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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 (54)

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

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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.

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


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

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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 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
on Jan 17, 2022 at 6:22 pm

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
on Jan 18, 2022 at 9:01 am

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
on Jan 18, 2022 at 9:31 am

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
on Jan 18, 2022 at 12:07 pm

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 Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 18, 2022 at 2:07 pm

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
on Jan 18, 2022 at 2:58 pm

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
on Jan 18, 2022 at 3:12 pm

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.


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Jan 18, 2022 at 6:41 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

$32 Billion property tax base in Mountain View with 80% of taxes going to school districts. Of the $32 Billion in valuation, only about $20 Billion is residential. So 40% of the revenue received by schools comes from non residential. But Leslie's right that this should be more like 50%. Prop 13 has given the non residential owners a hefty advantage, whether you count the multifamily residential or not. Only $5 Billion comes from multifamily residential. Adding new multifamily residential depends heavily on taxing the commercial properties to support schools.


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jan 18, 2022 at 7:05 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

The LAO took a look at this claim, and found that the mix of property taxes has only changed slightly, and that Prop 13 was not a major cause of any change (Web Link For some reason, I'm skeptical this will change either of your minds.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 19, 2022 at 12:31 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Randy, your source does not make definitive conclusions, it's full of hedge words. Also the same office published “Understanding [CA's] Property Taxes” Web Link
“There is little statewide information regarding the composition of [CA's] property tax base over time. Based on the available information … it appears that homeowners may be paying a larger percentage of total property taxes today than they did decades ago. We note ... the assessed value of owner–occupied homes has increased from a low of 32 percent of statewide assessed valuation in 1986–87 to a high of 39 percent in 2005–06 ... It also appears likely that owners of commercial property are paying a smaller percentage of property taxes than they did decades ago.”

But we have wandered from your main point: “Surely, we should all pay for our schools together, right?” I agree! Those who understand school funding know that our funding system is broken, thanks to Prop 13. Pro-density folks see Prop 13 as unfair. Oddly, they direct their ire solely at ordinary homeowners rather than large CORPORATIONS or CORPORATE landlords who prey upon renters.

To increase funding, there are 3 options:
1) pass emergency bills (paid entirely by residents, not biz)
2) repeal Prop 13
3) fix Prop 13 by passing Prop 15
Option 1 has been the norm, but it violates our shared goal: “we should all pay for our schools together.” Repealing Prop 13 would return us to the last century when older persons were forced to sell their homes because they could no longer afford to pay their taxes. Is this the world that young folks want? Yes, it would increase the supply of homes available to buy, but it's rather cruel don't you think? And old folks should not feel threatened now because ... ?

Prop 15 is the most humane and fair option: “we should all pay for our schools together.” Google and predatory landlords (who got SB10!) should not grow rich from density while public schools starve.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 19, 2022 at 1:28 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Remember:

“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.”

The pro-density (“don't worry, be happy”) crowd apparently thinks the above is nothing but another “misguided talking point”. Move along everybody, nothing to see here. The net result if they succeed is that nothing will be done until the situation reaches a crisis (that most reasonable people can foresee now!): a large number of students living in the new housing are experiencing overcrowding, etc, that will come from a lack of the five new schools THAT ARE REQUIRED. At that point an emergency bill for $1 Billion (!) will be crafted in order to help these poor kids and the superhero teachers struggling in overcrowded classrooms to teach them. Google will not be asked to pay a dime, of course, because emergency bills always fall on the shoulders of ordinary residents, not business.

I say that ignoring the needs of these new students now is ridiculous, short-sighted, cruel, and a cynical attempt by those who will PROFIT FROM DENSITY to get “little people” in MV to pick up the tab on their behalf. Follow the money, it's always about the money. Shame on Google.

“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.”

Exactly. Ignoring the PREDICTABLE problems that will come from density is just a strategy to kick the can down the road and let the community suffer and eventually be forced to pick up the tab to solve the mess.

