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City Council contender Justin Cohen wants to represent Mountain View through an app

Original post made on Aug 18, 2022

Mountain View City Council candidate Justin Cohen has never been to a council meeting or served in elected office before. But he believes his rookie status only makes him a stronger candidate for his direct democracy approach.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, August 18, 2022, 11:31 AM

Comments (72)

Posted by Susan
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 18, 2022 at 2:27 pm

Susan is a registered user.

How lovely that Mr. Cohen wants to participate in the democratic process and run for a city council position, even though he has no qualifications beyond the third grade. His naivety is shocking. Polling the "public" via electronic means before every city council vote will produce a biased result of the worst kind. Only those like-minded people he recruits to pay attention to his site will respond. Every other city council member in the past 30 years has pounded the pavement before and AFTER elections to solicit public opinion and to get to know their constituency. His proposed approach is not refreshing. It's terrifying.


Posted by SalsaMusic
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 18, 2022 at 2:46 pm

SalsaMusic is a registered user.

The prior post fails to recognize that the council is already selected in a way that is biased: only the people that vote have their opinions heard. It also excludes a large swath of residents that are ineligible to vote but live in Mountain View: immigrants


Direct democracy is challenging, but not impossible.


Posted by Concerned
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Aug 18, 2022 at 4:19 pm

Concerned is a registered user.

Justin, the people of Mountain View voted to restrict the RV's but the city and the council has failed to honor the wish of the voters. The safe parking lots are full so new lots need to open . I would propose the site of the new proposed park on Calderon in Old Mountain View and the Cuesta Park annex and part of the Cuesta Parking lot. Also, just as new developments have an affordable housing component, they should also have a safe parking component.


Posted by ivg
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2022 at 4:36 pm

ivg is a registered user.

"Direct democracy" just means that a few loudmouths can control the conversation. The reason we still have elected representatives is that that government is far more complicated than Mr. Cohen understands, and ordinary citizens don't have the time to understand the issues.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 18, 2022 at 7:00 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

I agree that issues are complicated, and ordinary citizens don't have a lot of time to understand them. However, the key side effect is that ordinary citizens are more vulnerable to being misled and exploited than ever before.

As the sage said, "Democracy is the worst form of government except for all of the others." The reason we still have elected representatives is the same reason that we use an electoral college to select a president: it is an artifact of history. It is simply NOT TRUE that our elected representatives always do "what is best for all of us". Those of us who are older are aware of many scandals, like Watergate, that show that our elected representatives are vulnerable to doing what is "best for them personally" rather than what is "best for we the people". Translation: politicians strive to please their rich donors, not ordinary citizens. It's a win/win for everyone but the 99%.

Another name for legislation that is passed without "consent of the governed" is TYRANNY.

We don't have a "representative democracy" in the US, we have an oligarchy. "Study: US is an oligarchy, not a democracy" Web Link

"The US is dominated by a rich and powerful elite.

So concludes a recent study by Princeton University Prof Martin Gilens and Northwestern University Prof Benjamin I Page.

This is not news, you say.

Perhaps, but the two professors have conducted exhaustive research to try to present data-driven support for this conclusion. Here's how they explain it:

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.

In English: the wealthy few move policy, while the average American has little power."

I would rather have more "direct democracy" than be ruled over by wealthy elites, such as the rich and powerful Google.

Has anyone else heard of the "Wisdom of Crowds"? It's fascinating stuff. Web Link


Posted by ivg
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2022 at 8:50 pm

ivg is a registered user.

If you own a house in Mountain View, you're part of the wealthy elite.


Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Shoreline West
on Aug 18, 2022 at 10:15 pm

Neighbor is a registered user.

This is a terrible idea. No experience, professes that not knowing what he is doing is a positive, and yes, voting by those who use the app will select of a small subset of the population. Although we live in GoogleLand, I would guess that only the "elites" as Leslie Bain calls them, would use the app. And that is if people took it seriously. If some subreddit caught word of this, they could "gameify" it and send all their votes in to rename Mountain View Gamey McBoatface...


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 18, 2022 at 11:10 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

"If you own a house in Mountain View, you're part of the wealthy elite."

Not at all. Many MV homeowners do not come close to even being in the 1%, we certainly do not belong to the 0.001% that rules this country.

I understand that Google earns several BILLIONS in profit each and every day. It is a profit making machine, so profitable that it can afford to pay incredible salaries to its workers, and offer them amazing benefits. Google execs are part of the 0.001%. Gov Newsom takes their phone calls, and very likely even has them on speed dial. Mark Zuckerberg is buying THE ISLAND OF KAUAI, and building a giant wall to prevent ordinary people from viewing the ocean while driving by his property. He openly breaks the laws that requires him to provide access to the beaches near his property, because all beaches are considered public property. He does not provide access, and the politicians allow him to get away with it because he is richer than God.

MV homeowners don't have anything close to such wealth and power. And compared to homeowners in other communities, such as Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Saratoga, Atherton, we are bums. That is why the state is mandating that MV increase our population by 40%, a requirement that is not being passed down to any other community. It is outrageous and ridiculous. How many tech executives live in MV? The vast majority of them don't live here, they build their mansions in much fancier zipcodes. They want MV to be a worker ghetto. Under capitalism, an employer only hires a worker when they expect to make a profit. The fact that Google wants to hire so many tech workers, and pay them a fortune, indicates the amount of $$$ that they are making.

The question is: should MV be governed in a way that benefits the voters who live here? Or should it be governed in a way that helps Google earn even more $$$?


Posted by MV Resident
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2022 at 10:27 am

MV Resident is a registered user.

Ugh - this reads like an article from the Onion (not the fault of the journalist). Please vote to make sure we elect competent representatives.


Posted by MyOpinion
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Aug 19, 2022 at 10:55 am

MyOpinion is a registered user.

Justin, Your chutzpah is astonishing. You do not think running a city can be THAT complicated? You don't appreciate how an app would be biased and you don't think you should actually understand the issues, let the people (who use the app) decide! The incumbents must be thrilled to see you in this race, do you even know who they are?


Posted by ivg
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2022 at 11:40 am

ivg is a registered user.

"Gamey McBoatface" -- that's a good one.

Leslie, it's not 40% growth, it's more like 20%. But really, it should be 80%. In the 1960s, the city planned for an eventual population of 130,000. I don't know how that got reduced, but I'm sure the homeowner lobby had something to do with it.


Posted by SRB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Aug 19, 2022 at 6:37 pm

SRB is a registered user.

In that vein, maybe the Mountain View Voice should go back to the days of the likes/up-down votes on Town Square :)

Kudos to Justin for answering the call of civic service.

However, he will not get my vote for his litteral "fill in the blanks" platform.




Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 20, 2022 at 8:43 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

@ivg, respectfully, did you read this article in the MV Voice?

"With Mountain View poised to grow by 15,000 units, planning commissioners worry about parks, utilities and public services" Web Link

"Mountain View’s proposed housing element update – a state-mandated process that shows cities can meet housing targets set by Sacramento – suggests that the city will be able to build out nearly 15,000 new units of housing in the next eight years. That’s nearly 4,000 more units than what the state is requiring of the city, leaving some community groups concerned that the plan is too ambitious."

snip

"The EIR evaluated the potential environmental impacts associated with building 15,000 new housing units over the next eight years.

If that maximum scenario is ultimately approved, the city is looking at a 40% increase to its overall housing stock, Commissioner Hank Dempsey pointed out at the meeting."

Where are you coming up with 20%? You are mistaken.

Another Voice article: "Facing a requirement to allow 11K new homes, Mountain View looks to update its housing plans" - Web Link

"State housing mandates are forcing Mountain View to grow quickly, with new zoning requirements that would increase its housing stock by 32% over the next eight years. Now city planners have to figure out where to put it all."

The state is mandating 32%, why the city is going above and beyond that to 40% is just rubbing salt in the wound.

"“That’s huge. That is absolutely huge of an impact,” Dempsey said. “I think that’s important to reinforce because we’re talking about a level of growth, and trying to guess at the impacts of a level of growth, that I don’t know that Mountain View’s ever seen.”" - Hank Dempsey

Over the past 8 year RHNA cycle, 88% of construction were expensive, market rate units. No legislation has been passed to change that going forward, so we can expect that 88% of new units will be completely unaffordable to low income and average workers. This is a boondoggle to help Google house new workers from out of the area, period. But the joke will be on them too, as most construction will be RENTAL, as it has been in the past.


Posted by Another MV Resident
a resident of Willowgate
on Aug 20, 2022 at 8:58 am

Another MV Resident is a registered user.

Wow. Those housing growth numbers are huge. I had no idea. All I can say is, I’m extremely excited for this. Excited to see the growth and improvement of MV.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 20, 2022 at 9:07 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

@ivg - " I don't know how that got reduced, but I'm sure the homeowner lobby had something to do with it." Lovely. You've admitted your lack of knowledge, but insist on making unfounded accusations anyway. This is the very definition of scapegoating and hatemongering. Would you find it acceptable to hurl accusations for which you have zero evidence at any other group but MV homeowners? Where is such hatred coming from? I'm sorry, that's actually a rhetorical question, I know where it's coming from: the CA YIMBY movement, which is funded by developers and spreads propaganda designed to help them maximize their profits.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 20, 2022 at 12:17 pm

Frank Richards is a registered user.

Leslie, everyone saw you talking about how you think renters don't care about their community and other bigoted stereotypes about renters, so please save us the pearl-clutching about how offended you are as a millionaire homeowner.


Posted by Another MV Resident
a resident of Willowgate
on Aug 20, 2022 at 12:40 pm

Another MV Resident is a registered user.

What's the name of this act?

The Developers!


Posted by MyOpinion
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Aug 20, 2022 at 1:18 pm

MyOpinion is a registered user.

