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Row houses to replace apartments on N. Rengstorff

Original post made on Mar 6, 2015

On Tuesday Mountain View's newest City Council members were hesitant to displace 32 households in an apartment complex at 333 North Rengstorff Ave. in order to make way for 29 large, expensive row houses.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, March 6, 2015, 1:42 PM

Comments (53)

Posted by kgirl
a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 6, 2015 at 2:20 pm

Perhaps I am reading this incorrectly but I am totally confused as to how this passed with the counsel given all the issues pointed out in the article. Pat seems to be the only one with some common sense on this issue and that she stuck to her guns... "It seems like a nice project, but it needs to denser," Showalter said, reflecting the new majority's desire for housing. "I want to send a signal that that's what we are looking for. I wish it had 10 to 12 more units in there." So if the new majority's desire is for housing....then where is the logic on displacing 32 households for 29 units? There is no net add to housing. Two members talk about how troubling it is to displace people yet they voted in favor anyway because of the long history of the developer with the counsel! In addition 38 heritage trees get sent to the wood chopper. I love Mountain View for all of its beautiful trees...oh wait, that are slowly disappearing year over year with new developments.

Posted by Incognito
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 6, 2015 at 2:37 pm

Agree, why do council members feel obligated to approve a project despite their ambivalence?

What's even more troubling, according to this article, is Kasperzak's concern for the developer's feelings. Has he forgotten that his job is to represent the Mountain View residents who elected him?

Posted by Nick
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 6, 2015 at 3:28 pm

I'm pleased that it won't be higher density: we have enough traffic already.

Posted by Rossta
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 6, 2015 at 3:33 pm

Sad. This is the NEW council we elected, but they feel compelled to continue to make the old mistakes. I guess we are stuck in a downward spiral.
So, next housing proposal when everyone starts talking about how this new developer needs to do something for affordable housing, just remember that you gave up 32 affordable households in favor of 29 expensive single family homes. Dug the hole a little deeper. Maybe that $100,000 of campaign money is paying off for that real estate group?

Posted by LoveYourDNA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 6, 2015 at 3:39 pm

How is someone hesitant and then turns around and votes for it anyway??

Posted by PH
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Mar 6, 2015 at 3:47 pm

They can't out build our population explosion and the new housing they do build is not affordable. The new housing drives up the rental price of the old housing because of "Market Rates" or "Supply and Demand" or whatever people prefer to call it. In the end it is an unsustainable increase for the renters and they will be forced to move. The bottom line is that people with average incomes and retirees can't stay in the city they supported for many years. It is a shame that the greed of the housing industry is creating a situation where only the people with the best income can afford to live here or buy a house. I can only imagine the dire situation that is confronting those at the bottom of the income ladder. They are the ones who supply our daily service needs, but can't afford the cost to live here. It is too expensive to live here and too expensive to commute. If this "Living like the Romans" society keeps up our city will turn into a playground for those with money and a slave worker existence for all the rest. We all need to think about the consequences of our way of living as the future will be ugly if things don't get better. The only way to save our city from being a place to not live is to get those who are able to make changes to understand that money talks but that doesn't mean it's good for our city.

Posted by IMHO
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Mar 6, 2015 at 3:52 pm

Anything that can replace old, dilapidated, and ugly rental housing with upscale owner-occupied housing is great with me. Mountain View has too run-down rental housing that needs to be replaced with lower-density, owner-occupied housing. Owners are far more responsible at maintaining the quality and safety of their housing and neighborhoods than tenants and absentee landlords.

Posted by A talking cat
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 6, 2015 at 4:05 pm

This so-called "new" city council is continuing the long-running tradition of kowtowing to developers.

Posted by Sheesh
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Mar 6, 2015 at 4:13 pm

I thought a pretty clear message was sent during the election. Now the new council is doing the same old thing. WTF! Plus mowing down the trees is unforgivable. At lease make the developer work around most of the heritage trees. So they plant some small baby trees that take 10-20 years to grow and call it a day. What a shame.

Posted by Denuding the town
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 6, 2015 at 4:35 pm

They are removing mature old growth trees and paving the entire site. Plus, the trees are designed to stay small.

In general, a horrid but typical addition to the town.

