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Letters to the editor: RV ban, housing editorial, public transit

 

Keep looking

This letter is my request to the City Council to continue looking for better ways to house low-income workers. Sweeping resolutions like the RV ban ("Council moves ahead with milder RV ban," June 14) can't be the answer.

Mountain View, and most cities, needs minimum-wage workers. Do you have an elder relative who needs in-home care, do you have a gardener, do you like going to the store and having well-stocked shelves, do you like knowing your workplace is kept clean? When was the last time you went into a fast food restaurant and didn't see a help wanted sign? These and many other services are provided by minimum-wage workers.

I'm proud of the council for requiring below-market-rate housing, but this policy does not really help minimum-wage workers. Below market rate means 50 to 80% of the median income, which is $120,000 a year in Mountain View. The hourly wage for 50% of that is $29 an hour, almost double our recently enacted $15 an hour minimum wage. So please keep looking, maybe even trying a little bit of everything (including well-regulated RV parking), because after all the effort put in by our council and others, it's becoming pretty clear there is (no) single solution.

Steve Fitzsimons

Magritte Way

Housing editorial

I'm never exactly sure who the editorials get written by, but I know the editor usually has her hand in them!

Thanks. This editorial ("Time for City Council to show it's serious about housing," May 17) elicited the written response of the two most adamant council opponents of compassionate, personal-welfare-centered housing policies! (Whose response I am also glad you quickly published, "Council members respond to the Voice's editorial on housing," June 7). A viable democratic process always involves "public policy debate" (and) "clash." That is the term the National Forensic League uses to explain a good public policy division contest.

Thanks for being the conscience of the community on this issue. It will be interesting to see how much the community agrees and how that is reflected in the public policy votes of the council.

Steven Nelson

Former Mountain View Whisman School District trustee

Ride-share public transit?

Rather than spending more than a million on just a study of an automated transit system that may never materialize ("City approves second study for automated transit," June 14), I propose implementing an Uber/Lyft-based frequent public transit. Suppose we want to connect downtown with North Bayshore with a service that runs every five minutes. Assume a round-trip time of 30 minutes, which means that only about six cars/minivans are needed at a time. Suppose that each driver is paid $40/hour (minus 20 to 25% commission), which is generous by Uber standards. Operating 12 hours a day, 365 days a year, this would cost six times $40 times 12 times 365 = $1 million. In other words, the budget of the study would cover one year of operation of a very frequent free transit route.

Furthermore, imagine several cities (such as Mountain View, Palo Alto, Stanford) and major companies (Google, Facebook, etc.) getting together and implementing similar public transit lines along major traffic corridors, such as El Camino, Middlefield, Central Expressway, 101, Shoreline, San Antonio, etc. Frequent service and simple, straight routes could make transfers easy and quick.

If the ridership picks up, then there would be sufficient justification for allocating dedicated lanes or even building up infrastructure, such as elevated lanes, podcar tracks and automated driving. But for now, the priority should be to break the vicious cycle of people not using public transit because of insufficient service, and no resources for improving the service due to low ridership.

Don't get me wrong, I am not a fan of Uber, Lyft, or the entire gig economy. But it has become a fact of life, and it's about time it would provide some public benefit, such as solving Bay Area's traffic problems rather than exacerbating them.

Valentin Abramzon

Showers Court

An important cause

I would like to talk about an issue which is very important to me and an opportunity for Mountain View readers to contribute their time or money to the cause.

I volunteer with a nonprofit organization called Reading Partners, which aims to help elementary school students who are struggling with reading catch up to their reading level and have success in the classroom. Reading Partners initiated in the Bay Area in 1999, and now has thousands of students and tutors all over the country. Studies show that children who read (at) their grade level by fourth grade are four times more likely to graduate high school than those who don't, and teens who drop out are more likely to be arrested or have a child as a teenager.

I volunteer weekly by reading with a student and teaching a planned lesson, and I have found it very rewarding to watch my student grow tremendously and enjoy reading. The purpose of Reading Partners is to help elementary school students who read at least six months behind their grade level be on grade level by fourth grade to prepare them for success in high school and beyond, and 85% of students enrolled in Reading Partners reach this target.

Reading Partners is an important cause to me because it ensures that all kids have a fair chance to succeed in school and in life and aren't limited in opportunity because they got behind their grade level in reading at one point in elementary school. I want readers to support this cause by volunteering as little as an hour a week, for which they can apply on the website, readingpartners.org, or donate, which can also be done through the website and helps increase student capacity by allowing for more classroom resources and books. Thank you!

