad because I actually built my life here 26 years ago," Santiago said. When she moved to the city, she could afford an apartment on Hope Street despite being a 24-year-old single mother pursuing a degree from Foothill College, she said. "It's been a very, very long time. I have to try all over again in a whole different place."

When the rent jumped from $1,500 to $1,850 a month for their California Street apartment in September of 2012, Santiago and her husband decided to move into a building on Sierra Vista Avenue where her husband sells computer parts, converting two rooms into living spaces with permission from the city. But now the landlord is evicting the building's tenants to make way for a housing development.

Given rising rents -- and the fact that Santiago is disabled and doesn't work -- finding a new Mountain View home seems daunting. "We actually started last year, around October, to look for places to move again," Santiago said. "The rent for housing was going up a lot. We looked in Gilroy, in Fremont, we looked everywhere."

The rents at her old California Street complex went up to $2,300 a month, she said.

So Santiago says she is leaving for Bremerton, Wash. soon. Her husband had visited a friend there and was charmed by a place where the American dream still seems possible and where she's seen rents of $795 a month for a decent two-bedroom apartment. Santiago has eyed homes there selling for only $80,000 -- much cheaper than Santa Clara County, where the average selling price of a detached home recently topped $1 million.

"We will never be able to buy a house in California," she said. "To stay here, we will need $48,000 a year for all our expenses. If we move to Washington we will only need $19,000 a year."

Mountain View residents should be concerned abut driving away residents like Nilda, said Ken Rosenberg, a financial advisor and City Council candidate who got to know Santiago as a fellow HRC member.

"Losing a person like Nilda is a blow to Mountain View," said Rosenberg. "We're a losing a citizen who cares enough about our city to volunteer many hours. She has had fantastic ideas (on the HRC) and her comments have been constructive. She will be missed."

Santiago worked in child care for years and was the sort of person who helped others when no one else would, taking under her wing "kids and families who couldn't find housing," she said.

Santiago suffers from a disorder called reflex sympathetic dystrophy. "I live with pain 24/7," she said. "Helping other people kind of takes that out of my brain. I started helping people and that helped me."

She recalled that former city employee Blanco Cinco told her, "You know, you have that gift, why don't you put in an application for the HRC?" She was selected and until last month, advised the City Council on the city's social issues.

Santiago's story is familiar to anyone who provides a service in Mountain View, from manual labor to teaching its students or putting out its fires.

"Not everyone can have a high-paying job," Rosenberg says.

But many new tech-employed residents do and are displacing residents like Santiago. Apartments are being renovated all over the city to meet the demand of well-heeled tech employees, while housing construction has been slow to meet the demand. And though they express concern, City Council members seem powerless to stop the bleeding. The council's answer to the problem -- the city's below market rate housing program -- has yielded only 136 new homes in recent years for lower income residents, with 85 that still need to be built.

Longtime resident Lenny Siegel says the city's housing problem is the result of a failure in city planning. Mountain View has long had "too many jobs" and not enough homes, he says. The city's current long-range planning efforts seem poised to make it worse. The council has been discussing the possibility of new office space for at least 25,000 new jobs by 2030, but fewer than 7,000 new homes, at most.

Gone are the the days when someone like Santiago could find a decent apartment in Mountain View for $525 a month, as she did when she arrived in 1989 from Puerto Rico unable to speak English. While average rents may have nearly quadrupled, wages for most Mountain View employees have not.

For Santiago, Mountain View's housing crisis will no longer be a concern. She leaves at the end of February. Santiago said she's already met several refugees from California in Bremerton, where she said she will welcome a much slower pace of living. And if current trends continue, other community-minded residents will follow suit.

The city is losing "citizens who are contributing to Mountain View," Rosenberg said. "We're going to have to deal with that."

Comments

Posted by Susan, a resident of Castro City
on Mar 3, 2014 at 2:17 pm

I have been a strong advocate for all things Mountain View since moving here 17 years ago. The enthusiasm is dwindling. I am more than a little distressed to see wonderful, hard-working people have to move far away because of the out-of-control rent increases. Is there anything that can be done to curtail this horrible situation??? City Council, we elected you to run and guide the City. Please start doing that soon or you will lose face in the Valley and also lose great people to the greed of landlords.

Rents being doubled "because they can" is not good enough!

