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Better solutions to housing puzzle than North Bayshore

Original post made on Dec 6, 2014

The General Plan Update and the Precise Plan processes have been an extensive endeavor of community engagement over six years to identify areas where the city could appropriately add both housing and businesses. Back in 2008 when we started the process, few residents seemed concerned about commercial growth while, until recently, many opposed building more housing. We carefully thought through and deliberated upon the question of housing in the North Bayshore (NBS) Planning area multiple times and decided North Bayshore was not the appropriate place.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, December 5, 2014, 12:00 AM

Comments (11)

Posted by David
a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2014 at 7:17 pm

What a bad set of points in this article! $20 Million per acre for land? In a pig's eye. Totally made up numbers. Even if there were one sale that supports this the other most nearly recent sales say otherwise. With the council's liberal attitudes toward office development, the land in other areas of the city competes with North Bayshore. If land up there WERE to go for $20 Million per acre, a developer would just build elsewhere. It's not a closed system. The area is de-valued by the abysmal traffic management plan provided by the city. It's not a good place for office development.

The points about noise and light are absurd. If this were true there would be no residence units in downtown San Francisco, which is hardly the case. Even though this area is still less dense than (downtown) San Francisco, that's the direction MV is trending toward. It will reach somewhere in between the current MV and SF. So we need to think about augmenting the existing MV housing stock with other options, which fit perfectly in the North Bayshore area. Excluding that location makes little sense. If the council were serious about this then it would exclude large office buildings from other areas where housing might be developed--San Antonio center, the Whisman Road/Ellis Street/237 area which is mixed residential and office currently, the area over on 237 and Middlefield where there is nearby existing residential, etc. It makes no sense to make arbitrary limits any longer. Back in the 1990's the city did this to try to skew things toward more office development. Those days are long gone.

The points about public input in the past are laughable. THAT INPUT WAS PRESENT AND WAS IGNORED. The people have elected new representatives to the City Council precisely because of that lack of respect for balance int he past. Good luck to us all. I hope we aren't in a dictatorial bureaucracy quite yet.

Posted by concerned citizen
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 7, 2014 at 4:08 pm

This article is a clear presentation of why the present Council, after years of deliberation, has rejected the idea of putting housing in North Bayshore. Their reasoning is sound (in this case, anyway).

My only disagreement is that I would have liked the amount of proposed new office space to be cut by at least half.

Shoreline is already at capacity during peak hours, and parts of 101 as well. Creating a reversible lane on Shoreline will help, but will not compensate for the increased traffic that would come with either housing or office development in North Bayshore, on the scale that is proposed.

As I understand it, the plan is to “prioritize” bike and shuttle traffic over autos on Shoreline. I don’t think it’s that easy to force people out of auto use. It will be a mess.

The new council members should bear in mind that their supposed “mandate” to ramp up high-density is actually pretty thin. Less than 25% of MV voting-age residents bothered to vote in this election. Lenny Siegel, for example, received 5673 votes - just 9% of voting-age residents, and just 16% of registered voters. Other factors in electing the pro-development slate were a constant stream of pro-housing articles in the Voice, and dark money spent for Rosenberg (over $50,000) and Showalter (over $20,000), apparently coming mostly from developers.

I can only hope that the new members will act responsibly. We’ll see.

Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 8, 2014 at 9:22 am

Jim Neal is a registered user.

I think the fact that John McAlister is one of the authors of this article, pretty clearly shows that the article that I wrote two weeks ago about housing in North Bayshore already being dead ( Web Link ) was right on the money.

No matter which side of the issue you are (were) on, it is now clear that other solutions will have to be found to try to ameliorate the effects of rapidly rising rents in Mountain View.

I am looking forward to seeing what creative solutions will be explored by the New Council now that the North Bayshore is effectively off the table.

Jim Neal
Old Mountain View

Posted by William R Hitchens
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 8, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Mountain View should concentrate on forcing improvement to all of its substandard rental housing (apartments and houses and their residents) before it builds any more new housing. We must get our present housing blight in order before we further destroy our quality of life in MV. MV should take a lesson from Los Altos --- just say no to new housing unless it's upscale and doesn't increase chaos and population density.

Posted by Ugh
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 9, 2014 at 4:44 am

Another horrible comment from "Mr. Hitchens": "Mountain View should concentrate on forcing improvement to all of its substandard rental housing (apartments and houses and their residents)..."

