The wrong solution to the housing crisis | March 13, 2020 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

Opinion - March 13, 2020

The wrong solution to the housing crisis

Build more homes without damaging the character of our neighborhoods

by Lenny Siegel

State Sen. Scott Wiener is back again with Senate Bill 902, which if enacted would require the upzoning of residential property throughout California. The legislation would require cities, depending on their size, to allow duplexes to fourplexes on properties currently zoned for single-family residences. The bill is sure to upset many local officials and NIMBY homeowners, but that's not why I oppose it.

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Comments

Posted by Guest opinion re housing
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Mar 13, 2020 at 5:51 pm

In his guest opinion, former Councilmember-Mayor Lenny Siegel warns about continuing efforts by some state legislators to mandate high-density housing in neighborhoods zoned for single-family homes. He points out that Mountain View has other places for a lot more (high-density) housing, although he neglects to mention that Mountain View has recently added way more jobs than housing and may continue doing so.


Posted by Lenny Siegel
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 14, 2020 at 12:55 am

Good point. I have long contended that Mountain View has too many good jobs. Unfortunately, it turns out - under our system - that it's difficult to limit them. Since 2009, Mountain View's employment grew much faster than our office space. Employers squeezed many more employees into the same workspace.

When I was on Council, under unusual circumstances, we limited Google's North Bayshore employment, but that limit only applies until certain transportation improvements are completed.

Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus emergency, we may end up with the opposite problem. A recession and lay-offs seem likely. We are likely to see a reduction in population growth, but the people who are already here will still need places to live. We need to plan for housing growth in the proper locations to prepare for economic recovery.


Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Castro City
on Mar 14, 2020 at 12:10 pm

Lenny, from what I just read it looks like the City Council is about to violate the new state laws

Specifically in the possible approval of a project this week regarding the Rowhouse Development at 1555 West Middlefield Road. Given it will remove 116 rent controlled units, but does not replace them with an equal number or greater amount of residential units at the same prices as dictated under SB330.

The fact is since the project was not given completed approval until know allows SB330 to be enforceable on this project as of January 1, 2020. Thus the City is about to run right into a legal brick wall. Not only this but the new No-Net-Loss state law is violated because it actually reduces the number of housing units in the land allotment by 1. Thus 2 STATE laws require this project to be DISAPPOVED by the City Council.

Specifically in the possible approval of a project this week regarding the New Residential Development at 355-365, 401 and 415 East Middlefield Road. Given it will be a new residential project but it is in a industrial building zone that has not yet been rezoned, this clearly is a MIXED use land area that falls under the new provisions of the Workforce Housing Opportunity Zone laws. Thus the allotment of only 68 BMR units which none are the townhouses and condos is a violation of this new law. The new law doesn’t exempt whether they are owned or rented. There are a total of 463 units in the project

It requires that 30% or 139 of the units meet the affordability standard of up to 120% of the area median income at 30% of that income per month. Since the AMI in Mountain View is $143,499 for a family of 4, you must multiply that by 1.2 which gives you ‭$172,198.80, and then multiply that by .3, which gives you ‭$51,659.64‬ and finally divide that by 12 to compute the cost of that unit which is ‭$4,304.97‬ a month. In this housing market that would be a home valued at about $750,000 for ownership

It requires that 15% or 69 units meet the affordability standard of up to 80% of the area median income at 30% of that income per month. Since the AMI in Mountain View is $143,499 for a family of 4, you must multiply that by 1.2 which gives you ‭ ‭$114,799.20‬, and then multiply that by .3, which gives you ‭$34,439.76‬ and finally divide that by 12 to compute the cost of that unit which is ‭ $2,869.98‬ a month. In this housing market that would be a home valued at about $500,000 for ownership

It requires that 5% or 23 units meet the affordability standard of up to 50% of the area median income at 30% of that income per month. Since the AMI in Mountain View is $143,499 for a family of 4, you must multiply that by 1.2 which gives you ‭$‭71,749.5‬‬, and then multiply that by .3, which gives you ‭$21,524.85‬ and finally divide that by 12 to compute the cost of that unit which is ‭ $‭1,793.74 a month. In this housing market that would be a home valued at about $325,000 for ownership.

Thus the precise plan only allotting 68 units in rentals only does not satisfy the requirements under the Workforce Housing Opportunity Zone law when there should be a total of at least 92 unit based on the BMR standard.

This will be a violation of the divers housing standards set forth in the state laws, and must be DISAPPROVED.


Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 14, 2020 at 12:38 pm

@TBM (thanks - under ONE_PAGE posting, so I will read it)

I did not find Lenny as COUNCILMAN to have a good voting record on Less Offices More Residences. He talked a pretty good talk - but IMO failed when it came to hard votes on offices. This could have included MANY NO VOTES until the city policy (zoning laws) were changed. Come on my friend Lenny! NO vote, after NO vote, after NO vote. It is not That Hard! Harder is to put together a council coalition (3 others) to Change The Agenda on zoning/planning.