I am also still waiting to hear what, exactly, constitutes "Affordable Housing"?!?!? There sure ain't none in Mountain View!


Posted by USA, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 3, 2014 at 2:20 pm

USA is a registered user.

I am in the same building complex. I spent the last month moving out to some industrial space down in Campbell. It was sad when I closed the door last night for the final time after all these years.

The bulldozers are coming now to take it down.


Posted by Martin Omander, a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 3, 2014 at 2:20 pm

This is one of thousands of sad examples of people being forced out. As the economy picks up and jobs are created, we should allow new sustainable housing to be built. That means more walkable neighborhoods, less dependence on the automobile, and taller buildings.


Posted by Honor Spitz, a resident of another community
on Mar 3, 2014 at 2:23 pm

SAD, SAD, SAD!! Sad for everyone!! And its not good for the community either. I wish that landlords would hold the rents at a more reasonable level. Yes, they need to cover their expenses and make a profit to boot; but to gouge the public, to be so oportunistic is just plain wrong!! Shame on those who are doing that.


Posted by DG, a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 3, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Not seeing a problem. As more people want to live here, prices will rise. This is how economics work. Sad, perhaps? Needs fixing? Why? What's broken?


Posted by Daniel DeBolt, Mountain View Voice Staff Writer
on Mar 3, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Daniel DeBolt is a registered user.

Perhaps I introduced the problem too far down in the story:

"Longtime resident Lenny Siegel says the city's housing problem is the result of a failure in city planning. Mountain View has long had "too many jobs" and not enough homes, he says. The city's current long-range planning efforts seem poised to make it worse. The council has been discussing the possibility of new office space for at least 25,000 new jobs by 2030, but fewer than 7,000 new homes, at most."


Posted by Otto Maddox, a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 3, 2014 at 3:57 pm

I'd like to live in Atheron or Los Altos Hills. I can't afford it. Do I blame Atherton? No.

This person could have moved to East San Jose, East Palo Alto, or lots of places in the East Bay if she wanted to stay local.

If you want to make sure you can stay in a certain town permanently you better buy something. As expensive as a house may have seemed in 1989 she should have bought one then. You can't expect rent to stay flat for over two decades. That's just unrealistic.


Posted by Rent, a resident of Cuernavaca
on Mar 3, 2014 at 4:08 pm

One of the sadder aspects to this story is that she paid rent for 26 years. It's too bad that somewhere along the way she wasn't advised to try to own, even if she had to stretch a bit and if it something small, or the place was in Sunnyvale or Santa Clara. There have been periods over that timeframe where interests rates have been low and/or down payments have been reduced.

An equity investment would've left her in much better shape right now than paying rent for 26 years (average of 1K/month for 26 years = $312,000). Even if she still wanted to move to Washington, she could go there and pay cash for a relative mansion ($312K of interest/principal + 300% appreciation = $600K?)

Mountain View and the surrounding areas need more ownership housing, and people should be taught the financial advantages of ownership.


Posted by Turning Wheel, a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Mar 3, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Back in the day I moved to MV because I could not afford the rent in the town I was renting in at the time. Sounds familiar like the story above.

I guarantee that in every town there are people who can not afford to live there, and thus move on. Some move away, others move in to take their place, and so it goes.


Posted by Reader, a resident of Bailey Park
on Mar 3, 2014 at 4:31 pm

"Santiago's story is familiar to anyone who provides a service in Mountain View, from manual labor to teaching its students or putting out its fires."

Doesn't the average fire fighter in MV earn well into 6 figures? Are fire fighters not living in MV because they can't afford it or because their work schedule is set up so they only commute once or twice a week and so they choose to live far away where they get more bang for they're buck?


Posted by Hmm, a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 3, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Bremerton, Wash, nice place if you like the rain and the cloudy days. Everything is nice and green up there. It will cost you the ferry fee to get to Seattle.

If they like it there, they should want to own, renting for decades is not a good idea.

I would also love to live in Hillsboro, but prices are way too high there too. I think I should blame Hillsboro city council for that.


Posted by GSB, a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 3, 2014 at 4:54 pm

There is a difference between trying to move to a place you can't afford vs being priced out of a place you've called home for years.


Posted by B Minkin, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Mar 3, 2014 at 5:30 pm

It is not so easy to save the money for a down payment, even for a house in 1989.

