The City Council establishes goals, and defines projects to support those goals, every two years. Given the impact of the pandemic on the City’s financials, resources for discretionary projects to support Council’s goals is likely limited. We need City staff to focus on recovering from the pandemic by changing the City’s systems, processes, and perhaps policies to support a new way of doing the City’s business. We also need staff to focus on helping residents and small businesses get on a path to recovery from the pandemic.
My near-term priorities are:
- Maintain structurally balanced budgets
- Help residents and small businesses recover from the pandemic
- Make policy, process, and system improvements to City operations
- Safely provide a broad range of high-quality services to the community
Additional priorities are:
- Require complete neighborhoods in North Bayshore and East Whisman where substantial new housing can be built
- Continue to support expansion of the free community shuttle, trails, and bicycle infrastructure to schools and major employment areas
- Keep the Sustainability Action Plan on track in order to meet our carbon emission reduction goals
- Complete the update of the Downtown Precise Plan that is focused on the historic area
- Preserve and enhance the natural environment, especially in the North Bayshore area
More on near-term priorities:
Priorities sometimes change, or move up or down in priority, depending on the ever-changing world in which we live. Right now, it seems like the right time to focus on these top priority areas.
- Balanced budgets – Mountain View has long been a fiscally conservative City and has developed a diversified revenue stream. Both of these have served us well and have placed us in an enviable position relative to other cities. That said, given the uncertainty of the impact of the novel coronavirus, it is prudent to be even more conservative and make sure we plan for structurally balanced budgets, meaning our expenditures are equal to or lower than our revenues, so that we do not plan to tap into our reserves. But our reserves are there just in case we need them.
- Pandemic recovery – Many of our residents and businesses are struggling with the economic impact of the pandemic. While the City has done a great deal to help residential tenants and is working with the small businesses in our community, it is going to take time and a concerted effort to recover. Now more than ever it is important to communicate with each other and work together to jointly come up with actions that can be taken, and be flexible in those actions as State and County policies change. While we still need to put plans in place, our Chamber of Commerce and Central Business Association will play key roles in working with the City on recovery.
- Policy, process, and system improvements – One of the Council’s goals is to be a Community for All. As part of this, it is time to revisit policies throughout all department to help address racial inequities and social justice. And this goes beyond Mountain View since many social services are the jurisdiction of the County which has the budget and the resources for these services. In addition, the current environment is providing an opportunity to revamp City processes and systems. We have been considering moving more processes online for quite some time and I can’t think of a better time to do this than now.
- Safe community services – One of the best things about Mountain View is all of the great facilities and activities that are available to the community. There are many parks and sports fields, the library, the community and senior centers, the performing arts center, summer concerts and movies, public pools, an annual parade, and a multi-cultural festival, to name a few. Some of these are closed, and some are partially open right now due to the pandemic. A few are fully open. As we resume aspects of our lives, we are changing how the community accesses these facilities and activities. We need to have safe protocols for community members and City staff to once again enjoy all of the fun activities and services the City provides.
More on additional priorities:
The city has been going through a building boom for many years. While there are benefits to some growth, there are also challenges. The cost of housing is high, vehicle traffic at times is at a standstill, and we need to invest significant resources to meet our reduction in carbon emissions goals, to name a few. There are no silver bullets, or fast, simple solutions to these complex challenges. The Council has made great progress in addressing issues and City staff is working on many projects to address the issues.
- Complete neighborhoods – In the past 3.5 years, I supported rezoning property to enable a substantial increase in new housing in two areas identified by the community as areas for growth – 9,850 units in North Bayshore and 5,000 units in East Whisman. I will continue to advocate for complete neighborhoods as part of the new housing and not just have housing for housing’s sake. Residents need parks and retail within walking distance. Neighborhoods need safe walking and biking conditions. And we need trees, nature, and public art to add to the character of our neighborhoods. I will also advocate for community benefit fees that some developments are required to pay be used in the neighborhood in which they are generated as it is that neighborhood that is experiencing the impact of the new development.
- Transportation infrastructure – Our major roads are unacceptably congested, particularly during work commute times. Most regional transportation solutions are ineffective, with the exception of BART and CalTrain. Mountain View’s free community shuttle is doing well and I supported the expansion of this system. I also supported expansion of the trails in Mountain View and as Mayor worked with a neighboring city to secure a grant to help fund expansion of the Stevens Creek Trail. I will continue to advocate for more aggressive transportation demand management programs from major employers to reduce people driving alone to and from work, and exploration of additional options for transit as an alternative to driving. I will continue to support only minimal office growth outside of the two areas targeted for change - North Bayshore and East Whisman.
- Sustainability – We are at a critical juncture when it comes to the environment and sustainability needs to be a key priority across the board. I supported a multi-million-dollar investment in a three-year sustainability program that puts the City on the path to meeting our carbon emission reduction goals. I will advocate to keep this program on track as much as possible given the new work associated with recovery from the pandemic. While on the Council I drove the divestment of dirty fuel bonds in the City’s portfolio and drove changes to the City’s investment policy to prohibit investment in companies engaged in the exploration, production, refining or marketing of dirty fuels.
- Historic preservation – Mountain View has a charming downtown that is the envy of many other cities. I attribute that partially to the historic buildings on the first three blocks of Castro as well as nearby streets. I drove several actions to help preserve this area while still potentially allowing for some change. I proposed that the first update to the Downtown Precise Plan be focused on the first three blocks of Castro as well as the nearby streets and address historic preservation, walkability, character, and ground floor uses.
- Nature – Being outside in nature is good for the soul and it is important to have access to it on a regular basis. I have supported new parks in residential neighborhoods, and drove the prioritization of a comprehensive wildlife and habitat management plan in North Bayshore, and an update to the City’s bird-safe design codes. I will continue to advocate for protecting and enhancing the natural environment. I am honored to once again be endorsed by the Sierra Club.
I have the time and energy to devote to the important job of continuing to be a member of the City Council. I will work hard to earn your vote and will actively listen to the residents and businesses now and in the future.
Paid for by Re-elect Matichak for City Council 2020, FPPC ID #1386899