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1,000 new homes get nod from council

Original post made on Jul 9, 2015

Sometimes it's an honor just to get nominated. Case in point: Last week, the Mountain View City Council gave the nod to three housing projects that together would create more than 1,000 new residential units.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, July 9, 2015, 11:24 AM

Comments (28)

Posted by Kathy
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 9, 2015 at 2:37 pm

How many of the 1000 'homes' are houses vs massive apartment complexes? How many will be rentals vs 'for purchase'? It sounds like these massive complexes will be rentals and no doubt priced like San Antonio's Carmel Village with studios going for $3000+. This is short term (1-3 years) housing for affluent tech workers. I hope I am wrong about this (?).

It is laughable that sweetening the deal amounts to a 10K flat fee (at best 3 months rent) and one year at their current rent? This amounts to a bandaid on a gaping wound. What happens after the first year in their new place, their rent doubles or triples? And how does that benefit anyone other than the developers? Mountain View is losing its soul.


Posted by olldabelincoln
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 9, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Were it the water coming from? Or don't these homes use water?


Posted by Val
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 9, 2015 at 3:35 pm

@Kathy
Right on point. Also the architect on the San Antonio complex is an eyesore.


Posted by MIKE
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 9, 2015 at 4:23 pm

1204 new homes and counting

more traffic, congestion

mountain view transformed forever


Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 9, 2015 at 6:18 pm

How can we stop this madness, we do not need these high density housing complexes, little parks or not.

Mr Siegel is the only one looking out for us, he is so right to say these projects need to be studied to see what the impact on the quality of life will be here in Mountain View

Bottom line for me is this is not New York City, it's a suburb!

Please do not give up Mr Siegel


Posted by The bigger picture
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 9, 2015 at 6:39 pm

A little background:

In 2008 SB 375 became law: Web Link

The bill contains five important aspects that California planners should understand:

1. Creation of regional targets for greenhouse gas emissions reduction tied to land use.

2. A requirement that regional planning agencies create a plan to meet those targets, even if that plan is in conflict with local plans.

3. A requirement that regional transportation funding decisions be consistent with this new plan.

4. Tethering together regional transportation planning and housing efforts for the first time.

5. New CEQA exemptions and streamlining for projects that conform to the new regional plans, even if they conflict with local plans.



-- Fast forward to Association of Bay Area Governments: http://www.abag.ca.gov

-- Finally the adoption of Plan Bay Area (borne of ABAG): Web Link

The trickle down effect is what you are BEGINNING to see in Mountain View, Palo Alto, Redwood City, etc. And, VTA's BRT plan for El Camino Real, along with it's proposed HOT (toll lane) lane on highway 85 are both a part of this grand plan. Our future lives and lifestyles in Mountain View have already been mapped out for us, by committees of people who know what's best for all of us as a society. Don't you feel better now?


Posted by live around the corner
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Jul 9, 2015 at 6:46 pm

Anyone who is for 563 new apartments at 777 Middlefield should spend time at the intersection of Shoreline and Middlefield mornings from 8 to 11 and again in the evening. The traffic and with that polution is getting unreal. Some days it is so bad that one hopes no emergency vehicles need to respond into this area. Mountain View has more than enough apartments. Nobody need this density.


Posted by SN
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 9, 2015 at 6:55 pm

I don't understand why everyone is griping about this. Much as I love the 'small town' feel of Mountain View, those days are long gone. How do you propose to address the requirements of an increasing population?

The Bay Area is a desirable place to live in. That is why all of us are here. And now, suddenly, we want to pull up the ladder and not let anyone else move here?

The increased water usage does concern me. However, that is a problem not restricted to Mountain View; the world is facing a freshwater shortage, and we have to get creative with solutions.




Posted by The bigger picture
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 9, 2015 at 7:06 pm

@live around the corner,

I sympathize with your comments, but please take a moment to read my above post because the post is factually accurate, and a LOT of what you see happening in Mountain View, at the very least, is indirectly related to the SB375 > ABAG > Plan Bay Area.

