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Community activist to run for City Council

Original post made on Jul 24, 2014

Longtime community activist Lenny Siegel, who spearheaded the new group Campaign for a Balanced Mountain View, has announced that he will run for City Council this fall.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, July 24, 2014, 1:20 PM

Comments (52)

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Posted by Not a FAN
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 24, 2014 at 1:54 pm

So a community activist wants to be a council member. What skill set does he bring to the table? What does he know about urban planning, economics and finance? Electing community activists is a bad idea. Take a look at Sacramento and the White House and tell me this is a good idea. Mr. Seigel should try working on a commission, gain some experience in collective decision making, and see how it goes before jumping up to the big leagues.


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Posted by incognito
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 24, 2014 at 2:20 pm

the comments by Not a Fan clearly reflect Not Reading the Entire Article.

Yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion and sharing diverse ideas is good. Publicly criticizing someone with claims that are clearly false (e.g., "should try working on a commission, gain some experience in collective decision making...") is not productive.


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Posted by Jay Park
a resident of Jackson Park
on Jul 24, 2014 at 2:27 pm

@Not a FAN:

The article does state that Siegel was "eventually getting appointed to Mountain View's environmental planning commission in the 1980s."

Personally, I have not yet reviewed the campaigns of all ten candidates so I would not be ready to vote if the election were tomorrow.

I -- for one -- am willing to let Siegel formulate his complete message and present it to the electorate before passing judgment on his campaign.

Note: my comments here should not be construed as an endorsement for Siegel.


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Posted by mel
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 24, 2014 at 2:32 pm

he is perhaps the candidate with the broadest knowledge of the issues facing the city and on the inner workings of city government - and he has a proven track record of achieving resolution on controversial issues -- the campaign for a balanced mountain view is actually a GIFT to the city and to the region as it had led to the long overdue examination of the socio-economic issues attendant to being a bustling hub of jobs and activity


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Posted by Maher
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Jul 24, 2014 at 2:35 pm

I welcome Mr Siegal's hat in the ring. Win or lose he will impact the focus of public conversation and bring an egalitarian slant to the questions.
Working outside the system as he has been doing and challenging the status quo are legitimate aspects of democracy. Those stances are especially valuable in this era of twisted capitalism with no restraints, so popular nowadays. Bringing that outsider perspective into the city council's discussions would be a welcome breath of fresh air.

I'll be interested to see how Mr Siegal's campaign develops and what he has to say about Mountain View's needs. As an independent to whom egalitarian solutions appeals, I'm hoping for some new better insights.


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Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 24, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Lenny Siegel is,and has been for many years, 100% committed to doing what is best for the residents of Mountain View. Without Lenny, San Antonio Phase II would be going up with two office buildings and no housing.

Having said that, I disagree with housing in North Bayshore (should be along transit corridors), rent control, and am concerned about uncontrolled growth, whether offices or housing and the resultant traffic.


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Posted by LoveYourDNA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 24, 2014 at 2:40 pm

GO LENNY!!!!!!


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Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Jul 24, 2014 at 3:15 pm

Sparty is a registered user.

For the "clearly you didn't read the article" crowd....

What is this? The movie Space Cowboys?

30 year job experience isn't job experience. Unless you're the only guy who can


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Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Jul 24, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Sparty is a registered user.

" the campaign for a balanced mountain view is actually a GIFT to the city and to the region as it had led to the long overdue examination of the socio-economic issues attendant to being a bustling hub of jobs and activity "

the only place rent control works is in the minds of columnists like Mark Morford. Any real analysis--even in jr college- wait- even in high school macro/micro books will tell you rent control's attendant issue is skyrocketing rent in units not under rent control.

Empirical evidence shouldn't be left at local news clips of people lining up for rent controlled units or housing. We have post WWII Europe, Genenva Towers and Sunnydale as fine examples.

Thomas, Denton, Sowell, Krugman...I'm inclined to believe them than the guy who was on a board 30 years ago...


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Posted by Jay Park
a resident of Jackson Park
on Jul 24, 2014 at 3:54 pm

It's worth reminding people that the individual agenda of one council member does not determine the fate of the city.

If Siegel (or anyone else) were to win one of the open seats on the council, it doesn't automatically mean that all of that person's policies will be set into motion.

At this point, Siegel's main focus will be to convince enough of the electorate that his election to the council will be more beneficial to the city versus his remaining an outside community activist.

Do the residents of Mountain View need voices like Lenny Siegel's? Absolutely. Does that voice need to be on the City Council? We don't know yet, it's too early to tell.

