Letters to the editor | August 2, 2019 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

Opinion - August 2, 2019

Letters to the editor

High-density developments

Several communities are banding together to oppose the proposed 555 W. Middlefield Road project. The project will be re-rezoned from medium to high density. Most of the construction will border Cypress Point Drive, a dead-end street. Our area has more than our share of high-density projects and this project will have a significant impact on the quality of life of our residents.

The purpose of the General Plan 2030 is to perform a unified, thoughtful and fair planning for housing developments in our city. But the way it really works is a developer requests approval to build a new high-density housing development and rezoning. The rezoning is almost always approved. Each project is evaluated on its own merits separately from all the other projects. The cumulative impacts of all the proposed and existing projects are not taken into account. This is not careful planning that at the same time preserves the quality of life. The General Plan is a paper tiger and so are the environmental impact reports. Just another hurdle to get over.

The General Plan 2030 needs serious revision if the city simply plans to meet the demands for more housing by building many high-density developments east of Central Expressway without the resources needed to support the rising population of people and cars. I request your help in this matter by writing a story about this high-density project, which is just the beginning of building to the sky in Mountain View. It's streets clogged with cars, nonstop 24/7 high noise levels, loss of neighborhood character, increasing pollution from car exhaust and particulates, loss of the redwood tree belt that traps dust and pollution from highway emissions, no parking spaces, safety of children and bike riders compromised from congested roadways.

Daniel Shane

Cypress Point Drive

Rancho San Antonio parking

My wife and I, who frequently use RSA (Rancho San Antonio), have completely given up on going there on weekends ("No easy fix for Rancho San Antonio's crowded parking lots," July 26). In addition, the place is inaccessible on many days before or after holidays, and on many Fridays, when I assume, because of local Silicon Valley rules, no one is working. The parking situation can be so bad at times that I would expect there have been serious fights over parking spaces.

Another note, RSA has three trailheads located in Los Altos Hills (Ravensbury Avenue, Mora Drive, Stonehaven Drive), that are completely inaccessible to ordinary citizens. There is no parking anywhere near these trailheads, no pedestrian access, no bike access. The only folks that get to use these are the residents of a handful of expensive homes in Los Altos Hills — in the case of Ravensbury Avenue, about four homes within walking distance, whose homes were there when Rancho San Antonio was built, so it should have been clear that these were trailheads for the wealthy only. Ravensbury is the most egregious example, with about a 1.5-mile trip in from the nearest parking, with no shoulders, no sidewalks, no bike paths, no on-street parking anywhere along the way, and the trailhead itself festooned with no-parking signs. The four homes on Ravensbury and West Ravensbury near the trailhead were there when Rancho was built, and the residents were clearly successful in ensuring that there was no access by anyone else to the trailhead.

Carol and David Lewis

Oak Street

Development in Mountain View

As your article states, "Hotels race to open in MV" (July 26) — look around town and it seems that developers want to build in Mountain View at any price. Some might call it a sellers market. Others might protest that there is far too much building in our growing town.

Incredibly, our previous (2016) City Council negotiated like bumpkins and gave away the hotel tax to lure one of these hotels, developer Robert Green, to a prime location on Hope Street, just off Castro Street. Most hotels would pay dearly for this location adjacent to the train station, but our council actually paid them to build here. This places quite a burden on current and future councils to make the questionable deal works financially.

Silicon Valley Business Journal's (former reporter) Nathan Donato-Weinstein (Jan. 13, 2016), noted that, "The city of Mountain View would need to help fund the project to the tune of about $26.4 million." He points out that the usually lucrative transit occupancy tax (TOT) was given away to the developer, deferred for 10 years. "The city would give Robert Green a hefty rebate on TOT for a decade." Did we also negotiate away the other hotel taxes?

We're fortunate that Mountain View is a well-run city. But the current council has inherited some questionable decisions, like the marijuana retail shops and developers with sharp pencils. Fortunately, some of these judgment errors can be undone.

Don McPhail

Hope Street

The future of transit

Upzone your neighborhoods like crazy so that they are dense enough for transit. This will ensure you also have housing for all the maids and gardeners who work in everyone's homes, and the public servants who can't live anywhere near the area. You can't have transit in car-dependent suburbia. You need to stop providing parking with residences, make sure there are protected bike lanes, and prioritize biking, walking, and whatever public transit you do have. Make sure you have bus shelters at every stop, info on next buses, and maps. Also, be sure the streets are lined with trees. Companies should give monthly passes to all of their employees and not give parking tax credits (which are twice as high as for public transit).

This won't change anything overnight, but you have to start sometime. In 20 and 30 years it'll become urban. That is, unless the NIMBYs stop you, which is very likely.

Tanya Seaman

Founding executive director of PhillyCarShare, formerly of Portola Valley

P is for poison

The P in GOP appears to stand for poison. Their climate change denial and drill-at-any-cost philosophy is poisoning our land, water and atmosphere. Their support of blatant racist remarks is poisoning our national psyche. And their environmentally destructive policies are poisoning the future for wildlife, our children and our grandchildren. Time to detoxify our country and instead move toward domestic policies that help working people live a healthy and prosperous life.

Ed Taub

Devoto Street

Homelessness in America

Victory. We conquered space. We set foot on the moon. A first step toward populating the universe. The sky is not the limit. And recently we concluded the biennial USA homeless census. Reflect on what we leave behind when we blast off from Earth.

Census Bureau homeless data for 2007 shows approximately 641,000 homeless. The homelessness steadily decreased (except for a 1.1% increase in 2010) to 550,000 by 2016, down 14% from 2007. Twentieth century USA homelessness data is not readily available.

The homeless population from 2016 is increasing at a double digit percentage rate in Santa Clara County and surrounding counties. There was a surplus of affordable housing in 1970, and decisions were made from 1980 to 1989 to cut Department of Housing and Urban Development budgets. The surplus eroded and turned into a 3 million unit deficit by 1985. We never recovered a surplus.

What can be done?

The obvious solution to homelessness is a roof for every unsheltered person. It's also apparent that a surplus of affordable housing may be a favorable condition for decreasing homelessness.

Multiple studies demonstrate success in reducing homelessness as well as its harmful financial and societal effects by providing a combination of housing without preconditions and supportive care. It's the right thing to do.

Where is the money going to come from? Nobody asked this question when President Kennedy outlined the moon expedition.

Our president wants a wall between Mexico and the USA? No problem funding.

May I suggest a large tax on funds expended to conquer the universe, earmarked for Earth's homeless and needy, would be healthy.

Sheltering should be a human right. Homelessness eradication is equivalent to a moon shot, and should receive priority.

Robert Pollak

W. Middlefield Road


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