Tuesday May 5th: Support 463 homes in Mountain View

Tuesday May 5th: Support 463 homes in Mountain View

This coming Tuesday evening (May 5th), Mountain View City Council will be holding a public hearing on a great project proposed for adjoining lots at 355-365, 401 and 415 East Middlefield Road in Mountain View.  Please read on for easy ways you can (remotely) voice your support of this development!

The project as currently proposed would bring 463 much-needed homes to Mountain View, in an area very close to:

  • Multiple VTA bus and light rail stops
  • Many corporate campuses (Google, LinkedIn, NASA, Symantec, and more)
  • Major highways (101, 280, and 85 — reducing commute times for those who need to drive)
  • A variety of shops and services in Mountain View

The development contains a mix of homes for sale and rent:

  • 427 condo and apartment homes will be consolidated into two 7-story buildings on the site
    • 10% of the on-site apartments will be set aside as below-market-rate rentals
    • Rather than building affordable condos and townhomes for sale on-site, the developer will make a contribution to the city’s affordable housing fund
  • 36 four-story townhomes will also be available for sale

This project complies with Mountain View’s East Whisman Precise Plan, which as we covered last year, aims to create more homes and mixed-use developments to help balance the explosion of job growth in this area (the center of Silicon Valley).

Although this development will largely contain market-rate units, we believe these homes play an important role in housing a portion of the local workforce, lessening some of the competition for existing housing stock in the area.  We’re also glad the on-site below market rate units will provide some homes at a lower price point for the area’s workforce.

How can you help?

Mountain View City Council will be meeting virtually at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, May 5th.  This project will be discussed towards the end of the agenda — see section 6.1 here for full details.  Note that the meeting will open with a proclamation recognizing Affordable Housing Month!

Please use one of the methods below to contact Council or speak during the meeting in support of:

  • More homes to house our area’s workforce and reduce our imbalance of jobs to homes
  • This development helping the city meet their goal of 5,000 homes in the East Whisman Precise Plan area
  • The on-site affordable housing component
  • The project’s location near jobs, services, and transit, thereby lessening the need for this development’s residents to drive and park

Public comment methods available from the City of Mountain View:

Members of the public wishing to comment on an item on the agenda may do so in the following ways:

  1. Email comments to city.council@mountainview.gov by 5:00 p.m. on May 5. Emails will be forwarded to the City Council. Emails received after 5:00 p.m. and prior to the Mayor announcing that public comment is closed for each item will be read into the record at the meeting (up to 3 minutes, at the discretion of the Mayor). IMPORTANT: identify the Agenda Item number in the subject line of your email. All emails received will be entered into the record for the meeting.
  2. Provide oral public comments during the meeting: click the following link to register in advance to access the meeting via Zoom Webinar: https://mountainview.gov/cc_speakers.
    • You will be asked to enter an email address and a name. Your email address will not be disclosed to the public. After registering, you will receive an email with instructions on how to connect to the Meeting.
    • When the Mayor announces the item on which you wish to speak, click the “raise hand” feature in Zoom or press *9 if participating by phone. For instructions on using the “raise hand” feature in Zoom, visit: https://mountainview.gov/raise_hand.
    • Speakers will be notified shortly before they are called to speak.
    • When called to speak, please limit your comments to the time allotted (up to 3 minutes, at the discretion of the Mayor).
  3. Members of the public who would like to provide comments to the City Council and are unable to send an email to city.council@mountainview.gov or access the live session to provide oral comments: please call 650-903-6436 and leave your comments in a voice mail message before 5:00p.m. on May 5. Voice mail comments will be played during public comment for the item at the meeting (up to 3 minutes, at the discretion of the Mayor). IMPORTANT: identify the Agenda Item number at the beginning of your voice mail message. Staff capacity to receive and process messages may be limited and we encourage reserving telephone access for those who are unable to send email comments or access the live meeting to provide oral comments

Ready to tune in on the night of the meeting?  Watch it live at:

Thanks for supporting more homes in our community!

Tuesday 4/28: Support 100% affordable housing in San Mateo via remote public comment!

Tuesday 4/28: Support 100% affordable housing in San Mateo via remote public comment!

The recent shelter-in-place orders here in the Bay Area have brought many changes to our daily lives.  One of the many things that are a little different now than before are local government meetings, which have moved online.  

This resulted in an unexpected positive: more residents can participate in the democratic process via online public comment!

Traditionally, many government meetings are held during the 9-5 workday or right after, which can make it hard for those with jobs and/or family duties to be physically present.  With the rise of online public comment, more residents are able to participate either by speaking remotely at the meeting, or by having their comment read aloud during the meeting by a city clerk who is responsible for sharing community comments. 

We welcome this new process as a way to remove barriers to democratic participation!

One upcoming project eligible for online public comment is San Mateo’s 100% affordable housing project proposed for the heart of downtown at 480 E. 4th Avenue and 400 E. 5th Avenue (two adjoining parcels).  As covered previously, we’re really glad that this site can provide much-needed workforce housing right near downtown jobs and transit.

