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Guest opinion: Housing affordability bills' math doesn't add up

Original post made on Sep 26, 2021

In a guest opinion, Mountain View resident Leslie-Anne Bain argues that building large amounts of market-rate housing will not bring down most rents in the city.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, September 25, 2021, 10:53 AM

Comments (40)

Posted by Yonatan
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 26, 2021 at 11:03 am

Yonatan is a registered user.

No one hates Mountain View and hates the economy more than NIMBYs.
All they want is to destroy this town and turn mountain view into a rust belt town where there are no jobs and a bunch of old people happy that everyone leaves them alone.
We haven't been building enough housing for decades.
Instead of not trying anything and saying that there is nothing we can do, let's actually try building enough housing for the people who want to live here!


Posted by sfcanative
a resident of Whisman Station
on Sep 26, 2021 at 11:23 am

sfcanative is a registered user.

Build it and they will inevitably come. More people. More traffic. More incremental decay of the infrastructure. Depletion of water resources and detrimental impact on the ecology. The only solution to the Silicon Valley housing problem is to send the jobs elsewhere!


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 26, 2021 at 1:42 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

I think I became a National Merit Scholar for one key reason: I was always willing to ask questions when I did not understand. When I taught students, I encouraged them to be brave enough to ask questions even if others might laugh at them. I'm now coming to believe that it is even more important to ask questions when one is demonized for doing so.

I have been respectfully asking the same question for about four months now, ever since I first heard about MV's R3 rezoning via a weird little postcard in the mail. How exactly is this proposal going to bring down the rents for most average people in Mountain View? I've even asked it directly to David Watson, the leader of MV YIMBY Web Link . I usually get the same results: crickets. Sometimes I get links to an academic study that is actually irrelevant because it was conducted in places that have nothing close to the demand for highly paid tech workers that we have in Silicon Valley.

One of my heroes is Gandhi, who said "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

I have been ignored, and I have been laughed at. The fact remains: those who are laughing cannot provide a cogent explanation about how building thousands of expensive market-rate units in MV will help MOST AVERAGE PEOPLE struggling to pay the rent. Is this such an unreasonable question to ask? At this point I conclude they HAVEN'T done so because they CANNOT do so.

I have noticed a certain tactic used by clever politicians. They describe in great detail some problem that many voters are struggling with, such as outrageous rents. When hearing these words, the voter thinks, "Hey, this guy gets it! He is on my side!" Then, the politician backs a proposal that WILL NOT SOLVE THAT PROBLEM! Sadly, many voters don't even notice. I despise lies and propaganda intentionally put out to deceive.

I am eternally grateful to the Mountain View Voice for publishing my letter. Thank you so very much.


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Sep 26, 2021 at 2:16 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

Leslie, I don't consider myself a YIMBY, nor am I involved with that group, but I tried to patiently explain to you where your reasoning was faulty, with evidence and references, and you simply ignored it. Due to that, I'm not going to try to debate or reason with you, since that is something you're clearly uninterested in.

All I'm going to ask of you at that is to keep your clear personal animus for certain people, groups, and types of people out of the discussion, as it is inappropriate for this forum. As you said earlier: "Did you know that when people are overcome with emotions they don't utilize the rational part of their brains?" Your posting has made that abundantly clear.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 26, 2021 at 2:37 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Randy, I will let others decide for themselves the truth of your words. The discussion to which Randy is referring is located in the comments of this article in the Mountain View Voice:

"Mountain View approves rowhouse development that will replace 70 rent-controlled apartments" Web Link

Do I have "clear personal animus" against California YIMBYs? I guess that is true. As a Mountain View SFH owner, I am part of a group that has been unfairly scapegoated and demonized by them, falsely accused without any evidence of being the cause of high rents and engaging in conspiracies to "keep supply low". Have you ever been scapegoated and demonized Randy? It sucks.

