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City Council Forum at Google (Live Blog)

All six candidates gathered at the Googleplex on the evening of Thursday, Oct. 4 to answer the public's questions.

City Council Forum at Google (Live Blog)

The event, hosted by Google, began at 6:20 p.m.

6:21 p.m.: Coeta Chambers, of the League of Women Voters of Los Altos Mountain View and moderator, introduces league, candidates and rules.

6:26 p.m.: Chambers- Will begin with a two minute candidate statement and candidates will be asked questions in the order they drew cards. Then two minutes closing statements.

6:27 p.m.: Mike Kasperzak- Thank you to Google for hosting us. This is the biggest crowd we've had yet. Even bigger than the crowd Paul Ryan had. (He discusses his background as a lawyer and mediator.) Has been involved with city since 1997. Issues: Affordable housing, transportation, transit and parking, physical sustainability.

6:29 p.m.: Jim Neal- Running because he wants a Mountain View that represents its people. Lately we have a government that wants to tell us what to wear, what to do, what to say. Recently heard about the pieces of the Berlin Wall that were donated to the city. Believes the city should put them in the Civic Center so that people remember what it's like to live under an oppressive government.

6:31 p.m.: Chris Clark- I'm a planning commissioner. Works in technology and wants a council that can craft more comprehensive solutions. Wants to maintain fiscal prudence. Believes that we are environmental stewards, especially in North Bayshore area. Other issues include transportation and transit.

6:33 p.m.: Margaret Capriles- I have lived in Mountain View for over 40 years and have raised four children. Particularly interested in housing and where people are going to live. We have existing neighborhoods and it's important to make those developments part of the community; so involve the community. Transportation is on all of our minds this evening. Notwithstanding is the fiscal responsibility. We want to make sure we maintain the quality of life that we have.

6:35 p.m.: John McAlister- a 55-year resident of Mountain View, owns a business, raised a family here. On planning commission for past five years. My priorities are a financially strong city government. Trained as a CPA and know how to maintain a budget. Also know how to negotiate. Another issue is transportation. Need to have effective public transportation. The third issue is neighborhood preservation.

6:37 p.m.: John Inks- Has served on council for last four years. This council that I served on has replaced the city manager, clerk, and we've achieved a structurally balanced the budget. I would continue to maintain fiscal responsibility. The other issue is the demand for housing, rental housing; lastly is the regulatory issues in the city.

6:40 p.m.: Question: How to attract new businesses?

6:40 p.m.: Inks- We need to accommodate office space and technological innovations are going to affect how people do business in the city. I am in touch with local merchants and issues of getting permits and the environment.

6:41 p.m.: McAlister- First I would encourage people to get in touch with the Chamber of Commerce. To reach out to the city's Economic Development Director and that we have a great location.

6:42 p.m.: Capriles- To nurture businesses already in city. That's how we develop partnerships by attracting people to the great things we have in the city.

6:43 p.m.: Clark- I work in a small tech and the space is very important. We need to be able to convert warehouse and be innovative with spaces.

6:44 p.m.: Neal- We don't really have to sell Mountain View. Everyone knows it. It's a matter of finding the right company so that they don't automatically transform the city and that they fit in nicely with the city we have.

6:46 p.m.: Kasperzak- Collaborative environment between the city and companies. Like with Hacker Dojo. The city worked very closely with them to bring them up to code.

6:46 p.m.: Question: What about the transportation to North Bayshore?

6:47 p.m.: Kasperzak- The companies at North Bayshore have done a great job with shuttles, but more needs to be done. Like personal rapid transit.

6:47 p.m.: Neal- I'm for housing in North Bayshore so that people can work or bike to work. Use Shoreline Community district funds to traffic mitigation and parking solutions.

6:48 p.m.: Clark- I don't really have to explain the problems to people who work here. We should look at personal rapid transit. We need to keep all of our options on the table and really be innovative.

6:50 p.m.: Capriles- In the long-term we can be really innovative but what about in the short-term? We need to deal with it in the city. There are good opportunities here.

6:50 p.m.: McAlister- The transportation study should help you. Maybe there aren't enough points of exit. The companies need to sit down with the city and VTA. VTA has a (no money, no time).

6:52 p.m.: Inks- I'm on the transportation committee. We are trying to follow transportation developments and solutions. We really need to understand the problem itself. A real part of this is Caltrain electrification. But the car culture will continue.

6:53 p.m.: Question: Do you support High-Speed Rail?

6:53 p.m.: Inks- I do not support because of the politics, because of the amount of money that is required. I cannot support it as is.

6:54 p.m.: McAlister- I support the theory of HSR. I would like to see it go all the way up to Portland. But it's a financial burden. We do need to keep our eyes on what's out there.

6:55 p.m.: Capriles- In concept it's a good idea. The only way they got it through was tying it to the electrification of Caltrain. The devil is in the details. How will it impact Mountain View?

