Town Square

Council likes affordable housing proposal

Original post made on Dec 2, 2009

A conceptual design for an affordable housing project on Evelyn and Franklin streets was well received during a City Council study session Tuesday, although the $26 million price tag concerned at least one council member.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, December 2, 2009, 2:39 PM


Like this comment
Posted by Sir
a resident of another community
on Dec 2, 2009 at 3:56 pm

With building cost of 500K for each unit, the condo building sounds not so affordable at all.

The city should show tax payers (mountain view residence) the breakdown cost of the project. If a condo living area is 1000 ft^2 on average, that's $500/ft^2. The Builder is charging a price above market rate ($200 - $300/ft^2), or City is overpaying the Builder. In the econormic downtime, that does not sound right to me.

With so many forclosure house on the market and with vacancy rate for rental is going up, building more affordable houses in mountain view is not at a good time. 7 million can be used to improve our neighborhood schools, and keep a lots of public service city worker employed (I am talking about helping more than just 51 families). People in charge of the city should do something that makes more sense.

One last point, the city building fund is tax payer money. Unlike the FED, the city can not print money out of nowhere. When city run out of money, there will be more tax slapped on our property tax bill or a hike on the sales tax. We just can not afford to keep paying for the city's "Affordable Housing".

Like this comment
Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 2, 2009 at 10:14 pm

* If you squeeze the taxpayers and the developers hard enough, anything can be affordable. Heck, Obama has found a way to give people "free" health care.

* How does someone making $64,000 buy a $500,000 property? Isn't this how we got in the economic mess that we are in?

* A $7 million subsidy for 51 units is $137,000 per unit. Why the f- do the taxpayers need to pay someone from outside Mtn View to move here and get a free $137,000?

* The problem with low rent housing is not the housing; it is the people.

* For a tenth of that amount, you could fund an INS sweep of the area and free up a lot of housing space.

Like this comment
Posted by Drew Seutter
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 3, 2009 at 1:25 pm

I think that a lot of people either just don't care or are afraid to voice the following opinion; however, this forum seems to work better for me than just banging my head against the wall in a formal comment to the actual affordable housing development proposal.

I think that the Mountain Vioew City Council should be doing all it can to make housing in Mountain View unaffordable, not more affordable. As part of a family that helps carry the load with property, payroll, and sales tax, plus a myriad of other fees and taxes, I want my home to be worth as much as possible. The affordable housing development being discussed will cause the opposite effect. Very basic economics tells us that supply and demand influence a whole lot when it comes to the price anyone pays for a given commodity. Add to that the perceived quality of local schools, community safety, functions, etc., and housing prices (i.e., the value of my home) can be made larger by certain government actions. Therefore City government should cut or do not increase the housing supply, or increase the housing demand, possibly by spending a few dollars more on our local schools or other community attributes. Do not fork over my money to an affordable housing effort, regardless of whether the available federal money would otherwise be 'left on the table.' Leave it on the table. Spend any money that you do have influence over on something that will benefit those of us who actually pay the bills.

To summarize and repeat, I think pursuit of this, or any, affordable housing project is something I cannot support, and I wish the Mountain View City Council would do exactly the opposite with respect to spending any money that it has. However, I do realize that most council members have other values and motives, and I enjoy the right and forum provided here to criticize them.

Like this comment
Posted by Concerned citizen
a resident of Jackson Park
on Dec 3, 2009 at 2:22 pm

I am disturbed by the stereotype that all low-income families are undesirable and bad neighbors. Many of the low-income families I work with are incredibly hard working and responsible, and I would be happy to have them as neighbors. Just as some high-income families make great neighbors and some are jerks, so too there are a range of low-income families.

Also, to address the point about "paying someone outside of Mountain View to move here" - I believe that these units are designated for low-income people who already reside in Mountain View.

Like this comment
Posted by Homeowner
a resident of Whisman Station
on Dec 3, 2009 at 2:30 pm

I bought a house in Mountain View in 2006, and that value has since dropped about 20%. I can't believe the city is considering adding low cost giveaways at this point in time. The VOICE just printed a story on cutting down the special ed work force at Slate School due to budget cuts. How about putting money into our schools that are dwindling away?

I'm tired of paying taxes and high-mortgage, while our city council decides it's best to increase the population of mountain view and offering housing assistance.

How about some assistance for me, who has lost nearly everything in this housing crisis?

Like this comment
Posted by MV Native
a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2009 at 4:01 pm

"How about some assistance for me, who has lost nearly everything in this housing crisis?"

Sorry to hear about your situation. It's tough out there for so many of us.

But, I urge everyone complaining about the idea of affordable housing during an economic downturn to look at the bigger picture - as this is a long term investment on the part of our City.

Things might look bleak now, but home prices will eventually rise again in cities like Mountain View. We're on the opposite end of the spectrum of rust-belt cities like Detroit, who might never need to worry about affordability ever again. Pending devastating climate change and the complete collapse of our local high-tech industry (in which case we're ALL screwed) Mountain View will just become an increasingly desirable and expensive place to live.

Decades ago, when Mountain View was much more of a middle-class town, residents urged our city's leaders to create some kind of affordable housing policy to help ensure the city did not turn into an exclusive suburb for the rich. In addition to high-tech employees who can afford to buy a house here, we wanted to do what we could to ensure that at least some of our teachers, nurses, janitors, etc, didn't all have to commute here from Tracy or Los Banos. We wanted a well-rounded and diverse community. In other words, we did not want to become Los Altos.

One solution was the creation of inclusionary housing fees for major developments. Most of those fees were collected during the boom years, and now there's enough of them to build this housing development. It's not like the City Council suddenly discovered a hidden reserve of our hard-earned tax payer dollars to spend however they pleased.

