News

Council backs cross-city housing plans

New policy would open the door for cities to 'trade' obligations to build units

In the latest move to increase housing growth in the region, city leaders throughout Santa Clara County are looking at a new strategy, opening the door to cross-city housing development and the ability to "trade" the obligation to build new homes in exchange for money and resources.

Over the last two years, members of the Cities Association of Santa Clara County have been considering what's called a "RHNA subregion," which would empower local elected officials to alter how much housing each city is asked to build in order to keep up with job and population growth. Mountain View City Council members voted 5-1 in favor of the idea Tuesday night, with Mayor Lenny Siegel opposed and John McAlister absent.

The latest RHNA -- short for Regional Housing Needs Allocation -- states that Santa Clara County needs to generate just over 58,000 housing units between 2015 and 2023 to keep pace with projected growth. Under the current framework, each city is given a share of that number through a complex algorithm. It's an uphill battle for cities trying to contest the allocation. Creating a subregion would mean more flexibility for cities to essentially trade their housing obligations, with the ultimate goal of creating more housing across the county.

"The idea behind this was to just provide another tool in everyone's toolkit to improve the amount of housing that could be built, particularly affordable housing, because it allows you to 'trade' some of your numbers," said Councilwoman Pat Showalter, who served on the committee proposing the idea.

"We hope it would be a way of getting more affordable housing," she said.

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The idea has received a warm reception from 11 cities in the county -- Mountain View now included -- while the cities of Milpitas, Palo Alto and Sunnyvale have yet to officially weigh in. On paper, the subregion could mean better cross-city planning along transit corridors or near employment centers, bigger housing developments that take advantage of economies of scale and a greater ability to put housing near existing services.

It could also lead to cities opposed to housing growth shirking their responsibility to build housing, particularly in jurisdictions with a groundswell of opposition to development. Mayor Siegel said he was skeptical of the idea, which he said looks like a time sink that would lead to neighboring cities pushing their responsibility for housing growth onto Mountain View.

"All I can see coming out of this is other cities trying to get Mountain View to build housing that they're obligated to build," he said.

That's unlikely to happen, argued Los Gatos Town Manager Laurel Prevetti, who serves an administrative role on the cities association subregion task force. Under the current vision for the subregion, each city would have an elected official representing its interests, along with a representative from the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors who could weigh in on all major decisions. Prevetti said the ground rules would be that no city would have to unwillingly accept a higher allocation of housing.

So could a neighboring city like Los Altos or Palo Alto 'dump' its housing growth into Mountain View? Technically it could happen, but Prevetti said she doubts Mountain View's council members would agree to the deal, regardless of how many resources would come with it.

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"I don't think the receiving city would put up with it, frankly," she said. "I just don't think a receiving city is going to support any dumping of allocations."

The goal is to get city councils across all 15 cities as well as the county to sign on to the subgroup idea -- at least in concept -- before moving forward with a more concrete plan. Prevetti said it's not a problem if one or two smaller cities decide to reject the subregion.

"The deal-breaker jurisdiction is the county," she said. "If all 15 cities say, 'yeah, we want to do this,' but Santa Clara County doesn't, then that's the deal killer."

Although the purported goal of the subregion would be to help cities meet regional housing needs, Mountain View doesn't need any help. The city is on track to exceed its housing needs allocation and is expected to outperform other Santa Clara County cities in establishing more deed-restricted affordable housing as well. Showalter told the Voice that creating a subregion would likely give greater benefits to low-growth cities in the area seeking to fulfill their housing allocation through alternate means.

"Some (cities) have money, and they would be willing to spend and get the political will to contribute money to build what they can't get built locally," she said.

Prevetti cautioned that creating a subregion may set the groundwork for more housing growth, but it doesn't guarantee it will get built. The Bay Area is still subject to market forces, and it will be up to local developers to come forward with projects.

"I think if we can work together and do a subregion, that's a great first step," she said. "But whether it's going to give us 20 percent more housing -- I think that's fundamentally more (up to) market economics."

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Council backs cross-city housing plans

New policy would open the door for cities to 'trade' obligations to build units

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Tue, Oct 2, 2018, 9:55 am

In the latest move to increase housing growth in the region, city leaders throughout Santa Clara County are looking at a new strategy, opening the door to cross-city housing development and the ability to "trade" the obligation to build new homes in exchange for money and resources.

