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Inks might vote on San Antonio redevelopment

Original post made on Jun 30, 2014

Mountain View's city attorney and the California Fair Political Practices Commission are busy hashing out whether council member John Inks can vote on developer Merlone Geier's controversial redevelopment proposal for San Antonio shopping center.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, June 30, 2014, 1:51 PM

Comments (35)

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Posted by My thoughts...
a resident of Jackson Park
on Jun 30, 2014 at 2:05 pm

"Inks is well-known for his libertarian views. Over the years he has often voted to approve other development projects as they are proposed, and has consistently opposed requiring public benefits and special agreements from developers."

--> How did this guy ever get elected???? Let developers make all the $$ they can and forget about the people who must live with the mess later. I hope he terms out soon.


"In this case, it could include requiring that Merlone Geier lease parking spaces to the Milk Pail Market. According to a city staff report released last Thursday, staff members were preparing a condition of approval regarding parking for the Milk Pail that wasn't yet complete."

--> At least there's some good news on the horizon.


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Posted by nonsensical
a resident of another community
on Jun 30, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Of course Mr. Inks enjoys all the benefits that come from not letting developers build exactly what they want. If they could, the city hall building would have collapsed years ago from shoddy construction and damage limits in civil court. Fortunately for him, there are building codes to follow and a tort system that does a fair job of protecting against abuse.

Of course , that won't stop him from voting against any law that protects the community at the expense of greed and profit. Sigh...


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jun 30, 2014 at 2:34 pm

Isn't it the better part of wisdom given how unclear and open to challenge this is, Inks should recuse himself especially since there is so much community concern about the project. The thing that would really unfortunate is for this to look like it is being pushed through by the council.


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Posted by Rebecca Gorman, Real Estate Agent
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 30, 2014 at 2:39 pm

The main picture attached to this article is misleading. According to the development plan articulated in city council meetings, the 'Plaza' will be blocked off for foot traffic *only* on special occasions. Most of the time, it will just be a pretty road for cars looking for parking.

Re: Libertarian views: Don't libertarians support personal freedom? If so, wouldn't the needs and views of all Mountain View residents be considered important? If Inks holds Ayn Randian values that the choices of people with money hold more weight/are more meritorious, that would explain his perspective.

Obviously the people are voicing a rejection of this 'free market' proposal, Mr Inks. That's the market's voice. If you do believe in free markets, insist the developer offer a product the end users actually want. Ignore what consumers want, and you are ignoring the 'invisible hand'.


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Posted by mike f
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 30, 2014 at 3:19 pm

likely to get tied up in court if anyone mounts a legal challenge to this last minute technical end run

and court efforts can take a loooooopng time


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Posted by how did he win?
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 30, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Inks is highly respected in the community receiving the most votes in the last election. Mr Debolt goes out of his way to brand him negatively in every article he writes about him. He never does this with other council members. Regardless, Inks ignores the remarks and acts like a true gentleman in dealing with the public. Inks is clearly the smartest guy on the council based on his understanding of economics, budgeting and zoning. I have no doubt he will consider the best interests of all Mtn View residents in his decision on the project.


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jun 30, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Tend to like Libertarian ideas, tend to think private investment is the way to produce business which in turn produces jobs then wealth. Cities should promte business producing jobs, retail, and commerce, plus keep a stable tax base.

California seems to take everything to court, which way things cost more to get done and elsewhere they laugh at us. Measure Phase 2 to Mr Inks condo, you will find the answer.

Most everything around has been built by developers or landowners with intent of making money. You invest with the intent of making, you work, you open a business to make money. You will most likely sell your home to make money, anything less will be a lost.

Shared Parking for stores in the S.A. Center.

Businesses, building and taste are always changing.


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Posted by I'm not an ecnomist
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 30, 2014 at 3:54 pm

@Rebecca Gorman, Real Estate Agent,

"Obviously the people are voicing a rejection of this 'free market' proposal, Mr Inks. That's the market's voice. If you do believe in free markets, insist the developer offer a product the end users actually want. Ignore what consumers want, and you are ignoring the 'invisible hand'."

I'm not an economist, but it seems to me the developer is offering a product that the market participants want. Phase I is a success, so they must have done something right. If the developer does not offer what the market wants, the project will fail and they will lose money. Certainly Mr. Inks knows this and you would think a real estate agent would also know this?


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Posted by Appearance of impropriety
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 30, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Appearance of impropriety? Boy, is that ever an understatement.