I like people plenty, but not those who scheme to achieve what is best for themselves regardless of the NEGATIVE IMPACT ON OTHERS. Those people peeve me off a great deal, especially when they are rich and powerful.


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jan 19, 2022 at 1:55 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

My skepticism has been shockingly proven correct. You can see clearly under the section "Did Proposition 13 Cause Residential Properties to Pay a Larger Share of Property Taxes?" that their conclusion is: "Homeowners pay a slightly larger share of property taxes today than they did when Proposition 13 passed. Proposition 13 does not appear to have caused this increase."

It debunks your claim that "residential property turns over much more frequently than biz property."

It also debunks your claim that "only a very small portion of residential has rates frozen at decades ago," as about 33% each of residential and commercial/industrial properties have had at least 20 years since their last reassessment.

On top of all of this, you don't seem to understand what Prop 15 would have actually done. You mentioned a conversion to 10 rental units to support your claim that we'd need Prop 15, but as I pointed out, Prop 15 did not apply to multifamily housing.

In spite of all of this, I'd still like to know what you think should happen. What should happen to cities that haven't satisfied their affordable housing targets (RHNA)? Since Prop 15 didn't pass, in spite of the efforts of YIMBYs and others, what should Mountain View do in the meantime, halt all market-rate construction until it passes? I'd love for you to just state some specific things that we should do as a city, rather than just rant about who is evil and who we should be angry at.


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2022 at 2:54 am

LongResident is a registered user.

The most recent LEO report is full of handwaving on many issues. But as an example of how faulty are there conclusions, notice the part where they opine that perhaps homeowners pay a larger share of property taxes because there are more properties being taxed. You can twist that around all you want, but it still amounts to absurd handwaving.

Anyway, we don't need to know that commercial property is not paying the same original share. We could adopt something like Prop 15 simply in order to charge more for commercial properties, regardless of how the ratio has or has not changed over the years.

But in the case of MVWSD, I think Ayende Rudolph is vastly overestimating the likely growth in school children in his district. It's all a mirage.


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jan 20, 2022 at 8:38 am

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

There's that Gish Gallop you use in every discussion.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 20, 2022 at 11:08 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Randy, I would rather stick to the big picture rather than roll in the weeds.

Pro-density folks have a political movement in place to SILENCE THOSE WHO DISAGREE with them. The CA YIMBY movement (funded by Big Tech and Big Real Estate, never forget) inspires many to call those who disagree a “NIMBY”, an act that is only slightly more polite than spitting in a person's face. We are cast as racist, xenophobic, Trump supporters. We are mocked for valuing “quality of life” in our community. Jonah now uses/abuses the term “misguided talking point”: we are not “mistaken”, no, we are intentionally spreading misinformation, and implies that all right-thinking people should ignore us. Google "Demonizing_the_enemy".

SB9/10 both silence the opposition of neighbors in order to “streamline” the approval process. Voters were never given the opportunity to vote on them; polling showed they were deeply unpopular - Web Link . Newsom never signed them until immediately after his recall vote was over. RHNA has uniquely and unfairly singled out MV to achieve spectacular housing growth, but has not explained how their numbers were calculated.

Randy, I thought you and I had at least agreed that increased density will require additional funding for schools: “we should all pay for our schools together.” I'm not sure where you stand on that now. Both yimbyaction and I agree that large corporations (such as Google, and those who own large mega-apartment complexes, including those that will be created under SB10) should not have their property taxes frozen under Prop 13. We support Prop 15, to increase their property taxes to market rates and better fund local schools and city governments like MV. Web Link

SB10 helps Google, but not Googlers. It replaces OWNERSHIP units with RENTAL units.


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jan 20, 2022 at 12:30 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

Leslie, please, I'm begging you, just take a few moments to have a dialogue instead of deflecting. You made some specific factual claims, which are simply false, after which you decided it's not worth "roll[ing] in the weeds". As someone once said, "deflection is a debate tactic used when one is losing the argument."

