News

Mountain View City Council gives the green light for seven-story affordable housing project

Storage facilities along Terra Bella Avenue could soon be replaced by affordable housing. Courtesy city of Mountain View.

In an unusual partnership, an affordable housing developer is teaming up with a self-storage company to create a seven-story housing complex on Terra Bella Avenue in Mountain View.

Public Storage and the nonprofit developer Alta Housing are proposing a mixed-use project that puts 105 units of affordable housing next door to five-story storage facilities, ratcheting up density in an industrial area poised for rapid redevelopment.

If built, the project would be next door to another recently approved development that puts housing next to offices at the corner of Shoreline Boulevard and Highway 101.

The Mountain View City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to allow the project to proceed through the planning process. While council members said they were happy to support an all-affordable housing project without a massive subsidy, some worried that the future residents would be shortchanged on park space, jammed too close to Highway 101 and far from neighborhood amenities.

"Is it really the best place for affordable housing when we're talking about equity?" asked councilwoman Lisa Matichak.

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Public Storage and Alta Housing have been planning to share the site for years, with Public Storage recently donating an extra half-acre of land to double the size of the housing complex. The early design for the project places the seven-story, 74-foot-tall apartment building along Terra Bella Avenue, while the storage facilities would be tucked behind the housing along the highway.

The units would be restricted to those making between 30% and 80% of the area's median income, which means a family of four currently making between $47,000 and $104,000 would qualify.

While there are no nearby parks and no park space included in the project's design, there will be about 11,000 square feet of open space on an outdoor deck area for tenants.

Hitching onto a housing proposal, Public Storage is seeking to build five-story storage buildings along Linda Vista Avenue and Highway 101. Courtesy city of Mountain View.

Residents in the Stierlin Estates neighborhood to the south said they worried the project would be anything but family friendly, raising concerns about traffic safety and the lack of park space envisioned for the site. They also complained that the neighborhood is already packed to the brim with on-street parking, and that the future residents would only exacerbate the problem.

The meeting also underscored the fact that the Terra Bella area of the city has no overarching vision or zoning plan for future development -- an ongoing problem that forces council members to handle each development as a one-off. Last year the City Council considered, but ultimately rejected, a so-called visioning plan to guide development for the area, in part due to opposition by Stierlin Estates residents.

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Council members have since repeatedly said Terra Bella needs a full-fledged precise plan to serve as a template for projects in the area and analyze the traffic and environmental impacts of future growth. But the problem appears to be self-inflicted: on top of rejecting the visioning plan last year, the council has yet to commit the resources to a Terra Bella precise plan.

Stierlin Estates resident Katy Blus said she worried about the seven-story height of the housing project and the lack of amenities, as well as the city's apparent lack of planning for the area.

"It really feels like these projects are being approved on the basis of first-come, first-served instead of properly planning for the whole area," Blus said.

The council's Aug. 25 vote allows the project to be further refined and vetted by city staff before coming back for approval. While council members were quick to greenlight the project, Matichak said the city needs to find ways to include neighborhood amenities in an area that's slowly changing from a light industrial center into an area packed with housing.

"We do need the infrastructure, we do need the parks, and I think we need to start thinking about that now rather than later," she said. "It's too difficult to do it after the fact."

Kevin Forestieri
Kevin Forestieri is an assistant editor with the Mountain View Voice and The Almanac. He joined the Voice in 2014 and has reported on schools, housing, crime and health. Read more >>

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Mountain View City Council gives the green light for seven-story affordable housing project

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Wed, Aug 26, 2020, 5:16 pm

In an unusual partnership, an affordable housing developer is teaming up with a self-storage company to create a seven-story housing complex on Terra Bella Avenue in Mountain View.

Public Storage and the nonprofit developer Alta Housing are proposing a mixed-use project that puts 105 units of affordable housing next door to five-story storage facilities, ratcheting up density in an industrial area poised for rapid redevelopment.

If built, the project would be next door to another recently approved development that puts housing next to offices at the corner of Shoreline Boulevard and Highway 101.

The Mountain View City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to allow the project to proceed through the planning process. While council members said they were happy to support an all-affordable housing project without a massive subsidy, some worried that the future residents would be shortchanged on park space, jammed too close to Highway 101 and far from neighborhood amenities.

"Is it really the best place for affordable housing when we're talking about equity?" asked councilwoman Lisa Matichak.