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jun 30, 2014 at 5:09 pm

As someone who is part of the "free market" and a consuner of "services" that developers have built.

I would use my hard earned money shop, eat, be entertained and stay the night. I would spend my "free market" choice to spend dollars.


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Posted by MVResident67
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 30, 2014 at 5:16 pm

Mountain View seems to have been struggling lately with the appearance of impropriety.

Remember Ms. Rachel Grossman, Google real estate project executive AND chair of Mountain View's Environmental Planning Commission? Still find it dumbfounding that Mountain View city attorney thought that appointment was A-Okay.

Web Link

Remember to never take your eyes of the bouncing ball here in Mountain View.




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Posted by FYI
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 30, 2014 at 7:52 pm

Ms Grossman was working for the city if Santa Clara when she was appointed to EPC. She later worked for. Menlo Park. She resigned shortly after accepting a position At Google


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Posted by MVResident67
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 30, 2014 at 8:08 pm

@FYI:

"Ms Grossman was working for the city if Santa Clara when she was appointed to EPC. She later worked for. Menlo Park. She resigned shortly after accepting a position At Google"

~~~~~

She (Ms. Grossman) resigned from what/where shortly after accepting a position at Google?



According to Mr. Debolt's article that I linked to in my above post, Ms. Grossmann had been serving as a member of the Environmental Planning Commission since 2009. Ms. Grossman notified the EPC in September that she would begin working as a Real Estate Project Executive for a new employer, Google, Inc. Her employment with Google began in November of 2013. The city, duly put on notice regarding Ms. Grossman's change in employment AND what her job duties were with her new employer - Google, Inc. - evidently still thought naming her Chair of the Environmental Planning Commission was a sound decision and went ahead and named her as Chair of the EPC in January. Ms. Grossman resigned from the Mountain View EPC on March 1st, 2014.


Here is the link to the article again:

'Google-employed commissioner resigns
Real estate project executive said she wants to avoid perception of bias'

Web Link


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Posted by Robert
a resident of Slater
on Jun 30, 2014 at 9:04 pm

Robert is a registered user.

I for one, would prefer to have fewer office buildings and replace them with apartments or condos in the Phase II area, however getting angry with Mr. Inks is like blaming the loss of the game on the last batter. The responsibility for this is shared by the entire Council and not just Mr. Inks. Here's how it works. Your elected Council approves a General Plan which in this case permits commercial office building on this site. A private developer does a market study and sees that commercial offices are a good product and applies to build some in total compliance with the zoning. People are outraged that this is happening and blame the developer or in this case, the swing council vote. That anger is a bit misdirected and late.
Where was that anger when the General Plan was being approved?


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Posted by A gnasher
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 30, 2014 at 10:14 pm

Robert, your sanity, reasonableness and understanding of the process is not welcome here. This is for gnashing of teeth and snarling at the unfairness of it all, not for reminding us that we should have been paying attention earlier. (Yes, I'm one of those, too.)


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Posted by A gnasher
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 30, 2014 at 10:17 pm

Just to be clear, that comment to Robert should have been accompanied by a wink or a smiley face. Yes, I'm kicking myself for not getting involved sooner, but I'll be alert next time the general plan comes up. It's unfortunate that our public deliberation process -- whether for precise plans, general plan, or whatever -- manages to suck the life out of what could and should be an exciting, engaging process for determining the future of our city. I hope somewhere they find a way to bring the public back into it in a way that engages the majority and not just the fringes.


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Posted by John
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 30, 2014 at 10:21 pm

Given Merlone's track record, they'll play hardball. They will have Inks cast the deciding vote. They will gamble that the citizens won't be able to get enough signatures for an election.
They will probably start by telling us how " amazing" project 1 is and how much tax money it brings in yadda yadda yadda, and how amazing project 2 is with slick artwork provided by "the city of mountain view" now one needs another office building except the landlords.


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Posted by FYI
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 30, 2014 at 10:40 pm

Contrary to misinformed mvresident67 , ms Grossman was not appointed chair of EPC. She was elected by members of EPC.


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Posted by m2grs
a resident of another community
on Jun 30, 2014 at 10:41 pm

Today's San Jose Biz Journal reported City of Santa Clara revealed details of its 230-acre mega project in north of the city next to 49ers stadium. Total square footage is 5.3 million. Residential apartments? Only 408,000, less than 10%. Rest is office, hotel, shopping and entertainment.

More offices and amenities greatly increase the value of existing adjacent residential properties. I don't understand why people living around San Antonio just don't get it. If I own a big house surrounded by 10 blocks of modern offices and shops on all sides, my house value will be worth at least tens of millions.

When all phases of San Antonio are completed, and when Google finishes its project not far away, I bet landlords of surrounding apartments will rush to upgrade their properties. There will be a huge value boost to all apartments and houses in that area. This is classic win-win value creation for all. It is a once in a century opportunity.

If anything I'd suggest residents in the neighborhood ask city to pay more attention to infrastructure improvements. Concessions from developers on expanding roads. More walk/bike friendly roads. Maybe a few pedestrian tunnels/bridges across San Antonio and train tracks. More parking. More bike racks. Ask city and developer how to mitigate traffic problems we all see daily in Santana Row.

But replacing offices with apartment units is not, in my opinion, a good idea.


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Posted by MVResident67
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 30, 2014 at 11:15 pm

@FYI:

"Contrary to misinformed mvresident67 , ms Grossman was not appointed chair of EPC. She was elected by members of EPC."

