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Council struggles with plans for North Bayshore

Original post made on Jan 15, 2014

In the first real City Council meeting of the year, members found themselves wrestling with a monstrous task -- how to use a precise plan to manage the explosive office growth that is waiting in the wings for the North Bayshore area.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, January 15, 2014, 4:51 PM

Comments (36)

Posted by Jes' Sayin', a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 15, 2014 at 11:59 pm

I'm concerned that the planning seems to be around the idea that the main company will be Google and have Google's traits such as free cafeteria, bicycles and all the rest. But it's also entirely possible that at some point in the future Google pulls out and moves elsewhere and then this space is occupied by many little companies, for example. Will the long-term plan being put in place still stand up to that different reality?

Posted by jobs and housing, a resident of another community
on Jan 16, 2014 at 1:56 pm

So 30,000 new jobs and only 6500 new homes. This sounds like a recipe for problems. Why should MV rely on other cities to house workers.

Posted by MV Resident, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 16, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Please please please re-consider adding housing in the North Bayshore area. Shuttles and carpool programs are great, but they do not solve the problem of the sheer number of people who needs to physically commute into North Bayshore to work. Many of my colleagues would PREFER to live in Mountain View, but there're no viable housing options for them.
By adding housing in North Bayshore, you address the issue of housing AND traffic! I think you can build North Bayshore to be an attractive area to live, work, and play!

Posted by Mountain View Resident, a resident of Waverly Park
on Jan 16, 2014 at 2:26 pm

No Housing and No development in Mountain View. Our streets are so jammed as it is. Mountain View is becoming an undesirable place to live to its current residents. Mountain View City Council should stop approving high density housing and focus on the quality of living in Mountain View. Traffic is atrocious as it is.

Posted by Old Mountain Viewan, a resident of North Whisman
on Jan 16, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Like I said in my other posts the wonderful sleepy little Mountain View is no longer it is now Googleville. Only the well off are allowed to live here now. It is getting very scary for people that live here and in the surrounding cities.

Posted by Martin Omander, a resident of Rex Manor
on Jan 16, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Agreed, Mountain View is increasingly becoming a place where only wealthy people can afford to live. We need more housing to alleviate that, including housing in the North Bayshore area. Mixed development works well everywhere I've seen it. The old model of separate neighborhoods for housing and offices, connected by ever-bigger freeways, has run its course.

Posted by Concerned Mother, a resident of Waverly Park
on Jan 16, 2014 at 2:56 pm

There are so many apartments and people in Mountain View as it is, our kids can not ride their bikes to school safely. Too many cars. Mountain View does not need more high density housing. City Council should look after the residents that already live in Mountain View.

Posted by NeHi, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 16, 2014 at 3:16 pm

I wonder if anyone remembers the amount of housing the 1985 planned for North of Bayshore? I remember it as more than 15,000 but it was nixed for seismic reasons. Are we that much smarter now?

Posted by konrad M. Sosnow, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jan 16, 2014 at 3:24 pm

@Mountain View Resident

How about well thought out Housing and well thought out development in Mountain View?

Mountain View has an opportunity to upgrade El Camino Real. The current used car lots, empty lots, and strip malls do not represent the best economic or esthetic use of the land. However, unregulated re-development will only make things worse.

Mountain View, when the North Bayshore area is excluded, has the highest population density of any city in Santa Clara County. San Jose and South has lots of space. Development should be focused there with mass transit to job centers such as Mountain View (Google, Intuit, and LinkedIn), Menlo Park (Facebook), Cupertino (Apple), and Sunnyvale (Yahoo!). Unfortunately, VTA has dropped the ball.

Posted by Steve, a resident of another community
on Jan 16, 2014 at 3:41 pm

...said one resident: "people are talking about whether it's time to move." Too late, some of us already left. Our elected so-called representatives have allowed reckless developement with no regard for the strain on our infrastructure. All of the issues that have come with this overcrowding were completely predictable, at least to anyone with the smallest shred of analytical ability. Which leads to the next puzzle:
"I don't see the need for eight story buildings. The new five story office... that's really, really big. We'll run out of developement space really really quickly." -R. Bryant. It seems to me that an 8 story bulding must have more square footage for a given footprint than a 5 story building. Or maybe some of our leaders are from an alternate universe?

