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Neighbors concerned over affordable housing development

Original post made on Mar 20, 2009

With the help of a team of eight mediators, the city took extra care Thursday night to listen to the concerns of 19 neighbors of a proposed affordable housing development at Evelyn and Franklin streets.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, March 20, 2009, 1:24 PM

Comments (20)

Posted by Peter, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 20, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Thanks to the Voice for reporting this back in 2006. You continue to be a great asset to the City. However, had our Realtor did as good a job as the Voice did, (although I take some responsibility) I would not have overbid for my condo at 108 Bryant just over a year ago-I would have under bid had we known what was scheduled to go into the Evelyn/Franklin lot.


Posted by Bradley, a resident of Shoreline West
on Mar 20, 2009 at 2:34 pm

It is indeed sad that current residents equate "affordable housing developments" to a "ghetto". This is reinforcing stereotypes that people who don't make a lot of money are bums and belong in a ghetto.

I am a school teacher with a Master's degree. Teachers are not paid well compared to their counter parts in the engineers/IT field. I have been teaching 10+ years and can't even afford a simple home in this area.

So, to the residents who think that an affordable housing development will bring "bad people", you are sadly mistaken.


Posted by Neighbor, a resident of another community
on Mar 20, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Make sure you write to Californai HIgh Speed Rail Authority by September 6th to make sure and ask for impact analysis to be included in the scope (scoping comments inputs). You need to make sure they quantify environmental impacts, including noise, vibration, visual blight, etc., on this new housing development in their upcoming project level environemtal study for High Speed Rail.

HSR proposal would have the tracks widened from 2 to 4, would increase total train traffic to one train passing every 3minutes, would probably require sound mitigations like high sound walls, will include high voltage electrical strung over the tracks, etc.

Sounds like eithe City of Mt View is sticking it to low income residents (by siting this near the future HSR tracks) or HSR will be sticking it to low income neighorhoods. Either way, it needs to be studied. There is such a thing as environmental justice in projects like this.

All residents within a stones throw distance of the tracks really need to be asking for impacts study specific to their own concerns.


Posted by Ticked Off Resident, a resident of North Whisman
on Mar 20, 2009 at 2:55 pm

Were the "eight mediators" in use working for Councilmember Kasperzak's firm Web Link and if so, how much did he pocket?


Posted by Your fault, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 20, 2009 at 4:04 pm

Hey Peter, caveat emptor. It's not your Realtor's responsiblity to tell you everything about a property or neighborhood when you buy a home, it is totally your responsibilty to do the research. If you knew there was an empty lot nearby then you should have said, hmmm, wonder what they will build here someday and will I agree with it. If you hadn't bought the place, someone else would have.

Bradley is totally right. There are plenty of well educated, hard-working residents who just can't afford to buy what other can in the Bay Area.

So get over it.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 20, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Regarding the comments from a "Neighbor" in another community about High-Speed Rail and the proposed housing project --

It is absurd to suggest that the City is somehow "sticking it" to low income residents by creating new affordable housing at this location, near the rail line. There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of people of all income levels who would be thrilled at the opportunity to live in Old Mountain View, 2 blocks from Castro Street and 2 blocks from the convenience of the train station. Two of Mountain View's most successful corporate-owned (Avalon Bay) apartment communities are located roughly the same distance from the tracks and somehow they manage to find enough young professionals and families starting out to live there -- and pay $1500 to $2500 per month for the opportunity.

This is not to mention that locating affordable housing near public transit is a win-win for all involved, providing economical transportation options to the residents, new ridership for the transit systems, and a more sustainable community for all.



Posted by USA, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 20, 2009 at 5:05 pm

Mountain View already provides plenty of housing for the low-rent people e.g. Web Link

Since this is city owned property, how about building housing for city employees and for teachers? The city could eat the cost of the land which is much of the cost of housing in this area. The qualifying employees could get a reasonable deal which would more than cover the cost of the building. The taxpayers loose nothing other than the lose of the asset and actually could make a few bucks on the deal. The city would not have to raise taxes. The neighbors would not have to deal with gang bangers or taggers. Everyone wins.