More voters should know the truth about YIMBYs, and their ties to wealthy elites who stand to financially benefit from proposals to reduce local control over housing. Consent for proposals like SB9/10 and R3 rezoning is being manufactured with propaganda that gives the impression that these bills will lower rents for most people in Mountain View. That will not happen. However developers and Big Tech stand to make a fortune.

"What Is a YIMBY? (Hint: It’s Not Good)"
Web Link
"Housing Is A Human Right has been battling YIMBYs for years, so you’ve come to the right place for more information. In fact, we published a special report about them last year: “Inside Game: California YIMBY, Scott Wiener, and Big Tech’s Troubling Housing Push.” Web Link That’s a must-read. In the meantime, here are seven key takeaways, with lots of links for more reading."

P.S. Reporting on housing issues in the Voice has been outstanding, highly encourage everyone to support it!





Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 27, 2021 at 12:15 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

For those who might have missed it, want to share a great op-ed by Rishi Kumar in the Palo Alto Daily Post back in March of this year:

"Guest Opinion: SB9, SB10 are the kiss of death for neighborhoods" Web Link

"Silicon Valley’s tech exodus is weighing California down. For California’s legislators, the solution is obvious — more housing! With some upcoming bills, state legislators are seeking to pre-empt local control and open the floodgates to no-holds-barred construction that would make California a private developers dreamland.

Cha-ching!

This will not end well. There will be more housing, but the price of housing will continue to escalate; the population will spike; and massive traffic gridlock will ensue. The Valley’s quality of life will go kaput. The mess will play out for decades as we try to fix it. In the end, we’ll give up and say “just expand into the outlier cities,” a crude method to deal with an unsustainable situation."

Bio: "Rishi Kumar is a Silicon Valley high-tech executive, a Saratoga city councilman and a candidate for U.S Congress for the seat currently held by Anna Eshoo."

Well said! Rishi gets it: the public is being duped. Building massive amounts of unafforable housing will simply not bring down rents for most wage earners. Look at the math.


Posted by SWAN song
a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 27, 2021 at 2:48 pm

SWAN song is a registered user.

The fatal flaw in this argument is that it compares two things: no housing (and presumably no new jobs) or 1,000 housing plus 1,000 jobs. But that's not the comparison to make. Those jobs are either going to exist or they aren't. City councils will either approve new office buildings or they won't. Either way, the housing decision is separate. And either way, once you take the jobs as existing or not, building more housing is always better than not.


Posted by MV Resident
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 27, 2021 at 2:57 pm

MV Resident is a registered user.

Invoking Rishi Kumar! The person whose best idea for solving the Bay Area housing crisis (per his own website!) is... "build a hyperloop". Be careful of the rhetoric of people "just asking questions"- they seem to conveniently forget about all the patient thoughtful answers they didn't find acceptable.


Posted by Another MV Resident
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2021 at 3:03 pm

Another MV Resident is a registered user.

> One of my heroes is Gandhi, who said "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

This is such a laughably false attribution. I'd expect more from a National Merit Scholar...


Posted by Frank McConnell
a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 27, 2021 at 3:19 pm

Frank McConnell is a registered user.

> I think I became a National Merit Scholar for one key reason: I was always willing to ask questions when I did not understand.

I think you became a National Merit Scholar for one key reason: you tested well on the PSAT/NMSQT. Asking questions when you don't understand is a good thing too.

Signed, another National Merit Scholar.


Posted by Mtn Minded
a resident of North Whisman
on Sep 27, 2021 at 7:43 pm

Mtn Minded is a registered user.

I'm glad that MV Voice gave Leslie a guest article to air her views. It's unfortunate that she is unwilling to state the obvious conclusion of her argument: if we just destroy all the good jobs in the bay area, demand will fall and housing will be cheap! Why didn't we all think of that?


Posted by Seth Neumann
a resident of Waverly Park
on Sep 27, 2021 at 9:53 pm

Seth Neumann is a registered user.

