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Letter to the editor: Existing homeowners should welcome new neighbors

Original post made on Jan 14, 2022

In a letter to the editor, resident Jonah Mann takes on a "misguided talking point" in the community discourse about Mountain View's Housing Element.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, January 14, 2022, 1:56 PM

Comments (23)

Posted by ivg
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2022 at 2:04 pm

ivg is a registered user.

Exactly! In the Bay Area, we say that we like immigrants, but really only if they find someplace else to live.


Posted by I can't breathe pollution
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 14, 2022 at 4:49 pm

I can't breathe pollution is a registered user.

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


Posted by redhawk524
a resident of another community
on Jan 14, 2022 at 11:07 pm

redhawk524 is a registered user.

So neighbors do not have the right to express concerns? If there is no concern, why not explain why there is no concern instead of calling them Trumpie elitists? Mr. Mann, your contribution reeks of wealth resentment and completely lacks any rational reasoning. How much control do people actually have of their own property? I've seen it in San Francisco where your "neighbors" can defecate on your doorstep and no one in the city will do anything about it. People can break into your home or vehicle and if they steal less than $950 it's essentially not a crime.

People have every right to express their concerns. It's called the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Given the situation in SF, I think it is logical for people to have concerns.

It is very possible that their concerns are not valid. Yet, Mr. Mann, you provide no reasoning or explanation why their concerns are unfounded. You call them names as if that is going to convince anyone.


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jan 14, 2022 at 11:59 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

redhawk524, with all due respect, what on Earth are you talking about? The discussion is about whether we, as a city, should build enough homes for people. Some people want to close the gates, build the walls, and say "city's full," (pretty Trumpy rhetoric, if you ask me), which will frankly just lead to more homelessness and more people forced to live in their vehicles.

For some reason, you, on the other hand, believe that building more homes will lead to more homelessness? How on Earth does that work?


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 16, 2022 at 1:04 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Jonah wrote: “I’ve repeatedly encountered a misguided talking point ... existing homeowners somehow need “protection” from new neighbors.” Examples please? I have not seen this comment raised in the Voice. I am troubled when I see assertions made without evidence to support them, especially assertions that attack the character of others.

Harold Lasswell defined politics as ‘who gets what, when and how’ Web Link . Translation: WHO gets a a set of benefits, and WHO is forced to pay for them? Benefits are lovely, arguments arise over who should pay. Re R3 rezoning: increasing density in MV (to enable highly paid workers to buy their own homes) will strain existing infrastructure, including -but not limited to- schools, water supply, traffic congestion, & parking. Who should pay to fix the mess? Those who advocate for density? Or ordinary Johns & Janes who earn much less? What is wild about the debate is that those who advocate for density are adamant that asking developers to pay to address/prevent problems is inappropriate.

The Nation article also states: “This overtaking of the state by vested interests, is a natural outcome of capitalism, with real power being held in the hands of the corporate sector that has the capital weight to fund political parties, the campaign of politicians and to put excessive capital behind lobbying campaigns to ensure their interests are met in formal political circles.”

Homeowners in MV don't need protection from new neighbors, we need protection from state politicians eager to gain patronage from corporations that want unpopular laws passed in order to improve their bottom lines. Employers only hire workers when they expect to make a profit. IMHO, some of THOSE PROFITS should be used to fix the problems caused by density, instead of forcing costs onto ordinary MV residents. If rich and powerful Big Tech will profit from density, why should “little people” pay to clean up the mess?


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jan 16, 2022 at 9:33 am

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

Leslie, even though you deny it, you demonstrate Jonah's claim quite well. Why do you view new neighbors as a "cost" that needs to be mitigated? Surely, we should all pay for our schools together, right? Isn't that what taxes are for?


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Jan 16, 2022 at 2:49 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

Jonah suffers from the ignorance of youth in taking away that alleged "talking point" from the dialog that goes on about growth in the city of Mountain View. The truth is that the main effect of the growth that concerns people comes from Google and other local employers that overbuild to an extreme. This is the root cause of the concern, not the potential new residents.

