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Mountain View looks to congestion pricing to get tech workers out of cars

Original post made on Jun 11, 2021

Plans to massively increase the number of jobs and housing units in Mountain View's North Bayshore tech park are contingent on a car-light future. But so far, too few workers have been willing to ditch driving.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, June 11, 2021, 12:35 PM

Comments (20)

Posted by Alex
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Jun 11, 2021 at 1:54 pm

Alex is a registered user.

So we spent 20 years denying residential housing projects in North Bayshore, and now we can't figure out why so many people need to drive to get to work?

Put some apartments within walking distance of Google, Microsoft, and LinkedIn and call it a day.

Posted by Jeff
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 11, 2021 at 2:17 pm

Jeff is a registered user.

What about Shoreline Park users, especially Mountain View residents. Would they be charged too?!!! Not fair and not right!!!!

Posted by Benemonios
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 11, 2021 at 3:00 pm

Benemonios is a registered user.

First, the City Council should make sure that the majority of upgrade cost be borne by the developers of North Bayshore.

Second, the City Council should make sure that the residents of Mtn. View not working at North Bayshore area be exempted from paying the congestion toll.

Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Jun 11, 2021 at 3:36 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

Kind of funny really. The Shoreline Park special district collects all the property taxes on the growth in property value. So that really is the development paying for the transportation improvements. I have a feeling that this kind of suburban congestion pricing idea is illegal in California. It's really a crazy idea. WIth so many people in those offices likely to work from home at least 2 days a week, the trip count is going to drop back already. Sort of like worrying about the sky falling.

Posted by lan
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 11, 2021 at 7:02 pm

lan is a registered user.

Mountain View has done very little if anything to improve traffic flow on Rengstorff during peak hours. Significant backup on Rengstorff, nothing whatsoever to improve traffic flow at Central Expressway often causing long delays in getting across the tracks. I am often bemoaning that the presence of these smart engineers at these super high tech companies in Mountain View seems to not trickle down to basic city planning.

The City certainly appreciates Google but at the expense of the quality of life for those who live between Shoreline and Rengstorff.

Posted by Tal Shaya
a resident of another community
on Jun 11, 2021 at 7:23 pm

Tal Shaya is a registered user.

The city wants to charge me to drive on public roads that I already paid for through taxes.

They want to charge me to drive on my own roads, so they can pack more people in. But where are the new hospitals, schools, markets, gymnasiums, nightclubs? I am literally being punished because of Mountain View's insatiable appetite for growth.

Posted by SRB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jun 11, 2021 at 7:36 pm

SRB is a registered user.

Hmm, the sole point of the Shoreline Special Tax District is to invest in North Bayshore. If Shoreline's tax revenues are not going to be spent , maybe it's time to terminate the special tax district (and let schools get their full share of property taxes)..

Only places with congestion pricing are for a far larger area in far larger cities with abundant public transportation.

If implemented in Mountain View, congestion pricing will not get more people out of their cars as there are no good alternatives, instead it will be a regressive tax on folks living or working in North Bayshore. I'd much rather see Mountain View invest in robust and frequent public transit options.

If implemented, North Bayshore residents should be treated like any other Mountain View resident: no congestion fee to drive in/out or their neighborhood , free public parking and free permits should there be a Residential Parking Permit.

Posted by Bill Mark
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 11, 2021 at 9:50 pm

Bill Mark is a registered user.

Congestion pricing seems like an idea worth trying. If the price is high enough, it will cause a significant number of commuters to switch from solo driving at peak hours to an alternative. These alternatives include taking a corporate shuttle bus, carpooling, bicycling, taking a public transit bus, or shifting their commute hours. For this last option to be viable, the congestion charges need to vary by time of day, such that a 7:30am commute is cheap or free.