@Frank Richards. I know plenty of renters who are articulate and well-informed about the issues facing this city, Justin Cohen clearly is not one of them. Whether he owns, rents, or lives in an RV, he clearly is not qualified.


Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 20, 2022 at 5:46 pm

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

Kudos to Justin for answering the call of civic service.

However, he will not get my vote for his literal "fill in the blanks" platform. [clearly not qualified]

To 'parrot' some others, my sentiments exactly.

It is bad enough when a council majority (exercising 'representative democracy') cannot figure out the people 'voting with their feet' to a city council meeting / may be very, very concerned residents of other cross-Bay communities! (that weed dispensary multi-hour discussion and vote).

@SalsaMusic: In this particular democracy, as most, the right of voting is a right of citizenship / not a right of residence. The rights of a resident is (US Constitution Amendment XIV Section 1. "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."


Posted by ivg
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 21, 2022 at 6:25 am

ivg is a registered user.

Hear, hear. Leslie Bain is opposed to unfounded accusations. I rest my case.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 21, 2022 at 7:18 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Instead of addressing my points, those who disagree with me resort to personal attacks.

I provided a link earlier to “"With Mountain View poised to grow by 15,000 units, planning commissioners worry about parks, utilities and public services"”. From the responses here it is obvious that those who disagree with me don't share those worries. One person even wrote, “Excited to see the growth and improvement of MV,” as if overwhelming the existing infrastructure would somehow be be a GOOD thing.

I have said this many times before, I am not opposed to density, I favor urban planning and am opposed to urban blight. I don't understand why the advocacy of my opponents is for both density AND blight. Even MV Yimby leaders agree that 40% growth is too much. They “submitted comments ahead of the meeting expressing concerns that 15,000 units is too ambitious relative to what the city can actually achieve over the next eight years.”

I also care about schoolchildren, enough to stand up to those who advocate defunding the creation of new public schools, which will be necessary if the population is to grow by 30% or more.

““The fact that (the) Mountain View Los Altos High School District is already over capacity and is going to have more students, was not addressed,” Commission Chair William Cranston said of the draft EIR. “... That seems like an unavoidable impact.”

“Past program EIRs have found that significant residential growth would not have an impact on local schools because developer fees are, at least theoretically, enough to offset the costs of building more capacity for additional students.”

MV Yimby leaders have appeared before the City Council on multiple occasions to testify that those fees, used to build more classrooms and hire more teachers, represent a “hardship” to developers. They fail to grasp that the lack of these fees represents a hardship to PUBLIC SCHOOLCHILDREN. Those who want to call me "bigoted" for caring about this issue ... so be it.


Posted by MyOpinion
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Aug 21, 2022 at 9:22 am

MyOpinion is a registered user.

@Leslie Bain, you are correct on all points. Speaking of blight, at what point does our City Manager and city council open their eyes to see the squalid sub-standard living conditions on our city streets? The growing squalor, crime, and public health violations are alarming. We now have signs prohibiting dumping of human waste (which clearly means it is happening). How did we get to this point? Where is code enforcement? We see 5 gallon buckets outside these RV's I wonder what those could be for? Disgusted with our city, and this has NOTHING to do with the lawsuit, we are sick and tired of hearing that excuse.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 21, 2022 at 10:33 am

Frank Richards is a registered user.

It's not a personal attack to point out that you said "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." and then have the audacity to talk about "unfounded accusations" on millionaire homeowners like yourself.

Can you explain why you think someone who purchased a single-family home shouldn't have to pay for more schools, but a person renting an apartment should be funding it?


Posted by Another MV Resident
a resident of Willowgate
on Aug 21, 2022 at 6:12 pm

Another MV Resident is a registered user.

“One person even wrote, “Excited to see the growth and improvement of MV,” as if overwhelming the existing infrastructure would somehow be be a GOOD thing.”

Hey, that’s me! One thing I’d add is I’m hoping to add these 100s of high rises near downtown and my area. I wouldn’t want anyone to have to suffer living all the way over near Cuesta, no offense.

I dream everyday of Castro and the adjacent blocks lined with 6 story apt buildings and offices, rooftop bars and restaurants, expanded pedestrian malls. And don’t worry about the infrastructure, no one has to ever venture over to your area. We’ll figure how to manage over on this side of town.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 22, 2022 at 7:42 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

@MyOpinion, thank you. I have mixed feelings about the RV issue. I voted against the ban on RVs, but under a functioning democracy, the will of the majority should prevail. I understand your frustration that this is not happening. I would prefer that some kind of solution be found for the RV dwellers plight, instead of just outlawing them. Those who have $$$ tend to find those who do not to be unsightly, I don't think that poverty should be criminalized. I don't understand why a portion of the old Moffett Navy base cannot be permanently converted to safe parking for them. Google execs are allowed to fly their private jets in and out of there, why can't a tiny sliver be used for safe parking?

“And don’t worry about the infrastructure, no one has to ever venture over to your area.”

Lovely, as if concerns about overwhelming the common infrastructure is merely elitist. This is EVIDENCE of a person being “less concerned about aspects of the community like schools and parks." Is this person an outlier? I think not.

“Can you explain why you think someone who purchased a single-family home shouldn't have to pay for more schools, but a person renting an apartment should be funding it?”

It is dishonest to put false words into anyone's mouth. I wrote: “MV Yimby leaders have appeared before the City Council on multiple occasions to testify that [developer] fees, used to build more classrooms and hire more teachers, represent a “hardship” to developers.” Historically, the funding of schools has been a shared responsibility between businesses and homeowners. There are at least two elements: property taxes, and developer fees. A side effect of Prop 13 is that most large corporations have permanently frozen their taxes, so the burden has increasingly shifted to homeowners. Teacher salaries aren't permanently frozen, however, so the schools plea for help every few years: voters are asked to approve measures to approve bonds which are paid by property owners. A 2/3 majority is required to approve the bonds.

If developer fees are not collected, several things will happen:

- there won't be $$ to build new schools fo 30% more households, which means overcrowding in current schools

- the schools will make desperate pleas for help, and ask voters for new bonds. You might not be aware of this, but voters can say no.

- if the bonds are approved, then property taxes will rise. Which means that the fees that used to be paid by developers will now be paid by homeowners. Note that thanks to Prop 13, new homeowners will pay a disproportionate share of this amount. Which means that fees that had been paid by developers will now be paid primarily by new homeowners. Will this make housing more affordable to them? No, it won't.

Building new classrooms and hiring more teachers to support a 30% to 40% increase in population will be expensive. Voters might balk at the price-tag, and say no to the schools pleas for help, which means that public schoolchildren and their parents will suffer. This will be the result if MV Yimby leaders succeed: increased profits for developers, and increased suffering for public schoolchildren and their parents.

I suppose that the “silver lining” for some is that when MV gets a reputation for having lousy, overcrowded schools, house prices will drop. Trash a community's schools and prices drop, that's certainly one way to do it.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 22, 2022 at 8:14 am

Frank Richards is a registered user.

Wow, Leslie, "the will of the majority should prevail," I'd hate to see what you'd have supported in the Jim Crow South!

And just to make sure I'm tying all your threads together, you think the YIMBY people and tech companies are conspiring to destroy the local schools in order to reduce home prices? That's quite the allegation!


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 23, 2022 at 9:15 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Unlike some others, I say what I mean and mean what I say. Unlike some others, I don't twist words into hateful concepts that were never said or intended.

MV Yimby leaders have appeared before the City Council on multiple occasions to testify that developer fees, used to build more classrooms and hire more teachers, represent a “hardship” to developers. They don't deny it. In their testimony at these meetings, however, they never mention what will happen to our public schools if MV grows by 30% (or 40%, as some unelected city STAFF appear intent on doing) and we lack funding to add capacity to them.

This is a clever political move. Instead of having an honest debate about the impact of massive housing growth on public schools, MV Yimby leaders remain silent and hope that voters remain uninformed about this important issue. The overcrowding won't happen until a few years down the road. The public has the attention span of fleas, they likely won't realize at that time what has happened other than complain about the overcrowding. But by then it will be too late and the damage will have been done. Developers will have made their $$$ at the expense of public school children and their parents. Many of those parents are RENTERS, who cannot afford to send their kids to private schools like affluent tech families can. Same old story, the rich get richer and the poor, in this case POOR CHILDREN, are forced to suffer.

The name-calling by those who disagree with my views has been wild to behold: NIMBY, racist, Trump-lover, homeowner. Now we can add to the list a few more: bigot, elitist, "millionaire" (which is funny, since it is HIGHLY paid techies who hurl this "charge" at me). All because I am willing to support density AS LONG AS appropriate enhancements are made to the public infrastructure, such as schools. Shame on me.

Inside Game: California YIMBY, Scott Wiener, and Big Tech’s Troubling Housing Push - Web Link

"In a revealing 2017 article, Pantheon CEO Zack Rosen, who co-founded California YIMBY, explained Big Tech’s jump into land-use and housing policy. He told The Information, a news site for tech insiders, that a “combination of over-regulation by the state and the tech industry’s success has created the [housing] problem. I feel there’s a real onus on us to lead.”

But with millions of middle- and working-class Californians struggling to pay exorbitant rents, Big Tech’s need to lead was hardly altruistic.

What pushed tech executives into action, Rosen candidly told The Information, was that the housing affordability crisis had become an “existential threat” to the growth of the tech industry.

In other words, California YIMBY, fully staffed with organizing directors, assistants, a lobbyist, and policy wonks, and State Sen. Scott Wiener, the most aggressive California legislator of YIMBY policies, are carrying out an orchestrated defense, and expansion, of Big Tech’s gigantic profits."

Will the MV City Council do what is best for "we the people", or what is best for Google? We know that Gov. Newsom is siding with Google, which is why I will never vote for him again.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 23, 2022 at 10:32 am

Frank Richards is a registered user.

