After a two month summer recess, the Mountain View City Council resumed meeting in September.
Upon reconvening the Council on September 5th, Mayor Rosenberg read a moving tribute to Julie Lovins, the longtime Observer of the Council on behalf of the Los Altos-Mountain View League. The tribute was prepared by Julie’s brother, Amory, and is available in the video recording of the September 5, 2017 City Council meeting on the City website.
North Bayshore Precise Plan – Final Policy Direction
On September 26th, the Council provided policy direction for the last time on the North Bayshore Precise Plan. Although the Council had previously been divided on the issue of the appropriate mechanism to monitor traffic impacts of new development in the area, there was unanimous agreement on the robust monitoring and enforcement programs devised by City staff. This includes biannual trip counts to ensure that the “trip cap” (the maximum number of vehicles traversing into and out of North Bayshore during peak hours, based on the vehicle capacity of San Antonio Road, Rengstorff Avenue, and Shoreline Boulevard) is not hit. If the number of vehicles traveling down any of those three “gateways” into North Bayshore exceeds the trip cap, then the City stops issuing building permits, effectively prohibiting new development in the area.
Additionally, the Council supported policy language in the Precise Plan intended to promote the development of a local school in North Bayshore. All proposed residential development projects will be required to submit a Local School District Strategy, which may include land dedication for a new school, additional funding for school development, or other innovative strategies.
The Council also removed a mechanism that would have allowed proposals for additional office space, exceeding the 3.6 million square feet of office space studied in the Environmental Impact Report for the North Bayshore Precise Plan. During the study session, a representative from Google challenged this decision, saying that Google would not build any housing at all if it did not have the ability to develop additional office space beyond the 3.6 million currently allowed. However, Google has since rescinded its “ultimatum” and has indicated that it supports the effort to build housing in North Bayshore, despite the removal of the provision for potentially more office space.
Affordable Housing Priorities and Strategic Framework
In a lengthy study session on September 12th, the Council discussed a comprehensive strategy to address the housing affordability crisis. Although no formal actions were taken, the Council expressed support for a variety of measures recommended by City staff, including approval of an investment strategy for the projected $78 million generated by affordable housing fees on new development over the next several years. $50 million is proposed to be allocated to develop 350 to 400 affordable homes for low-income households, and $28 million will be allocated to fund 200 to 250 permanent supportive housing units or rapid rehousing for the homeless. Additionally, strategies to provide housing for moderate income people (often referred to as housing for the “missing middle”), increase the number of ownership housing units built, and strengthen affordable housing programs to produce more affordable units were broadly supported by the Council. Staff anticipates returning to Council next year to refine and prioritize the programs and strategies.
Regulation of Commercial Marijuana Activities
In November 2016, Proposition 64 was approved by California voters, legalizing recreational marijuana activity. Noting that 68% of Mountain View voters supported the ballot measure, the Council directed staff to develop an amendment to the Zoning Code to permit and regulate commercial marijuana activity, including delivery and sale of cannabis products. Staff will return with a temporary moratorium of all commercial marijuana activity until the development of a regulatory framework is complete in order to avoid a regulatory gap. In the absence of any local law, the state becomes the sole regulatory body of marijuana-related activities.
Environmental Sustainability Task Force 2
On September 5th, the Council provided direction on the scope and deliverables for the newly established Environmental Sustainability Task Force (ESTF). The ESTF was first convened in 2008 and concluded with a major report providing a number of recommendations pertaining to climate change, water use, waste reduction, energy, land use, transportation, and other sustainability activities. This second Task Force is charged with analyzing how Mountain View can achieve its aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals over the next 10 years and assisting with community education and outreach efforts. The new ESTF will prepare a report and present its findings to the Council in the summer of 2018.
City Clerk Retiring
City Clerk Lorrie Brewer announced that she would be retiring at the end of this year after over six years of service to the City. On September 26th, the Council initiated the process of searching for her successor. A candidate is anticipated to be appointed by the Council early next year.
—Lucas Ramirez & Julie Lovins, Observers