At first it might seem that many of these alternative commuting options are not practical for many commuters. But people and their employers are surprisingly creative when money is at stake. For example, if a commuter doesn't live near a corporate bus stop or public transit bus stop and can't adjust their commute hours, they can still _drive_ to a shuttle bus stop outside of North Shoreline, park on the street near it, and then take the shuttle bus into North Shoreline. Voila -- less traffic into North Shoreline, yet they still get to commute by car most of the way at peak hours and don't pay any charges. Commuting this way is obviously less convenient than a traffic-free solo drive at exactly 9:00 am, but this ideal commute into North Shoreline disappeared long ago. On some days (pre-covid), the traffic delays for entering North Shorline around 9:00 am were already over 15 minutes, which is pretty inconvenient.

However, we shouldn't view congestion charges as "punishment" for solo driving. Instead, we should view them as a way for solo drivers to pay the actual costs for this method of commuting at peak hours. The money raised by congestion charges should be spent on increasing roadway capacity into North Shoreline, and/or on maintaining the existing roads in good condition. Eventually, we'll reach a situation where solo drivers end up paying a fair price for the road capacity they consume, including any needed expansions to that capacity.

Posted by Raymond
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 12, 2021 at 10:22 am

Raymond is a registered user.

Maybe it is anti-social and bad government to increase the population of Mountain View by 45,000 people. That's 18,000 housing units approved at 2.5 people each.

Posted by chewie
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 12, 2021 at 8:19 pm

chewie is a registered user.

I thought a large majority of Google and Facebook workers wanted to work from home permanently. Maybe a traffic study needs to be done in 2021 to see if congestion pricing is still necessary.

Posted by Activist Socialist
a resident of Jackson Park
on Jun 12, 2021 at 10:55 pm

Activist Socialist is a registered user.

If you don't want people to drive, then give them better options - homes near their workplace, and convenient public transit. I suspect all this would do is raise some revenue while making things harder on working class people. If the alternatives all cost more (in either time or money) than paying the fee, people will just pay the fee.

Posted by WhismanDave
a resident of Slater
on Jun 13, 2021 at 9:56 am

WhismanDave is a registered user.

"Councilwoman Lisa Matichak said the whole point of the redevelopment plans was to encourage workers to get out of cars"

Here's the problem. The whole point should be to create places for people to live. And it's possible to increase density beyond what we have in Mountain View today while still being accommodating to cars.

And we should be accommodating to cars. A car-free lifestyle becomes untenable after someone has kids. It can work for younger people, but they want to hang out with their friends on the weekend. Unless North Bayshore is going to include nightclubs, a large selection of restaurants (including brunch places where the hung-over can get their bloody marys), entertainment venues, and perhaps a gay bar or two, young people are going to want to go elsewhere on the weekend. And given the state of transit, that means driving.

The problem is a certain class of YIMBY, like Ms. Matichak (and Sen. Scott Weiner), for whom more housing is actually priority #2, while getting rid of cars is their actual first priority. But I don't see any evidence that they've really thought deeply about who the prospective residents of a car-lite neighborhood would be or what they would want, or thought about how to improve transit so people can get in or out without cars.

They just sort of figure that if they don't provide parking, and make driving hard, cars will just magically go away. I think the reality will be more like the report: people still dependent on cars, with a vast increase in congestion as a result.

Posted by Activist Socialist
a resident of Jackson Park
on Jun 13, 2021 at 5:50 pm

Activist Socialist is a registered user.

Only Americans think that cars are a necessity. But that's just because we've never tried to support better lifestyles in this country. In places that don't view suburban wastelands as the pinnacle of human existence, people get by just fine without cars.

Posted by SRB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jun 15, 2021 at 6:14 am

SRB is a registered user.

Also, how does it square with the soon to be activated (congestion based) toll lanes on 101 including the 3 exits leading to North Bayshore?

Posted by Bill
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 15, 2021 at 1:28 pm

Bill is a registered user.

I am looking to move out of the state. I loved MV and sad that so many town houses, apartments are being built with our out of touch city leaders killing the lovely area I live in.