I still cannot figure out why housing in North Shoreline cannot happen. That would ease traffic and increase housing stock. Maybe it was because Google proposed it. If Prometheus had asked for it, the city council would have approved it immediately.


Posted by B Minkin, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Mar 3, 2014 at 5:31 pm

It is not so easy to save the money for a down payment, even for a house in 1989.

I still cannot figure out why housing in North Shoreline cannot happen. That would ease traffic and increase housing stock. Maybe it was because Google proposed it. If Prometheus had asked for it, the city council would have approved it immediately.


Posted by Mr. Adviceo, a resident of Bailey Park
on Mar 3, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Great idea, Bremmer Wash. sounds like a more affordable venue. City of MV should offer free one-way bus tickets to those who need to relocate.


Posted by Jean, a resident of another community
on Mar 3, 2014 at 7:14 pm

Rent control. Oakland and San Francisco have it. It helps keep rents from escalating too fast.It is not perfect, if the building is modified and new tenants come in the rent can escalate, but for remaining tenants new rent can be raised only 3%.
The council needs to keep rents down. They see it as a golden dream of new taxes. You citizens need to elect a better council.


Posted by Scott Lamb, a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 3, 2014 at 8:03 pm

Scott Lamb is a registered user.

I agree with Lenny Siegel. I like to see more growth and density, but this is a sad reminder that the growth of housing and offices are far out of balance and getting worse all the time. It seems like there are nonstop proposals for both, but only offices are getting approved.

It's an election year. Which candidates would work to fix this?

* I don't think Helen Wolter. She says she opposed the housing plan at Mayfield vigorously, and now we have an office there instead. I think this was exactly the wrong position. I even disagree with my neighbors who think it would have been bad for the school — better to have more kids come from nearby than get bused in.

* Ken Rosenberg sounds promising in Web Link but that article is all I know about him.

* I'm skeptical of Jim Neal. He talks about the imbalance, but I don't think he'd really be willing to grow housing enough to fix it. He sounds more like a no-growther. I also think he's stubborn and abrasive (see the styrofoam ban article comments).

* Margaret Capriles carefully said nothing about development last time. Web Link

We need candidates who are actually willing to state that they would approve particular high-density housing projects and (though it pains me to say it) deny particular office projects. Right now they're only speaking in generalities, and I think trying to compete for the vote of the people who want to put Mountain View in a time capsule.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Mar 3, 2014 at 8:55 pm

No housing at Mayfield Mall, more offices, from what I read in the newspapers about the number of workers. Could be anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 persons.

Don't forget all the other companies that are expanding in San Jose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale and Menlo Park.

Why should people leave and if they do? Who will make your coffee, deliver your goods, cut your hair, treat your wounds, teach your kids, paint your house, mow your lawn, clean your office, wash your car. I am not talking just workers, I am also taking business owners. I am sure they can't afford to pay someone 20 dollars hour, yet try to keep their prices low.

School districts will have to pay teachers more and more, remember college loans, car loans, gas and other little expenses beside rent.

A doctor will incur such high loans, the a 8,000 a month apartment might be too much with a big high insurance bill.

8,000 x 12 months is 96,000 dollars a year.
6,000 x 12 months is 72,000 dollars a year.
4,000 x 12 months is 48,000 dollars a year.

Not all jobs are high paying tech jobs, even with a college degree from a 4 school, you will entry level jobs.


Posted by Moffett Resident, a resident of Willowgate
on Mar 4, 2014 at 12:06 am

Scott, we do not want to "put Mountain View into a time capsule." That is a false characterization. We are concerned about a planning department and a city council that are bending over backwards for developers, and ignoring quality-of-life concerns that are raised by residents.

I absolutely disagree with your position that MORE density is needed. We're looking at a minimum of 20,000 new jobs by 2030. We can't even come close to building that much housing without ruining the city.

Here's my scorecard:

Helen Wolter: Says the right things, but an unknown quantity. I'd like to hear more from her.

Ken Rosenberg: His website statement is full of generalities. He's endorsed by Rachel Grossman, one of the most pro-developer EPC members.

Jim Neal: Seems to be against heedless development, and says the right things. However, Jim's endorsements include Tom Means, a former council member with an extreme pro-developer record. Jim has said he's proud of this endorsement. I'm undecided about Jim, but for obviously for different reasons than yours.

Margaret Capriles: As an EPC member, she has been unable or unwilling to stand up to developers.