She is correct that demand is the problem. The answer is to discourage more jobs in the area. Apple, Google etc can easily hire elsewhere and they should. We should also consider alternative ways to serve labor-intensive services, so we have less lower wage people seeking scarce affordable housing.


Posted by Another MV Resident
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2021 at 8:51 am

Another MV Resident is a registered user.

@SethNeumann
You're so correct. Artificial intelligence has come so far, just look at Elon Musk's latest robot press conference. Maybe he could whip us up some robots to make the pizzas at Doppio Zero. Vera Pizza Napoletana Robotica. We need to bring back Zume too. Can the local tech companies please build us tech to finally achieve total victory and crush our underclass and then kindly get out?


Posted by bluesjr
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 28, 2021 at 11:10 am

bluesjr is a registered user.

Leslie - YIMBY's are immune to your logic.

Swan Song - I've been watching this process for years, and keep seeing the same dysfuctional trend. Mt View and developers making deals: developers will build housing only if given allocations to increase office space, because a project doesn't "pencil out" otherwise. And the problem of schools, parks, infrastructure ... well, lots of hand-waving, and anyway, that's for the future, so kick the can down the road. Then the city council, and pro-housing folks, declare it a big WIN for housing, while perpetuating the office/demand side of the equation. A few dozen families (which hardly moves the needle) win the lottery and get one of the few subsidized units forced on developers, who, btw, are usually allowed to buy their way out of "community benifits."


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 28, 2021 at 11:24 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

[Portion of post removed due to being off-topic].

"Be careful of the rhetoric of people "just asking questions"- they seem to conveniently forget about all the patient thoughtful answers they didn't find acceptable."

Translation: be careful of those who ask how SB9/10 and the R3 rezoning proposal are going to help ordinary working people.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 28, 2021 at 12:14 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

[Post removed due to being off-topic].


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Sep 28, 2021 at 11:09 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

Leslie is right on this. The people who say that to oppose excessive numbers of new Tech jobs is questionable are overlooking a lot of things. The problem is actually in the salary distribution for these Tech jobs. We could handle a lot more jobs if they weren't all so high paid. The companies take over all the office space, even gentrify the OFFICE SPACE and displace a lot of businesses that would otherwise be here. Their workers would have more diverse salary levels. So the problem could be said to be that problem of too many workers being paid more than they deserve. Then they push up the demand for expensive housing and squeeze out all other housing. You can't tell me that the houses locally would be selling for $2 Million minimum if there weren't so many overpaid workers clamoring to buy them. And a lot of these houses actually sell for much more than $2 Million and a lot of buyers immediately spend a bundle on gentrifying the expensive houses even further.

This is not sustainable. Eventually companies like Google and Facebook will self destruct. They try to act like they are tiny little laudable innovating start ups but they are massive bureaucracies which do a lot of harm to society. They do not need to concentrate in one area like Silicon Valley in the first place. They will end on their own, so it's a good idea to not allow the housing stock to become all-McMansion for the eventual state of things.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 29, 2021 at 1:06 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Most everyone agrees that affordable housing is a good thing. BIG QUESTION: how do we pay for it?

1) Put pressure on government and Big Tech to provide more funding for affordable housing. Corporations have a fiduciary duty to their stock holders. Sadly, they have no duty whatsoever to help the low-income people they displace when they gentrify a community. Think of the positive press that could be obtained by making VERY LARGE CONTRIBUTIONS anyway on behalf of low-income families!

2) Fight for Prop 15, to end perverse incentives to hire workers in expensive places where a corporation's property taxes are lower than those of it's own employees! Prop 15 would also increase $$$ that would flow to local government, who could then use it to fund BMR units. Guess who agrees with me?

