DAILY POST EDITORIAL
The two Mountain View City Council incumbents, Lenny Siegel and Pat Showalter, deserve applause for aggressively promoting the construction of housing. They were key players in reaching a deal with Google to build 9,850 homes in the North Bayshore area. While other cities, such as Palo Alto, have demanded very little from office developers when it comes to housing, Siegel and Showalter have fought hard for their residents.
They’ve backed a number of other housing developments that have been completed or are in the development pipeline. The city issued permits for 1,539 housing units last year, a big increase from previous years. That compares to just 89 permits issued by Palo Alto during the same period.
We disagree with Siegel and Showalter about rent control. We think Mountain View’s rent control program, now just over a year old, will result in property owners taking apartments off the market, making it that much harder to for people to find homes despite other efforts at promoting development. But rent control has been decided by the voters, and so that isn’t a deal-breaker for us when it comes to recommending these two candidates.
Siegel supports Prop 10, which would give cities the power, if they choose to use it, to apply rent control to apartments built after 1995. Critics fear that would stop investors from putting money into new housing, believing they would never get a return on their investment if rents were controlled. Siegel said he recognizes that concern and would consider not applying rent control to new units for perhaps as long as 30 years so the investors can make back their money. Under the circumstances, given how the community’s voters support rent control, that seems like a fair compromise.
Our third choice is John Inks, who served on council from 2008 to 2016, and said he voted for nearly every housing proposal that came before council during that time, except for the Merlone Geier development known as the Village at San Antonio Center on San Antonio Road.
Ideologically, Inks is the opposite of Siegel and Showalter in some ways. We like having contrasts on council. It breaks up the groupthink that causes councils to make big mistakes and ignore residents. With different points of view on a council, issues will be examined more broadly than if everybody has the same mindset.
Inks is a Libertarian who wants small government and lower taxes. He has a good track record of opposing wasteful spending.
On the issue of the RVs that have flooded the community, Inks is concerned that offering services like laundry, showers and toilets lure vehicle-dwellers to town. He said he would not use tax dollars to subsidize RVs on the city’s streets. We think many residents would agree with that position, and that’s a voice that needs to be heard on council when dealing with that issue.
As we said at the beginning, picking three candidates from this field of six isn’t easy. Lucas Ramirez, Ellen Kamei and Alison Hicks would all make good council members.
But we think the two incumbents, Siegel and Showalter, have earned re-election, and we think the council needs the kind of balance Inks has offered in the past.