November 8, 2019

Policy Rundown – November 8th, 2019


Welcome to SV@Home’s Policy Rundown, your need-to-know overview of important housing policy actions and developments from the past two weeks.

Stanford General Use Permit

Following months of back-and-forth negotiations and discussions, Stanford University announced late last week that it would withdraw its General Use Permit (GUP) application that was set for a vote by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. In its announcement, Stanford stated that, despite efforts it made to meet the County’s housing requirements in the days leading up to the hearing, it could not move forward absent a development agreement that afforded them security that the agreement would not change over time. Additionally, transportation requirements required by the County were deemed infeasible.

While it is disappointing that a mutually agreeable path to move forward could not be found, we are hopeful that this is not the end of the GUP process. SV@Home will continue to work with Stanford to explore opportunities to build new housing for university employees and students. And, we look forward to continuing to collaborate with Stanford and the County to address the housing needs associated with the University’s expansion plans, whenever they come forward again.

Mountain View: North Bayshore Gateway

It was two years ago when housing advocates celebrated the Mountain View City Council’s approval of the North Bayshore Precise Plan, which called for 9,850 new homes, 20% of which would be affordable. Yet only one project—a Sobrato housing development—is moving forward at this point. Further development has been complicated by the fact that the land in one part of the Plan Area, the Gateway, is controlled by two property owners– Google and SyWest—who have been unable to agree on a joint development plan for the neighborhood, including how to divvy up significant rights to develop commercial property.

To move the project forward, on November 6th, the Mountain View City Council held a study session on the North Bayshore Gateway Master Plan, a critical piece of the North Bayshore plan area that will be a primary entrance point to the new district. The staff presented a master plan that included a mixed-use entertainment district with housing, office space, and commercial uses, connected to the rest of North Bayshore with biking and walking infrastructure. The Council unanimously supported this approach and staff will plan to return with further details in early 2020.

While it is good to see Sobrato’s proposed housing development get underway, we are disappointed that progress on the rest of the plan has been delayed given the dire need for more affordable housing in Mountain View. Google previously submitted a Shorebird Master Plan that includes thousands of new homes, but it has not moved forward. We understand that there remain outstanding challenges related to properly addressing school and transportation needs created by new development, and we will continue to call on the City to engage proactively with the relevant stakeholders to find solutions and actually implement the Plan’s goal of 9,850 new homes. See SV@Home’s comment letter on the Gateway area here.

Milpitas: Single Family Homes and ADUs

On November 5th, the Milpitas City Council considered a proposal from developer Robson Holmes to build 36 new single family homes along with 10 accessory dwelling units (ADUs) pre-built on-site. While the ADUs are not deed-restricted, they are projected to be rented at prices affordable to moderate-income renters. SV@Home was there to speak in favor of the proposal, which we endorsed as an innovative approach to introducing additional density into what would otherwise be a single-family only neighborhood. You can read SV@Home’s letter here.

After a lengthy discussion, the Council directed the developer to come back with a plan that included four deed-restricted affordable homes in accordance with the City’s affordable housing ordinance. It is expected that the applicant will resubmit plans to meet this requirement soon so the project can begin the environmental review process.

Mountain View: Displacement Study Session

On October 29th, the Mountain View City Council held a study session to respond to displacement challenges in the city. Since 2012, developers have submitted 32 applications proposing the demolition of 1,105 apartments in order to make way for new developments, many of them housing lower- and moderate-income renters and resulting in displacement. The study session memo identified five key principles and six potential strategies to combat displacement, which were unanimously supported by the Council. The Council requested additional staff research into all potential strategies, with an expectation of further Council action in the first quarter of 2020. SV@Home strongly supports the City’s efforts to design and implement effective policy solutions to the challenges of displacement and will continue to work with the City as it refines its proposed policy tools.

Mountain View: East Whisman

In a significant move, the Mountain View City Council approved the East Whisman Precise Plan on November 6th, an action that makes room for 5,000 new homes, 1,000 of them affordable. East Whisman is located in northeast Mountain View in an area previously occupied primarily by office and industrial space. The Plan also includes an innovative jobs-housing linkage strategy that aims to balance office and housing growth. The adopted plan documents can be found on the Mountain View website. SV@Home will continue to be engaged as the Plan goes into the implementation phase to ensure the planned homes are actually built. You can see our letter on the Plan here.