News

Mountain View City Council looks to convert hotel into homeless housing

Mountain View's Crestview Hotel could soon become housing for the homeless under a new proposal. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

A Mountain View hotel could soon be home to dozens of homeless residents and recently displaced tenants, after council members voted unanimously Tuesday to convert the property.

The owner of Crestview Hotel, which is located on El Camino Real and straddles the Sunnyvale border, has offered to sell the property for use as a homeless housing development. With little cash on hand to buy the property, city officials are looking to Santa Clara County to foot the bill and take ownership of the 66-room hotel.

Council members unanimously approved the idea and praised it as a way to help the unhoused, despite opposition from some nearby residents who feared it would sink property values and increase crime. The council agreed to put up to $3.7 million toward rehabilitating and renovating it, which is a small sum compared to the cost of land and new construction.

"It's very seldom that we have opportunities like this," said Councilwoman Margaret Abe-Koga. "When we have that opportunity, you have to grab it."

The owner of the hotel contacted the city in October about the possible sale after hearing about a state program aimed at converting older properties into supportive housing for the homeless. The program, dubbed Homekey, has been used by cities and counties across the Bay Area to buy up hotels and motels for interim and permanent housing.

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Santa Clara County recently received $29.2 million from the program to convert an Extended Stay America hotel in Milpitas into a 132-unit apartment complex for homeless residents and families, including those who lost housing as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The deadline for Homekey applications has long since passed, and city officials say Mountain View doesn't have the cash on hand to buy Crestview Hotel. But in a three-way deal with the county, the city could leverage money from the $950 million Measure A bond, according to Wayne Chen, the city's assistant community development director.

The loose framework of the proposal calls for the hotel rooms to be used for two purposes: as housing for homeless residents, as well as temporary homes for displaced tenants. The city has allowed the demolition of more than 1,000 units over the last several years -- much of it conversion from rent-controlled apartments to condos -- and the hotel could be a pitstop for those abruptly ousted from their homes.

Though the hotel owner did not address the council at the Jan. 26 meeting, the last year has been brutal for the lodging industry, leaving many in dire financial straits. Estimates by the American Hotel and Lodging Association found that half of hotel rooms will remain empty through 2021, and that it won't get much better even when public health orders are lifted. More than 90,000 hotel jobs have been lost in California alone, and hotels nationwide lost an estimated $82 billion in room revenue.

Advocacy groups urged the council to approve the hotel conversion and help those in dire need of housing, citing a dearth of so-called permanent supportive housing units in the region and the heightened public health risks associated with displacement during COVID-19. But numerous residents south of the hotel blasted the proposal, calling it a damaging project that would hurt property values, increase crime and destroy nearby businesses.

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Sophia Yunxin Li, a homeowner on Crestview Drive, said the project would force high-income residents to leave the area, ruining the "prosperity" of the community, and insisted that there are better places to create homeless housing.

"It is an extremely inefficient use of the budget because Crestview Hotel is at a prime location where housing is expensive," Li said in a letter to council members. "There are much more affordable places to build shelters for the homeless. The taxpayers' money should be spent in a wiser way."

The sentiment was not unanimous, however. A handful of nearby residents gave a full-throated endorsement of the proposal and asked the council to move forward.

"This is a neighborhood that sees a lot of business vacancies, but it feels safe, and there is plenty of room to grow it into a robust area that welcomes disadvantaged people," said Dori Myer, a resident living across the street from the hotel.

Councilwoman Pat Showalter called the proposal a great project and voted in support of it, but said the complaints should not fall on deaf ears. She suggested that the city and county address what she called "legitimate concerns" from the nearby residents and work to allay their worries while developing the property.

With the addition of homeless housing at the Crestview Hotel, Mountain View's support for homeless residents will have increased significantly over the last four years. The city opened a downtown homeless shelter in 2017 -- with no major opposition -- and launched three safe parking lots that house close to 150 people.

In addition, the Homekey project on Leghorn Street is currently under construction, and would provide 100 units to homeless seniors and families as soon as April.

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Mountain View City Council looks to convert hotel into homeless housing

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Wed, Jan 27, 2021, 5:45 pm

A Mountain View hotel could soon be home to dozens of homeless residents and recently displaced tenants, after council members voted unanimously Tuesday to convert the property.

The owner of Crestview Hotel, which is located on El Camino Real and straddles the Sunnyvale border, has offered to sell the property for use as a homeless housing development. With little cash on hand to buy the property, city officials are looking to Santa Clara County to foot the bill and take ownership of the 66-room hotel.

