Town Square

Post a New Topic

Tonight: council candidate forum on housing and transportation

Original post made on Sep 2, 2014

The public will have a number of opportunities to learn about the views of Mountain View's City Council candidates in coming months, including a forum tonight that is billed as a discussion on housing and transportation issues.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, September 2, 2014, 11:10 AM

Comments (23)

Like this comment
Posted by Konraxd M. Sosnow
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 2, 2014 at 2:17 pm

An Integrated Increased Housing Plan

Mountain View General Plan 2030 identifies five (5) change areas for new housing and one potential additional area. Traditionally, each area has been looked at independently as time came to develop a precise plan for the area. It is time to look at the whole instead of each part separately in order to assess trade-offs and alternatives in order to select the best set of alternatives.

San Antonio Phase I includes housing and Phase II will include more housing thanks to the effort of Lenny Siegel and Balance Mountain View. Now we need a transportation link from San Antonio to North Bayshore at the Western end, near Intuit.

East Whisman, as Lisa Matichak has pointed out has public transportation - Light Rail, and car access from 237, Middlefield Road, 101, and Central expressway.

Also, East Whisman does not have the environmental concerns that North Bayshore does. For these reasons East Whisman is a better location than North Bayshore.

Let's replace the aging tilt up R&D buildings in East Whisman with modern housing!

North Bayshore has environmental concerns and it is cut off from the main part of Mountain View by highway 101, with only a few crossovers. Developers build in phases as they don’t want to flood the market and thus drive down prices. I would expect that it if City Council voted toy to build in North Bayshore a few hindered units would be built per each year. Thus, it will take several years until the 5,000 units required for a viable community are built.

El Camino Real (ECR) is state highway (CA 82) which is gridlocked for much of the day and evening. Yes, mixed use housing will allow shopkeepers and their employees to walk to work. However, I see luxury apartments (think of Madera) being constructed. They will only be affordable to hi-tech employees who work in North Bayshore, Menlo Park, Sunnyvale or San Jose. Why build high density housing along ECR to add to the gridlock? In addition, four (4) and five (5) story massive buildings impact negatively on the adjacent neighborhoods. There are better places to add housing.

Moffett Boulevard is another prime area for mixed use housing development. It already has public transportation with Caltrain and Light Rail. Automobile access is via Central Expressway and Moffett Boulevard.

Like this comment
Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 2, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Future of Transportation - Cars as a Service

I had the opportunity to talk with one of Google’s self-driving car project leaders Thursday evening, August 28, at the Academy of Science in Golden Gate Park. He told me that while progress is being made, it is still a development project and Google has no firm date for implementation.

He mentioned the Google press release about building cars: Google has begun building a fleet of 100 experimental electric-powered vehicles that will dispense with all the standard controls found in modern automobiles. The two-seat vehicle looks a bit like the ultracompact Fiat 500 or the Mercedes-Benz Smart car if you take out the steering wheel, gas pedal, brake and gear shift. The only thing the driver controls is a red “e-stop” button for panic stops and a separate start button.

The car would be summoned with a Smartphone application. It would pick up a passenger and automatically drive to a destination selected on a Smartphone app without any human intervention.

So, when your trip is completed the car would go on to pick up other passengers. If there are no more passengers to pick up, like at night, the car would return to its garage, which would be built away from neighborhoods and downtown.

Imagine no more cars in your garage, parked in front of your home, or in a parking lot at work. We could convert parking lots into parks or use them to build housing!

Imagine living where you want, working where you want, and commuting while you drink your morning cup of coffee, read the newspaper, answer your email, or play your favorite computer game!

Like this comment
Posted by Organizer
a resident of Rex Manor
on Sep 2, 2014 at 2:43 pm

I respectfully disagree with each special interest group having their own candidate forum especially the Greater San Antonio Community Association that is essentially four people and the Milk Pail. This is not community involvement / transparency but community extortion through mob mentality - this is morally reprehensible.

Like this comment
Posted by Moffett Resident
a resident of Willowgate
on Sep 2, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Konrad, I don't think that you have really examined the idea of adding 4- or 5-story mixed use on Moffett Boulevard. If you had, you would not be so quick to volunteer my neighborhood for high-density housing.

All of your objections to high-density housing on ECR are equally - or more - applicable to Moffett Boulevard:

You wrote:

"I see luxury apartments (think of Madera) being constructed. They will only be affordable to hi-tech employees who work in North Bayshore, Menlo Park, Sunnyvale or San Jose. Why build high density housing along ECR to add to the gridlock? In addition, four (4) and five (5) story massive buildings impact negatively on the adjacent neighborhoods."