Posted by konrad M. Sosnow, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 16, 2014 at 3:52 pm

The majority of Google, LinkedIn, Intuit, and Microsoft employees do not live in Mountain View - they commute,

How about building parking garages, like those at Disneyland East, West and South of North Bayshore? Couple that with shuttles like San Francisco Airport uses to North Bayshore. Is it expensive, you bet. The alternative is gridlock.

Commuter shuttles in the San Francisco Bay Area are providing some 35,000 people convenient transportation to and from work everyday, they eliminate almost 45 million vehicle miles traveled each year. If you think traffic and congestion are bad now, imagine a Bay Area with 35,000 more people on the road each day. The system's routes cover in excess of 230 miles of freeways, more than twice the extent of the region's BART commuter train system, which has 104 miles of tracks.

Posted by Christopher Chiang, a resident of North Whisman
on Jan 16, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Could someone explain to me why mixed use was nixed North of the 101 when there's little traffic after business hours and retail is seeking more customers, and yet mixed used was approved for El Camino where there is existing high traffic after business hours and little option for new residents but to drive? I would welcome mixed use corporate housing along the lines of micro-apartments North of 101 that is developed with Zipcars and no parking, zero. There's no meaningful street parking, so micro-apartments in North Bayshore would slow the rising cost housing by addressing demand, and have a smaller traffic impact on the rest of Mountain View.

There are state laws that require all cities to shared in meeting the state's housing needs. A satisfying idea to this won't come from looking at past methods, but designing new solutions, see what Portland and NYC are trying:

From Portland: "New bike-friendly 'micro-apartments': 200 square feet and no car parking"
Web Link

From NYC: "Confronting a chronic shortage of affordable housing, the City of New York sponsored a competition to develop reduced-cost 'micro apartments'"
Web Link

Posted by Member, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 16, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Housing must accompany any development. I don't blame Google for the fact that the residents of Mountain View have to endure the traffic and congestion that now exists -- I blame the City Council for steadfastly refusing to build housing in North Bayshore. All the new employees in that area are forced to live on the other side of 101.

Posted by Rodger, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jan 16, 2014 at 9:53 pm

Let's elect City Council members this coming November that will stop all of this, Mountain View is full now. I hate driving around the city most of time and the downtown area has no parking in the evening. All of this development must stop, the area north of 101 has enough office space and the city has enough condos and apartments. It's madness this is not San Francisco, Mountain View is a small city and should remain this way.

Posted by jobs and housing, a resident of another community
on Jan 16, 2014 at 10:19 pm

There is no parking downtown because parking is free. If there was free ice cream, there would be a shortage of ice cream also.

Posted by Greg Coladonato, a resident of Slater
on Jan 16, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Greg Coladonato is a registered user.

@ Christopher Chiang,

Here's a good place to start, regarding why housing was nixed in North Bayshore:

Web Link

Posted by Moffett Resident, a resident of Willowgate
on Jan 16, 2014 at 11:59 pm

Let's take a step back. Mountain View is under no obligation to provide 3.4 million square feet of new offices. Mountain View is under no obligation to house 15,000-20,000 new employees within our city limits. We could ruin the city trying to do that, and not even come close to providing that much housing. Where is it written that every city must provide housing for everyone who works within its boundaries?

From the article:

"Consultant Matt Raimi revealed that if all of North Bayshore were allowed to develop at a maximum allowed density in the new 2030 general plan, 26 million square feet of new office space would be built. At 200 square feet per employee, that means potentially adding 130,000 employees."

Incredible. Why did anyone ever think this was a good idea? And 8 stories along El Camino? The 2030 general plan needs to be revoked, rewritten, and voted on by residents.

Posted by Garrett83, a resident of another community
on Jan 17, 2014 at 6:18 am

Garrett83 is a registered user.

Over and over housing was a no for North Bayshore, plans for housing in 70's were nixed. I think a core area with 8 story office buildings and residential buildings, around 101.

Look at Terra Bella/Shoreline Blvd for a good solid mixed use. Century Theater site, one residential tower with mixed use.

