Mountain View developer plans to tear down affordable apartments, replace with million-dollar homes

The city of Mountain View voted to approve a new development project that would tear down 59 affordably priced apartments and replace them with million-dollar town homes. 

The result of that decision: Dozens of long-time residents now have to find a new place to live.

The modest apartments at 2310 Rock Street were built in the 1970s. Residents pay between $1,000 to $3,000 a month.

But a new developer wants to tear this all down and build 55 town homes in its place. The city estimates each would sell for about $1.5 million.

And now, the developer has the city's approval to do it.

The council voted 6 to 1 Tuesday night, to approve the townhome project.

It was a heart-breaking decision for many residents, some of whom have lived here for decades.

”Ridiculous,” said tenant Dennis Hunsicker. “A lot of these people here have been living here for years. There's no place for them to go because they can't afford it.

Kennia Cobos, an interpreter at Stanford University, has lived in her unit for 10 years and now pays $2,300 a month for her two-bedroom apartment.

“It's unheard of to get anything like that,” she said of her relatively low rent for the Bay Area. “We’re reaching crisis mode for the entire city and the Bay Area.”

Mountain View's mayor, however, told KTVU at the meeting, that the developer's project met all of the city's zoning requirements.

"I do believe that property owners do have the right to go out of the rental housing business,” Lisa Matichak said.

A non-profit housing advocacy group, Silicon Valley at Home, says Mountain View and other South Bay cities are losing affordable housing at an alarming rate.

Mountain View does not have a policy right now that gives it the opportunity to say no to developments that meet zoning requirements, said executive director Leslye Corsiglia. In the course of the next few months, her organization wants to beef up tenant protections and speak with cities like Mountain View to limit pricey housing developments. 

According to her group’s analysis of city records, since 2015, more than 610 units of older rental housing have been lost or are in the process of being demolished and rebuilt. To put this in perspective, she said, Mountain View permitted 135 very-low, low- and moderate-income affordable units during this same period.

Residents will get some relocation assistance of at least $5,000. The city also extended the date by which residents have to move out - to the end of September.