December 12, 2017

San Francisco Chronicle Editorial: In Mountain View, time to build the homes


The San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial board has joined the chorus of voices saying that it’s time to #SayYesNBS and build 9,850 new homes in Mountain View.

The editorial’s last paragraph quotes SV@Home Deputy Director Pilar Lorenzana.

Read the original article at SFGate.

Editorial: In Mountain View, time to build the homes

This year’s legislative breakthrough on housing has yet to stem the tide of depressing dispatches from California’s shelter shortage, from spreading homelessness and a deadly hepatitis outbreak to ever-rising prices and stagnant supply. But at the heart of the crisis, a much-needed glimmer of hope can be discerned.

Mountain View and its most famous resident, Google, are on the brink of agreeing on a plan to add up to nearly 10,000 homes to one of the suburbs bearing the brunt of Silicon Valley’s imbalance between jobs and housing. Gabriel Metcalf, who heads the regional urban-planning think tank SPUR, called it “a really big opportunity to add housing … at the epicenter of job creation.”

If Mountain View’s City Council approves the project in a vote expected Tuesday, it would expand its housing capacity by a remarkable 30 percent, with 70 percent of the development expected to be studio or one-bedroom units and up to 20 percent considered affordable. It would mark a heartening departure for a ruinously anti-development region as both an employer and a city accept responsibility for addressing the housing crisis.

“We have a lot of communities saying no, a lot of NIMBY-ism, and this is the opposite,” said Pilar Lorenzana, deputy director of the Silicon Valley housing advocacy group SV@Home, using the acronym for “not in my backyard.” “I’m really hopeful that this is something we’ll see from other employers. I hope this will set a template.”

The project hasn’t come this far without a struggle. The question of residential development in the North Bayshore area dominated the local election in 2014, which saw pro-housing candidates prevail. Even so, in June, continuing opposition led some council members to propose dramatically reducing the planned housing. And in September, a Google representative caused further turmoil by suggesting the homes were contingent on more office space even though the plan already allows for 3.6 million square feet.

Google soon disavowed that demand and reiterated its commitment to 9,850 housing units. Mayor Ken Rosenberg, one of the pro-housing council members elected three years ago, said he believes Tuesday’s vote will reflect the city’s prevailing, progressive YIMBY-ism — “yes in my backyard” — and hopes it will “put pressure on other communities, like Cupertino and Palo Alto, to rethink their long-held strategy of not approving housing.”

Mountain View’s plan would provide enough housing to make this corporate expansion the vanishingly rare one that does not deepen the crisis, noted SV@Home’s Lorenzana, who was also sanguine about the coming vote. After years of planning, as she put it, “It’s time to build the homes. It’s just time.”

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