"Currently, thanks to 1978’s Prop 13, owners pay property taxes based on the price they originally paid for that real estate—typically a lot less than what it’s worth today. Prop 15 will roll this back for many large businesses, raising property taxes to be assessed based on the property’s current (probably much higher) market value. Prop 15 will raise approximately $6.5 to $11.5 billion — 60% for cities, counties and special districts, and 40% for schools and community colleges." Web Link

3) Encourage employers who are magnifying the housing crisis to consider hiring workers in places where housing is more affordable. Prop 15 will do this, but we don't need to wait for it to pass.

It is not a true win for workers to pass bills that create thousands of market-rate RENTAL units; I think that is close to worker exploitation, myself. Hewlett-Packard created scores of divisions all over the Bay Area, and never insisted on growing any site to the absurd levels that Google is contemplating for it's HQ. HP's strategy allowed many workers to buy their own homes, and they did it without demonizing existing residents of those communities.


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Sep 29, 2021 at 2:12 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

Leslie, would I be correct in believing you also support a full repeal of Prop 13? You'd have to agree that someone who owns a house with a market value of $2M+ and but only contributes to the community as if it was worth less than a third of that is definitely not paying their fair share. What do you think?


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Sep 29, 2021 at 2:19 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

Prop 13 is entirely fair to homeowners in determining assessed value based on time of purchase. It works like an annuity in that when they start out they pay a higher share in the community and then that earns them the right to glide down over the years. If you look at the overall tax rate, they pay a fair share. Government gets to use the higher tax paid up front without interest down through the years. With inflation, the effect of over payment close to the time of purchase is enhanced. The dollars paid in 2000 are worth a lot more than those paid today, and not just because the government had the use of the money for 20 years.

The issue with commercial property is that corporations are formed which take ownership of the property and then through many changes of owners, they get the tax rate determined by the ORIGINAL sales price, not what they paid the last time it transferred. This happens for corporations owning single family homes too. When they buy up a bunch of homes and then rent them out forever, they never see a tax rate rise either. So fixing the corporate issue doesn't imply one opposes Prop 13 for individual human homeowners.


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Sep 29, 2021 at 2:26 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

Plus with quantitative easing, interest rates are so low that new buyers get a big subsidy on their purchase. This raises home prices, and would otherwise inflate the taxes of homeowners.


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Sep 29, 2021 at 3:08 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

Frankly, LongResident, your argument doesn't make a lick of sense. It's a bunch of unsupported assertions, like the strange concept that paying taxes on market value at purchase "earns" one the right to "glide down" over the years. How is someone paying an effective tax rate of a fraction of a percent on a multimillion dollar property fair, while their neighbor is paying orders of magnitude more? Strange definition of fair, if you ask me.

Your argument honestly just seems like a post hoc rationalization for the manifestly unfair deal provided by Prop 13. Much like escalating rents and home prices, Prop 13 is yet another unfair, generational transfer of wealth upward.

Leslie, what do you think? Should we keep the homeowner provisions of Prop 13, too?


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Sep 29, 2021 at 3:47 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

Familiarize yourself with the concept of an annuity and you'll see that the reason they work is precisely because they are based on life expectancy. How much you actually collect from an annuity depends on how long you live. The ones with long tenure on Earth do collect more of their money back. However, it still works for everyone. The ones who do live long have contributed a lot, and more of their contribution was may years ago when the dollar was worth more.

Why is it fair to compare the tax rate on a new owner now in the FIRST year against the tax rate of a longer term owner who has owned a property for 10 years or more? Tax money on property is used to build infrastructure and fund schools. Schools have a very long term payback in terms of an educated populace. The new neighbor just moving in hasn't contributed anything to the community yet, paying for none of the schools in the past decade or more. So she gets to reap the reward of the good schools based on the payments made by longer term owner. She also gets the benefit of all the infrastructure she found as a legacy. That infrastructure might have a 50+ year lifespan, and it would cost a LOT more to create today then it did back when the earlier homeowners paid for it. Is that fair?

