At MV Council Tuesday: business license tax for transportation, big sustainable transpo recs, homes at former Safeway near San Antonio Caltrain

Update: Mountain View Council decided to put the business tax for transportation and cannabis tax on the ballot, and approved the housing/mixed use development in the San Antonio area, along with an agreement to use a nearby property for a school.

There are three big agenda items on Mountain View City Council’s agenda for Tuesday night.

  • At a 5pm study session, hearing the report from the Environmental Sustainability Task Force which has forward-looking proposals to reduce solo driving by 30%, using strategies including a $100,000 pilot to incent ridepooling for short trips; making active use of AV shuttles and ridesharing; and using priced parking and neighborhood permits to improve incentives to reduce driving and avoid spillover parking
  • Deciding whether to put on the ballot a business license tax increase, falling largely on big employers, raising $6+ million per year to fund mostly transportation, and some affordable housing
  • Reviewing for approval a mixed-use development with 632 homes at the site of the former Safeway site near San Antonio Caltrain

The staff reports are here

Sustainability Task Force Transportation Recommendations:  Forward-looking new recommendations from the city’s Environmental Sustainability Task Force urge Mountain View to take the next steps to actually make a dent on transportation greenhouse gas emissions. California and the Bay Area have been making great progress on energy emissions but not making progress on transportation, which has become the largest source of carbon pollution. There are some opportunities for local leadership (incenting ridepooling, and beefing up local transit as AV technology is commercialized in the next few years.   (The pilot AV shuttle at Bishop Ranch in San Ramon is licensed to travel on public roads, and is expected to be configured to traverse signalized intersections shortly, a key milestone for uses such as being contemplated in Mountain View).

In addition, there are important needs for action to reduce incentives for driving via fully subsidized car storage (aka free parking).

Business License Tax   Council will make the final decision to put on the ballot an increase in the business license tax, falling mostly on larger employers, raising $6M per year or more (it’s expected to be up to $9M because the city has been under-counting businesses). It is proposed to be a General Tax, which requires 50%+1 to pass, but the council is planning to pass a resolution stating what it plans to use the money for:  80% for transportation priorities and 10% for affordable housing, and the remainder for other city needs. This is a win-win to help big companies contribute to public transportation not just private transportation.

Mountain View Council is also expected to put on the ballot a cannabis tax to accompany legalizing the sale of marijuana in Mountain View. That’s outside of the subject matter of this blog (but seems reasonable and polls well.)

The concept of taxing businesses to support infrastructure including transportation and affordable housing is picking up steam. Last week Cupertino deferred discussion of a business tax for transportation and housing, modeled closely after Mountain View’s proposal but less fully fleshed out, until next year, and Sunnyvale may consider increasing its business license tax in the coming year as well.

Also last week, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo told his City Council that as part of the CASA process to address the Bay Area’s housing crisis, he was proposing a “commercial linkage fee” that would charge businesses to help meet affordable housing needs, and that would be connected to the jobs/housing balanced in a city. More information about CASA recommendations is expected this fall.


632 homes at former Safeway site near San Antonio Caltrain:  This is a fine location for a sizable number of new homes near transit, services and jobs. Mountain View’s Environmental Planning Commission wanted to see the project’s affordable housing support to be provided with onsite units instead of a fee (the project was proposed before the city updated its inclusionary policy to cover rental housing, once rental inclusion was legalized in state law).  Greystar apparently has an offer to make about BMR which was described only vaguely in the staff report, and may make an appearance at tonight’s meeting.

Lastly, according to the staff report, the cross streets through the development are described as “private streets.” Does this mean they are closed to the public even for walking/bicycling? Shouldn’t it be permeable for walking/biking?  If you know whether this is planned to be open to the public, please share in comments.


 Tuesday is a big night and worth turning out, at Mountain View City Hall, 500 Castro.
In addition to people who live and/or work in Mountain View, residents of neighboring communities who are interested in making progress on sustainable transportation may be interested in attending, learning, and supporting the sustainability task force transportation recommendations. The sustainability study session starts at 5pm.
If you can’t attend, send thoughts on any of these topics to Mountain View City Council:

City Council <>,
Ken Rosenberg <>,
Pat Showalter <>,
Lenny Siegel <>,
John McAlister <>,
Margaret Abe-Koga <>,
Chris Clark <>,
Lisa Matichak <>