By the way, I'm not sure if you can count Lenny Siegel among the advocates of "more growth and density." I'd be interested to hear if he thinks of himself this way.

We need candidates who are willing to state that they will put quality of life issues first. It's not about "no growth," it's about responsible growth.


Posted by Scott Lamb, a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 4, 2014 at 1:02 am

Scott Lamb is a registered user.

Sorry, my first paragraph was poorly stated and misleading. I didn't mean to say Lenny Siegel was arguing for more density. That preference is my own. I just meant I agreed with him that housing and jobs are out of balance. For all I know, he wants to solve this by bulldozing all of Mountain View's existing offices instead. (Or perhaps some more moderate position.)


Posted by Christopher Chiang, a resident of North Whisman
on Mar 4, 2014 at 6:23 am

As someone who lives in North Bayshore, I would not be concerned how big offices were or how many people were in them as long as they were strictly enforced to be carbon neutral and severely capped on the total of car trips (it's all about the externalities).

In fact, if you let companies grow, but held them to a more strict car trip total, you incentivize more advanced transportation upgrades developed by them.

What is really concerning is we approve projects with high negative externalities and high carbon footprints. This means we have projects that create high profits for the developers and high cost for its neighbors. Reduced on-site parking for projects far from transportation or workplaces is an example of a very negative externality.

I hope we havve candidates that can see that good policy can support economic growth without creating new burdens on our community. I find it interesting people are concerned when the see candidates connected to Google. Why does anyone think Google has more influence than property developers? Google does not donate to local campaigns, nor do they get all the local policies they want passed. Versus developers traditionally influence local politics in our region, donate to campaigns, and cause equal headache for local companies and their employees. Our local companies are changing the future, I can't say the same for property developers.

I would also hope that people would less insensitive to other people's hardships, especially people who have volunteered to serve and better the very community some here would seem to quickly cast them off from.


Posted by More dimensions to Growth, a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Mar 4, 2014 at 8:52 am

I'm longing for candidates who will view growth (in any size) in more dimensions. Regardless of how much we grow housing and/or office space, how do we grow our schools? how do we grow our parks? how do grow our sports facilities? how do we grow our community centers? how do we grow our infrastructure? how do we grow a bigger tree/green canopy? ....


Posted by Jim Neal, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 4, 2014 at 9:05 am

Jim Neal is a registered user.

@Moffett Resident -- I am seeking endorsements from a wide range of community leaders based on my ability to lead and my commitment to serving the community and not because I agree with them or they with me on every single issue. I am sure that you may not agree with me on every issue as well, but I have have over 3 years of history speaking to the City Council about density and other issues.

If you're interested in where I stand, come to the City Council meeting tonight or pull up any video from past Council meetings in the last 3 years. I speak at almost all of them. I will also be posting more videos on my website soon to make them easier for people to find. You can also email me and ask any questions you have about my position on any issue and I will reply. Oh, and you can also do a search on my name here in the Voice and read any of the hundreds of comments/articles I have done.


Jim Neal
Candidate, City Council
Web Link
info@electneal.org


Posted by Scott Lamb, a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 4, 2014 at 9:18 am

Scott Lamb is a registered user.

Moffett Resident, I am also concerned about offices for 20,000 in North Bayshore without matching housing.

I'm reminded of when the council turned down 1,100 homes in North Bayshore. Web Link (Yes, I see you agreed with them.) One of the reasons they turned it down: "Members Siegel and Margaret Abe-Koga said they've been told many times that 5,000 homes would be needed in any neighborhood to support basic retail services such as a grocery store, a number not yet hit even on Castro Street." They approved space for roughly 20,000 jobs and 0 homes. I wish they'd approved space for 5,000 jobs and those 5,000 homes (holding more than 10,000 people), along with improvements to public transit, bicycle paths, schools, parks, and such to match.


Posted by Amelia, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 4, 2014 at 9:34 am

Buying is not cheap, but in the long run, it beats the cost of renting.


Posted by Jim Neal, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 4, 2014 at 9:38 am

Jim Neal is a registered user.

@Scott Lamb -- I would like to invite you to check out my hundreds of published and public comments as well. I am not "no-growth", I simply believe that projects should be compatible with the community in which they are placed and that there is no way in the world that we can build enough housing for every single job in Mountain View. Even if we could, it would not be a good idea because it means that most of the current residents would lose their housing in favor of new high tech, high income residents. Is that what we want?

