Mayor Lenny Siegel on the housing crisis in Mountain View

Mayor Lenny Siegel spoke at the Technology and Society Committee luncheon on May 8th on the affordable housing crisis, pointing out the steps the City of Mountain View has been taking the last few years to help solve the housing crisis. He showed a chart which vividly pointed out how the City’s current plans could lead to an increase in housing stock of 77% over the number of units in 2010.

He stressed that North Bayshore (NBS) will be “car light” and will include complete neighborhoods with housing and parks, as well as retail and housing.  He pointed out that even though most of the new housing being built in the City is high end, increasing the supply of housing does help. Also, since the City is requiring 15% below market rate units in all its new rental developments, this will lead to significantly more affordable units.  When/if the goal of 9,850 new units in NBS is reached, with 20% of these units-or 1,970-being affordable, this will be more than the current number of affordable units in Mountain View.

He also touched on why he and other councilmembers opposed Sen. Wiener’s bill, SB 827, which died in committee.  He stated that this bill did not require proper transitions to existing neighborhoods, it focused on housing near transit centers rather than near job centers such as NBS, and it wouldn’t have allowed the bonus FAR system the City has in place now; this bonus FAR program requires developers who want to build higher to provide community benefits such as affordable housing, parks, land for schools, etc.  He hopes Wiener will visit Mountain View to see why SB 827 would have been a bad idea.

He hopes the State will provide transportation money to cities that build housing, as transportation is a serious problem.  Most of our local transportation money goes to San Jose.  The first and last mile situation is still the major issue. We need to recognize that ridership will not cover the cost of transit and come up with other ways to pay for it.  He’s hopeful that more ridesharing pools to get folks to transit centers will help with the first mile.

The City is moving towards building a fast link between the train station and NBS, looking at an elevated system.  The City is also working on preparing an employee head count tax to go on the November ballot; this money could be spent by Mountain View on its preferred transit needs.

Finally, he’s talking with neighboring cities, sharing what Mountain View has been doing to create more housing to encourage them to do more.

— Report submitted by Sue Russell, Housing Committee Co-chair