News

Giant apartment project gets Mountain View City Council's blessing

711-apartment development include 144 affordable units for local teachers, city staff

The Mountain View City Council gave final approval on Tuesday to what may be the largest housing project in the city's history. The colossal development at 777 W. Middlefield Road is slated to include 711 new apartments, including 144 affordable units for local teachers and city workers.

The project by the Los Gatos firm FortBay was approved in a 6-0 vote with Councilman John McAlister recused.

The development has been a long time coming -- it was originally submitted more than four years ago under a different plan by a different owner. In that time, the project has been heavily modified amid concerns about tenant displacement, traffic and parking.

But city officials say the project has greatly improved over that time. They showered praise on the project for carving out 120 units for teachers and other employees at the Mountain View Whisman School District.

"I don't think people understand what a big deal this is," said Councilwoman Margaret Abe-Koga. "One hundred forty-four units is a lot, and to be able to offer it for school staff is quite an accomplishment."

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Mountain View Online for as little as $5/month.

Join

For the most part, the general public will be excluded from this affordable housing. About 20 of the planned units will be reserved for Mountain View city employees, while the rest will go to school staff. Any remaining will be given to displaced tenants from the Village Lake Apartments -- which currently occupies the site -- or to other government employees.

That arrangement stems from [ https://www.mv-voice.com/news/2018/10/24/council-greenlights-716-apartments-teacher-housing a deal between the city and Mountain View Whisman officials to prevent development at Cooper Park, a 9.5-acre area of open space in the Waverly Park neighborhood. As the owner of the park, the school district was originally planning to develop the site as affordable housing for its teachers, but the idea sparked a fierce backlash among neighbors.

To save the parkland, the city agreed to have the Mountain View Whisman district piggyback on the 777 W. Middlefield project. School district officials paid $56 million to FortBay to acquire the 144 units of subsidized housing, with the idea that they would recoup this sum by collecting rent.

Public speakers and the City Council largely praised the deal. Most of the criticism of the development was aimed at its impact on the surrounding neighborhoods. As in past meetings, neighbors provided video footage and analysis of nearby traffic congestion to show how the project would make a bad situation even worse along Shoreline Boulevard and Middlefield Road. When built, the project is expected to generate more than 2,100 additional vehicle trips, but the city's environmental impact report found that this would not significantly degrade the "level of service" of nearby streets.

The housing development would include a parking garage with about 870 spaces, but many nearby homeowners feared the project would deplete their nearby street parking.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up

Despite its flaws, the City Council threw its support behind the project, calling it a landmark development.

"This project isn't perfect, but overall it sets a precedent in terms of what we're doing with affordable housing and partnering with the school district," said Councilman Chris Clark. "If things were changing so dramatically for the worse, then folks' home values wouldn't be going up by double percentage points by the year."

Follow Mountain View Voice Online on Twitter @mvvoice, Facebook and on Instagram @mvvoice for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Giant apartment project gets Mountain View City Council's blessing

711-apartment development include 144 affordable units for local teachers, city staff

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Thu, May 23, 2019, 10:41 am

The Mountain View City Council gave final approval on Tuesday to what may be the largest housing project in the city's history. The colossal development at 777 W. Middlefield Road is slated to include 711 new apartments, including 144 affordable units for local teachers and city workers.

The project by the Los Gatos firm FortBay was approved in a 6-0 vote with Councilman John McAlister recused.

The development has been a long time coming -- it was originally submitted more than four years ago under a different plan by a different owner. In that time, the project has been heavily modified amid concerns about tenant displacement, traffic and parking.

But city officials say the project has greatly improved over that time. They showered praise on the project for carving out 120 units for teachers and other employees at the Mountain View Whisman School District.

"I don't think people understand what a big deal this is," said Councilwoman Margaret Abe-Koga. "One hundred forty-four units is a lot, and to be able to offer it for school staff is quite an accomplishment."