Posted by Jeff M
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 6, 2015 at 5:46 pm

The tree issue is increasingly obvious. City staff seems to push the overplanting of small trees as somehow an acceptable replacement for very large, mature canopy trees. The overplanted areas will not be optimally healthy, mature slowly, and are very difficult to get permission to thin out. This is a poor substitute for a healthy specimen that clearly does well in its site, which we will never see again.

Posted by hmmm
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 6, 2015 at 6:12 pm

well, the new council was not elected to provide more housing where housing already exists - only to provide housing in north bayshore. so now we see the results - again, the less fortunate are displaced for the benefit of the more fortunate.

Posted by LosingHopeOnHopeStreet
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 6, 2015 at 6:43 pm

Really City Council? Council is not showing they care for affordable housing for 'school teachers' or anyone making less than a salary that affords a million dollar home here. my vote will not be available for you next time. 29 families are out. More will follow because apt owners want to get there unfair share of the pie and charge the same high rents as all the new places.

Posted by Karma
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 6, 2015 at 6:48 pm

The new Mountain View City Council has failed the people who elected them for protection from BIG MONEY CORRUPTION. KARMA will eventually protect the remaining middle class and the low income people of this once great town........

Posted by Konrasd M. Sosnow
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 6, 2015 at 8:31 pm

Mountain View doesn't build residences, developers do!

So, developers will only build what will sell/rent and make them an acceptable profit. If it is more profitable to build 29 homes versus 42 homes, guess which one gets built?

This project sends a signal to all developers - there is little, or no, more land available in Mountain View, so you need to replace exiting buildings - replacing apartments with town homes is one way to do this! The developers will jump on this.

Posted by David Speakman
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Mar 6, 2015 at 9:21 pm

Tear down 32 homes then add 29 back. That is a net loss of 3 households for a city that already has too few options.

That they are replacing moderately priced rentals with near-million dollar homes makes it worse.


Posted by Chad Cottle
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Mar 6, 2015 at 10:01 pm

My family is one of those living at 333 N Rengstorff about to be displaced.

My wife and I make too much money to receive displacement assistance, but not enough to compete with other home buyers here in Mountain View. We're not sure where we're going to end up. The income rules that one must meet to receive assistance are just plain ridiculous.

I echo the other posters here who are perplexed by the council members who objected to this displacement, but voted yes anyway.

We are most concerned that our son will have to change to a different high school.

We also know many others living here make far less than my wife and I do, and that's a tragedy.

Posted by LauraR
a resident of another community
on Mar 6, 2015 at 10:31 pm

What a shame to have to displace those people. Imagine if it were you being moved out of your home so that more expensive ones could be built. I think it's terrible that the City Council approved this.

Posted by Ernest
a resident of Shoreline West
on Mar 6, 2015 at 11:29 pm

This is not fair. My prayers go out to the soon to be displaced families. Corrupted council members. What happened to all the promises of affordable housing? 1M Is too much. And then you decide to cut down the trees? Someone needs to get fired or resign from their public elected position.

Posted by Joe S.
a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2015 at 7:49 am

Too bad it isn't a trailer park. The County Supervisors are bending over backwards trying to save one of those in Palo Alto from conversion to nicer homes. I'm looking forward to the full gentrification of Mountain View. Maybe Crittenden and Monta Loma will become sought after schools instead of what they are now.

Posted by Scott Lamb
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 7, 2015 at 8:19 am

Scott Lamb is a registered user.

Konrad, it's more profitable for the developers to build whatever will get approved. In 2006, the developers thought that might be a 102-unit high density condo project. The 2006 council disagreed. Recently the developers thought that would be a 29-unit row house project. And the current council reluctantly agreed. I wish they hadn't. I don't know the details of the 102-unit plan, but based on our housing shortage, I imagine it would have been better.

Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2015 at 1:03 pm

People complain about too much rental housing, not enough ownership housing. Rental housing gets replaced by ownership housing you hear complaints.
Build some rental housing or plan for it you will hear complaints.

On tress which I think most were planted after they ripped out orchards in which I think most trees were removed for Ag. uses.

Posted by Ted
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 7, 2015 at 8:31 pm

I lived close to that site. Rengstorff deserves to be better and finally someone is doing something. The council shouldn't forget this is private property. Thanks developer, thanks city council.

