Council chambers were filled to capacity on March 23 as public comment opened for the controversial apartment building project on the Minton’s parcel. Mayor Ronit Bryant decided to postpone Council deliberation until April 27 (after this newsletter went to press).
The crowd was evenly split between supporters and opponents of the project. Most arguments were along the lines of those debated at the Environmental Planning Commission on March 10. Supporters argued in favor of higher density and that the proximity to transit would have environmental benefits. Opponents cited issues with increased traffic, inadequate parking, and the complex not fitting in with the character of the neighborhood.
Debra Eaton Schulz spoke on behalf of the property owners, stating that faced with severe competition from big box stores, it was no longer feasible to run Minton’s hardware. Schulz said that during the time that the family contemplated what to do, they were approached by several developers who wanted to purchase the property. However, the Prometheus project “allows us to own the land well into the future, which is what my dad always wanted.”
Laura Lewis, speaking for residents opposed to the project, felt that granting the change in zoning deprived the city and schools of needed revenue from property tax.
“I’m not asking you to deny any of [the owner’s] rights under the current law,” said Lewis. “This proposal is asking you to change the law to give them special rights that would benefit one family and one developer.”
Bruce Karney, who supported the project, felt that the community owed the property owners a debt of thanks for their years of service. (The Eatons acquired the Minton’s property in 1971.)
BMR (Below Market Rate) units also figured prominently in the discussion, given the recent court challenges to BMR requirements. Several residents spoke about the need for BMR units, and the League of Women Voters dropped its support of the project given the change. (Please see article on BMRs, page 5.)
Aaron Grossman spoke on behalf of a group of residents in support of the project, and brought up the argument that the city needed more apartments, especially in the downtown area.
Lewis cited figures that Mountain View already has a higher proportion of rentals versus ownership at 58%, which compares to about 33% rentals for most other cities on the Peninsula.