Economics requires looking at the present value of contributions and the contributions over all time. It's not FAIR not to do a meaningful comparison.

Regardless, the ASSUMPTION that someone seeing the fairness to individual owners of real property can't see the UNFAIRNESS to corporate ownership. For example, since Prop 13 the FRACTION of real property tax revenue paid on commercial property has decline markedly while that for the residential has conversely increased. That's not fair, and that's a reasonable comparison, unlike the spot check proposed above on a wealthy individual today bidding up the price and paying higher taxes as a result.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 30, 2021 at 11:38 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

What do I think of Prop 13?

Earlier, I spoke of Naomi Klein and the shock doctrine. People in pain are distracted and willing to embrace deeply flawed “solutions”. Prop 13 was such a solution.

CA homes have been appreciating wildly since at least the 1970s, when Prop 13 passed. FYI, I was a military brat then. My parents sold our home in NY, the first home they had ever owned, and a few years later Dad was issued orders to report in CA. He did not get a raise. My parents scraped to the limit and bought a SMALLER home that cost a little over twice as much! It was nice to own an asset appreciating in value, yes, but it was also the place that provided shelter for our family. If one's home appreciated faster than one's wages did, higher taxes meant less $$$ for other things. Older people were being forced out of their homes because they could no longer afford the taxes. There were also scandals where the assessor's office was not being fair and just, cronies got lower "assessments". I was a kid so I didn't really get it, but I did see the stress on my parents. Wildly increasing property taxes were a crisis back then, just as high rents are a crisis today.

People like my parents just wanted relief. Their pain created an opportunity for politicians to help wealthy elites. I don't think that voters gave much thought to the actual language of Prop 13; it freezes property taxes for both businesses and ordinary residents alike. As LongResident explained: "The issue with commercial property is that corporations are formed which take ownership of the property and then through many changes of owners, they get the tax rate determined by the ORIGINAL sales price, not what they paid the last time it transferred."

Bottom line is that big biz now essentially has their taxes frozen for forever, which hurts cities, counties, schools, etc. Mountain View could build more BMR units with this $$$!

I support Prop 15, it reforms Prop 13 but does not repeal. Protections to help old people stay in their homes are a good thing.


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Sep 30, 2021 at 12:25 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

Thank you, Leslie. Just to make sure I understand it, you do think it's fair that someone who owns a $2M+ house pays less than a fraction of a percent on that value, while their neighbors pay an orders of magnitude more. It's a strange definition of fairness, championing multimillionaires' interests, but you are certainly entitled to it. I doubt Bernie would be in favor of it, though.

Since you are concerned with how transfers aren't reassessed, surely you'd be in favor of always reassessing property when it's passed on to children?


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Sep 30, 2021 at 3:37 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

Is it fair that if I arrive first at a store, I get served before someone who arrives subsequently? Why should that guy have to wait when he's going to give a bigger order?

There is no issue with fairness relating to Prop 13. Anyone who really thinks about what happens should THEY buy a house can see that. Take a certain property I just looked up in Mountain View. It sold in 2015 for $1.7M. The property taxes today are $23,500 per year. But the market value today is $2.5 Million. The taxes on that value if it sells today will be $29,000. When the property was last sold the first year the taxes were $21,000. Is it fair that the last buyer from 2015 is currently paying $23,500? Why does he benefit so quickly from Prop 13? I mean, an extra increase of $5,500 per year would be a concern for most people's budgets.

For that matter, why does he get a $2.5 Million house having only paid $1.7 Million. Most of the money came from a mortgage. Shouldn't the bank get a share of the increased home value?


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Sep 30, 2021 at 4:09 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

Someone with $800K in unearned wealth ($133K per year!) should be able to afford $5500 per year. But again, this is policy that is championing the interests of multimillionaires. I understand why they want to protect their unfair deal, but it's a bit strange why a Bernie supporter thinks it's a good idea. I think Leslie said it best earlier: "Self interest is a powerful thing."