But when we talk about these new residents, there is some concern too that even with all the efforts of the city, almost all of the newly built housing is dense luxury apartments which cost double the historical rent in the area. No system has been created to generate new housing whose cost approximates what current residents are paying. It's not all about homeowners. Residents are concerned about the rising cost of the average apartment, which is vested mostly on the new neighbors. So it's really quite neighborly to be concerned about the proliferation of all the new luxury apartments and their ever increasing cost!

Jonah should follow the money. Who is getting rich off the growth? Hint: It's generally not the residents, and certainly not the EXISTING apartment renters.

Another aspect which is concerning for ALL actual residents (not those living in SF and commuting to Mountain View) is the fact that the growth has pumped up LAND values and retail rents to the point that companies like REI and Petsmart can't afford to operate in the Mountain View environment anymore. This affects tons of small businesses which makes all the vacancies on Castro Street too. Land is too costly. Why?


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Jan 16, 2022 at 3:04 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

Another concern some residents perceive is that their rent control is threatened by the high vacancy rates in the newly constructed luxury apartments. Already, the vacancies are so great that rent control is likely to be suspended. Think about that, Jonah.


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jan 16, 2022 at 4:59 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

I've seen it happen on other articles, and you've been called out on it multiple times by others, but I have to ask, LongResident: do you ever get tired of having to lie all the time?


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Jan 16, 2022 at 10:03 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

It's absolutely true that when residents bemoan new construction they are looking at these giant monolithic new luxury apartment complexes. Maybe not everyone realize the units in there go for $5K per month. It's a hidden factor that many units are vacant. But the vacancy rate in Mountain View is definitely up and I don't think any case can be made that the new construction did NOT contribute to the vacancy rate.

I'm just guessing what Randy is complaining about. Perhaps he would clarify. Anyway, people who don't like the massive complexes don't necessarily have anything against the people who can afford to live there. That's an erroneous assumption made by Jonah. It reminds me of the YIMBY's saying that people who don't like that monstrosity proposed for Vallco are nothing but NIMBY's. Just because you don't like a giant experimental gaudy artificial mountain being created to surround new housing doesn't even mean you dislike the new housing. Assumptions are misleading.


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Jan 16, 2022 at 10:09 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

Also, most people I have heard who complain about new construction are focused on what is being torn down to build it..... Them's the facts.


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jan 16, 2022 at 10:18 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Jan 16, 2022 at 10:42 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

Honestly, the entire piece consists of what are known as forward looking statements, which cannot ever be lies. They can be misleading. So any comment on the article in response has a similar status. But even though this is whizzing into the wind, it needs to be said that the perception that local residents are hostile to newcomers is just patently false. The concerns of today's residents soon become the concerns of the newcomers.

There are a lot of younger people who don't have the perspective to see the truth. Ignoring other input is not the way to gain perspective. The rude people are the ones who belittle those who attempt to provide a more well rounded viewpoint..... with ad hominem attacks because they don't know how to object to the truth, because it is so darn TRUE.




Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jan 16, 2022 at 10:51 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

Are you really shifting into ageism now? Is there no depth you won't stoop to here?


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 17, 2022 at 5:42 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Providing city services is kind of like hosting a party. If you have a house that can hold 25 but only has one bathroom and limited parking, you just might be able to host 25. Guests will have to wait when nature calls, you will likely peeve off the neighbors re parking, but it might work. If you decide to invite 50 guests instead, however, during the winter and without increasing the budget, the party will be a nightmare. Guests will leave because there won't be enough food or room in the house, guys will pee in the backyard, there might be calls to the cops about blocked driveways or noise issues.

Putting 10 lbs of stuff into a 5 lb bag doesn't work: you need to make the bag bigger. Duh! It costs $$$ to make the bag bigger. THIS IS A SIMPLE TRUTH, not a “misguided talking point.”

