It felt like a oral arguments before the Supreme Court.
About 25 people contributed public comments for Mountain View City Council's consideration as they deliberated whether to leave open the possibility for housing in North Bayshore, on the northside of Highway 101. This in addition to the dozens, if not hundreds, of emails received from the residents, businesses and wildlife conservationists.
The goal? Either to preserve the 4-3 straw vote from the study session on Tuesday, July 3 opposing housing or sway at least one vote to allow housing to be studied as part of the General Plan 2030.
With a final vote of 6-1, this battle went to the 22 endangered species of birds— including the burrowing owls—and to the residents who hoped to preserve the tranquility of North Bayshore.
"I don't see the need for housing in North Bayshore," said Councilwoman Margaret Abe-Koga, who had originally support residential projects in the area. "What's unique [about the area] is the open space and wildlife. It's my opportunity to get away."
Councilmember Laura Macias, Ronit Bryant and Jac Siegel echoed the sentiments. Siegel even highlighted that the reason why there's a special tax authority there—the —for the maintenance of the landfill and protection of the wildlife.
And while Councilman John Inks had originally agreed with the lone dissenter Tom Means, who supported the young workers trying to live there, he voted with the majority.
The surprise sixth vote came from Mayor Mike Kasperzak, who raised some eye-brows and upset some of his colleagues, after he sent issued a public memo with his position in support of the flexibility of housing. He also made a public apology to the members, though according to City Attorney Jannie Quinn his actions did not violate the Brown Act—it was just not a common practice of Mountain View Councilmembers.
Along with the passage of the General Plan with the North Bayshore alternative to not consider housing, the council decided to shift its development focus from East Whisman to the San Antonio Road change area.
The council had previously rejected plans by Merlone Geier to build three office buildings and a hotel because of height considerations and traffic. With this renewed attention to the area, the council hopes to give the developer a better roadmap for future construction plans in the area.
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