I don't know how many times and in how many different ways I can point out that Prop 15 does not affect apartments, mega-complex or otherwise. Furthermore, those apartment complexes being built will pay more towards services per capita than an existing single-family home, even if only because it's new construction that's been reassessed to its proper market rate.

RHNA's calculations are entirely public, anyone who's interested can easily see how they made them, and, no, Mountain View was not singled out.

Please, please, please, work to achieve some common understanding here. What should happen to cities that haven't satisfied their affordable housing targets (RHNA)? Since Prop 15 didn't pass, in spite of the efforts of YIMBYs and others, what should Mountain View do in the meantime?


Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 20, 2022 at 4:15 pm

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

- L and R and the Proposition 15 issue, new corporate property taxes.
I think that 'horse has left the barn' for now? Yes?

BUT LOCALLY, think about North Bayshore, Shoreline = "Community" quasi-Redevelopment District (formed 1969 by special legislation). This TAX DIVERSION district was not dissolved in the recent Brown Governorship when all the rest of the RDAs in the state, Castro Streets included, were shutdown. Instead of millions of dollars PER YEAR of regular old property tax (to schools, city, county, etc) GOOGLE PAYS 'ALMOST ALL' IT's PROPERTY TAX to Shoreline, a district completely controlled by the City Council.

There must now be over 5-6 Billion dollars of real-property out there (AV - Assessed Valuation)

An old state law is just a law. Your Assemblyman and your State Senator could sponsor a repeal/winding down.

Then this (diverted) tax revenue money would be available for schools and direct city-wide services.

SunSet on Shoreline. Oh - how I wish


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 21, 2022 at 12:09 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Steven, Prop 15 only NARROWLY failed in 2020, there is no reason why it cannot be put on the ballot again. IMHO, it MUST be put on the ballot again, the problems caused by Prop 13 are a cancer that must be killed. Prop 13 allows the rich to grow richer (and thus more powerful) while ordinary citizens suffer. Thank you for sharing info about taxation and the Shoreline district, I was not aware and would like to learn more. Can you elaborate, or better yet share links where I and others can learn more?

Randy, you consistently make false assertions using a condescending and patronizing tone. The latest example: "RHNA's calculations are entirely public, anyone who's interested can easily see how they made them, and, no, Mountain View was not singled out." Oh really? Please provide links if you can. I'll wait.

"Many cities have protested against their housing allocation this year, insisting that the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) is mandating too much housing growth ... [MV] did not file an appeal, but did send a letter with concerns about the high amount of growth being asked of the city. The letter notes that Mountain View is being asked to build the most housing, as a percentage of existing households, in the region among cities with more than 5,000 residents, and that it's unclear how ABAG arrived at some of its numbers." - Web Link

My words are true, MV is being UNIQUELY SINGLED OUT. What other city is told to grow by > 30%?

Your primary goal appears to be to play "gotcha" with me, while you feign a desire for dialogue. Where do YOU stand on issues? I stand by my words: "the burden for funding schools has SHIFTED from a shared responsibility between residents and business to one primarily owned by residents." Nothing LAO wrote makes those words false. Density will require new school capacity or kids will suffer.


Posted by Carolyn Ober
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 21, 2022 at 12:26 pm

Carolyn Ober is a registered user.

An increase of new residents from other locales has diluted the quality of life in both Mountain View & Palo Alto. Los Altos has somehow managed to avoid this conundrum by way of its overly expensive residential real estate and selective sales.

Less is more. The mid-peninsula has become far too densely populated.


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2022 at 2:02 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

The singling out issue is purely a matter of opinion. For one thing there are two aspects to this, the housing number and the affordable housing number. The regional numbers used the exact same proportion of affordable vs. market rate for every city. This demonstrates how the process treats different cities inconsistently, because some subsidy is needed for the affordable housing. Different cities have different resources and furthermore the cost of land varies between cities. This is not a trivial issue.

Bottom line, I feel that the issue in the state is largely one of needing more affordable housing subsidies, and sources other than city coffers are needed to do this. If you want to put the affordable projects in expensive cities with a lack of infrastructure and suitable locations and reasonably priced land, then that can be done but it needs to be a state cost, not a city cost.