Moffett is a narrow commercial strip running through single-family neighborhoods. 4- or 5-story high-density won't work on most of the street. If you are thinking about the first block of Moffett near the expressway opposite 100 Moffett, it is adjacent to 1-story single family. If you are thinking about the former Cottage Bar site at Central Avenue and Moffett, it is adjacent to single-family. If you are thinking about the intersection of Moffett and Middlefield, that's not part of the discussion, as it's federal government land.

Prometheus has already taken the low-hanging fruit with the 100 Moffett development, which will in fact be exactly like Madera. There is no mixed use in the plans for 100 Moffett because, as is true for the rest of Moffett Boulevard, there is nowhere at all to park.

Closer to the transit center means closer to the intersection of Moffett and Central Expressway. This intersection is already highly congested at peak hours. Getting into or leaving downtown via Moffett during PM peak hours can take 10 or 15 minutes, just to get through the intersection. Congestion at this intersection will be getting worse for sure, when 100 Moffett is finished and the Stierlin on-ramp to the expressway is closed, diverting that traffic onto Moffett, and adding the new traffic from 100 Moffett.

The city will be developing a Moffett Precise Plan in the next year or two. It will be one last chance to see that sanity prevails as the street is developed. Moffett residents have been hoping for years to see the street upgraded, and recently much of the blight has been removed. We need to make sure that we don't now get stuck with a different kind of blight.

Like this comment
Posted by @Moffett Resident
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 2, 2014 at 4:42 pm

But Konrad lives near ECR, not Moffett Blvd.

Like this comment
Posted by jean
a resident of another community
on Sep 2, 2014 at 6:36 pm

Whatever housing is planned please plan for children. Schools are already impacted and new housing brings more kids. Please plan for schools for new residents.

Like this comment
Posted by WeirdMtnView
a resident of Castro City
on Sep 3, 2014 at 12:04 am

Great job organizing this event Wendee Crofoot and co-sponsors Great Streets Mountain View, Safe Mountain View, Friends of Caltrain, the Greenbelt Alliance, the Silicon Valley Bicycle Exchange and Community in Action Team.

Go see the candidates and hear them speak at the next opportunity. There are some bright people running and the growth vs. housing/transportation conversation is headed in the right direction.

1 person likes this
Posted by Phil Cassel
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Sep 3, 2014 at 6:36 am

Since VTA is committed to placing a second track to Mountain View's Castro station (Caltrain) in order to handle Levi Stadium traffic, this seems to be an opportune time to extend the track past Castro station to cross Central expressway, then along Shoreline Boulevard to North Bayshore and its imminent tech development.
The purpose is to relieve an already impacted traffic gridlock on Shoreline and Highway 101. The existing city streets within North Bayshore cannot realistically handle the impact of possibly 30,000+ new employees expected at Google, Facebook and others as they arrive and depart at about the same time. When Google resorts to company buses to ferry staff from San Francisco, does this not reflect the current limitations of transportation and real estate, even at the current development state?
It seems that a light-rail option would be the most practical, using lighter, smaller coaches operating with higher frequency. Such an operation would serve to provide point-to-point service to people living further down the peninsula, spreading real estate demand beyond Mountain view and sparing us the rise of 3- and 4-story developments clustered in and around Mountain View. This is already the case at El Camino and Escuela,(a Prometheus project, incidentally) go look and guess what to expect for traffic congestion, rental rates and local school
I have been a resident here for over 35 years and can only regret that Mountain View will have to become accustomed to being a small city- its suburban small-town days are over.

Like this comment
Posted by Lee
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 3, 2014 at 8:12 am

Three current members of the EPC who have had the opportunity to study the General Plan and discuss the Specific Plans for years - all spoke eloquently against housing at North Bayshore - for sound City planning and environmental issues. Thank you Margaret Caprilles, Ellen Kamai and Lisa Matichak.

Like this comment
Posted by WereYouEvenThere
a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 3, 2014 at 8:43 am

@Lee, Lisa left last night "to go to another engagement" and wasn't there to respond to to the housing in North Bayshore question. Margaret and Ellen both believe it's a bad idea due to "no services" being available in the area. To me, that's the silliest thing to say because there are never services in an area before it's built. But I'm glad we have some clear differences between the candidates.

Like this comment
Posted by I was there
a resident of Gemello
on Sep 3, 2014 at 10:37 am

Candidate Matichak left to go to an interview for an endorsement( at least this is what I heard her saying to someone else). Perhaps this gives a good insight to her priorities, that talking with people is not as important as getting support and maybe donations from big interest groups!
Margaret Capriles seems determined to give the impression that she is already part of the city council and that she was responsible for all the work there and every thing is good. She keeps saying "we did this" and "we did that, and it is really difficult to understand whom is she speaking of. One sure thing is that there are no new ideas there. Her message is; "Our city council is doing a great job and we will keep following their path; so if you want to keep the status quo, vote Capriles" !