I wonder how many residents commute out of Mountain View, I am always hearing about workers not from Mountain View.

Sure build somewhere else and destory other small towns.

Posted by LB from Mtn View, a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 17, 2014 at 8:35 am

Allowing a lot more development in North Shoreline is crazy, whether it's office or retail. There has always been limited access into the area. You can try to make it easier for people to walk or bicycle there, but let's face it, only a small percentage of workers are willing or able to do either. Building housing there is a bad idea for many reasons (as others have posted), and you can't reserve the housing units for local workers anyway -- half the people would probably work in some other city, and would still be driving.

Why does Mountain View need to allow so much development at all?

Posted by Garrett83, a resident of another community
on Jan 17, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Garrett83 is a registered user.

Google is growing so are other companies that maintain a North Bayshore address. It is the customers or future customers of these Mountain View compaines. Lets face this is Silicon Valley, we are the "Manhattan of the tech world".

Posted by jsylvain, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 17, 2014 at 3:18 pm

When is VTA finally going to extend light rail from the downtown Mt. View station up Sterlin Rd., onto the center of Shoreline Blvd., underneath 101, and all the way to Shoreline Amphitheater?

Posted by Christopher Chiang, a resident of North Whisman
on Jan 17, 2014 at 3:39 pm

There must be an innovative solution between the kinds of housing development we currently see and forcing other communities to take on all the burden of regional economic growth.

For example corporate housing in Bayshore could have more control to create an eco-living campus versus the traditional private developments we currently see. Another issue to consider is if you are looking out to 2030, transportation may look completely different if self driven cars take off. Do we have a bold enough vision that keeps up with what things may look like in 2030?

Report from the Atlantic, "What Will Happen to Public Transit in a World Full of Autonomous Cars"
Web Link
or the New Yorker's detailed report of Google's self driven car: Web Link

Below is from state Department of Housing and Community:
"Housing element law, enacted in 1969, mandates that local governments adequately plan to meet the existing and projected housing needs of all economic segments of the community. The law acknowledges that, in order for the private market to adequately address housing needs and demand, local governments must adopt land use plans and regulatory systems which provide opportunities for, and do not unduly constrain, housing development."
Link: Web Link

Posted by Ramil, a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Jan 18, 2014 at 4:21 pm

I am really surprised that people in MV are against growth.. DO you guys want jobs and more tax coming to yoru city or not? If you make it difficult for business to grow here and for people t live decently, the companies wil move out to other states like Texas who are willing to do a lot more for business and people. So what the city moves from a small town to a big city. Is that a bad thing? Are you still a child or have grown to be an Adult person? Growth is the only thing that sustains us. Why are we controlling so much, making it prohibitive for people to live a decent life.

Posted by Garrett83, a resident of another community
on Jan 19, 2014 at 7:44 am

Garrett83 is a registered user.

I tend to agree with growth brings jobs. Have any of you lived in a depressed area.

Posted by MVResident67, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 19, 2014 at 10:09 am

Ramil: "If you make it difficult for business to grow here and for people t live decently, the companies wil move out to other states like Texas who are willing to do a lot more for business and people."


Companies relocate to places like TX for numerous reasons, one of them being a less restrictive/constrictive business environment...specifically referring to state mandated regulations. CA is not considered very business friendly, at the state level = overtax and over regulate. According to this Forbes article CA ranks 48th - with only New Jersey & New York trailing - in terms of being "business friendly"

Web Link

Also, Texas does not have a personal income tax, so not only is it a more business friendly for a company to be located in TX but employees are able to take home more of their salary. TX housing costs and cost of living in general is also a LOT less than in CA.

Imho, making CA more "business friendly" starts at the state level and trickles down, not the other way around.

Oh, and it was reported that as of August 2013 Google ranks 14TH out of ALL publicly traded US companies in terms of how much money it has parked offshore -- 33.3 BILLION -- in an effort to avoid paying taxes. Just food for thought.

Posted by Garrett83, a resident of another community
on Jan 19, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Garrett83 is a registered user.

Off shoring money to avoid taxes, 33 billion dollars a lot of money, but it is a federal tax issue.

State of Texas taxes oil, California doesn't tax oil.

