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Matichak takes the reins

New mayor pledges to protect quality of life, local control

Mountain View is a city stuck in a paradox -- never before has the city seen such prosperity, yet rarely has it seen such poverty. Amid large city budget surpluses, soaring corporate profits and rising property values, anyone walking down Mountain View's streets can easily find signs of hardship: homelessness, struggling small businesses, and housing prices that seem to defy logic. The schizophrenic side of Silicon Valley is right at home in Mountain View.

This is the situation Lisa Matichak is stepping into as she takes the reins as Mountain View's new mayor. For 2019, she knows that her chief challenge will be striking the right balance on issues including housing, transportation and homelessness.

Soft-spoken, smart and always smiling, Matichak, 62, sees her role as tempering the city's progressive ambitions, ensuring that Mountain View's politics and growth don't compromise what makes it special. She said she wants to maintain the city's "quality of life," admittedly a catch-all term with many shades of meaning. For her, this includes a sweeping range of priorities: preserving the historic downtown and its urban tree canopy; providing ample parks and open space; and preventing the disruption of traffic, noise and squalor.

Matichak explained that it comes down to a simple rule of thumb.

"Day to day, is it easier or harder to live in Mountain View?" she said. "People felt that the City Council hasn't been listening to their residents, and I would say that's on a variety of different topics."

Matichak could be in store for a year of walking the political tightrope, as many ongoing issues appear to be reaching a crescendo. Like her colleagues, she voices support for housing growth in the city while also sending signals that other Peninsula cities need to step up and do more. However, she is extremely wary of a variety of statewide proposals that would impose compulsory policies, forcing cities to mutually address the housing shortage. She said she expects protecting local control to be a top priority for 2019.

What scares Matichak most is the so-called "Casa Compact," a Bay Area-tailored package of emergency housing and transportation policies that is poised to head to the state Legislature in the coming weeks. Among its policy proposals, the compact would require approval of denser, taller apartment buildings near transit hubs. Accessory or "granny" units would be automatically approved in residential zones, and cities would be required to swiftly approve compliant housing projects. Some elements of rent control and just-cause eviction protections could also be implemented across the region.

Matichak and other City Council members believe these policies would amount to a double punishment for Mountain View. Since Mountain View has already made sacrifices to promote housing growth, these state proposals would result in the city having to lower its standards, demanding fewer concessions from developers.

"We've done a good job of balancing development with improving our infrastructure, and I don't want to lose that," Matichak said. "Our city revenues could be negatively impacted because we won't be able to work with property owners and developers when they want to go above and beyond."

Another political balancing act for Matichak will be her approach toward the city's homeless population, particularly the hundreds of inhabited vehicles parked on public streets. Matichak has gone several times on police ride-alongs to interact with people living out of their cars, and her takeaway is that the city should step up its enforcement and parking restrictions. She supports the idea of creating more safe parking sites, but she does not believe the city needs to wait for this before restricting vehicle dwellers from parking. Other cities need to share the burden, she said, pointing out that under the current system neighboring cities are essentially offloading their homeless onto Mountain View.

City staff is currently working on a menu of options for tighter parking restrictions, such as stricter time limits and vehicle height limits.

"At this point, I don't know what works best," she said. "It is important that we have an alternative. I'm under the impression that we'll be able to accommodate more RVs (in safe parking lots) in the not-too-distant future."

In her professional life, Matichak cut her teeth as a business analyst for McKinsey & Company, where she for worked for more than a decade. She later transitioned to a variety of managerial roles at tech firms, including Hewlett Packard, Symantec and Bromium. Most recently as of 2016, she began working as a marketing consultant for Amazon.

In tandem with her career, she became heavily involved in Mountain View civic life. Her involvement began around 2007 with joining her neighborhood association in the Wagon Wheel district. At the time, the association was focused on residents' concerns about a 64-unit housing project at 450 N. Whisman Ave. She later was appointed to the city's planning commission, and her tenure was marked by similar concern toward the disruption caused by aggressive housing growth.

Matichak has maintained that she is not opposed to housing per se, but rather that any development must not detract from the well-being of current residents. She credits that approach to ultimately producing better developments that jibe with the city's character.

In 2014, she made an unsuccessful bid for City Council, running on a platform of improving city services, particularly public safety, transportation and parkland. But she opposed sanctioning new housing development in the North Bayshore area, a stance that likely led to her being penalized by voters at the ballot box, she later acknowledged.

