Mountain's View's upcoming City Council election just got more competitive: Planning Commissioner Lisa Matichak said she intends to file her first official documents late this week to run for one of four open seats in November.
Returning for another try after an unsuccessful 2014 campaign, Matichak, 59, said she believes her platform of quality-of-life issues and balanced growth will find new resonance with voters at a time when Mountain View is undergoing rapid change. At the top of her priority list is preserving Mountain View's "second to none" status as a pleasant place for residents, meaning ample parks, limited traffic and development that is more rigorously scrutinized.
"I'm running because I really care about Mountain View and I'm passionate about making it a great place to live," she said. "The city is growing and evolving, but we can't lose sight of what makes it a great place to live."
This could be seen as a pivotal time for Mountain View, as city officials promote housing growth, especially in the heart of the North Bayshore tech center, in an attempt to mitigate what many describe as a severe jobs-housing imbalance. But while the city's development is surging, many residents say the local housing market has become increasingly inhospitable for those with modest incomes. Average housing rental prices have gone up by 50 percent on average in the last five years.
During the 2014 election, Matichak opposed housing growth in the North Bayshore over concerns it could harm the baylands wildlife habitat. But today she acknowledges her stance wasn't shared by voters. If elected to the council, she says she would now work to implement the city's vision to create a new 10,000-home neighborhood in North Bayshore. She said her priority is to ensure the area is properly planned, with enough services such as a grocery store, shops and possibly a school.
"What's important to me is that (North Bayshore) is a complete community, that people who live there can satisfy their daily needs without getting in a car to go over Highway 101," she said. "We would need a score of services."
Matichak is more ambivalent as to what to do about the current rental crisis. She said she is doubtful about the effectiveness of the City Council's solution, a non-binding mediation program for disputes between tenants and landlords. Yet she is also opposed to the rigid restrictions being brought forward in a November rent control measure that would basically tie rent increases to the local Consumer Price Index.
"I'm not convinced (this measure) is a great solution; it would distort the market," she said. "But we'll see what the residents think in November, and I'll respect that outcome."
So what would her solution be? Lacking any "easy" solutions, Matichak says the city should lend more support to the local safety net of charities and nonprofits that aid distressed families. She believes the city's hot housing market will eventually cool off and prices will stabilize.
In the last election, Matichak was described as an opponent to housing growth, but she disputes that characterization. She says her priority is for Mountain View to have "quality" development that doesn't detract from the well-being of current residents. New housing needs to have attractive design, provide ample parking and provide residents enough space for privacy, she says. Echoing a theme from her last campaign, she is again pushing for more public parks to serve the Rengstorff, Sylvan Park and San Antonio neighborhoods.
Asked what development she opposes, she singled out the San Antonio shopping center, a massive project to rebuild the strip mall into a mixed-use campus with commercial, office and residential space. As a planning commissioner who reviewed the project, Matichak believes offices should have never been permitted on the site.
Matichak is a tech marketing executive for the cyber-security firm Bromium. Her entree into local politics came about a decade ago when she became president of the Wagon Wheel Neighborhood Association. For the last six years, she had served on the city's Environmental Planning Commission.
With Matichak entering the contest, the City Council race now has six candidates competing for four seats in November. The other candidates are Parks and Recreation Commissioner Thida Cornes, former Councilwoman Margaret Abe-Koga, Human Relations Commissioner Lucas Ramirez, and incumbent council members John McAlister and Chris Clark. Based on the city's term-limit rules, current council members John Inks and Mike Kasperzak are ineligible to run for reelection this November.