6:56 p.m.: Clark- I was naive at the beginning. The money is being diverted to the Central Valley. But without it we would not get the electrification of Caltrain.

6:57 p.m.: Neal- (holds up report from State Financial Analyst) For me it's a no-brainer. It's a good idea, but we cannot afford it. It's going to cost $100 billion and that's more than the budget for entire state of California.

6:58 p.m.: Kasperzak- I voted for it. But we can't do anything about it but control what happens to it when it comes through Mountain View, like grade-separation and ensuring the blended system.

6: 59 p.m.: Question: Should there be a bridge over the Stevens Creek Trail over to NASA Ames?

7:00 p.m.: Kasperzak- I really do think we need a bridge because of the new Google campus that will be built on the NASA Ames lot. We are responsible for the public safety there. We have been working with the Audubon society to ensure the preservation of wildlife.

7:01 p.m.: Neal- I admit I do not know enough about this project. I will look at the studies that have been done.

7:01 p.m.: Clark- The mayor said it all. I had concerns, but I think that one bridge will suffice. It is a very sensitive area.

7:02 p.m.: Capriles- Most has already been said. We need to protect the wildlife.

7:03 p.m.: McAlister- I mentioned earlier alternate routes. This could be one. Who knows. Maybe VTA puts a light rail extension there.

7:04 p.m.: Inks- There has to be some compromise. I would encourage everyone to be collaborative with each other so that all interests are satisfied.

7:04 p.m.: Question: How would you create a more environmentally sustainable city?

7:05 p.m.: Inks- We are on the path to sustainability in Mountain View. The biggest source of greenhouse gas is the car. I would suggest policies that would mitigate auto traffic. 

7:06 p.m.: McAlister- We need to have a budget. Rezoning areas where housing will take place to be near pubic transit. A collaborative effort with the residents.

7:07 p.m.: Capriles- We have a sustainability coalition and we are moving toward zero-waste. I think we have done a great job with the General Plan and the coalition.

7:08 p.m.: Clark- I think Mountain View is on the right path through the details of the General Plan. Making wide that we emphasize housing near public transit and encouraging cycling. And protecting the environment. Implementing General Plan

7:09 p.m.: Neal- Having timed traffic lights so that you aren't idling in your car would help. Also better bus routes. My wife and I took the bus here and we live less than five mile and it took us two hours and $8.

7:10 p.m.: Kasperzak- We already recapture methane gas, which is low hanging fruit. But deciding where housing is place is important.

7:11 p.m.: Question what is your opinion on the plastic bag ban?

7:11 p.m.: Kasperzak- When it came before council I support it and when the report returns, I'm probably going to support it because it's the plan for the entire Peninsula.

7:12 p.m.: Neal- I disagree because it's the state mandating your behavior. It's the police power of the state to enforce this ban. If they can set the price for a paper bag, then they can set the price for anything else.

7:13 p.m.: Clark- If you are going to cause a harm to society, we should be able to recover that. This is one of those inevitable things. Will there be a small inconvenience yes, but we should let the short-term inconvenience not move us away from the ultimate goal.

7:15 p.m.: Capriles- We need to start thinking about the environment. We need to start making sacrifices for our children. Look at what we are doing? (pointing in front of her)--drinking out of plastic bottles.

7:16 p.m.: McAlister- In my small business we don't use plastic and customers don't mind. There are alternatives to to plastic bags. It protects the environments.

7:16 p.m.: Inks- As an exclusive canvass bag user, I still don't support the ban. There's plastic everywhere. The biggest culprit in the landfill is paper products. It's the inconsistencies I'm skeptical to support.

7:17 p.m. Question: Google has land that they want to build housing on. Can they?

7:18 p.m.: Inks- I don't think it's exclusive housing to Google. There are other companies that are out here. The council didn't really study this from the perspective of the General Plan.

7:19 p.m.: McAlister- On the environmental planning commission it was a 4-3 vote so it wasn't unanimous. I have concerns because if we built housing people would still have to leave the neighborhood for other services. We are building houses near transportation.

7:20 p.m.: Capriles- I agreed with council denying the housing in the General Plan. The environmental impact still wasn't clear. With the information we had from the environmental impact group, I support that.

7:21 p.m.: Clark- I voted for it on the environmental planning commission. This is a 20-year document and not including it doesn't make sense to me.

7:22 p.m.: Neal- I support housing here. I heard an urban legend that Googlers have everything here and don't have to leave the campus. I don't know why housing was left out of the General Plan.

7:23 p.m.: Kasperzak- I supported housing here. I do think it was a mistake not to include in the General Plan because it is a 20-year plan and there could be more innovative transportation plans.

7:24 p.m. Question: What will you do to support afforable housing?

