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Google gives an update on its $1 billion commitment to combat Bay Area housing crisis

Original post made on Jul 25, 2022

Three years after pledging to invest $1 billion toward increasing the Bay Area’s housing supply and supporting organizations that combat homelessness, Google released an update on how this commitment is unfolding.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, July 25, 2022, 1:57 PM

Comments (30)

Posted by Seth Neumann
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 25, 2022 at 3:07 pm

Seth Neumann is a registered user.

How does $1B get to be 13,000 units? That's ~ $77,000 per unit. Mountain View is planning to build BMR housing downtown for ~ $1M/unit. What does Google know that we don't? Is this trailers?


Posted by Steven Goldstein
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 25, 2022 at 3:22 pm

Steven Goldstein is a registered user.

Wait a second. They pledged $1B 3 yrs ago and yet only distributed $128M, that is only 12.8% of the promise. And the other $750M has yet to have broken any ground yet. It looks like someone in Mountain View City government got scammed into thinking that this was going to provide a solution to the lack of housing (which is false in reality, people are withholding units and homes). Since the real estate market is about to do a significant correction, some predictions are as low as 20% but some go as high as 50%. The facts are this promise has been broken especially since it is 3 years old.


Posted by Seth Neumann
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 25, 2022 at 5:39 pm

Seth Neumann is a registered user.

Steven:

hy would people withhold rental units from the rental market? Are they accumulating units in a building so they can replace the building without paying off the tenants? What % of rentable units that have previously been rented are being held off the market?


Posted by ivg
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2022 at 7:35 pm

ivg is a registered user.

Read carefully.

"The other chunk of the $1 billion commitment will be in the form of land -- the company is pushing forward a number of housing projects on Google-owned land worth $750 million."


Posted by Steven Goldstein
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 25, 2022 at 10:34 pm

Steven Goldstein is a registered user.

Let me point out that there is proof that landlords withhold units from the market where they cannot get them rented for the prices they want, there is the report in LA here (Web Link
and SF here (Web Link and San Jose here (Web Link

Why is it happening, it is because if they reduce rents their MBS investors will demand to discontinue there investment. So it is better to prevent their MBS from dropping and instead declare a losse of cash flow for tax benefits.


Posted by Seth Neumann
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 26, 2022 at 9:26 am

Seth Neumann is a registered user.

Thanks Steven Goldstein. Seems like a good idea to me: too many people here already. If the Landlords are willing to eat the loss for greater good, more power to them!


Posted by Polomom
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 26, 2022 at 9:51 am

Polomom is a registered user.

Vacancy is up in MV. You can follow the For Rent market in MV easily on Zillow. Most vacant apartments are not under rent control. Currently the San Antonio corridor has the most 243. Of that the new development on the corner of California alone has 166 available units for August/September. The El Camino corridor has 55 and The Americana 30. The last one is probably the only one under rent control. There are still lots of other areas with apartments for rent, about 65. This brings the total available units to about 450. More than I have ever counted. But then these are mostly unaffordable apartments because we approved them that way. If anybody can afford to leave their units empty it is the big corporation, not the small mom and pop operations whose retirement is depending on that income.
Disclaimer: my total number might be off, but I have used this method for the last 3 years, this is by far the most vacancies I have ever seen.


Posted by ivg
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 26, 2022 at 11:03 am

ivg is a registered user.

Right. Because the city can make apartments affordable by waving a magic wand.


Posted by Seth Neumann
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 26, 2022 at 11:22 am

Seth Neumann is a registered user.

well whether you are pro or anti growth, it's pretty clear the city can't make a meaningful change by itself. In any case things have gotten so expensive that more people are leaving then arriving (according to the Merc last week). If "corporate landlords" are really holding units off the market, prices won't go down and affordability won't improve. However they won't hold units forever, and will resell the buildings to someone who wants to operate them and thinks they can get a good return on their investment at rent controlled rates (probably leading to a lower level of maintenance), or they will seek to redevelop the units for ownership or as new market rate properties. OTOH another poster indicates the there are lots of vacant rent-controlled units, so maybe people are just leaving.

