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Letter to Council - Density Bonus Ordinance

Dear Mayor Kamei and Members of the City Council,

Mountain View YIMBY supports staff’s recommendation on Item 6.1 Density Bonus Ordinance, though we believe staff’s recommendation would be improved by slightly modifying §36.48.80(5)(d).

City staff deserves credit for crafting such smart tweaks to the city’s density bonus law, as their tweaks would make our density bonus law clearer, simpler, and easier to administer. With these improvements, affordable homes can be built faster, and city staff will be freed up to spend more time on council’s legislative priorities. The proposed changes were well-received by the Environmental Planning Commission, and we hope you agree with them as well.

We do, however, believe that Mountain View could build more affordable housing if §36.48.80(5)(d) is modified to remove the 100% affordability requirement. In other words, the local density bonus should extend to mixed-income housing funded by the city.

Mixed-income housing has considerable merit. From a fiscal perspective, the city’s affordable housing dollars can go further with mixed-income housing since the market rate units subsidize the costs of the affordable units. Furthermore, mixed-income housing creates inclusive communities where folks of all economic backgrounds live together.

Lowering the self-imposed affordability requirement has no real downside. Because the local density bonus is administered through the NOFA process, the city always gets a say on whether the local density bonus applies. All we ask is that you keep your options open on mixed-income housing.

Best Regards,
Salim Damerdji
On behalf of Mountain View YIMBY