Over the last two years, members of the Cities Association of Santa Clara County have been considering what's called a "RHNA subregion," which would empower local elected officials to alter how much housing each city is asked to build in order to keep up with job and population growth. Mountain View City Council members voted 5-1 in favor of the idea Tuesday night, with Mayor Lenny Siegel opposed and John McAlister absent.

The latest RHNA -- short for Regional Housing Needs Allocation -- states that Santa Clara County needs to generate just over 58,000 housing units between 2015 and 2023 to keep pace with projected growth. Under the current framework, each city is given a share of that number through a complex algorithm. It's an uphill battle for cities trying to contest the allocation. Creating a subregion would mean more flexibility for cities to essentially trade their housing obligations, with the ultimate goal of creating more housing across the county.

"The idea behind this was to just provide another tool in everyone's toolkit to improve the amount of housing that could be built, particularly affordable housing, because it allows you to 'trade' some of your numbers," said Councilwoman Pat Showalter, who served on the committee proposing the idea.

"We hope it would be a way of getting more affordable housing," she said.

The idea has received a warm reception from 11 cities in the county -- Mountain View now included -- while the cities of Milpitas, Palo Alto and Sunnyvale have yet to officially weigh in. On paper, the subregion could mean better cross-city planning along transit corridors or near employment centers, bigger housing developments that take advantage of economies of scale and a greater ability to put housing near existing services.

It could also lead to cities opposed to housing growth shirking their responsibility to build housing, particularly in jurisdictions with a groundswell of opposition to development. Mayor Siegel said he was skeptical of the idea, which he said looks like a time sink that would lead to neighboring cities pushing their responsibility for housing growth onto Mountain View.

"All I can see coming out of this is other cities trying to get Mountain View to build housing that they're obligated to build," he said.

That's unlikely to happen, argued Los Gatos Town Manager Laurel Prevetti, who serves an administrative role on the cities association subregion task force. Under the current vision for the subregion, each city would have an elected official representing its interests, along with a representative from the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors who could weigh in on all major decisions. Prevetti said the ground rules would be that no city would have to unwillingly accept a higher allocation of housing.

So could a neighboring city like Los Altos or Palo Alto 'dump' its housing growth into Mountain View? Technically it could happen, but Prevetti said she doubts Mountain View's council members would agree to the deal, regardless of how many resources would come with it.

"I don't think the receiving city would put up with it, frankly," she said. "I just don't think a receiving city is going to support any dumping of allocations."

The goal is to get city councils across all 15 cities as well as the county to sign on to the subgroup idea -- at least in concept -- before moving forward with a more concrete plan. Prevetti said it's not a problem if one or two smaller cities decide to reject the subregion.

"The deal-breaker jurisdiction is the county," she said. "If all 15 cities say, 'yeah, we want to do this,' but Santa Clara County doesn't, then that's the deal killer."

Although the purported goal of the subregion would be to help cities meet regional housing needs, Mountain View doesn't need any help. The city is on track to exceed its housing needs allocation and is expected to outperform other Santa Clara County cities in establishing more deed-restricted affordable housing as well. Showalter told the Voice that creating a subregion would likely give greater benefits to low-growth cities in the area seeking to fulfill their housing allocation through alternate means.

"Some (cities) have money, and they would be willing to spend and get the political will to contribute money to build what they can't get built locally," she said.

Prevetti cautioned that creating a subregion may set the groundwork for more housing growth, but it doesn't guarantee it will get built. The Bay Area is still subject to market forces, and it will be up to local developers to come forward with projects.

"I think if we can work together and do a subregion, that's a great first step," she said. "But whether it's going to give us 20 percent more housing -- I think that's fundamentally more (up to) market economics."

Comments

Old Time MV Resident
Old Mountain View
on Oct 2, 2018 at 12:20 pm
Old Time MV Resident , Old Mountain View
on Oct 2, 2018 at 12:20 pm
3 people like this

More housing is great, but we need more affordable housing, specifically someplace to care for and put the RV and vehicle dwellers that have a place to live.

To that end, Pat Showalter has been resistant to really help these people and her actions have directly led to MORE homelessness and more RVs in Mountain View.

Please do your part as a MV resident and VOTE OUT Showalter come November!



Growth
Sylvan Park
on Oct 2, 2018 at 2:11 pm
Growth, Sylvan Park
on Oct 2, 2018 at 2:11 pm
14 people like this

"more affordable housing"? With this rate MV will become the slums of Silicon Valley.