Architect's rendering of the MidPen 100% affordable housing project

On Tuesday, April 28th at 7pm, the San Mateo Planning Commission will hold their usual meeting (online), and topic #3 on the agenda will be this downtown opportunity site.  We want to let City Council know we’re in support because:

  • This project contains 100% affordable housing
  • Half of the development’s 225 units are designated as low and extremely-low income units.  This is essential housing to slow the tide of displacement within our community, and help house part of our workforce.
  • These two perfectly-located parcels becoming available at the same time present a rare opportunity to make the most of a meaningful amount of space that can benefit our community.  We have to use this site to its full capacity.
  • This project is situated near many downtown jobs, transit stops, shops, and services, allowing residents to walk and lessen our community’s dependence on cars for commuting and errands.

There is some local opposition to the height of the project and its number of units, from area residents who wish to make the project smaller.  As mentioned above, we feel that this project should be dense in order to accommodate as many workers and families as possible, especially given the project’s prime downtown location.  

Please use one of the City of San Mateo’s new methods to submit your support.  From the City’s website:

PUBLIC COMMENTS – Comments submitted in the following ways will be made part of the official record. 

 

Prior to the meeting: Send comments to: planning@cityofsanmateo.org until 4 p.m. the day of the meeting.  

 

During the meeting: Comments can be submitted online beginning 1 hour before each meeting through Speak Up San Mateo: https://www.cityofsanmateo.org/4245. Find the agenda item(s) you’d like to comment on and complete the form. The platform will remain open for comments until the Chair closes the Public Comment Period for that specific item. 

 

Staff will read into the record all comments received.

 

ACCESSIBILITY: In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, those with disabilities requiring special accommodations to participate in this meeting may contact the Planning Division at planning@cityofsanmateo.org or (650) 522-7212 . Notification 48 hours prior to the meeting will enable the City to make reasonable arrangements to ensure accessibility to this meeting. 

Want to tune in the night of?  There are three ways to watch the livestream via computer or device:

  1. Public Meeting Portal: www.cityofsanmateo.org/publicmeetings 
  2. City YouTube channel: http://youtube.com/CityofSanMateo 
  3. TV live stream: https://www.cityofsanmateo.org/193/Channel-San-Mateo-Live-Stream 

Thank you for supporting housing for our neighbors and essential workers!

Neighbors helping neighbors during the COVID-19 emergency

Neighbors helping neighbors during the COVID-19 emergency

The COVID-19 crisis has upended countless households’ budgets and caused additional stress for many across our region. We’ve created this list of local resources to help neighbors identify ways they can get help, volunteer, and/or donate to the cause.

To learn more about each provider and their resources, please click on the link attached to each organization’s name. Looking to volunteer or contribute? Read on in each paragraph for direct links to do so!

1. Meals on Wheels: Demand for meals to be delivered to seniors is increasing. This is a critical service in our community during normal times, and it will be vital to keep it going during the weeks ahead. Meals on Wheels usually requires new volunteers to go to the DMV for background checks, but they are modifying this requirement during this time. If you are able and interested in this important work, please fill out this form and say in the section on “Specific Jobs” at the end of the page that you’re interested in COVID-19 emergency volunteering. You can also donate online here.

2. Second Harvest depends on an extensive network of volunteers to distribute groceries to those in need across Silicon Valley. Due to COVID-19 concerns and precautions, they are currently experiencing a volunteer shortage. If you are healthy and not immuno-compromised, please consider signing up for a shift or two here. Volunteers need to be 14 or older (minors must be supervised by a parent), healthy, and ideally able to lift 25 pounds. You can also donate online.

3. Samaritan House provides essential services to low-income Menlo Park residents. You can help with food preparation and/or transport! Contact volunteering@samaritanhousesanmateo.org. Please be patient with the time it takes to respond as volume is high and staffing is low. Due to the postponement of a fundraiser, donations are also especially needed — you can contribute here.

4. Baby Basics of the Peninsula is a 100% volunteer organization based in East Palo Alto that distributes diapers to families in need. To find out more about volunteering, please call (650) 321-2193 or email baby.basics@yahoo.com. You can also donate here.

Monday, 2/24: Support housing at the Sequoia Station site

Monday, 2/24: Support housing at the Sequoia Station site

Meeting details:

Where: Council Chambers: 1017 Middlefield Road Redwood City, CA 94063

When: Monday, February 24th at 7pm

What: Agenda item 9.A: Initiation of an amendment to the General Plan and Downtown Precise Plan for the Sequoia Station Shopping Center at 1039-1101 El Camino Real

Redwood City is currently evaluating development opportunities at Sequoia Station in Downtown Redwood City.  The Council recently designated this area the “Transit District”, as depicted below. 

Planning for Sequoia Station will be done in parallel with updated plans for the broader downtown area, and plans for major station upgrades and rail grade separations that would enable much more frequent Caltrain service and better crosstown connections. 