I've seen some cynical discussions on this web site, but hearing a millionaire homeowner invoke the difficulties facing renters as a reason to make building homes for them more expensive, after perpetuating harmful stereotypes like "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." is a new achievement.

I have to take it at face value, since you "say what [you] mean and mean what [you] say," but, wow.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 24, 2022 at 9:02 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

I say what I mean, and I mean what I say. I knew that I would be attacked by those associated with the CA YIMBY movement by exposing the truth of what they are up to.

I have explained several times now how MV YIMBY leaders have been advocating on behalf of developers in front of the City Council, saying that developer fees pose a "hardship" to them. Such advocacy puts public school children at risk, I have explained in detail how this will unfold. One either cares about the welfare of public school children, or one does not, regardless if one is a renter or a homeowner.

Some people are silver-tongued devils who are sly with their words, but actions speak louder. Advocacy to defund the creation of new capacity for schools to handle the expected influx from an increase of 30-40% housing units is simply not an act that benefits public school children. Such advocacy puts them at risk.

My opponent seems to believe that adding new classrooms and teachers will make housing more expensive FOR RENTERS, a very odd claim. The expense will either be born by developers or property owners, NOT RENTERS.

But the lack of these additions will mean overcrowding in MV public schools, a situation that will DISPROPORTIONATELY AFFECT FAMILIES WHO RENT.

I have yet to meet the parent, be they a renter or a homeowner, who would WILLINGLY sacrifice their child's education in order to lower the rent that they pay. I have met many parents who have gladly moved to places where rents are higher in order for their children to benefit from quality public schools in an area.

If the City Council agrees to waive developer fees, it is the children of renters who will suffer most. Ironically, the families that are most in need of "affordable housing" are the ones who will not be able to send their kids to private schools. Developers will become richer, and poor children will suffer as a direct result. I object. Every child deserves a quality education, and I will fight for them.

If the schools do succeed in getting a bond passed to solve the overcrowding issues, property taxes will rise. The expense will not be trivial, and thanks to Prop 13, young families will pay a disproportionate share of that cost. So the result of MV YIMBY advocacy is to shift costs from wealthy developers, to young families who want to buy their own homes here. Imagine that. Young families will face a Sophie's choice: either vote in favor of a school bond measure that will massively increase their own taxes, or oppose the measure and ignore the fate of those children and families who are trapped in overcrowded public schools. The icing on the cake is that MV Yimby leaders seem to naively believe that developers will pass on any cost savings they gain by defunding the schools. Is there any legal requirement binding developers to do such a thing? I think not. And corporate developers have a fiduciary duty to maximize profits for their shareholders, which means “not pass on the savings”. The primary result for such MV Yimby advocacy will not be to lower the rent, but to degrade the quality of MV schools. Surprise!


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 24, 2022 at 6:23 pm

Frank Richards is a registered user.

I don't know how to discuss this with someone who thinks that you can make it more expensive to produce something without either raising the price, reducing the amount produced, or both, especially if you limit the amount produced at the same time!

Setting that all aside, where will our children live? If I want my adult children and my grandkids to live here, how can I do that if the cost of housing doesn't come down?


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 25, 2022 at 8:18 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

One either cares about the welfare of public school children, or one does not, regardless if one is a renter or a homeowner. The fact that my opponent implies that such education is an unreasonable cost that could and should be sacrificed to bring the cost of housing down is utterly shocking to me. I have heard YIMBYs repeatedly say "I like people", but apparently that does not include POOR CHILDREN who will have no choice but to attend crappy, overcrowded public schools.

Advocacy to defund the creation of new capacity for schools to handle the expected influx from an increase of 30-40% housing units is simply not an act that benefits public school children. Such advocacy puts them at risk. Actions speak louder than pretty words. Such advocacy shocks me, my opponent is doing his best to put lipstick on it. Does anyone really yearn for their grandchildren to attend crappy schools, and for their adult children to pay even higher property taxes? Why would anyone yearn for that?

Such advocacy also exposes the lie that the CA YIMBY movement wants to make housing "more affordable" when in the best case scenario (voters approve a property tax increase to help save the schools), the costs would disproportionately fall on the shoulders of young families. That would mean shifting the burden from wealthy developers onto the backs of young families. I can understand why developers want that, but why would CA YIMBYs? Something doesn't add up, just like something didn't add up with SB9/10, which helps developers (again! Coincidence?) but does not help low income or average income workers in any way.

"Setting that all aside, where will our children live? If I want my adult children and my grandkids to live here, how can I do that if the cost of housing doesn't come down?"

This question is an example of a debate tactic called deflection. When one cannot respond to the merits of an argument, change the subject to something else and hope that the crowd doesn't notice.

Those who want the cost of housing to come down should fight with all of their strength current efforts by Big Tech to increase the numbers of well paid techies into this area, and efforts to devote 88% of all new construction to UNAFFORDABLE units that make developers rich only the most well-paid workers can afford. That is nothing but a recipe to make the cost of housing go up. Another word for it is GENTRIFICATION. Wealthy players are acting in ways to INCREASE the cost of housing, all while they pretend to be trying to bring those costs down. It is an impressive case of redirection.

Fight with all of your might against new OFFICE construction until the jobs/housing ratio has been addressed. Make the politicians build AFFORDABLE HOUSING, instead of pretending that high numbers of expensive, market-rate units will bring costs down. They won't. It's all a scam.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 25, 2022 at 8:46 am

Frank Richards is a registered user.

I can't speak for all the people you've got beef with, but I think schools and parks are a public good that should be funded via property taxes that the city levies. Putting the cost burden of that on newcomers just makes those homes more expensive. We don't tax people more if they move into an existing home with 5 kids, why should we place the burden disproportionately on people moving into apartments? That's just going to make rents higher and leave us with fewer homes for people than we otherwise would have.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 26, 2022 at 10:33 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

“”I can't speak for all the people you've got beef with, but I think schools and parks are a public good that should be funded via property taxes that the city levies.”

I think schools and parks are a public good that should be funded JOINTLY by both businesses and homeowners. Some of us have lived through a time when tech companies cried crocodile tears about how US schools are simply not good enough, which is why they needed to outsource jobs to other countries. It was all a crock, of course. The fact that businesses do their best to avoid paying for schools just rubs salt in the wound.

“”Putting the cost burden of that on newcomers just makes those homes more expensive.“

Prop 13 is the law of the land. Until that changes, if MV Yimbys succeed in their quest to have developer fees waived, AND voters approve new property taxes to replace them, NEW homeowners will be affected disproportionately. That's just a fact. The burden will have shifted FROM DEVELOPERS to new homeowners.

”We don't tax people more if they move into an existing home with 5 kids, why should we place the burden disproportionately on people moving into apartments? That's just going to make rents higher and leave us with fewer homes for people than we otherwise would have.”

Let me repeat: if MV Yimbys succeed in their quest to have developer fees waived, RENTS won't be affected at all. Renters will be impacted tremendously however, at least the ones who have kids.

Increased population + no new classroms or teachers = overcrowding in public schools.

Advocating that developer fees be waived helps developers and hurts kids. Period.

Here's an idea … how about if Google, who wants to hire thousands of new techies and pay them fantastic salaries, steps up to the plate? If the hardship on developers is too great, couldn't one of the richest companies on the planet help out? Wouldn't fantastic MV public schools be an awesome perk to offer their workers? It could be a win/win for everyone.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 26, 2022 at 10:51 am

Frank Richards is a registered user.

Leslie, how does getting the voters together to democratically agree to all chip in based on how much land wealth they have lead to shifting the burden onto new homeowners? Isn't it fair and equitable if we, as a community, come together and decide that we want more schools and that we should fund them based on accrued land wealth?

In a housing supply-constrained area like the Bay Area, aren't the increased costs of developer fees just be passed on to renters, either through higher prices, reduced supply, or both?


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 27, 2022 at 9:33 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Frank, you normally seem like a very smart guy. Are you really confused, or are you deliberately spreading disinformation now? I think you are playing word games with me, instead of engaging in sincere conversation.

"Leslie, how does getting the voters together to democratically agree to all chip in based on how much land wealth they have lead to shifting the burden onto new homeowners?"

First: the need for a vote only arises if the City Council listens to MV YIMBY leaders who are quietly advocating to drop developer fees. So the funding burden is REMOVED from wealthy developers.

Second: Is it really true that you don't understand how Prop 13 works? I have heard many young people complain that it puts unfair burdens on newcomers. If "we the people" of MV vote to increase property taxes, the burden on NEW HOMEOWNERS will be higher than the burden on corporations or long-time homeowners.

Net result: the burden has shifted from wealthy developers, primarily onto the backs of new homeowners.

"Isn't it fair and equitable if we, as a community, come together and decide that we want more schools and that we should fund them based on accrued land wealth?"

Now you sound like a fan of Prop 13, lol! Do you think it fair and equitable that corporations like Google and corporate landlords have their property taxes frozen forever? I don't. New Google workers will pay higher tax rates than Google does! Is that fair?

"aren't the increased costs of developer fees just be passed on to renters, either through higher prices, reduced supply, or both?"

This question implies that these fees are a significant issue affecting the cost of housing. I would like to see your evidence for that. I don't believe it.

You are implying that having quality schools and parks in MV is something that we can no longer afford if we wish to bring the cost of housing down. Now tell me again how much YIMBYs care about the fate of public school children.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 27, 2022 at 11:20 am

Frank Richards is a registered user.

Oh, I see how Prop 13 would make that really unfair. I agree with you that we should be funding these with taxes on the actual value of the land, not artificially low values that long-time landowners exploit, home and commercial alike. That would be a much more fair funding method, and why I said "accrued land wealth" as I find wealth taxes to be more fair and equitable.