Regardless of the outcome, his intent to run in the fall election will hopefully increase voter participation.


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Posted by Katie
a resident of another community
on Jul 24, 2014 at 4:39 pm

I'm thrilled that Len is running for City Council and looking forward to working on his campaign! I know that he will bring forward the important issues the Council needs to address. This is exciting news for Mountain View! Go Len!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of Slater
on Jul 24, 2014 at 5:21 pm

Robert is a registered user.

The voice, via Mr. De Bolt, has welcomed a fellow traveler to the council campaign with an article that reads more like an endorsement than reporting. Lenny is not hiding his pro rent control position, which allows us some insight into his collective beliefs. It is always so much easier to push for rent control, BMR housing and high density housing for others, when your home is located in a safe neighborhood that will never see any of it.
What should be a bigger concern for the people of Mountain View is that the Voice is flagrantly blurring the lines between reporting and editorial comment.


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Posted by reader
a resident of Castro City
on Jul 24, 2014 at 5:25 pm

To MV Voice Editor:
Please write equal length and detailed articles for each of the other nine candidates.
Thank you.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Duke
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 24, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Rent control!!
Read "Atlas Shrugged"
Or on the other side of the coin "The Communist Manifesto"?
Or understand laissez-faire capitalism?.


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Posted by Dylan Carlson
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jul 24, 2014 at 10:39 pm

Not everything needs to be a fight between two extremes (Ayn Rand libertarianism vs. communism... really, Duke?)

I think a good many people are moderate, reasonable and can find the appropriate way forward without making everything polemical.

In my own view, there needs to be more energy behind balanced growth and the needs of residents when everything has tilted too far to serve commercial developers. But I'm sure somebody will characterize that as a [insert pejorative] agenda to destroy the city, and by extension, America, baseball, the 2nd amendment, et al.


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Posted by Tom
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 24, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Newcomers do not even know that some 15 years ago there was a plot to turn Moffett Field into a hub for pre-dawn commercial air cargo. Lenny Siegel formed the group that defeated the plan. You folks would be waking up to the roar of jets at 5 am if it were not for Lenny Siegel.


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Posted by AA
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 25, 2014 at 9:27 am

Lenny sounds like an interesting candidate. I do hope to read similar write ups from the Voice on all the other candidates so we can all make an informed decision. I'm really not liking the rent control idea. It just distorts the market - yes it helps current renters but at the expense of new renters who will pay ridiculous rates since the practical "supply" of housing will be so low. Not a good idea.

"It is always so much easier to push for rent control, BMR housing and high density housing for others, when your home is located in a safe neighborhood that will never see any of it."

I'm afraid Robert also has a good point. We should be sure to spread new housing throughout the city, even in precious single family home neighborhoods. Not fair to put high-density housing only in some sections of the city. This will exacerbate the inequality in schools and other services already existing in the city separated by El Camino.


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Posted by mel
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 25, 2014 at 10:24 am

Dear NOT A FAN

disparaging someone by labeling them is not really a critique - it is a prejudice

mr sielgel worked
==to keep air cargo out of moffit and disturbing us at all hours
== to address ground toxins especially under newly constructed homes
== to preserve hanger 1 coupled with a navy toxic cleanup
==and more

if that kind of community minded action is what you criticize then who will stand up for our city and do anything?

and by the way please let us know WHAT YOU HAVE DONE to benefit the community


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Posted by Andrea Gemmet
Mountain View Voice Editor
on Jul 25, 2014 at 1:58 pm

Andrea Gemmet is a registered user.

The following comment was posted to a duplicate thread, which has now been closed:

Lenny Siegel is passionate, but his ideas are terrible. Residential units will burden the city and make it even harder to get into place an adequate infrastructure for the next 20 years... Mountain View needs someone who cares about creating ample school capacity, public transit, and utility systems before adding the burdens that come along with higher residential density or creating sprawl among living centers.
by Bored M Jul 25, 2014 at 9:00 am


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Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 25, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Once again Daniel DeBolt has violated several basic principles of journalism; be objective and don't let your personal feelings color your reporting, and there are two sides to every issue.

Daniel DeBolt should disclose that he is a renter, has been adversely affected by increasing rent prices,and personaly supports Lenny Siegel.

If The Mountain View Voice does not have an objective writer, I would be willing to right articles about all the candidates.


