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Council backs plans to replace historic restaurants with offices

Original post made on Nov 30, 2017

A proposed four-story office project at 938 Villa St. emerged the winner at the Nov. 28 meeting despite treading through a minefield of the city's hot-button issues such as creeping tech development, vanishing small businesses and a loss of what many say are the charm and character of the city's historic downtown.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, November 30, 2017, 1:40 PM

Comments (74)

68 people like this
Posted by Whismanian
a resident of Whisman Station
on Nov 30, 2017 at 2:28 pm

The city council should be renamed the city-Google-brownnosers-don't-give-a-darn-about-Mountain-View-and-its-exorbitant-rents-sell-it-to-the-highest-bidder council. San Jose look out. Look what they've done to our city this council and Google. It's all about money. People are supposed to care about each other not just themselves.
They do not care.
Just saying.


41 people like this
Posted by ThinkOfTheFuture
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 30, 2017 at 2:30 pm

Hooray for sanity!

Make it walkable, make it reusable. But don't stop development and growth for things that are merely old.


11 people like this
Posted by ThinkOfTheFuture
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 30, 2017 at 2:34 pm

One other thing -- there is an official Arthur Free house in San Jose that he lived in from 1919 until his death that is on the registry.

So, no real good reason for a historically meaningless representative to have two homes stated as "his". Tear down that house as well.


94 people like this
Posted by Disgusted
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Nov 30, 2017 at 3:03 pm

"Despite fervent pushback from nearby residents, a downtown office project that would replace the historic Chez TJ and Tied House buildings received an initial round of approvals from the Mountain View City Council."

Of course the city council backs the plan to replace an historic bldg(s). Nevermind that the residents don't want it. While you're at it, might as well make it an ugly high rise. Who is the council representing?


71 people like this
Posted by Angry and City Staff and City Council
a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 30, 2017 at 3:18 pm

I’m very saddened that this neighborhood wasn’t preserved by the Council and that they granted overriding consent to move the Chez TJ house. The fight for these buildings was never just about the buildings themselves but about preserving the character, history and people-friendly scale of this neighborhood. Now they are likely to be replaced by one huge monolithic 4 story office building.

The seeds of this destruction were sown by the demolition of the adjacent Pearson House on the corner. That was replaced by a boxy office building which the developer sneakily got approval for by promising a public-private space with a cafe on the bottom. In retrospect it was a clear betrayal by the developer because this space was immediately leased to WhatsApp with the intention of converting that space to a private company cafeteria. Now it’s empty and forbidding and manned by a corporate security guard. It’s an constant living insult to the community and shows how City Staff and Council were naively outmaneuvered once again! (Remember Google Linked In land swap?)

The professional staff should have been more prepared and creative and the City Council should hold them accountable! They are always too nice to the staff. If I was so appeasing to my employees I probably would have been fired.


31 people like this
Posted by Norma
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 30, 2017 at 3:56 pm

This is exactly where we need more homes - not office
Shame on City Council


77 people like this
Posted by Concerned citizen
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 30, 2017 at 4:10 pm

We're building big modern centers at N Bayshore and San Antonio. We need to keep our downtown as a distinctly different and attractive destination if it's to survive... not become a nightly dead zone like the Financial District in SF.

A remarkable number of small downtown businesses are either closing this month or threatened due to proposed office and hotel development. Cognition Cyclery, Bierhaus, PanotiQ, Tied House, Chez TJ, Omelette House, Song Pa Korean restaurant and the Drunken Lobster. Eight in all and more rumored to come! We're losing our neighborhood serving businesses and walkability.

Move Bierhaus to the Tied House building!


7 people like this
Posted by A Talking Cat
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 30, 2017 at 4:40 pm

A Talking Cat is a registered user.

Woder if it's the same "space for a ground floor restaurant" that as at the bottom of the office building on the corner of Villa and Bryant? i.e., too small to be useful, and priced way too high to be profitable, so it sits unused.


22 people like this
Posted by Dying
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 30, 2017 at 4:42 pm

Dying is a registered user.

Let's admit it: Downtown Mountain View is dying. I guess we'll just convert it all to offices and stop trying anymore.


7 people like this
Posted by The way to protest is
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 30, 2017 at 5:09 pm

Boycott the restaurant when it opens.


71 people like this
Posted by MyOpinion
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Nov 30, 2017 at 5:35 pm

MyOpinion is a registered user.

You would not see this happening in Los Gatos, a classy place to live with ambiance. Downtown Mountain View has neither. Clearly historical preservation has no place in Mountain View, Sunnyvale and Los Altos have History museums, Mountain View has office buildings. Can you imagine if European cities took this approach?


16 people like this
Posted by Dead Link
a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 30, 2017 at 5:41 pm

MV Voice: The link in the article goes to an error page
Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 30, 2017 at 6:07 pm

"While you're at it, might as well make it an ugly high rise."

