Council moves forward with 51 affordable studios


Members of the City Council voted to continue the planning of a $9.3 million affordable housing project Tuesday that will displace 48 low-income residents and two popular taquerias at the corner of Rengstorff Avenue and Old Middlefield Way.

Council members voted 6-0 to move forward with the project, with Mayor Mike Kasperzak absent.

City officials say the city attorney's office has spent many hours dealing with the existing building's numerous code violations, and a court order that could slowly empty the building is expected soon.

"We've got to fix it, and to me the easiest way to fix it is to go to another project that is compliant," said council member Tom Means. "My feeling is we just move ahead and get this to be a better site. It gets rid of a headache to some extent."

The 1940s building known to house La Costena and La Bamba taquerias would make way for 51 studios above a 2,700 square-foot-retail space developed by ROEM and Eden Housing, the same developer building 51 affordable family homes on Evelyn Avenue at Franklin Street.

The studios would be rented to those making between $21,800 and $32,625 a year, with rents ranging from $521 to $793 a month. Up to two people can rent a studio, and city planners estimate 57 tenants based on occupancy rates of similar projects.

Building owner Charles Gardyn had initially promised that the building's existing tenants could return to the redeveloped building, but it was revealed at the meeting that the retail space would be only 2,700 square feet, and La Costena taqueria and market alone now occupies 3,500 square feet. Council members said they hoped that at least two of the five existing businesses in the building would be able to move back into the building.

The city will spend $744,000 relocating existing residential tenants from the building, which could be demolished early next year, at the earliest. City staff members had originally expected to pay $500,000, but learned that 48 people were living in the 10 existing units.

The council gave an initial green light to the project in November, allowing the developer to spend less than a third of the $9.3 million in city housing funds allocated for the project until a better design for parking could be worked out. There were still concerns about the large size of the parking lot, which provides .75 of a space per unit. A survey of similar studio projects found parking use at .57 spaces per unit, while city planners recommended .62 to compensate because of a lack of access to transit.

"I'll join the rest of council with something of a heavy heart," said council member Ronit Bryant. "Spending a lot of money on this project using half the lot for parking doesn't sit well with me. And moving successful businesses is something I'd much rather not do. However I have enormous respect for ROEM and Eden Housing. I believe the final project will be a good project."


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Posted by Nick
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 18, 2012 at 10:54 am

Why are we spending $744k to relocate 10 units? That's nearly $75k/each to move?

Do we verify citizenship or green card?

What's the gain here for Mountain View? Sounds like we lose a couple of good burrito joints and $744k? For what?

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Posted by O-Be-One
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 18, 2012 at 2:11 pm


Welcome the imaginery world of government where what is "up" is called "progress" and "down" is also called "progress" so that no one knows what's really going on except the lucky few who get subsidized housing by the rest of us paying just that much more. This is the "Hope and Change" at work in our backyard while I struggle...

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Posted by George
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 18, 2012 at 2:34 pm

I could almost just say "DITTO" to the above two comments... OMG, $75,000 EACH,just to move 48 "poor" people.Once again, "YOUR" City Council at work... How friggen disconnected from the real world can they be ?

Check the Campaign Contributions to the City Fathers/Mothers.

It's all ok tho,,, it is only MONEY. (ours)

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Posted by Steve
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm

There is so much wrong with this, I can't even begin. $744K to relocate 48 people... give me the $15,500.00, I'll get out of Mtn View myself.

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Posted by Sabrina
a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 18, 2012 at 2:38 pm

No! Taqueria La Bamba must stay!!

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Posted by kman
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 18, 2012 at 4:36 pm

57 units with each having 2 people, you have to be kidding, expect more like 4 people in each. With min 2 cars in each unit, that's over 100 cars. There is no room for 100+ cars to park there.

Right now this intersection is a mess, especially with people trying to get to the taco places and cutting off the drivers wanting to turn left onto Rengstorff.

Why are we building Sardine houses? Even a 20 unit complex would be more then the place can handle.

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Posted by hard working citizen
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 18, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Let me explain Socialism. Work harder because people on welfare (and subsidized housing) need YOUR money.

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Posted by reader
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 18, 2012 at 6:29 pm

I'm no good at math, but are we talking about spending $75,000 to relocate a family whose total annual income per year is maybe 1/4 to 1/2 that amount?

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Posted by rem
a resident of another community
on Jun 18, 2012 at 7:33 pm

rem is a registered user.

City Council needs to learn how to say NO - NO - NO just like they did with the San Antonio/el camo project and the California/San Antonio mess.

Oh well money SPEAKS... Between Palo Alto and Mountain View I wonder who is the BIGGEST Butcher.

Fix wwhat we have DO NOT BUILD SOME NEW STUFF>

OH by the way that is 750K to relocate the people and business - THAT IS $750,000.00. Not 75k i.e., $75,000.00 - paragraph eight!!!!!

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Posted by Nick
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 18, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Ok, glad to see I'm not alone -- I thought I must have miscalculated.

