Council Chambers was packed for this primarily ceremonial session as outgoing Councilmembers Ken Rosenberg, Pat Showalter, and Lenny Siegel stepped down; newly elected Councilmembers Ellen Kamei, Lucas Ramirez, and Alison Hicks took their seats; and Vice Mayor Lisa Matichak and Councilmember Margaret Abe-Koga were elected Mayor and Vice Mayor, following the standard progression.
Most of the council members made brief remarks regarding their priorities. First, Kamei spoke of her goals of working on creating more housing (and offering rental and ownership opportunities particularly for those with a middle income), housing the unhoused, transportation, climate change, and diversity.
Ramirez, noting “I was conditioned by the candidate forums to speak briefly”, simply listed three requests:
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to me.
- Please be respectful in your speech and in your deeds
- Hold me accountable when I fail you.
Hicks spoke about affordable housing, homelessness, climate change, and making sure to speak to every city in and out of the county for regional solutions. She thanked Progressive Action and Livable Mountain View (which she noted she founded but was no longer a part of).
Matichak, upon her election to Mayor, listed three personal areas of emphasis for 2019:
- Being very proactive to push back on federal and state attempts to reduce local control.
- Working towards greater regional consistency and collaboration
- Most importantly, addressing what residents have been asking Council for regarding quality of life issues (including tree canopies and traffic).
Council first held a study session interviewing the candidates for the Rental Housing Commission for two positions and one alternate. After a brief discussion after the interviews, they decided in a unanimous straw vote to promote the current alternate (Julian Pardo de Zela) to a full member, citing his experience on the board during a time of transition; then appointed Susyn Almond as the second full member and Nicole Haines-Livesay as the alternate.
Later that evening, Council held a second study session regarding whether Mountain View should adopt a formal Vision Zero program. Vision Zero, first pioneered in Sweden and primarily adopted by larger cities than Mountain View, (quoting the staff report) is a set of policies, plans, programs and approaches based on the philosophy that loss of life from traffic collisions is unacceptable and preventable. Council was supportive of adopting a Vision Zero policy, primarily to add measurable goals to the project and work already underway to decrease traffic collisions.
In this session, Council discussed the policy they would use to establish their two-year Major Goals and Work Plan. This year, they agreed to submit project ideas during the initial brainstorming workshop (on February 28) in addition to discussing the goals. Ramirez proposed that councilmembers could optionally submit their list of potential programs early so it could be included in the agenda.
Also during this session were two transportation items. The first was on the Downtown Valet Parking Pilot Program (as explained, valet parking increases parking lot capacity by enabling cars to be parked in the aisles, blocking others, since the valet could move cars as needed), and the second was on approving appropriating funds to implement a redesign of the intersection of State Route 237 and Middlefield Road.
Council also discussed their priorities for their visit to Washington DC as part of the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference in March; deciding that the most fruitful meetings to schedule were with NASA, the Department of Transportation, the Pentagon, and Anna Eshoo.
This was a special Council team-building session, held in the Library. Your observer was late due to unexpected work on-call duties and arrived at the tail end of the session; where Councilmembers compared and contrasted the “Brown Act” style of San Jose (where groups of councilmembers release proposals before meetings) and Mountain View (which as Vice Mayor Abe-Koga stated, where councilmembers come with an open mind, listen to public input, and then make a decision). They closed with a discussion on staff and council relations, agreeing that Council’s job was policy and Staff’s job was implementation and day-to-day decisions.
—Max Beckman-Harned, observer