Whether the City Council chooses to adopt a version of the General Plan that allows for new homes in North Bayshore or not, there will be job growth. By 2030, we can expect as many as 29,500 employees in North Bayshore, compared to 17,500 today. Without new housing, this job growth will lead to an increase in commuting traffic from outside of Mountain View.
The General Plan's environmental impact report shows that when jobs and homes are close together, people drive less. We understand that having homes available near jobs does not mean that it is the right housing type for everyone. However, nearly every national and local economic index shows that the market demand for walkable neighborhoods where homes are close to jobs is high, especially for younger people.
More wildife habitat
Wildlife advocates say that adding homes to North Bayshore will impact the native burrowing owl population. We feel that both homes and habitat can co-exist if the city puts strong environmental protections in place. In fact, we see this as an opportunity for the city to increase the amount of land dedicated to open space, to move development (starting with commercial development) away from the Bay, and to permanently protect Shoreline Park.
More economic diversity
Google, North Bayshore's largest employer, has been responsive to the community and generally accepts input from residents and council members. However, we do not assume that everything Google wants is, or always will be, in line with the interests of Mountain View residents. Adding residential spaces to North Bayshore can bring diversity to the neighborhood both in terms of land use and land ownership. The neighborhood has potential to become a hub for startups and a place for the next generation of high-tech innovators to work and live. Providing housing at North Bayshore will create greater stability for the city's economic future, no matter who occupies the offices there in coming decades.
We'll change the world
We have the opportunity to reinvent the working world in Mountain View. We can upgrade the concrete, auto-centric office parks of the last century and turn them into vibrant neighborhoods that mirror the way people want to live today. On July 10, we hope the City Council will demonstrate to the rest of the world that Mountain View is a visionary 21st Century city — one that preserve the past and embraces the future.
We urge the council to adopt a General Plan that will protect Shoreline Park and support housing as well as office and retail in the North Bayshore.
Bruce Karney is a 30-year Mountain View resident and was chair of the Mayor's Environmental Sustainability Task Force in 2008. He provided this letter on behalf of the Mountain View Coalition for Sustainable Planning, of which he is a member.