Pro-density folks seem to minimize concerns about the impact on schools, water supply, traffic & parking as quote-unquote “quality of life” issues, then they pooh-pooh them because “people are homeless!”. Persons like me who raise such issues are regarded with contempt: "NIMBYs are there whining about parking, and shadows, and parking, and neighborhood character, and parking, and the drought, and parking, and traffic, and parking." Net effect is to build support for developers making huge profits without paying much to “enhance the bag” (a.k.a. privatize the profits, socialize the costs). The screams will come (such as over school overcrowding), only much later so the bill will be foisted upon the public at large.

“Resident Bill Lambert said Mountain View cannot have a narrow focus on increased density without a commensurate increase in transportation services, school capacity and parks and open space.” Web Link

Well said Bill! Those who make massive profits from density (Google, developers) should pick up the tab required to enhance the infrastructure to support the massively increased population.


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
23 hours ago

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

I think the most rewarding part of Leslie's posting on this website is how it's almost the exact same content, over and over, regardless of context. She never answers any questions, or engages in dialogue, this is mostly a therapy website for her. Good for you, Leslie!


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
9 hours ago

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Randy, I understand the power of propaganda, and that good people can swallow it without realizing it. I have swallowed it myself in the past, now I try to fight it. It is flattering to be targeted by trolls who are unable to speak about issues so they constantly resort to smears and innuendo.

Pro-density folks say things like “I like people,” IMPLYING that those who disagree with them do not. THAT is a true example of a “misguided talking point”. In MV, bills like SB9/10 primarily benefit Google, developers, and those earning > $175K, so “I like rich people” would be a much more accurate statement.

Jonah wants me to welcome thousands of highly paid persons who cast my LEGITIMATE concerns for MV's well-being as “misguided talking points.” It is clever word-crafting and name-calling, even though it is a misuse of the term. My concerns are sincere and genuine, not empty statements that have tested well with focus groups.

Your indirect acknowledgement that expansion of schools is legitimately required and needs to be paid for is a bit of progress! Thx!

You wrote: “Why do you view new neighbors as a "cost" that needs to be mitigated? Surely, we should all pay for our schools together, right? Isn't that what taxes are for?” which reveals a lack of insight into school funding issues.

“In a letter to the Planning Commission, [MVWSD] Superintendent Ayinde Rudolph said the school district faces a massive unfunded obligation to house more than 2,000 new students generated by the projected housing growth, which would require five new schools costing close to $1 billion.” Web Link

Every student deserves a quality education. Passing bills to increase density without plans to fund schools is a deeply cynical ploy to allow Google, developers, and corporate landlords to not pay their fair share. We need Prop 15. Even CA YIMBY agrees. Web Link


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
8 hours ago

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

Leslie, doesn't that feel good? You got to get out all that rage and anger. While I agree with you and the various YIMBY orgs that Prop 15 would have been a great thing to pass, it isn't particularly relevant to your concerns here. Once a new development is built, it's reassessed at market value, so the developers would be paying what you presumably consider their fair share, unlike you and your million+ dollar home.

I saw someone else ask it before, and you (as usual) simply ignored it, but since you seem to be trying to attempt a dialogue,bill give it a shot: what do you think should happen to a city that fails to achieve its affordable housing goals (RHNA)?


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
6 hours ago

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Randy, have you read "Town Square changes" to improve the quality of the reader forum? Web Link

"Several changes to the Mountain View Voice's popular reader forum will be implemented over the next few weeks in an effort to reduce disrespectful commentary and encourage broader, more diverse community participation."

"Town Square is intended to be a place residents can share their opinions, debate local issues and give their feedback on our reporting. But like other social media platforms, it is also used by those trying to manipulate public opinion, create false narratives and incite distrust of institutions, including the media," Johnson said.

"We don't care what your position is on local issues. As long as the comments are made with respect for those with differing opinions, aren't snarky or sarcastic and are not presenting false information, we believe the more diversity of views the better," Johnson said.

"Moderating is an art, not a science, and we have and will make mistakes. But our collective goal as a community should be to talk about issues with civility and, when appropriate, passion, without attacking those who are honestly and respectfully expressing different opinions," he said.

I am doing my best to abide by the Voice's rules re the Town Square. They desire respectful and broad participation from the community, not a pissing match between a small number of players.

