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Agenda item 7.3 – Gatekeeper Review Process

Re: Agenda item 7.3 – Gatekeeper Review Process

To Mayor Hicks and the City Council:

Mountain View YIMBY wishes to address item 7.3 on the agenda for January 23.

Request: Mountain View YIMBY urges the City to:

  • Resume the Gatekeeper process by June 2024 under the existing rules, and
  • Produce a new set of revisions to the Gatekeeper process, for implementation after June 2024, that fully comply with the legal obligations of Program 1.3 of the Housing Element.

**Concerns: **Mountain View YIMBY wishes to express concern with the actions so far undertaken to revise the Gatekeeper process (Program 1.3 of the 2023 Housing Element). As a reminder, Program 1.3 includes the following commitments:

_f) Identify additional Gatekeeper exemptions for residential projects based on location, size, affordability and other policy goals _

_g) Hold at least one Gatekeeper meeting per year, which may be limited to residential or residential mixed-use projects only, creating greater opportunities for project-specific rezonings_

_[Objective 6]: Create increased opportunities for project-specific rezonings through the Gatekeeper process_

The staff report for agenda item 7.3 notably omits item (f) and objective 6.

The staff report also seems to identify the “New Gatekeeper Process” with the one endorsed by the Council in December (“Option A”). Option A differs from the current process only in the addition of an additional review step (“Qualifying Criteria”) that would allow staff to deny applications with no public hearing. In our opinion, this revision accomplishes the opposite of the streamlining intent of Program 1.3, particularly the requirements of item (f) and objective 6. Adding certainty to the process by using published evaluation criteria can be good, but only if the criteria make it easier rather than to approve a project.

We further take issue with the work process described in the December 5 staff memo. The stated “evaluating factors” are:

  • “Align with community vision”
  • “Equitable process”
  • “Balance staff workload”

Although these are all worthwhile goals, key portions of Program 1.3 of the Housing Element are conspicuously missing. In fact, neither of the phrases “greater opportunities” and “increase[d] opportunities” occurs in the memo at all.

Consequently, we believe the only viable recourse is for staff to provide a new set of process options, evaluated according to a set of factors consistent with the Housing Element. Although the staff work and Council review cannot be completed by the June 2024 deadline to resume Gatekeeper hearings, we believe that a delayed but improved process will be far better than a rushed but inadequate and legally flawed one.


Ilya Gurin, on behalf of MV YIMBY