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Hundreds of apartments proposed for El Camino Real

Original post made on Jan 14, 2011

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to allow two large apartment building projects to move through the city's planning process, possibly adding 535 homes to the city.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, January 14, 2011, 4:13 PM

Comments (44)

Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jan 14, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Looking at the 870 East El Camino site the rear portion could be a mix of single family a smix of row homes and singles, the front portion would be good for apts and retail. The 2650-56 El CAmino would be better for Apts, close to Stanford, the PA Border and S.A. Center, also would be good to creat the northside of Mtn View a new uran village lots of older buildings, space that can be used in a mixed use style of hosuing, offices and retail.

Posted by Toni
a resident of another community
on Jan 16, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Will the school district be able to handle this onslaught of new students? I doubt it. The last thing Mtn View needs is more apartments.

Posted by Jerry
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jan 17, 2011 at 9:39 am

More transient housing, just what the city needs.

Posted by Kathleen
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 17, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Yes, let's see how many more people they can possibly cram into Mountain View. I doubt the school teachers would mind 35 or 40 kids per classroom. The more the merrier, right? Also, I especially like the "me time" that I get when I am stuck in traffic.

We don't have enough issues over there with traffic yet. Perhaps Whole Foods can build a parking garage on the roof. Or, San Antonio Shopping Center can build a huge multilevel parking garage and charge people to park there. The sky(scraper)is the limit! Money money money!!!

Posted by MV
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 17, 2011 at 12:23 pm

What is the council thinking. Transient homes, more students, more traffic. One has to wonder about the councils motives about this complete irrational vote.

Posted by MV
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 17, 2011 at 12:28 pm

"He also said the projects wouldn't do anything to help the fact that 42 percent of the city is rental property, which hurts the city's tax revenue."

"The density prosed is 37 units per acre for Archstone, and 70 units per acre for the UHG project. UHG did not indicate how tall its project might be."

There should be a public debate on this vote. Its perplexing that council would approve such project that would hurt mountain view in so many ways.

How do one would go about getting this reversed? Any ideas.

a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 17, 2011 at 12:51 pm

You voted for these many of these city council members to represent you and manage the city with your best interest in mind. You are getting what you asked for........."Just Think About It"................

Posted by FrustratedResident
a resident of another community
on Jan 17, 2011 at 2:47 pm

The majority of our City Council thinks that what is good for the developers is good for Mountain View and the residents can take a flying leap.

Posted by Dr. Collateral
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 17, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Dr. Collateral is a registered user.

Traffic? Most people in this town wouldn't know the meaning of the word "traffic" if it created gridlock on their front lawn.

"Transient housing". I like that term. Makes people who live in apartments sound like bums pushing bag carts around. I had no idea that pushing around a bag cart covered $2000+ per month in rent. Plus, I don't think the apartments at either location will be catering to families putting kids into the school system. More likely to be single- or dual-income households with no kids or infants, putting sales tax revenue into the city.

Posted by kathy
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jan 17, 2011 at 5:14 pm

This would never happen in Los Altos. Why not a mix of single family, townhouses and rentals? Have nothing against people who rent but this should be mixed, not just rentals.

Posted by John
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jan 17, 2011 at 5:45 pm

Wow, nice hate for the renters. I'd buy a house, I just don't have a million dollars handy. And I don't see the advantage in spending half a million dollars, buying a condo, raising my housing cost 3x...and getting no improvement in lifestyle over what I have now. [Portion removed, terms of use.]

Posted by Alex M.
a resident of Willowgate
on Jan 17, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Great - more rental units in a city that already has disproportionately high renter population. Just what we need. And people wonder why Mountain View schools are bad. The quality of schools -- and this goes hand-in-hand with property values -- correlates with home ownership. What the hell is the city council thinking?

Posted by kathy
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jan 17, 2011 at 5:57 pm

There will never be affordable housing in Mountain View, affordable meaning a single family home for under 500K (and even that is out of the question for many people). Even with the real estate disaster of the past couple of years cottages in Old Montain View continue to be snappped up for 900K+.

How about a neighborhood of duplexes or triplexes? That would offer rental housing with a more family-friendly residential ambiance than apartment blocks. Answer to that question...not enough profit for the developers.

Posted by MV
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 17, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Its not renting vs buying. A city that has 42% rental population adding more rentals just seem to cater hi-tech corporate employees who on an average stay in their jobs around 3 years.

