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Mountain View housing project banks on VTA light rail despite low ridership

Original post made on May 21, 2021

A Mountain View housing project up for approval next month is looking to cut down on parking, with hopes that future residents will use public transit. But will light rail be enough to get people out of their cars?

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 21, 2021, 1:45 PM

Comments (17)

Posted by Tina
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 21, 2021 at 4:44 pm

Tina is a registered user.

I used to live near "Projects" in Queens, Manhattan and SF. Never thought in my wildest dreams they would be built in Mtn. View. By the way, the ones I used to live by were all eventually torn down. These projects over time become very undesirable. I like to see one member of the environmental housing commission take an apartment in such a place.

Posted by Activist Socialist
a resident of Jackson Park
on May 21, 2021 at 4:46 pm

Activist Socialist is a registered user.

Parking requirements are just another tool for NIMBYs to lock working class people out of Mountain View. If you design your city to only be traversable by car, then of course you're not going to see many people using transit. Stop supporting unsustainable forms of transportation, and transit usage will improve.

Posted by OldGuy
a resident of Whisman Station
on May 21, 2021 at 6:44 pm

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The light rail is horrible. Originally it was every 15 minutes, then 20, then a half-hour. Transit needs to be every 10 minutes or people won't use it. Also make it free. And while I'm at it, eliminate the grade-level crossings. People need carrots, not sticks.

Residents need access to cars even if it is for occasional or emergency ise. MV has already skimped on parking in Whisman Park. Don't make it worse. With the trend towards electric cars, one can have comfort and sustainability. If cars favor middle-class people, the problem is poverty, not cars.

Posted by SC Parent
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 21, 2021 at 7:08 pm

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"she hopes" "they're hoping"
Sounds like a carefully considered decision based on facts and data. What could go wrong?

I find it difficult to believe that adding 12% more parking would kill the financials of this project. No, rather, it's a test balloon, to set a standard for what accommodations future developers will ask for (demand).

If the Environmental Planning Commission's zoning requirements for parking aren't accurate/viable/appropriate, maybe they should be revised in a fair, thoughtful manner rather than giving out gifts to developers in an ad hoc manner.

Posted by DEWT
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 21, 2021 at 7:34 pm

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Anyone who has lived anywhere near these high rise projects in the midwest knows they are destined for failure -- no amenities, no shopping nearby, no green grass anywhere near you. I am ashamed of our council for even considering such monstrosities!

Posted by bluesjr
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 21, 2021 at 7:58 pm

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"ecosystem of a diversity of uses,"
hahaha hahaha, the inmates are running the asylum.

This whole situation reminds me of former criticism of how the light-rail system was sold to the public with "shamelessly inflated ridership numbers", as the SJ Merc later put it. Then our own former councilman wouldn't ride it to SJSU because of the transit time, so he drove, as per a MV Voice article on the subject.

I've lived within walking distance of San Antonio Caltrain station for 25 years and still waiting for the service to improve. And I've heard over and over, "increase density and mass-transit will solve the traffic problem, as if density in one area could ever solve the scatter-pattern of jobs/housing/retail/schools everywhere else.

I guess we will see if we keep approving projects all over town.

Posted by Activist Socialist
a resident of Jackson Park
on May 21, 2021 at 8:56 pm

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Electric cars aren't charged by magic. Cars will never be as sustainable as transit, and needing to have parking everywhere just adds to suburban sprawl, which is horrible for the environment. You can't have a nice, walkable city if there's parking lots everywhere that you *should* be building shops and housing.

Posted by Jeremy Hoffman
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on May 22, 2021 at 7:59 am

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While it sounds like this location has some challenges to wrinkle out, it's still a good idea to have some options for people to live in places without car parking.

The LA Times editorial last month "Eliminate parking requirements: Housing people is more important than housing cars" cites a Terner Center study that each parking space adds $36,000 to the cost of a home. (Not to mention the cost of the car, maintenance, and insurance!)
Web Link

Hopefully the development has good bike parking options. The majority of my trips around town are on foot or bike. It's liberating!

Posted by Mick
a resident of another community
on May 22, 2021 at 10:50 am

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"But data suggests that light rail's ridership is much lower -- fewer than 1% of county residents regularly use light rail "

What about comparing apples to apples? What is the number among the county residents that live near light rail?
I would use light rail more often, had not the nearest stop been 5 miles away.

Posted by OldGuy
a resident of Whisman Station
on May 22, 2021 at 11:27 am

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If you can have high-rise housing, you could have adequate high-rise parking. Not ideal but better than stiffing the residents.

Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on May 22, 2021 at 2:30 pm

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I think what they are relying on is a lot of the residents being Google workers who take the Google bus to work each day, not VTA Light Rail. They will get more reduced car trips out of Tech Bus riders than they will out of Light Rail. Plus if they were smart they might make some parking for Zipcar there, but doesn't sound like they thought of that. It's really a minimal amount less parking than what is normally required. The story doesn't say whether there is reserved 1 space per unit or not, and if it will be included with the unit rent.

Posted by ivg
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 22, 2021 at 9:20 pm

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If there isn't enough parking, prospective tenants can vote with their feet and wallets.

Posted by JustAWorkingStiff
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 25, 2021 at 10:31 am

JustAWorkingStiff is a registered user.

A building that large needs to be closer to a major transit hub such as the downtown transit village with both CalTrain and VTA, where frequency of service will be higher. It's location somewhat near a sub-optimal VTA stop will mean that there will be low usage. Hope is not a plan. Of course, there are those who want to preserve the character of downtown by banning high rise buildings. So we are creating our own set of contradictory plans. Don't build where we can make best use of transit. And let's build where transit will be least effective.

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 26, 2021 at 2:20 pm

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Seems that there are a 'number of concessions' related to transit that the Council could require. 1) as suggested a public car rental set-a-side for some parking spaces. 2) parking slot not tied to unit (and cost of space not tied to unit rental), 3) electric charging (for public spaces and some dedicated to units), 4) Access Tags %(not all assigned parking slots), 5) guaranteed yearly subsidy for those wanting transit passes, 6) contract limit on Number of Vehicles registered at unit addresses(1 ave) (no DMV registration at address = no parking) (out of state vehicle = no parking), [ ] Restricted street parking in area.

Posted by SRB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jun 2, 2021 at 9:18 am

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With regards to Parking requirements, the City Council is sending mixed signals. On one hand, raising concerns that an apartment complex near transit might be under parked and spill over on street parking. On the other hand, entertaining free on street parking permits in Single Family Home streets where each home should have 2 off street parking spots.

Posted by Raymond
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 2, 2021 at 9:39 pm

Raymond is a registered user.

Fewer parking places than one per bedroom pushes cars out onto the streets. Exiting neighbors experience the result.
Does the project adequately provide green park space for future residents? MV seems a bit short in this amenity.

Posted by Ok
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 3, 2021 at 10:25 pm

Ok is a registered user.

Light rail does not go anywhere near the high school. Not sure about the middle school, but I suspect it does not go near it either. People will have to use their cars to drive children to their activities and citing the access to light rail as a reason for fewer parking spaces is lacking common sense.

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