She shifted her position two years later, pledging she would help implement the residential growth in balance with a suite of new services. In that 2016 election, she emerged as the leading candidate, winning the most votes out of a field of seven candidates, including three incumbent City Council members.

In recent months, her political life has eclipsed her professional one. Last year, she decided to take a sabbatical from her consulting work to focus on her role in city government. An early riser, she wakes up before dawn on most mornings to begin the day with a hike at Rancho San Antonio Park south of Los Altos, she said.

Matichak's colleagues from both her professional and civic life tout her capability and knack for getting things done.

"Lisa is a team player who establishes great relationships with her colleagues ... she paints a vision for her team and gives them the freedom to do their jobs," said Brent Remai, the chief marketing officer for Amazon Web Services, who has worked with Matichak for about 10 years. "She's a problem-solver who overcomes obstacles to get the job done. I'm sure she will do great things for Mountain View as mayor."

The Matichak trifecta of priorities comes down to intelligence, no nonsense, and a focus on residents, said Robert Cox, her former colleague on the Planning Commission.

"She cuts through deceptive and misleading aspects of proposals to get to the bottom of their true effect," he said. "She is a fierce advocate for the residents of our city, putting their interests above those of big money and other lobbyists for special interests."

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Comments

31 people like this
Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 18, 2019 at 1:29 pm

That's a lot of words that avoid saying the clear, obvious conclusion: Lisa Matichak is a NIMBY who only cares about the wealthy.


37 people like this
Posted by psr
a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 18, 2019 at 3:20 pm

psr is a registered user.

It is about time that we had someone in this job that takes the quality of life in the city into to account when making decisions. It is not up to the mayor to take sides, choosing certain residents over others. The mayor (as well as the rest of the council) should balance the needs of ALL the citizens.

For too long, the people who provide the bulk of the revenue in this town have been ignored and even demonized. Several (not all) past mayors and much of the council have chosen to see the big ticket taxpayers as their personal cash cows to provide money for them to redistribute to personal pet causes. At the same time, those same council members had no problem discounting the complaints about the plummeting quality of life here as whining by those who "have too much anyway" in their eyes. I doubt anyone thinks much of a person who calls one names while taking money from their wallet.

The result of their "vision" is an El Camino corridor that looks like the Death Star scene from Star Wars, with commuting workers in the roll of fighter pilots navigating an inhospitable terrain. Walking on El Camino is impossible, with the tall buildings turning a once-pleasant walk into a trip down a freezing, sunless wind tunnel bordered by cement edifices. Add to that the broken-down RVs parked there and I doubt anyone finds the walk as nice as it was even 5 years ago. I sure don't do it anymore. I prefer to go to neighboring towns where things are more pleasant. I spend my money there now, not in Mountain View.

I am happy to help the less fortunate, but I prefer to choose those to whom I give. I will not tolerate others taking my money, handing it over to those THEY choose and then calling me selfish without mitigating their effect as much as I can. I shop elsewhere and will continue to do so until Mountain View starts acting like everyone who lives here matters.


27 people like this
Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 18, 2019 at 3:38 pm

psr, you might want to take a peek at the city's budget, as you may be surprised to see who "the people who provide the bulk of the revenue in this town" are. They definitely have been demonized, but usually by NIMBYs and folks like yourself.


14 people like this
Posted by Budget
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jan 18, 2019 at 4:32 pm

Randy Guelph, has you looked at the budget? Is it surprise for you that property taxes ($52M) > local taxes ($16M) and are major part of $137.7M general operating fund revenue?


19 people like this
Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Bailey Park
on Jan 18, 2019 at 4:43 pm

Not a surprise at all! What you and psr will find surprising is who pays all that property tax (hint: it's not people who bought their house in 1970).


37 people like this
Posted by Property Tax Payer
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2019 at 4:44 pm

It's time to start being concerned about our quality of life. For G's sake, there's a bum camp building up in back of 99 Ranch market.


39 people like this
Posted by Peter
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 18, 2019 at 4:57 pm

I’m happy to have Lisa as Mayor. I hope she stays true to her platform to tackle this RV debacle head on. Enough is enough.


22 people like this
Posted by Political Inciter
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 18, 2019 at 5:05 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


4 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2019 at 5:41 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


19 people like this
Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Bailey Park
on Jan 18, 2019 at 7:13 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


2 people like this
Posted by Concern longtime resident
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 18, 2019 at 7:14 pm

I think she needs to look closely at the upcoming redevelopment of 2310 Rock Street and how it will effect tenants, our community and Mountain View in general. Many tenants will be homeless as of June is approved.
Also she should look into why 2005 Rock Street received more relocation benifits then 2310 Rock Street!