I am not sure how this helps building a community. And also the density seems to be riduculous. Go north on San Antonio around 5 PM.

Mountain view schools are in a decline. A good city council will be focus on our problems rather adding more apartments. People with kids do live in apartments.

The mayor himself in article seem to doubful.

Posted by MV
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 17, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Looks like the council is causing more harm than good to the city of mountain view. It wants to build 100s of apartments and other commercially oriented properties.

While closing the schools and not taking any action as they get worse every year. Palo Alto puts good use of its money towards its schools. You don't need to look too far how plan the future of our kids and build community based small towns. I would live in San Jose or San Fran for high rise apartments.

Posted by OMV resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 17, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Before everyone gets too worked up, keep in mind that what the Council approved last week is a "gatekeeper request" that allows the developer(s) to start moving through the City's planning process, NOT approval of the projects themselves. There will still need to be environmental studies, development review hearings, and EPC hearings and finally a Council vote before either of these projects is approved. There is plenty of opportunity to voice your opinion on the projects, their design, etc coming up.

Dr. Collateral has it absolutely right, too - it's absurd for people to call this "transient housing" with all the connotations that go with that term. These developments will probably end up more like the Avalon developments in town - rents of $1800-2000/month and up, and geared towards young professionals and empty-nesters.

Mountain View actually has a lot of new single-family and townhouse develpoments in the works - Mayfield, the project on Grant, the stuff near Whisman, the project next to the Minton's site - so it seems reasonable to balance with rentals.

Posted by MV
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 17, 2011 at 8:35 pm

With 42% rentals the balance should be the other way. Single family home owners with kids already pay quite a bit of money towards property tax. With the schools declining in mountain view they would have to put their kids in private schools.

So there no incentive for people with kids to buy a home in mountain view. With comparable cost in palo alto, sunnyvale and cupertino they might just go there.

So mountain view is going to become ideal for single people, couples with no kids, people ready to leave when they decide to settle and buy a home or start a family. Nice way to encourage young families with kids to live in this city.

Also the vote in of itseld doesn't make sense in lot ways that I question the city councils motives.

A lot of people have expressed the absurdity of this vote. Can one of the proponents point out three benefits to the city.

Posted by MV
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 17, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Who will pay for all those studies?

This is like -- I want to dig a hole and bury myself. And offering to pay you to let me how, where to do it...

Posted by NeHi
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 17, 2011 at 9:45 pm

I have a small home on a small lot in Mtn. View where I can sit outside in the good weather and can grow enuf vegetables for the squirrels and some for us; this is what I enjoy. There will be no more properties like mine available in Mtn. View.

I have seen many single family homes on larger properties become 3-4 homes with pavement, tall houses, postage stamp sized garden/lawn and did I mention pavement.

I know that increased development will make my property more valuable; that does not excite me.

The area is full. Build increased density here and let those who want to mow lawns and grow their own vegetables live far away; that thought does not excite me.

My concern is that as we build more living units along the corridors we have to go farther for shopping. My friends in Palo Alto come to Mtn. View to shop as P.A. has eliminated many retail businesses. I find myself shopping in San Jose for things that used to be available in or near Mtn. View. We need to preserve or increase local businesses in Mtn. View if we are to increase population density.

Posted by A concerned resident
a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 18, 2011 at 12:34 am

Turning Mountain View into Shanghai, that's what they're doing.

Hello, pollution.

Posted by Jess
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 18, 2011 at 7:31 am

More apartment complexes in Mt. View? Do we really need that?? City Council is just looking for more money.

Reality is, apartment complex students drive test scores in schools down. When the test scores are down, our property values go down! We do NOT need that in Mt. View. Gateway to Mt. View from Palo Alto my foot. Gateway to lower property values!

City Council, take a look at the bigger picture!

Posted by ernie
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 18, 2011 at 7:35 am

How about the city re-zoning the eye-sore apartment complexes on California Ave instead for mixed use and thereby forcing the landowners to rebuild them.

I'm sure back in the 60s and 70s when those were built, everyone thought they were the future. Yuck, they are disgusting to look at, and many border being tenements.

Posted by Tim P.
a resident of another community
on Jan 18, 2011 at 8:28 am

I just wanted to make a few comments that address the issues that people are concerned about:

1) Schools - The project located at 870 E. El Camino Real will be served by Mountain View Elementary schools. Most likely Landels or possibly Huff depending on how the SD wants to handle it. Both of these schools are excellent with excellent teachers. I believe both had increases in API scores over the last year, and they are doing just fine. Mountain View has two elementary schools (Bubb & Huff) that have API scores in the 900's and very happy parents. The project on the Palo Alto border will be served by Los Altos schools, so it will not impact the MV school system.