The city did some analysis of the development fees for their Draft Housing Element, and if I recall correctly, it said that the park fees and BMR requirements were a major factor in residential development costs. I'm honestly not sure about which other fees you or the people you're mad at are talking about. Is it the Mountain View Whisman School District's proposed Community Facilities District (CFD)?

The city's analysis of that in the housing element said "The tax would be based on the number of units on a parcel and
would levy a significantly higher tax on new units than existing ones. [...] The economic analysis that the City conducted as part of the Housing Element Update process included an evaluation of the impact of the CFD and found that, if enacted, the CFD would have a major impact on residential development costs."

It seems like the City agrees more with others that some of these specific additional fees are a significant factor in residential development costs. See more at mvhousingelement.org.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 28, 2022 at 10:07 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

My opponent has flip flopped many times during the course of this discussion. He twists my words and tries to demonize me for standing up to those who advocate defunding the creation of new public schools to support density.

He is fond of asking misleading questions that simply confuse innocent readers, including those that have already been answered repeatedly:

- “why should we place the burden disproportionately on people moving into apartments?”
[We aren't]

- “aren't the increased costs of developer fees just be passed on to renters, either through higher prices, reduced supply, or both?”
[This question implies that these fees are a significant issue affecting the cost of housing. I would like to see evidence for that. I don't believe it.]

- “how does getting the voters together to democratically agree to all chip in based on how much land wealth they have lead to shifting the burden onto new homeowners?”

[The more important questions are:
1) should schools be funded JOINTLY by both businesses and homeowners, or only homeowners,
2) how much feedback should voters have over this? Should the question be put on a ballot, or should City Council members simply give MV YIMBY leaders what they want and end developer fees?
3) Do MV YIMBY leaders want property taxes to be raised (significantly) to make up the shortfall? Why are they silent on this? Is it because ending developer fees would not lower the cost of housing, it would simply shift that burden to the new homeowners for which they claim to be advocates?
4) Or is their goal to starve schools as the population increases, as a strategy to lower the cost of housing?

Now he makes yet another misleading statement: “The city did some analysis of the development fees ... and if I recall correctly, it said that the park fees and BMR requirements were a major factor in residential development costs.”

I am talking about SCHOOL funding? Notice that he answers some different question (of course), and then admits that he might be wrong about that! LOL

I wish that MV YIMBY leaders would explain their ultimate goal. If the City Council follows their advice and developer fees are not collected, what would happen next? Have they thought about this? Do they care? Would they work with schools to raise property taxes? Do they understand that new homeowners would be hit the hardest, thanks to Prop 13?

Let me add my pitch here, once again, for Prop 15, which ALMOST PASSED in 2020. Web Link

Under Prop 15, the issue of school funding would be greatly alleviated. Big Tech and other wealthy businesses would finally pay their fair share. But if it doesn't pass, then new homeowners would be hit the hardest.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 28, 2022 at 10:30 am

Frank Richards is a registered user.

Hey, I'm not sure why you're making this adversarial, I'm not your "opponent," and you can feel free to talk directly to me instead of these odd gestures to an audience. It's frankly pretty rude. As for your comment about my admitting I may be wrong, I think that's in general a good practice. I'm not an expert, but I try my best.

For school fees, did you miss my last paragraph? If you can provide some links or context as to the people you're saying proposed "defunding the schools", that'd help me understand, but the City did analyze the Community Facilities District that the school district has been discussing, and they concluded that "if enacted, the CFD would have a major impact on residential development costs."

I'd love to see the quotes from the people you're angry at, because you seem to be pretty consistently taking some very specific statements and misrepresenting them, as you're doing with me now.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 29, 2022 at 10:27 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

My opponent has made many misleading comments, they confuse rather than enlighten. I have been subject to personal attacks, all because I am fighting for the well-being of public schoolchildren. State politicians are forcing MV to grow by > 30% (magically the new goal is 40% (!)) over any and all objections by existing residents. If new capacity is not added to existing infrastructure, MANY PROBLEMS will be encountered. This is not rocket science.

“With [MV] poised to grow by 15,000 units, planning commissioners worry about parks, utilities and public services” - Web Link

“During the Aug. 3 meeting, multiple commissioners said they worried about the city’s ability to meet the infrastructural needs required by 15,000 new units.”

Perhaps the most IMPORTANT PROBLEM will be the overcrowding of public schools as the population grows. My own child is older + won't be affected, but I'm still a mama bear. EVERY CHILD DESERVES A QUALITY EDUCATION, including those whose parents (renters or not) cannot afford to send them to private schools. Anyone who does not engage in sincere, good-faith debate on this issue is my opponent.

“The fact that (the) [MVLA] High School District is already over capacity and is going to have more students, was not addressed,” Commission Chair William Cranston said of the draft EIR."

“Past program EIRs have found that significant residential growth would not have an impact on local schools because developer fees are, at least theoretically, enough to offset the costs of building more capacity for additional students.

“School district officials, on the other hand, say the cost of building additional schools and classrooms far exceeds what developer fees provide.”

Get that? The schools say that the cost of adding capacity to our schools will EXCEED the funding that developer fees provide, meanwhile MV YIMBY leaders are testifying before the Council that those fees are a “hardship” to developers.

Here is direct quote from a MV YIMBY leader: “Charging developers fees is the equivalent of taxing new construction. Just because some of us don't like this avenue for raising money for more infrastructure doesn't mean we don't like the infrastructure. It just means we think we can get the money from other revenue sources... possibly even ones that don't exist today.”

Translation: MV YIMBY leaders like public schools just fine, but they don't see a problem with defunding them without identifying a different, superior source of funding.

Again, I wish that MV YIMBY leaders would explain their ultimate goal. If the City Council follows their advice and developer fees are not collected, school overcrowding will occur as the population increases. I'm not sure if these leaders previously understood this important side effect of their advocacy. But to refuse to acknowledge that side effect and continue unchanged … what would that mean? I think it would mean that the fate of these children is less important to MV YIMBY leaders than helping developers maximize profits.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 29, 2022 at 10:57 am

Frank Richards is a registered user.

OK, I suppose you will continue to do this strange disrespectful tic of not actually talking to me and instead orating to an audience.

I'll try to elaborate what I think on the topic. Some fees can be good, if we raise money by charging for things that are bad for the city and use it to fund good things, I'm in support of them. The particular goals these fund are good (parks, schools), but people can and do disagree whether the method is correctly disincentivizing bad things. I personally don't think it's fair or equitable to fund these improvements on the backs of newcomers. That's why I prefer property taxes fund these things, they discourage land speculation and turn the rents extracted by landlords into public funds that can be used for parks, schools, and social housing.

I suppose the fundamental disagreement is whether the adding new homes to the city is bad. For sure, we'd all agree that disproportionately charging hospital construction for schools and parks would be bad because it'd make building hospitals more expensive, even though we all want more schools and parks. It seems you are attributing malice to others when they simply think that your preferred funding source is discouraging something that's good for the city (more homes).


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 30, 2022 at 11:01 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

I have had previous experience with a troll who made many personal attacks before he was banned. I am following the advice of Voice staff who asked me to structure my posts to convey information that is relevant to a conversation without phrasing it as a direct response.

“The particular goals these fund are good (parks, schools)”

Yay, we agree.

“I personally don't think it's fair or equitable to fund these improvements on the backs of newcomers.”

Thx for discussing the issue on it's merits. But this is misleading. Developer fees are paid by DEVELOPERS. There is no guarantee that waiving these fees will bring down anyone's rent. However, it is 100% guaranteed that the loss of these fees will result in school overcrowding in a few years.

If voters approve a LARGE increase in property taxes, it is the newest homeowners that will pay the lion's share. The burden will shift from WEALTHY DEVELOPERS to the NEWEST HOMEOWNERS. I suspect it is not your goal, but that will be the result. I am not making this up.

”That's why I prefer property taxes fund these things, they discourage land speculation and turn the rents extracted by landlords into public funds that can be used for parks, schools, and social housing.”

I have so many thoughts but perhaps the most important one is: the collection of property taxes is governed by Prop 13, which most YIMBYs despise because newcomers pay higher rates. Again: you don't want DEVELOPERS to fund construction of new schools, you prefer that NEW HOMEOWNERS do it instead?

“I suppose the fundamental disagreement is whether the adding new homes to the city is bad.”

I say what I mean, and I mean what I say, but some people prefer to guess at secret ulterior motives. I AM NOT OPPOSED TO DENSITY, AS LONG AS URBAN PLANNING IS DONE TO AVOID THE PREDICTABLE PROBLEMS THAT WILL COME WITH IT. Adding capacity to public schools is necessary to avoid harming schoolchildren. DEFUNDING this activity, and intentionally putting school children at risk … the very idea is deeply upsetting to me.

I am a fan of transparency, and respectful honest debate. The funding of public schools is an important subject. I think it is sneaky and dishonest to advocate to defund schools and parks in a way that escapes the public's attention. If MV YIMBY leaders want to replace developer fees with higher property taxes, they should be open and honest about that as a goal and allow the community to make this decision. But I don't think they can do that because that won't “lower the cost of housing”, will it? It will simply shift legacy burdens from developers and onto the backs of new homeowners. Surprise! Developers increase their profits, and schoolchildren are forced to suffer.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 30, 2022 at 11:28 am

Frank Richards is a registered user.

But Leslie, I pointed out that the city itself says in its Housing Element that park fees, BMR requirements, and the proposed Community Facilities District (school fees) are a major cost for residential development. If it costs more to build these, we will end up with more expensive homes, fewer of them, or both. The Community Facilities District was particularly egregious: it would charge existing homeowner $50-$100 annually, and new homes would pay upwards of $5000.