For the most part, the general public will be excluded from this affordable housing. About 20 of the planned units will be reserved for Mountain View city employees, while the rest will go to school staff. Any remaining will be given to displaced tenants from the Village Lake Apartments -- which currently occupies the site -- or to other government employees.

That arrangement stems from [ https://www.mv-voice.com/news/2018/10/24/council-greenlights-716-apartments-teacher-housing a deal between the city and Mountain View Whisman officials to prevent development at Cooper Park, a 9.5-acre area of open space in the Waverly Park neighborhood. As the owner of the park, the school district was originally planning to develop the site as affordable housing for its teachers, but the idea sparked a fierce backlash among neighbors.

To save the parkland, the city agreed to have the Mountain View Whisman district piggyback on the 777 W. Middlefield project. School district officials paid $56 million to FortBay to acquire the 144 units of subsidized housing, with the idea that they would recoup this sum by collecting rent.

Public speakers and the City Council largely praised the deal. Most of the criticism of the development was aimed at its impact on the surrounding neighborhoods. As in past meetings, neighbors provided video footage and analysis of nearby traffic congestion to show how the project would make a bad situation even worse along Shoreline Boulevard and Middlefield Road. When built, the project is expected to generate more than 2,100 additional vehicle trips, but the city's environmental impact report found that this would not significantly degrade the "level of service" of nearby streets.

The housing development would include a parking garage with about 870 spaces, but many nearby homeowners feared the project would deplete their nearby street parking.

Despite its flaws, the City Council threw its support behind the project, calling it a landmark development.

"This project isn't perfect, but overall it sets a precedent in terms of what we're doing with affordable housing and partnering with the school district," said Councilman Chris Clark. "If things were changing so dramatically for the worse, then folks' home values wouldn't be going up by double percentage points by the year."

Comments

Bored M
Cuesta Park
on May 23, 2019 at 12:16 pm
Bored M, Cuesta Park
on May 23, 2019 at 12:16 pm

120 units for MVWSD employees is fantastic. Keep on helping our schools, City Council!


Steve
Whisman Station
on May 23, 2019 at 2:42 pm
Steve, Whisman Station
on May 23, 2019 at 2:42 pm

Really glad to see affordable housing units being dedicated to our MVWSD teachers! Good alternative to losing park space (Cooper Park). Wish it could be open to fire fighters, nurses, and police officers as well but since it is MVWSD that owns Cooper Park it makes sense that they’re taking care of their tracers first. The density in that area is going to worsen the already bad traffic at that crossing, but to start addressing the housing shortage we have to go to high densities. Maybe the city should add some dedicated bus routes and times from that location to the schools, at times teachers would need them, to at least try to keep those 144 cars off the road. Also would be good to have Google run a bus from there - I would expect a heavy population of Google employed there based on proximity.


YSB
Old Mountain View
on May 23, 2019 at 2:47 pm
YSB, Old Mountain View
on May 23, 2019 at 2:47 pm

With the current 208 units, that makes 503 new units!!!!
Amazing!!!
Maybe I will be able to stay living in my hometown after all!!!


Member
Cuesta Park
on May 23, 2019 at 2:50 pm
Member , Cuesta Park
on May 23, 2019 at 2:50 pm

Why can’t we simply build only 144 units for teachers and lower wage city employees, and not the rest of the crud that is going to make this yet another project that destroys our city. 711 units will equal probably 1100-1400 cars, so now we will have 100’s of cars clogging up streets. The traffic is one way there so now it will create a huge bottleneck. Their studies are complete BS and only used to justify their already planned agenda. The agenda that was created when the developers lined their pockets. Mt View continues to go to war on its citizens.


Eh
Old Mountain View
on May 23, 2019 at 3:08 pm
Eh, Old Mountain View
on May 23, 2019 at 3:08 pm

Another free handout from the city paid for by the taxpayers

Pay the teachers what they’re worth and either people can afford to live here or they have to commute - no given right to have to be able to live in any place you want.