Oh no, then it might block your view of stuff in one particular direction!


7 people like this
Posted by Ken M.
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 30, 2017 at 6:49 pm

Good decision.


91 people like this
Posted by Old timer
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 30, 2017 at 6:58 pm

It's time to drain the Moutain View Council swamp. This city has sold its soul to Google and any other corporation for a check. Shame on them.


2 people like this
Posted by Mark Noack
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 30, 2017 at 7:13 pm

Mark Noack is a registered user.

@ Dead Link

Sorry about that - we just posted the story that the link goes to.


10 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 30, 2017 at 7:35 pm

@Old timer

I'd rather drain the moat you're trying to build around Mountain View.


68 people like this
Posted by council watcher
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 30, 2017 at 7:53 pm

Gee, YIMBY, so you are just as happy to have office buildings in your backyard? I thought you YIMBY guys were concerned about the jobs/housing imbalance. You can't have it both ways. Unless maybe you are telling us that developers should always simply be allowed to do whatever they want...


10 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 30, 2017 at 8:22 pm

I want both. I desperately wish that we could actually have a forward-thinking planning session with high-density in mind where new residential and commercial development could be planned alongside infrastructure and mass transit improvements. Home owner groups howling over every single possible new construction make that impossible. I'll take a new commercial building for the extra jobs it will add and keep hoping that more residential development can overcome local resistance to tall things.


56 people like this
Posted by The Truth
a resident of North Whisman
on Nov 30, 2017 at 8:43 pm

The Truth is a registered user.

It is nice to see that owners of private commercial property in Mountain View have kept their right to do what they will with their hard earned assets. Commercial real estate is where it’s at in Mountain View. I guess the people living in rent controlled apartments need to work somewhere.


116 people like this
Posted by mvresident2003
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 30, 2017 at 11:13 pm

mvresident2003 is a registered user.

I wonder "the Truth", do you apply the same logic to private rental properties? Should they be able to keep their right to do what they will with their hard earned assets?


1 person likes this
Posted by Build baby, build!
a resident of Rex Manor
on Dec 1, 2017 at 8:17 am

Might as well. They've already destroyed the city building all types of ugly apartment buildings, which many people in Mountain View seem fine with. Why suddenly all the cries for keeping the character of the city through it's old buildings? That was destroyed years ago. Might as well continue down this path at this point and make Mountain View a mini San Francisco. Build, baby build!


114 people like this
Posted by Marc Shaw
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 1, 2017 at 8:39 am

Guess it’s time to vote the council out of office. This council was elected to represent the citizens of the city. Not the big business interest of developers. They can’t solve local problems but have no problem giving the green light to developers and google whenever they call. Sorry state of affairs.


29 people like this
Posted by AllYouCanEat
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 1, 2017 at 9:02 am

This is an easy one... Vote them out!


107 people like this
Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 1, 2017 at 11:04 am

Jim Neal is a registered user.

During my campaign, this was exactly the type of thing that I was trying to warn people about. I was trying to fight for keeping the character and history of the city intact by limiting any new office space and working to re-establish the housing/office balance.

In my opinion, that will now never happen. It appears that the decision has been made to replace Old Mountain View with New Office Space. The majority of the Council does not seem to care how bad the jobs/housing imbalance becomes, and in fact seem to be doing all they can to accelerate it.

Anyone driving on El Camino or Shoreline will now see many people living in their RVs on those streets also. How long before almost every street in Mountain View has RVs and vans parked nose-to-tail as housing becomes ever more unaffordable?

Some members of the Council used the lame excuse that the "design fits a permitted use so therefore we HAVE TO approve it". NONSENSE! The Council has shown that they can ALWAYS approve or disapprove a project whether or not it meets guidelines, just as they can force businesses to pay a higher than Federal minimum wage (which the owner of the Bierhaus said is one large factor that very well may drive him out of Mountain View). If they have to approve every project that meets the guidelines, then what is the point of having public hearings? What the Council is basically trying to tell us is that any project that meets THE COUNCIL's guidelines will be approved REGARDLESS of anything the PUBLIC has to say about it. In my opinion, this means that basically the the public hearings are solely to make you THINK that you have input into the process.

The so-called 'contamination' is also a red herring in my opinion. If the pollution is so bad, then why did the council allow any businesses to be operated there in the first place? Did they not care about people's health then? If it is so bad and the city is determined to be rid of the buildings there for health reasons, then the city should just turn the property into parking lots. We can certainly use more parking space downtown.

Speaking of which, I find it impossible that any member of the Council was ignorant of the fact that the office workers downtown are parking in the neighborhoods. Not only did I warn them that would be the case before they approved the WhatsApp building on Franklin, but I told the Council about it afterward as well. Now they want to make the problem even worse!

