The Council met for the final time before the summer recess on June 27th and will resume meeting in September. Here are some of the final actions the Council took in June:
Adoption of Fiscal Year 2017-18 Budget and Capital Improvement Projects
After several months of discussion, the Council adopted the Fiscal Year 2017-18 Budget on June 20th. The $304,715,136 budget includes a $127,092,614 General Operating Fund, which funds the core city services (Police & Fire, Parks & Recreation, Library, Planning, Public Works, and Administration). Significant discretionary expenditures include payments for city employee pensions and other post-employment benefits (to reduce unfunded liabilities), additional positions across all departments (particularly Planning and Public Works to address the development boom), and 100% renewable energy purchased from the new Silicon Valley Clean Energy Authority to power municipal operations.
Additionally, $34,380,690 has been appropriated for Capital Projects. These include the Shoreline Blvd Interim Bus Lane (a reversible bus lane running through the median to improve traffic flow to North Bayshore), improvements for the Center for Performing Arts and Library, and the Rengstorff Park Aquatics Center Replacement.
North Bayshore Precise Plan Land Use and Transportation Discussion
In a lengthy and contentious study session on June 27th, the Council provided input on the North Bayshore Precise Plan for what was intended to be the last time before adoption of the finalized plan in Fall 2017. However, because the Mayor was traveling and unable to participate in the meeting, a divided Council deadlocked 3-3 on a key policy question: how should the new housing be phased in?
All Councilmembers supported allowing a maximum of 9,850 new units, and all supported a policy to monitor the new development and evaluate traffic and other impacts. The Council disagreed on the staff proposal to implement a “Phase I residential growth policy” that would allow 1500-3000 units before Council review and approval of the next phase. The three members who did not support the staff proposal instead advocated for using the existing trip cap report (which imposes a strict cap on all car trips into North Bayshore and allows the Council to regularly monitor trips) and a “Master Planning” process as a way to monitor progress and potential impacts. A “Master Plan” would require the developer to show how their project would “meet the Precise Plan’s vision and intent, complete neighborhood strategy, affordable housing goals, and other standards and guidelines, including any necessary area transportation infrastructure improvements.”
Because no proposal earned the support of a majority, staff will seek Council direction on this question again at a future study session.
Preservation of 938 and 954 Villa Street Historic Buildings
On June 13th, the Council provided early feedback on a proposal to remove two historic buildings in the downtown area and replace them with a new office building and restaurant. 938 Villa Street (the “Weilheimer House,” currently occupied by Chez TJ) and 954 Villa Street (Tied House) are historic resources because they meet at least one of four criteria:
• If it was associated with a person or organization important to the history of the City.
• If it was the site of a significant event in the City’s history.
• If it embodies distinctive architectural characteristics significant to the City’s history.
• Has yielded or may yield information important to the City’s history or prehistory.
938 Villa Street was built around 1894 and first occupied by prominent Mountain View resident Julius Weilheimer, who served on the City Board of Trustees. Not long afterwards, it was the home of Arthur Free, who served as City Attorney and later was elected to Congress (1921 to 1933). 954 Villa Street was built in 1931 and employs notable building design and architecture.
The Council generally preferred to preserve the Weilheimer House at its current location, but a majority was open to exploring the feasibility of relocating the building to allow the new development to proceed. Because the building at 954 Villa Street is much more challenging to relocate, several Councilmembers expressed interest in potentially incorporating its architectural features into the new office building instead.
Council directed staff to explore options for preserving or relocating the structures and to return to the Council in another study session. The office developer, The Minkoff Group, indicated that, even if the historic buildings were relocated, the current restaurants would not be preserved, as both restaurant owners intend to be partners in the new restaurant (which would occupy the ground floor in the new office building).
—Lucas Ramirez & Julie Lovins, Observers