Council members unanimously approved the idea and praised it as a way to help the unhoused, despite opposition from some nearby residents who feared it would sink property values and increase crime. The council agreed to put up to $3.7 million toward rehabilitating and renovating it, which is a small sum compared to the cost of land and new construction.

"It's very seldom that we have opportunities like this," said Councilwoman Margaret Abe-Koga. "When we have that opportunity, you have to grab it."

The owner of the hotel contacted the city in October about the possible sale after hearing about a state program aimed at converting older properties into supportive housing for the homeless. The program, dubbed Homekey, has been used by cities and counties across the Bay Area to buy up hotels and motels for interim and permanent housing.

Santa Clara County recently received $29.2 million from the program to convert an Extended Stay America hotel in Milpitas into a 132-unit apartment complex for homeless residents and families, including those who lost housing as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The deadline for Homekey applications has long since passed, and city officials say Mountain View doesn't have the cash on hand to buy Crestview Hotel. But in a three-way deal with the county, the city could leverage money from the $950 million Measure A bond, according to Wayne Chen, the city's assistant community development director.

The loose framework of the proposal calls for the hotel rooms to be used for two purposes: as housing for homeless residents, as well as temporary homes for displaced tenants. The city has allowed the demolition of more than 1,000 units over the last several years -- much of it conversion from rent-controlled apartments to condos -- and the hotel could be a pitstop for those abruptly ousted from their homes.

Though the hotel owner did not address the council at the Jan. 26 meeting, the last year has been brutal for the lodging industry, leaving many in dire financial straits. Estimates by the American Hotel and Lodging Association found that half of hotel rooms will remain empty through 2021, and that it won't get much better even when public health orders are lifted. More than 90,000 hotel jobs have been lost in California alone, and hotels nationwide lost an estimated $82 billion in room revenue.

Advocacy groups urged the council to approve the hotel conversion and help those in dire need of housing, citing a dearth of so-called permanent supportive housing units in the region and the heightened public health risks associated with displacement during COVID-19. But numerous residents south of the hotel blasted the proposal, calling it a damaging project that would hurt property values, increase crime and destroy nearby businesses.

Sophia Yunxin Li, a homeowner on Crestview Drive, said the project would force high-income residents to leave the area, ruining the "prosperity" of the community, and insisted that there are better places to create homeless housing.

"It is an extremely inefficient use of the budget because Crestview Hotel is at a prime location where housing is expensive," Li said in a letter to council members. "There are much more affordable places to build shelters for the homeless. The taxpayers' money should be spent in a wiser way."

The sentiment was not unanimous, however. A handful of nearby residents gave a full-throated endorsement of the proposal and asked the council to move forward.

"This is a neighborhood that sees a lot of business vacancies, but it feels safe, and there is plenty of room to grow it into a robust area that welcomes disadvantaged people," said Dori Myer, a resident living across the street from the hotel.

Councilwoman Pat Showalter called the proposal a great project and voted in support of it, but said the complaints should not fall on deaf ears. She suggested that the city and county address what she called "legitimate concerns" from the nearby residents and work to allay their worries while developing the property.

With the addition of homeless housing at the Crestview Hotel, Mountain View's support for homeless residents will have increased significantly over the last four years. The city opened a downtown homeless shelter in 2017 -- with no major opposition -- and launched three safe parking lots that house close to 150 people.

In addition, the Homekey project on Leghorn Street is currently under construction, and would provide 100 units to homeless seniors and families as soon as April.

Comments

Dan Waylonis
Registered user
Jackson Park
on Jan 28, 2021 at 2:33 pm
Dan Waylonis, Jackson Park
Registered user
on Jan 28, 2021 at 2:33 pm

Please no. MV should NOT be in the business of running housing for anyone, homeless, teachers, etc. Instead, make it easier for developers to create housing of any kind. People will choose the housing that fits their budget. And if someone needs assistance, provide them with financial assistance to be spent how they see fit.


Proud Taxpayer
Registered user
Willowgate
on Jan 28, 2021 at 3:01 pm
Proud Taxpayer, Willowgate
Registered user
on Jan 28, 2021 at 3:01 pm

It's not Mountain Views role to provide free housing for without jobs.
The building would be better used as housing for people who work in the city. City employees of all types (police, fire, teachers, nurses, parks and rec, etc.), even for workers at local businesses. They work here and pay taxes. We need to let them have the first shot at free, or low cost, housing in Mountain View.


