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Future hangs in the balance for San Antonio, Moffett Gateway

After months of public discussion about the city's jobs-housing ratio, it is quite possible that the City Council may take an entirely different direction than the public on Tuesday.

The Council is moving forward with two things that have some residents concerned: a "precise plan" for the San Antonio area projecting three times as many jobs created as homes, and a push to redevelop the city's Moffett Gateway site where the favored developer, Broadrech Capital, wants to add to the city's already long list of office developments with a 146,000-square-foot office building with space for about 1,000 employees, along with a new hotel.

According to a city staff report, Broadreach is the chosen finalist over three other developers in the running, two which had proposed only hotel use on the site. Hotel use also appeared to be the be most lucrative option for the city, given the substantial hotel tax revenues expected. The council's only discussion on the deal so far was held behind closed doors, so the reasoning is for going with Broadreach is unclear.

Lenny Siegel, of the Campaign for Balanced Mountain View, says the San Antonio shopping center area is "undeniably suited" for housing, but on Tuesday the council is set to discuss a San Antonio precise plan that would allow developers to add 879,000 square feet of office space to the San Antonio shopping center area, which is space for 4,395 to 5,860 jobs, calculated at 150 to 200 square feet per employee. Meanwhile, the plan would allow the construction of 1,575 homes. This is especially concerning to housing advocates because, according to 2012 general plan documents, most new housing in the city built by 2030 is expected to go in the San Antonio area or on El Camino Real.

While he watched the Environmental Planning Commission meeting on June 18, Siegel said it was clear "that the public is turning on the issue of the jobs-housing balance and thus far the council majority and (city) staff haven't caught up with that. I'm worried that they will make decisions now that are either irreversible or will cause significant delays as we clean up their mess." That could include not having more housing studied as an option in the precise plan's environmental impact report, he said.

On June 18 there was unanimous support on the planning commission for replacing office space with housing in Merlone Geier's proposal for San Antonio Shopping Center, and for delaying the project until the precise plan could be completed, which is set for December. If the council follows suit, it would avoid a referendum on the project promised by the Campaign for a Balanced Mountain View.

The planning commission includes three City Council candidates, Lisa Matichak, Ellen Kamei and Margaret Capriles. They are among a field of nine candidates that will vie in November's election for three open seats now occupied by council members who have been the most consistent opponents to housing growth in Mountain View.

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