I also invite you to meet with or email me at any time. I love to hear from people whether they agree with me or not because I really do want to know what their concerns are.

Jim Neal


Posted by Scott Lamb, a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 4, 2014 at 10:05 am

Scott Lamb is a registered user.

Jim Neal: I think that's exactly backwards. There's no surer way to force people out of the city than to tightly limit housing density while continuing to allow high-tech job expansion. The relatively few homes will continue to climb in price. People who own their own homes won't be forced out immediately, but over time they will be replaced with people who can afford to live in the area. I don't believe it is possible to stop the town's character from changing given the power of the employment growth. I think there's a choice to be made: more density or more exclusivity. I prefer more density.

I've looked at some of your comments. I know you don't describe yourself as no-growth. But I also don't see any cases in which you've really pushed for more housing, an absence which speaks more loudly to me than your self-description. Perhaps you could point them out for me.


Posted by Mr Deporto, a resident of Bailey Park
on Mar 4, 2014 at 11:53 am

If it gets to hot in the kitchen, then get outa town. Business is business, not a charity deal, let the church provide affordable housing.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Just another non tech worker being replaced by a tech worker. Simple fact is that most people do jobs that aren't tech related. But the rents and home prices are going up like everyone is a tech titan.


Posted by Jim Neal, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 4, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

@Scott -- Sure, I'd be happy to! I actually am in favor of housing in North Bayshore for instance. I would much rather see some housing there than the new office spaces they are planning to build. I am also in favor of one housing project that is planning to redevelop its existing housing stock into slightly higher density housing of the same type and height.

Since you have read my comments, I am sure that you have seen that they primarily applied either to housing that is incompatible with the surrounding area (4 stories towering over 2 stories), or too close (less than 10 feet separating it from and existing building that had at least 50 feet separation prior [Bryant St nr W.Dana St]), or replaces existing successful businesses (such as Rose Market), or does not provide adequate parking. You and I may disagree on the details or you may even disagree with my position on this, but I hope that at least you will concede that my position is not unreasonable.

With regard to what is causing prices to rise, I have to disagree. I am a renter and have been for the 8 years I have lived in Mountain View. My rent was relatively stable until large numbers of the newer units and corporate housing came online. Since then, I have seen a 20% increase in my rent in just one year. Now, this could be coincidence, but I do not think so because I look at Manhattan and San Francisco. They keep building new housing like crazy and yet instead of being the cheapest cities in the country to live in, they are two of the most expensive. This tells me that if the supply remains relatively low and large amounts of new stock are not added, then prices will remain relatively stable because the existing stock will continue to age and therefore not be as desirable. However, if you add large amounts of new expensive stock and there is demand which exceeds supply (which will be the case for the foreseeable future), then all prices will necessarily rise dramatically as we have already seen.

The other problem is, IF you are wrong and we add say 30,000 new units to the city and prices continue to skyrocket? Then what? We can't un-build them?

But what if we add stock more slowly? If prices continue to skyrocket, I will have been proven wrong and we can build more quickly. Thanks very much for your excellent questions! You may not agree with my conclusions, but I hope at least now you understand my point of view.

Jim Neal


Posted by Susan, a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2014 at 2:23 pm

The City Council in Mt. View will do nothing for you when it comes to rising rents. All they care about is money, money, more money and how fast it can flow into the city. When they tell you "it's only business." what they really mean is "it's only greed." They don't care if you've lived there a long time and you consider it your home and that you are a contributing member of the community, or that being forced out puts you and your family at a tremendous disadvantage. Those values no longer count and haven't counted in decades to the Mt. View City Council with their one-track minds.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2014 at 2:25 pm

We came out of a large housing mess, people lost homes and were driven into the rental market. Then the tech boom happened, housing here has always been on the bad side, not enough housing in boom times.

The supply has not kept up with demand, you might have had a pretty good landlord, some people do but the rule of the rental market is demand.

Also the bay area is great on taking a long time to build anything, we can add a office building quicker then apartments and we don't have the room to build thousands of single family homes.


Posted by Steve, a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Kudos to Nilda Santiago! Contrary to 'The Voice' headline, she REFUSED to be a victim. Instead, she faced her challenges head on and took control of her situation. We would be better as a society by all following her example.


