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City Council approves Google's massive mixed-use development in East Whisman

The Middlefield Park Master Plan will add 1,900 residential units to the city's housing stock

A bird’s eye, conceptual view of the Middlefield Park Master Plan. This is an artist's rendering that's subject to change. Image courtesy Google and LendLease.

The Mountain View City Council unanimously approved the Middlefield Park Master Plan, Google’s massive mixed-use development in East Whisman that will add 1,900 residential units, at a Nov. 15 meeting. That count includes roughly 380 affordable units that the city is responsible for building on land that the developers will deed to the city.

Project applicants Google and LendLease first submitted an application for the development in September 2020. In addition to the 1,900 high-density residential units, the now-approved project will build 1.3 million square feet of office space, 50,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space (including 20,000 square feet reserved for underserved small businesses) and multiple public parks.

The proposed 1,900 housing units include 1,520 market rate units and 380 affordable units. The applicants say it's financially infeasible for them to integrate affordable units into their proposed market rate complexes, as is required by the city’s inclusionary housing policy. So they proposed an alternative plan: Rather than adding affordable units themselves, Google and LendLease will deed Mountain View 2.4 acres of land. The city would then partner with an affordable housing developer, and find the funding, to build the units.

“Ultimately, the city requires an alternative mitigation (that) must exceed the inclusionary requirement and advance other city affordable housing goals and objectives, and it’s ultimately at the discretion of council to approve,” Mountain View Senior Planner Lindsay Hagan said at the Nov. 15 meeting.

City staff evaluated the applicants’ proposed alternative and concluded that there’s sufficient land to accommodate the city’s requirements (the number of affordable units must be at least 15% of the total unit count), and that the proposal “overall is greater than the on site inclusionary units,” Hagan said.

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“Council does not need to decide today on the affordable housing type or funding allocation for these sites, as those decisions can be made at a later date if the Master Plan is approved and land is available to the city,” Hagan added.

While the Environmental Planning Commission unanimously supported the Master Plan at its Oct. 19 meeting, at the time, commissioners brought up concerns about whether it would be financially feasible for the city to deliver the affordable units, given the scarcity of affordable housing funding. Mayor Lucas Ramirez echoed these concerns at the Nov. 15 council meeting, asking staff whether the city can manage building the units in Middlefield Park on top of all the affordable housing projects that are already in the pipeline.

“It’s staff’s intention to try to deliver all of the affordable housing,” said city Housing and Neighborhood Services Manager Micaela Hellman-Tincher, adding that staff outlined some strategies to increase the city’s funding availability in an August study session.

Also under consideration at the Nov. 15 council meeting was the project’s supplemental environmental impact report, which found that the development will cause significant and unavoidable air quality impacts, namely from construction.

“The air quality impacts are tied specifically to the scale of this project, the overlapping construction and operational periods over multiple years, and the proximity of the approved, yet to be constructed, 400 Logue Avenue residential project,” Hagan explained.

Staff said project applicants have implemented all feasible mitigation measures to the greatest extent possible to reduce the negative impacts, but the project “still results in a significant, unavoidable air quality impact,” Hagan said.

As a result, the council was required to adopt a statement of overriding consideration in addition to approving the environmental impact report to allow the project to go forward despite its air quality impacts. The statement explains why the benefits of the proposed project outweigh the unavoidable environmental impacts it will cause, and why the city is willing to accept those impacts.

To further mitigate these negative environmental impacts, councilmember Margaret Abe-Koga suggested that the developers, to the extent commercially available and feasible, use zero-emission heavy-duty trucks during construction or meet the current, most stringent emissions standards. The council agreed to add this language to the motion to approve the project.

Mayor Ramirez supported the motion, but said he hopes that future developments prioritize inclusionary affordable units, meaning developers integrate the required number of affordable units with their market rate units. Dispersing inclusionary units throughout a development creates more inclusive communities, Ramirez said. Under the Middlefield Park Master Plan’s alternative approach, the affordable units will be separate from the rest of the community.

“There’s a level of discomfort with having a building where affluent people live, and the building where the low income people live,” Ramirez said. “... So I do hope that we continue to look for opportunities to provide for socioeconomically integrated communities.”

The motion to approve the Middlefield Park Master Plan carried unanimously.

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Malea Martin
Malea Martin covers the city hall beat in Mountain View. Before joining the Mountain View Voice in 2022, she covered local politics and education for New Times San Luis Obispo, a weekly newspaper on the Central Coast of California. Read more >>

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City Council approves Google's massive mixed-use development in East Whisman

The Middlefield Park Master Plan will add 1,900 residential units to the city's housing stock

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Wed, Nov 16, 2022, 1:06 pm

The Mountain View City Council unanimously approved the Middlefield Park Master Plan, Google’s massive mixed-use development in East Whisman that will add 1,900 residential units, at a Nov. 15 meeting. That count includes roughly 380 affordable units that the city is responsible for building on land that the developers will deed to the city.

Project applicants Google and LendLease first submitted an application for the development in September 2020. In addition to the 1,900 high-density residential units, the now-approved project will build 1.3 million square feet of office space, 50,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space (including 20,000 square feet reserved for underserved small businesses) and multiple public parks.

