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Tenants will be moving into Mountain View's new affordable housing project this week

Original post made on Nov 19, 2021

Wet paint, heavy equipment and exposed wiring still fill the new housing development at 950 W. El Camino Real in Mountain View. But within the week, it will be home to dozens of people in need of an affordable place to live.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, November 19, 2021, 1:56 PM

Comments (24)

Posted by Bruce Karney
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 19, 2021 at 3:16 pm

Bruce Karney is a registered user.

I drove by that building just a few hours ago and thought, "wow, that's a really nice looking building!" I like the colors and the curving shape that welcomes one into the entrance. I had no idea that it was designed for low income residents. I lived in a 300 sq. ft studio when I was in graduate school at Berkeley and can attest that it's sufficient for one person. An extra 100 sq. ft. would be enough for two people, I think. That Berkeley building, at Hearst and Euclid, was 50-60 years old at the time and is still standing. It's west-facing views of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco and Mount Tam were outstanding too.


Posted by SRB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Nov 19, 2021 at 6:02 pm

SRB is a registered user.

Will have to walk by to look up that glass art work. A very creative public art installation.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 20, 2021 at 1:02 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

[comment removed because of editing issues]


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 20, 2021 at 1:23 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Congratulations to city officials who made Luna Vista possible! Lessons to be learned:

o “Despite the huge need for affordable housing, the $49.4 million price tag on the project was enough to give Mountain View City Council members heartburn.”

Luna Vista would not have come about without ADDITIONAL FUNDING from the city. The key to affordable housing is not zoning – the key is FUNDING!

o “Between 2015 and 2023, the city was asked to build 1,833 deed-restricted, below-market rate units ... the city had only issued permits for 448 units -- less than a quarter of the target.”

Yikes! What consequences are served when targets are not met? None!

“The RHNA process doesn't require that the units get built, only that there is adequate zoning and a clear path for developers to build the homes.” www.mv-voice.com/news/2021/10/21/mountain-view-lays-out-plans-to-zone-for-11135-new-homes-under-new-state-requirements

Meanwhile, the city OVER-DELIVERED on units that are only “affordable” to the highest wage earners (3,771 permits were issued, more than 3X the target of 1,093). And another 3,311 units were either “approved, not issued” or under planning review! The numbers show that developers wildly prefer to build expensive market-rate housing over projects such as Luna Vista.

Friends, a little game is being played to generate support for zoning changes that make it easier for developers to “build, baby, build.” Low-income and average wage earners think they will benefit from these changes, but they won't. Without ADDITIONAL FUNDING from government or elsewhere, only techies will be able to “afford” the vast majority of newly constructed housing.

Even worse: “By ratcheting up density, [Robert Cox, a former planning commissioner] said the city runs the risk of accelerating redevelopment and the loss of older, more affordable apartments.” www.mv-voice.com/news/2021/10/21/mountain-view-lays-out-plans-to-zone-for-11135-new-homes-under-new-state-requirements


Posted by ivg
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 20, 2021 at 9:12 pm

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$700k per unit x 6000 deed-restricted units required = $4.2 billion.


Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 21, 2021 at 10:30 am

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

@ivg, U are right, it does not "pencil out". Congrads to Randy T. for transforming from a city planning director to a low-and-moderate income director!

@L. Bain, If the city council, would relentlessly refuse to approve 'in lieu of' substitutions for BMR (Below Market Rate) housing units in all residential development [maybe take that legislate city code option off-the-books?] do you think that would move the numbers in the right direction? The ABAG might have a fit though - it would have to decide if iron-clad BMR number enforcement, even if it decreased total unit builds, was a reasonable region-wide policy.

Or?


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 21, 2021 at 10:37 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Exactly, ivg! $4.2 billion is a pretty big number, right? Where will it come from? We know it certainly won't come from developers, they do their best to cheap out on costs in order to maximize their profits. Even if City Council holds them to BMR targets. They don't want to pay for schools, parks, or to establish new transportation solutions. And oh yes, PARKING! How could I forget to mention PARKING? Developers want to build as few parking spots as they can get away with, preferably none.

Without that money, the latest RHNA targets to deliver 6000 affordable units for the neediest in our community most certainly won't be met. Guess what will happen then? Nothing! Those numbers are simply being put out to confuse the public, to gain support for zoning changes that will help certain powerful players make tons of $$$.

"In this special report, Housing Is A Human Right advocacy journalist Patrick Range McDonald reveals the financial ties and behind-the-scenes connections between Big Tech, California YIMBY, and State Sen. Scott Wiener. ... this investigation shows that these powerful forces have banded together to push a troubling, pro-gentrification housing agenda in California." - Web Link

By then, developers will once again have OVER-DELIVERED on units that are only “affordable” to the highest wage earners. That's what gentrification is all about. Increase the Area Median Income (AMI) in a community, which drives out those at the lower end of the pay scale, including persons of color.

Even the highest wage earners cheering on these zoning changes in order to buy something in MV will have been conned, because market-rate RENTAL UNITS are where the real $$$ is.