Property taxes are great (even under the nasty constraints that the previous generation left us via Prop 13) because they dissuade land speculation and hoarding, while development fees dissuade housing production as the city itself identified in its Housing Element.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 31, 2022 at 10:58 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

I wrote: “If voters approve a LARGE increase in property taxes, it is the newest homeowners that will pay the lion's share. The burden will shift from WEALTHY DEVELOPERS to the NEWEST HOMEOWNERS. I suspect it is not your goal, but that will be the result. I am not making this up.”

The response is silence.

I wrote: “Adding capacity to public schools is necessary to avoid harming schoolchildren. DEFUNDING this activity, and intentionally putting school children at risk … the very idea is deeply upsetting to me.”

The response is silence.

I wrote: “I am a fan of transparency, and respectful honest debate. The funding of public schools is an important subject. I think it is sneaky and dishonest to advocate to defund schools and parks in a way that escapes the public's attention. If MV YIMBY leaders want to replace developer fees with higher property taxes, they should be open and honest about that as a goal and allow the community to make this decision.”

The response is silence.

“development fees dissuade housing production as the city itself identified in its Housing Element.”

They do? They don't appear to dissuade production of expensive, market rate units! Over the last 8-year RHNA cycle, developers wildly exceeded targets for this category of housing (~650%!), but failed to meet targets for ALL AFFORDABLE HOUSING categories (and less than 50% for very low income workers!). - Web Link

Using your numbers: assume the developer does not just pocket the savings (BIG ASSUMPTION THERE!), so a new homeowner saved $5000 on a $1M home. The discount would be what? Less than 1%. That is a trivial number. Do highly paid newcomers want to trash MV schools so they can save less than 1% on the cost of a home? And remember, they'd really only KEEP those savings if they voted against bills to add capacity to schools. Do I misunderstand?

“Property taxes are great ... because they dissuade land speculation and hoarding”

I have to laugh so I do not cry. Google has been engaging in land speculation and hoarding for several decades now, it has driven up the cost of housing. If property taxes are raised to add school capacity for the children of THEIR newest workers, under Prop 13 it is the WORKERS who will pay the costs, NOT Google, and NOT the corporate landlords who are eager to build new RENTAL housing to siphon off all that lovely worker pay


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 31, 2022 at 11:13 am

Frank Richards is a registered user.

It's only "silence" if you're ignoring what I'm typing here. I can't speak for the other people you're mad at, have you tried going to one of their meetings or discussing these things in person? I find a lot gets lost in text, so you might walk away with a better understanding of their goals.

I think some of the mismatch between you and me achieving mutual understanding is preferring property taxes based on the value of land versus fees on the construction of new homes. Further, it seems like you deeply believe that it's impossible to reduce the price of homes by making more of them, while I disagree and think that if we make enough of them the price will drop. Note that this is distinct from the price of land, which will continue to rise as the region continues to be economically vibrant. Like you noted, if we allow people to hoard and speculate on land while restricting the number of homes we let get built, the prices of homes will continue to rise.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 1, 2022 at 10:36 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Frank, are you a leader in the MV YIMBY organization? Are you speaking as their representative? Do you even self-identify as a YIMBY? I might be mistaken, but I seem to recall that you don't, which I find utterly fascinating.

Go to Web Link , MV YIMBY leaders write posts on many things! The most recent one is this: "Lucas [Ramirez] has been a strong advocate for adding more housing in Mountain View, including affordable housing." I kind of love the perversity of that statement, the CA YIMBY primary goal is MORE housing, not affordable housing per se, but you have to be a very alert reader to recognize what they are saying. Constructing units at a ratio of 88% market rate units to 12% affordable units ... that's a win for Google, developers, and corporate landlords, but only those who understand math can see it. We need more AFFORDABLE housing, not more MARKET-RATE [RENTAL] housing, but I hear many YIMBY followers chanting that "more housing of any kind is a good thing". For developers, yes! But building tons of McMansions won't bring rents down, and it will drive lower-income people from MV: the key word is "GENTRIFICATION".

If MV YIMBY leaders value transparency, they would explain why they have been appearing before the council to say that developer fees are a "hardship" for developers. I am not a mind reader, I don't know their ultimate goal. I sincerely hope they have one. They can make their case about their desire to raise property taxes significantly in order to help the schools, and even though it means that the old developer fees will now be primarily paid by newcomers, that is a good thing because ... WHY?

As it is, asking the council to drop developer fees WITHOUT ADVOCATING FOR AN ALTERNATIVE SOURCE OF FUNDING for the creation of new schools when MV population increases MASSIVELY, puts public schoolchildren at risk. Period. Call me bigoted, elitist, "NIMBY", whatever you want, but I think that putting public schoolchildren at risk is a VILE thing to do.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 1, 2022 at 10:46 am

Frank Richards is a registered user.

No, I'm not associated with them, but I think it's important to actually talk to people about what they think instead of what you're doing here, which is ranting about them and expressing no real desire to discuss it with them. You're shouting into the void of the Mountain View Voice comments section and getting riled up over why people not here aren't answering your questions. Go talk to them, that's what mature adults do. I don't know what you find "fascinating" about this, but, please, talk to real humans in person.

As for your latter paragraphs, which is it, corporate landlords building rental housing or McMansions? McMansions are what you get with single-family zoning, and I've never heard you express opposition to those market-rate units, only your stereotypes about renters. Are you opposed to allowing people to build or sell market-rate single family homes?


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 2, 2022 at 5:55 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

I have the right to object when the ACTIONS of a political movement doesn't match its pretty words, a movement that does its best to publicly shame anyone that disagrees with their positions.

Politicians today increasingly have “public positions” and “private positions”. They have a pretty cover story to make them look like saints, of course, but what happens behind closed doors is another thing. The CA YIMBY movement PRETENDS to be about affordable housing, but it makes a mockery of those words. Now one MUST ask, “affordable to who?” Many members of the movement are highly paid tech workers, and the actions of the movement are to disproportionately help those workers. The high cost of housing didn't get this much TLC from state politicians until Google started having problems hiring workers in MV.

I have provided evidence that MV YIMBY leaders are advocating before the city council to DEFUND the additional schools and parks that will be necessary when housing units increase by 30%-40%.

The response? “Go talk to them, that's what mature adults do.”

Seriously?

For acting like a mama bear and objecting to the DEFUNDING OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS without any advocacy for alternative funding.

What is the goal of MV YIMBY leaders? Overcrowded schools? Or higher property taxes, that will disproportionately be paid by NEWCOMERS? These are the only two options under Prop 13.

And the person saying these words, in addition to making many misleading statements and personal attacks against me, claims that they are not even associated with the YIMBY movement!

We are living in an age dominated by propaganda, provided by wealthy parties that want to achieve their own goals. The CA YIMBY movement is really about the pursuit of profit: for Google, for developers, and for corporate landlords. It is also about the pursuit of power by politicians like Newsom, who never face justice for “campaign promises” that are never delivered.

I am doing what I can to expose the snake oil. And hopefully prevent the City Council from granting the request from MV YIMBY leaders: to end or reduce developer fees on new construction. Such advocacy is completely irresponsible unless their goal is to doom public schoolchildren to overcrowded classrooms.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 2, 2022 at 6:18 pm

Frank Richards is a registered user.

I see, I must apologize for making such an unreasonable and unrealistic request as suggesting that you meet and talk *to* the people you can't stop talking *about*. It was clearly out of line, and surely the path you're following is much more productive and elevates the discourse on this topic and forum.

Would you mind clarifying whether you object to people building or selling market-rate single-family homes? You were very worried about McMansions, so that would be the natural conclusion, but I don't want to misunderstand you.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 3, 2022 at 10:11 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

For the record, I already gave a quote to you. How do you think I obtained it? I have had several conversations with MV YIMBY leaders, in fact.

In the most recent one, I asked this person to truly consider what will be harmed when they succeed in their advocacy to lower or eliminate the fees paid by developers to help build schools and parks. Is it truly a win to have cheaper housing in a community that has bad schools and parks? I am not naming them now, because I don't want to break any privacy rules on this platform and also because it is the argument being put forth that I most care about, not who said it. Again, they said:

“Charging developers fees is the equivalent of taxing new construction. Just because some of us don't like this avenue for raising money for more infrastructure doesn't mean we don't like the infrastructure. It just means we think we can get the money from other revenue sources... possibly even ones that don't exist today.”

I asked, multiple times, “Please identify what you see as these other potential revenue sources.” I added: “Please don't ignore this issue and claim it is not your problem. If you succeed in your advocacy, you are responsible for the issues that arise because of it.” I never got an answer.

Mature adults
- understand that DEFUNDING schools is not the way to improve them.
- don't engage in magical thinking about revenue sources "that don't exist today".
- don't just walk away from conversations when they don't have a good answer to defend their actions.

I am not anti-density, I would support it with sufficient urban planning. Generate solutions to fund construction of schools and parks, improve transportation solutions, etc. But I don't see the CA YIMBY movement doing this. I see it as saying "that's not our problem to solve", and anyone who disagrees with them is a greedy, selfish, monster. In other words, a vile "NIMBY".

I think those working to defund MV public schools are the monsters. And shame on Google, one of the richest and most powerful companies on the planet, for bringing all of this toxicity to our fine city.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 3, 2022 at 10:38 am

Frank Richards is a registered user.

Where are these quotes from? You've demonstrated you're not an entirely reliable narrator on this, so please pardon me for being a bit skeptical that you actually talked to another person and wrote down verbatim notes on what they said.

And, yet again, you still haven't confirmed whether you oppose building and selling market-rate single-family homes ("McMansions"). With the median price for those running multiple millions of dollars, it's reasonable to think your opposition on affordability grounds would extend to that home type, no?


