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Mountain View banks on commercial redevelopment in order to meet state housing goals

Original post made on Mar 13, 2022

State housing requirements are forcing the city of Mountain View to dig deep to find ways to spur residential growth over the next eight years, including a possible mass conversion of commercial properties into housing.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, March 9, 2022, 1:31 PM

Comments (11)

Posted by That MV guy
a resident of Jackson Park
on Mar 13, 2022 at 10:36 pm

That MV guy is a registered user.

We have already lost enough retail space to developers of homes and officer space that are gone forever. We lost the Mayfield Mall site and the Old Mill site, The former REI shopping center is threatened and half of the San Antonio Shopping center is gone or going away.

No more please. Space for stores is becoming a precious commodity here, and I have no desire to go to Palo Alto or Sunnyvale to shop. Some things just are not good for online purchasing. For example, clothing you cannot inspect for quality and feel, nor even try on for fit. We need stores, and people wanting to start store businesses need places to do so.

Do NOT turn my home town into a bedroom community, please. Good day.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 14, 2022 at 12:55 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Right on, @That MV Guy! “Do NOT turn my home town into a bedroom community, please.” Let me add: Do NOT turn my home town into Google's own company town, over the objections of EXISTING RESIDENTS!

It is outrageous that “State housing requirements are forcing the city of Mountain View to dig deep to find ways to spur residential growth over the next eight years, ” without any/sufficient urban planning to address the issues that higher density will bring: schools, water supply, traffic congestion, parking, etc., etc., etc.

Recently Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond and REI left MV because “there was a "mutual interest" not to renew the leases.” “The existing zoning for the property is industrial and allows for limited manufacturing, research and development uses. ” - Web Link

The comments on the news item are revealing. One person wrote:

“It's about time this was cleared up. Every employee that I spoke with at the remaining stores said that housing was the reason for the store closures. And yes MV needs more housing, MV also needs commerce, retail stores, places for those of us who live here to shop. Besides, would rather have larger stores right next to the freeway than some kid's bedroom window; imagine breathing in all that clean auto exhaust. And housing on that street would be catastrophic for traffic.”

Another comment: “"The existing zoning ... allows for ... research and development uses"

>>Tell me Google is moving in without telling me Google is moving in.”

Why is the MV City Council not fighting back against state politicians, as other communities are doing?

“Bernie Sanders: No To Oligarchy

While the middle class disappears and more Americans fall into poverty, the wealthiest people in our country are using their wealth and political power to protect their privileged status at everyone else's expense.” - Web Link

We need less office development in MV, not less retail.

PS. Names to watch: "In all three cases, Mayor Lucas Ramirez and council members Alison Hicks, Pat Showalter and Sally Lieber voted in favor."


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Mar 14, 2022 at 2:46 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

[Post removed due to personal attack]


Posted by richlangston
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Mar 15, 2022 at 3:18 pm

richlangston is a registered user.

It's weird to see people dying on the hill of "we need more retail" when only large box stores can survive in the Amazon era. That ship has sailed, there is no demand for that. We need rents to stabilize or go down so people can afford to live here. For that, we need housing units.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 16, 2022 at 12:59 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

"We need rents to stabilize or go down so people can afford to live here."

Agreed! That is so true! If only someone could come up with a solution that will do that.

Building MORE housing of any kind is not the answer. We do not need thousands and thousands more expensive, market-rate units to be filled with thousands and thousands of out of area tech workers who are paid fantastic salaries. That is not going to make rents stabilize or go down, it will do the EXACT OPPOSITE: it will INCREASE the Area Median Income.

Building more AFFORDABLE housing is what is needed, but that takes funding. The problem is: where will that funding come from?

The state is now mandating that MV increase the number of housing units by 32% - a staggering amount - over the next eight year RHNA cycle, but does not provide any funding for AFFORDABLE housing. Result: BMR targets will not be met, but targets for market-rate units will be wildly exceeded (perhaps 650% of target, as in the last 8 year cycle). Surprise!

State politicians have passed, over the objections of residents, SB9 and SB10, in the name of "affordable housing", only these bills do nothing to create AFFORDABLE housing. They simply remove obstacles for developers to create more expensive, market-rate housing.

The pain of the public over housing costs is being exploited to generate profits for developers and Big Tech.


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Mar 16, 2022 at 3:39 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 Mar 16, 2022 at 10:01 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

No real estate money looking for a return on investment is going to build housing so as to be more affordable. It's obvious that all new housing that is not BMR always goes for ABOVE the current avg cost. That's no accident. Investments need to make money, costs for construction and land price are all up. This means NEW housing always costs more. You can't drop the avg price with new building, unless a whale of a lot of investors lose money, and that's not practical to expect.