Brandon Freiberg

Sullivan Drive

Caltrain isn't listening

I'm saddened by what Caltrain staff seem to be passing as "public outreach" and "public workshops" to improve the layouts of the planned electrified train cars. The community of bicycle riders who rely on Caltrain has made its message heard loud and clear, and yet the Caltrain staff is refusing to listen.

I have provided alternative car layouts that would improve the cars for both cyclists and for regular riders, and none of these adjustments has ever been seriously considered in any public forum, nor have I received any feedback from staff.

Caltrain is electrifying partially because they understand that continuing to burn fossil fuels to operate is not an option. This is fantastic, and a step in the right direction. But if they recognize this imperative need, then why are they not also working on making the system as compatible with other fossil-fuel-free transit as possible? We need a Caltrain system for the future energy economy, not for the fossil-fueled past.

The board has mandated an 8:1 ratio of seats to bikes, and this seems to be something Caltrain staff is not even slightly concerned with. Why is staff allowed to flaunt board mandates?

Overall, this process reeks of cronyism from the early days of rail. The railroad company is deciding what they want and forcing it on everyone, regardless of what the impact will be. This is not the Caltrain I want to ride.

Drew Skau, Ph.D.

Vallejo

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Comments

54 people like this
Posted by Long over due!
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 25, 2019 at 11:32 am

Pass the RV ban NOW!

No More excuses!

Not one penny more of tax payer money should be spent on this, except for enforcement! $1 Million dollars is just crazy!

I am sick and tired of all these activist, and Lenny Siegel and the Mountain View Tenants Association who think that it is OK for them to ignore what the majority of the residents in the city want.

Ban them Now and tell these activist and the ACLU to go to _ _ _ _!


5 people like this
Posted by JP
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jun 25, 2019 at 12:13 pm

"I'm never exactly sure who the editorials get written by, but I know the editor usually has her hand in them!"

You're good. What tipped you off that EDITORials are written by the EDITOR?

Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Castro City
on Jun 25, 2019 at 1:03 pm

Long over due,

First reminder, the U.S. Constitution protects minority rights from the majority, if they can be in violation of some statutory or recognized constitutional right like life, and liberty, which comes before private property in the order of precedence.

Second, the Mountain view tenants Coalition passed Measure V with a majority vote. So you cannot claim they are in the minority in the first place.

Just sounds like you are venting a lot of frustration


17 people like this
Posted by Long over due
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 25, 2019 at 6:19 pm

@BM,

Once again you show you do not know what you are talking about, but you can not help yourself because you just like to vent.

FYI,
It was Lenny Siegel who said that he and the Mountain View Tenants coalition would get the initiative going to over turn the councils ban on RV'S.

His and my comments had nothing to do with Measure V.

Lenny also said he wanted to change the name of the MV Tenants Coalition to Mountain View Housing coalition.


6 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2019 at 9:39 pm

The Business Man is a registered user.

In response to Long over due you said:

“Once again you show you do not know what you are talking about, but you can not help yourself because you just like to vent.”

You previously said:

“Pass the RV ban NOW!

No More excuses!

Not one penny more of tax payer money should be spent on this, except for enforcement! $1 Million dollars is just crazy!

I am sick and tired of all these activist, and Lenny Siegel and the Mountain View Tenants Association who think that it is OK for them to ignore what the majority of the residents in the city want.”

So I took it as you felt the majority must rule over the minority. Didn’t you mean that? The Heritage Foundation described this:

“The Founders were determined to forestall the inherent dangers of what James Madison called “the tyranny of the majority.” So they constructed something more lasting: a republic. Something with checks and balances. A system of government carefully balanced to safeguard the rights of both the majority and the minority.
That led, most notably, to the bicameral structure of our legislative branch. We have a House of Representatives, where the number of members is greater for more populous states (which obviously favors those states), and the Senate, where every state from Rhode Island and Alaska to California and New York have exactly two representatives (which keeps less-populated states from being steamrolled).”( Web Link

The U.S. Constitution has the following 5th amendment which includes the following

“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, NOR BE DEPRIVED OF LIFE, LIBERTY, OR PROPERTY, WITHOUT DUE PROCESS OF LAW; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

Again notice the precedence of the order Life comes first, then Liberty, and finally Property. So you do not seem to understand what the reality of the situation is.