Posted by More housing
a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2015 at 11:47 pm

Cheer up! Not all is bad news for apartment dwellers. The city has 5 acres of land on Mora Drive that is currently nearly idle. It was auto repair shops and similar businesses until now. It's zoned for new housing. As I understand it, this is likely to turn into more rental housing. 5 acres will hold more than 1.5......

Posted by Too Dense Already?
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 8, 2015 at 8:45 am

I wish the proposed plans called for only three or four normal size houses on that site. But let's face it, those current apartments are an eyesore. So anything will be better.

And the new home owner's kid's will increase the test scores at Crittenden and Monta Loma, so that's good.

Mountain View needs to reduce it's rental stock with property tax paying home owners. The free ride for renters should come to an end. There needs to be a "renters tax" too.

Posted by rainbow
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Mar 9, 2015 at 8:08 am

There's no "free ride for renters..." All renters pay property tax as part of their rent.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 9, 2015 at 10:01 am

Renters pay property tax through their rent, but Prop 13 distorts what they pay. When houses get sold or remodeled, property tax values are reassessed. This is why you can sometimes find a deal on older houses for rent, since the owners carrying costs are really low. My former landlord used to pay about $800/year on the house I rented. It's really easy to register a corporation which will own an apartment complex forever, no matter how much it changes hands, to avoid reassessment. It's a mess.

Posted by incognito
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 9, 2015 at 2:41 pm

@Too Dense Already?

What do you call a "normal size" house? On my street we have houses that are 970 sf and others that are 4,500 sf. Not sure which of those are "normal". Is someone who lives on a 1-acre lot in LAH more "normal" than someone who lives in an apartment in SF?

I think what a lot of people who commented here are saying is that there should be a variety of housing in Mountain View available for all income levels. The person who owns the company, the person who cleans the offices after hours, the person who owns the restaurant, the person who washes the dishes, they all should be able to find suitable housing near their jobs.

Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Mar 9, 2015 at 3:27 pm

Really nice project, designed really well and attractive. Also rowhouses could house different sized units. 1 to 2 bedroom flats in a 3 story building or a downstair space they could be converted into a studio or 1 bedroom unit in the large home units.

Posted by Definitely
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 10, 2015 at 3:14 pm

Definitely better then what is there now!!

Posted by incognito
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 10, 2015 at 4:29 pm

@Definitely, it's not "better" for the 32 residents who are being displaced, and it's not "better" for the thousands of us who elected council members who used campaign slogans like "putting the pieces together" and "residents first" and who led us to believe they were in favor of increasing the supply of affordable housing in MV.

Thank you Pat Showalter for sticking to your convictions and having the courage to take a principled stand.

Posted by Engineer
a resident of another community
on Mar 10, 2015 at 4:47 pm

Looks like the existing construction might be "soft story". Redevelopment would be a good idea if that's the case. It wouldn't hold up to a strong earthquake. The decision may have even saved the current tenants' lives.

Posted by Middle Class
a resident of Bailey Park
on Mar 10, 2015 at 4:48 pm

Affordable housing is a relative term. It does not mean it must target the poorest in our area. Many families who could afford something a little nicer, but not $2M, might not consider apartment complex living as an option. In those cases, mid priced nicer row houses might be just what they are looking for.
I would argue that we have a lot of low priced apartments, but are lacking the mid-range priced houses/townhouses that many starter families need.

Posted by IMHO
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Mar 10, 2015 at 5:28 pm

Anything that can replace old, dilapidated, and obsolete high-density rental housing with upscale, lower-density, owner-occupied housing is OK with me and a long-term winner for MV. MV has far too much run-down rental housing that needs to be replaced with lower-density, owner-occupied housing. Homeowners with a real financial stake in MV have far more incentive to maintain the quality and safety of their housing and neighborhoods than non-committed tenants and absentee landlords. That's Economics 101, folks.

Posted by Sarah
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 11, 2015 at 10:25 am

I also support this. More owner-occupied housing will only improve Mountain View's image. But I would have also supported condos.

Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Mar 11, 2015 at 12:38 pm

I agree Mountain View needs more ownership housing but it must maintain rental stock. Yes Mountain View has run down buildings but the owners of the apartment must maintain their properties. I have seen run down homes in MV, run down businesses also but owners must keep up.

On the other hand some of the people that are coming here want nicer, better and bigger rather is be rental or ownership units.

Posted by Juan olive
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Mar 12, 2015 at 2:40 pm

Vote them out ASAP.