Ellen Kamei has some ready-made answers to the hot topics, but as soon as an unexpected question is asked, she clearly panics and‏ stumbles to find the right words. She clearly does not have a grasp of the ideosyncracies involved with many of the problems facing Mountain View and needs much more experience.

As in the forum at Microsoft, most of the questions seemed geared to play well towards Siegel's stated campaign goal of more housing, but Siegel strikes me as a single issue candidate and did not come up with any new ideas other than build, build, and build some more.

1 person likes this
Posted by Common sense
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 3, 2014 at 11:39 am

Appreciated the thoughtful comments posted here from folks who attended the forum.

Agree with Phil Cassell: light rail extension is the most sensible, feasible suggestion I've seen yet to connect the downtown transit center with the booming North Bayshore, and relieve some of the already-gridlocked car traffic.

However (as Richard Brand mentioned in a Daily-Post letter), VTA's priorities seldom benefit northern Santa Clara County at all. The Evelyn station closure and new track support not MV or PA, but the new Santa Clara stadium. The Measure-A sales tax we pay funds BART's phenomenally expensive extension down the east bay to SJ. Who will pay for a track to N. Bayshore?

'Margaret Capriles seems determined to give the impression that she is already part of the city council. . . She keeps saying "we did this" and "we did that," and it is really difficult to understand whom is she speaking of.'

Possibly she takes a cue from President Obama, who, even as a candidate, has always called himself "we" in speeches. (A prerogative traditionally reserved, as one expert put it long ago, for monarchs, popes, and the front few pages of the New Yorker.)

Like this comment
Posted by Chris
a resident of Waverly Park
on Sep 3, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Web Link
Last nights forum on YouTube

Like this comment
Posted by McCoy
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 3, 2014 at 2:53 pm

When will the Microsoft Forum from last week be available? It seems pretty stupid to post the second forum before anyone has seen the first one!

1 person likes this
Posted by More questions
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 3, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Pretty much everyone agrees that housing in Mountain View is too expensive and the current stock is insufficient. But what is the best way to solve this dilemma? How do we know that building “affordable” housing will materially alleviate this problem? Even adding 500 low cost units seems like a drop in the bucket. And how do we know the availability of low cost units will not encourage more residents and jobs to move into Mountain View? Does curtailing the amount of office space really make any sense—couldn’t this backfire and cause companies to take their jobs to neighboring cities? This is a regional problem that requires regional solutions, ones that we in Mountain View can appreciate and perhaps influence, but not control.

How do we know adding housing in North Bayshore will solve our problems? If one-bedroom, studio or dormitory-style housing is added in North Bayshore, who polices the number of residents per unit? To build housing in areas currently without infrastructure (especially public infrastructure like schools, because market supply/demand forces will fill in to provide commercial infrastructure) will necessitate either more infrastructure (and further density/urban sprawl) or more traffic congestion to reach the existing infrastructure. If housing is built in North Bayshore, how will tax revenues generated in the Shoreline Regional Park District (special tax increment district) be spent going forward? Will they remain concentrated within the District, thereby depriving the rest of Mountain View from their benefit—or will the City continue its revenue sharing arrangement with our existing local schools? Is this conversation an animal that we want to unleash? So many unanswered questions…

Like this comment
Posted by Linda Curtis
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 3, 2014 at 3:02 pm

@I was there: It is a matter of record what Lisa Matichak says about the plans for North Bayshore. She has stated this on the record. If you are unfamiliar, you will have your chance to hear this straight from her at any one of the next several "meet the candidates" forums scheduled in October.

She does agree with the other EPC candidates and with Mercedes Salem. And she typically lists other very good housing development areas to look at instead. Plus she is for not pushing ahead with office space so out of proportion.

As to her reason for departing slightly early, rumors should not be treated as truth. I trust her judgement on things, and if she missed the last two, somewhat repetitious questions, she will catch them at all four (so far) of the coming forms.

@ Lee-

Don't forget Mercedes Salem also spoke eloquently about North Bayhore, and does concur with the three EPC candidates, even though she is not on the EPC, but is very well read on what they studied. So please thank Mercedes along with the three EPC people you did thank. Mercedes Salem is very intelligent and really knows how to study a problem. I know this because I have spent lots of time discussing issues with her on more than half a dozen occasions. She deserves our votes!

@Phil Cassel-

I agree with your light rail ideas and also very much with the logic of what you said:

"... North Bayshore cannot realistically handle the impact of possibly 30,000+ new employees expected at Google, Facebook and others as they arrive and depart at about the same time. When Google resorts to company buses to ferry staff from San Francisco, does this not reflect the current limitations of transportation and real estate, even at the current development state?"

Somehow most people think that "lots of very small drops in the bucket" (which are big enough to flood & ruin one's neighborhood like mine and so many others) will not only "float the boat" that solves current housing problems, but will handle all the additional demand that will come from all the offices proposed for Shoreline. Not possible.

