January 31, 2024

Mountain View Gatekeeper Process Update


On January 23, 2024, the Mountain View City Council voted against further delay of the controversial “Gatekeeper” development plan review process, following through on the city’s commitments in its state-certified Housing Element. The council action rejected the alternative presented by city staff to wait until the end of the year to hold a hearing while they continued to develop a controversial set of new requirements to screen out applicants. The council’s action will ensure that the process will meet the June deadline required by the state, even if other process reforms will be put off for later consideration. This was a good compromise for the city and was reflective of the recommendations SV@Home submitted to the council.

The “Gatekeeper” process is unique to Mountain View. It requires any proposed amendment to the General Plan that might change the allowable use of land to allow for residential development in commercial or industrial zones to come before council for a “pre-review” even before being considered by city staff. The last hearing was in 2016, and many new residential developments have been abandoned waiting for reforms to the process. 

While the Housing Element commitment was to create additional exemptions from the process to streamline and encourage development, city staff and earlier council discussions seemed to support new constraints and costs rather than fewer. SV@Home, and a broad array of local and regional housing advocates, have expressed concern that such actions would counter the commitments made in the Housing Element.  There was no official correspondence from HCD on this action, but both city staff and the council acknowledged that more work was needed to figure out a rational process to get council support.