Enough said.

Posted by member001
a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 12, 2015 at 4:16 pm

This kind of redevelopment is a positive growth for the Mountain View community overall. Times are changing rapidly. How can anyone realistically expect the city to not change and grow rapidly also. Especially being located in the heart of Silicon Valley, just blocks away from world class tech giants? Many hope to see more redevelopment and the sooner the better to improve the community. That said, the city also needs to require redevelopment of new, permanently affordable housing that can be owner occupied and/or rented, which has selling price profit limits (1 or 2 percent profit allowed if sold). This can be subsidized by developer fees and city funds for the initial construction to make it affordable to lower income buyers. A good balance of redevelopment that includes affordable housing and housing for corporate employees will keep the city's diversity and vibrancy. This has proven a successful formula in other areas.

Posted by Slynss
a resident of Castro City
on Mar 12, 2015 at 11:22 pm

I've read all these comments. As a four year- plus long resident - in a well maintained but, "crappy" apartment complex, I have to say that I am offended by the comments stating that renters are "non-committed tenants", don't pay property tax, and are somehow less than people who were *extremely fortunate* enough to be able to buy a condo or SFH at the right time in the market. Lucky you. You do know that many homes bought in the last two years are NOT owner occupied? Right? I too would rather not see ugly apartments - but there need to be diverse housing options at diverse price points if you want a thriving, socially just, and diverse community. Maybe you don't. I'm not sure how to achieve that - but it's not by doing what the city council just did when they approved this eviction proposal for elite housing at fewer units.

The rest of us renters are trying to live our lives too. And to do that, we need safe, affordable, reliable housing within a reasonable commute to work. When you advocate removing older apartments in mountain view because you don't like the way they look, you are advocating taking away a family's home/security/happiness/community. Out of pure selfishness. One commenter even supported evicting the 333 Rengstorff Ave. tenants because it was for their own good since an earthquake might kill them in their apartment - really??!!
Maybe you want to see newer townhomes built that are attractive because they don't remind you that other, hard-working, educated people are struggling to live the American dream too.

If you own your own MV home - you're already winning. Stepping on the less fortunate (which includes successful people who still can't afford to own a home in the area), by celebrating their housing loss is shameful.

Some of these comments read as "I've got mine" and now I want to gentrify all real estate around me so I can have even more and my home will double in value.

It's very sad to me that 32 families who must rent- due to the greater economic success of everyone else around them - are being evicted by a city council elected to protect residents' interests and affordable housing. In their place, will be room for 29 millionaires. How touching that we can make room for them by evicting non-luxury renters. Some day, I'm afraid I will lose my home due to a similar development deal. I've tried to buy - but just today was outbid by 150k and that bid was 210k over the asking price for a townhome in MV.

Be grateful you "have yours".

Posted by incognito
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 12, 2015 at 11:51 pm

@Slynss, thank you for your eloquent comments. I agree 100%

Posted by Common sense
a resident of Bailey Park
on Mar 13, 2015 at 6:59 am


While I appreciate your comments, you are ignoring the elephant on the room. What is a landowner supposed to do with an aging building that is falling apart. He can start over and build new units or trying fixing or upgrading the units. As some point it comes down to simple economics. Who should make the decision on how best to use the land? The landowner, tenants , nearby residents, or council? Who is going to pay for the improvements and who is risking millions of dollars in this investment.?

Posted by MVer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 13, 2015 at 3:06 pm

Thank you @Slynss, for saying everything I have been thinking, but much more eloquently. You have described my family's situation perfect.

Yes, we are renters. Specifically, we rent a "crappy" home while trying our hardest to buy a home here - which is looking more and more like an impossible dream. Our children go to school in this community, we work in this community, we participate in this community, and we support our neighbors in this community. We are your educated, hard-working neighbors.

We are also about to get totally pushed out of this community, thanks to our landlord who has raised our rent by nearly 100% over the past two years. So, not only is it becoming harder and harder to save for our home... but we're one more rent increase away from not even being able to afford our current living situation. We're struggling even on our "good" salaries.

What is happening in this area is disgusting.

Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Mar 14, 2015 at 8:44 am

I wonder how many people our as renters then graduated to home ownership.

When the housing market crashed lots of people went back to the rental market.