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Sep 30, 2021 at 4:49 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

Multimillionaire? Hmmm. So the couple took out a nearly $1.6 Million dollar loan to buy the house, which they could afford thanks to low interest rates. They still owe that money. If they were to sell the house, they'd have a $1 M profit, and could pay back the loan, why where would they live? And of course they'd owe about 40% taxes on the appreciation less the exemption amount. They're not millionaires, not even if you treat them as one person. The idea that taxes can just be raised so long as the property value increases is flawed. When you say millionaire you should consider people with that much income annually, not in unrealized capital gains.


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Sep 30, 2021 at 5:05 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

Only in the contortions of the wealthy do you hear someone who owns a $2.5M asset try to call themselves "not a millionaire." Now you're defining a millionaire as only someone who earns a million each year, excluding unrealized capital gains? That's just absurd, and hopefully I don't have to explain why.


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Sep 30, 2021 at 10:31 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

Perhaps property taxes should be based on the value net of any mortgages. This is done in other aspects of state law. But, yes, it's true that owning something which is mortgaged or otherwise encumbered is not "wealth" per se for the amount that is funded by other sources besides the owner's capital. It's very naive to talk about this as being misleading. It's misleading to count the mortgaged amount as wealth. This is not done in any balance sheet for any sort of accounting.

Affordability is the concern. If a mortgage is required then the cost of the mortgage is a COST to live in the property. What's true around here is that all sorts of rent includes amounts to cover the cost for financing the property and the cost of any property taxes. Prop 13 fixing rate of increase on property taxes benefits renters too. This is why SB9 is misguided--because it fuels development and increased cost for the housing using its provisions. You can bet a lot of borrowed money will be used to build any SB9 engendered housing, if any ever occurs.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 1, 2021 at 10:36 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Randy, let me tell a story to help you understand my views about Prop 13. Ten men go out to lunch and sit at the same table. Five of them are impeccably dressed, MIB-style; they are friends who work at corporations. The other five are ordinary guys, but one is much older than the rest. They all enjoy their lunch, especially the MIB guys because they have gotten much more attention from the waitstaff than everyone else. The entire table asked for individual checks. When those come, the four younger ordinary guys notice that their bills are larger than those of the rest of the table, so they start yelling intensely at the old man. The End.

Previously, I've tried to explain that the real winners of Prop 13 was big biz, which now essentially has their property taxes frozen for forever. EVERYONE obtains protection from wildly increasing property taxes under this law, which is a good thing for working-class people especially, the ones who don't have fat salaries and/or bank accounts and would otherwise lose their homes when taxes rise enough.

If big biz paid their fair share, a LOT more $$$ would be raised. So it would not be necessary to raise property tax rates so high for ordinary people: in my story the checks for the four younger guys would still be larger than the old man's, but much lower amounts. I simply don't see the logic of getting angry at the old man. Those young guys should direct their anger at the five corporate men instead. Bernie agrees with me. Web Link

Also, if a $500K home was bought in 1990, the value in today's dollar's would be $1,046,545.52 because of inflation Web Link . This is not a "gain", per se. The owner likely put $100K as a down-payment, and incurred $400K in mortgage debt. Owning a $1m home does not make one a rich millionaire; any gains are only on paper until the home is sold.


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Oct 1, 2021 at 11:53 am

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

Leslie, in addition to having constrained growth on property taxes, Prop 13 also limits property tax itself, so I don't know why you think property tax rates have been raised "so high for ordinary people." Newcomers just pay property taxes on the actual value of the property they own, and the generation that benefits most is the one that voted to keep their own property taxes low at the expense of those that came after. And, as I'm sure you're aware, home prices have risen far faster than inflation.