You also mentioned that “I am sick and tired of all these activist, and Lenny Siegel and the Mountain View Tenants Association who think that it is OK for them to ignore what the majority of the residents in the city want.”

I was just pointing out that they appear to be a majority because many others in the City of Mountain view agree with them so when you stated:

“FYI,

It was Lenny Siegel who said that he and the Mountain View Tenants coalition would get the initiative going to over turn the councils ban on RV'S.

His and my comments had nothing to do with Measure V.

Lenny also said he wanted to change the name of the MV Tenants Coalition to Mountain View Housing coalition.”

Perhaps what you are concerned about is that everyone in Mountain View; Renters, Home Owners, and RV Residents working together could very likely overturn the City Council if it goes on to attempt the ban you advocate.

I hope you are listening, I surely am demonstrating that I am.


4 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2019 at 10:05 pm

The Business Man is a registered user.

And oh by the way,

Wasn’t it funny how Lisa Matichak answered the interview questions on the NPR radio show.

I was simply surprised at the content of the answers she used like:

“Mayor Lisa Matichak tells Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson that she's concerned about public safety and health — and remains adamant that there are "lots of different choices" for current RV dwellers.”

She assumes that somehow she knows better than everyone about how to make the best choices for others. You know that is not true because she simply does not know every persons case situation, she just assumes she is better than all of the people who “reside” in the city. She also said:

“She says she hopes prohibiting overnight parking will encourage people to engage with the city's case workers to move into "more stable housing."”

Hopes do not solve the problems the City made in not keeping up with affordable housing needs. That was the Cities responsibility. So putting the blame on others for what choices they needed to make to have employment is not her prerogative. She went on to say:

“"There are some people also living in the oversized vehicles by choice and they do have other options that they can move into immediately," she says.”

What proof does she have to make decisions for others. That is real arrogance to establish she has the right to dictate how others live as long as they are employeed, and not committing any actions that are remotely reaching any criminal activities. You cannot make any assumptions that these people do not warrant respect. She said:

“Matichak says the aim of the ban is to improve visibility for bicyclists and pedestrians, and to address human waste and garbage piling up in city streets.”

What evidence does she have that EVERY RV causes human waste and garbage. Her solution is to sweep up many innocent people that have not caused any problems, (throwing out the baby with the dirty bathwater).

She did not provide a good example of the City given this information.


8 people like this
Posted by Monroe
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 26, 2019 at 6:27 am

Thank you The Business Man for your thoughtful and articulate commentaries. I’m a professional social worker, who is very concerned with the current city council and many residents, like Long Over Due. The current mayor and Long Over Due are public embarrassments who demonstrate a disparaging lack of community spirit and compassion and are alll about entitlement. As a community we need to dialogue with one to bridge the gaps in understanding, not create additional divides. As a city of Human Rights we need to celebrate our diverse citizens. Unfortunately, our dear city is simply mirroring the national divide that is touted In Washington, DC. between the haves and have nots.I would like to think that Mountain View can do so much better.


7 people like this
Posted by 3rdMAW
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 26, 2019 at 9:31 am

3rdMAW is a registered user.

Mountain View had decided to first legitimize RV street parking through non-enforcement as another bizarre feel good (lenny s.) social experiment. The richest state in the country is home to 25% of the homeless population.
Good weather and inept public officials are to blame.

"...Instead of getting to the root of our problems, most of our politicians seem to think that engaging in bizarre social experiments will somehow solve our problems.

For example, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is convinced that we can solve the homeless problem by building tiny housing units in the backyards of private homeowners…"

As part of this mission, the city is pursuing a pilot program, made possible by a $1 million Bloomberg Philanthropies grant, that would help homeowners install backyard units on their properties. In exchange for a $10,000 to $30,000 stipend, homeowners would be able to charge a small rent to homeless tenants, who would pay their share through vouchers or their own income. The city also plans to institute a matchmaking process that pairs owners and tenants.

“Our homeless crisis demands that we get creative,” the mayor said. If the backyard pilot works, he added, the idea could be adopted anywhere.

So if you live in Los Angeles, soon you will be able to bring the needles and piles of human feces from Skid Row into your own backyard


8 people like this
Posted by @Steve Fitzsimons
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 26, 2019 at 10:11 am

Putting the burden of solving world poverty on Mountain View's shoulders is not fair. San Jose with > 1 million population has this: Web Link "Occupants of trailers and motor homes that are being used for living and/or sleeping quarters may be cited and/or told to move immediately." Other Bay Area cities (actually, including MV) have similar ordinances. You cannot expect MV to house all of the Bay Area workers.


