At the Sept. 27 meeting, the Mountain View City Council unanimously gave the green light for one of the city's largest apartment projects to be built directly across the street from the rapidly expanding San Antonio shopping center. The project at 400 San Antonio Road would construct two, five-story apartment buildings and a seven-story building that would bring a combined 583 new housing units into one of the city's bustling commercial areas.
The project by Prometheus Real Estate Group was warmly received by council members, who lauded the development's significant community-benefit funding and its efforts to create minimal traffic.
"This is exactly the kind of development we need in Mountain View," said Councilman Lenny Siegel.
The project has been in the city's development pipeline for about three years as a so-called gatekeeper project that needed special exemptions from the city's precise plan for the neighborhood. City planners pointed out that the exemptions needed for this project were minimal, including bonus height and floor-area, which they recommended granting.
"We've worked diligently with staff to make sure we stay with the vision of the San Antonio Precise Plan," said Nate Tuttle, Prometheus vice president. "It wasn't easy with a development this large."
Prometheus' development would be built at a 5.7-acre space formerly occupied by low-density commercial, office and industrial buildings with large parking lots. One former tenant, Masa Sushi, would be welcome to reopen at the new site's ground floor commercial space, Tuttle said, pointing out that lease terms were still being negotiated.
Music to the ears of council members, the apartment project would include 48 below-market homes, which would be offered for about $1,000 a month for a one-bedroom or $1,200 for a two-bedroom unit. Prometheus' project also would provide more than $24 million in parkland dedication fees and $5 million in public benefit funding.
Even before voting on the project, city officials traded some ideas for how that community benefit money could best be used. City planners urged the council to set aside $500,000 to go to the Community Services Agency to help provide homeless aid. That issue is particularly germane for the San Antonio neighborhood because a large number of car-campers regularly park just a few blocks away, near Latham Street.
Superintendent Jeff Baier of the Los Altos School District urged the council to direct some of that money toward a new site for a future school campus. Over recent months, Baier has repeatedly warned Mountain View officials that the city's push for new housing is creating a growing enrollment problem for the district. Thanks to a 2014 general-obligation bond, the LASD school district is holding about $150 million intended for a new school, but the district is still in the process of working to acquire a suitable property.
Baier told council members the district currently had two "active" sites under consideration with a third property that was "potential."
While council members signaled support for the school district, some expressed caution on committing funding to a project that could remain a long way off. Mountain View could be devoting this money immediately toward improving safer routes to schools or solving other problems, said Councilman Chris Clark.
Councilman John Inks went further, saying the city didn't have an obligation to help the school district, where 27 percent of the enrollment is Mountain View residents.
"Not to spite the school district, but the voters approved a bond, and the school district is coming back to voters for (a parcel tax)," he said. "We're being generous to the school district if we (give money) when the taxpayers are already paying for it."
The council approved the project in a 7-0 vote.
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