Mountain View candidates take positions on key issues

The Mountain View City Council candidates.
Daily Post Staff Writer

Nine candidates are vying for four seats on Mountain View’s City Council in the November election.

MARGARET ABE-KOGA said she has the institutional knowledge to help the city weather the COVID-induced economic recession. Abe-Koga, 50, is mayor this year and in 2009.

She said her experience leading the city through that recession will be beneficial now. She said she wants to focus on supporting small businesses and maintaining a sound city budget if she is re-elected. Abe-Koga said she also wants to work on reducing greenhouse gas emissions by promoting electric vehicles and transit.

Abe-Koga said she thinks the city has made significant progress in zoning for new housing units.

“Now the units need to be built, and that is up to the developer/construction community to get them done,” she said.

She said the city needs to work on getting more affordable and middle-in-come housing units.

She said she supports the city’s ban on large vehicles parked on narrow city streets, which will appear on ballots as Measure C. Residents opposed to the ban say it is unfair to people living in their vehicles.
Abe-Koga said it is not a total ban since a third of city streets are not narrow.

She said she is not in favor of strict rent control.

“In the United States, housing is still a business, and without incentives for individuals to be in the business, they will get out as we are seeing in this down economy with apartment buildings going up for sale, and older apartment buildings not being upgraded if rents are not allowed to be increased to recover costs,” she said.

But she said that since Mountain View residents voted in favor of rent control in 2016 she has made an honest effort to ensure its fair administration.

She has been endorsed by local groups including the Mountain View Professional Firefighters, the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce, the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, Livable Mountain View, the Santa Clara County Democratic Party and the Mountain View Police Officers Association.

JOHN LASHLEE, a senior data scientist at LinkedIn, said he wants to solve the city’s housing crisis and address a racially imbalanced police department where Black and Hispanic people are arrested at disproportionately high rates compared to white and Asian people. Lashlee, 32, said he wants to expand the city’s rent and mortgage relief program and offer small businesses more loans, grants and investments.

He said he wants to shift police functions like traffic and code enforcement to civilians and bring the “runaway” police budget in line with other cities in Santa Clara County.

“In order to address our over-policing of Black and Latinx communities, we should learn from other cities that traffic enforcement can be done by civilian municipal employees and so can code enforcement (like) smoking in buildings,” he said. “I support the reallocation of responsibilities as much as possible away from the police and to civilian oversight.”

Lashlee wants to permit more high density, transit-oriented housing, especially in East Whisman and North Bayshore. He said he wants stronger renter protections and rent control for mobile homes.

He has been endorsed by South Bay YIMBY, the Democratic Socialists of America, the Mountain View Mobile Home Alliance, California Young Democrats and California Democratic Renters Council.

SALLY LIEBER, a former Assemblywoman and council member, said she supports having the city hire an independent police auditor. Other cities such as Palo Alto have police auditors to review the handling of complaints against officers.

Lieber, 59, said she is in favor of rent control and would support extending rent control to mobile homes in the city. She said the best thing council has done in the past two years is supporting tenants during the pandemic.

Lieber said she wants to see more new housing near transit. She said she wants to protect city mobile home parks and create more parking for people living in vehicles.

“Mountain View has planned for affordable housing, but too little has been built, and too much effort has gone into fighting voter-approved rent control,” she said.

She has been endorsed by groups including the Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Mountain View Housing Justice, the Santa Clara County Democratic Party, United Healthcare Workers West, United Food and Commercial Workers and the Mountain View Mobilehome Alliance.

JOSE GUTIERREZ, a member of the Mountain View Whisman school board, wants to foster a better relationship between the city and the school district. He has been endorsed by the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce, the South Bay Labor Council, the Silicon Valley Asian Pacific American Democratic Club and the Mountain View Professional Firefighters.

He did not respond to questions from the Post about his platform.