"Substandard rental housing?" Codeword for affordable housing.
"Substandard residents??" Codeword for Latino.

Why don't you go live in the deep south with similarly intelligent people? This is the bay area--wake up!

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Bailey Park

on Dec 9, 2014 at 9:32 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Posted by Kath
a resident of North Bayshore
on Dec 9, 2014 at 10:17 am


It's easy to slam someone while hiding behind a pseudonym.


Houses in Mountain View are selling for 1.4 million on a 5,000 square foot lot, or about 11% of an acre.

So maybe 20 million is high, but 10 to 15 million is not.

Imaging building a school on 10 acres in Northbay Shore?

I'm still waiting for someone to say what it will cost Mountain View residents if the Precise Plan is redone?

Posted by David
a resident of another community
on Dec 9, 2014 at 11:24 am

You have to consider that these houses cost something to construct! $300K for the construction cost means $1.1 Million for that 1/9th acre house's land. So $10 Million per acre. Not $20 Million per acre. Sometimes a bit less. It may increase in the future, but the price is not there yet. The land price is substantially the same throughout the city, so no need to focus on North Bayshore as prohibitively expensive for housing. Up in that area alongside the 101 Freeway would be a good place to add apartment housing options near the jobs. By the 4 to 8 story office buildings that are being permitted, there could also be 4 to 8 story apartment towers. They don't need much or any separation in space. Thus, some of the development would provide housing and there would be some fraction of residents whose jobs would be right there in that area. 40%? $60%? That would help the traffic a lot. When Google rents 1/2 of the units in new apartment complexes for their traveling employees on temporary assignments, it would especially help housing stocks in the rest of the city if these company rentals could be up near their offices. If for no other reason, the trips on their luxury buses would be much shorter.

Posted by Greg Perry
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 9, 2014 at 3:00 pm

If the authors of this article really believe that there are other, better, solutions to the housing problem, why haven't they acted on any of them?

Instead, they tell us about "pipeline" numbers. When those numbers look to small, they tell us about the "pipeline" numbers from other cities.

There is no housing "pipeline". The term has no legal meaning, and many housing units "in the pipeline" will never be built. Ten years back, anti-housing council members claimed Mayfield Mall as part of the housing pipeline. Best of luck renting one of those homes today.

Of course, mountain view's housing growth is far smaller than the council's recent addition of office space of around 30,000 jobs. So the authors count San Jose and four other cities towards our housing supply- but make no mention of office space growth in those cities.

Even when they count the five largest cities in the county, these 19,000 housing units "in the pipeline" are not enough to offset the 30,000 new cubicle jobs added to North Bayshore (less than one half of one small city.)

In other words, the collective actions of more than half of the county are not enough to undo the damage that has been done by this one council. Good riddance. I hope the new council repeals the NBS precise plan and starts fresh.

Posted by Terrible MV
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 9, 2014 at 6:14 pm

Oh, the terrible Mountain View. They helped turnaround the economy by providing office space for new jobs. Now, let's!

In the meantime, Atherton, LAH, Woodside with their large minimum lot sizes in neighborhoods keep the very few from having housing. They are under no obligation to build any more. So, they do nothing for the economy (you know, putting food on our table via jobs), but benefit from all the local employment. Mountain View already has the highest residential population in the peninsula/southbay. I think we've done our part.

Posted by Ben
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 10, 2014 at 9:35 am

I appreciate the authors taking the time to explain their rationale. I understand their desire to push through a plan they've spent so much time on, but do find it misguided to do so following an election with such a clear, sweeping message. Sure, you can speak about the low voter turn-out, but this is heavily correlated to the election cycle. One could also argue the result is actually more representative of what concerned citizens want to happen to their city.

I am curious what other cities regions the authors and Council at large look to for guidance in planning for our future. For example, I've spent some time in Jersey City, and what they have accomplished along their waterfront in the last decade is really amazing. Buildings of 12+ stories that are very attractive which help create a section of the city that has both a moderate living and working population, easily walkable amenities, impressively light traffic, and plenty of room for green space. Chevy Chase, MD has similar traits.

If we would adopt a similar mindset in North Bayshore, we could fit all of the Googleplex sprawl in 1/3 of the space, leaving ample room for green space, residential buildings, and supporting amenities.

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