~~~~~


You might want to take any factual dispute as to how Ms. Grossman came to chair the EPC up with Mr. Debolt, as his article is cited as my source. Granted I did use the word "appointed" and Mr. Debolt used the word "selected". Perhaps Mr. Debolt meant Elected and not Selected? Accuracy in reporting...it's a good thing, yes?

The point of the entire discussion was to highlight the fact that there was a potential for a conflict of interest that was created when Ms. Grossman was seated as Chair of the EPC -- regardless of the process by which she arrived in that position.

Web Link

snipped from the linked article...

"Grossman had been on the commission since December of 2009, and had been selected by the commission to serve as its chair in January, despite having been hired by Google in November."


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Posted by incognito
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 1, 2014 at 7:04 am


Rally Tuesday night (July 1) to delay Phase 2 at the San Antonio Center
by Lenny Siegel

At last week's Mountain View City Council meeting, one councilmember called the Campaign for a Balanced Mountain View's preparations to circulate a referendum petition a "gun to the head" of the City Council. That's one way to look at it. I see it as democracy!

City leaders seem to have fallen out of touch with their constituents, and our only recourse may be to take the issue of San Antonio Center redevelopment to the voters. The Council is poised to approve the Phase 2 project by Merlone-Geier this Tuesday night, July 1. After a second vote July 8, they will take a two-month vacation.

The July 1 meeting is our only hope to convince the Council to vote to delay the project. Otherwise, we will be spending a month while they are on vacation collecting the 3,254 signatures of Mountain View voters required to suspend the Council decision and place a referendum on a special election ballot early next year.

Please bring friends, family members, and colleagues (and signs) to City Hall at 6:30 pm this Tuesday, July 1. We will rally outside before entering City Hall together for the final public hearing on Phase 2.

We will be asking the Council to delay, not approve, a project that will add office buildings designed to employ 2,500 people but no housing, in a part of town universally deemed suitable for medium-to-high density housing—as well as retail stores. With each new office development, renting or buying a home in Mountain View becomes more difficult for residents and employees alike. Decisions about the San Antonio Center should be made when the Council adopts a new Precise Plan for that area. If the Council agrees to the delay, our November City Council election will serve as a "referendum" to determine how Mountain View will address the ever-worsening jobs-housing imbalance.


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Posted by incognito
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 1, 2014 at 7:15 am

@m2grs

In my view the only benefit to having a house worth several million is if you want to cash out and move somewhere else.

Doubtful my kids could ever afford to buy here, and my spouse and I certainly would not be able to buy our own house. We do know job applicants who couldn't accept a position offered to them after seeing the cost of housing, friends who had to move away to someplace where they could buy, and friends who can barely save for retirement.

Please educate me on what's good about the cost of buying or renting in Mountain View. Serious question, not being sarcastic.


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Posted by FYI
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 1, 2014 at 8:47 am

So you can be forgiven for depending on mr debolt for accuracy in reporting. Ms grossman was on epc a few years before the potential conflict arose. Nothing improper happened and she resigned after joining Google

Those are the facts


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Posted by MVResident67
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 1, 2014 at 9:34 am

FYI:

"So you can be forgiven for depending on mr debolt for accuracy in reporting. Ms grossman was on epc a few years before the potential conflict arose. Nothing improper happened and she resigned after joining Google