Posted by Robert, a resident of Shoreline West
on Mar 20, 2009 at 5:19 pm

I would like the City to prioritize public servants for consideration (police, fire-fighters, teachers) for first consideration for affordable-income housing within the City.


Posted by A, a resident of another community
on Mar 20, 2009 at 6:16 pm

With regard to the stigma of "low income" does not equal "bad people".

The numbers said 60% of $64,000. That's $38,400.

Given that the job postings for police dispatcher in Mountain View were at the $42,000 range when last I checked, I somehow think that teachers and other people who don't make a lot of money doing wonderful work are going to be the people living in this development.

So unless the income bracket of the development rises a bit, to the range of teachers, dental assistants, librarians, and the like..... It seems likely that the "ghetto" will have ghetto-type incomes and lifestyles in it.

At a glance, anyway.


Posted by Andrew, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 20, 2009 at 8:52 pm

While I'm sure the actual construction of the building will look nice, I'm curious as to how the people who live there will be selected. Will it be a lottery or an application process? Will preference be given to people who do work in Mountain View, particularly downtown or nearby? Also, will there be a limit (ie, a family can live there 5 years, then must move on?)?

Personally, I'd be in favor of a limit and tying living there to job/educational programs. If the limit is $38,400 for a family of four, it'd be great if the people that were living there did not live there just b/c it was cheap, but they also would commit to some sort of job training, etc. In other words, the people living there would get a chance to truly improve their income and situation by not having to pay market rents or commuting from afar. If a family at $38,400 moves in and lives there for years and years, that's now public housing. If as a taxpayer I'm subsidizing housing for someone, I don't want people squatting there. Affordable housing should be a stepping stone towards becoming an independent, contributing citizen.


Posted by R, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 22, 2009 at 9:19 am

There are some *serious* misconceptions about affordable housing in Mountain View expressed in the last few posts above.

First of all, the $64,000 figure IS 60 percent of the median income for a family of four; the median income in 2008 was actually $105,500 according to the City's website. So it's quite plausible that schoolteachers, librarians, and other public servants will qualify for this housing. In fact, the City's eligibility guidelines give preference for just those categories of people.

Quoting from the City's Affordable Housing web page:
(Web Link)

"BMR ownership housing is targeted to median income households earning between 80 percent and 100 percent of the median household income. BMR rental housing is targeted to low income households earning between 50 percent and 80 percent of the median household income. In 2008, the median household income for a one-person household was $73,850 annually and, for a four-person household, it was $105,500 annually. In addition, the City Council has adopted a priority system for BMR units that gives first preference to the following people (in the following order):

1. Mountain View public safety employees.
2. Public school teachers who work in Mountain View.
3. Households who have lived in Mountain View for at least two of the last four years.
4. Households who have worked in Mountain View for at least two years."


Posted by A, a resident of another community
on Mar 22, 2009 at 5:11 pm

In response to the post above by "R"...

If that is th4e preference priority, I think I can fully get behind it. Preference to public safety employees and teachers? I support that. No questions asked.


Posted by Citizen, a resident of another community
on Mar 23, 2009 at 10:37 am

There aren't going to be any public safety employees in these developments. Have you checked the salary schedule for Mountain View employees?
Firefighter: 82,203.16 - 99,926.84 annually
Police Officer: 84,348.42 - 124,428.0 annually
These are the entry level public safety positions. I think they're going to be fine on housing.
Teachers are another story.


Posted by Voice of Reason, a resident of another community
on Mar 23, 2009 at 11:36 am

Personally, it seems to me that the City Council is very much out of touch the housing crisis.

Don't they know that house prices are falling - even in Mountain View? I mean, one would surely expect house prices to fall in the East Bay and the rest of America... but it should be a ringing alarm bell that house prices are falling here in God and Sun blessed Mountain View.