Steven Nelson
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Jan 28, 2021 at 3:08 pm
Steven Nelson, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Jan 28, 2021 at 3:08 pm

Dan, there are multiple ways for the local goverments (Country and City) and NGOs (Non Goverment Organizations like non-profit housing corporations) to work out a Joint Powers Agreement where the City has Zero direct responsibility of running the place.

YIMBY sentiments (good for you MAK and Lisa)


che lai
Registered user
Cuernavaca
on Jan 28, 2021 at 4:21 pm
che lai, Cuernavaca
Registered user
on Jan 28, 2021 at 4:21 pm

I agree with Proud Taxpayer. Local workers first !!
I also strongly suggest a Low Cost living, not free. If temperory out of job due to covid, city/county can provide zero interest loan for paying rent. The point is to encourage "standing on his/her own feet". That also means not just a "real estate" project. There need to be employment aid service in-place. This is not a Communism country.

I live walking distance to the hotel. My family is very concerned about safety. We do not want city to stuff the place with strangers, claim the credit and walk away. The city need to screen the applicant for income, work, criminal record, etc, like a normal landlord. City development planning did not tell us the plan, if any, on this area.

I also wonder, how many of the supporters and council members are actually living around the block? How much money will they donate if this project relies on donation instead of city and state fundings?

best regards
c.h.



Local
Registered user
Martens-Carmelita
on Jan 28, 2021 at 4:36 pm
Local, Martens-Carmelita
Registered user
on Jan 28, 2021 at 4:36 pm

I am very concerned at how effective oversight of this housing will be handled. As I understand it, the Safe Lots that were to be only for former renters/owners from Mountain View or workers here, were NOT screened at all - covering for other cities and leaving some of our people out of the loop. The point is, we need to be caring for our own first - and make it clear that other cities cannot depend on MV to cover their homeless. How is this going to be managed?
I totally agree with what Proud Taxpayer and Che Lai have to say here. Those who will live in this housing, have to make a financial commitment to some degree - even if it means providing janitorial services for this housing. Giveaways don't encourage responsibility. And it is vital that there is a strict screening to assure MV taxpayers are supporting our own, as they work towards independence.


Jack
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Jan 28, 2021 at 5:51 pm
Jack, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Jan 28, 2021 at 5:51 pm

1. Turning the hotel into a homeless shelter because of Covid will harm the economy permanently and the business will not be able to recover once the pandemic is over. We should not give up on business and their workers.

2. It is an extremely inefficient use of the budget because Crestview hotel has a prime location, which is next door to the Crestview Community. According to Zillow, it’s zip code 94040 has a median home price of 2.4M, and it is by far the most expensive zip code within Mountain View, almost 50% more expensive than other zip codes within the region. There are many more affordable places to build such facilities.

3. It has no fairness because the Crestview homes will lose significant value over this proposal, punishing the hard-working home owners badly in order to help another group of people is no fairness. I’ve done research on the successful HomeKey hotel projects, e.g. Extended America Stay in Milpitas, the Hotel Diva, and the Granada Hotel in SF, None of them is located within an existing expensive residential community. I believe this is a key factor to their success.

4. Housing Choice Voucher is the most effective known way of reducing homelessness. The data shows it has reduced the homeless rate by 75%. And president Biden is expanding it. It also provides the homeless with more choices and more affordable places to live and helps them better integrate into local communities. Therefore, the funds can be better used to provide more Housing Choice Vouchers.


che lai
Registered user
Cuernavaca
on Jan 29, 2021 at 1:27 am
che lai, Cuernavaca
Registered user
on Jan 29, 2021 at 1:27 am

One more comment, in the council report and in the meeting, there was no mention of opinion from fire department and police department. This project involves major change of building usage and resident. If cooking is allowed in every compartment, fire harzard risk is way highter than typical hotel usage. What does fire department say about this? If 100 homeless stay for extended time at this spot, crime and safety risk is very different from hotel usage too. What is the opinion from police department?

Council need to give Cuernavaca residents clear answers. Otherwise, how can Cuernavaca residents trust and support this project?