My preference is to discourage further office and commercial development here ("does this job really NEED to be done in Mountain View?") until housing supply is in some kind of balance and working people can afford to live here in market rate units.


Posted by Steven Goldstein
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 26, 2022 at 7:25 pm

Steven Goldstein is a registered user.

Polomon, I give you credit regarding stating the number of vacancies. but most advocates of the housing environment will claim there is a shortage of housing in Mountain view thus forcing prices higher.

This is why there needs to be a City Inventory of all housing units both owned and rental units built so as to provide an unbiased report of the current state of the housing market of the city. The database should be designed to not only indicate availability, but class or type of quality of the housing as well as the prices.

However the Realtors and the Apartment Groups are adamantly opposed to just collecting and providing this information to the public.

Probably because it would show the disparity of development and also the possible ties to the City Councils actions of desperate impact housing discrimination regarding building permits and the discrimination impact on the groups defined under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.


Posted by Polomom
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 27, 2022 at 9:27 pm

Polomom is a registered user.

Steven Goldstein, yes, you are right. I would also like to see a spreadsheet of all approved housing projects over the last 7 years and what rent they were approved at. Must be a big discrepancy what was approved and what is actually collected by landlords at move-in. I think our El Camino corridor shows the actual situation of our current housing dilemma: Too expensive - too many empty.


Posted by Steven Goldstein
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 27, 2022 at 9:41 pm

Steven Goldstein is a registered user.

Plomom,

I thank you very much. The definition of a healthy market or better a proper efficient market where values reflect actual values requires the following:

A healthy market is defined here as (Web Link “Ten Essential Principles for Healthy Markets” by David Korten, a market that 1: FAVOR LIFE INTERESTS OVER FINANCIAL INTERESTS, 2: PUT THE COSTS ON THE DECISION MAKER, 3: PROHIBIT UNREGULATED MONOPOLIES AND ABSENTEE OWNERSHIP, 4: Distribute wealth equitably, 5: REQUIRE FULL DISCLOSURE, 6: Share knowledge and technology, 7: Maintain diversity and self-reliance, 8. Manage your borders, 9: CHARTER ONLY PUBLIC PURPOSE CORPORATIONS AND MAINTAIN AN ETHICAL CULTURE, 10: RECOGNIZE GOVERNMENT’S ESSENTIAL ROLE”

I would argue that much of the so called “FREE MARKET” does not comply with much of this definition. Especially ownership where housing units are left unused. David Korten is a graduate of the Harvard Business School and has a Masters Degree from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. I would be more likely to listen to someone like him given his credentials.

So I hope you and I can continue to agree, I think we have had some disagreements in the past, but I always respected your point of view.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 6, 2022 at 10:02 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

I’m in Texas now. Visited Austin yesterday, where I’m told that rents are more than double than they are in the rest of the state. What’s in Austin? Big Tech. It’s so obvious that Big Tech and enormous worker wages is responsible for zooming housing costs, both in Austin and in Mountain View. Yet there are no people here claiming that “lack of supply” is the root cause of the problem. Google execs know that their company is driving up housing costs, which is why they are making this $1B pledge. And most of it is in the form of land, upon which 80% of the housing will be market rate, hence unaffordable to most everyone who does not work for them. So this “pledge” is really not so altruistic, but merely a way to ensure that housing is created for all of the workers that they want to hire. As others have pointed out, most of these workers don’t want to make MV their home or raise their families here, so they don’t value our parks and schools in the same way that homeowners do. State politicians are willing to turn this community into a giant set of dorms for Google, regardless of what the existing residents want. Bernie Sanders has a name for politicians who serve rich and powerful corporations instead of “we the people”: oligarchy. These housing schemes have the smell of wealth inequality all over them, while they masquerade as efforts to increase “affordable housing”. $1B is peanuts to a company like Google, and 80% of the benefits of that $$$ will flow right back to them in the form of unaffordable-to-most market rate housing in places like the NBPP. It’s worth remembering that corporations have a fiduciary duty to maximize value for shareholders, but no obligation to the community of MV whatsoever. Under no circumstances will I vote for Gavin Newsom ever again.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 6, 2022 at 11:17 pm

Frank Richards is a registered user.