The City Council must act NOW and boost house prices. Basic supply and demand - supply must be eliminated.

The City Council must immediately start in a plan to evict residents of condos, and tear them down. The fewer homes we have in Mountain View the better off everyone will be.

Just think! Fewer condos = less traffic = less people = less spending = higher house prices.

Think of the seniors who bought before 1978! Today they're paying $1700 a year in property tax while their neighbors pay $10,000. How can they afford to buy a new RV if they can't continue to extract equity from their house?

Forget building - let's start tearing...


Posted by Ana, a resident of another community
on Mar 24, 2009 at 9:28 am

The teachers will not qualify for this as it is extremely rare that they are they have a family of four living on less than $64,000 a year (which means the spouse does not work or works for less than a minimal wage). This qualification level is indeed very low, it needs to be raised or the housing needs to be designated for people of a certain profession (like teachers, librarians, etc)


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Mar 25, 2009 at 2:18 am

64,000 qa year, but if you plan now and build later. We are not going to have this housing decline forever, what about those thar are in college or training for public service. Think for the future.


Posted by dac, a resident of Shoreline West
on Mar 26, 2009 at 10:21 am

This city needs more affordable housing. I would love to see the prices of houses come down even more. I have lived in this city for over 30 years. I am a renter. The rents are outrageously high and so are the house prices. Just about anywhere else in this country and state it is cheaper to buy than rent. Here it is just the opposite. It saddens me that to ever own a house I will have to move out of the area I grew up in.
By the way, my husband and I work hard and live in a decent neighborhood. We would meet the standards of working and living in MV and meet the income requirement. We do not live in the ghetto.


Posted by smart growther, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 26, 2009 at 3:24 pm

Home prices have fallen but will not likely fall much more. Prices are cheaper in central cal because of fewer regulations imposed on builders. In these areas land is essentially free.


Posted by SASHA JONES, a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2009 at 11:55 pm

I submitted an application for affordable housing and went on my interview at fordham bedford agave all my documents .A week later i was sent to look at a apartmnet i went teh building was run down and a disgrace whom do i speak to about this matter. I feel very hurt i at my interview i was told i will be seeing a newly constructed building


Posted by Thomas, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 8, 2009 at 9:14 pm

I just googled the developer's name and this is an article I have found, not good.

Development becomes neighborhood nightmare
By Mary Gottschalk

Residents on three blocks backing up to the former Fiesta Lanes bowling alley on W. San Carlos Street believe their recent experiences are a blueprint for everything that can go wrong with infill housing in the city of San Jose.

Owners of single-story homes built in the 1920s along N. Buena Vista, Sierra and Willard avenues have had their trees sheared off at their backyard fences, have endured shaking generated from earth compacting machines so intense that many mistook the vibrations for earthquakes, and now, they've all received letters from the developer saying that they are going to lose as much as 10 feet of space from their back yards.

On April 7, ROEM, the development company that is building housing on the former bowling alley site, distributed letters to approximately 17 property owners informing them that a recent ROEM survey of property lines "has determined our property line to lie in the enclosed portion of property behind your fence.

"In most cases, the property line was determined to lie somewhere between one and two feet beyond the existing fence. In some of the worst cases, the property line was determined to lie nearly 10 feet beyond the existing fences."

The one-page letter carried the name but not the signature of Jonathan Emami, vice president of ROEM Builders.

The last paragraph says:

"This letter is to inform you at this time that your fence, and in some cases, personal property is on our property. Enclosed is a form we would like you to complete and send back to us so we know which action you would like to proceed with."

The action options are for ROEM "to remove all the items along the property line" or for the homeowners to remove it themselves.

The letter says ROEM wants to start building a new fence on what its survey shows is its property line "within the next 10-15 days."

ROEM has not released copies of the survey, which it conducted independently. Neighbors say they are waiting to view the survey and obtain county records for a comparison.

The property owner of 90 N. Buena Vista discovered her side fence and a portion of concrete foundation under the garage taken down on April 8, before she was even aware of the developers' letter.


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