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Council compromises on housing fees

Original post made on Dec 13, 2012

Facing an unprecedented demand for more affordable housing in Mountain View, City Council members voted Tuesday to increase funds for affordable housing through fee hikes on commercial building and rental housing developers.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, December 13, 2012, 8:18 AM

Comments (11)

Posted by Steven Nelson, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 13, 2012 at 9:14 am

Thanks for great coverage again Daniel! This is exactly why I've loved this Council so much! The art of public debate and compromise on a significant public issue. In real time, before your eyes, as a governing body takes the recommendation from staff and slowly fashions it into a compromise. The limits are pushed - how you tell, 4-3 decision, amendment, switching sides, those who are for BMR in fact voting against 'this measure'. My hat is off to Macias and Means, who have different spheres of interest, but have both improved the process of "the public's business" in Mountain View.

S.N. is one on the three new Trustees of the MVWSD (elementary schools) and is still in favor of a small general parcel tax to support BMR. Several good school teacher families have taken advantage of this program and so have been able to stay in our community and continue teaching our children.


Posted by Political Insider, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 13, 2012 at 9:46 am

"The need for affordable hostage has increased dramatically in the last 10 years, said city planner Linda Lauzze."

I really doubt she used the word hostage


Posted by Political Insider, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 13, 2012 at 9:48 am

"I suffer form no delusions of grandeur but I wish I had some patronage to get a vote here or two," he said, referring to scenes from the movie "Lincoln."

Form no delusions? IS there an editor in the house?


Posted by BD, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 13, 2012 at 12:28 pm

It's pretty bad when the newspaper has so many typos! Here's one short paragraph:

"The need for affordable **hostage** has increased dramatically in the last 10 years, said city planner Linda Lauzze. In **2011,** only 33 percent of the city's households earned less than 80 percent of the **regions'** median income. A decade later, 84 percent make less than 80 percent of the area's median income, she said."

Should be "housing," "2001," and "region's," I think.


Posted by Editor, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 13, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Sorry folks. The wrong version of the story got in. It's been updated.


Posted by Political Insider, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 13, 2012 at 2:06 pm

@Editor, Now just get rid of the silly comments and this would be an excellent article.


"I suffer from no delusions of grandeur but I wish I had some patronage to get a vote here or two," he (Mayor Kasperzak) said, referring to scenes from the movie "Lincoln."

"Minimum-wage workers would need to work 164 hours per week to afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment" in Mountain View, said resident Bruce England.

Bryant said. To say we're afraid people won't make more offices here -- that makes absolutely no sense to me.

Joan McDonald of Advocates for Affordable Housing said the cost of the fees would not be passed onto renters because the market drives rents, not development costs

"I want units -- the money is too difficult to handle," said council member Siegel,


Posted by Steve, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Dec 13, 2012 at 2:54 pm

How insightful of Ms. Mcdonald to acknowledge that the market drives rents. Next epiphany might be realizing the futility in trying to prevent that.


Posted by USA, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 13, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Classic liberal thinking.

Unlike the Federal government, companies cannot just print money; they must pass their costs onto the consumer. Raising taxes increases the cost of goods and services in Mountain View provided by those companies being taxed.


Posted by News Junkie, a resident of another community
on Dec 14, 2012 at 10:46 pm

@Editor: Thanks for this article! I attended the session and I think it's a good description. On the other issue that was debated and decided on that evening (McKelvey Park), will we get an article as well? I saw one in the Mercury News, but have not seen anything by the Mountain View Voice yet. Thanks!


Posted by Scott Lamb, a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 16, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Scott Lamb is a registered user.

The statistics Linda Lauzze gave are unbelievable, so I checked them. They're wrong. Here's how I checked:

1. I went to the US Census Bureau's American Fact Finder (Web Link)
2. I selected topic: People - Income & Earnings - Income/Earnings (Household)
3. I selected Geographies - Place Within State - California - Mountain View city, Claifornia. Also select your basis of comparison. Linda Lauzze was vague (what is "area"?) so I guessed "Metro Statistical Area - San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont CA Metro Area" and "San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara CA Metro Area".
4. I selected B19001 - household income in the past 12 months (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars)" from the "2010 ACS 1-year estimates" dataset.
5. I hit view.

This showed me a table of incomes. I plugged it into Google Spreadsheets and added a column with a cumulative count to find which bracket the 50%ile and 84%ile incomes were in. In 2010, Mountain View's 84%ile income was in the "$150,000 to $199,999" bracket. The San Francisco metro area's 50%ile household was in the "$60,000 to $74,999". The San Jose metro area's 50%ile household was in the "$75,000 to $99,999" bracket. (Okay, there are error bars on this, so it might be off by a bracket or so. Doesn't change the final answer.)

So could it possibly be true that in 2011 (a decade after 2001), 84 percent [of Mountain View households] make less than 80 percent of the area's median income? No. The 84%ile Mountain View household makes somewhere between $150,000 and $199,999, not somewhere between $48,000 and $79,999. It's not even close. I refuse to believe that so much changed between 2010 and 2011. Is there some reason to believe the American Community Survey has a systematic underreporting of low incomes in Mountain View but not in the broader area? Or is it that I'm using the ACS data incorrectly? (Maybe "Income & Earnings (Household)" is counting the total household income of each person within a household, essentially weighing large households more than her statement - but that would probably throw the conclusion off in the other direction if anything. Or is she using some underhanded definition of "area"? (I tried using posh Los Altos Hills as a basis for comparison. Nope, she's STILL wrong.) No, this just can't be right.

I'm hoping that the Mountain View Voice has completely misquoted her so completely as to change the entire meaning of her statement. That would be less disturbing than the City Planner being so grossly incompetent as to make decisions based on complete nonsense. Even if it were "just" a misquote, it's disturbing that apparently no one's noticed. Didn't that smell wrong? Mountain View is not the slum of the Bay Area. There are low income households here, and it's great that we're offering subsidized housing for them, but they're not most of the city; the dramatic increase she's talking about simply didn't happen. It's important to understand this stuff to know how much subsidized housing to offer and how large the subsidies should be.


Posted by Scott Lamb, a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 17, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Aha! There's a video of the actual council meeting online. Linda Lauzze was misquoted quite badly.

The bottom bullet on her slide read "In 2001, 33% of worker households in commercial jobs earned less than 80% AMI - by 2012 the percentage had increased to 84%."

A woman [from context, either Linda Lauzze or Regina Adams] said "a comparison was done on low-income households working in the commercial sector, using data from the 2001 and 2011 nexus studies. This data showed that in 2001, 33% of these worker households earned less than 80% median income, and by 2011, this percentage had increased to 84% of the worker households."

The Voice turned this into "The need for affordable housing has increased dramatically in the last 10 years, said city planner Linda Lauzze. In 2001, only 33 percent of the city's households earned less than 80 percent of the region's median income. A decade later, 84 percent make less than 80 percent of the area's median income, she said."

By dropping the important qualifiers "low-income" and "commercial sector" [which I believe means something like "retail"], the Mountain View Voice turned her words into a dramatic statement which is completely wrong. They also may have mixed her up with someone else. Two people were presenting: Administrative and Neighborhood Services Manager Linda Lauzze and "senior planner" Regina Adams.

Always interesting to see how accurately news is being reported. And a relief to see that our city is making decisions based on real data rather than dystopian fantasies.


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