AmyGregory
Registered user
Castro City
on Jan 29, 2021 at 2:11 am
AmyGregory, Castro City
Registered user
on Jan 29, 2021 at 2:11 am

To my mind it's good idea. We should help people who are in need


JustAWorkingStiff
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2021 at 2:32 am
JustAWorkingStiff, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Jan 29, 2021 at 2:32 am

1. There should have been a community hearing giving local residents the opportunity to comment
2. At that meeting, a complete plan should have been presented
3. The fact that points 1 & 2 are missing is concerning. They are pretty obvious. When new real estate development go in, there have been good communications with opportunity to comment. Why have our politicians, for which this should be standard practice, avoided doing #1 and #2?
a) I strongly suggest City Council do points #1 and #2 at a meeting in the community.
4. Managing homeless shelters and other public housing is not as easy as it seems. I was dragged into public housing issues in a large Bay Area city, and learned more than I wanted to learn.
5. There is a broader more strategic issue at play: Is the City of Mountain View now in the Public Housing Business?
a) Housing for Teachers
b) Safe Parking Lots for RVs
c) Housing for the homeless

Other cities have formal Public Housing departments. It seems like we are moving in an ad hoc manner toward this. I hate to say this, but something as big and strategic as getting into the Public Housing Business really should be formally proposed to all citizens of this City for vote. The plan should be circulated through out the city in a clear manner so there is a clear understanding of what the city is getting into. Total costs should be included. (I notice there seems to be a habit of telling a beautiful stories, and leaving out the details and the costs)


gretchen
Registered user
Monta Loma
on Jan 29, 2021 at 3:00 pm
gretchen, Monta Loma
Registered user
on Jan 29, 2021 at 3:00 pm

Homeless does not mean unemployed. Homeless does not mean adult. (about one third of homeless are women with young children). Homeless does not mean bad, dirty evil or other. Homeless does not mean lazy. Property values usually do not decline when there is a homeless shelter near by. I am proud to live in a city, and be a long time home owner, who serves all our citizens, not just folks that look, think, talk, and have the same income as me. Look at the wait lists for voucher programs, many years. We all need to be a bit more kind.


Local to Gretchen
Registered user
Martens-Carmelita
on Jan 29, 2021 at 4:08 pm
Local to Gretchen, Martens-Carmelita
Registered user
on Jan 29, 2021 at 4:08 pm

Gretchen, Nobody is being unkind here, and I'm sure we're all compassionate for those more in need than ourselves. I believe the neighbors, who posted here, have very valid points for their concerns. (And yes...property values DO decline when a homeless shelter/housing is nearby - that is a simple fact.) There was little or no neighborhood input for this, and that is very unfair and short-sighted.
You and I don't live near this proposal and our viewpoints could be obviously quite different than those living nearby. I have always felt that we should all look at ANY proposal as though WE were the next door neighbor.
The next homeless shelter, if next to you without notice or input, might get a bit different reaction from you? We need to respect everyone concerning this - as projects like this need input to be successful - and we want to be as successful as possible in housing those who need our help.


Allison
Registered user
St. Francis Acres
on Jan 29, 2021 at 5:55 pm
Allison, St. Francis Acres
Registered user
on Jan 29, 2021 at 5:55 pm

I'm relieved to see this proposal. The disparity in Mountain View is atrocious and getting worse. With many people out of jobs for months because of the pandemic, we are going to have an explosion of homelessness once the eviction moratoriums run out. I can understand the NIMBYism, but we have to consider our community members first. Being on El Camino, the location is on bus lines, walking distance to grocery stores and PAMF, and the street itself is barely residential. Sounds like a pretty ideal location. We're already pushing out RVs and trailers. Where are people supposed to go?


Otto Maddox
Registered user
Monta Loma
on Jan 30, 2021 at 8:13 am
Otto Maddox, Monta Loma
Registered user
on Jan 30, 2021 at 8:13 am

Where are people supposed to go?

Someplace CHEAPER. Someplace they can afford with the pay they can earn.

If this predicted "explosion" in homeless really happens what good will 66 units in a motel do? Nothing.

I live in Mountain View because this is where I can afford to live. I feel fortunate yes but would I rather live in Los Altos? Atherton? Yes I would. Better schools better houses.

But I can't afford either of those places. Do I stand here demanding Atherton find me a cheap place to live in their city? That sounds silly doesn't it?


MV neighbor
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Jan 30, 2021 at 10:53 am
MV neighbor, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Jan 30, 2021 at 10:53 am

This proposal makes a lot of sense. The location, a current budget motel a block or so from the Goodwill Store on El Camino with public transportation, grocery stores and shopping accessible, seems ideal. Also preferable to the on-going practice of tearing down existing affordable, low rise apartments to build expensive high end condos with a couple set aside for low income families.


che lai
Registered user
Cuernavaca
on Jan 30, 2021 at 11:16 am
che lai, Cuernavaca
Registered user
on Jan 30, 2021 at 11:16 am

ignore spin-off disscussings.

DEMAND: transparency of the transaction: how much tax dollars are spent on buying the property? what cost effectiveness study was done? is it more cost effective to make tiny homes from containers then to remodel a hotel.