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Posted by Madeline Bernard
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 25, 2014 at 6:13 pm

I've rented in various parts of the Bay Area for years, and I'm against rent control. It creates a bigger class of "I've got mine" short sighted sorts: not just homeowners seeing their value increase with a housing crush, but old time renters who need not pay attention. If San Francisco didn't have rent control, we'd all have fewer troubles, since more housing would have been built there.

Nonetheless, I like Lenny Siegel as a candidate. Rent control will never get past the rest of the council, but adding housing and schools, as Siegel advocates, can. And the rest of the infrastructure to support people will only come in when people are there to agitate for it.


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Posted by Jeremy Hoffman
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Jul 25, 2014 at 6:34 pm

Konrad, I respect many things you've said and written, but, did you really just say that DeBolt is not objective because he is a renter?! Why couldn't turn the tables and say that any home-owner is not objective either?! According to Web Link over 60% of Mountain View residents are renters -- that's a majority! Are we all so biased as to have our stances disqualified?

"DeBolt should disclose that he is a renter, has been adversely affected by increasing rent prices" -- that's also an absurd standard to take. Everyone is affected by issues like jobs, housing, traffic, development, and environment. Who ISN'T affected by any such issue that the City Council can affect? Are only people living on the Moon allowed to cover Mountain View elections?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Biased
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 25, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Just received my Voice in the mail only to find a love letter about Lenny on the front page. [Portion removed]


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Posted by mel
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 25, 2014 at 8:35 pm

i do not read or see or understand that siegel is NOW for rent control

that is a straw horse - get off it

where did he say that he is NOW for rent control???

he was 30 years ago!!!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bob Stenz
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 26, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Wow…yet another article (this time 1108 words and front page) in support of LS. Surely, there are others (like city council) in the community who contribute to MV, yet their names and ideas are not mentioned nearly every week in the Voice. I encourage the Voice to seek out all views including those contrary to its editor.


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jul 26, 2014 at 2:54 pm

While balanced well planned growth is good. I am renter, I don't support rent control but protections for renters. I support housing both rentals and ownership units but not building will cause the prices to rise.

I am always suspect by the term community.activist from my days in San Framcisco, Oakland and Berkeley

Mr Siegel does have good ideas.

Just becare careful of going down the anti path.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Jul 26, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Sparty is a registered user.



Just because someone may have joined a drum circle now and then it doesn't mean they are the way and the light for everyone in a city. Regardless of how vociferous a certain subset is. There are plenty of people who don't find Lenny anything more than a tiresome meddler regardless of how many rent a mob members he is able to carpool in with prefabricated signs.

In fact Lenny the Meddler has the hubris now, and in the past, to interfere with what neighborhood associations try to do. He's not a messiah he is a boringly cliched interloper with a dedicated peanut gallery to egg him on.

Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by votes-divided-
a resident of another community
on Jul 27, 2014 at 3:55 pm



The future of MV is at stake -- do you want
high-density and traffic mess?
or
sensible growth and a livable community?

Too many candidates for the city council already. It would be better
if the candidates that concur on sensible growth and a livable MV
join forces and give up their candidacy to 3 candidates that are
most likely to win. Otherwise the high-density camp might wind up
as the majority due to divided-votes.

It is better if Lenny Siegel works to consolidate votes instead of
causing more divided-votes...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by MVresident
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 27, 2014 at 6:25 pm

I agree with Bob. Why doesn't the MV Voice write articles on other candidates with mainstream views instead of radical leftists promoting failed and discredited ideas like rent control?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by concerned citizen
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 27, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Rent control is not an issue here. Let's be fair.

Lenny has been a positive force in the community for years, but if he thinks promoting more and denser housing will lower prices, he's just wrong. The imbalance is too great. Are we supposed to try to house 35,000 new employees? The roads can't handle it, and the schools can't handle it.

From the article:

"When it comes to raising money for his campaign, Siegel says he isn't totally opposed to taking money from real estate interests. He mentioned that Prometheus Real Estate Group, the large Mountain View landlord and apartment developer, recently attended a Campaign for a Balanced Mountain View meeting."

The alarm bells are ringing, pretty loudly.

And yes, although I usually appreciate Mr. DeBolt's writing, this was unquestionably a puff piece. I too hope that the Voice can dedicate a similar amount of space to other candidates, and in a way that does not suggest issue advocacy.



 +   Like this comment
Posted by RockTheCityCouncil
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 27, 2014 at 7:58 pm

Lenny Siegel is smart, committed, rational. He's a long term thinker who walks the walk. I can't imagine anyone else leading the MEWS groundwater toxins issue with such good success. Unlike other local politicians, Lenny actually has a track record on issues that matter.

