Affordable housing proposal worries downtown neighbors | March 27, 2009 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - March 27, 2009

Affordable housing proposal worries downtown neighbors

by Daniel DeBolt

With the help of a team of eight mediators, the city took extra care last week to listen to the concerns of 19 neighbors of a proposed affordable housing development at Evelyn and Franklin streets.

Since 2006, the City Council has proposed building as many as 51 affordable family homes on a city-owned Caltrain overflow parking lot. Currently the proposal calls for a project of up to four stories.

The development is aimed at people who earn less than 60 percent of the area's median income ($64,000 a year for a family of four). After several council meetings, ROEM Corporation has been selected to design, develop and manage the site, which will be leased from the city.

"My concern is you are building a ghetto right here," said one resident, who added that — despite the police station located across Franklin Street — neighbors already must put up with the Pacific Euro hotel nearby, which was described as "essentially a halfway house."

Concerns about the project came almost exclusively from the residents of Bryant Place, a 41-unit condo complex next door, who said the city did not notify them that the lot was one of three city-owned lots considered for the development in 2006. Though the selection of the site was reported in the Voice in 2006, neighbors say they had not heard about the project until last year.

"I feel like I overpaid because of it," said one neighbor who bought after 2006 and didn't know about the plans.

Mediators worked with the neighbors to provide focus for the small group discussions, taking notes on butcher paper which will be compiled into a report. One neighbor said he wanted the council to reconsider the site altogether. "It's a whole different City Council" he said, referring to the changes in membership since 2006.

"Those are City Council questions," said a mediator. "We really can't do anything about" the selection of the site.

Most neighbors seemed willing to work with the city to help improve the project's design.

"How are you going to build four stories here without blocking my sunlight?" asked one neighbor, whose windows would directly face the new building.

"We want to look at something nice, like a courtyard," said neighbor Ed Taylor, who added that "we would like property values to increase, not decrease."

Neighbors wanted to be sure that no unsavory people are allowed to move into the new development, and city staff assured neighbors that prospective residents would undergo extensive background checks.

Other concerns included a lack of parking downtown — with the lot taken up for housing and the VTA's plan for a parking structure at the downtown train station on hold.

Longtime downtown resident Bruce Karney provided some perspective for one of the groups, saying downtown was "on the cusp" of becoming an "urban center." He said property values were likely to rise because of several major possible developments, including a six-story hotel at Castro Street and El Camino Real and a possible high speed rail stop downtown.

City planners said the city was requiring "richly detailed" architecture for the building, and open space on 30 percent of the site. Jonathan Emami, vice president for developer ROEM, promised a development "undistinguishable as 'affordable,'" and "of market-rate quality."

Another meeting for neighbors is scheduled in July to focus on the design of the project.

E-mail Daniel Debolt at


Posted by USA, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 30, 2009 at 1:16 pm

This story is currently on the front page of the Chron's website with the misleading and asinine headline of "Some Mountain Viewers Prefer Unaffordable Housing". Web Link

Posted by Please Save Prop 13, a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm

If there's one problem, it is that Mountain View is becoming possibly affordable. Right now the median house price in Mountain View is $800,000 and the mean income is $80,000 ( This has fallen and soon just anyone can live in Mountain View. Homeless people, drug addicts, teachers, nurses, etc.

How will Mountain View ever reach its goal of being the Next Atherton... or heck, the next Palo Alto if this continues to persist?

The solution is clear. The call to action cannot be any louder. The City Council must be aggressive in REDUCING the total amount of housing. Let's start tearing down those disgusting apartment complexes. Let's start tearing down those ridiculous condos.

It's basic supply and demand. It's basic group dynamics. Groups/cities become more valuable as they become more exclusive.

Finally, with medical and retirement costs at an all time high, measures like this will help the plethora of Mountain View homeowners who purchased houses before 1978, and currently pay $1000 a year in property tax to retire in comfort when they sell their homes for $5 million. After all, these were the people who built this DAMN city that you get to enjoy.

If you don't support reducing residences, and don't support prop 13 - you have to ask yourself "Why do you hate seniors?"

Posted by Mr. Not Here, a resident of Shoreline West
on Apr 16, 2009 at 1:14 pm

No No No Not here in MV, Build it in someother town or Hell for that matter.

Posted by Vivian Wang, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 19, 2009 at 1:16 pm

I want to buy below market house in Mountain view.