Water Supply Transfer Agreement with the City of East Palo Alto

On May 23rd, 2017, the City Council approved an agreement to permanently transfer a portion of its San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) water supply guarantee to the City of East Palo Alto. The agreement stipulates that, for a one-time payment of $5 million, East Palo Alto will receive 1 million gallons per day (MGD) of Mountain View’s 13.46 MGD supply guarantee from the SFPUC. East Palo Alto’s supply guarantee, in contrast, is only 1.963 MGD, and because current consumption is near that maximum allocation, a moratorium has been established on new development.

Under the supply agreement with the SFPUC, Mountain View must purchase a minimum of 8.93 MGD – even if the City does not use that amount. Because of significant changes in industrial water use and successful conservation efforts, the City has used less water than the minimum purchase requirement in five of the past seven fiscal years (FY), using only marginally more than the minimum in FY 2012-13 and FY 2013-14. City staff indicated that “water consumption has not come within 1 MGD of the supply guarantee since the last 1980s,” and was only 6.78 MGD in FY 2015-16. In fact, despite the increase in population and development, water use has declined significantly, and is half of the 13.5 MGD that the City used in FY 1986-87. Assured that the City would not run out of water anytime soon, the Council approved the agreement on a 6-1 vote.

Automated Guideway Transit Study

Also on May 23rd, the Council provided additional direction on the scope of the Automated Guideway Transit (AGT) feasibility study. The intention is explore the possibility of developing a fully automated, driverless, off-street (exclusive right of way) transit system connecting Downtown Mountain View to the North Bayshore area. Four technologies will be studied:

  1. Automated Transit Network – these include Personal Rapid Transit and Group Rapid Transit systems. They provide point-to-point service and can bypass other stations to get to the passengers destination.
  2. Automated People Movers – these include rubber-tired or steel-wheeled systems, monorails, and Meglevs. They allow for the highest speeds, offering scheduled service with small headways (3 to 5 minutes).
  3. Autonomous Transit – driverless vehicles capable of integration with mixed-flow (non-exclusive right of way) traffic.
  4. Aerial Cable (Gondolas, Aerial Trams, Funitels)

In providing input, the Council expressed interest in possibly expanding the system to serve the Shoreline Amphitheatre and the San Antonio and East Whisman areas. Council also sought to minimize negative impacts to neighborhoods. The feasibility study will provide cost estimates and a timeline for implementation.

North Bayshore Affordable Housing Administrative Guidelines

Although the final number of housing units that will be allowed in North Bayshore has not yet been determined, the Council provided input on the robust affordable housing program that city staff is developing for the area. The program provides incentives to developers: in exchange for greater building height and density, developers must provide affordable housing. The Council’s ambitious goal is to have 20% of the new housing be affordable to individuals and families at low and moderate levels of income.

On May 16th, the Council made several technical changes to the guidelines, including establishing the density and height bonuses provided in exchange for housing, setting the individual and family income eligibility for affordable units (based on the “Area Median Income” for the county), and exploring making units affordable in perpetuity (instead of the typical 55-year deed restrictions placed on affordable units currently). The Council also directed staff to investigate preferences for anyone who lives or works in the area.

— Lucas Ramirez, Observer