"Charging Wildly Inflated Rents, Corporate Landlords Are Living Extravagant Lifestyles" - Web Link


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 21, 2021 at 1:23 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

@Steven, 15% of 40,000 = 6,000

If the city council, would relentlessly refuse to approve 'in lieu of' substitutions for BMR (Below Market Rate) housing units in all residential development, then 40,000 housing units would need to be constructed in order to achieve 6,000 BMR units.

RHNA has "only" asked Mountain View to grow 11,135 housing units in total ("nearly a 30% increase over today's housing stock")- Web Link

15% of 11,135 = 1,670

If the city council manages to achieve the goal of 11,135 housing units and relentlessly refused to approve 'in lieu of' substitutions for BMR (Below Market Rate) housing units, less than one third of the target (6,000) would be added.

Meanwhile (11,135-1670) = 9,465 expensive market-rate units would be created. At a minimum.

Once again, the math doesn't add up.


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Nov 21, 2021 at 1:42 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

Yeah, it's just not believable that these BMR unit targets will be met, because of the high cost. The old myth was that they would be funded by market rate unit construction. It's not projects paying in lieu fees that messes this up. It's the fact that the LARGEST component of BMR ever required is about 20%. This means you'd have to build 4 times as much market rate new housing all units subject to required including of BMR. That many new market rate is not going to happen either. It's something like 6 times the city's RHNA goal for market rate housing.

The right number to do this with required BMR would be say if each new project had to be 65% BMR and only 35% market rate.

On the other hand, even if 1/3 of the number of BMR units gets built as targeted that will help a lot. This needs state and federal funding. Finally, both are starting to provide more such funding, but it's not enough. Maybe it will be enough to fund 1/3 of the RHNA target though!

It's been pretty obvious that FUNDING for BMR was what was missing, not ZONING. This has been clear for a LONG TIME. The developer interests have worked to couch this as being a Zoning issue, as have the YIMBY element. This is just greed capitalism from both of them. Trickle down economics. Gag.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 21, 2021 at 2:44 pm

Frank Richards is a registered user.

Leslie, you have a lot of complaints, but no real solution. The folks that think there should be more homes are at least consistent: if we are going to fund subsidized housing with new market-rate homes, we'll need to build far more market rate homes than RHNA allocates. Another solution would be to fund it with property taxes.

I assume you will be donating your home as subsidized housing, rather than selling it for market rate?


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Nov 21, 2021 at 7:43 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

Leslie Bain is right that the numbers being tossed around have no chance of ever happening, much less under the scenario of not coming from tax money. $4.2 Billion in BMR funding needed just for Mountain View's target for the next 8 years. Property tax money goes mostly to schools, for operations. The total value of all property being taxed in Mountain View is around $30 Billion. So to take it out of property tax revenue, a new levy of about 14% would be needed. So if you apartment is being taxed currently based on it being worth $500K, the new added annual property tax would amount to $10K per year. Simply raise the rent for all existing apartments by $10K per year, and we can pay for the new BMR units.

Hmmm. And of course houses are worth more, so each house would only need to pay an extra $20K per year in new property taxes. Simple according to F. Richards above.

The numbers don't work out. The RHNA quotas are an unfunded mandate as to the BMR component, and an unreasonable plan as to the market rate part.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 21, 2021 at 8:46 pm

Frank Richards is a registered user.

That would only be about a 1% increase in property taxes for Mountain View. It's unlikely that the taxes would be passed on to tenants, simply because that's not how rents are set. If they could charge $10K more, they would already be doing so.


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Nov 22, 2021 at 12:29 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

The $4.2 Billion over 8 years would be something like a 1400% increase in property tax for Mountain View property owners, including office properties. It most certainly would show up in rents, if it ever happened, but it won't because it's too much to even consider. Currently the property tax rate is 1% total with 3/4 of that going to the various school districts and Junior colleges and county office of education.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 22, 2021 at 2:15 pm

Frank Richards is a registered user.

The median home price in Mountain View is roughly $2M now, so you only need an additional 1% to raise $20K annually.


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Nov 22, 2021 at 3:20 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

The housing values do not average as high as $2M per unit. The majority of units are apartments. The average taxable value is well under $1M. There are 33,000 total housing units. Including other properties like offices and stores, the total assessed value in $33 Billion. So you need 3 times the current rate of property tax to raise $600 M more per year over 8 years, and not just on housing units. The Rate would be 3%, but that's a 200% increase amount, every year for 8 years.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 22, 2021 at 3:45 pm

Frank Richards is a registered user.

I didn't say anything about "per unit," which seems like you're just trying to mislead with statistics (pretty roode if you ask me). With the median home selling for $2M, we would only need to tax that land value at an additional 1% to take in $20K more per year.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 22, 2021 at 7:27 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

My first comment: “The key to affordable housing is not zoning – the key is FUNDING!” This is not a complaint, it is the only solution. Luna Vista would not have come about without ADDITIONAL FUNDING from the city. In order for similar projects to proceed, FUNDING must be provided for them. We have a housing affordability crisis because of the LACK OF HOUSING being built for low-income and average wage earners. And a weird theory is being peddled that the way to help these people is to build thousands and thousands of expensive market-rate units that they cannot possibly afford! It doesn't make any sense.