Diablo
Monta Loma
on May 23, 2019 at 3:19 pm
Diablo, Monta Loma
on May 23, 2019 at 3:19 pm

Palo Alto has proposed a 48-unit condo complex at San Antonio and Leghorn. When talking about traffic impact, one city official said it would be a car-centric development as there's no transit nearby (acknowledging that Cal Train at San Antonio gets little service). At least they are honest about it.

Mountain View, again and again, increases density, ignoring traffic impacts. When those new behemoths at San Antonio and Fayette come online (across San Antonio from the Village), traffic will be at a standstill on San Antonio. Last week at 1:45pm traffic had backed up from 101 to Central and San Antonio. I came over the Central bridge and it was stopped. The previous day, at 3:15pm it took three changes of lights to get through the San Antonio/Charleston interchange.

Getting back to the 777 Middlefield development. Shoreline is going to be as bad as San Antonio (if not already there).

I've said it before, if the council members lived in these neighborhoods, they would not be approving these densities.


Mountain View Neighbor
Registered user
North Whisman
on May 23, 2019 at 5:43 pm
Mountain View Neighbor, North Whisman
Registered user
on May 23, 2019 at 5:43 pm

It’s dangerous territory when the city uses teachers as an excuse to justo in the real estate bandwagon. SOOOO much cheaper to just raise wages. Menlo Park does this and they have no problems getting teachers. Total scam!!!


The Business Man
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 23, 2019 at 5:49 pm
The Business Man, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on May 23, 2019 at 5:49 pm

In response to Bored M you said:

“120 units for MVWSD employees is fantastic. Keep on helping our schools, City Council!”

Unfortunately, this kind of selective access for affordable housing is unconstitutional. The City Council has a deficit of 2,926 affordable units from the latest ABAG report. But as of this report there are only 144 affordable units in this project. Simply put the units should be allotted by a lottery, because provide special treatment to employees that may not even live in Mountain View violates the Council Code of Conduct requirement to provide services to the City citizens. This could open the City up to a constitutional challenge.

In response to Steve you said:

“Really glad to see affordable housing units being dedicated to our MVWSD teachers!”

Again providing special privileges to those who are likely not citizens may be an unconstitutional act.

In response to YSB you said:

“With the current 208 units, that makes 503 new units!!!! Amazing!!! Maybe I will be able to stay living in my hometown after all!!!”

Really? I just demonstrated, this is not going to make up for the real shortage.

In response to Member you said:

“Why can’t we simply build only 144 units for teachers and lower wage city employees, and not the rest of the crud that is going to make this yet another project that destroys our city.”

I guess you misspelled “crowd” from “crud” because you surely are not assuming that simply because someone is poor that they are without significant potential contributions to the community?


“711 units will equal probably 1100-1400 cars, so now we will have 100’s of cars clogging up streets. The traffic is one way there so now it will create a huge bottleneck. Their studies are complete BS and only used to justify their already planned agenda. The agenda that was created when the developers lined their pockets. Mt View continues to go to war on its citizens.”

I agree that the traffic impact studies are not reliable. And the the City is providing preferential treatment to its employees, but not doing anything to provide equal treatment to it’s citzens.

In response to Eh you said:

“Another free handout from the city paid for by the taxpayers

Pay the teachers what they’re worth and either people can afford to live here or they have to commute - no given right to have to be able to live in any place you want.”

I agree, that’s all.


Albert
Registered user
Stierlin Estates
on May 24, 2019 at 1:37 am
Albert, Stierlin Estates
Registered user
on May 24, 2019 at 1:37 am

I have proven that the Level of Service ratings of heavily congested intersections were not calculated correctly, but the EIRs for this and many other projects have not been revised. Basically the city has no idea what future traffic will be like yet they're throwing caution to the winds and going forward. Maybe that's why traffic is what it is today.


Resident
Gemello
on May 24, 2019 at 7:19 am
Resident, Gemello
on May 24, 2019 at 7:19 am

The problem is not housing, it is the low wages. Teachers make a great poster child for the developer to push through his high density and very profitable plan. I do think the building of "affordable" 5+ story buildings on El Camino is a good idea to assist people working in Mountain View however this project is about profits not people.