Public Storage and Alta Housing have been planning to share the site for years, with Public Storage recently donating an extra half-acre of land to double the size of the housing complex. The early design for the project places the seven-story, 74-foot-tall apartment building along Terra Bella Avenue, while the storage facilities would be tucked behind the housing along the highway.

The units would be restricted to those making between 30% and 80% of the area's median income, which means a family of four currently making between $47,000 and $104,000 would qualify.

While there are no nearby parks and no park space included in the project's design, there will be about 11,000 square feet of open space on an outdoor deck area for tenants.

Residents in the Stierlin Estates neighborhood to the south said they worried the project would be anything but family friendly, raising concerns about traffic safety and the lack of park space envisioned for the site. They also complained that the neighborhood is already packed to the brim with on-street parking, and that the future residents would only exacerbate the problem.

The meeting also underscored the fact that the Terra Bella area of the city has no overarching vision or zoning plan for future development -- an ongoing problem that forces council members to handle each development as a one-off. Last year the City Council considered, but ultimately rejected, a so-called visioning plan to guide development for the area, in part due to opposition by Stierlin Estates residents.

Council members have since repeatedly said Terra Bella needs a full-fledged precise plan to serve as a template for projects in the area and analyze the traffic and environmental impacts of future growth. But the problem appears to be self-inflicted: on top of rejecting the visioning plan last year, the council has yet to commit the resources to a Terra Bella precise plan.

Stierlin Estates resident Katy Blus said she worried about the seven-story height of the housing project and the lack of amenities, as well as the city's apparent lack of planning for the area.

"It really feels like these projects are being approved on the basis of first-come, first-served instead of properly planning for the whole area," Blus said.

The council's Aug. 25 vote allows the project to be further refined and vetted by city staff before coming back for approval. While council members were quick to greenlight the project, Matichak said the city needs to find ways to include neighborhood amenities in an area that's slowly changing from a light industrial center into an area packed with housing.

"We do need the infrastructure, we do need the parks, and I think we need to start thinking about that now rather than later," she said. "It's too difficult to do it after the fact."

Comments

Alta Housing
Registered user
Stierlin Estates
on Aug 26, 2020 at 6:26 pm
Alta Housing, Stierlin Estates
Registered user
on Aug 26, 2020 at 6:26 pm

What is Alta Housing? Who heads it up? How much money will Alta Housing net? Don't ask. Don't tell.


Frank Richards
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Aug 26, 2020 at 6:34 pm
Frank Richards, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Aug 26, 2020 at 6:34 pm

So sad to see that the organized NIMBYs in Stierlin Estates have an ally in Lisa Matichak. We need to reject Trump's fear-mongering about building new homes in our neighborhoods. Mountain View needs more homes of all kinds! I welcome the new neighbors.


Joel Lachter
Registered user
North Whisman
on Aug 27, 2020 at 8:41 am
Joel Lachter, North Whisman
Registered user
on Aug 27, 2020 at 8:41 am

@Frank. Apparently Matichak voted for the project. Her comments only indicate that, as we add housing to an area, we need to add amenities. I hope we can agree that as we add new homes we should be adding parks, shops, etc for those people. I am not sure what your issue is with this position.


Alta Housing
Registered user
Stierlin Estates
on Aug 27, 2020 at 10:07 am
Alta Housing, Stierlin Estates
Registered user
on Aug 27, 2020 at 10:07 am

"Alta" means "high" in Spanish. The CEO of the California Corporation "Alta Housing," just changed to the name a few months ago. He is a recent and long-time City of Mountain View employee. Does anyone know his name? Don't ask. Don't tell.


Frank Richards
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Aug 27, 2020 at 10:31 am
Frank Richards, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Aug 27, 2020 at 10:31 am

Joel, we've seen this play out before, Trump just says the subtext as text. People like Lisa Matichak support "affordable housing" in the abstract, but always find problems with specific housing plans. Let's take a stroll down memory lane for Lisa Matichak's record:

"Matichak was the first elected president of the Wagon Wheel Neighborhood Association seven years ago, created as the neighborhood fought off a housing project along the Hetch-Hetchy bike and pedestrian trail that would have blocked her view of the Santa Cruz mountains with 64, three-story homes. The Sierra Club, Greenbelt Alliance and environmentally minded residents supported the project"

"her vote against the possibility of zoning for 1,100 homes in North Bayshore proposed as a way to house Google employees."