Why folks like Leslie are allowed to repeatedly make broad generalizations and demonize her neighbors is beyond me, but that such content is accepted on this site shows just how far the user base here is from the actual people that live in Mountain View. The audacity to state that people struggling to afford housing don't want to raise families here, or "they don’t value our parks and schools in the same way that homeowners do." These are frankly disgusting generalizations, and Leslie, you should be ashamed of yourself. The Voice should be ashamed to allow this to be published next to its reporting.


Posted by Steven Goldstein
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 6, 2022 at 11:43 pm

Steven Goldstein is a registered user.

Frank,

I concur. The facts are many posters here violate the terms of commentary by posting personal attacks and hate speech. I do not know what standards are used by the moderators here


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 7, 2022 at 1:48 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

How am I “demonizing my neighbors”? It is well known that renters and homeowners have different attitudes about the community in which they live. Renters generally don’t make an effort to even know their neighbors, and they are less concerned about aspects of the community like schools and parks. Leaders of MV Yimby frequently advocate before the city council that developer fees on new housing projects represent a hardship on those poor developers. One told me that such fees are essentially a “tax on housing” that should be abolished. When I replied that such fees are used to pay to enhance community infrastructure, such as the construction of new schools and parks to accommodate demand from new residents, they replied that even though they are advocating to DEFUND schools and parks, that doesn’t mean that they don’t value schools and parks. That was a cheesy answer, especially because they don’t advocate for an alternative source of funding. Actions speak louder than words. If MV Yimby LEADERS advocate to DEFUND new schools and parks, then it is not “demonizing” them to say that they don’t care about schools and parks in the same way that long term residents do. Also, I am not part of a movement that uses a pejorative like “NIMBY” to demean and insult those who disagree with me. Many so-called nimbys do not oppose density, we oppose the urban blight that will come if funds do not exist to enhance the existing infrastructure to accommodate the dramatic increase in population that state politicians are unfairly foisting onto MV. Legitimate governments have consent of the governed. Bills like SB9/10 were passed by politicians seeking to curry favor with Big Tech and Big Real Estate. They were a con, they don’t increase “affordable housing” not one little bit, they enable construction of expensive, market rate units that maximize developer profits. Why don’t you respond to my points instead of demonizing me? Have you rented in Austin? Why are rents so high there?


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 7, 2022 at 3:20 pm

Frank Richards is a registered user.

Leslie, take a look at what you're saying. In what other circumstance would it be reasonable for you to make broad generalizations about a majority of Mountain View residents! Just because you believe in stereotypes about people doesn't make them accurate. The absolute gall of saying that most people in the city "don’t make an effort to even know their neighbors, and they are less concerned about aspects of the community like schools and parks" is astounding. What other broad group of your neighbors would you be comfortable generalizing like this about.

That expressing such bigotry and perpetuating stereotypes is acceptable on this comments section is something the Mountain View Voice should be ashamed of, even if you're clearly not.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 7, 2022 at 9:22 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Again, instead of responding to the points that I have raised, the tactic is to demonize me, to accuse me of making broad generalizations that are not true. State politicians have passed UNPOPULAR MANDATES IN THE NAME OF “affordable housing”, mandates that do absolutely nothing to help people at the lower rungs of the economic ladder, but instead help developers maximize profits. Meanwhile the folks in the CA Yimby movement spread evidence free conspiracy theories about SFH owners, that we are racists who are “blocking supply” in order to increase the value of our homes. Talk about believing in stereotypes that aren’t true: such theories are nothing but shameful scapegoating and hate mongering, from the Democratic Party that I have supported for decades. Do you deny that MV Yimby leaders advocate against developer fees that are used to fund construction of new schools and parks? Do you deny that without alternative funding, the result will be overcrowded schools and parks when the population increases by 40%? Where is the outrage from all of my Yimby neighbors over the damage caused to school children over MV Yimby leaders’ advocacy to reduce or eliminate developer fees on new construction? The absence of such outrage is an indicator that these neighbors are indifferent to this issue. Now explain to me how such indifference is an attribute of those who truly care about the MV community and the children who attend our public schools.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 7, 2022 at 9:32 pm

Frank Richards is a registered user.