YSB
Old Mountain View
on May 24, 2019 at 11:02 am
YSB, Old Mountain View
on May 24, 2019 at 11:02 am

Well, Business Man, it 503 new units is a 6th of the deficit, so that is a pretty good whack at it.
We should build even more housing!

Also, Resident, the problem is not just wages, but it is mostly housing. Even if the wages were high enough to afford some of the places around here, there is just not enough units available for all of the people that want to work and live in this area. We could cut down on a ton of the car trips around here if more people could live near downtown and the transit center.


The Business Man
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 24, 2019 at 1:06 pm
The Business Man, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on May 24, 2019 at 1:06 pm

In response to YSB you said:

“Well, Business Man, it 503 new units is a 6th of the deficit, so that is a pretty good whack at it.”

According to this story, there is only 144 units, but they are SET ASIDE from the public and ASSIGNED to only the employees of the City. Out 0f the 711 units, 573 are “market-rate” housing. Please explain how you got to 503 units of affordable housing? But I do agree you won on this:

“We should build even more housing! “

You also said:

“Also, Resident, the problem is not just wages, but it is mostly housing. Even if the wages were high enough to afford some of the places around here, there is just not enough units available for all of the people that want to work and live in this area. We could cut down on a ton of the car trips around here if more people could live near downtown and the transit center.”

That does sound like a good idea. But you are going to have to have some emanate domain action to in effect remove current structures that are in the way.


Sam Connell
Cuesta Park
on May 24, 2019 at 7:48 pm
Sam Connell , Cuesta Park
on May 24, 2019 at 7:48 pm

What kind developer had no public website? That is a red flag.


The Business Man
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 25, 2019 at 10:44 am
The Business Man, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on May 25, 2019 at 10:44 am

And oh by the way.

Those displaced by the previous 2 projects may be state law required to have first choice.

Remember the NO Net Loss law that was enforcable on Jan 1, 2019

Since the previous projects removed affordable housing units, the new one within 6 months must replace the ones lost.

Thus the City Council may be afoul of the new law. Given that the displaced were City Citizens. And so far the City has not replaced the lost units avaiable to the dispaced persons.

It could be argued that a court could mandate that the City cannot allow new affordable units to those not displaced until the displaced are provide the replacement housing elements.

Of course the City didn't think of this possible problem.


Tick...tick...tick..
Stierlin Estates
on May 25, 2019 at 3:19 pm
Tick...tick...tick.., Stierlin Estates
on May 25, 2019 at 3:19 pm

What are the size of the UNITS? 1,2,3 bedrooms? Because I live across the street in a townhome community and in recent years several have become rentals and my neighboring 3 bedroom has 3 couples residing, accounting for 6 cars..SIX!

So let's just throw out a multiplier of 2 or 3 cars per unit...I think that's a low/safe assumption... Minus the provided parking... That's potentially 700-1400 cars needing parking in the area?

I get people wanting to live here. I get the demand for MORE. But trying to shoehorn all this new construction into Mtn View's infastructure doesn't make sense. We forget the city is only 12 sq miles. This place is going to blow.


Tick...tick...tick..
Stierlin Estates
on May 25, 2019 at 3:25 pm
Tick...tick...tick.., Stierlin Estates
on May 25, 2019 at 3:25 pm

Oops. Before the math police come after me, I made the mistake of swapping the address number for unit number (777 vs 711) which slightly inflates my numbers but you get the point....still a crap ton of cars all over the place.


Tick...tick...tick..
Stierlin Estates
on May 25, 2019 at 3:26 pm
Tick...tick...tick.., Stierlin Estates
on May 25, 2019 at 3:26 pm

Oops. Before the math police come after me, I made the mistake of swapping the address number for unit number (777 vs 711) which slightly inflates my numbers but you get the point....still a (edit) ton of cars all over the place.


City for city workers!
Castro City
on May 25, 2019 at 7:28 pm
City for city workers!, Castro City
on May 25, 2019 at 7:28 pm

Will the city employees (and teachers) getting the affordable local units stop demanding pay raises?