7:25 p.m.: Kasperzak- Affordable housing is at the top of my list. I've supported below-market value programs in in-lieu fees for developers.

7:25 p.m.: Neal- I would work with developers to see what they could add to their planned development. What I wouldn't do is allow developers to come back to city council with changes. Delays cost money. Getting the delays out could lower cost of project.

7:26 p.m.: Clark- It's about supply. If you wonder why your rents are going up is the growth in employment in the city. Longing at long-term impact fee on commercial and residential project.

7:27 p.m.: Capriles- We need to look at the under served in the community. One of the beauties of the city is the range of the socio-economics of the people in the community. A house of $800,000 doesn't sounds very affordable to someone like a teacher. We need a joint effort between city, employers and companies.

7:29 p.m.: McAlister- I have employees who are low-income. One a single mother lives in East Palo Alto and another commutes from San Jose. We need to address that. My approach is, I know we have the impact fees on developers, but if the community wants it they should support it as a sales tax or a parcel fee.

7:30 p.m.: Inks- Affordable housing is subsidized housing. When we asked the community, there wasn't enough support for a parcel tax. What we are left with is the individual developers.

7:31 p.m.: Question: How do you envision El Camino Real?

7:31 p.m.: Inks- That's similar to what VTA proposed with the Bus Rapid Transit, but they have ignored the spill out to other neighborhoods, the left hand turns. Look at what's happened with cutting off one lane at San Antonio Road. The traffic is backed off until Shoreline.

7:33 p.m.: McAlister- We can't reduce El Camino to two lanes. The traffic is too much.

7:33 p.m.: Capriles- We see the reduction in lane at San Antonio Road. The traffic goes off to the side roads. The devil is in the details. It will create problems on other parts of the city.

7:34 p.m.: Clark- I foresee that for the near future the narrowing of El Camino is out. We can probably make the transit smoother with adaptive signaling. You should see some new project, with new signals, more bikes lanes, better street scape.

7:35 p.m.: Neal- Against Grand Boulevard Project of reducing another lane. I take the 522 bus and it's usually empty. I want to maintain Mountain View's uniqueness and individuality.

7:36 p.m.: Kasperzak- The Grand Boulevard Project is more than just about the bus rapid transit. It's about the King's Way, having buildings that face the street.

7:37 p.m.: Question: How do you plan to distribute Shoreline Community district funds?

7:38 p.m.: Kasperzak- I'm in support of the Joint Powers Authority and we have to maintain the landfill, the levees. But because of the high property taxes, I support giving more money to the schools.

7:39 p.m.: Neal- This is a very complicated issue because funds were set aside by State in 1968. It should be up to the community to decide how the funds are dealt with.

7:40 p.m.: Clark- I supported the short-gap measure in place right now to help the schools and look to finding long-term solutions. We need to make sure that the funds are used to maintain a sustainable environment out here.

7:41 p.m.: Capriles- I'm a real believer that strong schools make strong communities. But we don't want to neglect what we've created out here. It's important that we take care of it. We need to evaluate everything.

7:42 p.m.: McAlister- Those funds will help us solve a lot of the problems of transportation and congestion out here. The schools have not benefited from the funds that come out here.

7:43 p.m.: Inks- We may have to go to the voters on this. There is a lot of interests in this issue. If we change the policy on the Shoreline funds, I want to make sure my successors don't inherit the problems.

Closing statements

7:44 p.m.: Inks- The reason you should vote for me is that I have a solid record of protecting tax dollars and helping businesses with regulation. I make it a point to be available. 

7:46 p.m.: McAlister- I want residents first over developers, over special interest. I want to make you more involved. I have leadership experience, business professional, community involvement, education, and am 55-year resident. I bring a broad experience.

7:48 p.m.: Capriles- I have lived here, worked for HP and have lived all over the world. With that experience I feel it allows me to have rich discussion and solutions to address issues that face us. My involvement in the community and commitment to serve in council is left up to your judgment. I bring a women's perspective.

7:49 p.m.: Clark- You get to vote for four out of six candidate. I hope I've proven that I'm committed to city tonight. I think I can bring a unique perspective to council that is not represented right now.

7:51 p.m.: Neal- I bring a new perspective to council. I work in Berkeley and am pursuing my Masters, and I have a wife who keeps me busy. So I'm just like many people. And I wanted to make something clear. I'm not anti-environment. I'm against the plastic bag ban because it's not going up for a vote. It's a way to get around the ballot process. I hope your decision will be for me.

7:53 p.m.: Kasperzak- As an incumbent it's important to look at the record of the incumbent. Over the past four years, we added two new parks, a teen center, renewed contracts with employees and structurally balanced a budget (among other). I've always believed that council members should be accessible. I have experience and a proven record.


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Disclaimer: This was transcribed to the best of the Editor's speed-typing abilities!

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