Basically, this looks like a lot of hand-waving to avoid the cognitive dissonance around an unfair deal that benefits you. You were right before, and you've made it very clear now: Self-interest is a powerful thing.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 1, 2021 at 1:25 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Randy, if you prefer to direct your anger at working people instead of wealthy elites, that is certainly your right. I simply don't see the logic of getting angry at the old man in the story.

The issue that prompted me to write my letter to the editor was my disgust at seeing lies and propaganda being used to manufacture consent for policies that will primarily help the rich and powerful and also hurt existing residents. None of these policies involve Prop 13. I also offered my thoughts about how to actually bring housing costs down for low-income and average workers. I was limited to 750 words in the original letter, I had wanted to include these thoughts there but it was not possible.

In politics, people use words slyly. Someone can say they are "fighting for affordable housing" when they are specifically fighting for housing that only tech workers can afford. What they are saying is "true", but it is also highly misleading and deceptive.

For four months now I have asked how the construction of thousands of expensive, market-rate units will bring rents down for low-income and average working people. I have NEVER been given a cogent explanation. If you think otherwise, please either repeat that explanation here, or provide some kind of citation that will allow others to find it and see who is actually telling the truth on this matter.

I'm not really sure what you are even fighting for. You say you are not a YIMBY. I think you should look into joining their organization, you appear to share many of the same views.


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Oct 1, 2021 at 2:08 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

Leslie, how is someone who owns a multimillion dollar home not a "wealthy elite"? Are you taking the same position as LongResident?

The last time we discussed this, I posted research by the nonpartisan California Legislative Analysts Office, and you dismissed it out of hand. This is why I don't believe your claim to have "never been given a cogent explanation," as you've indicated you have no interest in thinking critically about the problem, National Merit Scholarship notwithstanding. I've given up on trying to reason with you because you have not approached any of this with an open mind.

If you disagree, can you explain what sort of evidence you are looking for, and if provided with it, would lead you to change your opinion on the matter?


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 2, 2021 at 12:14 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Randy, wealthy elites are those to whom George Carlin was referring when he said, "It's a big club, and you ain't in it". These folks make huge campaign contributions to politicians, and politicians return the favor by passing legislation that benefits them. When Newsom runs for president, he will be generously rewarded by these people for signing SB9/10 into law, over the objections of ordinary Californians.

Ordinary homeowners, especially the ones in Mountain View, are not anything close to being wealthy elites. But I'm sure that you already know this. We are being demonized and scapegoated, not treated with any kind of deference by state politicians.

Here is a link to where your previous comments were posted: Web Link To find them, search for "please take". This was my response:

"I have read your report, did you? Nowhere in it is any kind of statement made that rents will drop FOR MOST PEOPLE." So your claim that I have already been given an explanation is dishonest.

I want an explanation similar to this one, which is widely spread by YIMBYs to "explain" how average residents benefit when market-rate housing is constructed: "Imagine 1,000 expensive units are created; rich folks who can afford the best move into them, making their old (now less desirable) units unoccupied. Slightly less affluent folks move up into these empty units, and the process repeats. Eventually the cheapest units become even cheaper."

As I explained in my letter, this theory might be valid in some parts of the country, but NOT IN MOUNTAIN VIEW. Those who keep pushing it here either don't properly understand the math, or they are working on behalf of those who stand to make a fortune building thousands of expensive, unaffordable-to-most market-rate units.


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Oct 2, 2021 at 12:27 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

I'm going to have to leave you here, Leslie, since you seem to be keen on repeating yourself and not listening to what anyone else has to say. People, including myself I think, have pointed out the flaw in your hypothetical, but you insist on ignoring them. The LAO discusses the causes of high housing costs in California, but you insist on ignoring it. You have a strawman version of what you think people are arguing, and then refuse to listen to anyone else unless they construct an argument specifically about that strawman. It's repetitive and unproductive, and frankly disrespectful to your discussion partners.