I will not run for City Council again because in my opinion, the special interests have too much influence in the elections; and because I'm not independently wealthy enough to finance what a future campaign will cost, but I strongly recommend that people remember who voted for what the next time they go to the polls and make sure that your friends and neighbors are well informed so that Mountain View will have a city Council that truly represents them.


Jim Neal
Old Mountain View


4 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2017 at 4:51 pm

@Jim Neal

How about doing something that will actually help the jobs to housing imbalance and heavily advocate for high density residential development?


102 people like this
Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 1, 2017 at 5:28 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

@Yimby - Because as long as the City Council keeps cramming Mountain View full of offices, we will never be able to build enough housing! As far as high density, there are already 5 adults living in the house I am renting; how many more do you think we need? And what good does high density housing that only those with high incomes can afford, do for people living in their RVs?

I have been and am doing something; I warned people about the Council's plans to fill MV with offices, I've gone to hundreds of Council meetings and begged them to stop exacerbating the problem, I ran for Council because I thought maybe one vote could make a difference (and It would have, the vote was 4-3 in favor of killing the historic buildings), I was one of the first people to support adding housing to the North Bayshore, and I speak out as often as I can here in the Voice and offer solutions to fixing the imbalance. So don't accuse people of not doing something to help when you know nothing about them. I may not do what anonymous supporters of the Council want me to, but I do all that I can as a resident of Mountain View and someone who works a full time job and commutes 110 miles round trip every day!

Being someone who is not rich and who shares a house with others so I can afford to pay rent, and living in downtown and seeing the awful changes that just a few new office buildings have brought to downtown; I think I have a pretty darn good idea of what other people are going through. Plenty of my neighbors are extremely upset at the changes as well. Some of them were at the meeting because they had the mistaken impression that the Council would actually listen to what they had to say and that they could make a difference as to whether or not the project got approved.

The only difference people can make is at the ballot box, because after that, they aren't allowed to decide anymore.


Jim Neal
Old Mountain View


3 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2017 at 6:42 pm

@Jim Neal

"And what good does high density housing that only those with high incomes can afford, do for people living in their RVs?"

Well boy howdy, better build NOTHING then, right? As we all know, supply and demand has no bearing on housing costs whatsoever, so let's just keep building NOTHING. It's not like those high-income folk who would live in that high-density housing would instead be vying for whatever other housing supply is available to lower-income folk instead, right?


5 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2017 at 6:55 pm

Housing is a market. There's an available supply, and there's a demand. When demand outstrips supply, costs go up. The only way to build "affordable" housing currently is to subsidize it using tax dollars. Saying what good is building high-density residential housing if people who live in RVs can't afford it completely ignores how the market works. Adding supply spreads out demand. If you build a bunch of shiny new apartment towers, they're likely going to be higher priced and new, but it will take demand off of older units and lower their costs, making it easier for people who are either living in RVs or crammed into a detached single-family home with 5 other housemates to afford it and move in.

And yeah, in a good economy there's going to be growth, the point is to try and keep adding residential capacity to maintain costs. We're in this mess because cities across California have been behind for decades on building the amount of housing supply needed given how it's economy and population were growing. The solution isn't to halt economic growth by stopping commercial development. It's to start building high-density residential in large amounts to begin biting into the housing deficit that building nothing has caused.


5 people like this
Posted by Mel
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 1, 2017 at 7:08 pm

"The solution isn't to halt economic growth by stopping commercial development. "
Why not?


5 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2017 at 7:25 pm

@Mel

Because people who are not you rely on that economy?

One of the sickest things I've ever read is someone complaining about the traffic and people in Palo Alto and wishing for a recession to come along and fix that. Please tell me you're not of the same mindset.


8 people like this
Posted by Mel
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 1, 2017 at 7:46 pm

"Because people who are not you rely on that economy?"

History has shown over and over again that when people rely on an unsustainable economy, it tends to not end well for them.


Like this comment
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2017 at 7:58 pm

@Mel

"History has shown over and over again that when people rely on an unsustainable economy, it tends to not end well for them."

Unsustainable because you might completely halt it?


1 person likes this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2017 at 8:03 pm

Mel, are you retired or still working?


5 people like this
Posted by ok, but
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 1, 2017 at 8:56 pm

Why not zone for housing above retail?


6 people like this
Posted by Greg Nelson
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 1, 2017 at 10:07 pm

YIMBY: Simplistic Reagan Supply Side Economics deja vu & all over again - certainly didn't work then, won't now.
I'm now retired and have lived in Mountain View for 26 years.
BTW, what 'Other Mountain View neighborhood' do you reside in?
You seem to have questioned (if not challenged) the integrity and intelligence of almost all posters here - just what superior knowledge are you relying upon that we are so lacking?

As to the issue of Chez TJ & Tied House - I find it deplorable that City Council endorses their demise for an office building, yet owners have bought in, presumably for significant financial gain.


