In April, the Environmental Planning Commission approved 303 much-needed new homes at 1001 North Shoreline Blvd. The site, currently a parking lot, is close to major employers, with zero displacement and minimal impact on existing residential neighborhoods.
The site is walking distance from employers in Terra Bella and North Bayshore. For those residents who will work outside the area, it is conveniently located beside Highway 101 and future transit routes to the downtown transit center. Forty of the housing units will be below market rate, dedicated to families who desperately need them. And, since the site is currently a parking lot, the project displaces no one.
While most Mountain View residents are welcoming of newcomers, there are some vocal contradictory voices. A recent op-ed authored by Albert Jeans, an informal organizer in the nearby Stierlin Estates neighborhood, denounces the project as “housing at any cost,” an example of City Hall malfeasance. However, fair consideration shows that this is far from the case.
The op-ed accurately states that, although the city initiated a “visioning” process that would allow higher-density development — including residential — in the Terra Bella area, it abandoned the process. However, this argument is disingenuous. A principal reason for the termination of the visioning process was neighborhood opposition led by Jeans’ group. Those residents remained firmly opposed to the visioning plan even after it had been generously revised to address their concerns.
The op-ed is also correct that 1001 North Shoreline required additional approval due to zoning restrictions, but its claim that the project will “radically alter the character” of the neighborhood does not withstand scrutiny. The seven-story residential buildings will be the same height as the existing four-story office building (“Shoreline Gateway”). There are in fact no residential neighborhoods adjacent to the property — it is between an office building and a storage facility. Far from degrading neighborhood character, this project would form the focus of a revitalized Terra Bella area.
Furthermore, the op-ed’s characterization of the developers as money-grubbing profiteers fails to mention the comprehensive and compelling benefits that they have agreed to provide. The package includes a fee for school construction, a community benefit fee, land dedications and infrastructure, and a very generous fee for developing new parks, totaling $22.6 million. And the subsidy for the 40 below-market-rate housing units is worth millions of dollars more.
Mountain View has made great strides in recent years to enable more of the people who work here to also live here. Anti-growth activists are often keen to wring their hands about new offices exacerbating the jobs-housing imbalance, but whenever an opportunity arises to right that imbalance by building homes, they invariably find reasons to reject that as well. The earlier “Housing at any cost” op-ed has not demonstrated any cost that this project will impose on the city. Its vague prognostications of “aftermath” do not convince. This is a zero-displacement project, strategically located to minimize traffic impact. Can we do anything but conclude that the logical end of such reasoning is “no housing at any cost”?
Ilya Gurin and Allen Zheng are Mountain View residents.