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 4, 2022 at 9:21 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

If the moderators give me permission, I will name the MV YIMBY leader who I am quoting. I am telling the truth, and MV YIMBY leaders know it.

"You've demonstrated you're not an entirely reliable narrator on this, "

This is just more name-calling on your part, which appears to be one of your favorite debate tactics.

I oppose construction of new housing units at a ratio of 88% for the most affluent workers, and 12% for the rest of us. Hiring managers know that the best predictor of future performance is past performance. Over the past 8 year RHNA cycle, 88% of construction was expensive, market rate units. No legislation has been passed to change that going forward, so we can expect that 88% of new units will be COMPLETELY UNAFFORDABLE to low income and average workers. Web Link

A talking point put forward by the YIMBY movement is that more housing units of any kind will cause rents to fall ("every unit built helps!") That is a ridiculous notion. My use of the word "McMansion" was perhaps sloppy, a better phrase might be "Trump Tower", because that is what we are going to see going forward: lots of flashy multi-family towers that only those with the highest incomes will be able to "afford" (except for the measly 12% of space put aside for the 99%).

Market-rate units will not even be "affordable" to high income workers either, IMHO, but the YIMBY movement has completely mangled what that word means. Surprise!

This expectation that the YIMBY movement policies will actually cause rents to fall is essentially a "campaign promise". Did you know that the courts don't consider those legally binding? As years go by, and rents don't fall, the best we can expect to hear is "oops, we were wrong, we're so sorry". But by then the rich guys will have made their $$$, Newsom will be president, and MV residents will be left to clean up the mess. Too bad, so sad.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 4, 2022 at 10:06 am

Frank Richards is a registered user.

I noted you're an unreliable narrator because you consistently take the most bad-faith interpretation of what others write. I can't see someone interested in understanding other people and the world taking the fact that the city has found current park fees and proposed school district fees as evidence that people want "DEFUNDING OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS [capitalization preserved]". Actually talking to people you disagree with in real life about these topics helps get a richer understanding of the world, which is why I keep suggesting it. Waiting 24 hours between posts and not actually responding to the previous one just doesn't cut it.

I have to ask, why do you never oppose single-family zoning? Those homes are 100% market-rate (and it's part of that 88% you are so concerned about), it seems like a great way to get easy increases in affordability.

I made an earlier point about this, but I truly believe that the fundamental disagreement we have is that you truly believe it's impossible to bring down the price of homes by making more of them. I disagree, and I believe that the price of land will continue to rise as the city grows and becomes more economically vibrant, but the price of the homes on that land will drop.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 5, 2022 at 10:51 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

"I noted you're an unreliable narrator because you consistently take the most bad-faith interpretation of what others write."

Have you heard of projection? I use quotes, facts, and sources. I don't use language slyly to make misleading claims about what others have said, which you are doing yet again even now.

“as evidence that people want "DEFUNDING OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS [capitalization preserved]".

I don't know what MV YIMBY leaders want! I have asked them, several times, to explain! But I know what they are DOING. Putting pressure on the council to eliminate developer fees. That is the same as putting pressure on the council to defund new public school construction! Po-TAY-to, po-TAH-to, they are different words for the very same thing.

Maybe they are very nice people who simply don't understand what these fees are used for. But if that is the case, why do they go radio silent when I bring this information to their attention? I use capitalization to try to emphasize important points. I consider the defunding of public schools to be a very important point!

Is it nice to put pressure on the council to defund new public school construction?

Is it nice to do it in a way so that most members of the public are not even aware of the consequences of this advocacy? Unalert readers hear advocacy to “lower developer fees”, that sounds like a good thing right? If those readers understood that those fees are an important source of funding for new school construction, would they still think this advocacy was a good thing?

"I can't see someone interested in understanding other people and the world ..."

Is this what YIMBY followers are doing when they call SFH owners "NIMBY" and mock us for our concerns about "quality of life" issues? We are falsely accused of many things, especially of being the root cause of the housing crisis. We are even accused of being racists(!), while the CA YIMBY org leads a movement to gentrify MV. Do you know who gets hurt by gentrification? Lower income people, who often happen to be persons of color. The situation is almost comical, except there is nothing funny about it.

How many times do I have to say it? I oppose construction of new housing units at a ratio of 88% for the most affluent workers, and 12% for the rest of us. That recipe is snake oil if the true goal is to lower rents for most people. But how much of the public understands this little factoid, eh? How widely has it been communicated?

Who would donate to a charity that distributes 12% of the proceeds to the needy, and keeps 88% as administrative fees? Most people would consider that a scam. That's the recipe for construction: 88% of the units for the most highly paid workers, and 12% for everyone else. The recipe stinks. When all the construction has stopped, the cost of housing will still be sky high.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 5, 2022 at 11:14 am

Frank Richards is a registered user.

Self-awareness and self-reflection is difficult, but most people reading this can see how you're doing precisely what you accuse others of: taking nuanced issues with complex nuanced responses and willfully misrepresenting and demonizing people you disagree with. It's neither mature nor honorable, no matter how much you dislike those people. Go talk to them in person and try to have a discussion instead of a performance for an audience.

As for your "how many times do I have to say it," you have never said you oppose building and selling single-family homes. In fact, I've seen you defend single-family-home-only zoning! Those homes are 100% market-rate and push up that 88% higher than it would be. I don't see how someone can oppose market-rate homes in all other contexts, but fight to preserve making expensive market-rate homes the only legal option in large swaths of Mountain View.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 6, 2022 at 10:12 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

It is not "demonizing" a political org to hold them accountable for their actions, or to try to raise awareness in others of those actions. The TRUTH is that MV YIMBY leaders have been putting pressure on the council to defund new school construction. Perhaps they don't realize that this is what they are doing, but that is what THEY ARE DOING. If they don't realize what they are doing, yikes, that is scary for other reasons … If the council takes their advice, the population increases massively, and no other funding source is identified, the schools will become overcrowded. Am I wrong? I think some people find this upsetting because they think YIMBYS are the good guys, and NIMBYS are the bad guys ("NIMBYs gonna NIMBY!"), and here is a "NIMBY" who is fighting against a bad thing that the "good guys" are doing. Please explain how I am misrepresenting the situation. Use quotes to expose my lies. And I'm not even a NIMBY, because I don't oppose growth, I suppose MASSIVE growth without HEED to the consequences, including the effect on classroom size.

"taking nuanced issues with complex nuanced responses and willfully misrepresenting and demonizing people you disagree with."

Again, I have to laugh to avoid crying. The YIMBY movement came into my community fairly recently, took a complex issue (the high cost of housing), and came up with simple answers. "SFH owners have been blocking supply to increase the value of their own homes!" "More housing of any kind is needed and will magically make all of the rents go down!". The propaganda is so effective that I sense that many have actually internalized "more housing!" as the goal, instead of AFFORDABLE housing. I am playing defense, against predatory capitalism that is willing to put public school children at risk in order to increase profits.

“I don't see how someone can oppose market-rate homes in all other contexts, but fight to preserve making expensive market-rate homes the only legal option in large swaths of Mountain View.”

This is just a bald-faced lie. “I can't see someone interested in understanding other people and the world” talking this way.

Why has a movement that is supposedly fighting for AFFORDABLE housing putting out propaganda that implies that “more housing of any kind” will achieve this goal? History shows that developers wildly prefer to build expensive, market-rate units. Building lots of Trump Towers in MV, I think developers will sign up for that gladly and willingly.

Building lots of new housing at a ratio of 88% market-rate to 12% affordable will certainly achieve the goal of MORE housing. Yay! But it won't meet the goal of dropping the average rent in MV. Oops. Wait, what? I forget, what is the goal again?




Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 6, 2022 at 11:28 am

Frank Richards is a registered user.

I already laid it out above how you're misrepresenting, I'll do it again here. As part of the housing element process, the city studied barriers to residential construction and development that could impede achieving their RHNA. They identified park fees and the school's proposed Community Facilities District as having major impacts on residential development. If we funded our parks and schools based on fees assessed on hospital construction, it'd be misleading to say that someone who wanted to fund those through property taxes instead wanted to "DEFUND SCHOOLS." They just don't think that we should disincentivize building hospitals!

I'd prefer if you not accuse me of lying. If you are opposed to single-family zoning, I've never seen you express it, so now is your opportunity.

You may not believe that you can reduce the price of homes by adding more of them, but that's a good faith disagreement people can have, and doesn't require any of your conspiracy theories about nefarious intent.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 7, 2022 at 10:40 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Somebody is SO VERY DETERMINED to deflect and misinform. My opponent has stated that he is not associated with the YIMBY movement, yet he often brings up arcane facts about the housing element, like this Community Facilities District.

- I am not talking about the school's PROPOSED Community Facilities District
- I already explained this once before

I am talking about LEGACY developer fees that have been in place for a long time.

TLDR: MV YIMBY leaders have put pressure on the city council to reduce or eliminate developer fees, and have ignored my requests to identify an alternative source of funding. The schools' say that developer fees are NOT ENOUGH. What will be the fate of public schoolchildren if the population grows massively and capacity is not added to MV schools? They are at risk unless funding exists to build new classrooms and hire more teachers. Is it responsible to advocate the DEFUNDING of new school construction during this time of massive growth for MV?

Let me share this link ONE MORE TIME:

"With Mountain View poised to grow by 15,000 units, planning commissioners worry about parks, utilities and public services - Committee discusses whether the draft EIR for the Housing Element properly addressed the impacts of massive growth" - Web Link

"Commissioners also raised concerns about the population increase associated with 15,000 new units, which the city estimates could be around 65,000 people. The draft EIR asserted that this increase would have a less than significant impact on things like public services and recreation.

“The fact that (the) Mountain View Los Altos High School District is already over capacity and is going to have more students, was not addressed,” Commission Chair William Cranston said of the draft EIR. “... That seems like an unavoidable impact.”