This has been a long time coming and I'm glad to see it.

Like this comment
Posted by Also in favor
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 3, 2009 at 4:46 pm

I would like to second everything that MV Native said in the message above. It's a breath of fresh air compared to the insular, I-got-mine-and-everyone-else-can-go-to-hell comments expressed further above.

Also, I'd like to say that when the minimum "price of admission" of a community is $300K-$400K for a tiny condo and $700K-$800K for a starter home, as it still is in Mountain View even with the housing downturn, we STILL have an affordability problem. We still need these kinds of incentives to ensure that our community keeps at least some semblance of diversity of incomes and backgrounds, and some chance for our teachers and service workers to be able to live here.

Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 3, 2009 at 4:53 pm

The $7M cited in the article comes from the city's below-market rate (BMR) funds, which are, if I'm not mistaken, fees that developers pay instead of making a percentage of their developments available at below market rate. So it's not coming from our property, sales, or other taxes, it was a choice by developers to pay these "in-lieu" fees rather than designate some of their homes as below market.

I wish the schools could tap into lots of different resources, but reality is that the city and the school district are completely independent agencies. The city has no control over schools, does not provide any funding (other than the partnerships for funding music and art, maintenance of school fields in exchange for using them as extra sports fields, the middle school gyms & Graham sports complex, etc.) But these are isolate partnerships.

The city's BMR funds are reserved for affordable housing. I would think that they cannot legally use the funds for anything else, but you'd have to ask someone in the city about that.

I work next to one of the affordable housing developments the city put up. It's a very nice building, quiet neighbors, I don't see any problem with it at all. My guess is that this building would be similar.

Using these funds to help families who make $64K or under have quality housing in town makes a lot of sense to me. Many teachers make less than that, for just one example; a lot of other non-professional workers, or professionals who work for non-profit agencies, etc. are others.

Like this comment
Posted by CC
a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 3, 2009 at 5:12 pm

After the housing bubble burst, there are a lot of affordable housing in the South Bay. Many of the single family houses on sale in the neighboring cities are in 300Ks range. This is the time for people who wants to be an homeowner to buy a bigger place with less money.

What the city is doing right now is bothering me. Billions of taxpayer money were spent by the Fed. Govt to stablize the housing market, while our local city is spending millions of dollars of taxpayer money to increase the housing supply to stall the housing market recovery. ????? All the homeowners in mountain view (especially the trouble homeonwers) deserve to get a good explaination from the city council.

Like this comment
Posted by phm
a resident of The Crossings
on Dec 3, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Regarding people who live in BMR housing, when the efficiency apartments were proposed near The Crossings, the majority of neighbors who voiced an opinion, including me, feared rising crime and falling housing values. The apartments have been there several years now and I haven't noticed any affect on the neighborhood. If there have been any problems with the tenants, I haven't heard, and I'm pretty up on what goes on around here. In this economy, almost anyone can lose his/her job and savings and face hardship. My point is, I'm not going to assume there's something wrong with people who need BMR housing and see no need to fear them.

Like this comment
Posted by MV Native
a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2009 at 5:37 pm

CC - I'll state it again, this isn't money collected from tax payers. It's from affordable housing fees collected from major developers during the dot-come boom. Such a small number of units will have next to no impact on Mountain View's larger housing market. They should mean very little to you or your property values. However, they'll mean the world to the families who qualify to live in them.

History in Silicon Valley whirls at a rapid rate, but I hope that the people of Mountain View never forget that this city was built and made great by hard-working people of low and moderate incomes - the same kinds of families that, even in this recession, struggle to enter our housing market. For years to come, this housing development will be one small way to reserve a place for them within our borders. Nothing more, nothing less.

Like this comment
Posted by Andrew
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 3, 2009 at 8:10 pm

While I have no problem with the affordable housing here (although I do think the ends are a little too close to the Bryant condos), $500k per unit does sound high. I hope the city just doesn't write a check without forcing this down to more proper levels.

Like this comment
Posted by NeHi
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 3, 2009 at 8:45 pm

I appreciate MV Native telling us that the money to be used has been collected and is in the bank.

It would also be nice to know how much is in the bank and why the collection of this money, which must have come from the purchasers of said housing, did not already drive up prices in Mtn. View.

Like this comment
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 5, 2009 at 12:11 am

It's about the big picture, not just the housing. With an add'l 51 units, the school district will take on about 150 more kids. Can the system handle the load with the budget crisis? Maybe this is not the right time to build additional housings as there are more affortable housings available due to the economic downturn?

What the city needs is a master plan of impact to all city services.

Like this comment
Posted by concerned citizen
a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 5, 2009 at 6:21 am

Let me get this straight, I pay my rent and also somebody else's rent? Isn't that socialism? Socialism did not create the light bulb, the transistor, television or anything else, capitalism did that. In 1956, Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory,at 391 San Antonio Road,Mountain View, was the first company to work on silicon semiconductor devices in what came to be known as Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley was not a product of Socialism.
Low income housing is a "nice" word for a tenement or slum.
So if I dropped out of high school because I was lazy, then the people who worked hard owe me a living? That is not the values that my parents taught me. If I wanted something, I had to earn it, have always done that and always will. Lazy people and low achievers can move to some third world socialist country if they want a free ride off of people who have to work for a living.

Like this comment
Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Dec 6, 2009 at 10:05 pm

Funny how some people think you can magically make housing cheaper and more affordable. Its done by taxing land owners and home buyers so that the council can build units at 500k each and rent them out for around $1000/month. Politicians want to feel good about using someone elses money to do good and them claim the credit.