Congestion traffic taxes is the icing on the cake for me to leave.

Posted by Jeremy Hoffman
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Jun 15, 2021 at 1:43 pm

Jeremy Hoffman is a registered user.

I agree with Bill Mark about the benefits of congestion pricing. It simply works. A nominal driving fee would be enough to nudge some commuters to go by foot, bike, carpool, or free shuttle, freeing up the car lanes for those who really need them.

Yes, the service worker commuting from 40 miles away will have to pay a fee, but at least they will be spared sitting in traffic for 20 minutes on top of their mega-commute.

I know it feels great to get something for free, and it feels like a drag when something isn't free. If it helps, think of it this way -- when you pay a toll, you're not just paying for your own car, you're also paying for the absence of other people's cars. And other people's cars are the worst!

It is absolutely reasonable to charge a usage fee on highly crowded roadways at peak times. The alternative is gridlock, which is worse for everyone, or massive capital investment at taxpayer expense to slightly increase road capacity. (Ask Angelenos how well highway expansion has helped with their traffic!)

Posted by Jeremy Hoffman
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Jun 15, 2021 at 1:46 pm

Jeremy Hoffman is a registered user.

I love how far the Overton window has shifted! In 2014, I campaigned in favor of three city council candidates who supported housing near jobs in North Bayshore. Then-candidate Lisa Matichak was one of the candidates who was, shall we say, less enthusiastic about zoning for housing. Seven years later, Councilmember Matichak is getting lumped together as a YIMBY alongside the uber-YIMBY San Francisco State Senator Scott Wiener!

By the way, when we debated housing near jobs in North Bayshore in 2014, a pro-housing argument was "people will be able to walk to work."
The anti-housing rebuttal was, "Who's to say that the people living in North Bayshore will actually work in North Bayshore?"
Well, if that's your concern, congestion pricing is an answer. Congestion pricing would effectively make it cheaper to live and work in North Bayshore, and more expensive to live in North Bayshore but work elsewhere, and vice-versa.

Maybe congestion pricing won't end up working out here, but I'm certainly open to it.

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 15, 2021 at 5:43 pm

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

Congestion pricing Does Work like the toll-lane pricing we are now seeing. It is adjusted for time-of-day to match the 'commute direction'. The cost increases the closer you are to PEAK. In places like Europe (Valencia, Spain) this vehicle licence reading system can work on SMALL AREAS. Like just a city center, or even easier - the limited entry-way North Bayshore. Where you put the cameras, determines where cars are recorded and charged.

Come on People of Silicon Valley! A 'neighborhood licence' database can exclude cars registered to residents - or send them a reduced-fee bill. It's all just data and algorithums! Ramirez is Right! 5 yr not 10. Matichak is Learning!

Time-of-day: even residents should avoid PEAK use/commute times. Like electricity-from-the-grid users!

Posted by Truth Matters
a resident of another community
on Jun 16, 2021 at 10:04 pm

Truth Matters is a registered user.

It's a regressive tax.

Guess who can bike to office? Those who live close by and don't have kids to drop off on the way to work.

Guess who can happily take cushy bus to office? Those high-paying high-tech professionals.

Guess who *have to* drive? The janitors, security guards, landscapers, restaurant and cafe workers, building repair workers, etc. Their have to juggle multiple jobs or go to multiple job sites each day for the same low-paying job. They are the ones that will suffer from the congestion tax.

Posted by Jeff
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2021 at 2:23 pm

Jeff is a registered user.

So you can use public transit, maybe, to get to work. Great! And now the weekend comes and you want to go, maybe even with your kids, to Shoreline Park. Or Cuesta. Or maybe Rancho San Antonio or Skyline Blvd. to hike. Or the movies. Or somewhere off the tracks but late at night. How?

Bike to Skyline, up in the hills? I don't think so.

Public transit works in the city but not that I can see does it work in the suburbs where things are spread out. And passing a law or congestion pricing won't just make it so.


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