2) Location - The El Camino corridor is the perfect place for this type of housing. It is accessible to bus routes, shopping, and other amenities. It is also ideal for seniors looking to downsize out of their Los Altos and Mountain View homes and not necessarily have to leave the area. This does free up larger single family homes for families and other people to move into the area and take advantage of.

Taxes - If the City can provide viable rental properties for older property owners to move into, then these transfers will increase the property tax base significantly because the new owners will pay at a higher tax rate. Proposition 13 has made it difficult for City and County governments to actually pay for needed services since the the 2% increase per year in taxes has not kept up with the inflation in costs to deliver those services.

Blight - These projects will most likely not turn into the CA avenue apartments that people are concerned about. Those apartments were built at a time when Mountain View was a different place and was not as desirable a place to live. Those issues will take care of themselves over time as the economics of the area change. Pretty soon the rents are not going to be attractive compared to the value of the properties, and redevelopment will occur. Just be patient.

I think what the City has done to move forward and approve this type of development should be commended. It is smart growth that will allow for people not to have cars to access jobs and basic services. This is the type of development we should applaud.

Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 18, 2011 at 9:32 am

Though I agree with these points, the fact that Mountain View has such a high percentage of apartments and rentals, as compared to neighboring cities, is a concern. With home ownership comes an increased interest in local community issues, and fostering a vibrant community with long term goals and interests in mind.

That said, I think Mountain View is in a unique position of strength to balance the needs of residents, both short term and long term, by upgrading the current mix and location of single family and multi residential housing to achieve multiple goals:

If the new proposed projects are strategically good opportunities of smart growth, then other areas in the City, which are currently multi-residential should be considered for rezoning to R1-R2, where it makes sense. Row houses, town houses, and smaller single family homes can help support lower cost points for an array of buyers.

The current quantity of apartments and rentals in Mountain View needn't be a cause for concern, if the City concentrates on upgrading existing stock to improve quality of life for residents, improve access to transportation corridors, and increase commitment to the long term goals of the City.

Posted by MV Mom
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 18, 2011 at 3:50 pm

I don't understand why the city council seems so hell bent on building more high density rentals. Anyone shopping for a home can tell you that single family homes in Mountain View are still in extremely high demand. Especially those homes within the LASD or Huff/Bubb boundaries. Why are we increasing the population when we don't have the infrastructure to support it? Especially schools. Some of the schools in MVWSD are in sad, sad shape. Since when did portables because the new permanent classroom? Test scores are all over the place. These things affect property values (maybe this is a roundabout way of trying to increase "affordable housing"). Remind me again why we are taking money from the schools to subsidize the golf course? We live in a great city, but one with whacked priorities.

Posted by ernie
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 18, 2011 at 4:47 pm

It's the only way to pay for the whacked out pension liabilities the city has incurred.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jan 19, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Let the development proposals move forward as lower density, for-sale condominium projects. Mountain View does not need any more high density rental housing.

Note that if developed as the proposed apartments, Prop 13 allows the developer to retain the current assessed land value (approx $28,000 per unit for 2650-6 West El Camino and $60,000 per unit for 870 East El Camino Real), thus reducing the property taxes otherwise payable.

If we assume that the cost of new construction is $200 per square foot and the average apartment unit size is 700 square feet in size, the completed value of 2650-6 (for purposes of property taxation) would be 200 x 700 = $140,000 + 28,000 = $168,000 per unit. Property taxes payable at 1.15% would be $1,932 per unit per year or $392,000 for a 203 unit complex.

The completed value of 870, for purposes of property taxation, would be 200 x 700 = $140,000 + 60,000 = $200,000 per unit. Property taxes payable at 1.15% would be $2,300 per unit per year or $763,600 for a 332 unit complex.

If the properties were sold as condominiums, property taxes would be based on the market value sale price (not historical land cost plus construction cost).

Assuming market value / sale prices of $400 per square foot, a 50% increase in unit size and a corresponding 33% reduction in the number of units (i.e. fewer, larger units but same overall project size), annual property tax revenue from 2650-6 would be $654,750 from 135 units ($4,850 per unit), while 870 would contribute $1,071,850 from 221 units ($4,800 per unit.)

