Housing costs too much here. Fundamentally, the housing crisis in the Bay Area is a supply and demand problem. We need to build more housing and we need to build smart. Housing must be near jobs, transit, parks, schools and stores. We’ve zoned for much more housing in the North Bayshore and the East Whisman areas, but people don’t live in a zoning plan. It needs to be built. As a Councilmember, I’ll work with all the stakeholders to resolve issues so housing is built.
During my first term on Council, almost 2400 housing units were built. I’m particularly proud of the 258 units of affordable housing that were built. Now I serve on the Alta Housing Board of Directors (formerly Palo Alto Housing), an affordable housing provider.
Since the Community Stabilization & Fair Rent Act (CSFRA) was passed, I’ve supported its implementation. As Mayor, I called a Special Meeting to pass an emergency ordinance that protected tenants from being evicted until the CSFRA went into effect. I worked with so many others to defeat Measure D this March. I signed the ballot statement against, wrote a Voice editorial and precinct walked. As a Councilmember, I’ll support covering Mobile Homes and appoint Rental Housing Committee members who are committed to implementing the CSFRA. You can also read the comments I sent on behalf of the MVCSP regarding the Council-agendized item about moving up the Rental Housing Committee recruitment timeline.
Increasing our stock of housing is personal for me. As a planning commissioner (1994-2002), it became obvious that my children would find it very difficult to live here as adults with the same standard of living they grew up with. Living thousands of miles from my parents, I know the emotional cost of living far from family. For me, the ability to have my children nearby makes this issue personal.
This includes both mitigation to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions and adaptation to protect from impacts like Sea Level Rise, including a less predictable water supply and rising temperatures. Mountain View has embraced both, but a tremendous amount remains to be done. I will champion building the protections our shoreline city needs against SLR. I am the Vice President of Carbon Free Mountain View which champions sustainability.
My water resources career centered on stream restoration and protection of San Francisco Bay. I serve on the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission as the State Senate appointee. BCDC is actively working to improve policies to protect San Francisco Bay from sea level rise and protect the habitat of the Bay.
Please telecommute, ride your bike or walk! Because people can’t afford to live near their jobs, they have been forced to drive long distances, which chokes our roadways. Improving public transportation has been considered a long term solution, but often hasn’t been convenient enough or gotten people where they wanted to go. The complexities of COVID-19 and the need for social distancing will change transportation decisions for many of us personally as well as on a societal basis. At this point, we do not know all of the implications. We could find ourselves facing traffic that may get even worse.
As mayor in 2016, I initiated an extensive program to address the challenges of homelessness. We have multiple goals such as getting homeless residents into permanent housing while protecting everyone’s driving safety, public health and the environment. On Council, I will continue to support funding for the safety net that the Community Services Agency and Hope’s Corner provide as well as working with the County to provide safe parking for people living in vehicles. The safe parking lots that have been opened up in response to COVID-19 are a significant step forward. Thanks to the County for stepping up to assist the City with this.
I oppose Measure C, the ban on RV’s parking on most of Mountain View streets. In a pandemic where everyone needs a shelter to shelter-in-place, Measure C will either drive RV residents out of Mountain View or make more people homeless. Instead, let’s continue to grow the safe parking program. Huge thanks to the County for removing the legal barrier so our program could grow significantly. With this success, more people may be willing to let us use their lots for safe parking. Also, the Project Home Key effort to build modular units is promising. In the long run, we need to build more housing.
It’s important that we have programs and policies to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place. Even before the COVID-19 crisis, almost 3 times as many people become homeless in a month than can be re-housed. We need better ways to identify people who are at risk of becoming homeless and help them keep their housing. I support the eviction moratorium and rental assistance program implemented by the City Council during this COVID-19 crisis.
Alta Housing, where I serve as a board member, has just opened an affordable apartment project to house people who were formerly homeless, particularly veterans.
This is a public health crisis, so we need to be guided by the science and the public health experts. There is a spirit of mutual support. The community has come together to make sure people have food and the City passed an eviction moratorium. We need to continue to be flexible and generous.
It is also a financial crisis. Many people have lost their jobs and no one knows how long it will take the economy to recover and how well it will recover. There is so much uncertainty. We need to respect the science and open up our economy safely. Please support local businesses.
Fortunately, Mountain View is in a stronger financial situation than some of our neighboring communities. That allows our City to help fund assistance efforts which they have done. I’m proud of that.
How can you shelter-in-place if you don’t have shelter? COVID-19 has made the plight of our homeless population into a public health hazard.
The City website has a compilation of COVID-19 community resources as well as a special page about rent relief resources, including the eviction moratorium.
Racism against Blacks began in America in 1619 when the first African slaves were brought to Jamestown. It must end. Right now we are all horrified by the brutal killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake and many others. Local protests demonstrate how many people care about this.
Unfortunately, racism is embedded in many laws and customs. Even laws and policies that were designed to be equitable are not always implemented equitably and fairly. Racism in California isn’t just against Blacks. I urge you to read Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by Jose Vargas. He describes the experience of being undocumented in Mountain View where he grew up.
Fighting racial inequality was a major theme of my youth. Growing up in Richmond, VA, the capital of the Confederacy, I saw discrimination against Blacks every day. I was proud to help integrate my Girl Scout camp and later my high school. We believed that integrating schools would have wide-ranging positive impacts that would end racism. Sadly, that was not the case. We can not put off tackling this challenging national issue any longer. Now is the time to come together to understand the impact of systemic racism and make the changes to eliminate it.
Policing in Mountain View
The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has brought a heightened awareness of racism and bias in our daily lives and police practises. My view, which is shared by many others, is that the Mountain View Police Department (MVPD) is better than most and has had good leadership. MVPD upholds Mountain View’s sanctuary city status and has interacted positively with the community at BLM events. But even our police chief, Max Bosel, says there is always room for improvement. I want to embrace this opportunity of heightened awareness now.
The City has begun this work and as a Councilmember, I will push to:
- Examine the discrepancy between our community’s demographics and the statistics of who is stopped and/or arrested. Currently people of color are stopped and arrested in disproportionate numbers.
- Establish a Citizen’s Advisory Board for the police like many of our neighboring communities. To be effective, we must provide the advisory group with resources and time needed to become our local subject matter experts. Those resources will likely include funding outside experts on policing to help understand best practices and policies. Many questions about scope, authority and transparency will have to be worked out.
- Reassess whether or not police should be the first responders for mental health related emergencies. It may be better to assign this to social workers or have social workers accompany the police on mental health emergencies.
- Evaluate community policing with homeless residents.
- Consider changes to the MVPD budget related to any reduction of duties. MVPD has a budget of $44.8 million for FY19-20 which is 31% of the total City budget.
- Reform MVPDs policies to meet “8 can’t wait” policies, AND
- Make sure the MVPD or other staff have the training they need to do their jobs well.