Does anyone know what the $74.4k per unit for "moving expenses" is used for? It should cost less than $1,000 to move such a small apartment. (ignoring the question of why the City should even pay to move people at all; if the building is in terrible disrepair and not up to code, the landlord should be responsible, not the city)

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Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 19, 2012 at 6:54 am

$750,000 in moving costs comes to approximately $10 per resident of Mountain View, children NOT excluded! My family of 4 will have to pony up $40!

What if one of these apartments is made up of two adult parents with three minor children with very little furniture? The city still counts them as five separate tenants and not one?

Instead, the city should give these 50 residents six months notice to move and to submit their receipts for moving expenses for reimbursement not to exceed $500-1000. This would be based on per unit (10 units) so the cost would not exceed $10,000 at most. BTW proof of legal immigration status should be required for reimbursements.

My bet is that there will be 100 people living there by the time checks are written.

But all this begs the question why the owner of the building should not have to pay for the 50 people to move given he or she has been collecting rent from them while they live in apartments full of code violations.

Oh wait... I'm making too much sense and using too much logic here....

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Posted by Hmmm...
a resident of another community
on Jun 19, 2012 at 11:28 am

Hmmm...I don't think the voice is providing all the facts about this situation. I would imagine the owner has been fined over and over again over for years of multiple code violations. That money has gone into some redevelopment fund which the city is making a modest amount of interest on. With that being said, I believe $744,000 is to much regardless of what fines or additional monies the owner has paid. If the owner was flipping the entire bill ( which he obviously is not ) it is to much. Socialism is going to kill this city and this country! "As long as the government is willing to give, people will take regardless of the need."

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Posted by Greg Perry
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 20, 2012 at 10:11 am

9.3 million dollars to give housing to 57 people and take a home away from 48.

At the end of it, 9 more people will have a home, at a cost of a million dollars each.

At that rate, the city would need 30 billion dollars to solve our part of the housing shortage. This is more about feeling good about ourselves than actually solving the problem.

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Posted by Sydl
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jun 20, 2012 at 12:17 pm

This is absolutely ridiculous. If I get kicked out of my house, no one is going to pay for my relocation.

Instead of simply writing comments on this site, people should email the council members with their complaints and then vote the next time these people come up for re-election. The only thing politicians really care about is getting re-elected. The councils will hear from me. I hope they will hear from you too. That's the only way things will change.

Web Link

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Posted by John
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 20, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Completely insane!

Try getting neighborhood improvements or traffic mitigation, not enough money. Guess we didn't pay enough in "campaign" funds.

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Posted by Greg David
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 20, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Socialism is a perfect system....

Until you run out of other people's money.....

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Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 20, 2012 at 10:56 pm

I once lived in a house I did not own. The owner decided he wanted to sell it. I had to move.

No one paid my moving expenses. I didn't want to move.

Was it my fault I could afford to move? I guess I'm the fool. I need to quit my job and move-in to an apartment over a taqueria and then report all the code violations.

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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2012 at 1:03 pm

I like getting my fix of burritos, tacos and the yummy food at this corner. While I'm at low income level which I don't seek a free ride or live off the public dime. I don't anything wrong with building which people like me could afford. Who am I, was born, rasied in Mtn View, native of Ca. Went to your schools, worked in your businesses, got married to local girl. Would love to retire in the area but mostly will not happen.

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Posted by Burrito lover
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 21, 2012 at 9:57 pm

What a shame. The business that exist there today are popular and successful. It seems like such a waste of money and effort. Since this is just at the planning phase, is there any good way to oppose this? It's pathetic for successful businesses to be punished like this.

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Posted by Frank
a resident of North Whisman
on Jun 22, 2012 at 10:34 am

La Bamba knew this was coming. You all do know they opened a new location a block or so down the street at Rengstorff and Middle field a few months ago? So, La Bam a is not hurting. I surmise they had (have) several code violations that were too costly to repair. They've been hanging in there, just playing the City until the City finally had enough. I surmise La Castena is in the same are the apartments. Come on, it's the same building owner, right?

That being said, I also agree with the other comments about the exuberant cost to relocate the units that are there. Wow! Totally absurd! What makes it sting even more is the fact that it was just thrown out there at us. What's the rationale for paying relocation expenses? As several people wrote, they were forced to move and had to pay their own moving expenses.

This is not good. :( I will do as one person suggested and complain to City Council about this issue. Just sad,

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Posted by John
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 22, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Does this mean the city attorney's office will lay off staff now that there won't be "violations" to enforce.

Don't think so.

Staff will just look around for some more "violations" and regrettably force other businesses out for "affordable" housing.

Why is the government in the business of affordable housing anyway?

Ask yourselves that as you sit in traffic around the Central slowway, Moffet, El Camino. And of course all these council people will be re elected. The middle class neighborhoods are powerless and unrepresented.

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Posted by John
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 24, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Love the math-$9.3 million affordable housing project Tuesday that will displace 48 low-income residents and two popular taquerias at the corner of Rengstorff Avenue and Old Middlefield Way.

9.3 million for a net increase of 3 people who can afford to live there.

Since I see that no one is commenting and it's a done deal, the city council is getting away with this stupidity and will continue to do so.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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