The only reason this is not obvious is that these RHNA quotas are just generally not going to be met, period. Punishment won't correct things. SB35 projects in Atherton or Beverly Hills are never going to happen--not in any numbers that will wind up in those cities then meeting the RHNA goals anyway. Cities where land costs $20 Million an acre are at a disadvantage, in general, but especially so where large office projects are not ever going to be a motivating factor.


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jan 21, 2022 at 2:21 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

Leslie, once again, I am asking you to please, please, please try to understand the issues at hand and present an affirmative case for what you think *should* happen.

ABAG's page describing RHNA: Web Link
ABAG's Final RHNA PDF: Web Link

You can dive as deep as you want into how they determines these things, since they are a public body that has public meetings.

As for growth, Brisbane is asked to grow by 84%, Colma 41%, Milpitas 31%, Emeryville 27%, Millbrae 27%, Burlingame 26%, Santa Clara 25%, etc.

You keep saying that the tax burden has shifted, but the facts of the matter contradict your claims. Simply look at the LAO analysis, please. The mix of property taxes is roughly the same as it has been, so how can you say that it's now "primarily" residents? It's not "gotcha" to presume that words have meaning and claims can be checked against reality.


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2022 at 4:05 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

Mountain View has issues with the the Shoreline billions of mainly all offices. So look at Palo Alto then. $40 Billion total assessed valuation, of which $29 Billion is valuation for residential properties, 73%

Mountain View has heavily catalyzed the development of office space, in the excluded Shoreline district and elsewhere. Still in the normal part of the city, the breakdown is $20 Billion residential out of $32 Billion, 60%. The office space allowed to proliferate in Mountain View creates demand for housing. Its tax revenue still doesn't pay as much of the services for new housing as do the current residents. Yeah, for sure, time to abolish the Regional Park diversion. What's especially concerning is that Mountain View and others expect adjacent cities to house the new Mountain View workers. They don't get any of the office tax revenues. Unfortunately, Sunnyvale is even WORSE in this regard.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 22, 2022 at 2:49 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

@Randy, you said "RHNA's calculations are entirely public, anyone who's interested can easily see how they made them, and, no, Mountain View was not singled out." I provided evidence that the MV City Council does not understand the algorithm used to generate targets for MV. I repeat: "The letter notes that Mountain View is being asked to build the most housing, as a percentage of existing households, in the region among cities with more than 5,000 residents, and that it's unclear how ABAG arrived at some of its numbers."

Your comments are false. If "anyone .. can easily see" then please, please, please explain how all ABAG numbers for MV were calculated. You have a history of sharing links that don't actually say what you say they do. If you think I am dishonest, or an idiot, spell it out for me to show everyone that you are right and I am wrong. I'm still waiting for someone, anyone, to explain exactly how building thousands of housing units in MV for the highest wage earners will lower the rent for anyone else. I've heard only crickets.

Your question about how best to punish cities that don't achieve RHNA targets assumes that 1) the targets are fair and reasonable, and 2) that cities are somehow to blame for not achieving the targets. I have seen no evidence that either assumption is true. The last targets set for MV are nothing but an unfunded mandate handed down from unaccountable state politicians, who dishonestly passed SB9/10 under the guise of "affordable housing". To increase MV housing by 11,000+ units and simultaneously create 6,000+ BMR units requires our city council to pull a genie out of a hat. Left to their own devices, developers will NEVER EVER EVER submit any kind of proposals that will achieve both goals.

SB9/10 DO NOTHING to help low income and average earners who are being crushed by high rents, and EVERYTHING to help create more high cost units that are only "affordable" to the highest wage earners in MV (think "Googlers").


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jan 22, 2022 at 3:24 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

Leslie, I'm at a loss. About RHNA and how it was calculated, you asked me: "Oh really? Please provide links if you can. I'll wait." I responded with links, like you asked, that clearly describe how RHNA numbers were reached. Now, you say you won't trust any links I send due to an outright false claim about me. Why did you ask me for links in the first place if you had no intention of reading them?