You wrote: "I saw someone else ask it before, and you (as usual) simply ignored it"

1) I have seen comments deleted by the mods because they were off-topic. I want to adhere to the wishes of Embarcadero Media and the MV Voice. This isn't Nextdoor.

2) I am not going to participate in a game of gotcha by persons who show little interest in honest and respectful dialogue. Deflection is a debate tactic used when one is losing the argument. I understand that the IP of the person who asked that particular question has been blocked.


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
5 hours ago

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

I suppose I was a bit too optimistic when I said it looked like you were interested in a dialogue. Instead of responding to questions or points, you decided to ignore them and simply start copy-pasting Town Square changes? As someone recently said, "deflection is a debate tactic used when one is losing the argument." God bless, Leslie!


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
4 hours ago

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Mods, I am trying to limit my comments but I want to address a smear ...

Randy- "While I agree ... that Prop 15 would have been a great thing to pass, it isn't particularly relevant to your concerns here."

Not relevant? Prop 15 is directly related to SCHOOL FUNDING!

"Proposition 15 (2020), or the Schools and Communities First Act, would have closed a corporate tax loophole that allows large corporations to avoid paying property taxes at current rates on properties they own. This measure would have reclaimed $11 billion every year to fund schools and strengthen local economies."

The biggest winner from Prop 13 was large CORPORATIONS. Their taxes are frozen too, just like homeowners. That's not what the voters intended, they were trying to protect old people from being forced to sell because they could no longer afford to pay taxes. Prop 15 essentially fixes Prop 13 to make it more like what voters intended.

In all cases, when a property turns over it is reassessed. Residential property turns over much more frequently than biz property, so only a very small portion of residential has rates frozen at decades ago. Biz contracts are written in ways so that ownership never changes, essentially FREEZING RATES FOREVER. Google pays lower effective property tax rates than many (most?) of its workers.

Under SB10, an ownership unit can be converted to up to 10 rental units. Afterwards, the CORPORATE landlord's rates are frozen. The problem comes up years later. Teachers need raises. The rents are increased. The landlord still pays frozen rates! Schools don't have enough $$$ to give teachers raises, ask for bonds. Result: higher taxes for RESIDENTS.

Net result: the burden for funding schools has SHIFTED from a shared responsibility between residents and business to one primarily owned by residents. CA went from having some of the highest per student funding of schools — to among the lowest in the nation, all because large corps are not paying their fair share.


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
3 hours ago

LongResident is a registered user.

There is a lot of damage that can be done by the YIMBY ideas which have been embodied in the RHNA requirements. Not all housing is a priori good, but YIMBY says it is. Leslie's right about school funding but in other ways too. Locally all the office development in North Bayshore yields Zero funding for schools because the tax revenue is completely diverted away from schools into the shoreline regional park special district. This is a very different thing than it was back when the district was created. At the point the revenue growth has been extreme and shoreline park is getting way too much funding.

So ironically, they will add 9000 units of housing there over time, and ONLY THAT property tax revenue will go to schools from the area. It's not enough. The way Mountain View is set up, the commercial property tax revenue is highly important for school operations. So we are in a worse position than other areas adding housing because while Google may choose to contribute to the cost of the housing in de minimis amounts, it doesn't actually have commercial property there yielding school operational funding. Luckily there is a lot of commercial property in other areas of the city which adds jobs too but still NBS is a big problem because it doesn't fund schools like other commercial property does.

And, of course, the lack of Prop 15 hurts too. It's just for the other areas of the city that that takes hold though. Shoreline park can afford the impact on taxes because it's over funded now anyway.


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
3 hours ago

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

I'm sorry to inform you, Leslie, but Prop 15 did not apply to multifamily housing, so it truly is irrelevant to the concerns here.

If it did, why do you think that the "costs" of a single-family home for services declines in real terms over time (as reflected by the sub-inflation and sub-market growth rate of Prop 13 taxes), while the "costs" per capita for multifamily homes should stay at market?

I truly do want to hear what you think is a reasonable approach to cities that have not met their affording housing targets.


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