80 people like this
Posted by Really?
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 1, 2017 at 11:11 pm

@YIMBY you state: Adding supply spreads out demand. If you build a bunch of shiny new apartment towers, they're likely going to be higher priced and new, but it will take demand off of older units and lower their costs, making it easier for people who are either living in RVs or crammed into a detached single-family home with 5 other housemates to afford it and move in.

Really? How's that theory working out in San Francisco?

Oh wait, San Francisco has rent control.


3 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2017 at 11:17 pm

@Greg

That's not what Supply-Side economics is. Supply-Side economics, Reaganism, Trickle-Down theory, etc, is the thought that if you give wealthy people and corporations a tax break, they'll supply more jobs. It's flawed because demand it was drives the economy. But really, did you pull the word "supply" out of my post and try to conflate it with trickle down? Amazing.


2 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2017 at 11:24 pm

@Really

Did you just point to one of the most underbuilt cities in the United States, where engineers are paying $1500 to sleep in converted living rooms, and ask me how added supply is helping? What added supply? I can't remember the last time San Francisco even built 10% of the housing units it needed to account for the added population for a given year.


Like this comment
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 2, 2017 at 3:08 am

@Really

Web Link


1 person likes this
Posted by Mel
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 2, 2017 at 8:16 am

"Really? How's that theory working out in San Francisco? "

It's working out even better in Manhattan, Tokyo, Hong Kong...


5 people like this
Posted by Mel
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 2, 2017 at 8:30 am

"As to the issue of Chez TJ & Tied House - I find it deplorable that City Council endorses their demise for an office building, yet owners have bought in, presumably for significant financial gain."

@Greg Nelson, that was my first thought, too, when reading the article. What's the big idea putting in yet more offices when we already have way too much office space in our city? Unfortunately, we all know the answer to that. During the previous decade, Mountain View was snazzing up Castro Street and downtown - new streets, new look, lots of new restaurants and shops that made our downtown into a destination. This decade city council gave Google carte blanche to grow like a cancer, pricing out local businesses and local citizens. Now office space is the only thing that pencils out.


2 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 2, 2017 at 9:08 am

@Mel

"It's working out even better in Manhattan, Tokyo, Hong Kong..."

It is, in fact. San Francisco has higher average rents than anywhere else in the world. Web Link


59 people like this
Posted by There goes the neighborhood
a resident of Rex Manor
on Dec 2, 2017 at 3:20 pm

I'm not voting for any council member that supports this project should they run for re-election.


9 people like this
Posted by Mel
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 2, 2017 at 6:17 pm

From Jim Neal's earlier post:

"During my campaign, this was exactly the type of thing that I was trying to warn people about. I was trying to fight for keeping the character and history of the city intact"

and a terrible shame that no one in City Council realizes the value of that. In today's (Dec. 2) Chronicle there's a story by Peter Hartlaub about how SF came this close to losing the cable cars until Atari stepped in and then mayor Dianne Feinstein set her aversion to video games aside for a moment.


78 people like this
Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 4, 2017 at 8:06 am

Jim Neal is a registered user.

@Yimby- Evidently you didn't read what I said. I didn't say "Build nothing". What I did say, and what you ignored, is that I supported the building of housing in the North Bayshore. What I did say is that the fact that the rate at which the Council keeps approving more offices will ensure that we will never have enough housing to keep up with the demand.

Part of the Council's job is to manage growth in the city, not to approve every single project that comes their way. One candidate got elected on the promise of a "Balanced Mountain View" but now seems to have no problem approving more offices that will make the problem worse while simultaneously reducing the 'balance' of historic buildings in the city. Another candidate got elected on the slogan "Residents First", but somehow found a petition by over 2000 residents unmoving. I had hoped for better.

It is not that I don't think that Mountain View should not have any offices, it is that I think the rate at which the new offices is being approved is exacerbating the demand and driving up rents and forcing people to live on the streets or in RVs. Just in the last few years I have seen the problem getting exponentially worse in this city and the Council was elected to fix these problems, not to make them worse.

Lastly, I am opposed to office space replacing retail businesses downtown just on principle, but even moreso when it destroys the historic fiber of Old Mountain View. It is called "Old Mountain View" for a reason, but the majority of the Council appears to be set on replacing everything that's old in my neighborhood. Even if Chez TJ is moved, to relocate it, the Council will be approving the destruction of another house that is also over 100 years old! How's that for irony?



Jim Neal
Old Mountain View


9 people like this
Posted by Paul Leone
a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 4, 2017 at 1:07 pm

@Jim Neal- "And what good does high density housing that only those with high incomes can afford, do for people living in their RVs?"

That to me sounds like you think increasing density will have no effect on people displaced from high rents. When Mountain View decides to allow the construction of massive office campuses, they're deciding to increase density. Right now that density is seen on the streets with our neighbors living in parked vehicles on the side of the road. Where I live in Shoreline West there are quite a few apartment buildings that have residents who would probably choose/afford to live in newer apartments if available.