At this point, I simply have to conclude that have no real interest in learning about these issues or having a rational discussion.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 22, 2022 at 4:10 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Randy wrote: "RHNA's calculations are entirely public, anyone who's interested can easily see how they made them, and, no, Mountain View was not singled out."

Randy lied. The links that he provided do not say what he claims they say. The calculations are NOT easy to see. He knows this when he says, "You can dive as deep as you want into how they determines these things ..." He himself is unable to provide any kind of cogent explanation. Once again, his response is to provide a link and falsely claim that the answers are buried deep inside, then attack the character of anyone who is unable to find them. So much for respectful dialogue.

Neither the MV City Council nor I understand why MV was uniquely singled out among cities with populations over 5,000 to grow our households by over 30%. That remains a true statement.


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jan 22, 2022 at 4:40 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

Leslie, they're not buried inside, there's a big picture in the ABAG PDF called "Final RHNA Methodology Overview," which is reasonably straightforward. Granted, there are plenty of details, but I don't think it's reasonable for you to expect me to write in the comments section of a newspaper website an entire summary of a multi-year process that spans multiple jurisdictions and stakeholders.

The information is there for people that are interested to read it, along with other supporting documents and meeting notes. It's actually a really interesting deliberative process!

Even if you disagree with RHNA, what should happen to cities that, by your assessment, have do not have enough affordable housing? Please keep from falling back into personal attacks like you've been doing.


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jan 22, 2022 at 5:02 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

As a slight factual aside, your claim that "MV was uniquely singled out among cities with populations over 5,000 to grow our households by over 30%" is false. Milpitas's RHNA growth is 31% for the upcoming cycle, and they have a population over 5000. If you relax the 30% threshold, there are plenty of cities of that size that have growth percentages in the mid-to-high 20s


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Jan 22, 2022 at 6:14 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

It's pretty ludicrous to believe that there is truly a need for cities to grow by 30% ! It's only an 8 year period. It will never happen. Check it out in 2031!


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 23, 2022 at 10:01 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Randy, if RHNA's calculations are not easy to explain, you should not have claimed that they were, in an attempt to discredit me. That is exactly what you did, it is appropriate for me to point that out to others.

I want to know the precise algorithm used to generate the targets for every city. I believe in government transparency. I agree with @LongResident, it is ludicrous to set a goal for cities to grow by 30%. Why are these ludicrous targets being set by unaccountable politicians? They are nothing but unpopular and unfunded mandates handed down by state politicians eager to please Big Tech and Big Real Estate, not help ordinary citizens.

I repeat: "The letter notes that Mountain View is being asked to build the most housing, as a percentage of existing households, in the region among cities with more than 5,000 residents, and that it's unclear how ABAG arrived at some of its numbers." Do you disagree with this reporting by the MV Voice? Forgive me, I am away from my home, trying to comfort my mother after the recent death of my father. I don't have access to my normal set of notes, I'm trying to paraphrase as best I can. My point is that I'd like to understand why MV has been singled out to build the MOST HOUSING. If your words are true and Milipitas is being asked to grow by 31%, I find that to be ridiculous too. Two wrongs don't make a right. How on earth did RHNA come up with such aggressive targets, especially for MV, which has a history of doing more then our fair share re housing?

Since there are no actual consequences for failing to achieve the targets, I think they are simply being generated for political reasons to generate political pressure from those who have swallowed the false beliefs that "building more housing of any kind" will lower the cost of rent for most wage earners. Poppycock. Truly affordable housing in MV requires funding. Punishing MV for not achieving goals is like sending the poor to debtors' prison. Dickensian. We need Prop 15.


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jan 23, 2022 at 11:15 am

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

I'm very sorry for your loss, Leslie.