To further highlight the Trump comparison, she's received significant funding from at least one anti-Obama Republican...


Nihonsuki
Registered user
Stierlin Estates
on Aug 27, 2020 at 10:58 am
Nihonsuki, Stierlin Estates
Registered user
on Aug 27, 2020 at 10:58 am

Alta Housing is a non-profit organization so they're well-positioned to create affordable housing. Why should people have to pay rent to corporations who are in it to make a buck? Randy Tsuda is the current CEO. Everything is on their website. Residents in Cuesta Park should allow housing to be built on the Cuesta Park Annex. It's a perfect location in an area that has more than the recommended 3 acres of parks per 1000 residents.


Alta Housing
Registered user
Stierlin Estates
on Aug 27, 2020 at 11:11 am
Alta Housing, Stierlin Estates
Registered user
on Aug 27, 2020 at 11:11 am

Yes. Readers are beginning to see. Answer the question about how much money this so-called "non-profit" will net - and how much will go to the City of Mountain View retiree as his "profit" or pay. Corporations and developers want HIGH HOUSING everywhere they choose. It is more PROFITABLE in nicer areas. Next to Cuesta Park will be nice for developers - especially with parking on nearby streets. Beginning to see.


Steven Nelson
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Aug 27, 2020 at 11:33 am
Steven Nelson, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Aug 27, 2020 at 11:33 am

posted elsewhere - Yes to using Cuesta Park Annex for greater public good (housing, either immediate or longer-term lower-income). Lisa? AH NO. I have a choice. Last election I suported her campaign with funds, Just To See Her accept a multi-thousand dollar commercial developer 'campaign contribution' weeks After the campaign ended with Her election.

Matichak is not a compassionate representative for this community in the HOUSING category. I oppose her reelection this November.

OR - is she supporting Duplex, Triplex, Quadraplex infill in R1 zoning now (ha HA-sure)


Katy
Registered user
Stierlin Estates
on Aug 27, 2020 at 1:10 pm
Katy, Stierlin Estates
Registered user
on Aug 27, 2020 at 1:10 pm

@Frank..... Your comment was very rude. There are residents that are opposing the scale of the project. This will be the third 7 story building on Terra Bella within a short distance.

You are more than welcome to donate your backyard to to build a 7 story. We need affordable housing and I bet your location will be more appealing for families than next to a highway and recycling center and of course public storage facility. Please come and check this proposed location for 7 story that will include families before posting offensive comments about the neighbors who are actually living there! Helpful comments are appreciated. We all live in MV and want to have a great city!


Frank Richards
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Aug 27, 2020 at 1:29 pm
Frank Richards, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Aug 27, 2020 at 1:29 pm

Katy, which part of my comment was rude or offensive? I support more homes throughout Mountain View of all kinds!

If the area isn't appealing for families, they won't choose to live there, and other people will. We need more homes for everyone in this city. Who are you to decide which homes families will or won't want, or which types of people are deserving to live here?


Seriously
Registered user
Martens-Carmelita
on Aug 27, 2020 at 2:58 pm
Seriously, Martens-Carmelita
Registered user
on Aug 27, 2020 at 2:58 pm

Development on Cuesta Park Annex is a terrible idea. It is one of the only semi-natural open spaces left in what used to be mile-upon-mile of orchards. It's value as an open space cannot be over emphasized. The Annex is an amenity available to all and should never be used as a source of profit for any developer. It is not up to residents of the Cuesta Park neighborhood to decide its fate but it has so far been preserved because councillors of all persuasions have recognized its value for present and future generations.
As for the 7 story housing structure and adjacent storage facilities - who will be able to tell the difference?


Tzur
Registered user
Stierlin Estates
on Aug 27, 2020 at 4:59 pm
Tzur, Stierlin Estates
Registered user
on Aug 27, 2020 at 4:59 pm

Terra Bella area does not have sufficient infrastructure to support this project. Traffic studies for the 1001 Shoreline project alone already bring us beyond the recommended numbers.
Adding affordable housing as part of a precise plan for the entire area, will make sense and can address all these issues.
All council members that chose to speak up in the meeting on this topic, shared similar concerns to Lisa Matichak's, and they were all valid, as you need to solve these pressing infrastructure issues before you populate this area.