Leslie, I quoted what you wrote. You came here and said:

"most of these workers don’t want to make MV their home or raise their families here, so they don’t value our parks and schools in the same way that homeowners do."

"It is well known that renters and homeowners have different attitudes about the community in which they live."

"Renters generally don’t make an effort to even know their neighbors, and they are less concerned about aspects of the community like schools and parks."

It's not "demonizing" to hold you accountable for broad generalizations you make about the majority of residents in Mountain View; maybe you got ahead of yourselves and would like to retract these statements, but you seem to prefer doubling down on it. I just wish the Voice didn't tolerate such bigotry and stereotypes next to their reporting.


Posted by Steven Goldstein
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 7, 2022 at 9:42 pm

Steven Goldstein is a registered user.

The real problem is this. The current employment numbers are clearing the way to have at least 2 more .75% increases in the fed rates. That is going to force mortgage rates to at least increase by 1.5%, currently they are at about 5% but that is because the lenders are forced to reduce rates to prevent property value losses.

But that cannot continue. On top of that many Non-Bank Mortgage companies are going out of business due to delinquency and foreclosures. That is dropping the values of the properties AFTER the loans were issued, thus they are losing money there too.

If the rates are pushed back to 6.5%, there is going to be a major property correction. It has already started. For example my building at 184 Centre Street lost $1.1M out of the original $2.55M it was bought or in 2016. That is a loss of 45%. That value is likely based on the cost of razing and rebuilding the building with the current style and amenities.

That means it costs $1.4M to replace this building with 11 units, that must mean it costs only $125K per unit to build this kind of building.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 8, 2022 at 7:03 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

The ones who are bigoted are the ones who use pejoratives like “NIMBY” to anyone who disagrees with any part of their agenda, even those open to density with appropriate urban planning. Those who mock and belittle persons concerned about quality of life issues cannot also claim that they care about the quality of life in MV. In reporting from the Voice about a new park on Calderon, sneering complaints were made that the space should have been used for new housing instead. Don’t tell me now that such persons care about the quality of MV parks. Those who actually care about schools and parks should rise up and object to the efforts of MV Yimby leaders to defund them, instead of making personal attacks against those shining a light on this issue. Those who remain silent are either indifferent to the issue, or actually prefer to maximize the profits of developers over the welfare of public schoolchildren. Don’t tell me that such persons truly care about public school children. Actions speak louder than words.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 8, 2022 at 9:17 am

Frank Richards is a registered user.

You wrote that about *renters*:

"It is well known that renters and homeowners have different attitudes about the community in which they live."

"Renters generally don’t make an effort to even know their neighbors, and they are less concerned about aspects of the community like schools and parks."

If you didn't mean that, there's no harm in admitting that. Otherwise, your view of yourself and the ideas you express seem to be at odds with each other.


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Aug 8, 2022 at 7:10 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

What I would say is that Google specifically draws a lot of people to work in Mountain View who have no interest in residing here long term. They are lured by the obscenely high salaries that Google pays, and the Google benefits like 3 free meals a day with no income tax on that. They don't need to put down roots because they are short termers. They don't even have that many kids. Too young. Other Tech companies aren't so bad as this. Apple for example has older workers. These Apple workers are invested themselves in the community. It's true that Google should be doing more than Apple to mitigate their impact on the community. They make a lot of claims about how they will "improve" downtown San Jose for example, but really they benefit more themselves by what they do.

