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Funds for schools or jobs downtown?

Original post made on Jan 12, 2011

Some City Council members would like to subsidize a grocery store downtown, but Gov. Jerry Brown's budget, announced Monday, might pose a problem for that.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, January 12, 2011, 4:01 PM

Comments (19)

Posted by localmom, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 12, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Wow I had no idea $5 million/year was diverted to the Shoreline "special tax district" from the schools! Get rid of that boondoggle ASAP! As if Google needs our kids' school lunch money! Outrageous.

Posted by Ned, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 13, 2011 at 7:10 am


Actually, it's the city that needs the money to pay for the generous retirement packages for those very same city administrators who help engineer it. Let's not blame Google for everything. That's the kind of distraction they're hoping for.

Posted by localmom, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 13, 2011 at 7:13 am

Good point Ned! I'm certainly not blaming Google for supping at the trough, it is the Council which fills the trough! I assume it's for kudos from the Big Corps who run the Valley, as little elementary school kids don't vote...

Posted by Old Ben, a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 13, 2011 at 9:08 am

Putting a grocery store downtown is one of the stupidest ideas I've ever heard. It's a surefire path to total gridlock.

Posted by Mike Laursen, a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 13, 2011 at 12:41 pm

There already IS a grocery store downtown. It's unfair to them to subsidize a competitor.

Posted by Mike Laursen, a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 13, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Please, let's get rid of all the redevelopment agencies. They have always done more harm than good.

Posted by phm, a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 13, 2011 at 2:57 pm

MVV, thanks for this article that makes the issue of redevelopment agencies clearer. I think Jerry Brown learned from his years as Oakland mayor. As high-density housing is built near downtown, maybe a supermarket will be motivated to locate there without government subsidies.

Posted by OMV resident, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 13, 2011 at 2:59 pm

@Mike Laursen's comment that redevelopment agencies "have always done more harm than good" -- I suppose Mountain View's downtown RDA, which helped transform Castro Street from a dying strip to an attractive community asset, did more harm than good? And I suppose the increase in the assessed value of downtown property from $22 million in 1969 to $418 million last year should just be dismissed? Even though the tax revenue in the immediate downtown area has been kept in the RDA for use downtown, the transformation of Castro Street has certainly helped the property values of adjacent neighborhoods, which are not in the redevelopment district. That extra tax revenue helps our schools and city services.

@Old Ben - What evidence do you have that a new grocery store downtown would lead to "total gridlock"? This is the same kind of "the sky is falling" logic that people surely tossed around when the city decided to change Castro Street from 4 lanes to 2 lanes in the late 1980s... And look what we have now - a more attractive street that functions better for everyone, not just cars trying to zip through downtown as fast as possible.

Posted by PaulC, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 13, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Mike Laursen beat me to this comment. Mountain View downtown has had an Asian market for years. This isn't the first time I've heard the clearly false claim that there is "no" downtown grocery store, including a councilperson quoted in the Mountain View voice months back.

Opinions can differ on the merits of Mountain View Market. I don't think it's all that great, but it certainly serves the purpose of a grocery store. You could buy all your food there and maintain a healthy, balanced diet. You could do it without even eating primarily Asian cuisine. To carry on a discussion about a "grocery store" without at least explaining first why Mountain View Market doesn't count is almost inexplicable. Is it cultural bias? That's hard to believe given local demographics. Maybe some of our council members have never ventured down Castro street on foot? I almost find that explanation more likely.

FWIW, I have no disagreement in principle with redevelopment aimed at putting supermarkets in under-served neighborhoods, but I don't see any reason for it in downtown Mountain View, and there are definitely much higher priorities.

Posted by PaulC, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 13, 2011 at 3:36 pm

I think the gridlock prediction is unlikely because any store capable of causing gridlock would not need to be subsidized in the first place. Supermarkets can fail by the way. The Albertsons/Lucky in San Antonio shopping center was eventually closed, though it struck me as more modern and better stocked than the nearby Safeway.