MV neighbor
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Aug 27, 2020 at 5:06 pm
MV neighbor, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Aug 27, 2020 at 5:06 pm

@seriously, I think the reference to building 7 story affordable housing on the Cuesta Park annex was a “tongue-in-cheek” response to Frank from Cuesta Park Neighborhood. The developer/high tech YIMBY folks are all for building in someone else’s neighborhood without any amenities like parks or stores but not really in their own! But the YIMBY financial funders aren’t really all that interested in anything but the bottom dollar for them...hence the new phase “doesn’t pencil” if you add set backs, greenways, like Cuesta Park has...


Frank Richards
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Aug 27, 2020 at 5:21 pm
Frank Richards, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Aug 27, 2020 at 5:21 pm

If that was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, it really missed the mark! I'm neither a developer nor a high-tech YIMBY, but I'd love for there to be more, dense building in my neighborhood. Eliminating apartment bans, for one, would be a great start, as that type of exclusionary zoning has an awful segregationist history that it perpetuates today. It's so odd that NIMBYs believe everyone feels the same way they do. Give me more neighbors!


Polomom
Registered user
Waverly Park
on Aug 27, 2020 at 5:45 pm
Polomom, Waverly Park
Registered user
on Aug 27, 2020 at 5:45 pm

@Seriously. We are degrading affordable housing to storage of people. While we need the affordable housing desperately this is an awful location. So the first 5 floors in the housing look against a windowless storage building? Since we don’t really have a kid friendly location we are targeting singles and seniors. Do we expect a senior push their walker along Shoreline to the closest grocery store? Agree with Lisa on the not ideal infrastructure for this project.


Frank Richards
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Aug 27, 2020 at 6:56 pm
Frank Richards, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Aug 27, 2020 at 6:56 pm

Thank you, Polomom, for clearly modeling the rhetoric I mentioned above. You admit, abstractly, we need "affordable housing", but for every specific housing project, gosh, this just isn't the right place, or it's just too big, or the neighborhood isn't quite right, or it's not targeting the "right" people.

We need more homes for people of all types, and if people want to live there who am I or who are you to say they're wrong? I can't imagine living in half the houses in my neighborhood, but the people who live in them sure seem to like them!


Polomom
Registered user
Waverly Park
on Aug 27, 2020 at 7:13 pm
Polomom, Waverly Park
Registered user
on Aug 27, 2020 at 7:13 pm

@Frank Richards why not the annex? Walk to shopping , Dr. offices and bus stops. It’s only used as an off leash dog park. The wildlife we used to have disappeared with all those off leash dogs.


Nihonsuki
Registered user
Stierlin Estates
on Aug 27, 2020 at 9:42 pm
Nihonsuki, Stierlin Estates
Registered user
on Aug 27, 2020 at 9:42 pm

There is a social inequity in placing affordable housing in the less desirable parts of town. This project, with a significant number of 3-bedroom units, is aimed at families . All of us are limited in where we can live by our financial means. Whoever decides to live here will have to balance the location of the project with some other factor(s) like distance to work. There are thousands of people on the waiting lists for affordable housing, so someone will be willing to live here, but that doesn't mean it's a healthy location, and the city should not be enabling inferior projects like this.


My Two Cents
Registered user
Rex Manor
on Aug 28, 2020 at 3:41 am
My Two Cents, Rex Manor
Registered user
on Aug 28, 2020 at 3:41 am

Public Storage bought over an industrial park in Santa Clara that happens to house a small science school providing science classes to kids K to 12, and they rewrote the lease such that the school could no longer operate there. PS is not a compassionate landlord.


More Housing for a Better Community
Registered user
another community
on Aug 28, 2020 at 4:34 pm
More Housing for a Better Community, another community
Registered user
on Aug 28, 2020 at 4:34 pm

You go, @Frank Richards! Love everything you say, brother! I don’t agree with all of @Steven Nelson’s positions on other issues, but on this issue, he too speaks the truth. Many commenters here, especially @Alta Housing, are trying to start whisper campaigns with vague allusions to wrongdoing that have no substance in fact — a typical NIMBY technique. Randy Tsuda is very capable and has a strong track record on delivering quality affordable housing in this area. Come on people! We can make good, responsible choices to be inclusive, and we do need a range of residents doing all kinds of jobs at various pay levels to make our communities work.