Even construction of more market rate housing in adjacent cities could well have an impact on the volume constructed in Mountain View and vice versa. Developers do not want to come even close to saturating the demand. The truth is there is no reliable data on the actual vacancy rate because new buildings always hold back units and meter them out gradually so as to avoid reducing prices more than they need to in response to reduced demand. It's the same principle used by OPEC. It's not rocket science.

The issue with zoning shopping centers into housing is that it would just shift some of the construction to new locations. It might delay redevelopment of some areas like Castro City or lower rent aged buildings near San Antonio Center. A developer might feel that they could get even higher rents for a brand new luxury bldg at Blossom Valley Shopping than in these other areas with current low rent apartments. That's the only potential plus I can see for adding mixed use residential onto these little isolated shopping areas that were part of Suburban development back in the day. Otherwise, it's a bust, SPRAWL. But these are different land owners. Blossom Valley is owned by a shopping center REIT which has a lot of these high-income shopping centers in suburbia. It's not clear that they will bite at this idea, because their current model works for them. There's a lower vacancy rate at Blossom Valley Shopping Center than in just about any other retail area...


Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Mar 17, 2022 at 10:37 am

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

Moderators, I think you need to address your moderation standards here; you allow falsehoods and misleading information to stay up, while deleting pointed criticism.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 17, 2022 at 1:22 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

@LongResident, your logic is sound, I agree:

"No real estate money looking for a return on investment is going to build housing so as to be more affordable. It's obvious that all new housing that is not BMR always goes for ABOVE the current avg cost. That's no accident. Investments need to make money, costs for construction and land price are all up. This means NEW housing always costs more. You can't drop the avg price with new building, unless a whale of a lot of investors lose money, and that's not practical to expect."

TBH, I like the idea of retail on the ground floor, with housing units up above, especially at major shopping centers. I don't think that such construction is going to lower average rents, for the reasons that you mention. Such housing units would have access to better transportation options, because they are located at a popular "destination" where others want to go. In addition, the residents would more likely be able to satisfy some of their shopping needs without the use of a car, they could simply walk instead. But I know little about shopping center management and any downsides that they might see with this model.

You wrote: "It might delay redevelopment of some areas like Castro City." Can you elaborate? I'm not sure what you mean by "Castro City", is that a reference to the downtown area? Seems to me that restaurants and retail on the ground floors with housing units above would be a good idea for that area. Are you saying that adding shopping centers to the list of proposed sites might be used to postpone such construction in the downtown area and simply divert construction to these other sites instead?


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Mar 17, 2022 at 2:11 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

Not all shopping centers are the same. Compare potential housing replacing or rising above stores at these shopping centers: Bailey Park, Monta Loma (Safeway at Middlefield/Rengstorff), Blossom Valley, 121 E El Camino Real (24Hr Walgreens)

The logic about easy access to transit only works at 121 E El Camino Real.

I'd say that in all 4 cases though, except for BMR units, any new units on these 4 sites will cost similarly to or even greater than recent new market rate projects on El Camino Real, i.e. $4K/mo for a 1 bedroom rental. The only public benefit is that it could lead to less displacement of naturally affordable units on other sites.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 18, 2022 at 1:48 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

"Not all shopping centers are the same."

Agreed.

"The logic about easy access to transit only works at 121 E El Camino Real."

The point I was trying to make is that major, popular shopping centers tend to have better transportation options because a lot of people want to visit them. I hear you saying that less popular centers don't have good transportation, I think we agree on that. IHMO, building housing units without additional parking only makes sense if other good transportation alternatives are already available. Building housing units at less popular shopping centers, without good transportation, makes much less sense to me. I can envision residents using existing parking spaces for themselves instead of retail shoppers, which would tick off the business owners. And maybe that is one reason why shopping center management might not want housing units on their sites.

"The only public benefit is that it could lead to less displacement of naturally affordable units on other sites."

This is a great point, as it is not existing HOUSING that is being lost and redeveloped, it is existing RETAIL (which is then essentially being replaced with RETAIL and also plussed to add housing units too).

One more benefit, I think, is that finding a bit of common ground with pro-density, pro-developer advocates would be nice, the ones who want "more housing of any kind". IMHO, popular shopping centers would be a great location for increased density for those who desire a car-free, almost urban lifestyle.

"any new units on these 4 sites will cost similarly to or even greater than recent new market rate projects on El Camino Real"

Agreed. The new units would NOT do much to lower rents for income or average-income people, unless funding from the state or elsewhere is provided. But it would do a bit to "increase supply" of housing units.


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