I'll be voting for him.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by concerned citizen
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 28, 2014 at 10:10 am

It's quite misleading for this article to describe Prometheus as "the large Mountain View landlord and apartment developer".

It took about five minutes of internet search to find that Prometheus owns over 18,000 apartment units in "the Bay Area, Seattle, Portland and Los Angeles". They have over 700 employees, and annual revenue was $368.6 million in 2010. They are based in San Mateo.

The only thing that Prometheus has to do with Mountain View is that it has developed a lot of property here as well as in the rest of "the Bay Area, Seattle, Portland and Los Angeles". Madera, with its $5,000/month apartments, is a good example of what they have to offer Mountain View.

"Large Mountain View landlord and apartment developer" is a questionable choice of words. "West Coast real estate giant" or "megadeveloper" might have been more accurate. But that doesn't sound as warm and fuzzy.


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2014 at 10:49 am

The toxic issue was from another time when dumping junk in the ground was acceptable. Not acceptable today, needs to be cleaned up.

One of main issue of local politician is economy and job growth, yes we produced thousands of jobs over a period of time. Jobs are being produced to this very day.

While growth should be balanced, the tax base should be protected and resident dollars should stay within in Mountain View. Visitors, shoppers and others will add dollars to the city.

Right now a boom is going on but we must plan for the bust. The office boom will become a bust, but we do need to new space for new or existing companies.

We need all sorts of housing for all sorts of workers. Workers that just don't work for Google.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Linda Curtis
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 28, 2014 at 11:01 am

Rent control will rise a mighty lot of rents around MV when first it is to be set up, because all the small mom & pop landlords, such as myself & my husband, will have to catch up all at once to be up to market before it goes into effect.

Right now we are about 1/3 of market and consider those living in our building to be friends to whom we are loyal. Should rent control become the reality of the future, then we will have no choice but to raise rents to catch up before we are never allowed much catch up again. If we miss that chance, we will be locked in with not much of another chance to do it, should we suffer financial reversals, health failures and/or other calamities that would require that our property support itself for once, rather than relying on us both working full time jobs to be good friends to the current tenants.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by LongTime Rez
a resident of Willowgate
on Jul 28, 2014 at 1:04 pm

As much as I admire Mr. Siegel, and what he's done for M.V. I will not vote for anyone who walks into this election hand-in-hand with Prometheus (or any other big developer). Prometheus is part of the problem, not part of the solution.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Prometheus and others just build units of housing for workers. People hire workers to build, sale, manage promote their peoducts or business. Banks or VC offer funds for people who are willing to start up, open or buy a business.

So somewhere in the chain housing is neefed when you move out of your parents house. Maybe people should stop having kids. Stop investing in companies or businesses.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Enough Already
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 28, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Only having wanted children is a step in the right direction, but it won't help us here in MV as long as we are importing new people faster than the new office space goes up. This must slow down. That is what candidates Lisa Matichak, Mercedes Salem, and Jim Neal stand up for. I have to agree with them.

Lenny Siegel is a smart man who has a large following that believes he will add lots more housing. Yet this won't bring rents down since it can never catch up with the building of office spaces, which is running way ahead of housing and needs to be checked.

Enough new jobs already. It's ruining the quality of life here. I'd like to hear Lenny say that.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by votes-divided
a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Let us not forget...
The future of MV is at stake -- do you want
high-density and traffic mess?
or
sensible growth and a livable community?

Too many candidates for the city council already. It would be better
if the candidates that concur on sensible growth and a livable MV
join forces and give up their candidacy to 3 candidates that are
most likely to win. Otherwise the high-density camp might wind up
as the majority due to divided-votes.

It is better if Lenny Siegel works to consolidate votes instead of
causing more divided-votes...


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Konrad M.Sosnow
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 28, 2014 at 2:35 pm

@ Jeremy Hoffman,

There are quite a few candidates running for City Council.
Why did Daniel DeBolt choose to write an article on only one?
Why did DeBolt write a puff piece instead of an objective article?

When DeBolt writes about housing issues, such as 801 ECR, he has consistently distorted the truth. He quotes those in favor of high-density apartments, but tends to ignore those who oppose.

DeBolt is a shill for supporter of high-density apartments.




 +   Like this comment
Posted by Avid reader
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 28, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Maybe this will help you:

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2014 at 4:30 pm

The area has seen lower birth rates before, the proof is at 650 Castro Street and the Park Place Apartments. In general people with higher incomes have less children.