Longview
Registered user
another community
on Oct 2, 2018 at 3:05 pm
Longview, another community
Registered user
on Oct 2, 2018 at 3:05 pm
3 people like this

The most significant thing RV dwellers need is to not be "kicked out", and to not be made to be truly unsheltered homeless people.

There is a four person majority on the current council who oppose "kicking out" RV dwellers before the city has better options for where they should live.

I hope that majority is maintained, and inspires similar majorities in other cities. Thank you to Showalter, Siegel, Clark and Rosenberg.

Web Link


Step up Los Altos, it's about time
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2018 at 3:07 pm
Step up Los Altos, it's about time, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2018 at 3:07 pm
6 people like this

Los Altos will continue to push issues across the border and they have the money and the will to do so; RV Dwellers case in point (you won't find a single RV camping on Los Altos streets). As a recent Los Altospost on nextdoor stated, in reference to Los Altos parking downtown and tree removal, it's important to preserve the 'gracious nature' of Los Altos... give me a break, time to put on your big boy pants Los Altos, and take some responsibility for REGIONAL issues.


Greg
Stierlin Estates
on Oct 2, 2018 at 3:22 pm
Greg, Stierlin Estates
on Oct 2, 2018 at 3:22 pm
4 people like this


If you are going to make a chart of per capita housing creation, you should also include a graph of per capita office space creation.

Better yet, use the same scale for both, so it is easy to make a comparison.

Showing housing growth in isolation gives the misleading impression that we are making progress. The truth is, we have built far more office space than we have built housing.


MVFlyer
Monta Loma
on Oct 2, 2018 at 3:54 pm
MVFlyer, Monta Loma
on Oct 2, 2018 at 3:54 pm
7 people like this

Cupertino needs to play fair on this one too. They are perfectly fine putting up tons of office space (Apple Space Ship!) but it was like pulling teeth to get the city council and residents to buy into a mixed use community at the former Vallco shopping center. Residents there don't want more housing or affordable housing, which in effect puts more housing pressure on surrounding cities.


Vote For INKS
Blossom Valley
on Oct 2, 2018 at 10:04 pm
Vote For INKS, Blossom Valley
on Oct 2, 2018 at 10:04 pm
13 people like this

John Inks is the only candidate that has the economic market sense and integrity to make good on his push for dignified, quality housing.

That is why I whole heartedly support John Inks rather than the rest of the raise the fees and build slums crowd.


Elect dogs
Monta Loma
on Oct 3, 2018 at 4:46 am
Elect dogs, Monta Loma
on Oct 3, 2018 at 4:46 am
2 people like this

Inks was on the City Council for 8 years and accomplished what? Cities like Los Altos and Portola Valley have always played games to avoid adding housing. But who wants new multi-family housing next door? Build housing next to new office space where there is space - not between every house in every neighborhood. Unless you are talkin dog houses. Maybe regional governments could be established to require a lot more dog houses. I might be for that. The police dog association should form a political action committee and demand action on those dog houses.


Vote for those with an RV Plan
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2018 at 9:16 am
Vote for those with an RV Plan, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2018 at 9:16 am
4 people like this

That's the biggest single issue by a mile. It MUST be addressed by every candidate. If they say they need more time to look at the issue and such, FINE, say it out loud and to our faces so we know you won't do a thing.
I swear, every candidate who spells out their plan for getting the RVs off our street has my vote.


PA Resident
another community
on Oct 4, 2018 at 11:54 am
PA Resident, another community
on Oct 4, 2018 at 11:54 am
Like this comment

It is about time that we talked about regional planning and not just city planning or even county planning.

This needs to be done for all infrastructure, not just housing. It needs to be done for traffic, parking, housing of all types, transportation, communications and resources such as water.

As for building affordable housing, my take is that affordable housing should be built on the underlying land that is cheaper to buy in the first place. There are areas which land is much cheaper or where there is more space to build. Transportation to these areas should be improved with high speed, efficient bus routes, etc. that are designed for commuters and not for poor people. VTA and similar have their head in the sand when it comes to designing efficient transportation. They should do a complete rethink of their vision and get efficent service to areas of high employment from areas where it is more affordable to live. These buses should be using highways, expressways with commuter parking lots, excellent wifi and comfort and serve as an alternative for solo driving.


Step up, Cupertino
North Whisman
on Oct 4, 2018 at 12:36 pm
Step up, Cupertino, North Whisman
on Oct 4, 2018 at 12:36 pm
2 people like this

Agree re: Cupertino. They (literally) added an entire spaceship of offices, while stonewalling on converting Vallco.


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