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In tackling the housing crisis, cities are stronger together

Original post made on Mar 8, 2019

The Bay Area's housing crisis is a regional problem. Cities can't solve it alone, and now they don't have to. We have the chance to fix the housing crisis by coming together at the regional and state level. We should seize the opportunity.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, March 8, 2019, 12:00 AM

Comments (11)

Posted by Jeremy Hoffman
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Mar 8, 2019 at 9:15 am

Jeremy Hoffman is a registered user.

Thank you to the Voice for giving me the opportunity to make the case that collective action is the only way for cities to hold themselves and each other accountable for jobs-housing imbalance, and the best way to empower cities to solve our housing crisis and preserve the diversity that enriches our communities.

Thank you, dear reader, for considering my views. I'm interested to hear what people think. As this has been a tense week in Mountain View politics, let's try extra hard to keep it civil!

Posted by Michael A
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 8, 2019 at 9:41 am

CASA compact includes many good ideas. One of them is encouraging transit-oriented development. This, however, is hindered by the fact that we have very limited public transit in Bay Area. Regional projects like Caltrain electrification and BART extension will definitely help, but the cities cannot just seat and wait for years. They have to do all they can for developing the viable mass transit systems that can become operational within next one-two years. This can be done by extending the Community Shuttle and/or by using autonomous vehicles for public transit. As the article correctly points out, "waiting is something that our neighbors paying half their income on rent cannot afford."

Posted by Poor Solutions
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 8, 2019 at 10:02 am

I agree with the articles basic premise of the current situation and how we got there. I also agree that there must be some regional or state intervention to make cities that do not want to build housing more amenable to building housing.

Unfortunately the solution to produce, preserve and protect is inherently difficult to apply to a town like Mountain View. There are very few empty lots to produce new housing so for the most part that leaves new building on underutilized lots. But, how do you protect and preserve people in these units. As housing units age, a landowner must decide to demolish or update the units. Updating units will require higher rents. Demolishing rent controlled units will displace residents. Allowing developers to increase density on lots will unfortunately displace some residents. So preserving and protecting "affordable housing" units conflicts with the desire to build more housing. Protecting some residents with rent controlled units will lead to less housing being produced. Requiring more housing fees to subsidize some residents, makes housing more expensive for all residents.

Finally that leaves rezoning commercial/industrial property to housing. This creates a more hazard problem. Putting some housing near commercial zoning makes it difficult to build more housing as these new residents will complain about new neighbors. If Google puts ownership housing in the north bayshore area, these residents will complain about new development next to them (See Whisman area, Satake area, and now Terra Bella)

Maybe MV should add housing and let larger cities like Sunnyvale, Santa Clara and San Jose build more housing and let people commute to MV.

Posted by Poor Solutions
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 8, 2019 at 10:05 am

My bad , the last sentence should read

Maybe MV should add more jobs and let larger cities like Sunnyvale, Santa Clara and San Jose build more housing and let people commute to MV.

Posted by Yes to State Intervention to Housing Emergency
a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2019 at 10:41 am

Fully agree with Jeremy’s excellent op-Ed. Cities have demonstrated that they are unable and/or unwilling to respond to our urgent need for housing in the region. We need the state to take bold action for real solutions to enable people to access opportunity and to dramatically reduce our carbon emissions.

CASA is not a panacea and was not designed to tackle transportation. I would like to see a similar process to CASA enacted to develop a package of transportation.

Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Mar 8, 2019 at 11:59 am

The regional proposal referenced by Mr. Hoffman came before the Mountain View City Council Tuesday night (after the marijuana fiasco). Staff was recommending (and I gather the Council agreed) that the City NOT support the proposed stripping of planning authority from cities and counties. The proposal referred favorably in Element 5 to a state bill that died last year (SB 827)to empower developers to erect RESIDENTIAL HIGHRISE in neighborhoods close to "transit" which could even be a frequent bus stop. Such bus lines and stops can be added anywhere. I commented in a letter to the Voice on the new version of the bill introduced right after the November election (SB 50). It would invite the littering or filling of neighborhoods previously reserved for single-family homes with HIGHRISES to accommodate still more job growth by corporations including GOOGLE where, according to online information, Mr. Hoffman works. The corporate executives are pulling out all stops this year - making various proposals at every level.

On Monday, March 5, the San Diego City Council foolishly voted 8-1 for a local plan for RESIDENTIAL HIGHRISES with no onsite parking required. Money talks. San Diego residents evidently were caught unprepared and are in no position to launch a referendum petition drive to challenge the new law. San Diego will now become a shining or horrid example of this new corporate rule. Elsewhere, voters better get ready for referenda challenging bad laws. The corporations are not satisfied with their take-over in San Diego.

Posted by Jeremy Hoffman
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Mar 8, 2019 at 4:24 pm

Jeremy Hoffman is a registered user.

For what it's worth, I'm happy to clarify that I'm just a rank-and-file worker, expressing my personal, sincerely-held beliefs of my own volition.

Posted by Yes to State Intervention to Housing Emergency
a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2019 at 5:21 pm

5 stories is not a HIGH-RISE. It’s a MID-RISE. Mid-rises are attractive and have much lower construction costs than high rises.

Posted by An Interested Observer
a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2019 at 6:27 pm

An Interested Observer is a registered user.

There are some good elements in the CASA Compact but also some very troubling ones. For example, in order to fund all this housing development, one proposal calls for a newly created Regional Agency with the ability to take 20% of any new property taxes generated in a town, city, etc. and reallocate it. This can seriously impact that town's ability to keep on providing services for its current residents. It also means smaller towns/cities are funding housing in the larger cities like SF, Oakland and San Jose. Another potential funding proposal calls for a state wide parcel tax. Another issue is with the Regional Agency itself, which the plans calls for creation. This Agency, which will have tremendous power to allocated funds, however it chooses will be an appointed body ... not elected. If smaller towns/cities were not well represented on the Steering Committee, it seems like this Agency will be packed with advocates for the larger cities. It will take from the smaller towns, cities and give to the bigger cites. Smaller towns and cities were not well represented or even represented at all on the Steering Committees that developed this plan.

Posted by Jeremy Hoffman
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Mar 11, 2019 at 3:07 pm

Jeremy Hoffman is a registered user.

@An Interested Observer, those are fair criticisms. What would you suggest?

What if we raised housing funds from property according to the housing demand it created or provided? So, for example, if a city that approves a new office-only development, the 20% of the taxes from that development would go to the regional housing agency to help offset the housing demand. If a city approves new mid-rise mixed-use development (housing over retail) with no net housing demand, the regional agency would take 0%. If a city approves a new housing development, the regional agency helps fund community benefits.

I think that would be a fair and effective way to use "carrots and sticks" to fix the financial incentives that shape the jobs-housing imbalance.

Posted by An Interested Observer
a resident of another community
on Mar 11, 2019 at 4:25 pm

An Interested Observer is a registered user.

@ Jeremy Hoffman: thank you for responding to my comment and for suggesting reasonable and good ideas.

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