Most of you work or rely on the tech industry, would you like to chase away the primary business. The tech industry keeps changing in which nes ideas are created. Detroit could have learned a thing or two from the people who started compaines within Mountain View.

Who decides what kind of growth, who gets to grow?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by concerned citizen
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 28, 2014 at 11:45 pm

@"Garrett" - Your comment makes no sense. Are you trying to say that if we choose not to despoil the city, we will chase away tech companies? That is beyond ridiculous.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dylan Carlson
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jul 29, 2014 at 8:13 am

I don't know why people keep bringing up Detroit in various threads. Like there's any analogy there whatsoever.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2014 at 12:00 pm

We aren't Detroit, but it seems it is a classic case of what could go wrong. We aren't Detroit, we are Silicon Valley. We thrive off change, tech is about change and we lead the nation in job growth and wealth. I am not saying give away the city to developers or the tech companies but grow smart and allow changes.

Mixed use projects in areas that can support large mixed use areas


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2014 at 3:12 pm

Why bring up Detroit?
Maybe the analogy is too obscure for some in the audience. Detroit relied on automobile manufacturing, which eventually relocated to friendlier turf. Mountain view is relying on Google. And like all giants, one day Google will wander off.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dylan Carlson
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jul 29, 2014 at 6:27 pm

@"Steve"

Detroit was a civil war era city that had a post industrial revolution boom, and most of that was manufacturing. Mountain View doesn't have any manufacturing. Moreover, I have had family that worked on the lines in Michigan. So... right ... that's really "obscure"

Detroit past and present is completely different from Mountain View in just about every quantifiable way. Age, demographics, industry, land use, whatever.

There was no predecessor to Silicon Valley culture as it is now, because it was scattered all over the place. Armonk, NY (IBM), Murray Hill, NJ (Bell Labs), Fairfield, CT & NY (General Electric), Burbank, CA (Lockheed), Bethesda, MD, (Martin Marietta), Dayton, OH (NCR), etc etc. You can do your own homework on the rest.

That's what came before Silicon Valley, if you know your history at all. So draw up analogies for 30 or so cities, and what that all supposedly means Mountain View should do in its plan. It won't be any less dumb than an analogy about Detroit.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2014 at 7:08 pm

Just don't rely on a handful of companies, even Google will grow to point. The problem is also that while Silicon Valley grows we have gotten so expensive that other companies that aren't in tech open, or remain here.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dylan Carlson
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jul 29, 2014 at 7:25 pm

Well, sure. We've been debating this issue ad nauseum.

One sure way to kill off jobs in the long run is to not have balanced growth. If the payroll doesn't have anywhere affordable to live, that has already lead to pay inflation. When the day comes where easy revenue growth has slowed down, they will start to "optimize", starting with payroll especially. Lack of housing / unaffordable housing will drive up costs across the board for everything eventually.

Other cities do not serve as a good model for what we're experiencing right now. Because in all of those cases, new housing was built to match the commercial/industrial expansion. Employers worked with the cities to make the move attractive and affordable. Mountain View is not doing this.

We're piling in more jobs (theoretically, anyway) to a severely constrained housing market.

Anybody who gets on council needs to figure a way out of this. And it has to be done in a manner befitting the quantitative nature of the people who already live & work here, not using some other city as a template.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2014 at 9:21 pm

Balanced growth is good, find the right right balance jobs and housing is needed. I keep saying mixed uses are good, so is different kind of housing, high, medium and in between.

The bay area is on job creation boom, housing is in short supply and I keep hearing it should go to Oakland. You know how many times I have read comments on that is should go to Oakland? How many times I have heard it should go to Oakland? East Bay, San Francisco, South Bay, Marin and elsewhere is should all go to Oakland, like Oakland is full of vacant land.

Thousand up thousands of jobs, new jobs, but the housing haven't kept pace with all the people that have moved here. It has kept pace for 20 years, we don't have vacant land that can built large scale housing projects unless you build over 50, 60 or even 70 miles away. High density cities in central valley makes sense but we can't even built high speed rail to support the commuter network. Our high ways system can't be expanded due to the lack of funds or the stomach to hurry up and build.

We want our jobs, we want our standard our living, we want our water, we want our food, want clean air, and soon we are going to complain because going to the Tahoe will be a nighmare


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Enoungh Already
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 31, 2014 at 6:32 pm

The more population density, the lower the air quality.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Enoungh Already
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 31, 2014 at 6:32 pm

The more population density, the lower the air quality.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Evan Kroske
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 9, 2014 at 7:39 pm

Lenny Siegel's campaign website:
Web Link


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