4 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Castro City
on Jun 26, 2019 at 10:26 am

In response to 3rdMAW you said:

“Mountain View had decided to first legitimize RV street parking through non-enforcement as another bizarre feel good (lenny s.) social experiment. The richest state in the country is home to 25% of the homeless population.”

If you read the City code, the City is not MANDATED to tow any vehicle from parking on the streets, please read the code:

“SEC. 19.21. - Towing away of vehicles.
Any regularly employed and salaried officer of the police department of the city MAY remove or cause to be removed: “

The key word is MAY, and not SHALL. SHALL would require removal of the vehicle, MAY means it s upt to the City Police Officer, the City Police Department, or the City Council to choose to remove the vehicle. It goes on to say:

“a. Any vehicle that has been parked upon a street, highway or public parking lot for seventy-two (72) or more consecutive hours. “

But that means the vehicle can be moved 10,000 feet during the 72 hours to make it NOT consecutive. The officer would have to have proof the vehicle did not move prior to ordering towing. Even though under SEC. 19.72. - Parking in excess of seventy-two (72) consecutive hours prohibited. Under SEC.19.71 there is a codified exception that states:

“SEC. 19.71. - Parking between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. prohibited; exceptions.


It shall be unlawful for the owner or driver of any vehicle to allow such vehicle to remain standing upon any street or alley in the city for a period of time longer than one hour between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. without a permit therefor, provided, however, that this section shall not apply to vehicles of any regularly licensed physician when actually engaged in making professional calls.

In cases of hardship where the owners of vehicles CANNOT OBTAIN SUITABLE STORAGE OR PARKING FACILITIES, PERMITS FOR PARKING FOR MORE THAN ONE HOUR DURING ALL THE TIME BETWEEN 2:00 A.M. AND 6:00 A.M. MAY BE ISSUED BY THE CHIEF OF POLICE. The application for a permit shall be signed by the applicant, shall state the make, model and license number of the vehicle, AND SHALL CONTAIN A STATEMENT OF THE NECESSITY AND REASONS FOR THE PERMIT. If, upon investigation, it is found that the necessity exists therefor, and that THE APPLICANT HAS NO REASONABLE MEANS FOR NIGHT STORAGE OF THE VEHICLE DURING THE ABOVE STATED HOURS, THE CHIEF OF POLICE SHALL ISSUE THE PERMIT FOR A PERIOD NOT TO EXCEED SIX (6) MONTHS. Before using such permit, the permittee shall pay the chief of police or his representative, A FEE OF ONE DOLLAR ($1) FOR SIX (6) MONTHS. The permit shall not be transferable and shall be displayed on the left side window to the rear of the driver of the vehicle for which it is issued at all times during which the vehicle is parked upon the street between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. The chief of police shall revoke the permit when the necessity under which it was issued and the reasons therefor cease to exist, or may renew such permit if the hardship still exists. No permit shall be granted for commercial vehicles. “

The fact is that the City does not even properly inform these people of this legal right. The Police SHALL issue the permit, not MAY. So this is a good cause to claim that trying to force RVS from the city is UNCONSTITUTIONAL because the RV owner has a legal right to stay where they are as long as they are PROPERLY informed of their legal remedy of the parking control law.

It goes on to say:

“b. Any vehicle obstructing the free flow of traffic on any street or in the traveling lane of any parking lot.”

Thus the officer would have to prove that it is impairing the free flow of traffic, or in in a traveling lane of a parking lot. It goes on to say:

“c. Any vehicle that is parked after signs have been erected giving notice that the parking of vehicles upon such street or portion thereof is prohibited. Such signs shall been erected in the manner required by Vehicle Code Section 22651(l) and 22651(m) and shall either be erected by or authorized to be erected by the city, including pursuant to an excavation or encroachment permit. “

Vehicle Code Section 22651(l) states:

“(l) If a vehicle is illegally parked on a highway in violation of a local ordinance forbidding standing or parking and the use of a highway, or a portion thereof, IS NECESSARY FOR THE CLEANING, REPAIR, OR CONSTRUCTION OF THE HIGHWAY, OR FOR THE INSTALLATION OF UNDERGROUND UTILITIES, AND SIGNS GIVING NOTICE THAT THE VEHICLE MAY BE REMOVED ARE ERECTED OR PLACED AT LEAST 24 HOURS PRIOR TO THE REMOVAL BY A LOCAL AUTHORITY PURSUANT TO THE ORDINANCE.