The logical way to help low wage earners is to construct thousands of units that they ACTUALLY CAN AFFORD. But it takes FUNDING. The only reason that BMR units are built today is because the city forces developers to build it. Between 15-25% of the units are supposed to be BMR. The funding comes from developers, but they try to wriggle out of it. From 2015-2023, only 12% of units constructed were actually BMR.

If RHNA demands that MV build 11,135 units and that 6,000 be BMR, math requires that 54% of all units (6,000/11,135) be BMR. The city council should adopt and enforce this requirement until 6,000 BMR units have been built. Afterwards they can lower it back down to 15%-25%. Those who feel 54% is a ridiculous number (and I agree) need to take the matter up with RHNA. As @LongResident said, “The numbers don't work out. The RHNA quotas are an unfunded mandate as to the BMR component, and an unreasonable plan as to the market rate part.”

Where can we find more funding for BMR? We need Prop 15, so large and wealthy biz pays property taxes based on the original price of their real estate, instead of frozen rates. According to yimbyaction.org, “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


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 22, 2021 at 9:18 pm

Frank Richards is a registered user.

Why stop there, Leslie? Let's really reach for it and only approve 100% BMR housing! We can pick up the market-rate construction once that goal is achieved.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 24, 2021 at 7:20 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Suppose we do stay on our current path, using only developer funding for BMR units. From 2015-2023, regardless of city "requirements" only 12% of housing units were BMR.

12% of 50,000 = 6,000

Frank is correct when he says "we'll need to build far more market rate homes than RHNA allocates." In order to obtain 6,000 affordable units, 44,000 units would be built for residents who earn >120% of Area Median Income. We will need to MORE THAN DOUBLE today's housing stock(!), with developers paying as little as they possibly can for schools, parks, transportation and parking. The result sounds like a little slice of heaven, doesn't it? Who doesn't dream of raising kids in a place with dark streets, overcrowded schools, and minimal parks?

Remember, those 44,000 units would only be "affordable" to the highest wage earners. Census data shows that AMI for MV in 2019 was $147,917 with an MOE of $15,480. Web Link . 120% of $147,917 is $177,500.

Which means: 88% of the new housing being built today is intended for households with an annual income of $175K or more! Census data also shows that a little over half (51%) of MV households in 2019 had incomes of $150K or less. Pro-density supporters claim that they are fighting "for our children and non-techies to be able to live in Mountain View", they don't seem to understand that their plan is deeply, deeply flawed.

We are building out MV as if it were a mansion. The vast majority of it (88%) is being constructed for techies, while a small portion (12%) is reluctantly built for the hired help. THIS IS GENTRIFICATION ON STEROIDS! We are building in a way that provides the best chance of living here to the folks who earn at least 175K.

The key to affordable housing is FUNDING! Relying on developers alone for it will not help low-income or average wage earners.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 24, 2021 at 10:49 pm

Frank Richards is a registered user.

Aw, I'm sorry you're too scared to respond to me directly, Leslie. Why not do only 100% BMR development until our RHNA numbers are achieved?

To show your dedication to your beliefs, you definitely won't sell your home at market rate, right, Leslie?


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Nov 28, 2021 at 7:17 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

Well, there is supposed to be more public funding available for building BMR units. It's probably not enough but it's better than we had seen in the past. This won't be done by requiring developers to pay for 20% BMR units within their projects, but that's an incremental help. Reality says that the demand for the new luxury complexes is satiated for a while. There have probably been too many of those built as of the current date. Instead of large apartment complexes we are seeing more expensive still (per unit) but smaller complexes, which always displace existing housing options. That's the reality going forward. A lot the new BMR units will now go toward serving those who have been displaced.

The simple reason we can't mandate all-BMR on new construction is that it is unconstitutional to take private property without compensation. Owners have a right to switch to the gentrified housing if they wish, and sure enough that's what's happening. Some of the original owners have already sold to developers, and more will do that. A number of the older smaller complexes are already owned by giant REIT's who planned ahead to eventually replacing them. Depending on how they do it, they can escape the need to include BMR units in the revamped complexes, and that's what they have been doing so far.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 28, 2021 at 8:24 pm

Frank Richards is a registered user.

If the demand for "luxury" (I have to assume you mean market-rate) has been satiated and we've already built "too many" of them, why do rents continue to rise?

Bracing myself for the classic, roode hand-waving.


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Nov 28, 2021 at 10:39 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

No, I mean that the "market rate" housing built in Mountain View of late has all been luxury housing of one form or another. Now they are just shifting to more expensive (smaller projects "boutique" ownership type) luxury housing, but the units built already are marketed as luxury housing. See Web Link for example. It's only getting more fancy. Developers only build luxury apartments as market rate, but it could be possible to build market rate without luxury. I'm not saying it's unavoidable, only referring to what has been happening. Presumably there's a reason why the non luxury segment is not profitable in this area. Could it be the $20 Million per acre price on land?


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 28, 2021 at 11:10 pm

Frank Richards is a registered user.

"Luxury" is a marketing term and has no actual meaning outside that. Surely, they didn't fool you with that, did they?


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