I think we can do both, I think we can require developers to incorporate affordable housing elements close to transit areas like the caltrain stops on Castro and San Antonio, though in Bay Shore and beyond just increase density. You're right when you point to Manhattan as a place where there is high density and high rents. Though can you imagine if Manhattan had the density restrictions Mountain View does?

Paul Leone


20 people like this
Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 4, 2017 at 6:57 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

@Paul - High density housing MIGHT alleviate some of the displacement, but not nearly enough. I have been to enough Council meetings and watched enough projects approved to know that when new units come on the market, they have new unit pricing ( very high ). The prices are even higher if low income housing is included because someone has to pay for those units. The developers are not charities and will not simply give them away. If you don't believe me, take a look at the rents for any new units that have come on the market in the last 5 years.

I would not choose to live in a newer unit even if I could because the rent would be higher than what I pay now and I would have less space. Also, cramming people into close quarters is just a recipe for bad things to happen. High density=high crime.

Mountain View is simply too small to provide the housing needed. We are just barely over 1/3rd the size of Manhattan! Manhattan has high density housing, skyscrapers and some of the highest rents in the country. Ditto San Francisco. Ditto NYC.

I can imagine if Manhattan had the density restrictions Mountain View does with the same amount of office space per capita that Mountain View does currently. The rents there would be much lower. The math and economics are simple; people come where the jobs are and the closer you are to an area with high paying jobs, the higher the rents will be. Since I know that the Council will continue to approve offices and expand them into downtown, I would be willing to wager that no matter how much housing is built, within 5 years Mountain View will see an increase in rents in OMV of at least 40% and Mountain View overall will see even more homelessness and RV dwelling.

For the last 6 years I went to Council meeting where we were promised repeatedly that the Council was focusing on housing and solving the high rent problem. Since then my rent has doubled!

Lastly, the city cannot require developments to include low income housing. They can ask for it, but in the end it is the developers decision and the Council can either approve or disapprove the project. If a developer does not want to include the low-income housing or if it does not make economic sense for them to do so, they can simply decide to cancel the project or build somewhere else.

The simplest solution is to have a 5 to 10 year moratorium on new office projects while building more housing. It won't result in lower rents, but it will slow the increases.


Jim Neal
Old Mountain View


73 people like this
Posted by Jeremy Hoffman
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Dec 4, 2017 at 7:08 pm

Jeremy Hoffman is a registered user.

To "YIMBY" -- Hi! Glad to have you participating. From one YIMBY to another, allow me to remind you that you're talking to our neighbors here. We've all got to work together to address the housing crisis. Snide remarks aren't going to increase the housing supply!

No need to take potshots at Jim Neal, for example. Now, I agree with Jim on some things, and disagree with him on other things, but I respect his years of involvement with the Mountain View community, and he has always been considerate and polite in every discussion I've seen. We need more people like Jim in our discourse.


2 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2017 at 2:51 am

@Jim Neal

" I have been to enough Council meetings and watched enough projects approved to know that when new units come on the market, they have new unit pricing ( very high ). The prices are even higher if low income housing is included because someone has to pay for those units. The developers are not charities and will not simply give them away. If you don't believe me, take a look at the rents for any new units that have come on the market in the last 5 years."

No one is disputing any of this. No one is saying that brand new market rate units are going to be cheap. They're going to be expensive because there's barely any supply, and because they're new. But it's extra supply that spreads out demand, and takes off some demand from older units. This can reduce the rate of rent increases, or even lessen rent, if enough is built.

Again, no one is saying that brand new units are going to be affordable. They're going to take demand off of older units. If you don't build them, then the people that would have lived in those units will instead compete for the older units and drive their cost up.


9 people like this
Posted by Three's Not Enough
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2017 at 8:32 am

Remember, everybody, that three members of the city council opposed this ridiculous proposal. Pat them on the back for doing so. That said...

It's just plain shameful that four of them supported "preserving" the Chez TJ house by moving it from its long-time home and replacing it with an office building. Downtown's look and feel will be permanently changed -- for the worse.


38 people like this
Posted by Mel
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 5, 2017 at 8:33 am

"It is, in fact. San Francisco has higher average rents than anywhere else in the world."

Ya know, YIMBY, you just might have something there; maybe we should try the Manhattan model here. Increase density, build as many 30, 40+ story buildings as possible, then wait a bit for the new generation of tech innovators to find a new region that lets them spread their wings and experiment. Before long, real estate prices in the new region will outpace those in Silicon Valley and our average rents will no longer be higher than anywhere else in the world. Problem solved!