Texas or some other state could come in and offer the following for Google. Money, land, building permits, tax breaks and the offer of cheap housing. Lets face it, we are Silicon Valley. We offer far more then Texas or other states. Highly educated work force, access to capital, good local educational system, and being the center of the tech world.

Texas might have snatched Carl's Jr. but we have Google.

Posted by Moffett Resident, a resident of Willowgate
on Jan 19, 2014 at 11:50 pm

So, here's what this article seemed to say:

In working up the general plan, Planning looked at "an economic forecast" that said that 3.4 million square feet of new office space would be about right for North Bayshore. However, Planning for some reason also proposed overall zoning that would allow up to 26 million square feet of new space, "potentially adding 130,000 employees." These provisions were approved by the City Council in July 2012 as part of the 2030 general plan.

But now, only 18 months later, it seems that 3.4 million square feet will not meet the immediate demand by developers. Mike Kasperzak, one of the most generally pro-developer council members, takes what is meant to come across as a moderate stance, making "an effort to not exceed 3.4 million square feet."

But 3.4 million square feet will still mean 15,000 to 20,000 new employees, in North Bayshore alone. The 2030 general plan calls for 6,539 new homes in MV.

Here is my take-away from this article:

We could ruin the city trying to house 20,000 new employees and their families - plus thousands more new workers elsewhere in MV and surrounding areas - and still not come close to succeeding in providing housing for that number.

Creating 3.4 million square feet of new office space in MV is actually a destructive idea. And it's impossible to fathom why anyone ever thought that zoning for 26 million square feet of new space (130,000 potential new jobs) was a good idea.

I'm not saying "no growth." We are going to get economic growth and resulting increased density, no matter what. Tech companies (not just Google) find the peninsula a very attractive place to locate, and it's been like that for at least half a century.

I'm just saying that our City Council would do better to put its efforts into safeguarding Mountain View's livability.

Posted by Monta Loma renter, a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 21, 2014 at 7:43 am

The lack of housing in Mountain View comes down to basic supply and demand. It is only natural that current homeowners don't want to add housing. Each new house, condo, or apartment they manage to block increases their property value. Thanks to prop 13, this costs them nothing, since their property tax increases are capped, no matter what insane valuation their houses may have.

What I think Mountain View needs is dozens of 100 story condo buildings north of the 101. But we'll never see them because of the entrenched interests in Mountain View.

I really wish Google, Apple, etc would move someplace outside Silicon Valley (Texas, North Carolina, etc). It would be better for everybody. And y'all would get a wakeup call when the tech goose stops laying golden eggs & your pathetic falling down shacks built in 1950 and worth $150K any other place in the country were no longer selling for $1M or more.

Posted by Old Ben, a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 21, 2014 at 1:30 pm

Monte Loma Renter gets it.

Factor in the toxic waste problem with the TCE, and Mountain View contains some of the most seriously overvalued real estate in America. Who's looking at the cancer clusters and birth defect clusters in this town? It's SOAKED in TCE.

Posted by MVResident67, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 21, 2014 at 2:46 pm

"I really wish Google, Apple, etc would move someplace outside Silicon Valley (Texas, North Carolina, etc). It would be better for everybody. And y'all would get a wakeup call when the tech goose stops laying golden eggs & your pathetic falling down shacks built in 1950 and worth $150K any other place in the country were no longer selling for $1M or more."


I wouldn't mind more diversification of where tech companies have facilities, but I find the vitriol directed towards current homeowners both disturbing and telling.

Posted by Monta Loma renter, a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 21, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Why wouldn't you expect newcomers to be bitter? The deck is stacked against us by the incumbents. Prop 13 gives incumbent homeowners in CA power without responsibility. Without Prop 13, either more housing would have been built a while ago, or most of the retired "preserve the character of the neighborhood" types would have been forced to sell to developers because they would not be able to pay property taxes on the inflated value of their homes. Here, the newcomers pay nearly all the property taxes.

By the way, I agree MV is full, and traffic is terrible. That's why I bike to work from Monta Loma, and that's why I think you need to build massive amounts housing on the other side of the 101. I'd much rather be living on the other side of the 101 because my commute would be a lot shorter. And honestly, I'd really rather be living back in the South or a flyover state, where property values are 1/4 what they are here and the schools are 2x as good, but unfortunately the company I work for no longer believes in telecommuting.