Those are the facts"

~~~~~~~~~~

I don't believe I ever suggested that anything improper took place. It was "the potential for the perception of bias" was the problem. Other than using Mr. Debolt's description of how she came to chair the EPC - selected vs elected - I believe my original post is factually accurate and certainly not a post that should warrant, what appears to be, overly defensive replies.

I see no reason anyone would take such exception to a factually accurate recounting of events including a pertinent timeline and complete with source citation. You might want re-read my original post:


"According to Mr. Debolt's article that I linked to in my above post, Ms. Grossmann had been serving as a member of the Environmental Planning Commission since 2009. Ms. Grossman notified the EPC in September that she would begin working as a Real Estate Project Executive for a new employer, Google, Inc. Her employment with Google began in November of 2013. The city, duly put on notice regarding Ms. Grossman's change in employment AND what her job duties were with her new employer - Google, Inc. - evidently still thought naming her Chair of the Environmental Planning Commission was a sound decision and went ahead and named her as Chair of the EPC in January. Ms. Grossman resigned from the Mountain View EPC on March 1st, 2014."

Web Link



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Posted by history buff
a resident of another community
on Jul 1, 2014 at 9:52 am

> "When all phases of San Antonio are completed, and when Google finishes its project not far away, I bet landlords of surrounding apartments will rush to upgrade their properties. There will be a huge value boost to all apartments and houses in that area. This is classic win-win value creation for all. It is a once in a century opportunity."

I don't consider it a win to have to sit in traffic at an F-rated intersection, waiting for 2 or sometimes 3 light changes to get across El Camino or San Antonio.

I don't consider it a win to lose mom-and-pop stores that have served the community for many years.

I don't consider it a win to have mid- to low-income workers have to live in Gilroy and beyond because they can't find affordable housing.

I don't consider it a win when city councils kowtow to developers and see how far they can bend the rules to give developers what they want.

I don't consider it a win when a council member so forgets his/her role as a representative of the people that he/she considers a referendum petition a "gun to the head." (Reminds me of the Palo Alto councilwoman who claimed she was being "bullied" when residents said they wouldn't vote for her if she voted in favor of an oversized building.)

I don't consider it a win if the value of my home increases while losing my community and quality of life.


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Posted by MVResident67
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 1, 2014 at 9:56 am

@history buff:

Amen.

I hope you will be able to attend the rally and then the council meeting tonight at city hall.


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Posted by FYI
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 1, 2014 at 10:02 am

"Still find it dumbfounding that Mountain View city attorney thought that appointment was A-Okay."

This statement was misleading. The appointment took place while she was working as a planner. It was perfectly OK. So what you said was factually innaccurate.


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Posted by Common sense
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 1, 2014 at 10:32 am

"FYI," while throwing around "facts," appears stubbornly determined to ignore that Ms Grossman didn't just resign "shortly after accepting a position At Google."

After serving on the commission for five months after joining Google, she resigned only after a growing flood of questions, editorial letters, etc. from the public about the appearance of conflict of interest.


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Posted by MVResident67
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 1, 2014 at 10:36 am

@FYI:

"This statement was misleading. The appointment took place while she was working as a planner. It was perfectly OK. So what you said was factually innaccurate."

~~~~~~~~~~

I was referring to Ms. Grossman having been seated as the CHAIR of the EPC, not her entire tenure on the EPC.

My entire paragraph from up-thread: "Remember Ms. Rachel Grossman, Google real estate project executive AND chair of Mountain View's Environmental Planning Commission? Still find it dumbfounding that Mountain View city attorney thought that appointment was A-Okay."


Perhaps I should have been more precise in my wording? How about...

Remember Ms. Rachel Grossman, Google real estate project executive AND chair of Mountain View's Environmental Planning Commission? Still find it dumbfounding that Mountain View city attorney thought that appointment - as CHAIR of the EPC - was A-Okay.



Timeline of events as stated in Mr. Debolt's article for reference:

Web Link

"Grossman had been on the commission since December of 2009, and had been selected by the commission to serve as its chair in January, despite having been hired by Google in November.

Fellow commissioner Lisa Matichak said Grossman notified the commission of her new job in September.

"While Rachel was a solid contributor on the EPC, there was growing public perception of a conflict of interest given her employment with Google," Matichak said in an email.