The density is NOT going to go away. The "plan" is to make this region MORE dense while also trying to improve alternate modes of transportation e.g., BRT along El Camino Real, CalTrain, BART (haha), bike lane improvements, etc. = get people OUT of cars and get them using alternate modes of transportation.

It's happening now folks.


Posted by The bigger picture
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 9, 2015 at 7:31 pm

Honestly, things are not going to get less crowded or less dense, or less gridlocked along streets like Alma or El Camino Real or San Antonio or Shoreline, or even along what may presently be quiet residential streets. The "plan" is for more density during the day and at night, and with that will come added noise pollution, air pollution, light pollution (dark skies policy, what?) water demands, and an increasing stress on infrastructure; roads, sewer system, schools, police & fire services, parks & open spaces. The city is actively trying to purchase land for park space, that's how bad it's gotten.

Read through Mountain View's General Plan:

Web Link

Then click on the active projects list and click on any of the projects or the San Antonio or El Camino Precise Plan and take a look at what's going on:

Web Link


The die is cast.


Posted by Tech worker
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jul 10, 2015 at 9:38 am

Kathy wrote, "This is short term (1-3 years) housing for affluent tech workers. I hope I am wrong about this (?)."

Why should you wish so strongly against a tech worker with housing he or she likes? We're hard working tax paying neighbors! If you prick us with a pin, don’t we bleed? If you tickle us, don’t we laugh?

I don't know why you say 1-3 years. In the cases where that happens, it's not necessarily what the short term renter wanted. It's because of the massive e gap between jobs and housing inflating the cost of housing. My rent went up 15% this year and I considered myself lucky it didn't go up 20%!


Posted by Resident since '84
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 10, 2015 at 9:56 am

Here we are, doing small baths, scooping our the water, saving all we can from the kitchen sink to pour the grey water on plants, worried about the mature trees that look stressed, and now a thousand more households?


Posted by iivvgg
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 12, 2015 at 4:43 pm

@live around the corner:
The traffic on Shoreline in the morning is indeed awful, but that's not because of housing development on Shoreline. Note that it doesn't get really bad until about 9, when techies start to report for work. They all have to cram in there on two lanes. I support public transit, but the cheapest, surest way to solve the congestion is to add a lane on Shoreline north of 101.

@Rodger:
We're not New York, but neither are we San Francisco, Saratoga, or Los Altos Hills. If we don't build apartments, soon we will be as exclusive as these cities. This means that our schoolteachers and store clerks, and even our children, won't be able to afford to live here anymore (unless they inherit).

I have nothing against single-family homes. I don't want to do away with the lifestyle that many people enjoy in Mountain View. But I do support multistory apartments along selected major streets, such as Shoreline, El Camino, and Old Middlefield.


Posted by Just Say No
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jul 12, 2015 at 4:56 pm

Would the world end if MV pulled out of the arms race? What if MV were content to stay as it is...moratorium on new business development; moratorium on new housing. Keep the City budget where it is. Keep the population where it is.

What would be so bad about that?


Posted by MV parent
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jul 13, 2015 at 2:04 pm

And where will their kids go to school?? Our schools are already over crowded and they refuse to open a new school. I promise you that if you build the apartments you WILL have family cram into 1 or 2 bedrooms just for the school district alone.


Posted by James Thurber
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 13, 2015 at 2:17 pm

Contractors and investors, go ahead and build to your heart's content. I am beginning to notice more and more apartment rentals available. There also appears to be a growth of available houses for sale. I sense an overbuilding scenario where, in a year or so, there will be so many unfilled rental units available that landlords will be begging people to fill 'em. Prices will go down. Investors will lose.

Economics, like everything else on Planet Earth, is cyclical. We've been living with a major housing shortage for awhile and now it appears that things might be heading the other way.