DEMAND: limit the usage to be below market rental housing only, NOT free housing.

DEMAND: limit future tenents ONLY to present workers in mountain view, or recent tenents in mountain view who lost their home.

DEMAND: support from Police department and Fire department *BEFORE* starting the acquisition.


Randy Guelph
Registered user
Cuernavaca
on Jan 30, 2021 at 2:48 pm
Randy Guelph, Cuernavaca
Registered user
on Jan 30, 2021 at 2:48 pm

[Post removed: personal attack]


Steven Nelson
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Feb 1, 2021 at 9:39 am
Steven Nelson, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Feb 1, 2021 at 9:39 am

DEMAND: plaese stop making so many demands! Cuernavaca NIMBY, this local city goverment, like most, is not a residential direct democracy. It is a representative democracy. By city-wide representatives. U have no right to your DEMANDS. period. U do have a right to your Cuernavaca HOA vote.

However - you are right about public input. I'm sure you personally will rise UP with a hundred of your Most Compasionate local neighbors to say (I hope not SHOUT! DEMAND!), to tell us all how we should protect your property values. This is civic disagreement: if your Property Values trump the civic values of compasion, and the common Welfare. Promote the general Welfare.


Steven Nelson
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Feb 1, 2021 at 9:49 am
Steven Nelson, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Feb 1, 2021 at 9:49 am

FACT: public involvement in Teacher Housing; the City is not now (other than the decades old BMR housing ordinance) or in the future (MVWSD apartment rental housing initiative - supported by a school-district-wide VOTE on the last School Bond) enguaged in public housing for teachers. The BMR ordinance has helped several multi-decade MVWSD teachers that I personally know stay in this community (moderate income)(moderate housing) rather than having to move out.

As a former MVWSD Trustee I supported these efforts, I still do.


Andrea S
Registered user
Cuernavaca
on Feb 1, 2021 at 5:53 pm
Andrea S, Cuernavaca
Registered user
on Feb 1, 2021 at 5:53 pm

First off thank you MTVW Voice for bringing this planned homeless housing development to my attention. As a resident that lives 1 block from the proposed facility I was unaware that this was being taken to a vote by MTVW city council until I read this article. It would seem that the nearby homeowners were not duly informed about this prior to the city council vote.

As a resident that has lived in Cuernavaca for over 15 years who has worked hard to pay for our home, I object to the city using "the border near Sunnyvale" as a dumping ground. The nearby streets have been home unfortunately to the nearly homeless living in broken down RVs and delivery trucks for the last couple of years.

This homeless hotel presents a potentially serious security risk to a neighborhood that has already seen an up-tick in crime in the last couple of years in the form of prowlers, mail thefts and car break-ins/thefts. Helping people with mental illness and addiction problems is complex. The facilities that have successfully avoided crime in the nearby neighborhoods as I understand lock-down their sites to keep the residents inside. Why should our neighborhood now become the Market Street of Mountain View and be subject to such security risks?

I should note that the proposed homeless housing in Milpitas that SC County wanted to fund was unanimously rejected by their City Council due to safety and security reasons raised by their residents. Why does the MTVW City Council think this is such a wonderful idea and why have they not provided for a public hearing and more transparency?


CovidKid
Registered user
Monta Loma
on Feb 5, 2021 at 9:41 am
CovidKid, Monta Loma
Registered user
on Feb 5, 2021 at 9:41 am

I absolutely agree with, Andrea S.


JustAWorkingStiff
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2021 at 11:09 am
JustAWorkingStiff, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Feb 5, 2021 at 11:09 am

It seems that regular tax paying citizens are neglected by government. Unless you are a city council groupie or a special interest group who spends a considerable time following all this stuff, you get run over. Courtesies are extended to these special groups, yet the regular people who prefer to concentrate their efforts on non-governmental activities have to drop what their doing ask why they are not being extended the same courtesies the special interest groups and city council groupies get.

A plan should be presented to the local residents.


Andrea S.
Registered user
Cuernavaca
on Feb 11, 2021 at 4:32 pm
Andrea S., Cuernavaca
Registered user
on Feb 11, 2021 at 4:32 pm

Dear Neighbors & Concerned business owners,

We have launched a petition to demand more transparency from the city regarding the proposed Crestview Homeless Hotel Project and to halt the purchase of this property until they publish a detailed multi-year project plan and clarify the annual impact to the city's budget.

If you share our concerns, please sign our petition today! See link below:

Web Link


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