City attorney Jannie Quinn had given the OK to Grossman being on the EPC, saying conflicts of interest would have had to be analyzed on a case-by-case basis for each decision before the commission. Grossman had recused herself from EPC meetings whenever land use decisions for Google's North Bayshore area were on the agenda, said Quinn."


~~~~~~~~~


@FYI:

If you have read, and understood, my previous comments on this subject you should also understand that my issue is NOT with Ms. Grossman per se, but rather with the City of Mountain View for allowing her to be seated as chair of the EPC. The city should be striving to avoid the appearance of impropriety and clearly, allowing Ms. Grossman CHAIR the EPC had could be perceived as having created an ongoing potential for a conflict of interest. End of story.


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Posted by Linda Curtis
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 1, 2014 at 12:24 pm

I agree with "History Buff."

Let's all come out to City Hall tonight at 6:30 or as soon as you can get there so we can say things like "History Buff" just wrote.

And ask that the two 6 story towers at least be apts. instead of yet more offices. That is not much to ask.

And if Inks could just remain out of the voting, then maybe the Milk Pail could finally get a deal settled. If they change the policy that has been making him recuse himself, he should be not able to jump into something already in progress. He'll get to on the next one, not in the middle of this one!


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Posted by m2grs
a resident of another community
on Jul 1, 2014 at 2:11 pm

@Linda Curtis, @history buff,

I once attended an exhibit of paintings by Anna Knapp Fitz, who lived in Los Altos for 74 years until she died in 1995. It was a moving experience. The paintings showed me an era of Silicon Valley that once were all farms, chicken coops, and horse-drawn carts. I believe you can still see this collection in the basement of Los Altos History Museum.

While I admire your sense of history, fairness, and value of simple life, things do change, mostly for the better. 50 years ago some from the generations before you must have also voiced their strong opposition to any development of Mountain View at that time. They did not think it was a "win" if they would have to give up horses, cows, and free-range chickens. They did not think it was a "win" if they would have to endure the terrible noises and fumes of busy traffic from cars and trains.

But the fact of history is that we all move on. And while we look back with nostalgia, as I have when seeing these paintings, most of us would not want to go back and live in an environment without electricity and plumbing.

Incidentally I just looked it up and the family of Anna Knapp Fitz owned the Mustang Horse Ranch, which is the current location of San Antonio Shopping Center.



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Posted by incognito
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 1, 2014 at 3:16 pm

While I admire your sense of history, fairness, and value of simple life, things do change, mostly for the better. 50 years ago some from the generations before you must have also voiced their strong opposition to any development of Mountain View at that time. They did not think it was a "win" if they would have to give up horses, cows, and free-range chickens. They did not think it was a "win" if they would have to endure the terrible noises and fumes of busy traffic from cars and trains.

But the fact of history is that we all move on. And while we look back with nostalgia, as I have when seeing these paintings, most of us would not want to go back and live in an environment without electricity and plumbing.


@m2grs, just an observation, some of the most "desirable" (costliest) areas here include Los Altos Hills, Portola Valley, Woodside, where homeowners do not "have to endure the terrible noises and fumes of busy traffic" and do not have to give up their horses. The town of Los Altos and certain streets in Mountain View do not have curbs and are often viewed as having rural charm. Backyard gardening/orchards/vineyards, backyard chickens, and solar power are common. A recent publication of the Town Crier featured a luxury home that is entirely powered by solar and has a rooftop garden.

I don't think anyone here is saying they prefer to use candles and outhouses. We can "move on" but do you define progress as what's best for the residents of Mountain View, or what's best for the wallets at Merlone Geier (offices in SF and San Diego).


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jul 1, 2014 at 8:46 pm

Most people also live here to enjoy life outside of work, thing places to eat, movies, drinking, spending our hard earn dollars on coffee, wine, clothes, movies, theater, concerts, cars, bikes, watches, and believe it not, bedding. Not everyone wants to buy just day to day stuff, but do want the enjoyment of life. We like shopping at new and attractive places, Santana Row, Stanford Mall, Town and Country Village and now San Antonio Center.

We fill our wallets with money so we can spend, MG is just investing to make money by building stores to pay rent to make money off of you. You don't have to spend money but some of use chose to spend money in places like this.

This whole valley made so much money, people investing time in college, got jobs, created idea, started a business, hired people, sold a product, made money and live in Woodside.


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Posted by MVresident
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 2, 2014 at 8:49 pm

John Inks is the only council member with common sense. For those of of who always work late and can't attend council meetings, I feel represented well by John Inks. To Rebecca G. I suggest that you read Atlas Shrugged before classifying Any Rand's philosophy as only for the rich. How did he win makes a good comment too. Why doesn't the MV voice print an article about Margaret Abe-Koba's labor union sycophancy? Let's support the developer and see this built!


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Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Jul 3, 2014 at 8:41 am

Sparty is a registered user.

It's all moot now

Web Link


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