Thankfully circumstances are changing and perahsp soon Google will not hire so many overpaid workers, or at least not concentrate them all in such a small part of the country.

Note that what I said about Google employees being out of towners doesn't apply to ALL Google workers. The point is that it applies to a great deal of them. Back when they wanted to live in San Francisco, the Google workers didn't provide any support for housing in Mountain View--only for Googles bus service. Bleh.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 9, 2022 at 8:42 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

@Frank, I try to say what I mean and mean what I say. What you call “broad generalizations” is known by others as conventional wisdom. Those who want to prove how wrong I am about how much renters care about public education should rise up and tell MV Yimby leaders how strongly they oppose efforts to end the “tax on housing” that developers pay to help fund schools and parks when new construction is built. I would absolutely love to be proven wrong. But I won’t hold my breath. Big Real Estate is funding the CA Yimby movement for one reason alone: to increase their profits. Never once have I seen a Yimby leader criticize a developer for any reason. Some might say that they know who butters their bread.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 9, 2022 at 9:30 am

Frank Richards is a registered user.

Not often do you see, in 2022, someone defending "broad generalizations" based in "conventional wisdom" about a group of people with some shared characteristics. Is this really OK? Is it fine on the Voice to make such statements about the people who make up a majority of the city (renters)?


Posted by Steven Goldstein
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 9, 2022 at 11:35 am

Steven Goldstein is a registered user.

I just hate the fact that Google has been getting all kinds of gifts by the City of Mountain View where there is no actual work done regarding housing in any significant way. The so called projects have not yet broken any ground, and I suspect they won't Primarily because of the fact that Google refused to hire their IT contractors and in effect moved them out of state. That did major damage regarding non rent controlled unit values in Mountain View.

People have reported record vacancies in the non rent stabilized units because of the drop in demand. I do think there is a a very large market correction occurring here still, but most "websites" have so much economic interest, they cherry pick the data to make it look like things are recovering.

Remember the majority of housing in Mountain View is luxury units and not affordable, and those units are not close to where they were in 2019.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 11, 2022 at 4:30 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

It is amazing to see those who not only make broad generalizations about homeowners, but who make personal attacks against specific individuals and spread hate-filled conspiracy theories that homeowners are racists who are “blocking supply” for nefarious reasons, complain so bitterly that the use of a so-called “broad generalization” is “not OK”. IMHO, spreading demeaning nicknames for a certain group is “not OK”. Defunding schools is not “OK”. Defunding parks is “not OK”. Mocking and belittling those concerned with the quality of life in MV is “not OK”. All in the name of pushing phony solutions to the high cost of housing, solutions that are guaranteed to increase profits for developers but are in no way guaranteed to significantly affect the cost of housing for low income and average workers. When over 85% of new construction is for expensive, market rate, unaffordable-to-most units, it is clear that the “solution” is not primarily intended for the 99%. Again, renters who want to show how much they love MV schoolchildren should tell MV Yimby leaders to start advocating on behalf of the children instead of on behalf of developers.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 11, 2022 at 5:04 pm

Frank Richards is a registered user.

What are you talking about? What does any of this have to do with what you are saying about the majority of people that live in Mountain View (renters)?

"It is well known that renters and homeowners have different attitudes about the community in which they live."

"Renters generally don’t make an effort to even know their neighbors, and they are less concerned about aspects of the community like schools and parks."

That you keep wildly lashing out rather than just saying you got ahead of yourself shows that you find what you wrote embarrassing. There's no harm in admitting that, but I think it's really sad that the Mountain View Voice sees no problem with this content according to its terms of service.


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

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Frank, I think everyone heard you the first and second time you quoted me. Public schoolchildren are under attack. Actions speak louder than words. Have a lovely day.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
7 hours ago

Frank Richards is a registered user.

Lord, grant me the confidence and lack of self-awareness possessed by a millionaire homeowner demanding that renters, in order to prove her harmful stereotypes about them wrong, must endorse precisely her political stance and her intense personal anger at another group. Simply incredible.


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