I guess I'm an optimist because I thought you might be interested in listening to other people and trying to achieve mutual understanding, but you've proven me wrong again and again.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 3, 2021 at 2:56 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Randy, persons such as yourself are doing their best to convince busy and distracted voters that bills such as SB9/10 and R3 Rezoning are somehow going to help lower-income and even average-income workers obtain lower rents. These bills will do no such thing, in 5 years or so that will be apparent to anyone who is still paying attention. But political operators like yourself understand that the public has the attention span of a flea, and by then you will have already achieved your goals for developers and Big Tech: thousands of market rate units built at minimal cost by ignoring valid concerns raised by those who will be impacted by new construction. Rents will STILL be too d*mn high, and this YIMBY scam is the gift that will keep on giving: evil NIMBYs will CONTINUE to be blamed in the years to come, the "solution" will continue to be that we need EVEN MORE expensive housing units and to silence anyone who raises any kind of concern whatsoever.

I have been trying to have a civil and respectful conversation about a tremendously important issue; your highest priority has been to try to find some way to discredit me personally. You cannot attack my arguments, so you attack me instead. This trick is as old as time because it often works. You are less concerned in obtaining funds to construct affordable housing (via Prop 15) than you are with hate mongering against existing homeowners. I find that very sad, but understandable if your true goal is NOT affordable housing.

I understand that many techies are frustrated and upset that they cannot achieve the American dream, despite their high paychecks. What these folks fail to understand is that building thousands of expensive RENTAL units, which is what we shall primarily get, is a false victory. Your paychecks will be turned over to corporate landlords. New precedents will have been set to accept unpopular mandates from state politicians, and to silence and scapegoat those who object. Is that the world you want?


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 4, 2021 at 1:09 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

A VERY IMPORTANT STORY from Kevin Forestieri that needs to be remembered:

"Mountain View City Council approves dense 408-unit apartment complex in East Whisman" Web Link

"the 7-0 vote came with misgivings about the compromises made along the way. The 408-unit project at 400 Logue Avenue [CUT OUT ALL OF THE OWNERSHIP HOUSING] that was originally included -- [MAKING ALL OF THE HOMES RENTALS] -- and received special exemptions to [SHORTCHANGE THE CITY ON AFFORDABLE UNITS] in order to make the proposal financially feasible."

"Faltering on either front would've effectively killed the project's viability, according to the developer, leaving council members with the ugly choice of approving the faulty project or killing yet another opportunity to build homes in the area."

We need to remember the intense pressure on council members. There is so much pressure on them to DO SOMETHING, DO ANYTHING to bring rents down, so they feel pressured to sign off on LOUSY DEALS such as this one from developers. They are also pressured to make Big Tech happy.

We need to remember also that in addition to wildly preferring to build expensive, market rate units ... developers also prefer to build RENTAL UNITS. Prop 13 allows the owners of these units to jack up rents while their property tax bills are frozen. Ka-ching!

"Some council members were surprised at the June 22 meeting to see how much the project had evolved since then, protesting that the city's planning process [ALLOWS DEVELOPERS TO COMPLETELY REDESIGN PROJECTS] once they get their foot in the door."

Techies are in pain because they are priced out of the American Dream; that pain is 100% valid. I submit that even THEIR pain is being exploited with bills sold as increasing "affordable" housing. New OWNERSHIP housing for techies will be as rare as new BMR units. New RENTAL units is where the big $$$ can be made.


Posted by MyOpinion
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 4, 2021 at 3:00 pm

MyOpinion is a registered user.

Repeal Costa Hawkins.


Posted by RalphJStinson
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Oct 11, 2021 at 7:07 am

RalphJStinson is a registered user.

This problem consists of several parts. The first is inflation and rising unemployment rates. Large factories have lost workers due to quarantine sanctions. People are forced to take out loans Web Link in order to save themselves from the rise in apartment rent prices. I don’t want to think about buying real estate because it’s a big problem in Canada. We didn’t want to work during quarantine and quarantine rewarded us with big financial problems.


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