The proposed 1,900 housing units include 1,520 market rate units and 380 affordable units. The applicants say it's financially infeasible for them to integrate affordable units into their proposed market rate complexes, as is required by the city’s inclusionary housing policy. So they proposed an alternative plan: Rather than adding affordable units themselves, Google and LendLease will deed Mountain View 2.4 acres of land. The city would then partner with an affordable housing developer, and find the funding, to build the units.

“Ultimately, the city requires an alternative mitigation (that) must exceed the inclusionary requirement and advance other city affordable housing goals and objectives, and it’s ultimately at the discretion of council to approve,” Mountain View Senior Planner Lindsay Hagan said at the Nov. 15 meeting.

City staff evaluated the applicants’ proposed alternative and concluded that there’s sufficient land to accommodate the city’s requirements (the number of affordable units must be at least 15% of the total unit count), and that the proposal “overall is greater than the on site inclusionary units,” Hagan said.

“Council does not need to decide today on the affordable housing type or funding allocation for these sites, as those decisions can be made at a later date if the Master Plan is approved and land is available to the city,” Hagan added.

While the Environmental Planning Commission unanimously supported the Master Plan at its Oct. 19 meeting, at the time, commissioners brought up concerns about whether it would be financially feasible for the city to deliver the affordable units, given the scarcity of affordable housing funding. Mayor Lucas Ramirez echoed these concerns at the Nov. 15 council meeting, asking staff whether the city can manage building the units in Middlefield Park on top of all the affordable housing projects that are already in the pipeline.

“It’s staff’s intention to try to deliver all of the affordable housing,” said city Housing and Neighborhood Services Manager Micaela Hellman-Tincher, adding that staff outlined some strategies to increase the city’s funding availability in an August study session.

Also under consideration at the Nov. 15 council meeting was the project’s supplemental environmental impact report, which found that the development will cause significant and unavoidable air quality impacts, namely from construction.

“The air quality impacts are tied specifically to the scale of this project, the overlapping construction and operational periods over multiple years, and the proximity of the approved, yet to be constructed, 400 Logue Avenue residential project,” Hagan explained.

Staff said project applicants have implemented all feasible mitigation measures to the greatest extent possible to reduce the negative impacts, but the project “still results in a significant, unavoidable air quality impact,” Hagan said.

As a result, the council was required to adopt a statement of overriding consideration in addition to approving the environmental impact report to allow the project to go forward despite its air quality impacts. The statement explains why the benefits of the proposed project outweigh the unavoidable environmental impacts it will cause, and why the city is willing to accept those impacts.

To further mitigate these negative environmental impacts, councilmember Margaret Abe-Koga suggested that the developers, to the extent commercially available and feasible, use zero-emission heavy-duty trucks during construction or meet the current, most stringent emissions standards. The council agreed to add this language to the motion to approve the project.

Mayor Ramirez supported the motion, but said he hopes that future developments prioritize inclusionary affordable units, meaning developers integrate the required number of affordable units with their market rate units. Dispersing inclusionary units throughout a development creates more inclusive communities, Ramirez said. Under the Middlefield Park Master Plan’s alternative approach, the affordable units will be separate from the rest of the community.

“There’s a level of discomfort with having a building where affluent people live, and the building where the low income people live,” Ramirez said. “... So I do hope that we continue to look for opportunities to provide for socioeconomically integrated communities.”

The motion to approve the Middlefield Park Master Plan carried unanimously.

Comments

Leslie Bain
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Nov 16, 2022 at 1:56 pm
Leslie Bain, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Nov 16, 2022 at 1:56 pm

Blast from the past: remember when Google was promising that 20% of the units in Middlefield Park would be AFFORDABLE? Web Link

Sept 2020: "The proposal's mix of rental and for-sale housing units are predominantly in the form of stacked flats that can maximize the number of residential units in the area, Tymoff said. The project would include 20% affordable housing units, which, depending on how many units are built, would create between 335 and 370 deed-restricted units for low-income households."

Also, notice what was said BACK THEN: "Though the project would result in as much as 650,000 square feet of net new office space, the primary objective is to construct at least 1,675 new homes for the area, said Google real estate director Michael Tymoff. " In the article above we see that net new office space HAS DOUBLED: "the now-approved project will build 1.3 million square feet of office space"

This is how the game is played, folks. At the end of the day, the office space was MAXIMIZED and the affordable housing goals were broken. Is this going to lower the rent for average and low-income workers? I don't think so.

""We really see it as taking another step forward with our housing commitment," Tymoff said ... In a statement, Lendlease Project Director Andrew Chappell said the housing will be focused on creating "people-centered" communities that benefit both residents and the community at large." Pretty words, aren't they?


JC
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Nov 16, 2022 at 2:10 pm
JC, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Nov 16, 2022 at 2:10 pm

Not understanding this comment. 380 of 1900 is 20%, and this is also more than the 355-370 previously promised.


