This article is co-authored by Jeremy Madsen, CEO, Greenbelt Alliance, and Matt Regan, Senior Vice President, Public Policy, Bay Area Council.
UPDATE: The Mountain View City Council unanimously approved the North Bayshore Precise Plan on December 13, 2017.
There is a lot going for the Bay Area. Our innovation-based economy is the envy of the world and many of the technologies that people across the globe depend on every day come from this place we call home. Our oak-studded hills and redwood forests, the Pacific Coast and the Bay, and farms, ranches, and vineyards provide us with a bounty unlike any other metropolitan region.
But challenges come along with the rewards. Our region simply isn’t building the homes our growing population requires, fueling our housing affordability crisis. Our traffic gridlock rivals that of Los Angeles. And our hot economy creates pressure to pave over iconic open spaces with subdivisions, office parks, and shopping centers; in the nine-county Bay Area, 293,000 acres of open space—an area 10 times the size of San Francisco—is currently at risk of being lost to sprawl development.
It’s not often that a big opportunity comes along that can make a positive impact on all of these challenges. Such an opportunity stands before the City of Mountain View in the form of the North Bayshore Precise Plan.
In recent years, Mountain View has been a leader in addressing the Bay Area’s housing challenge. The North Bayshore Precise Plan is a chance for Mountain View to take that leadership to another level. There are few other development plans in the Bay Area of North Bayshore’s scale. It envisions mixed-use developments with up to 9,850 new homes within a 650-acre area that is already home to companies like Google and Intuit. Under the plan, 15 to 20 percent of these new homes will be affordable to people making low- and mid-level incomes.
As important as providing nearly 10,000 new homes is to addressing the housing crisis, the North Bayshore Precise Plan will do a lot more than that. By giving employees the opportunity to live close to where they work, it will take cars off of our clogged freeways. Nearly 10,000 new residential units in Mountain View means less demand to build on farmland or wildlife habitat on the Bay Area’s urban edge. By giving people the chance to live close to work, they’ll drive less reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. “Infill” development of this type uses 35 percent less water per home than similarly sized sprawl homes. And the type and amount of development being proposed will support shops and services, additional transit, and new parks truly creating a new community.
As leaders of the Bay Area’s business and environmental communities, we urge the leaders of Mountain View to fully embrace the 9,850-home vision of the North Bayshore Precise Plan with the flexibility necessary to make a complete neighborhood a reality.
The plan is good for people, the economy, and the environment, and given the challenges facing our region, we cannot afford to wait.
By saying “yes” to this plan, Mountain View will be a model for how to tackle some of the biggest issues that we are all facing today.
Many thanks to all of our partners who worked tirelessly with us over many years to make this happen, including SV@Home, Bay Area Council, Campaign for a Balanced Mountain View, Destination: Home, Friends of Caltrain, League of Women Voters Los Altos – Mountain View Area, Mountain View Chamber of Commerce, Mountain View Coalition for Sustainable Planning, Save The Bay, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, TransForm, Housing Trust Silicon Valley, EAH Housing, Aging Services Coalition, South Bay YIMBY, and the hundreds of Mountain View residents who spoke up for a smart vision for North Bayshore.
More on the North Bayshore Precise Plan
At its last hearing in September, the City Council received testimony from nearly 50 speakers in support of the draft plan’s vision for sustainable, equitable development. Read about the hearing here and join the community in support of the plan by attending this pre-hearing gathering hosted by Silicon Valley at Home, Greenbelt Alliance, Mountain View Coalition for Sustainable Planning, Campaign for a Balanced Mountain View, Mountain View Chamber of Commerce, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Friends of Caltrain, Bay Area Council, TransForm, Destination: Home, League of Women Voters of the Los Altos-Mountain View Area. Speak up and urge the Council to take the final step and #SayYesNBS!