Class Guide in this issue
MARCH 9, 2012 VOLUME 20, NO. 7
INSIDE: WEEKEND | PAGE 16
Survey says parcel tax would fall short COUNCIL TO WEIGH OTHER OPTIONS FOR RAISING AFFORDABLE HOUSING FUNDS out what could make them pass a fee on rental housing. With 1,250 oters would not pass a par- apartment units in the pipeline, cel tax to replace the city’s the proposed fee equal to 3 percent lost affordable housing rev- of a project’s value could raise $12 enues, according to a new survey. million if the council acts soon. As the city’s rents become Abe-Koga was hesitant to bring increasingly unaffordable for many back a fee on rental housing of the city’s workers, 400 Mountain because “the root” of the problem View voters reached by phone was the increasing number of by Godbe Research were asked if jobs in the city, she said. She has they would support a property tax expressed concern before that that would help the city pay for fees on housing development are affordable houspassed onto renting development. Abe-Koga and Siegel ers, while others With support say it is passed from 67 percent found themselves in onto selling landof voters needed owners who have to pass, the survey seen big increases the hot seat. found that only in their property 53 percent expressed support for a values in recent years. $59 parcel tax. That number rose to “We really have to look at this 59 percent support when likely vot- more carefully,” Abe-Koga said. “I ers were given more information. don’t think folks know that given Support peaked at 66.2 percent all the commercial development we when the tax was decreased to $29, are expecting we will generate $9 which would raise only $551,000 million from a housing impact fee. a year from the city’s 19,000 or so I just feel more comfortable with parcels. that. I see the direct tie.” The city paid $15,000 for the Kasperzak and others want to survey. replace major sources of affordable Council members did not express housing revenue that have recently support for moving ahead with a been lost. The city’s previous 10 parcel tax in a study session Tues- percent fee on rental housing develday. Instead members wrestled opment was eliminated by a court with other fee options and a philo- decision in “Palmer v. the City sophical question: who should pay of Los Angeles.” Another source for the city’s affordable housing? was the downtown revitalization Only three members supported a district, which the state eliminated new fee on rental housing — Mike last month, killing a relatively stable Kasperzak, Ronit Bryant and Laura source of about $1.2 million a year Macias — while Margaret Abe-Ko- in affordable housing funds. ga and Jac Siegel held out for more Despite the lost revenue, city information and options. Libertar- staff members say that affordable ian council members Tom Means housing revenues will rise in the and John Inks participated little in next few years, thanks to a surge in the discussion as neither support office development proposals for subsidizing affordable housing. the Whisman area. The city has Abe-Koga and Siegel found received $37 million in affordable themselves in the hot seat, as Mayor See SURVEY, page 7 Kasperzak probed them to find By Daniel DeBolt
V MICHELLE LE
Jose Antonio Vargas chats with his mentor Rich Fischer at Mountain View High School, Mar. 1, 2012.
Tough road for undocumented teens By Nick Veronin
or undocumented students at Mountain View High School, nothing has changed in the years since Jose Antonio Vargas hesitantly revealed his secret to his teachers. The fears and uncertainties that may keep them out of college are just as real more than a decade later, said the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who made waves last year by “coming out” as
an undocumented immigrant. “Is that acceptable? I don’t think so,” Vargas told the Voice incredulously before speaking to a standing room-only crowd at his alma mater’s Spartan Theater on March 1. The former Mountain View resident and one-time Voice intern is currently touring the country telling people about Define American — a multimedia project he started in order to See VARGAS, page 8
Four train tracks may still be ahead for MV By Daniel DeBolt
art of the growing popularity of a “blended system” for high-speed rail and Caltrain is that Palo Alto and other cities may be spared the addition to two tracks to their Caltrain right of way. Other cities, but not Mountain View. Adding two more train tracks is still on the table for Mountain View, according to a recent Caltrain analysis. In an “operations analysis” for the blended system that allows
Caltrain and high-speed rail to share two tracks along most of the Peninsula, Caltrain has created five scenarios to allow high speed trains to pass slower local trains along the Caltrain corridor, increasing capacity. One scenario places four tracks from Sunnyvale’s Lawrence station to Mountain View’s San Antonio station. The scenario adds a new track on each side of the existing tracks to allow highspeed trains to blow past local trains that have pulled over for a stop on the new tracks.
Four tracks through downtown Mountain View could significantly change Castro Street and the downtown train station where Public Works officials say there are clearance issues involving the light rail tracks and the 1887 replica train depot. And city officials have not been able to find an acceptable solution for a grade-separated crossing at Castro Street that may be necessary with more trains running during peak hours. See HSR, page 6
GOINGS ON 19 | MARKETPLACE 20 | MOVIES 18 | REAL ESTATE 21 | VIEWPOINT 10
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■ MOUNTAIN VIEW VOICE ■ MARCH 9, 2012
7PJDFT A R O U N D
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Asked in Downtown Mountain View. Pictures and interviews by Nick Veronin
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