Posted by Trampled, a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Re DG: "Not seeing a problem. As more people want to live here, prices will rise. This is how economics work. Sad, perhaps? Needs fixing? Why? What's broken?"

DG, yours is one story. The other story is that the free market or market rate ideology is inhuman. I know property owners in other cities who rent apartments or their homes and who <b>know</b> the people who live there. They appreciate the renters taking care of the property and so don't raise the rents every six months to meet the market rate. They make eye contact with the renters and collect the monthly rent checks from mothers and fathers and retirees and students. And that's the difference in so much of MV these days: too many apartments are run by property management companies and are owned by investors and corporations. The only thing that matters to these property barons is a larger return on their investments. They have no real interest in community or in maintaining a balance of families and individuals who help support each other, who, again, <b>know</b> one another. I wonder how many of these owners even live in MV.

I don't know what will come of this. I am sad to leave MV because I cannot afford to live here after 10 years (in a starter home for the first seven and then renting for the last three post divorce), but I am very happy I no longer feed the rapacious money grubbing scum that raised my rent 50% in 13 months!


Posted by Hmm, a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 4, 2014 at 3:19 pm

"Given rising rents -- and the fact that Santiago is disabled and doesn't work"

It's very hard to live in this area on disability. Although i do know of a friend who is doing it on his own in SJ.

Have to live within your means, even if it means moving.

If you feel like you are not getting payed enough, go to your boss and complain and if they don't do anything, then consider your options.


Posted by ModernPeasant, a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 4, 2014 at 4:00 pm

"If you feel like you are not getting payed enough, go to your boss and complain and if they don't do anything, then consider your options."

Wow, I didn't realize how simple it is!

I blame myself for not demanding a higher wage in this crazy wage-repressed era! (Web Link)

Thank you.

I would have never thought one could so neatly combine Ayn Rand and Dick and Jane to explain the crux of the dilemma.

The Crisis of Capitalism: Web Link


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2014 at 5:59 pm

Saw the RSA clip, thanks for the link.


Posted by hmm, a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 5, 2014 at 2:43 pm

Isn't' capitalism great? Nothing better in the world.

You can ask for a raise and if you don't get it, well guess what, you have the right to look for a better job. Granting you have the skills it takes. If you don't, there are option for you to make things better.

Here are some tips for asking for a raise.

Employee: Excuse me sir, may I talk to you?

Boss: Sure, come on in. What can I do for you?

Employee: Well sir, as you know, I have been an employee of this prestigious firm for over ten years.

Boss: Yes.

Employee: I won't beat around the bush. Sir, I would like a raise. I currently have four companies after me and so I decided to talk to you first.

Boss: A raise? I would love to give you a raise, but this is just not the right time.

Employee: I understand your position, and I know that the current economic down turn has had a negative impact on sales, but you must also take into consideration my hard work, pro- activeness and loyalty to this company for over a decade.

Boss: Taking into account these factors, and considering I don't want to start a brain drain, I'm willing to offer you a ten percent raise and an extra five days of vacation time. How does that sound?

Employee: Great! It's a deal! Thank you, sir!

Boss: Before you go, just out of curiosity, what companies were after you?

Employee: Oh, the Electric Company, Gas Company, Water Company and the Mortgage Company and they are all after me to pay up the bills!


Posted by Robert, a resident of Slater
on Mar 5, 2014 at 7:43 pm

Robert is a registered user.

Nilda got to live the American dream, doesn't anyone see that. She came here as a single mother, went to college, got a job. We are only promised opportunity, we are not promised success or fame or wealth. Those things are up to you. The fact that she cannot work appears to be lost on most of your Marxist's who feel that she is entitled to live here and be supported by the taxpayers. I think that she has done quite well in America. The Silicon Valley is an economic engine that sucks the life out of you and when it's done, it spits you out. That's how it is, and if you haven't prepared you will have to leave. I would like to live in Carmel, but I have the good sense that God gave a billy goat to know that I cannot afford to live there. I accept that reality and move on. Who is filling peoples heads with this entitlement mentality? The only thing we are entitled to in the USA is opportunity. Make the best of it and if you can't cut it, move on.


Posted by Tax Man, a resident of North Whisman
on Mar 5, 2014 at 8:29 pm

Washington State is a good choice since her disability payments won't be considered taxable income unlike in California.