NOTE: those words came from the Commission CHAIR, who did not seem overly impressed with the draft EIR document.

“Past program EIRs have found that significant residential growth would not have an impact on local schools because developer fees are, at least theoretically, enough to offset the costs of building more capacity for additional students.

“School district officials, on the other hand, say the cost of building additional schools and classrooms far exceeds what developer fees provide.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 7, 2022 at 11:06 am

Frank Richards is a registered user.

Sad to see that you've reintroduced your rude verbal tic of performing about me for an audience. I honestly am surprised that my reading the city's own analysis of constraints on residential development is now "arcane" knowledge, especially since you mocked me earlier for admitting I am not an expert on the topic.

Let's be specific, though, which fees are you talking about, and show me where the people you're mad at said we should eliminate them. You've shown you can't be trusted to accurately portray the views and opinions of others, as you take the most bad-faith interpretation of what people you dislike say, so please provide specific references other than your subjective characterizations.

I eagerly await your response on the usual 24-hour posting cycle.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 8, 2022 at 9:02 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

It is difficult to have a good faith discussion with someone who makes misleading statement after misleading statement, personal attack after personal attack. My attempts to follow advice given to me by Voice staff when dealing with trollish behavior are now described as a 'rude verbal tic'. I try to limit my posting here in order to once a day per news item to give space to other members of the community to share their thoughts too. I have no idea who my opponent is, or why he is taking such intense interest in apparently speaking on behalf of MV YIMBY leaders while they remain silent, because he himself has said that he is not a YIMBY.

I JUST gave a link to the developer fees of which I speak, providing links to reporting by the Voice. Maybe reporter Malea Martin can step in to answer questions about developer fees. Or maybe she can interview EPC Chair William Cranston (and council candidates!), and ask their opinions on what will happen to the schools if these fees are not collected.

The following are facts:

1) MV YIMBY leaders have testified before the City Council that these fees are a hardship to the developers. This puts pressure on the council to reduce these fees.

2) Many members of the community do not understand why these fees are collected. Apparently not even my opponent!

3) "“School district officials, on the other hand, say the cost of building additional schools and classrooms far exceeds what developer fees provide."

My top concern at this point is the status of funding to add capacity to public schools in response to the MASSIVE HOUSING GROWTH that has been MANDATED by state politicians. I would rather engage in a productive conversation at this point, and not get into some he said she said debate with some random MV person whose conduct can be judged by every reader.

Without providing funding with their MANDATE, state politicians appear to be mandating the trashing of MV schools. The public needs to understand this.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 8, 2022 at 10:42 am

Frank Richards is a registered user.

Having engaged with you for days now, I suspect they recommended that you not attack other people but instead talk about their ideas. I don't know why you interpreted that as needing to talk in such a weird style about other people ("my opponent"). You have to admit that's pretty rude! Just talk *to* people, not *about* them.

Again, I want you to point to specific fees that these people you dislike are saying should be reduced. The city's own economic analysis says that park fees and the district's proposed Community Facilities District are major constraints on residential development, and advocates reducing those. Does city staff want to "defund" parks and schools? Any reasonable person would conclude they don't.

I look forward to your correspondence tomorrow, please don't ignore the important "arcane" points about the city's own analysis of constraints on residential construction.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 9, 2022 at 9:02 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

I have to laugh to avoid crying. Now my opponent throws out another one of his theories built entirely out of thin air: that the moderators reached out to me to recommend that I "not attack other people but instead talk about their ideas." Far from it. In fact exactly the opposite. I am doing my best to talk about ideas, and not make personal attacks. I am nothing but grateful to the Voice and it's staff for it's fine reporting, unlike others I do my best to abide by their TERMS OF USE. Those who don't create headaches for staff and the entire community.

Here is the IDEA that I wish to discuss. Frankly it is an IDEA that I think should be discussed by the entire MV community, FOR THE SAKE OF INNOCENT PUBLIC SCHOOLCHILDREN In any collection of people, there are a variety of opinions. Under a functioning democracy, the will of the majority of people should prevail (as long as it does not violate the protections guaranteed in the Bill of Rights).

"My top concern at this point is the status of funding to add capacity to public schools in response to the MASSIVE HOUSING GROWTH that has been MANDATED by state politicians. I would rather engage in a productive conversation at this point, and not get into some he said she said debate with some random MV person whose conduct can be judged by every reader."

My opponent does nothing to dispute the facts I have presented, again those facts are:

"1) MV YIMBY leaders have testified before the City Council that these fees are a hardship to the developers. This puts pressure on the council to reduce these fees.

2) Many members of the community do not understand why these fees are collected. Apparently not even my opponent!

3) "“School district officials, on the other hand, say the cost of building additional schools and classrooms far exceeds what developer fees provide.""


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 9, 2022 at 9:58 am

Frank Richards is a registered user.

I'm sorry, I was merely trying to understand the advice given to you by staff, since I have a hard time they suggested you do this weird "my opponent" thing rather than just responding like people usually do when having a discussion. It seems extremely odd to me that they asked you to perform for an audience rather than have a dialogue!

I'm happy to talk ideas. For point 1), first, I'd like you to provide specific citations for this group "testifying". Next, do you agree or disagree with city staff in their assessment of which fees are major constraints on residential development? Does that assessment put pressure on council to reduce those fees? Is city staff part of the conspiracy to harm schoolchildren?

I eagerly await your future correspondence, but please don't just copy-paste blocks of text from previous posts. You have 24 hours to read this post and craft a response, use it well!


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 10, 2022 at 11:12 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Michelle Obama once said, "When they go low, we go high". That's what I'm trying to do. I'm sticking to the ideas that are most important, I'm not going to chase after shinys thrown in order to play gotcha with me. But I'll give an example:

- "How easy is it actually for a developer to come and build something there?” said Ilya Gurin, lead volunteer with Mountain View YIMBY. “The developers all agree that Mountain View is a really hard place to do business.”"
- "The Mountain View Chamber of Commerce agrees ... sent a June 7 letter to the council enumerating barriers that developers face ... high development fees, and its zoning rules make it hard to build ..."
- "“There are clear issues with some of these sites, like the owners don’t have any intention of redeveloping necessarily,” Gurin said of the city’s sites inventory." - Web Link

Poor developers. Poor Sobrato.

Other key points:

- State politicians have MANDATED: "The housing element is one of seven pieces that jurisdictions must incorporate into their general plans, and the only one subject to review by a state agency" [the ONLY one]
- "A major goal of the housing element is to create a sites inventory, the places where housing is likely to be built, and ensure it’s enough to meet the state’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA), the number of units that must be planned for over the next eight years."

[This process is devious. Our current council must use a crystal ball to generate this site inventory. But future councils will be FORCED TO ABIDE BY IT. Know what they'll say? I'm sorry but OUR HANDS ARE TIED. Don't blame us, we are sad too!]

- "Mountain View’s housing allocation is among the highest in the region at 11,135 units" [a 32% increase]
- But that's not good enough for staff, they want even more. Who is in charge here, the council? or staff? "the city says it's prepared to build 15,100 units in the next eight years, an ambitious target that would exceed state requirements by 36%"

[11,135 units is ridiculous, committing to more is OBSCENE. This figure is not required by state, and future councils will be held to that number. As always, the devil is in the details].


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 10, 2022 at 2:51 pm

Frank Richards is a registered user.

I'm sorry, which of those points is supposed to support your thesis? The YIMBY guy isn't in the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce, as far as I can tell. The YIMBY guy's first quote looks like it comes from city staff's analysis in the housing element (they survey developers to understand some of the constraints on building housing), while his second quote seems obvious and non-controversial. Surely you agree that sites identified as redevelopment targets should probably be limited to ones where the property owner wants to redevelop it?

As I understand it, developing a sites inventory has to also factor in a likelihood of being developed, so identifying the precise number required by RHNA would be deficient in that it would imply that every site has a 100% of being developed in the next 8 years.

These examples are why I prefer you to be concrete about your your characterizations of others. There's a general tone from you that these people are all nefarious and scheming, but the actual examples you cite seem pretty level-headed to me? Are there better examples you have?

Thank you for your time, I cannot wait until Sunday morning when I can see the response!


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 11, 2022 at 8:43 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

"You've shown you can't be trusted to accurately portray the views and opinions of others, as you take the most bad-faith interpretation of what people you dislike say, so please provide specific references other than your subjective characterizations."

Richards holds one standard for me, and another for himself. He writes misleading statement after misleading statement, and then says that I cannot be trusted. He accuses me of taking the most bad-faith interpretation of what "people I dislike" say, while he does the exact thing to me. The hypocrisy is amazing to see.

I knew that I would make powerful people angry with my words. That happens when one speaks truth to power. I have no idea who Richards is, but he is acting like a hired gun. He appears to have little interest in discussing the issues, his goal seems to be to discredit me on a personal level.

Many forces are coming together to put pressure on our city council to give developers what they want, over the objections of the community as a whole. What developers want is to maximize their profits. They prefer to build offices over housing units, which adds to the jobs/housing imbalance Web Link . Do YIMBYs object then? No, they remain silent, or express support(!). Why is that? At least the council was "reluctant" to approve the project.

The draft EIR for the Housing Element (created by unelected staff) evaluated the potential environmental impacts associated with building 15,000 new housing units over the next eight years, and appears to be a deeply flawed document. Multiple EPC commissioners, including chair William Cranston, said they worried about the city’s ability to meet the infrastructural needs, including water and school capacity. Richards does not acknowledge this. Even MV YIMBY leaders agree that 15,000 is not "realistic". - Web Link


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 11, 2022 at 10:40 am

Frank Richards is a registered user.