So that law would not apply in this case and would not work for section C. of the City Code and 22651(m) states:

“(m) If the use of the highway, or a portion of the highway, is authorized by a local authority for a PURPOSE OTHER THAN THE NORMAL FLOW OF TRAFFIC OR FOR THE MOVEMENT OF EQUIPMENT, ARTICLES, OR STRUCTURES OF UNUSUAL SIZE, AND THE PARKING OF A VEHICLE WOULD PROHIBIT OR INTERFERE WITH THAT USE OR MOVEMENT, AND SIGNS GIVING NOTICE THAT THE VEHICLE MAY BE REMOVED ARE ERECTED OR PLACED AT LEAST 24 HOURS PRIOR TO THE REMOVAL BY A LOCAL AUTHORITY PURSUANTTO THE ORDINANCE.”

Again that law does not apply in this case and would not work for section C of the City Code. It goes on to say:

“d. Any vehicle that is parked where prohibited under the city code and signs are posted giving notice of the removal.”

Simply put, those signs do not exist on the streets where the RVs are parked. You also said:

“...Instead of getting to the root of our problems, most of our politicians seem to think that engaging in bizarre social experiments will somehow solve our problems.”

So far my research above indicates no social experimentation. The laws DO ALLOW for RV parking anywhere, especially if there are no parking resources available in the City. So no “bizarre social experiment” here. You said:

“So if you live in Los Angeles, soon you will be able to bring the needles and piles of human feces from Skid Row into your own backyard”

Again, you have no proof that EVERY RV in fact dumps “the needles and piles of human feces from Skid Row into your own backyard” This is just a assumption of facts not in evidence to enrage people from thinking rationally and understanding the real story.


9 people like this
Posted by dont go away mad
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 27, 2019 at 11:27 pm

dont go away mad is a registered user.

Did you know you can’t park your car on the street with a for sale sign on it? But you can park an ugly old RV with a blue tarp over the roof. It’s also against the law to park your vehicle on the street if it’s uninsured. Makes you wonder who’s in charge?


1 person likes this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Castro City
on Jun 28, 2019 at 7:44 am

IN response to dont go away mad you said:

"Did you know you can’t park your car on the street with a for sale sign on it?"

Makes sense because it is a commercial act. Your not using the land for your personal use. If you parked it because you lived there only, you are clear. You said"

"But you can park an ugly old RV with a blue tarp over the roof."

I know the one you talked about, but yes it is legal. It may be ugly, but like the first amendment and art, art can be ugly but it's art. You said:

"It’s also against the law to park your vehicle on the street if it’s uninsured."

Yeas because another vehicle can run into it, or an earthquake can cause abuilding to fall on it. Or a tree can fall on it. So that makes sense. You are not required to be insured in your own parking lot or spot in your residential parking area. Except if the lease has it as a condition. You said:

"Makes you wonder who’s in charge?"

Simply put, the state laws and the city laws are in charge. They currently do not allow a ban on RVs. Any attempt to revoke that right will be required to satisfy strict scrutiny regarding the removal of a right. Strict Scrutiny requires:

In American constitutional law, strict scrutiny is the highest and most stringent standard of judicial review, and results in a judge striking down a law unless the government can demonstrate in court that a law or regulation: one, is necessary to a "compelling state interest"; two, that the law is "narrowly tailored" to achieving this compelling purpose; and three, that the law uses the "least restrictive means" to achieve the purpose."

If the City cannot satisfy that condition, the removal of that right will be thrown out in court. This approach is in effect the "most restrictive means" to achieve the goals regarding "perceived" dumping of human waste and garbage, AND it is punitive to those who have not done that. So it fails on that condition alone


8 people like this
Posted by Billy bob
a resident of Bailey Park
on Jun 28, 2019 at 11:45 am

We the people of Mountain View who are sick and tired of the way the city is being run need to form our own group . We should call it TAKE BACK Mountain View if we ban together in numbers the city will have to listen . Enough talk we need action.


14 people like this
Posted by OK
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2019 at 12:37 pm

So do it Billy bob. Or did you mean we need action by someone ELSE?
It doesn't bother me much to get too riled up, but please lead by example and not just the typical manufactured outrage we see online these days, you know, just msg board talk. Spring into action son! Do it!
Bill-E!
Bill-E!
Bill-E!


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