Posted by RentersAreNotSerfs, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 5, 2014 at 10:29 pm

With rent control, Nilda and many other displaced long term residents could have stayed. San Francisco is one of the best places in the world to live and a big part of it was rent control. Interesting people (artists, musicians, writers, poets, etc..) were able to live and practice their craft in an urban environment, even as the economy grew.

Something similar is happening in Mountain View, but without rent control they are getting pushed out. Homeowners are allowed to keep a low tax assessment so they don't get displaced, why shouldn't renters get a similar accommodation?



Posted by Christopher Chiang, a resident of North Whisman
on Mar 6, 2014 at 6:39 am

Before people chalk things up to the free market. The demand for housing is market economic forces, but the supply for housing is highly controlled by government policies. So when housing prices go up, it is a matter of public discussion.

Those who have been successful should take pause before criticizing those facing hardships, and ask themselves, do they benefit from government policies too? Do they benefit from the fixed property tax rate, home loan interest tax deduction, or various zoning? I am not criticizing incentives to homeownership (owning a home gives people a stake in the community), but I am saying that to a degree some of our success or hardship is a matter of public policy, and worthy of a public discussion.


Posted by Garrett83, a resident of another community
on Mar 6, 2014 at 8:22 am

Garrett83 is a registered user.

So people who can't afford the cost of living here should leave. Ok, what about building housing or letting the government approve new housing. Better yet the government plan new housing.

People could live and work here years, costs have risen over the years, so maybe buying a house was just out of reach. Some people called Mountain View home for years and still do. But with what is going nowadays, hope the that have to move, will find new homes in communities that might be more understanding.


Posted by Scott Lamb, a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 6, 2014 at 1:31 pm

@Jim Neal: Well, thank you for the explanation of your views, but I strongly disagree.

First, while existing neighbors' needs of course should be considered, I think you're exaggerating the inconveniences. For example, in the Castro street project I think you're talking about, "4 stories towering over 2 stories" isn't the whole truth. There's a step-down at part of the project to minimize this effect. You've made some really alarmist and hyperbolic comments like: "And don't worry about getting a tan if you spend most of your time in Mountain View, with buildings that tall, you'll never even see the sun, even if you live 3 to 4 blocks away in your single family home!" Web Link The only way to entirely stop complaints about real or imaginary inconveniences from new construction is to stop entirely. That's not acceptable. The complaints can not all be taken seriously. I think you're way too far on the side of the complainers, even if there are a couple projects you've approved of.

Second, you're saying that prices will keep relatively steady as long as supply does not increase, no matter the increasing demand. This idea is...how to say it politely...contrary to accepted wisdom. It reminds me of a recent article that ends with "now you know why economists are useless: when they actually do know something, people don't want to hear about it." Web Link And your facts are wrong. San Francisco's recent construction boom is following high prices, not the reverse. Web Link Yes, newer buildings tend to be more expensive (Madera sure is!), but they don't make the older buildings more desirable.

Finally, you're suggesting it's easier to build new housing that to un-build it. I'm not sure that's true either. It's not like the alternative is to just keep around vacant lots waiting to go. If the higher density housing is not approved, offices or lower density housing will be built in its place. The owners won't necessarily be eager to tear that down and replace it any more than the higher-density apartment complexes' owners would be.


Posted by MVCITY LOVELYMONEY, a resident of Bailey Park
on Mar 6, 2014 at 3:16 pm

City loves money, old tenants out of the question. No place to breathe in downtown and now building big tall buildings Who with Smoked Brains think of this atrocity, not healthy for the working class.
Nobody cares for the working class, much less for the Poor People.
City is burying us in Cement and Concrete! No quality of life.


Posted by Linda Curtis, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 6, 2014 at 4:34 pm

Speaking of "Smoked brains..." @ MVCITY LOVELYMONEY, building residences along El Camino Real, as this city is pushing with a strong arm, is not healthy for people because it does smoke their brains. And lead to deafness. It is not ecological when residents are forced to use A/C and heating around the clock on a daily basis just to be able to breathe since they cannot open their windows on that bustling boulevard! We can, and must, do better for people! MV should stop ripping down the older housing, which is rented more affordably! That's driving a lot of very good people out.


