After an introduction to Mountain View politics through her neighborhood's opposition to a housing project at 450 Whisman Road, and spending the last four years on the planning commission, Lisa Matichak is now seeking a seat on the City Council in the November election.
"I'm concerned about the future of Mountain View so I've decided to run," said Matichak, who works as a marketing executive and has owned a home in the Wagon Wheel neighborhood for the last eight years, renting in Mountain View for seven years before that. "We've had a lot of growth in Mountain View and growth brings a lot of good things with it but it needs to be balanced with great quality of life for residents in Mountain View."
Matichak was the first elected president of the Wagon Wheel Neighborhood Association seven years ago, created as the neighborhood fought off a housing project along the Hetch-Hetchy bike and pedestrian trail that would have blocked her view of the Santa Cruz mountains with 64, three-story homes. The Sierra Club, Greenbelt Alliance and environmentally minded residents supported the project as a way to reduce commuter traffic to the neighborhood, which is also home to large office campuses for Google and others.
Since then, Matichak has taken a stance for relatively slower housing growth as a planning commissioner, including her vote against the possibility of zoning for 1,100 homes in North Bayshore proposed as a way to house Google employees. She said the potential environmental impacts to Shoreline wildlife outweigh any benefits that would have come from reducing commuter traffic.
Matichak says her top priorities include balancing the city's budget, transportation improvements, making sure police and fire services are adequate and bringing park space to underserved areas to meet the city's goal of 3 acres of park space per 1,000 residents. The neighborhoods known as "Rengstorff, Sylvan-Dale and San Antonio are the three that are most below that metric," Matichak said.
If Mountain View is at a crossroads between its suburban past and becoming a more urban place to make room for employees in its booming tech industry, Matichak isn't advocating for the latter.
"There are certainly a lot of young folks want to live in San Francisco but they maybe want to work for companies who have offices in Mountain View," Matichak said. "I don't think everyone who works in Mountain View wants to live in Mountain View."
A major difference between Matichak and candidates Ken Rosenberg and Pat Showalter is that Matichak is less interested in balancing office growth with housing growth within the city's limits. Calling it a "regional issue," she says other cities need to take responsibility for building housing for Mountain View's growing workforce. "There are a lot of cities who do have land that could have homes built on it. I think the key here is having efficient transportation," she said.
When asked which cities could be expected to take on housing needs for Mountain View's many proposed office developments, given the similar housing shortages in Redwood City, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara, Matichak suggested coordinated efforts with the South Bay and East Bay, saying "We need a stronger organization to get all of the different communities, including the South Bay the East Bay, to coordinate their efforts. I don't view this as Mountain View's issue."
Matichak said that regional coordination is key. "I could imagine it would be a separate group of individuals that represent the different communities who could come up with creative ways of adding housing," she said. "There are some organizations that already exist but I don't think they have any enforcement capability."
The Association of Bay Area Governments is one such organization, and council members in the past have cried foul for receiving an F grade for not meeting housing production goals in ABAG's "regional housing needs allocation" for Mountain View.
Matichak says she has developed insight into how the city works after joining the planning commission in 2010 and serving as its chair last year. "I have a great network of people throughout the city," Matichak said.
A key part of Matchak's campaign is preserving Mountain View's "character," a word that has been echoed by many residents who want to see the city slow its growth. She says she is glad to see the City Council begin to scale back the massive amount of office growth in the city's planning pipeline, as the council did for a large office project last month -- one of several in her neighborhood -- at 700 East Middlefield Road. And she wants to see small businesses stay in the city, such as the Milk Pail market, despite many pressures now driving them out. She says "shared parking" is key not just for the Mail Pail, but for small businesses on El Camino Real that are losing parking lots in redevelopment projects.
It is important that proposed development fit in with character of existing neighborhoods, Matichak said. "It is that character that attracted a lot of people to live in Mountain View."