Image of the transit district. Source: City Manager’s Staff Report

We’re excited about the overall opportunity for redevelopment at this site.  The Station today consists mainly of surface-level parking and a strip mall.

The redeveloped area would mix residential and office space, with a proposed 100% affordable housing component, plus ground-floor retail that preserves the existing Safeway, CVS, and more.   The upgraded station would allow the community expanded access to clean transit which reduces traffic and emissions.

However, the development as proposed would have office space for several thousand workers and only a few hundred homes. That mix would create pressure to increase prices on other housing in the downtown area, and increase the risk of displacement for lower-income people living near downtown.

The city should look to this development, and other places in the broader downtown, to provide homes to balance the jobs, and reduce the pressure on housing prices and the risk of displacing lower-income neighbors.

Chart showing proposed allocations of housing units. Source

About the transit center, now and in the future:

Redwood City’s transit center is an essential hub for local and regional transit:  

  • Currently, the station accommodates 5 Caltrain trains per direction per hour during rush periods, and is expected to accommodate 6 per hour when Caltrain starts electric service by 2023. Caltrain’s plans through the end of the decade have the station increasing capacity to up to 8 trains per direction per hour.
  • The high cost of living on the Peninsula currently results in many of the region’s workers commuting in from elsewhere via Caltrain or other future transit solutions like a Dumbarton rail bridge.  

Redwood City’s rail station needs to alter its footprint in order to accommodate additional Caltrain service and a link to the proposed Dumbarton light rail train.  As such, this development opportunity at Sequoia Station is perfectly timed. The area can be redeveloped just once and is then primed for future needs of the community, including existing and future residents, commuters and workers, and transit agencies.

Next steps:

Please join us at this and future council meetings, to support more homes in this development and the broader downtown area.

Especially if you can’t make it in person, please also engage with your local elected officials and Councilmembers to reinforce the importance of including additional housing as this area is redeveloped. You can email the council at: council@redwoodcity.org

The City’s staff report also includes the following proposed next steps:

  • Spring 2020: Technical studies begin for railway operations and land needs on the Transit District
  • Summer 2020: Community outreach for the Transit District on goals, land uses, and connections. Sequoia Station project is revised to conform to the Transit District proposal.
  • Fall 2020: Technical studies are completed and environmental review begins, including the Sequoia Station project.
  • Winter 2020 and 2021 – Community engagement continues along with environmental studies and further refinements of the Sequoia Station project to address transit needs and community input.
Tonight at 5:30pm: San Mateo’s City Council considers more affordable homes, plus a potential loss of homes to a freeway ramp

Tonight at 5:30pm: San Mateo’s City Council considers more affordable homes, plus a potential loss of homes to a freeway ramp

What: Tonight, San Mateo’s City Council is meeting for a special study session to discuss two important items related to housing.

Where: City Hall Conference Room C at 330 W. 20th Avenue, San Mateo, CA 94403

When: Monday, February 3rd at 5:30pm

There are two topics at this study session that we’re interested in:

  1. Affordable homes downtown

San Mateo has a great affordable housing project in the pipeline, proposed for two adjacent downtown parcels at 480 E. 4th Avenue and 400 E. 5th Avenue.  The City chose MidPen Housing, a local affordable housing developer, for the site.

Rendering of the affordable housing project

The City and MidPen Housing are exploring the implications of recently-passed AB 1763, which is a new state law that allows 100% affordable housing projects to benefit from greater height/density when they’re near transit.  At tonight’s meeting, the city will discuss the consequences of increasing the number of units at this project site from 164 to 225. We’d love to see this affordable project grow in this way, given the lack of affordable units in the area.

MidPen Housing believes the impact of the additional units will be minimal since a majority of the proposed additional units will be studio apartments.  They expect that a lot of demand for these units will come from seniors and other residents who are less likely to own cars — especially since the site is in Downtown San Mateo and close to several transit stops.

We’re so excited to see this project proposed, especially with the “density bonus” that’s up for discussion.  Please join us in voicing your support for this fantastic development, including the additional homes.  

Unfortunately, the second item up for discussion at the study session involves a potential loss of units:

2. Peninsula Ave Interchange Project

The City of San Mateo is exploring whether to move the existing Highway 101 on- and off-ramps from Poplar Ave. to the interchange at Peninsula Avenue.

The Poplar ramps, as they function today, do present safety concerns especially since they route traffic directly through a residential area that’s adjacent to the highway.  

However, as indicated in the city’s Agenda Report, the city is considering whether it needs to acquire 28 parcels of land in order to move the ramps as described.  Materials on the project website seem to show that homes would be removed:

Please join us in asking the city for additional detail on the parcel acquisition proposal, including the number of homes that would be affected.  We’d also like to know what the city plans for affected residents (especially sensitive populations like renters), and we’d like to encourage solutions that don’t displace people.

Can’t make it tonight?  Please reach out to the City Council at citycouncil@cityofsanmateo.org.

The Peninsula Ave Interchange