2 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2017 at 10:17 am

@Mel

Did finance find a "new region" outside of Manhattan after some point? Otherwise your scenario doesn't make sense. Silicon Valley will continue to increase in population, just as NYC has. But it's always going to be more expensive than NYC as long as housing construction is stymied.


6 people like this
Posted by Paul Leone
a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 5, 2017 at 10:33 am

@Jim Neal - "High density housing MIGHT alleviate some of the displacement, but not nearly enough"

Housing is a regional issue and requires a regional response. No one is expecting Mountain View build all of the housing for the region. I've been to city council meetings up and down this peninsula and every council says the same thing "When are our neighbors going to pick up their fair share?" So cities have been in an arms race as to who can produce less housing but attract more jobs. This arms race and inability for local municipalities to even attempt to solve the housing crisis is the reason why the state enacted SB 35. I fear if local governments continue to try and downzone and skirt their housing requirements you'll see even more radical housing legislation from the state and more power being centralized in Sacramento.

"High density=high crime."

Jim this simply isn't verifiable. I have read many, many studies on this. I thought this argument wasn't used anymore. There has never been a study that has shown density = crime when income levels are taken into account. Further there are countless examples of where density has increased and crime has actually decreased, see NYC in the 25 years. This attitude is conjecture and it's offensive. It insinuates that people who live in urban environments are inherently more criminal in nature. There are many factors that lead to increased crime, density has never been proven to be one of them. This is also ignoring the fact that Mountain View is already becoming denser, we're just forcing our neighbors to live in vehicles on the street rather than apartments. Web Link Web Link

I agree with you to some degree that we shouldn't require developers to build affordable housing, it could change the economic incentive to build. Though I think on some of the city's most coveted property (any lot close to castro caltrain station) is going to be developed regardless because it is very highly sought location. Also there are many non-profit developers who would love to develop affordable housing projects in Mountain view.

Mountain View made a decision years ago when they decided to allow the construction of major office campuses. The density is here, it will continue to grow. You'll just see it on your streets and parking lots unless we build more housing. We are in the middle of a crisis and unless we get serious about it we're going to continue to see teachers driving hours away.

"I can imagine if Manhattan had the density restrictions Mountain View does with the same amount of office space per capita that Mountain View does currently." Manhattan has a much lower job to housing ratio than the bay area does. Manhattan is a hard place to live in, but the median rents are not to far off from mountain view. No place in this country has been producing more jobs and less housing then the Bay Area. Web Link


1 person likes this
Posted by MyOpinion
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Dec 5, 2017 at 2:49 pm

MyOpinion is a registered user.

My prediction, the ground floor of this new building (or buildings) will ultimately be closed to the public, the ground floor wil be a break room or a hipster play area for the employees of that building. Which is the same for the corner Church/Castro (Quora) and every other office block in the downtown area (as is the case with Palantir in Palo Alto). Only a startup with VC backing or an established company like Google can afford these rents. Unless the City zoning dictates that only retail/restaurants on ground level, the space will go to the highest bidder, much like Palantir in Palo Alto These non-descript office blocks are killing the character and vibrancy of downtown.


37 people like this
Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 5, 2017 at 2:58 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

@Paul - Here's a study from I.U. that says there IS a correlation between density and crime ( Web Link ). However, the study also agrees with your point that other mitigating factors can determine the degree.

My main point though was that for several years, Mountain View was slow to change, which in turn allowed people to get to know one another and their neighbors and maintained low to moderate demand for housing. Now, Mountain View seems to be in a race to see how many offices it can build in an effort to grab off great chunks of the Hi Tech Pie to feed it's pension funds. This has led to more rapid development, which in turn has led to displacement and poverty for those who can least afford it. Meanwhile, the development is also bringing in larger and larger numbers of new people with no ties to the neighborhoods, nor appreciation for the history of the city. ( The same one's who tell those who have lived here for over 40 years that if they don't like all the new changes, get out! ). Just in the last few weeks we have had a murder and someone firing a gun. I can't remember the last time that happened in 2 years, let alone a few weeks!

I realize that I'm basically playing the part of Don Quixote and that this town pretty much already belongs to Google. However, I just think that someone has to stand up and say 'This isn't working and things will get worse unless we reverse course'. Let's see if the Council does have the answers they promised us. If things are better in 5 years, I will go to the Council, admit I was wrong, and tell them "well done". If however as I expect, crime has increased, RV's are on even more streets, there is less parking and rents are higher than ever, the Council will have no one to blame but themselves; and certainly won't be able to use the excuse they always go for "we didn't know".


Jim Neal
Old Mountain View


2 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2017 at 6:04 pm

@JimNeal

"Meanwhile, the development is also bringing in larger and larger numbers of new people with no ties to the neighborhoods, nor appreciation for the history of the city. ( The same one's who tell those who have lived here for over 40 years that if they don't like all the new changes, get out! )."