Development of these parcels as lower unit density / same over all square footage condominium projects would result in $570,000 of additional property tax revenue, from fewer units – a significant improvement over their development as rental apartments.

Posted by CC
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 19, 2011 at 1:27 pm

For MV house owners with kids, the high density building project is bad news for you. The property tax paid by you will be spent on larger size classes, so don’t expect your kids will get the same quality of education as before. You can be certain that the school API score will head south. What happen when good schools turn bad? The neighborhood housing value will be suppressed. Who own those properties? Come on, you can figure that out.

There are better way to develop the city. The city council should focus on making the land more efficient. How about puting up two new high end hotels. The hotels serves a lot of people who had no interest of becoming part of MV (as the renters). The hotel will bring tax dollars, and creating lots jobs for MV residence.

Posted by Dr. Collateral
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 19, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Dr. Collateral is a registered user.

One question: do the owners of the apartment complexes pay property taxes? If so, they the argument that "our" property taxes will pay for "less" school is suspect.

More to the point: the city *has* been approving more single-family housing. Or trying to. It took several years to get the new development on Grant Ave through. The Mayfield project was delayed so long it fell victim to the recession. If I had more time, I'd compare the handles of commenters here to those on articles about those and other developments throughout the city. Are these people "anti-apartment", or just "anti"?

And people talk about apartment dwellers like they just show up, suck services for a few years, then disappear. I used to rent in MV, and now own in MV. What kind of sane person would plunk down 20% on a community they've never otherwise lived in?

Posted by Realtor
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 19, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Yes, owners of rental properties or apartments pay property taxes but that is likely one or two people. Now consider if this entire area was devoted to homes of various types, Condo's, SFH's the city would receive in taxes 1.25% of the sales price each year in property taxes, that's big bucks each year not from one or two people but a community of homeowners/people. Plus you would have a sense of ownership in this area resulting in cleaner better maintained surroundings and maybe schools.

Posted by Steve
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jan 19, 2011 at 3:04 pm

No matter how you stir it, it still boils down to increased density. Who actually benefits?
The developer: If it didn't generate profit they sure wouldn't do it
Local employers: Surplus housing=lower rents=lower cost of living=lower wages
City staff: Increased population=increased need for 'services'=increased job security. Growth in city work force=greater opportunity for advancement=more money
Who suffers: Eveyone else, in diminished quality of life and increased taxes to pay for the extra infrastructure required. It's time for the city council to represent the public, and stop giving rubber stamp approval to city staffs' special interest projects.

Posted by OMV resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 19, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Wow, there are some pretty blatant anti-renter prejudices showing up in this thread.

How about CC's argument that we should just approve hotels instead of apartments, because "The hotels serves a lot of people who had no interest of becoming part of MV (as the renters)." So everyone who rents in Mountain View has no interest in becoming a part of the community? I suppose all those families just starting out, knowledge workers, and Stanford grads who are renting to save money for a down payment or opting to avoid the burden of a $600K mortgage secretly hate Mountain View and just can't wait to flee as soon as they can rub two nickels together.

I also like Realtor's claim that by pushing the developers to somehow change their business model and build for-sale units, "you would have a sense of ownership in this area resulting in cleaner better maintained surroundings." Living in Old Mountain View, I can attest to the fact that the "owners take better care of their surroundings" thing is a myth. The apartment complexes in OMV are, almost without exception, nicely maintained and well-landscaped -- generally because the owners hire landscaping contractors. The maintenance of the single-family homes and yards is really hit or miss. Some are beautiful, while others are really dumpy. Fortunately, the charm of the overall neighborhood shines through, but there are plenty of homeowners who show little or no "care of their surroundings" in OMV.

All you homeowners posting here, sharpening up your pitchforks about the gatekeeper requests for these 2 projects -- take a moment to think about what it was like before you were able to afford to buy a place. Ihink what it would be like for those better off or farther along in life to throw stereotyped criticisms at you, to assume you are just a drain on the community waiting to move out, and to actively try to limit the options for where you can live. Maybe when these projects move closer to Council action you'll think a little differently about them.

Posted by MV Mom
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 19, 2011 at 3:57 pm

OMV Resident, the problem with that is there there is no shortage of apartment housing in Mountain View. I don't understand this need to keep building and to make it all high density. The city just doesn't have the infrastructure to support it, especially the schools. If you don't have kids in a public school here I'd encourage you to walk by a campus before or after school one day. The facilities we have are, for the most part, sub-standard. Especially when you compare then to a public school in Palo Alto of Los Altos. Kids have to take lunches in shifts. Some schools don't have computer labs. Adding more students (and I don't buy the theory that people in apartments don't have kids) taxes an already overburdened school system. It's not good for our children, and not good for property values. And yeah, I'll admit it, I'm a homeowner who wants to see property values increase in line with those of of neighboring cities.

