If reelected this November, Mountain View Mayor Lucas Ramirez said he is eager to get to work on issues that were pushed to the back burner during the pandemic. Ramirez filed paperwork on May 20 formalizing his intention to run for another four-year term on the City Council.
“A lot of the work I set out to do when I ran in 2018 remains to be done,” Ramirez said. “Chief among them for me are the anti-displacement work and a long term solution to the challenge of finding funding for affordable housing.”
Expensive housing projects that threaten to displace residents in rent-controlled units has become a familiar sight in Mountain View in recent years. As the Voice previously reported, in 2019, the city was on pace to destroy 127 rent-controlled units per year, prompting city officials to take a hard look at potential solutions.
“Those were priority issues for the council in June 2019,” Ramirez said. “We have provided some preliminary input but the policy work will probably take another year at least. The anti-displacement work, certainly, is not going to be done by the end of this year.”
Securing funding to build affordable housing is another top priority for Ramirez if he is elected to a second term. Including land acquisition and construction, Ramirez said, affordable housing costs about $1 million per unit.
The city successfully negotiated a memorandum of understanding with Santa Clara County to earmark $80 million of the 2016 voter-passed Measure A affordable housing bond.
“Which is great,” Ramirez said, “but the affordable housing needs are so substantial that we’re going to have to think, well, what happens when we exhaust that $80 million? I’m very interested in helping continue and complete that policy work.”
Despite the pandemic putting the brakes on some long-term council goals, Ramirez said he’s proud to have had a hand in updating the city’s Neighborhood Traffic Management Program, which allows communities to get speed bumps or other infrastructure installed to slow traffic and improve safety.
“Previously, the threshold to qualify was quite high, and in 2019 the council started working on an update to reduce those thresholds and allow neighborhood streets to more easily qualify for traffic calming, so that’s one of the things that I’m proud of that we were able to complete,” Ramirez said. “But we’re not done with traffic safety by any means.”
Bicycle and pedestrian safety on roads like El Camino Real, Shoreline Boulevard and California Street is at the top of his priority list. The death of 13-year-old Graham Middle School student Andre Retana, who was struck by a construction truck in March this year after falling off his bike at El Camino and Grant Road, underscores the need for improved safety, Ramirez said.
As his campaign begins to ramp up in the coming months, Ramirez said he plans to take a more grassroots approach like he did in his 2016 and 2018 runs, and there are a few interest groups he won’t take money from.
“If you look at comparable races in the South Bay and Peninsula, like in Palo Alto for instance, it has become fairly routine for candidates to raise $100,000, or some absurd amount of money,” Ramirez said.
But due to Mountain View’s voluntary expenditure limit program, City Council candidates in recent decades tend to raise more along the order of $20,000 to $27,000.
“That makes it fairly easy to just raise funds from residents, neighbors, friends and family,” Ramirez said. “... Historically, I haven’t taken money from major labor groups or from developers and landlords.”
So far, Ellen Kamei is the only other Mountain View City Council member to have filed paperwork with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) indicating her intention to run in the November general election.
Council member Sally Lieber’s name will be on the June 7 primary ballot as she vies for a spot on the state Board of Equalization. Lieber's current term on the council runs through 2024.