Posted by Kathy H
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 13, 2015 at 2:33 pm

To Tech worker: My point in reference to tech workers, I am not against tech workers (I used to be one if you still count HP as a tech company). My point was that these are huge apartment complexes catering to an affluent demographic, the residents who can afford them are unlikely to be living in these places long term. The typical resident of a 4K per month apartment will live there until they can afford to buy a 'home' or until their next job transfer. As owner of a couple of rental properties, the tenants typically stay 1-3 years.

And as far as the comment about school teachers and store clerks go, they cannot afford rents of 3500+ per month so to say this high density housing is a solution is unrealistic. Look at these teacher's salaries for Mountain View, do the math....retail clerks are half that...
Web Link


Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 13, 2015 at 3:15 pm

Housing here is very expensive to build, and land cost is the largest single cost. If we want cheaper housing, we need to build denser to amortize the cost of land.

Keep in mind that when you build fancy housing, that the people paying for that housing stop competing for the remaining housing with people who can't afford the fancy housing, so it removes price pressure from the lower end housing.

The only way to fix this housing crunch is to build lots more of it. If that happens - when supply actually starts catching up with demand, prices will fall, for everyone. Falling prices also signal builders that this may not be the best place to build anymore, so the market reaches a balance, if it is allowed to do so.


Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2015 at 4:14 pm

New construction you can build water saving and recycling and also experiment with certain technologies.

On schools we have Slater, Whisman and Cooper that could be reopened. If needed part of the Cuesta Annex can be drafted into school service.

Yes transit can be built but with Caltrain losing its exemption from CEQA study and the chances of more lawsuits. It's delay city. BART is years from rearching Santa Clara or Palo Alto.


Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jul 13, 2015 at 5:26 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

If you want an example of the future of high density housing, just look at the typical RUSSIAN BUILT block of flats construction before their " change of government ". It might be ugly, however it is strong and functional. Yes, providing sewer and water connections will be a problem. Traffic might be a problem if the Ellis street connection is not upgraded.
I note that Moffett Field has all that wide open space and a VTA line runs next to it. " Wye " not connect Russian Style block of flats built on the Moffett Field property or is that housing for families on-base torn down?
My parents will have to suffer increased traffic density problems.
This whole business may become moot when the EPA starts taking soil samples during construction and encounters the toxic plume from the Fairchild Semiconductor " Rust Bucket " Wafer Fab Operations located nearby. Or is that a secret not to be told to future occupants who will live there...


Posted by iivvgg
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 14, 2015 at 9:10 am

@Just Say No:
No, the world would not end if Mountain View stopped construction. But if Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara made the same argument you make, we would have a problem. (Guess what: I think they are doing just that.)

Tech companies will continue to add jobs, and those people will find some place to live. San Francisco doesn't want them -- they're up in arms already about the private shuttles -- and it's crazy expensive already. The next logical places are outlying areas like the south valley. (I drove through Dublin recently -- multistory apartment blocks going up everywhere.) That would create lots more traffic that all of us would have to sit in. It's funny how people support policies that lead to air pollution, road congestion, fossil fuel use, people being away from their families because of long commutes, etc., even if they claim to oppose all of these things.


Posted by bea
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 14, 2015 at 9:37 am

This whole attitude of 'if you want to live hear, then you need to pay for it" needs to go. Making more luxury apartments isn't the answer to relieve the price of housing for the lower end, because no one is offering lower end prices to begin with. When developers got a taste of what people could pay, greed set in and "affordable" is laughable. A 2 bedroom apartment shouldn't cost upwards of $2k a month, and what, the average around here is $3-4K a month? I may have my math wrong but you get the point. Some of these prices aren't even for new construction.

In regards to the school issue, the problem is deeper than there are school sites to open. Have you been following the drama that is around MVWSD lately? Opening a school in the Whisman area is a large sticking point that this drama revolves around.

Oh and the traffic on Shoreline? Yes, of course it is because we have at least 20,000 people trying to get to work, all funneling into a small area (relatively speaking). Just because we build housing to accommodate people to be able to live and work in Mountain View doesn't mean traffic will be alleviated. All those people will not suddenly bike or walk to work. I get that traffic and housing go hand in hand, but traffic needs to be dealt with before we build any more.