Couldn't Google and the other big guys expand in Stockton, or Fresno, or at least Livermore, or some place else? They have the technology to communicate among themselves without having to all sit in the same room.

These would be areas easily expanded to house both the companies themselves and their employees, and many more, immediately nearby in a very nicely planned fashion.

These places could use the development more than we can.

And MV would still be plenty profitable without being totally ruined with no place for any one's children to live near them here.

If there were any housing to be built near Google, I would agree with Jim Neal on the employee dormitory type housing, in that their needs are mostly met by their employer and is perhaps why they would choose to live there. Jim Neal has an open mind on the subject and likes to brain storm ideas, like building at Moffett Field, if/when we can get it from the Feds. He does engage people for their thoughts and continues to look into things.

Like this comment
Posted by Maggie
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 3, 2014 at 7:24 pm

Try disagreeing with Lenny Siegel. Watch him turn belligerent. He finally yelled at me that I didn't have to vote for him. Is that the kind of reactions we need for a city council member.
He will need to deal with a lot more negative comments then I made.

Like this comment
Posted by Lee
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 4, 2014 at 2:26 am

@linda Curtis
Agreed - Mercedes provided well thought answers that showed her as an intelligent , independent and solution oriented candidate with compassion and understanding.

@ Maggie - Lenny Siegel was agresdive and seemed to have a heavy chip on his shoulder. Not a listener .

1 person likes this
Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Sep 4, 2014 at 5:59 am

It is increasingly clear to me that if we build luxury condos or family housing by transit, residents will still drive because they need to drop young children off at day care/school, yet "family housing" is all we see around transit hubs like San Antonio station. It is even more perplexing how any housing on El Camino is going to not increase traffic significantly since it's neither a high employment area or transit hub.

Yet the one area that the right type of housing could reduce traffic is off the table for so many candidates. One search on Twitter on "micro apartments" and you see the whole world is having a different conversation on diversity of housing (vs our world view of luxury townhomes or nothing):
Web Link

Micro apartments are the only way to ensure housing in North Bayshore would not strain local schools and services because extreme micro housing is the only lawful way to legally limit the number occupants based on state square footage regulations. If anyone thinks these are just "dorms," they have not taken a moment to view how the world is re-conceptualizing sustainable and diverse housing. The world is dealing with a housing crisis, we should take solutions from around the world.
Twitter search of "micro apartments"
Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Linda Curtis
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 4, 2014 at 10:40 am

@Christopher Chiang-

You make some really good points. As our government cannot require a developer to build certain sizes of housing at certain places, they can still make it obvious what size units in a complex would be more likely approved and not get hung up in "the pipeline" for years. Hence, no family size units where there are no schools nearby, etc., as you talked about.

We may be experiencing a housing crisis, but it is only because new cities need to start up, instead of crowding everyone into already crowded areas. One result of growing ever upward, such as in Shanghai, where they have built very high in the sky, for example, is that no toilets are provided inside the housing. All residents must collect their excrement in a bucket and bring it down each morning to the "honey dew" truck. We have it better here, I'm not impressed that the infrastructure of MV is adequate for us, even as we are, when we have rolling brown outs and run short on water, etc.

As I understand it, humans occupy a total of only 3% of the surface of the earth.

Like this comment
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Sep 4, 2014 at 1:15 pm

Why not extend VTA to San Antonio Center build a branch line from Ellis St to the Googleplex.

3 to 4 stories housing should work in places but still we need for people serving businesses and services. So not everything can be housing.

Time to get creative on housing design.

Like this comment
Posted by Grainey
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 4, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Attention wheat and chaff...we're going to have to rearrange things a bit

Like this comment
Posted by greedy-growth-MV
a resident of another community
on Sep 4, 2014 at 2:13 pm

MV will build super-high-density and cause its residents to
increase at an alarming rate.

However, MV will only develop commercial properties and
apartment towers. MV will not make room for schools. Never
seen such anarchy anywhere else.

Since MV wants super-high-density commercial and apartment
buildings, it is very fitting that MV builds school towers
in MV. It is ridiculous to say that MV will not allot any
land for schools.

The traffic caused by MV's astronomical, out-of-control
growth is inflicting pain on neighboring cities. MV's
behavior is ghastly. MV, please be a good, reasonable
neighbor! At least try a bit!!

The San Antonio Center Phase-1 apartment buildings are
so in-your-face! The devil-may-care attitude is so obnoxious!!!
Please stop spilling the density from greedy growth into
neighboring cities!!!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Burger chain Shake Shack to open in Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 16 comments | 4,248 views

The Cost of Service
By Aldis Petriceks | 1 comment | 971 views

Couples: When Wrong Admit It; When Right; Shut Up
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 436 views