The insatiable need for more housing was enough to win approvals for a 211-unit apartment project that will go up along Mountain View’s crowded El Camino Real corridor. But while the City Council unanimously endorsed the project, council members also poked holes in its public-benefit package, criticizing the developers for what they see as trying to game the system to minimize costs.
At the council’s June 27 meeting, the Palo Alto-based SummerHill Housing Group presented plans to replace a restaurant and a hotel at 2700 W. El Camino Real with a dense, five-story apartment project. Taken altogether, a project of that size would be required to contribute $1.73 million in community benefits, according to city staff’s calculations. Developers can propose a variety of ways to meet this requirement, although city officials usually encourage them to focus on affordable housing and local neighborhood needs.
As part of their pitch, SummerHill developers asked city officials to write off nearly $230,000 in public benefits for the project’s wastewater system as well as a fifth-floor dog park that would be closed to the public.
Both requests were roundly rejected by council members. Taking aim at the wastewater system proposal, Councilwoman Pat Showalter pointed out that the system is a standard feature required for any development. She worried that letting it pass as a community benefit would send the wrong signal to other developers looking to pad their bottom line.
“SummerHill homes has been very prosperous in Mountain View, but I think they can pay their fair share here,” she said.
City planner Diana Pancholi pointed out that the dog park was originally planned…
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