Midpeninsula Post

Mountain View City Council to present priority projects in council work plan 

Downtown Mountain View in October 2022. (Naina Srivastava)

The Mountain View City Council began identifying future projects to include in the next council work plan at last Tuesday’s meeting. The council will formally set its priorities in April after city staff present a draft of the council work plan.

The council work plan is a document approved by the council that outlines which projects the city will allocate money, resources and attention to.

The 2023-25 council work plan will list roughly 40 projects the city hopes to move forward with, 10 of which will be newly added — 30 are from the previous plan — and are planned to start within the next two years. An analysis of the proposed projects listed in the upcoming council work plan, including staff quotas, the prioritization of each project and available money, will be presented at the council’s April 25 meeting.

At the meeting, city staff asked each councilmember to share two projects they’re especially interested in developing. Among these were implementing a ban on vaping in public areas, organizing the city charter and code — documents that outline how cities are governed — and growing Stevens Creek Trail.

Some councilmembers stressed the importance of creating a community workforce agreement — a contract negotiated between the city and labor unions that sets quotas for pay and hiring, for city projects. The agreement, which would ensure the financial security of those on public works projects, will be a prioritized project in the council work plan, councilmembers said. 

“We’ve been [working on a CWA] for five years now,” Councilmember Margaret Abe-Koga said at the meeting. “Things always slip and slide, and there are some things that we need to just take care of.”

The council also discussed the effectiveness of the city’s gatekeeper process, which allows development projects to progress without meeting all city zoning guidelines  as long as they get council approval and the project is deemed beneficial to the general community. Multiple councilmembers expressed that there should be clearer criteria for applicants and a way to filter the proposals before they reach the council, as currently, some councilmembers don’t know what the criteria are, Abe-Koga said.

“It has morphed into something that was never really intended,” Vice Mayor Pat Showalter said at the meeting. 

Councilmember Lisa Matichak said she would prefer not restricting the number of development proposals the council goes through, citing that it doesn’t make sense to limit the proposals at the beginning of the selection process, as the council is able to reject proposals at any stage regardless.

“Somebody’s going to have a great idea, and they’ll want to come forward with it,” Matichak said. “I don’t want to preclude those from coming forward.”

Staff also voiced support for expanding the safe routes to school program and developing a local road safety plan, which the council unanimously supported.  

“I think there is a tremendous interest in our community in moving forward on our bike infrastructure,” Showalter said.

Roughly half a dozen community members said there needs to be an emphasis on road safety, many referencing a recent hit-and-run on El Camino Real, which resulted in a casualty. Others spoke out about issues ranging from neighborhood violence to implementing a dark skies ordinance, which would reduce light pollution on streets.

“We’ve had rampant crime,” Mountain View resident Julia Laquer said at the meeting. “Security issues, break-ins to our lockers, to our cars. … It’s only gotten worse.” 

Councilmembers agreed to finalize which 40 projects will be on the 2023-25 work plan once staff has presented a draft of the document, as they’d have more information to base major decisions off of. 

“I really believe we have the best organization around,” Abe-Koga said. “I think we were able to do new things differently, and that became models for other cities.”

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