To add to my above comments, there is also a Safeway at Bailey Park shopping center, less than a mile away from Castro Street. Caltrain and Central Expressway make the walk more difficult, but this would not be a bad place for a pedestrian overpass (I'm not an urban planner so maybe I'm wrong). Any new downtown supermarket would most likely be taking customers from other stores. Maybe there is some particular store some councilperson wants. I doubt a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's would work out very well, since there are already some a short drive away.

The main thing is that Mountain View downtown is not under-served. I've lived in urban areas that really could use a grocery store or a cleaner, better one, but we're not talking about buying Cheetos and malt liquor at the corner bodega here. You could live in downtown Mountain View without a car and prepare a variety of healthy dinners on a daily basis. There are more exciting places to live but I honestly think it is already about as successful a downtown as one could reasonably hope given the size of the city.

Posted by eric, a resident of another community
on Jan 13, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Every time the Special Tax District is discussed, the same misconception pops up. Google and other Shoreline businesses do NOT benefit. The real estate developers that own their buildings do NOT benefit. They pay the same property taxes that they would across the freeway. The tax district is a massive boondoggle that buys golf carts and makes sure that there is never a dead flower for 20 seconds on any median strip around Shoreline. Ever seen a pothole near the golf course?

The tax district has to go. Schools, not golf carts!

Posted by eric, a resident of another community
on Jan 13, 2011 at 4:14 pm

On the subject of the grocery store- I assume that any council person who lives in downtown will recuse themselves, right?

Posted by Voting for Schools, a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jan 13, 2011 at 6:55 pm

@OMV resident "the transformation of Castro Street has certainly helped the property values of adjacent neighborhoods,"

Just compare property values in Mountain View between the LASD and the MVWD districts, better schools would likely do even more for these property values.

Posted by Ned, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 13, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Right on target. Better schools equal higher property values.

Posted by vfree, a resident of Waverly Park
on Jan 14, 2011 at 2:39 pm

The last thing we need is more money for schools that can't teach kids anything. Public schools are nothing more than a retirement boondogle for the staff. Any additional funds for schools needs to be matched by reductions in pension plan benefits.

With respects to the grocery store downtown; if a store had any chance of turning a profit downtown, it would not need tax payers money to fund it.

Posted by garrett, a resident of another community
on Jan 16, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I have been reading about doing away with the RDA's, why can't some of the money be set aside to the schools. It seems the issue is not the RDA's it is cut cut cut and no one wants taxes inreased, pensions can be reformed, but the problem schools, state, counties and cities are not like the private sector, they can't rasie prices or they can just lay off people and relocate overseas. One day maybe 911 dispatch will be in India, Fire and Police will be temp workers, merge Los Altos, Palo Alto, Mountain View and make one big city, no penions or no medical or plans. We are want our services but do we want to pay for them.

Posted by MV, a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 17, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Looks like the council is causing more harm than good to the city of mountain view. It wants to build 100s of apartments and stores. While closing the schools and not taking any action as they get worse every year.

Posted by connie, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 19, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Don't be fooled. Yes, the public sector is doing better than the private sector and that's totally backwards. But the answer is not to attack the public sector. They make peanuts compared to the billions that corporations are legally, but unfairly taking away from American citizens. They don't even pay their share of property taxes in California thanks to prop 13. We give corporations tax shelters and they use that support to create jobs in other countries. When our country was at its greatest, the richest Americans were taxed at 60-90% and that money went to public schools and infrastructure. It was understood that the Americans who benefited the most from American infrastructure should contribute back the most to the American people. What happened to that virtuous cycle? The irony is that the rest of the world watched us and learned how to invest in schools and infrastructure for their people. And then there's us. BTW, my daughter goes to our local public school where every kid in kindergarten is doing book reports. Simply amazing, so I still have hope.

Posted by Mike Laursen, a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 31, 2011 at 12:25 pm

OMV, you're assuming that none of the enrichment/gentrification of downtown could have happened without a redevelopment agency. Seems like a lot of it would have happened anyway, purely as a side effect of our city becoming a major center of high-tech.

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