Ah, there we go. The core issue. More people moving into Mountain View. I knew that the whole "stop building offices so we can focus on housing" schtick was just a hollow ruse.


40 people like this
Posted by Mel
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 5, 2017 at 7:05 pm

"Did finance find a "new region" outside of Manhattan after some point?"

But tech did, in a manner of speaking, which is what's relevant for the Bay Area. Computer wizzes of yore were on the East coast, at places like MIT. The freedom of open space, the ability to work out of your parents garage are what sparked the shift. Finance doesn't need that. It does just fine, flourishes even, in its stodgy, traditional framework.


Like this comment
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2017 at 7:13 pm

@Mel

So tech is going to someday migrate away despite being heavily concentrated here because back during the infancy of the tech industry tech wizzes migrated to Silicon Valley? Google HQ, Facebook HQ, and all the others are going to decide that having feeder universities like Stanford next door, and a heavy concentration of engineers, are all nice, but they'll migrate away because reasons? Ok.


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Posted by Mel
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 5, 2017 at 8:41 pm

You said things were working out so well for Manhattan because their rents are lower than SF's, so maybe we should try the same strategy here. Very simple, really.


2 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2017 at 12:34 am

The narrative you're weaving doesn't make any sense. You're just saying words at this point.

San Francisco has absurdly high rent because of restrictive zoning and litigious home owner groups. NYC is generally cheaper because it doesn't have those problems, and Manhattan in particular is so dense that even though it's expensive, other surrounding neighborhoods are far more affordable. The Bay Area in contrast is just obscenely expensive everywhere.

So if you're saying let's try and do what Manhattan is doing, that would be to build tall and build dense, and I'm all for that.


73 people like this
Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 6, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

@YIMBY A ruse for what? There you go again hurling baseless insults when I thought we could have a polite conversation.

YES, I admit it! I am for CONTROLLED GROWTH! Meaning that I don't think adding 20,000 office jobs and housing for 5,000 residents every year is a good idea. Adding no new offices and moderate density housing for 1000 to 2000 additional residents I think would be good.

My problem is that having a flood of new wealthy people coming into Mountain View all at once cannot help but create a major disruption to the community and those who have worked for years ( and in some cases decades ) to make it the city that most of us love. Again, I fail to see why when people love the place they live in, they have to change it overnight to accommodate people with money who want to come in and take over the place. There are other cities fare better suited for the explosive growth that is needed to absorb the numbers of new offices and residents that the Tech companies seem to have an insatiable appetite for.

You may be able to fit a baby elephant into a hut, but at some point the elephant will grow too big and unless it is relocated somewhere else, it will destroy the hut. Well, our elephant is too big and our hut is being destroyed.


Jim Neal
Old Mountain View


5 people like this
Posted by property tax payer
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2017 at 2:48 pm

property tax payer is a registered user.

our city council is owned by google.


87 people like this
Posted by Mel
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 7, 2017 at 7:34 am

"You're just saying words at this point."

What do I mean when I say words, hmmmm.......


"other surrounding neighborhoods are far more affordable."

They are rapidly gentrifying, particularly Brooklyn. Similarly, Mountain View used to be one of the affordable Bay Area cities until the out-of-control overpopulation and overcrowding began in the aftermath of the '07 mortgage bubble-burst.


39 people like this
Posted by Miguel
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 7, 2017 at 1:55 pm

I no longer hangout in downtown Mountain View because it lost it's charm when Printer's Bookstore and Bookbuyers was closed!! Many of my friends now refer to downtown as "YUPPYVILLE".


109 people like this
Posted by Robyn
a resident of another community
on Dec 7, 2017 at 3:31 pm

For YIMBY (Yes In My Back Yard), keep building and you will have no back yard just a six foot sliver of pavement called a balcony and view of those towering office buildings with folks looking at you!


6 people like this
Posted by Monta Loma
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 7, 2017 at 6:59 pm

Very good news today. Thank you council member John McAlister, for reversing your position! Now there is a council majority for preserving these historic buildings. Thanks also to council members Abe-Koga, Matichak, and Rosenberg!

A rare flash of sanity from the council. I'm not too surprised to see Showalter and Clark siding with the developer, but Lenny, I would not have thought you would...


2 people like this
Posted by Paul Leone
a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 8, 2017 at 11:17 am

@Mel "Computer wizzes of yore were on the East coast, at places like MIT." As someone who just moved here from living on campus at MIT I can assure you Tech is alive an well in Cambridge. New offices and apartments being built everywhere. It's a city of cranes right now.


6 people like this
Posted by Paul
a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 8, 2017 at 11:45 am

@Jim Neal, That study from Indiana state public policy institute entirely agrees with what I was saying, It studied the correlation of land use and violent crime. Interestingly it found that land used for parks and recreation have a higher incident rate of violent crime. Should we stop parks?

