Letters to the editor | June 28, 2019 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

Opinion - June 28, 2019

Letters to the editor

Let them eat cake?

"Let them eat cake!" This phrase is attributed to Marie Antoinette, queen of France during the French Revolution. The story goes that the people of France were starving due to an enormous bread shortage. Upon hearing this news, Marie Antoinette is said to have replied, "Let them eat cake." Cake was too expensive for her subjects and therefore unattainable. It was questioned if the queen was just out of touch with her constituents, if she had no empathy, or if she was simply vindictive toward those struggling faceless people who were less fortunate than she.

Our current mayor stated that she has run out of patience with RV dwellers in our city and that she supports banning them from Mountain View. The vice mayor says she is terrified to shop at places where there are RVs in the parking lot. We have a housing crisis where working people, senior citizens, students and disabled people are living in RVs because they have been priced out of stable housing. "Let them go elsewhere, they have many options and many choices" sounds a lot to me like "Let them eat cake."

I hope that our elected officials choose to meet with the RV dwellers and hear their stories, therefore humanizing them. Providing safe, 24-hour off-street parking would keep RV residents in their homes and allow them to continue contributing to diversity in our city.

Palo Alto and Oakland are both local cities which Mountain View can use as models for safe parking; there are many other cities nationally that are choosing to provide humane and empathetic solutions.

Please don't let us be known as the city that tells our RV dwellers to just go elsewhere to eat their cake.

Jane Horton

North Whisman Road

Google can do better

Your June 21 article, "Google pledges $1 billion for rapid new housing growth," says Google's CEO "promised his company will build a minimum of 20,000 new homes ..."

Google is not going to "build" anything. That $1 billion got plenty of positive PR because most reporters and editors were too dazzled to analyze the press release.

Google is "investing" in housing and presumably expects a return on investment. It's asking that $750 million worth of Google's land be rezoned for housing. It would lease that land to housing developers — for how much?

The company says the land "will enable us to support the development of at least 15,000 new homes at all income levels ...." Why 15,000 and what do they mean by "all income levels"? Since they're not building the homes, what restrictions will they place on developers they "support" with leases?

Google also says it will "establish a $250 million investment fund so that we can provide incentives to enable developers to build at least 5,000 affordable housing units ..."

What "incentives?" $250 million for 5,000 units = $50,000 per unit. That's a tiny percentage (6% to 11%) of the $450,000 to $800,000 required to build just one affordable unit. And how do they define "affordable"?

Before we give Google a medal — or any more ink — note that its parent company, Alphabet, earned $30.7 billion on $136.8 billion in revenue in 2018 and reported $109.1 billion in cash and marketable securities.

Given its resources and unconstrained job growth, Google can, and should, make more meaningful housing commitments.

Pat Marriott

Los Altos

Superintendent pay

The Mountain View Whisman School District board has made the classic CEO pay mistake ("School board approves 14% pay raise for superintendent," June 21) — if they want their superintendent to be paid in the highest quartile (why were they so stingy?) and every other school district in the area has the same scheme, the result will be a steady and rapid increase in superintendent pay, far more than ordinary staff and teachers get, and far more than inflation.

They also want us to believe that the superintendent, all by himself, is solely responsible for any improvements in MVWSD performance — is he the only employee at MVWSD? Last, I am puzzled by the need to spend $87K to train the new superintendent to do the job for which he was hired. When I was hired into a high-level position in the federal government, the assumption was that I was already capable of doing the job for which I was being hired. Did the MVWSD board hire an apprentice superintendent who needed expensive training for two years before he could actually do the job for which he had been hired?

David Lewis

Oak Street

Bike car layout

It is disheartening that the Caltrain board approved a car layout that fails to incorporate critical input from the cycling community. The limited number of bike spaces and lack of seats in view of bikes is a tragic setback in the promotion of alternative modes of transportation, which is so valuable in the Bay Area.

Perhaps the most worrying part of the new electric train design is the lack of security for bikes. Just recently I witnessed someone experience bike theft on Caltrain. The theft occurred on the last train of the night, sometime prior to entering the 4th & King station, which is where I witnessed a male individual react to the shock of his bike missing from the bike car when he walked in from the adjacent car. This is a prime example of the vulnerability we cyclists are faced with when we do not have the appropriate infrastructure on Caltrain. Many of us pour time, money and love into our bikes, and theft is truly a sad and tragic event.

I urge Caltrain to reconsider these plans. I know that Caltrain is trying to incorporate the needs of numerous parties; however, cyclists are a significant and valuable component of our Caltrain community, and who truly embody the effort to create a truly green commute.

Chris Stivers

San Francisco

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