At least this is better than waiting for the STATE to mandate stacked housing everywhere. It is coming soon.


Ah hah
Old Mountain View
on May 25, 2019 at 7:49 pm
Ah hah, Old Mountain View
on May 25, 2019 at 7:49 pm

Yeah and high speed rail too.


The Business Man
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 26, 2019 at 9:40 am
The Business Man, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on May 26, 2019 at 9:40 am

Here is some more information to think about:

In the last year or so there have been for high profile projects discussed they are

777 W. Middlefield which had an original 208 affordable units because they were under CSFRA, they plan to remove them with the new 715 unit plan, but they only provided 144 affordable units, that is a net loss of 64

2310 Rock Street which had 59 affordable units based on CSFRA is now being replaced with 54 non affordable units, a loss of 59 units.

950 W. El Camino has a plan where they will build a new complex, but it contains only 71 new affordable units.

2005 Rock Street had 20 affordable units under CSFRA, but is being replaced with no new affordable units a loss of 20.

In effect so far the City has lost 72 affordable units NET.

And yet no new units are being built to make up for it.

The City must get these numbers balanced, or the citizens will have a legal argument to penalize the City for failure to comply with the new 2019 No Net Loss law. They have 6 months to create new units available to the public, NOT THE EMPLOYEES OF THE CITY. Why, because they most likely are living in “non-affordable” housing already and they have to account for where they live already. If they do not live in Mountain View, those units cannot replace the lost ones from City Citizens who were forced out.


Local resident
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 27, 2019 at 12:47 am
Local resident, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 27, 2019 at 12:47 am

This is great but why do teachers get the affordable units? The average bay area teacher salary is 77k, plus they get great benefits and get over 3 months off per year. Teachers are not the people who need these units

That said always good to see more housing being built


anon
Shoreline West
on May 27, 2019 at 1:29 pm
anon, Shoreline West
on May 27, 2019 at 1:29 pm

Its always fun to see all the hateful people commenting here. Why can't they just accept that Mountain View isnt some small town, we're in the bay area. Let the city grow! Build up or change zoning laws. People are willing to have people living on the streets just to preserve their "neighborhood character". Its time to move on from the NIMBYism


Resident
Stierlin Estates
on May 27, 2019 at 5:47 pm
Resident, Stierlin Estates
on May 27, 2019 at 5:47 pm

Yes, let the city grow, but not all in the same area. With no street parking on Middlefield and Shoreline, all the extra cars will be parked on the neighborhood streets. With only two Mtn View streets going into the North Bayshore area, the traffic is now unreal. Recently there was another report how many extra trips ridesharing take. The comment about all the extra traffic by a traffic engineer in the comment section of the environmental impact report was dismissed by the city. But after it’s build there is no going back. Our area has only one Safeway store, but there is delivery of groceries (more trips). I read nothing about the horrible shape of our roads. They were not designed for this amount of buses and cars. When is the city starting to rebuild our roads I have been waiting and waiting for it. Mtn View used to have great roads with a yearly rebuilding schedule.


Is it nimbyism?
Shoreline West
on May 29, 2019 at 7:57 pm
Is it nimbyism?, Shoreline West
on May 29, 2019 at 7:57 pm

Yes some of it can be looked at as stubborn nimbyism as Anon stated. But how about genuine concern. Us old folks have "been around"... seen the world evolve. Building on top of building isn't always the answer. Build up you say? Ok build to the sky. But those people have to come down to the ground and move around eventually. As mentioned above, MV's footprint is small. Roads eat up a good chunk of that...plus schools, parks etc. We can't add more roads. That shoreline expansion project looks like a finger in the dike to me.

And why is it that we HAVE to grow? Why can't I have a single family home in a small neighborhood? Why can't I have a small town with character? Are all city's destined (doomed) to become a garden of skyscrapers and apartments?

Are both sides of this debate right? Are both wrong?

If there was "room", sure add more people. But it's already feeling pretty snug around here.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

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