Jim I understand your concern. Mountain View and the entire Bay Area is changing. Metropolitan areas have been changing since the begining of time. Yes that's going to change the character and may even increase crime rate as a whole, not necessarily per capita. I can empathize with people who have roots in a neighborhood and now see the place where they grew up and raised children changing to something new. My family is Italian and grew up in Brooklyn. When the Italians were immigrating from Europe the existing residents who saw Brooklyn changing didn't particularly care for Italians moving in and changing their neighborhood. Now when I go to visit NY my family complains how much the neighborhood has changed and isn't what it used to be and complains about all the new people coming in. It's a tale as old as time. I get that it has implications for communities.

But Mountain View made a decision years ago when it agreed to host Google and other tech giants. San Jose will continue to build, so will Cupertino. Resisting change is only postponing the inevitable and deepening the crisis our neighbors on the street are facing. While Mountain View of today might not be the Mountain View you grew up in I think it's important to understand it won't go backwards. Trying to slow growth and mitigate change is only going to further make worse an already serious crisis.


9 people like this
Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 8, 2017 at 2:26 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

@Paul - My problem is not and never has been change, it is the rate of change and the extremely negative effects it is having. 6 years ago, practically the only people living in RVs outside of the mobile home parks were those on Crisanto Ave. This year, I have noticed a huge increase in the numbers, as well as the number of homeless in Mountain View. Are you saying that these changes are acceptable and unavoidable? I refuse to believe that.

I realize that you probably don't intend to associate my discomfort with any kind of racism or anti-whateverism, but for some people reading your comment that might not be clear so I will elaborate further. I don't care who comes here from where, I just care about how many and how fast. As I said in another post, I am for slow growth in Mountain View because it is so tiny (only about 12 sq miles). There is no direction we can expand in, and not everyone wants to live crammed in against and packed on top of each other.

I just drove through San Francisco for the 1st time in over 6 years and was amazed at how many new buildings have sprung up near the 6th street ramp to 280! Literally hundreds if not over 1000! San Fran, Redwood City, San Jose, San Mateo and others all have plenty of space to grow so why try to cram so much into tiny Mountain View? Can't there be one place called Mountain View for the huddled masses yearning to breathe free? Where you can turn around without bumping into two people? Where children can enjoy a back yard or a porch? Where the streets don't have to be hosed down daily because of all the feces and urine? Where the needs of the few or the one outweighs the needs of the collective?

I didn't grow up here. I moved here because I didn't want to live in a stack-n-pack city, so I found one that wasn't. Now we have people moving here that want to turn Mountain View into a stack-n-pack city when there are plenty of others already available.

To me there is a huge difference between having a city change culturally because different types of people are voluntarily moving in; and having the city change character, historic buildings destroyed and people purposely displaced and/or evicted from their homes or businesses because of the greed associated with cramming in more office space and generating more revenue for the city.

You say slowing growth will make things worse. How? If we stop building offices and add housing for 1000 to 2000 people per year, where's the downside?

Lastly, Mountain View is fine for hosting start-up companies, such as Google used to be. But I don't think anyone could have envisioned the behemoth that Google has become and I think my prior comparison with the baby elephant is accurate. What percentage of the land in Mountain View should Google be allowed to acquire before we say enough? 50%? 70? 90%?

I really appreciate what you are saying Paul, but I think that we are seeing the problem from very different perspectives. I know growth and change are necessary, but in this case, I think it is happening much too fast and I see it as being at the expense of those who can least afford it. If you ever want to have a more in depth conversation with me about this, feel free to stop by my place anytime and introduce yourself.


Jim Neal
Old Mountain View


173 people like this
Posted by mvresident2003
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 8, 2017 at 3:57 pm

mvresident2003 is a registered user.

I feel exactly the same as Jim Neal and would also add that I seriously believe as a society we need to think about this explosive growth in an area that is already taxed for natural resources and one that is having extreme negative effects from over-urbanization.

Why is this not anything addressed or acknowledged by all YIMBY's?


54 people like this
Posted by Robyn
a resident of another community
on Dec 11, 2017 at 4:33 pm

And now we another save the air day! Not enough water, no clean air, no garbage landfill space, gridlock traffic, etc....
And by the way, where are the cemeteries to bury the new residents when they die?


29 people like this
Posted by Mel
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 12, 2017 at 7:40 am

"Why is this not anything addressed or acknowledged by all YIMBY's? "

Because facts just complicate the matter. It's so much easier to simply stay focused on one straightforward formula: overpopulation is making housing too expensive so increasing the supply will decrease the price. Our Econ 101 textbooks tell us that, so it must be so, right?


10 people like this
Posted by Shame
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 12, 2017 at 11:27 am

@Mel, it's simply because the premise is false. Our natural resources are not overtaxed, and we're so far from being urbanized, let alone over-urbanized, it's ridiculous. If you'd like to debate facts, define these terms and then post evidence of it.


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