Why do you insist on being so disrespectful and doing this weird performance of referring to me in the third person? I don't have the advice that the moderators gave you, but I highly doubt they said it was OK to raise conspiracy theories about the people you're talking to, so long as you do it in the third person.

I literally keep posting specific issue questions, and you just ignore them for a grandiose performance. Please, just stay on topic and follow the direction of the conversation. I respond to your points, why can't you have the basic courtesy to respond to mine rather than ranting about me?

I'm losing hope for the content of your Monday missive, but I really truly would like to see something near a direct response.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 12, 2022 at 9:38 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Frank, you walk like a YIMBY and talk like a YIMBY, and are familiar enough with the Housing Element to make highly MISLEADING statements that do more to confuse than inform. And yet you say that you are not associated with the YIMBY movement. Are you associated with developers, Google, or the Democratic Party in any way? Would you tell us the truth if you were?

On Aug 30 you wrote: "But Leslie, I pointed out that the city itself says in its Housing Element that park fees, BMR requirements, and the proposed Community Facilities District (school fees) are a major cost for residential development. If it costs more to build these, we will end up with more expensive homes, fewer of them, or both."

Here is an example of your slyness. Nevermind that we had been discussing "developer fees" (legacy fees which are used to fund expansion of schools and parks) and in response you changed the topic to "park fees, BMR requirements, and NEW PROPOSED fees to help fund schools. That was a good move to confuse innocent readers who don't understand what developer fees are, so they get tired and walk away from the convo. It's a clever, but devious way to gain political support for your views. But let's put that aside.

Your words imply that "the city itself" has already found that

1) park fees
2) BMR apartments
3) new, PROPOSED school fees

are a "major cost" that is responsible for the high cost of housing (using legalese-type language in order to cover your tracks: "a major cost for residential development. If it costs more to build these, we will end up with more expensive homes, fewer of them, or both."

A) The city itself has already found this? What an outrageous thing to claim. The process is ongoing, it is not finished. Is it possible that you do not understand this? Approval of the Environmental Impact Report is still ongoing.

B) Throwing BMR apartments in there was beyond the pail. A real doozy.

You imply that it has already been decided that park fees and new fees to build more schools just hike the cost of housing, we can't afford them, is that right?

In the very same breath you imply that BMR UNITS JUST HIKE IT UP TOO. So we can't afford those either?

What are you saying Frank? We can only "afford" to build expensive market rate units, otherwise housing will be too expensive?

That is a very interesting approach to bringing the cost of rent down in Mountain View. It is an approach that would make developers and corporate landlords thrilled, I have no doubt.

Frank, you are very good at twisting language, you should be lawyer. Maybe you already are. Are you? Would you tell us if you were?

"But Leslie, I pointed out that the city itself says in its Housing Element that park fees, BMR requirements, and the proposed Community Facilities District (school fees) are a major cost for residential development. If it costs more to build these, we will end up with more expensive homes, fewer of them, or both."


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 12, 2022 at 10:09 am

Frank Richards is a registered user.

I don't know, does thinking that producing more of a scarce resource will bring its price down make me a YIMBY? I'm not associated with "the YIMBY movement", so I don't know what else there is to their beliefs, but that doesn't seem like a controversial stance to me. As for Google or the Democratic party, I've used Google's search engine and some of their products, and I've mostly voted for Democrats in elections. I guess those are "associations", but I don't think it's what you were implying.

For the fees, maybe I'm confused. What's the distinction between the fees I referenced and "developer fees"? I heard you mention reducing fees, so I looked at the table staff prepared in the draft housing element. It's a pretty comprehensive resource, and I noted the fees that staff said were a major cost for residential development. This includes BMR fees, but staff makes a compelling case for the increased costs being worth it. I'd like to see some deeper analysis that the percentage where it's set maximizes the expected number of BMR units produced, but staff does have a program update scheduled where I hope they will study this.

I don't see how you're accusing me of "twisting" words, I'm trying to respond to your questions and figure out what your specific issues are. My basic belief is that we need to fund subsidized units for low income people and increase production of market-rate homes to bring down the market price. If we don't, you'll see the same trend continue, where we have a ballooning cost for those subsidies, an increasing waiting list for those subsidized homes, and moderate income people will be priced out.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 13, 2022 at 11:40 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Frank, you did not answer my questions. Are you associated with developers in any way? Are you a lawyer? If you ARE associated with developers, so many things make sense. OF COURSE you would be familiar with the draft housing element. OF COURSE you would be pro-YIMBY, because YIMBYs are your people. And your hostility towards me, and attempts to misinform and muddy the waters ... it all makes so much sense.

A YIMBY follower is a naive soul who is desperate about the cost of housing. I don't blame them, but they have wrongly been led to believe that if they fight on behalf of developers, prices will fall. Of course developers love them! YIMBYs mock and belittle the existing residents of MV for caring about “quality of life” issues like schools, parks, water, and traffic congestion. They think that such concerns are elitist, that these issues are little frills that are so much less important than the cost of housing. I wonder if they have children themselves, and would enjoy sending their own child to an overcrowded school.

A YIMBY dismisses the concerns that the Environmental Planning Commission has raised about the draft EIR:

“multiple commissioners said they worried about the city’s ability to meet the infrastructural needs required by 15,000 new units … questioned whether there would be enough water to provide utilities to this many units.”

“The fact that (the) Mountain View Los Altos High School District is already over capacity and is going to have more students, was not addressed,” Commission Chair William Cranston said of the draft EIR. “... That seems like an unavoidable impact.”

“I can’t imagine going from 80,000 people to 140,000 people with the parks that we have today and nobody notices,” [Cranston] said. “It doesn’t sit right with me.”

Frank, you also wrote:

“For the fees, maybe I'm confused. What's the distinction between the fees I referenced and "developer fees"? “

Sir, I don't buy that you are sincerely confused about this, especially if you are associated with developers. You are only "confused" as a tactic to muddy the waters and confuse others. You knew what these fees were on Aug 26. You wrote, “"aren't the increased costs of developer fees just be passed on to renters, either through higher prices, reduced supply, or both?"” I asked you for your evidence. You never provided it. Then you began to pretend that you did not know what these fees were, and changed the subject. On Sep 7, I was very explicit:

“- I am not talking about the school's PROPOSED Community Facilities District
- I already explained this once before

I am talking about LEGACY developer fees that have been in place for a long time. ”

And now on Sept 12, you ask the same question yet again? You are playing games.

Did you know If one searches on “development fees” in the July 2022 HCD Draft at https://www.mvhousingelement.org, one can find matches. Also search for “impact fees”. Did you miss this when you read the report?


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 13, 2022 at 12:06 pm

Frank Richards is a registered user.

Please don't belittle or mock me, I'm trying my best to answer your questions. I apologize for missing your asking if I'm associated with developers or if I'm a lawyer. I have no association with developers aside from long ago a developer built the house I live in. I'm not a lawyer. I hope this satisfies your curiosity about me? I've got kids, too, and I'm really concerned that they won't be able to afford a place to live here when they enter the workforce.

I'm honestly confused about the distinction you're making on fees. Again, I just looked through the table in the housing element, and the city did identify park fees as major costs for residential development (among the others). You keep mentioning parks, so I thought that was part of the ones you were talking about. The city finds that existing school impact fees have a minimal impact, but I haven't seen anyone advocating reducing them, only worry about the Community Facilities District (there was even a Voice article about how people were worried about it). You've gestured vaguely in that direction, but get really cagey about examples when pressed. Surely you have a quote from one of these "multiple times" they've "testified" before council?

Finally, it doesn't seem controversial to me that increasing the cost of producing something will lead to less of it being produced, higher prices, or both. What are you suggesting would happen?

Please, resist the urge to belittle and mock me or others as you did in your recent post, and respectfully respond to my questions and ideas as I've attempted to do for you.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 13, 2022 at 12:10 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

July 2022 HCD Draft at https://www.mvhousingelement.org

For interested readers:

p.211 "Like cities throughout California, Mountain View collects development fees to recover the capital costs of providing community services and the administrative costs associated with processing applications. New housing typically requires payment of school impact fees, sewer and water connection fees, building permit fees, wastewater treatment plant fees, and a variety of handling and service charges. Typical fees collected in the City are outlined in Table 34. ... Based on these sales prices, total fees and exactions in the City would represent 5 to
6 percent of condominium sales prices and 8 percent of new single-family sales prices.

p.212

"Although development fees and exactions do increase the cost of producing housing, in general Mountain View’s fees do not appear to create an undue constraint on residential development in the City."

[do not appear to create an undue constraint!]

"The cumulative effect of all fees on housing production should be considered when evaluating possible constraints. For Mountain View, the majority of fees for housing development are incurred through the park land dedication requirements. Program 1.10 was created to assess the park land dedication requirements through the Parks and Recreation Strategic Plan.

[This makes sense, land in MV is expensive. Did state politicians not understand this when they mandated massive growth here? Overcrowded parks are dangerous - is that what state politicians want for us?].

"However, a program to address the remaining development impact fees is not deemed necessary, since such fees represent a lower amount - approximately one percent of development costs in aggregate, and address critical utilities and transportation infrastructure, and/or support necessary costs to implement the general plan and precise plan vision in areas with the greatest growth and change."

[is not deemed necessary]


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 13, 2022 at 12:25 pm

Frank Richards is a registered user.

Leslie, I'm going to paste in the sentence you copied around because it was inconvenient for your point. If you are going to accuse others of being misleading, it's best not to selectively edit things:

"However, the economic analysis that the City conducted as part of this Housing Element Update identifies the City's BMR requirements and park dedication requirements as having a major impact on residential development costs."

Later they also discuss the Community Facilities District, but I don't really need to paste that in.

Thankfully, now that you've demonstrated you're OK with posting multiple times a day, perhaps you can respond to my other post today in a more timely manner?


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