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.
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.
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.
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!
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.