As for RHNA, I said they were easy to see, which is why I provided links to ABAG's publication about how they arrived at the numbers. That doesn't mean I'm going to write the equations for how various government bodies have modeled population growth using my phone on a newspaper comments section, and I don't think it's a great imposition if you care about the issue to spend the time to read through. The process has been entirely transparent, over multiple years, and even a member of our city staff served on the Housing Methodology Committee for ABAG (you can see them listed in the report).

30% growth over roughly the next eight year doesn't seem particularly "ludicrous" in a booming economy. That's only a little over 3% annualized growth.

I've repeatedly asked you what you think the consequences should be for failing to achieve the targets, and the most I've gotten is that you don't think the targets are fair and you think the cities aren't to blame even if they don't achieve them.


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Jan 23, 2022 at 2:42 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

3% annualized growth is HUGE over a multi year period. Some years you can even see shrinkage when you look over time. Texas is the fastest growing state for all sorts of reasons. Still it only grew from 25 Million in 2010 to 29 Million in 2020, or average 1.6% per year flat rate. It's unrealistic to think that this type of growth rate will occur in California, let alone 3%.


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jan 23, 2022 at 2:50 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

California had an annualized growth rate of just under 3% for 50 years, from 1950 to 2000.


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Jan 23, 2022 at 3:10 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

On the other hand, over the last 10 years the annual growth rate for California has been 0.5%..... In a city like Mountain View, having added so many new housing units in the past 8 years makes it much harder to continue adding going forward. It doesn't look like a good investment considering other locations. So many Mountain View residents currently work in other cities that it makes sense to add housing for them there. It's a much better investment to add housing in Palo Alto, and they are under the gun to allow that even more than they have been doing in the past. So the competition will be felt against potential investment in Mountain View.


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jan 23, 2022 at 3:14 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

How do you think the growth rate of California and the decreasing affordability of housing in desirable areas are related?

Just to be clear, you think there is, and will be, a lack of desire to build in Mountain View? I must be misinterpreting because that seems facially absurd. That must be a relief to Leslie, since it means there's no danger of homes being built here!


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Jan 23, 2022 at 3:37 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

Just because there will be a reduced interest doesn't eliminate growth. But yes, there will be a reduced interest. Also if Palo Alto succeeds with their growth it will tie up local construction resources too. None of this new market rate construction will increase affordability. All new properties rent for above the local average rent. The only thing that reduces rent is to build BMR units, and then mostly for the tenants in those units, not others.


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jan 23, 2022 at 3:50 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

If you are claiming that there is no way to reduce the cost of market price of housing outside of subsidies, I'm not sure there's much fruitful discussion to be had on that topic.


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Jan 23, 2022 at 7:22 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

This opinion piece doesn't refer to any sort of effort to reduce the cost of housing for new residents. Instead it addresses a myth that existing residents are hostile to new people. I'd say that the only reason the existing residents dislike the new projects is in fact due to their style and cost. The new housing pushes up the average rental rates for housing units across the city. But you can demonstrate that people aren't hostile to new residents by means other than considering the cost of the housing. For one thing, it's also true that the demand for land has pushed up the cost of land in the city. This makes the city in fact hostile to businesses such as auto repair and big box retail. People don't like seeing the retail services shrink as they have been doing.

The thing that is in limited supply is land. We have probably got enough housing units. We need some subsidized housing for lower income people and that includes the currently unhoused living on the streets. But the YIMBY's like to claim that just building any housing at any impact is the solution, and it's not.


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jan 23, 2022 at 7:57 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

There's that Gish gallop again, LongResident. The words you write have to have some meaning.

Do you honestly believe that there are enough homes in Mountain View? With the average home price in the multimillions, rents at absurd levels, and we have people forced to live in their vehicles, you are somehow going to say there are enough homes?


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Jan 24, 2022 at 6:17 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

Yeah, what the RV dwellers need is for Mountain View to build more new $3 Million condos. Then they could each move into one of these. That's the solution! Subsidized BMR units aren't for RV dwellers.


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jan 24, 2022 at 7:07 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

You literally just said that there are enough homes here, and now you're just deflecting away from it. Do you actually stand by anything you write, or will you gallop on to the next thing?


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