Council needs to quash eviction noticeUnlike many similar-sized communities across the country, Mountain View is flourishing, in large part due to the growth of Google and its voracious appetite for commercial office space. But if you are not Google, you better think twice before making plans to locate a small business in the city, where rents are rising rapidly for commercial and residential property.
That is why it makes no sense for the City Council to evict 17 Mora Drive businesses from an office park to make way for a 5-acre housing subdivision that undoubtedly will force some of the firms to go out of business.
The issue came to light last week when a broker for the property asked the council to extend by 18 months the April 2012 eviction date of the 17 companies, a condition of a 25-year-old deal with the city. Now some of the businesses, including long-time tenant Simon Printing, say if they have to relocate by April they will go out of business.
Some council members, including Tom Means and Margaret Abe-Koga, were not sympathetic when a property broker asked the council to at least grant an 18-month extension — about the amount of time it would take for a developer to draw up plans and get them approved. In our view, this is a no-brainer decision that the council should immediately consider.
Mayor Jac Siegel had it right when he said at the meeting: "To give more time here, I don't think anybody is losing anything. I don't see the downside, I really don't."
Laura Macias' comments also were right on the mark: "We talk a lot about supporting small business and here we have Mora Drive. It just seems to me that perhaps we don't need to rush into building yet another apartment complex. If we have some small businesses there, maybe we should allow those small businesses to continue to have employees and to live their lives. I'm willing to hold off on Mora Drive. It's not like we can't find anywhere else to build apartments."
Over the years, Mountain View has approved hundreds of housing projects and has plenty in the pipeline now. What it does not have are an abundance of decent-paying jobs outside of Google that are held by working people with families who could very well be on the street if their business is forced to move. And for what? To build another massive apartment building in a neighborhood that has long been accustomed to the commercial activity on Mora Drive.
On this one, Siegel and Macias have it totally right. Despite a rezoning plan made 25 years ago that mandates a move by April 2012, the city should issue a reprieve to the 17 Mora Drive businesses, perhaps for another 10 or 20 years. It makes no sense to root up these firms who have been good tenants just to build another apartment building.