Frustrated by what he calls a slow-moving bureaucracy that has failed to act with urgency on important issues, Mountain View resident Paul Roales said he hopes to join the City Council this November to shake things up.
Roales, a Jackson Park neighborhood resident, works as a software engineer at self-driving car company Waymo, and said that in recent years he has been watching the city of Mountain View and the City Council operate with anything but expedience. When unhoused residents lined city streets in RVs, it took four years of studies and dithering to create a safe parking site.
"In these last few months we got a few parking spots up, and we're still debating the issue," Roales said. "Four years is a long time to look at any issue, especially one as important as that, and yet we keep seeing this over and over again on the council."
The same goes for housing and transportation, Roales said. Serious issues that ought to be addressed with a sense of urgency, and tasks like residential zoning, transportation projects and even approval of individual projects, is bogged down in bureaucratic muck, he said.
Though Roales currently lives in the heart of Mountain View and works for a subsidiary of Google parent company Alphabet, the city's largest employer, his civic roots take him back to West Lafayette, Indiana. While a student at Purdue University, Roales was elected to the West Lafayette City Council, where he served for two years. The city is pretty similar in some ways to Mountain View, Roales said -- similar population, near a large metropolitan city and a large university -- but also had a tendency to get things done with more expediency.
Roales said he hopes to speed things along as a council member, but would also push to get more residents involved as well, leveraging the brain power and talent in the Mountain View community.
"That's definitely one of the things I want to encourage, more citizen advisory group members. I think almost every department should have an advisory group," he said. "We have such a talented group of citizens, and that could be one of our strengths."
Generally speaking, Roales counts himself as an advocate for housing growth, and that the cost of living shows that the housing market simply isn't competitive in Mountain View. He said there are plenty of ways to protect and preserve existing neighborhood communities while at the same time accelerating housing growth, particularly in the North Bayshore area, but the city has to act with a sense of urgency. Willing developers shouldn't be waiting around for the city's under-resourced development pipeline, he said.
"The city is just moving too slow to respond to the issue," Roales said. "If we're really serious about solving housing in the area, let's do it in 18 months -- let's really go after this."
More recently, Roales said he was disappointed to see what he considers the city's lack of leadership in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which left the bulk of the public health work, testing and public messaging to the county. He said the city also needs to start preparing for what's on the horizon, including significant layoffs and a potential shift by major employers to work-from-home policies.
"My feeling is that this is a 'once in a generation' opportunity to rebuild Mountain View so that it works for everyone," Roales said.
Next week marks the filing deadline for Mountain View City Council candidates, and it's already a packed field. Nine candidates have filed to run for four seats on the City Council, including incumbents Margaret Abe-Koga and Lisa Matichak. Councilmen John McAlister and Chris Clark have terms that expire this year, but are barred from running for re-election due to the city's term limits.
The race also has six challengers: former council members Lenny Siegel and Pat Showalter; former State Assemblywoman Sally Lieber; Mountain View Whisman School Board member Jose Gutierrez; and Mountain View residents Alex Nunez and John Lashlee. Previous coverage of the emerging council race can be found here.
As of Monday, the city has two candidate forums scheduled. The Mountain View Mobile Home Alliance is planning to host a candidate forum on Saturday, Aug. 15, at 2:30 p.m., and the Shoreline West Neighborhood Association will hold a "virtual" forum for candidates on Saturday, Sept. 19, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.