"Part of this pilot is to understand how available this information currently is," she said. "Is there a different way to analyze this data that will inform our decision making?"
In recent years, Mountain View has experienced a political push to make the advancement of human rights issues into the city's guiding principle. In 2016, the council agreed to formally declare Mountain View a human rights city.
Advocates wanted to make that action more than a symbolic gesture. In the following months, Councilman Ken Rosenberg championed the idea of creating a new framework for human rights to analyze city projects, sort of like how the city routinely tracks fiscal impacts.
At the April 3 meeting, Mountain View officials brought back their plans for a pilot to test out this framework on a trio of upcoming projects. This would include the city's plans to regulate short-term rentals such as Airbnb, the East Whisman precise plan and the Vision Zero project to eliminate all traffic-related fatalities.
Some on the council expressed skepticism. The city already tracks most of the impacts that would fall under human rights, said Councilman John McAlister. He was concerned the extra analysis could end up causing delays for projects.
"I'm proud of what Mountain View does already," he said. "Everything we do is transparent in how we approach it. We already value people and their ability to live and thrive in Mountain View."
Councilwoman Lisa Matichak agreed, saying she couldn't support the project because it seemed redundant.
Rosenberg insisted that applying a "human rights lens" to the city would be useful, possibly even transformative, for the city. He is currently working to launch an "International Institute of Human Rights Learning" in Mountain View.
McAlister challenged him to give an example of a recent city project that fell short on human rights issues.
In response, Rosenberg pointed to the hundreds of people who rallied at city meetings in 2015 and 2016, demanding some kind of action to prevent escalating rents and mass displacement. The city dithered on addressing the problem in part because human rights weren't on the radar, he said.
"If we had some policy framework or human rights analysis during that debate, I believe we would have come up with a quicker, better solution," he said. "I believe we would have had a different result that would have prevented Measure V from happening at all."
The City Council voted 6-1 to approve the pilot project, with Matichak dissenting.
This story contains 496 words.
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