60 people like this
Posted by Nancy
a resident of North Whisman
on Jan 19, 2019 at 9:10 am

Tenants sign a month to month rental agreement. They knew that when they signed the agreement and moved in.

It is temporary housing for the tenant where 2 parties must agree to keep the contract valid.

If you take away the owners right to end the contract, you do not have a free America any more.

If you want to move into permanent housing that is "your home" then buy yourself one, but do not force the owner of the property of which you are not on the deed, to have to provide a "permanent home" for you to live.

The city council needs to protect the property owners and their rights.

The city has over reached and took away rights from property owners thru Measure V.

The property owners need their protections as well.

If a rental owner wishes to exit the business and a developer wants to buy and raze the property, then they should have the right to without being punished any further.


8 people like this
Posted by Diablo
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 19, 2019 at 10:53 am

"Day to day, is it easier or harder to live in Mountain View?"

I like the sound of that. Now start paying attention to the massive buildup around San Antonio, El Camino, and the new complex(es) on California Street (old Safeway site). Oh, and add a school on Showers. Just wait 'til all that traffic comes online!!!


18 people like this
Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Bailey Park
on Jan 19, 2019 at 12:36 pm

I agree, Diablo. With the skyrocketing cost of housing here, for most people living has become much more difficult, even impossible! Adding more homes is the only prudent way to address the issue.


4 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2019 at 5:04 pm

The Business Man is a registered user.

IN response to Nancy you said:

“Tenants sign a month to month rental agreement. They knew that when they signed the agreement and moved in.

It is temporary housing for the tenant where 2 parties must agree to keep the contract valid.”

Nancy, in fact you are wrong. why? Because that is an indefinite lease, it only ends when either the tenant finds another place, they fail to perform the agreement, or the landlord decides to either destroy the building or goes out of business. These 2 parties are WELL aware of it. You said:

“If you take away the owners right to end the contract, you do not have a free America any more.”

As you already said, it is a contract. No one can end a contract simply because they don’t like it. You signed the agreement and must comply with it. You said:

“If you want to move into permanent housing that is "your home" then buy yourself one, but do not force the owner of the property of which you are not on the deed, to have to provide a "permanent home" for you to live.”

Actually, that is exactly the choice in the matter, are you going to “own” the home and be responsible for it, or are you willing to rely on another. That is the choice of the customer and the landlord. It is not coerced. You said:

“The city council needs to protect the property owners and their rights. “

Just understand that the constitution puts property rights as the last one, in effect the country and state puts “life” and “liberty” before “property”. This is one of the biggest errors made regarding the idea that property rights are equal to “life” and “liberty”. You said:

“The city has over reached and took away rights from property owners thru Measure V.”

NO it did not. There has been no authority that stated your claim. Only those with political, and financial interests that opposed it. You said:

“The property owners need their protections as well.”

They do have protections. You said:

“If a rental owner wishes to exit the business and a developer wants to buy and raze the property, then they should have the right to without being punished any further.”

NO one is being punished. It is a business you can leave at any time. But at the same time there is a new law that states that there are non more “net-loss” projects please read this:

The so-called ‘no net loss’ provisions apply when: (1) a site included in the housing element’s inventory of sites; is (2) either rezoned to a lower residential density; or a project is approved at a lower residential density than shown in the housing element. (§ 65863(b).) At present the provision is inapplicable to charter cities (§ 65803), although this is likely to change (see discussion of SB 166 below). There are no published cases interpreting this provision.

“Lower residential density” usually means fewer units than were projected for the site in the city’s housing element. (§ 65863(g)(1).) The provision applies to housing located on any site listed in the city’s housing element, not only to sites designated as suitable for affordable housing. However, if either the city has not adopted a housing element within 90 days of the due date, or the housing element is not in substantial compliance with housing element law within 180 days of the due date, then “lower residential density” is defined as a density less than 80 percent of the maximum residential density permitted on the site. (§ 65863(g)(2).)”

I hope to the new mayor she understands that as of January 1, 2019, the Rock project violates this law and thus the city must reverse its approval of the project.


4 people like this
Posted by Tim h
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 20, 2019 at 1:57 pm

2 other questions deserve asking, along with "what's better for residents?"
1. What's better for those who want to live in Mountain View?
2. What's better for those who work in mountain view?


2 people like this
Posted by psr
a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 20, 2019 at 4:16 pm

psr is a registered user.

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


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