Posted by Facts, a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2014 at 10:52 pm

Something like 30,000 Mountain View residents work in other cities. You can get the data from the Census bureau. At the same time around 30,000 workers in Mountain View already come from other cities.

So, I guess to solve the problem we just need people to swap hoomes?

That makes about as much sense as the other plans. Failing that, it certainly does make sense to include a good bit of housing up in the north of Bayshore area. I can't see any reason why not. And if not light rail, then how about a bus rapid transit lane added by widening Shoreline Blvd above central Expressway? It could connect to Cal Train and downtown as well. There just aren't enough lanes of travel currently into the north of 101 area... the time has come for 2 more.

Posted by LoveMtnView, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 21, 2014 at 11:45 pm

The 'supply and demand' argument is old and tired. There are only two ways to get housing in Mtn View that is even close to affordable for those with less than 6 figure incomes:

1. Add 30,000 apartments and condos. You really need incredibly high numbers to even make a dent in pricing if you believe in this 'supply and demand' argument. Of course, by doing so, this city will be ruined.

2. When you build developments, make sure they are both tiny and crappy as possible. That way, most people will not want to buy or rent from them, which will send prices downward. How about 250 square foot studio apartments with shared bathrooms and you have to sign an agreement not to have a car.

There...affordable housing!

Posted by LoveMtnView, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 21, 2014 at 11:52 pm

Guess what? Most people do not live where they work? Why? Because the average stint at a company is 2-3 years. Why should an employee have their career limited by sticking to a job in their own town? suggest that employees move every time they get a new job???

I think dorm-style (think college dorm-cheap and small) housing would be great near the high-tech campuses. However, not near the Bay. That is a protected waterland and a lot of people go there to enjoy the scenery. Destroying it to help a certain (currently) high-growth company is not in the best interest of this community.

I do feel sorry for new-comers. I was a new-comer not so long ago, but I worked hard, lived cheaply and eventually bought into a nice community. You can do it too! Be patient and disciplined--that's all there is to it.

Posted by konrad M. Sosnow, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 22, 2014 at 10:11 am

Mountain View City Council members are attempting to figure out where to put 3.4 million square feet of new offices north of Highway 101 by 2030 — room for 15,000 to 20,000 new employees — with buildings up to eight stories tall along Highway 101 and Shoreline Boulevard. The North Bayshore area to be developed consists of 180 acres so it will be very dense with 83 to 111 additional employees per acre. In addition, this will add between 7.500 and 13,000 additional cars to the existing gridlock.

Meanwhile, this week, San Jose announces their plan to turn North San Jose into an urban tech hub. They plan to add 26.7 million square feet of new offices on 5,000 acres. That comes out to 133,000 new employees. However, the density will only be 27 new employees per acre as compare to Mountain View's North Bayshore 83 to 111 new employees per acre. This lower density in San Jose will leave room for 32,000 more housing units, 2.7 million square feet of retail and 550 new hotel rooms. San Jose is betting on light rail and on BART to make this work.

Which plan makes more sense? I'll leave that up to you to decide.

Posted by Unknown, a resident of Jackson Park
on Jan 31, 2014 at 1:15 pm

I have lived in the Jackson Park area since 1993. Lately, I hesitate to open the Voice to find news about what the City Council is planning to do to my neighborhood next. First it was building more apartments on Steirlin, then it was closing access to Central Expressway, the next idea was to put in a some type of bike path to make it easier for those to bike from the train station to North Bayshore. Now, there is talk about increasing the bus traffic. I have enough trouble entering traffic from my driveway in the morning from Central Avenue and Stierlin. I find it impossible to go from my home to 101 via Shoreline; mainly Monday through Wednesdays. I am finding that I am not the only one that has had to find an alternate route to catch 101 going North by going through other neighborhoods. I have found that buses are finding alternative routes to North Bayshore via Middlefield to Rengstorf and San Antonio because Shoreline is backed up in the morning beyond Montecito at times. We do not need additional traffic in the Jackson Park area.

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