My Money ($1,000 so far) is on former Councilwoman Pat Showalter in the coming council race.


Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Castro City
on Mar 14, 2020 at 1:07 pm

Steve,

I TRY AS HARD AS I CAN BUT REMEMBER SOME PEOPLE NEED TO GET IT ALL DISHED TO THEM REGARDING THE RESEARCH BEHIND MY THOUGHTS.

I am trying not to be "just a poster" but one with some basis behind my words.

It does get ugly.


Posted by Guest opinion re housing
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Mar 14, 2020 at 1:11 pm

The city staff report claims SB 330 does not apply to this long-pending project application. The City Council is not required to approve the project - but will. The developer will contribute 3% of something (I forget of what) to the city's affordable housing fund. Maybe some campaign contributions too! Feel free to protest at the meeting.


Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Castro City
on Mar 14, 2020 at 2:21 pm

In response to Guest opinion re housing you said:

“The city staff report claims SB 330 does not apply to this long-pending project application.”

Not exactly, in fact the City Attorneys statement has to be considered a FALSE one, why? Because it said:

“This project was deemed complete prior to January 1, 2020; therefore, the provisions of SB 330 do not apply to the project; particularly related to statute requirements to not allow a reduction in the number of units regardless of City density limitations, replacement of protected units, and tenant relocation requirements.”

If the project was completed prior to January 1, 2020, then this agenda item shouldn’t even exist. Simply put, THIS PROJECT IS NOT COMPLETE. Thus it is subject to SB330 until it is proven that the building in fact was already built prior to January 1, 2020. The City Attorney has made a VERY SERIOUS legal error. Only where the project is approved AND BUILT prior to January 1, 2020 could this statement hold up in court, and the people of Mountain View should be aware of this.

As long as any project is ”pending” there is no grandfathering it. Nothing in SB330 ever made that option open. So anyone who is being displaced can file a lawsuit in this matter, and likely will force the project to either change the number, nature, and affordability of the housing, or actually cease the housing altogether. What was the City Attorney thinking?

Please do not misinform the City Citizens of this major illogical claim?


Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Castro City
on Mar 14, 2020 at 10:30 pm

Just a bit of research, the SB330 contained the following statements:

“65905.5. (a) Notwithstanding any other law, IF A PROPOSED HOUSING DEVELOPMENT PROJECT COMPLIES WITH THE APPLICABLE, OBJECTIVE GENERAL PLAN AND ZONING STANDARDS IN EFFECT AT THE TIME AN APPLICATION IS DEEMED COMPLETE, after the application is deemed complete, a city, county, or city and county shall not conduct more than five hearings pursuant to Section 65905, or any other law, ordinance, or regulation requiring a public hearing in connection with the approval of that housing development project. If the city, county, or city and county continues a hearing subject to this section to another date, the continued hearing shall count as one of the five hearings allowed under this section. The city, county, or city and county shall consider and either approve or disapprove the application at any of the five hearings allowed under this section consistent with the applicable timelines under the Permit Streamlining Act (Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 65920)).”

However, the current agenda is dealing with making exceptions to the general plan, that means this plan MUST NOT COMPLY with these plans. Thus these projects are subject to SB330 because they are NOT Complete

The project at 1555 West Middlefield Road history states:

“Previous Meetings and Public Hearings
Neighborhood Meeting

Neighborhood Outreach meetings were held on December 11, 2019 and January 21, 2020. There were 15 people at the meeting expressing concern with parking, pedestrian circulation through the site, traffic, massing, and project timing.

Development Review Committee (DRC)

The project was reviewed by the DRC on January 22, 2020, where the DRC provided a recommendation for approval. Revisions were made to the project based on DRC direction and are reflected in the proposed plans.

Administrative Zoning/Subdivision Committee Public Hearing

The project was reviewed by the Zoning Administrator and Subdivision Committee on February 12, 2020, where it recommended for approval. There were two speakers at the hearing, expressing concern with proposed displacement of existing tenants, the need to provide Below-Market-Rate (BMR) units on-site, and block consistency with the City’s Subdivision Ordinance.”

Thus this project is not timely complete before January 1, 2020 because the law states it would be complete upon compliance with the City General plans and requires no changing of the plan after January 1, 2020. In fact this document was dated March 17th, 2020. So as a matter of he STATE law the process is simply NOT COMPLETE unitl the City Council APPROVES the project after getting confirmation of the projects compliance with the application process is COMPLETE. It clearly is NOT complete.

Simply put, when the FINAL plan is submitted and all revisions are completed THEN the application is DEEMED complete.


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