PAT SHOWALTER, a former councilwoman and mayor, said she wants to make a difference on housing and climate change issues in the city. She said she wants to address the impact of COVID on cultural events, public transportation and service jobs in the city. Showalter, 68, a civil engineer, said the city has “aggressively” zoned for more housing and has built more than many of neighboring cities, but she said more needs to be done. She said she would streamline the approval project if she were on council.

“Let’s get the housing that has been zoned in the North Bayshore built as well as housing in East Whisman,” she said. “We want to concentrate on building housing near jobs in places where people will not be displaced.”

She said she doesn’t support banning large vehicles on streets.

“Long-term people should not be living on city streets in RVs,” she said. “At the moment, it is an economic reality. We need to find appropriate places for the RVs to park.”

She has been endorsed by groups including the Santa Clara County Democratic Party Central Committee, the Peninsula Young Democrats, Mountain View YIMBY, the South Bay Labor Council, the Mountain View Housing Justice Coalition and the League of Conservation Voters of Santa Clara County.

LENNY SIEGEL, a former councilman and mayor, wants more renter protections and opposes the street parking ban. He said he wants to see more housing in the city. He said the city should promote housing downtown, on Moffett Boulevard and on the Caltrain parking lot.

He also wants limited downtown office growth and better bicycle infrastructure. Siegel, 71, said he wants to have people other than armed, uniformed officers available to answer mental health calls and do homeless outreach.

He has been endorsed by the California Democratic Renters Council, the Mountain View Housing Justice Coalition, the Mountain View Mobile Home Alliance, Planned Parenthood Advocates Mar Monte and the Santa Clara County High School Democrats of America.

ALEX NUNEZ, a housing activist and cybersecurity advisor at UpGuard Inc., said many of Mountain View’s working families, vulnerable populations and low-to middle-income residents have been losing their economic opportunities and livelihoods due to the city’s ongoing housing crisis. He wants more housing and more action on climate change. He also wants to modernize protections for civil liberties and privacy against “rapidly evolving and intrusive public-facing technologies.”

Nunez said he wants to increase housing density and said he would rather work to stop homelessness than ban cars from parking on city streets.

“I have personally met Mountain View residents who are currently living in vehicles; they are by and large working people who contribute in meaningful ways to our economic demands,” he said. “They are living in vehicles because the production of new housing units that was necessary to keep pace with the demand for them was artificially constrained by zoning standards for decades.”

Nunez declined to give his age, but public records state he is 28.

He has been endorsed by the Santa Clara County League of Conservation Voters, the Santa Clara County Democratic Party, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, Dean Democratic Club of Silicon Valley and South Bay YIMBY.

LISA MATICHAK, a councilwoman and former mayor, said she wants to preserve the character and diversity of the city and help our small businesses thrive. She said reducing carbon emissions is one of her priorities.

Matichak, 64, said Mountain View has been a leader in creating housing. “No other city of our size comes close to doing all that Mountain View has done to address housing needs,” she said.

She said she supports Measure C because of the public health and safety concerns of oversized vehicles parking on narrow neighborhood streets.

She said she has “concerns” about rent control. “While it has helped the residents that were in rent-controlled units at the time rent control went into effect, the long-term result is higher rents and a shortage of units,” she said. “People will stay in rent-controlled units for a long time even as their income might rise, making the units unavailable to those with lower income.”

She has been endorsed by groups including Livable Mountain View, Mountain View Chamber of Commerce, Mountain View Police Officers Association, Mountain View Professional Firefighters, Plumbers, Steamfitters & Refrigeration Fitters Local 393, Santa Clara County League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club.

PAUL ROALES, a software engineer at Waymo, said he wants to see a city hall that is data-driven and accountable.

Roales, 39, said the city is moving too slowly in creating affordable housing. He said he wants the city to get an independent police auditor and was the only candidate to say the officers involved in the Lother case should have been terminated. The Lother family sued the city after a 5-year-old girl was forcibly stripped at home to examine her body for signs of sexual abuse.

He said he supports Measure C, but said the city has moved too slowly in creating parking lots where people living in vehicles can stay.

Roales said city voters have approved rent control and his reading of the law is that it should apply to mobile homes.