Issue date: October 06, 2000
Stasek runs on experience
Stasek runs on experience
(October 06, 2000)
Council member would like to boost home ownership opportunities
By Jaime Bloss
Rosemary Stasek, current mayor of Mountain View, feels her record speaks for itself as she seeks reelection to the city council. Proud of her decisions as a council member, she welcomes voters to peruse her voting record on her campaign Web site to see exactly where she stands on issues. She vows to continue her hard work if voted in for a second term.
Stasek, 37, is originally from northern Pennsylvania. She graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor's degree in economics and now works as a web developer. For six years, she taught computing classes at DeAnza Community College.
Stasek became involved in local government after working for eight years as a pro-choice activist in Southern California, where she lobbied leaders at the federal and state level. After she moved to Northern California, she was appointed to the board of Planned Parenthood for Mar Monte, which covers the Mountain View area.
"What struck me as I got more involved at the local level was the extent to which you could have an impact locally and also the desire to change from being an activist to someone who had some ability to implement change or advocate change in a different way," Stasek said.
She sees affordable housing as Mountain View's most pressing issue right now.
In the its efforts over the past four years, she noted that the council has sought to address the problem for people across the economic spectrum.
When Stasek was first elected to office, the council helped prevent subsidized apartment complexes from reverting to market rate. The complexes are now run by the Mid-Peninsula Housing Coalition and are not in danger of becoming market rate, she said.
The council's next housing project, the below-market-rate ordinance, "targeted more of a middle-income group of folks who were able to own their own home, but not in this market," Stasek, adding that the priority given to public safety employees who work in Mountain View was also important.
The efficiency studios now under consideration are intended for very low-income people, for whom "the choice of housing is that or a shelter." "I'm pleased that we're making progress and seem to have a financing plan in place for that, so we'll be looking at trying to address all segments of the market," she said.
If reelected to the city council, Stasek would like to increase housing ownership opportunities in Mountain View.
"We are 66 percent rentals, which is exactly the flip ratio of all of the surrounding communities," Stasek commented. She tried to increase ownership opportunities during her tenure on the council.
When the developer of the Crossings condominiums at the San Antonio Loop had trouble financing a combination of rental and ownership units, it wanted to convert it to all rental units.
"I was the one on council that purported the idea that no, if we're going to go one way or the other, we should go ownership because there just aren't enough opportunities for people to own a place in Mountain View at a really wide range of price points," Stasek said. There are many single-family ownership opportunities, she said, but not for people who would like to own a townhouse or a condominium.
High density is an option for Stasek, but only in certain situations.
"I certainly have supported increasing densities along transit and . . . I have supported increasing density in a lot of the in-fill development, where we've removed two houses and now we're putting in nine. It's not the density, it's where is it located and what are we seeking to get out of the density?" she said.
Stasek opposed the building of the Skyview complex, consisting of twin 11-story towers, for several reasons.
"It wasn't near transit and there wasn't going to be any realistic opportunity for the people who live there to easily use transit," she said. The fact that the complex is on a major bus line didn't sway Stasek's feelings on the project. "These are being marketed as luxury apartments. . . I think it's a pretty well accepted fact that people who live in $3000 a month apartments don't take the bus. It's not a form of transit they're going to use," she said.
Stasek, extremely proud of the council's accomplishments during her incumbency, believes domestic partner benefits for city employee was a major victory. "For me, it was just one of those basic fairness issues," she said.
She's also happy with the city's achievements in public works, such as the choice of the Toad Hall sculpture for Pioneer Park and the construction of the library, the parks, and the trail systems.
Stasek, who believes that affordable housing is a transportation issue, supports the VTA's ballot measure to extend BART, which, she pointed out, would reach to the city of Santa Clara.
"It puts a BART station within about eight miles of most people in Mountain View," she explained. "By bringing it here, we bring BART to within something that is realistic that people might use. The reality is that most people would drive the eight miles to get there. But the fact that it is going to be at the Caltrain station means that people could get on the Caltrain in Mountain View, ride it a few stops to BART, and then have access to the whole BART system."
She also noted that because it runs along a separated grade, BART, unlike CalTrain, is the region's only true option for rapid transit.
Stasek supports NASA's plans to redevelop Moffett Field, which she feels line up with the Community Advisory Commission's vision for the site.
"It makes sense to leverage the intellectual capital that is at NASA by bringing in university facilities and research facilities," she said.
Stasek nonetheless fears the housing problems that could arise from bringing "thousands and thousands of jobs into Moffett" and said the city will strongly advocate that housing be built there.
"The land is there," Stasek said, "They just have to decide that it's something that needs to be done."
Grassroots groups are a source of ideas for Stasek in looking for solutions to the community's problems, she said.
"When I have an issue, my initial reaction is to talk to people in the community who are organized around an issue or who just have real knowledge about the issue and say, 'Start giving me some ideas,'" she said.
A major challenge the city will face over the next four years is maintaining the level of service that residents have come to expect, even as revenues decline.
"Over my term, we have been really blessed with a strong city budget, and that's about to end. The other issue is going to be how are we going to balance development and housing when we come out of this boom, because all booms end," she said. "When this boom ends, are we going to have a community that we're all going to still want to live in 15 years from now? My concern has always been that we not build a community that isn't sustainable. When the housing market cools off, are we building housing that people will still want to live in?"
Stasek feels the days of sales tax are "numbered" and are therefore a poor basis for long-term decision-making.
"For me, the solution to the fiscal bind that cities are in -- and it's not only sales tax; it's propositions like 13 and 218, which basically take away municipalities' realistic ability to raise revenues -- is to let people know the reason these services are being cut back is because Sacramento keeps taking all of your property tax, because the federal government keeps eliminating things we could charge sales tax on."
Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Assemblywoman Elaine Alquist, and County Supervisor Joe Simitian are just some of Stasek's endorsers.
Stasek stresses the hard work she has put into governance, from which she has found a threefold reward.
"I can't be an expert on every technical issue and that's where I have to trust staff's technical judgment, but I feel like I have enough technical knowledge about these topics to be able to relate it to the community interest," she commented. "All it takes is time and energy, and I've tried to bring both to this job in really large quantities."
To find out more about city council candidate Rosemary Stasek, visit her Web site at www.stasek.com.