Posted by SN
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 14, 2015 at 1:21 pm

@bea

"All those people will not suddenly bike or walk to work."

Why not? I switched to biking to work as soon as I realized that it took me 18 minutes on an average to drive to work one way, and 27 minutes on average to bike the same distance (different route, of course, consisting of trails and side streets). More and more people are realizing that. I agree that my evidence is anecdotal, but yours is speculative at best. I think you're being too cynical.


Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jul 14, 2015 at 2:34 pm

First off not everyone whoe gets married or buys a home wants to have children but don't know what kind of people will be moving in. I think the whole North Whisman area should be planned as one big area. We not mix office building with housing near shops in which other cities have development large areas of old business parks or areas of industry.

Look at Stanford Business Park, they could build apartments next to office buildings. Look at most of the area around Moffett Field, North Bayshore, and Moffett Park, you could plan a giant planned communtiy. Lots of 1 story buildings can be removed for 3 to 6 story apartments buildings with shops between office 3 to 6 story office buildings


Posted by kathy
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 14, 2015 at 3:05 pm

It would be interesting to survey residents of the newer rental housing units to see how many are tech workers...my guess is most of them are single, roommates or couples with no kids. Just a guess.

Regarding biking - Some people will bike to work, but most won't, either because they require freeway access, they are not fit enough, it is not convenient or they don't want to take the risk... Web Link


Posted by Bea
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 14, 2015 at 5:26 pm

@SN

Maybe my grammar was incorrect or I was unclear. You can not assume that tenants of 1,000 new homes will all want to walk or bike to work, or even be able to. I myself walk to work most days but sometimes I do need to drive. Its like inviting 100 people to a party and only having 50 guests. It doesn't work for everyone as a blanket statement. Mountain View is an inviting place to live but not everyone who lives here works here. Not cynical (even though I can be) but trying to be more realistic.


Posted by iivvgg
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 15, 2015 at 7:30 am

@bea:
I think some of us are letting the best be the enemy of the good. The logic goes: "X is a big problem. Developers aren't doing everything they could to solve X, so it's a waste and we shouldn't let them build." "X" may be housing prices, congestion, etc.

It is true that Mountain View is a modest part of a big housing market. In order to make a difference, other cities need to adopt growth policies that mesh with ours. (Note that at least one of our new councilmembers promised to encourage them to do so.) To your specific point, I'm also amazed at how much it costs to live in the new developments, but I don't really understand why, or how to translate this amazement into an actionable proposal. At the same time, though, the law of supply and demand still works. If the supply of high-end apartments increased, say, 10% in a short time, it would relieve pressure on lower-end apartments.

This sort of broadly targeted approach is the only way to solve the housing problem. The alternative would be the government telling people where to live. My parents went through that in the Soviet Union; let me just say that it was a bad experience for everyone involved.

I want to make one more attempt to answer the "we're not New York" argument (most recently made by @Rodger). When I think of what Mountain View might look like in 30 years, I think of Berkeley, where I lived most recently. It has almost twice Mountain View's population density (and much better public transit), but it never felt crowded to me (unless you want to live downtown, which nobody is forced to).

Finally, here's my most creative argument for growth. We already have some tall buildings that look very much out of place: the cluster on El Camino near Showers, and the solitary monstrosity on Castro. If we surrounded them with more buildings in the 5--7 story range, they would divert the eye and make the whole assemblage less ugly.


Posted by Concrete Jungle and Parks
a resident of another community
on Jul 16, 2015 at 10:17 am


To create an environment to promote health and reduce stress,
Mountain View needs to create more parks.
"Stanford researchers find mental health prescription: Nature" Web Link

MV is marching in the opposite direction -- creating more concrete
jungle. Also, it is interesting to note that most developments that
plant the obligatory trees don't seem to be doing them right. After
a year or two, you can see that the trees are not getting adequate
water. It is really painful to see trees that are barely standing up
with most of the branches dead. Drought is not the only reason.


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