City Council Goals Work Plan Midcycle Update

On February 13, following significant public interest, the Council added a new item to their work plan: review and possible update of the Downtown Precise Plan. In multiple council meetings, members of the public have expressed concerns about increasing office space in downtown with limited or no pedestrian-oriented ground floor frontage, preservation of historic buildings, walkability, urban design, and connection to Moffett Boulevard. The Council had not previously included reviewing the Downtown Precise Plan among its priorities for the 2-year cycle. The Council retained other significant work plan items, including a “visioning” for the Terra Bella area to potentially allow significant housing development.

East Whisman Precise Plan – Land Use Policy Topics

In a February 27 study session, the Council provided high-level direction on the development of the East Whisman Precise Plan, which would allow potentially up to 5,000 new housing units and 2.3 million square feet of office space. The boundaries of the precise plan area, roughly, are Highway 101 to the north, N Whisman Road to the west, E Middlefield Rd to SR 237 and Central Expressway to the south, and the Sunnyvale border to the east. The Council broadly agreed on the proposed urban design for the area, with a height limit of 8 stories and greater density around the Middlefield light rail station. The Council also supported a goal of 20% affordable housing units and a policy mechanism that would link jobs growth to housing.

Modifications to Membership Criteria for City Advisory Bodies

On February 27, the Council approved modifications to the membership criteria for the City Advisory Bodies not established by the Charter. The changes allow any Mountain View resident to serve on non-Charter advisory bodies regardless of immigration status. Members of the Environmental Planning Commission, Library Board, and Parks and Recreation Commission, as well as the Rental Housing Committee, are still required to be “qualified electors” (registered voters). The Council also established a two-year pilot program that would allow City employees to serve on non-Charter advisory bodies when there are no conflicts between the employee’s work responsibility and the purview of the advisory body.

Modifications to the Below Market Rate (BMR) Affordable Housing Program

In September 2017, the Council discussed a variety of affordable housing policy issues in a wide-ranging study session. Based on direction provided at that time, the Council approved several changes to the BMR Affordable Housing Program on February 13. The modifications require that 15% of new market-rate rental housing and 10% of new market-rate ownership housing must be affordable. Developers will be allowed to propose “alternative mitigations,” which means that they are allowed to propose other ways to satisfy the affordable housing requirement. For example, with Council approval, developers could pay a fee in-lieu of providing onsite (inclusionary) affordable units in their project, provide offsite affordable units, dedicate land to the City for a separate affordable housing project, or offer some other alternative.

Downtown Economic Vitality Program

The Downtown Economic Vitality Program is a two phase effort that includes a variety of initiatives to support downtown businesses. The first phase, to be implemented later this year, supports existing businesses by offering discounted parking permits to retail (non-restaurant) businesses, providing assistance for retail businesses through the planning and building permitting process, and offering business resource workshops on issues like ADA compliance. The second phase, which will be implemented early next year, is designed to attract new businesses by expediting the permitting process, exploring incentives for retail businesses, and creating a new brand for downtown Mountain View. The Council approved this program on February 27.

Appointment of City Clerk

Following Lorrie Brewer’s retirement in December 2017, the Council initiated a search for a City Clerk and, on February 27, appointed Lisa Natusch. Ms. Natusch has served as Deputy City Clerk in the City of Sunnyvale for the past nine years.

— Lucas Ramirez, Observer