SalsaMusic
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Nov 16, 2022 at 2:48 pm
SalsaMusic, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Nov 16, 2022 at 2:48 pm

Ramirez wants to socially engineer rich people to live in the exact same place as poor people. Maybe rich people want more/different things? There’s a reason there’s first class and business class on the plane. He wants first class seats to be intermixed with economy class. Just not economically feasible.


ivg
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2022 at 5:43 pm
ivg, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Nov 16, 2022 at 5:43 pm

Leslie, there is no contradiction in the office space numbers. To get "net new office", you have to subtract the existing office space that Google will demolish.


JAFO
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Nov 16, 2022 at 6:08 pm
JAFO, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Nov 16, 2022 at 6:08 pm

Just an observation,

As I have been saying for years, Alphabert/Google has been playing games with the City, making promises, then saying the city needs to help them, changing projects over and over again. This is classic BAIT AND SWITCH.

And now the City is about to see a major drop in economic activities as tech companies pull out, just look at Meta/Facebook.

The city cannot rely on project benefits that are more than 3 years away and can burn out in only 2, like San Antonio is right now.

Somebody has to tell the citizens what kind of trouble we really are in now.


ivg
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2022 at 9:27 pm
ivg, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Nov 16, 2022 at 9:27 pm

You made the same comment on another article and reposted it here. Very clever.


JAFO
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Nov 17, 2022 at 7:49 am
JAFO, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Nov 17, 2022 at 7:49 am

Just m Observation,

Just understand, it seems appropriate to point out how much PROMISES PROMISES seems to apply here from the 80s song

"Never had a doubt in the beginning, Never a doubt
Trusted you true in the beginning, I loved you right through
Arm in arm we laughed like kids, At all the silly things we did
You made me promises, promises, Knowing I'd believe
Promises, promises, You knew you'd never keep

Second time around, I'm still believing, The words that you said
You said you'd always be here, "In love forever", still repeats in my head
You can't finish what you start
If this is love, it breaks my heart
You made me promises, promises, You knew you'd never keep
Promises, promises, Why do I believe?"

After more than 10 years of promises, and constant reduction of housing PROMISES, it just seems that it is time to stop getting used by Alphabet/Google here in Mountain view


Leslie Bain
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Nov 17, 2022 at 10:14 am
Leslie Bain, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Nov 17, 2022 at 10:14 am

@SalsaMusic, you wrote "Ramirez wants to socially engineer rich people to live in the exact same place as poor people. Maybe rich people want more/different things?"

Of course rich people want more/different things. Rich people want the BEST things, and they want to keep them entirely for themselves. Great example is Zuckerberg, who has bought much of the ancient and beautiful island of Kauai, and then built walls to keep ordinary people from even glimpsing the views from public roads. Such behavior should be condemned. Many other rich people see nothing wrong with it, but some do. We are lucky that places like Yosemite still exist and are held as PUBLIC resources, available to all. Important folks of the past recognized that wonderful things should not de facto be hoarded by the rich.

Now Google has bought much of the once highly progressive town of Mountain View. With the backing of important DEMOCRATS, Google is slowly turning this place into one of Googlers (the haves) and Townies (the have nots). I suppose that some people see nothing wrong with this either, but I am horrified. I've lived here for decades, and made it my home because I valued the socio-economic diversity that has been present here and lacking from some nearby communities. And the sense of caring for the less fortunate. I wanted to raise my family in such a place, I'd hate to see it turn into the leafiest of the leafy communities. Haven't we learned that "separate but equal" is great in theory, but doesn't actually work?

All of this just goes to show that the DEMOCRATIC PARTY is no longer the ‘Party of the People.’ Web Link The 99% needs to wake up to that fact. We now have two parties for the rich. The virtue signaling of the Blue Team is ridiculous when one doesn't truly care about those farther down the economic ladder.

FYI, inclusionary housing in not Ramirez's pet scheme, it is an existing feature of MV's Below-Market-Rate (BMR) Housing Program, Web Link

"There’s a reason there’s first class and business class on the plane. He wants first class seats to be intermixed with economy class. Just not economically feasible.""

I fly SouthWest. Turns out intermixing the classes not only IS economically feasible, it is actually more fun.

@ivg, thank you for your comment, I hadn't noticed that one stat was net new, and the other wasn't. I stand corrected.


JAFO
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Nov 17, 2022 at 10:54 am
JAFO, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Nov 17, 2022 at 10:54 am

Just an observation,

Inclusionary housing was REQUIRED to eliminate redlining in the past.

In effect it was used to properly prevent housing discriminations. It was argued in the U.S. Supreme Court historically, and is not in any way a violation of eminent domain, or property rights.

What the commenter indicated here was in fact a person who wants to dictate who their neighbors are simply because of so called "income-based" discriminations.

But the real problem again is that the so called housing providers are still saying either sell our 93 octane gas because we do not sell 87,89,or 91.

This is why given the trends in the valley a large amount of falsely relied upon property values are going to disappear. And this is reflecting on the current predicted budget shortage in the recent news regarding the state budget.

Sorry but face the facts that inclusionary housing needs to be expanded in Mountain view


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