Posted by John
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 14, 2015 at 1:39 pm

Look for more of the same. Any single story apartment complex with trees and parking is up for grabs. Clear cut and maximum profits is the way!

Posted by Sylvie
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Mar 16, 2015 at 2:15 pm

This happened to me twice as a former renter and I know it is painful. At the same time, it never crossed my mind that other people, like the city council, were to blame when I had to move to a less expensive neighborhood to stay within my budget. My husband and I got tired of the unstable nature of being a renter and saved for 10 years before we were able to buy a house in MV. If we were buying now we would probably have to move to Gilroy-- but again, I don't get why people think that they are guaranteed the right to live in any particular city if it is beyond their budget.

Posted by @Sylvie
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 16, 2015 at 2:46 pm

I don't think anyone is saying that we all have a right to live in Mountain View. I think a lot of people want housing that is affordable to a range of incomes. Do we want Mountain View to be a town like Los Altos Hills that is comprised of only (a) people who bought their house 20 years ago, and (b) people who are extremely affluent? Do we want to continue to see our friends move away because they can no longer afford to live here? Should Mountain View be a "diverse" city or an enclave of only the uber wealthy?

Posted by Sylvie
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Mar 16, 2015 at 3:21 pm

Ok Cuesta Park I agree that's ideal, but what's not clear to me is who has to foot the bill to subsidize housing for people who don't have the means. More taxes? Mine are already so high, but I would agree to do that for teachers and police/fire... but for everyone who can't afford SV?

Or, should landlords be forced to rent below market value? How is that fair?

Are these ideas sustainable or even a good idea for the families in the long run?

Not a lot of easy answers to this problem.

Posted by Class Warfare
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 18, 2015 at 2:06 pm

To all the people voicing "the proposed row houses will be better than what is there now" and "Rengstorf deserves better!" - I wonder whether you are willing to consider a broader view? The people who provide you with services, work in retail and hospitality make little money - yet they too need to live somewhere - ! Do you wish NOT to see the dwellings of people who earn less than you? Are you too good to drive by the homes of people who ring you up at the grocery store, work the front desk of every business you enter, and take care of your grandparents when they are frail? It causes me to wonder how sick are you?

Posted by LoveYourDNA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 18, 2015 at 2:50 pm

Time to open a Tiny Houses development! Why has this not happened?

Posted by John Doe
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Mar 18, 2015 at 7:24 pm

I am a veteran. I grew up in Mountain View and enjoyed its peaceful community. Everything was fine and great. Now I come back from War only to see the same cowards who sent us to war sell our communities for a greed and profit. I fought for my country’s freedom. Now you’re all failing us. We did what most would not so you could have freedom hear at home. Good men died for you people. Don’t let these thieves to run our beautiful community into the ground. Stand up and do something, this is your fight I did mine for you already. Now do us a favor. DONT LET US DOWN. FIGHT BACK.

Posted by Wingo
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Mar 19, 2015 at 9:26 am

My family is leaving Mountain View, because even on one "good" tech company salary, a normal job salary and low debt, we can't afford to live here anymore.

Enjoy your paradise, while it lasts.

Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 19, 2015 at 2:29 pm

What is wrong with you people? Ever heard of freedom? The people who own that property want to make money.

While I do think the housing prices in Mountain View are absolutely nuts I do not blame the sellers. I envy them.

And I am certain that when you go to sell your home you will sell it for top of the mark.

Posted by CrawlWalkRun
a resident of another community
on Apr 1, 2015 at 2:06 pm

I have a lot of empathy for renters who are priced out or evicted. Some good friends are moving out of state for this very reason, and we're sad to see them go. We would be in the same situation if we weren't lucky enough to buy 3 years ago, right before prices went silly.

That said, I believe property owners have the right to maintain, upgrade, or sell their property as they see fit. That is a fundamental right of a free society.

How do we reconcile these forces? The only way to truly accommodate people of all income levels would be through a massive increase in housing supply. As in, change zoning to turn Mountain View into a real city, the kind with high-rise buildings. Radically increasing supply would eventually bring down prices, and support an economically diverse population.

However, there is zero chance of that sort of growth happening, so the gentrification will continue. Yes, unfortunately, Mountain View will become populated almost entirely by upper income folks.

That is the path that we, collectively on the Peninsula, have chosen. By deciding that this area will remain suburban, we are evicting the middle and lower classes.

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