El Camino Real at Castro St.
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Uri Pachter

Mountain View Takes Two Steps Forward

On December 9, Mountain View took two important steps toward creating a more vibrant and affordable city by approving a long-term vision for the El Camino Real corridor and voting to significantly increase funds for new affordable homes.

With median rents for a one-bedroom apartment in Mountain View currently hovering around $2,360 (as of Nov. 2014 according to Zillow), these two wins represent tangible progress in alleviating the city’s—and the region’s—current housing crisis while creating great places to live.

The El Camino Precise Plan calls for over 1,500 new homes along the 4-mile stretch of El Camino Real that runs through the city, with a mix of new shops and jobs to create a thriving corridor. Here are some highlights from the plan:

  • Focuses new development at key intersections to take advantage of existing public transit and retail amenities along Mountain View’s busiest transit corridor
  • Calls for protected bike lanes along El Camino Real and a parallel bicycle boulevard along Church and Latham streets
  • Recognizes affordable homes as the most important community need in a new corridor-wide public benefits bonus program.
  • Creates wider sidewalks and larger public plazas that will make El Camino more people-friendly

This win for Mountain View would not have been possible without collaboration. Throughout the planning process, there were many voices calling for El Camino Real to remain as is: an auto-centric corridor made up of parking lots, strip malls, and more than a few vacant lots. From the beginning, Greenbelt Alliance engaged community members, city staff, and our local and regional partners to make sure the plan would revitalize the corridor.

Our collective efforts paid off. The final plan better reflects the needs of Mountain View’s diverse community—it will increase the quality of life for those who work and live in Mountain View by creating affordable homes, high quality bike lanes, pedestrian-friendly streets, and engaging public plazas.

We’re also ecstatic that the City Council voted to generate new funds for much-needed affordable homes by increasing the city’s housing impact fees citywide, an increase that we advocated for. These fees—which are applied to new development and used to fund construction of affordable homes—were increased as follows:

  • Housing impact fees on new apartments – increased by 66%
  • Housing impact fees on new office projects – increased by 144%

The fee increases will have a real impact on the number of affordable homes available in Mountain View. For example, because of the fee increases, new office development in the North Bayshore neighborhood could generate up to roughly $50 million more to support affordable homes than would have been raised under the previous fee.

Thank you to our coalition , including the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, San Francisco Organizing Project/Peninsula Interfaith Action, Mountain View Coalition for Sustainable Planning, Safe Mountain View, Great Streets Mountain View, Friends of Caltrain, and the Great Communities Collaborative. And thank you to those who assisted in the passage of Mountain View’s new housing impact fees: the League of Women Voters of the Los Altos-Mountain View Area, the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, Working Partnerships, the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, and Housing Trust Silicon Valley.

Greenbelt Alliance also thanks councilmembers Michael Kasperzak, Ronit Bryant, and Margaret Abe-Koga for their leadership in increasing funds for affordable homes and for creating a more vibrant and affordable Mountain View for everyone.

Photo: Alex Chen

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