South Bay redevelopment plans could force over 59 families from homes

Byby Amanda del Castillo KGO logo
Tuesday, August 21, 2018
South Bay redevelopment plans could force over 59 families from homes
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Redevelopment plans in Mountain View could soon force more than 59 families from their Mountain View apartment homes.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (KGO) -- Redevelopment plans in Mountain View could soon force more than 59 families from their Mountain View apartment homes.

The move could happen in just a few months, as a final decision is expected by the city in December.

On Monday, neighbors living at 2310 Rock Street told ABC7 News they're hoping luck is on their side.

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In a move of desperation, a group of neighbors had plans to pool their money and purchase Powerball tickets with hopes of saving their homes.

"I think the Powerball jackpot was way up," long-time 2301 Rock St. resident, Jackie Cashen said. "So, we were joking that we gotta start buying tickets so we could just buy the property back."

In reaction to that approach, Mountain View Mayor Lenny Siegel told ABC7 News, "There's an element of desperation. These are people who have been given notice, have been told they'll get so much relocation assistance- which in a normal housing market might be enough- but there's no place for them to go nearby."

The city is home to a number of billion dollar businesses like Google, LinkedIn and other big names in the tech industry. However, the rapidly growing city has also long been home to people like Cashen.

"It's peaceful, it's... you know, everything you want in a place to live," Cashen said. "And it is changing!"

Redevelopment plans by developers, Dividend Homes, include demolishing and replacing the 3-acre, 59 rent-controlled unit complex, with 54 for-sale homes.

This means new housing many currently living there cannot afford.

Cashen and other neighbors stand to pay much more in rent elsewhere. The long-time neighbor said she currently pays $1,100 a month for a one-bedroom apartment.

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Property Manager Crystal Ryan told ABC7 News her father-in-law built the complex in the 1960s, or 70s. She and her husband live on the property. Despite their reluctance, Ryan said it was the family's decision to sell.

Ryan's concern is the residents, "Our long-term tenants are well below market, and it's going to be very difficult for them to stay in Mountain View and find a place with comparable rent."

Mayor Siegel admitted the city is in a difficult place.

"These people are the backbone of our community," he said about Mountain View tenants. "I'm sympathetic, their stories are compelling, I care about them."

He told ABC7 News, while Mountain View wants to protect its tenants, the developer is doing everything by the book.

"Because they're zoning compliant, right now we don't have the tools to tell them, 'No,'" Siegel explained. "It's what we call the perils of prosperity. The downside of success."

He said the issue isn't unique to the property along Rock Street, either. In fact, Siegel said Mountain View has plans to build tens of thousands of units and increase its housing supply by more than three-quarters.

However, neighbors like Cashes said the city is already too far behind the need.

"Even people with money, struggle to find a place around here because housing is so far behind the curve in terms of what's developed over the years," Cashen said.

Mayor Siegel invited concerned residents to attend and speak at the September 4 city council meeting. He said, while the city would not be allowed to take action during the meeting, it would help to hear from those impacted.

"I can't promise you anything, I can't even promise you my vote because I haven't heard the whole story," Siegel said. "But come to the city council, and tell us your stories. Hopefully my colleagues will listen, I will listen, and hopefully we can come up with an approach that will help save your homes."

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