Posted by Trampled, a resident of another community
on Mar 6, 2014 at 6:32 pm

Why is it that if one condemns the greedy property barons one is labeled a Marxist? Why isn't there more outrage at the relentless market-value rent increases? I am not asking for something for nothing, I work two jobs to make ends meet, which with the increased rent every six months, have not met. I received only a 1.23% cost-of-living raise--the first in six years! I obviously don't deserve to live in such an upscale community! People who so easily say they'd like to live in Carmel or Paris or Manhattan but can't so they should just cry to the government for sympathy should really think about what they're defending here. This is Mountain View. How many mobile home parks do those other cities have?

I am willing to pay an increase. But in the past, in Palo Alto no less, and during the .com bubble, I was lucky to rent from a guy who owned a number of apartments near and on Alma. During the eight years I lived there, 91-99, he raised my rent once--and he apologized for it! He collected higher rents from new tenants when units became available. Shouldn't this be a model for responsible rental businesses?

Someone told me today that there was a growing rent-control movement in Cupertino recently. Because of the large number of people showing up at the city council meetings, the property barons of two of the larger apartment complexes, fearful of rent control, began to fix rents below market value. I haven't found any supporting evidence of this, but it sounds like a good plan.

Property ownership and profit are fair and fine, but greed of this degree--and nobody's arguing that there is affordable rent anywhere in MV--should be stigmatized. The owners of these properties should be shamed by those they are pushing out.


Posted by rolo8ab, a resident of North Whisman
on Mar 7, 2014 at 11:01 am

rolo8ab is a registered user.

35 plus years as a Mountain View resident , high rent has pushed me out
and into a Homeless Veteran Housing Facility as of Feb 2014.
I suppose if one makes good money , rent is a cake walk . I will miss
the North Whisman neigbhorhood . I will also miss Mtn.Views good tasting
water . The water here in San Jose is horrible , worse than pool water...


Posted by myob, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 7, 2014 at 11:49 am

We need more housing, otherwise more and more people will be displaced.

I disagree with above comments that Mountain View would be destroyed by more density. In the last census, Mountain View had a population density of about 6,000 people per square mile. For comparison, San Francisco averages 17,000 per square mile, Brooklyn in NY at about 13,000 per square mile, or Paris, France which has 55,000 per square mile.

These are not horrible places to live! If only a few square miles of Mountain View became denser, and by that I mean not just housing, but also businesses which support population, like retail and groceries, we would go a long way towards not pricing out residents on the poorer end of the income scale.

Our population is growing. We can build housing, or we can price out existing residents as wealthier people arrive.


Posted by DC, a resident of North Whisman
on Mar 8, 2014 at 11:33 am

If you ask anyone who has traveled, Mtn View is not a world city and I don't want to see the rent like NYC Paris or SF. Chicago tried higher density complexes. They became the slums. Over crowding with no purpose but to house residence.


Posted by miguel, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 10, 2014 at 9:04 am

Mountain View residents should vote and pass "RENT CONTROLS" !!!! The time had long arrived. If nothing is done Mountain View will become an exclusive city for only the "Weathly"...........Very SAD future for the town of "MOUNTAIN VIEW"!!!!!!!


Posted by Jim Neal, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 10, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

@Scott Lamb -- My "alarmist" comments as you call them were actually hyperbole that I was using to make a point. I can assure you that I do not actually think that. Also, even though there is a Step-down as you say, the project is still much more massive than anything else within the same block. As far as higher prices for new construction not making older buildings more desirable, why did the rent on my old house shoot up 20% in one year? I'm not clear on what your last paragraph means, but it doesn't sound like anything I have said. I am not against building new housing, I am against building too much, too fast, and too tall. I think projects should be compatible with the neighborhoods where they are built, and should not replace already successful businesses. What is unreasonable about that?

I'll be looking forward to seeing how much lower rents get in SF after they've finished building all the new units. Heck, if it get's cheap enough, maybe I'll even move there! (Hint: this is another joke)

Jim Neal


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Mar 10, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Pass rent control, you will still need to build housing. Just like one day the need for ownership housing will be needed.

Housing is needed one or the other.


Posted by Moffett Resident, a resident of Willowgate
on Mar 10, 2014 at 1:43 pm

The supply/demand imbalance is so lopsided that new construction has little or no effect on moderating rental prices.

New construction is apartments, not townhouses, because that's where the money is. And they are "luxury" apartments, $4,000/mo for 1-BR, because that's where the money is.

To build enough new housing to have much effect, we'd have to ruin the city. Developers and Planning seem to have little problem with that.


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