Posted by MV
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 20, 2011 at 3:55 pm

We need to make to sure to fire all the city council. Hoepfully some good candidates will run.

Posted by CC
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 20, 2011 at 5:39 pm

MV Mom, I am with you.
I don’t believe more rental buildings in a neighborhood will make it safe for our kids (More car = more accidents). I don’t believe over supply of rental buildings will benefit property owner (higher vacancy rate = less money to up keep the properties). I don’t think the city will be able to collect more tax revenue from these projects (a slump will bring down housing value = less property tax).
I’d been a renter before, and I understand what was like being a renter. (Cheaper housing neighborhood is not always better.) Flood the housing market with rental building will bring down the neighborhood -- lower property value and lower rent. It benefits renters, but it’s on expense of MV home owners. Without mentioning names, there are some neighborhoods in south bay filled with rental buildings, but those neighborhoods have crime/gang/drug problems etc...
MV future is in our hands. For those who care about the community (not for self interest), we can make it more desirable to live.

Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 20, 2011 at 10:39 pm

Nice to hear from all of the no growthers who are clueless about how a city economy works. With all these great ideas about other peoples property, maybe they should go into the development business. Thank God we have a council that understands how you need to grow a city or this area will start to look like downtown Los Altos or Sunnyvale. A wasteland.

Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 21, 2011 at 7:20 am

The only people making money off high-density housing are the developers and landowners and the city officials who need the tax revenue to finance their fat pensions to the tune of $200,000 a year. Meanwhile, you stuff a bunch of people into tight little boxes with high rents, serve them expensive and inadequate transportation, and get them closer to low paying jobs runs by a few who rake in the money. Home ownership is the American dream, and that's what the puppeteers at City Hall are missing.

Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jan 21, 2011 at 10:01 am

We need less apartments not more. Let's find a way to stop this nonsense before we have to change the name of the City to APARTMENT VIEW.

Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2011 at 11:56 am

I use to rent a apt at the end of California St i think it was 2650, most people have a reason to rent, most people want to buy a house. But you only want to build only a certain kind of housing, High End, Big Houses, Big and Bigger, the No Growthers want to all, they want little towns, but Mtn View is not a little town it is a good size city The Reason why people, they get ouf of their parents house, school and big change after school, or just can't afford the housing prices. Big one you think what is going on with housing crsis and jobs people are moving into apts or staying in them a little longer.

MV build alot in the 50's 60's and the early 70's but this is 2011, building taste have changed, people want newer, and better, if the builders are smart they are going to be really nice apts, the older ones will become for the service/lower end worker. I use to work for a property company we kept up the buildings and the grounds.
Beside some renters will become home owners in the future

Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 21, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Developers have a strong incentive to figure out what people want for housing, otherwise they risk not making enough money and going out of business

Posted by MV
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 21, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Mountain already has enough apartments !!! 42%

Posted by Steve
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jan 21, 2011 at 4:08 pm

'Political insider' posted an interesting comment a couple of lines above, about how Mtn View needing to grow to avoid looking like "either downtown Los Altos or Sunnyvale, a waste land"
Let's compare our two neighbors: Los Altos, with its very limited growth, has peaceful neighborhoods, a great quality of life, and property prices that illustrate how highly desired those qualities are. Sunnyvale, with an over-ambitious redevelopement plan, has some nice neighborhoods, some not-so-great. Some good quality of life, lots of not-so-good. The two examples have little in common. Mountain View should certainly adopt a strategy making it more like Los Altos, and less like Sunnyvale (or San Jose...) Maybe we need more common sense and fewer polital insiders.

Posted by Raiding District
a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2011 at 5:21 pm

@Steve, Property prices in Los Altos are also higher because the schools are better. Mountain View should stop raiding the schools.

Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 21, 2011 at 9:10 pm

LA has a worse quality of life. No services. They cater only to rich people. A poor mans version of Atherton. There are many great neighborhoods in Mtn View. As to schools, you can pay a lot less in MV and still go to LA schools.

MV is growing and offers a lot more services in terms of restaurants, entertainment, and recreation. LA is dying. Their residents come here to enjoy life.

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