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Letter to Council - R3 Zoning Update

Dear Mayor Abe-Koga and Members of the City Council,

Mountain View YIMBY would like to share our vision for Item 8.1 R3 Zoning District Update.

Overall, we would like to see the city adopt changes to the R3 zoning that make it more flexible, feasible, and predictable in terms of both the total fees and timing of the process. We think this can be achieved via a form-based code. More specifically, we would like to see:

  • Density limits (limits on dwellings / acre) completely eliminated. We think this provides developers flexibility on the choice of housing product type that they can pencil out on a parcel based on other limiting factors such as the shape, and size of the building, lot coverage, or setbacks.
  • In service of walkability, an option for building architectural arcades could be given, requiring sheltered sidewalks to be built in return for front setbacks being removed for the area above the resulting pedestrian canopy.
  • Height, lot coverage, and allowable FAR significantly increased.
  • Parking requirements eliminated or reduced depending on proximity to transit and downtown. We share council’s dedication to a less car-centric future, and reducing parking requirements is part of that.
  • Side setbacks and open space requirements reduced.
  • Park fees reduced, and re-structured to remove unpredictability by decoupling them from Mountain View land costs.
  • We believe smaller urban style parks can go a long way in increasing public access to pleasant outdoor space without needing the city to purchase massive parcels of land.

We believe the city should tap other sources of income such as corporate taxes, bonds, or state funding for this and other purposes rather than putting the entirety of the burden of raising the money on new developments.

Considering the length of the process involved in modifying the R3 code, and the fact that it was last modified about 30 years ago, and in light of Mountain View’s 2031 RHNA allocation being ~11,000 households, we urge the council to think long term as the changes currently proposed won’t cover our housing needs for even the next decade. We need to prepare for two to three times that amount.

Our city has the privilege of being a hub of opportunity and prosperity. We have the potential to turn these parts of town into environmentally friendly, walkable urban centers increasing access to jobs and high quality schools to more people. We hope that our city will embrace this opportunity.

Best Regards,

David Watson

On behalf of Mountain View YIMBY