Alta Housing
Registered user
Stierlin Estates
on Aug 29, 2020 at 11:43 am
Alta Housing, Stierlin Estates
Registered user
on Aug 29, 2020 at 11:43 am

"High" Housing - Randy Tsuda CEO. $$$. 7-stories. Cuesta Park may be next. Tell us about Tsuda's "strong track record of delivering..." Name the projects. And then tell us how you know!!!


Alta Housing
Registered user
Stierlin Estates
on Aug 29, 2020 at 1:16 pm
Alta Housing, Stierlin Estates
Registered user
on Aug 29, 2020 at 1:16 pm

Looking at the website for "Alta Housing, " approved projects appear. But which ones have been "delivered" by CEO Randy Tsuda? There is a "virtual ground-breaking" of a high apartment project on El Camino featuring career politician Margaret Abe-Koga The Board of Directors of "Alta Housing" on the website includes former City Council Member Pat Showater. Abe-Koga and Showalter are on the the November ballot running again for City Council. Small world in local real estate.


Alta Housing
Registered user
Stierlin Estates
on Aug 29, 2020 at 2:26 pm
Alta Housing, Stierlin Estates
Registered user
on Aug 29, 2020 at 2:26 pm

To be fair, Abe-Koga does appear in the ground-breaking video as mayor. It is partly a city project. And board members of a non-profit corporation are usually not paid and serve to make sure the corporation serves the public interest. Which brings us back to the earlier question: what does Randy Tsuda gets paid as CEO? Board members must know.


Steven Nelson
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Aug 31, 2020 at 11:11 am
Steven Nelson, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Aug 31, 2020 at 11:11 am

Dear Frank of Cuesta Park neighborhood, glad to read your comments. Polomom may not have been reading your comments so well! (is she out-with-the-ponies while posting? :). Both of us residents of the Cuesta Park neighborhood know this "Annex" site well. Myself, I've lived here in my single family (R1) house for over 25 years.

I believe Randy (CEO of "Alta Housing) could help figure out a reasonable public-benefit higher-density housing solution for The Annex. RANDY HAS DECADES AND DECADES of urban planning well-documented work as the Community Development Director of the City of Mountain View (Planning)! (posters - please be respectful of 'research' and "primary sources")

Randy's record is extremely clear. If you bother to research (students - that's an 'assignment'). I trust Randy's basic judgement just Because Of His Long Public Record in MV (14 years).


Steven Nelson
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Aug 31, 2020 at 11:13 am
Steven Nelson, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Aug 31, 2020 at 11:13 am

OK - hyperbole, 14 years was not ALL as Director! Only "a decade". [do The Math Steve]


Alta Housing
Registered user
Stierlin Estates
on Aug 31, 2020 at 11:20 am
Alta Housing, Stierlin Estates
Registered user
on Aug 31, 2020 at 11:20 am

Notice that no one answers the question: what is Randy Tsuda getting paid? Pat Showalter knows. Randy Tsuda knows. But they have nothing to say.


Polomom
Registered user
Waverly Park
on Aug 31, 2020 at 2:03 pm
Polomom, Waverly Park
Registered user
on Aug 31, 2020 at 2:03 pm

@Steven Nelson, no ponies, maybe a pool and a bright yellow ball in my life. I have lived here over 35 years. I have watched this city grow. I take great offense at our officials dealing with low income housing. An industrial area is not suitable to raise kids, let seniors live out their golden years independently. If we spend that much money, we should at least treat the less affluent members of our society with respect and not "store" them next to a sound wall. It really doesn't matter how much R.T. makes, he should always keep in mind it is peoples lives he is dealing with.


Frank Richards
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Aug 31, 2020 at 3:19 pm
Frank Richards, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Aug 31, 2020 at 3:19 pm

Again, Polomom, please answer my question: We need more homes for people of all types, and if people want to live there who am I or who are you to say they're wrong? I can't imagine living in half the houses in my neighborhood, but the people who live in them sure seem to like them!

Watching this dance play out over the last decade has gotten us where we are, where every specific project for affordable housing is deemed not the right place, too big, not big enough, too expensive, too cheap, not enough, too much, we end up making no progress. We're far enough behind on all kinds of housing that we need more homes wherever we can get them and we need to stop the regressive bans on multifamily housing. More neighbors make a community stronger!


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