Mountain View, California

(Profiled February 2021)

Mountain View, California, population 83,377 (2018) is located adjacent to Palo Alto, 30 miles south of San Francisco, with its northern border formed by San Francisco Bay. In 2019, the city updated its North Bayshore Precise Plan which aims to protect habitat and open space while building a complete, mixed-use district with the help of TDR. At least one other precise plan, the San Antonio Precise Plan, also contains a TDR mechanism aimed at transferring unused floor areas from public school sites. 

In the North Bayshore Precise Plan, sending sites are located in the Edge Character Area where the plan calls for reduced density and setbacks from natural areas. The program allows sending sites with non-residential floor area that is lower than baseline FAR to transfer this unused floor area. Transferable floor area can be generated by sending sites that retain or demolish existing buildings. Habitat enhancements that implement an approved habitat enhancement plan must be completed on sending sites which may include new landscaping, the removal of impervious surface, and daylighting of creeks; if these enhancements cannot occur on the sending site, they must occur elsewhere in the Edge Character Area. 

Receiving sites in North Bayshore are located in the Core Character Area where the plan calls for office and residential structures with ground-floor retail focused near high frequency transit. Baseline FAR here is 0.45. Developers can achieve up to 0.3 FAR bonus, or a total of 0.75 by building to LEED platinum standards or completing a public benefit or district improvement project focused on transportation. Another FAR 0.25 bonus can be gained with a zero net green building, higher performing green building, or a public benefit/district improvement project. Another 0.25 FAR tier of bonus can be achieved with a zero net green building, higher performing green building, or TDR. The highest 0.25 FAR tier, which would get a project to the maximum total FAR 1.5, can only be achieved by TDR. 

Section 3.4.5(2) of the North Bayshore plan allows school sites in North Bayshore and areas adjacent to North Bayshore, such as Terra Bella or North Rengstorff, to transfer their unused FAR to any location in the city at the discretion of the City Council.  

In 2019, Mountain View updated its San Antonio Precise Plan, which contains a TDR mechanism allowing unused development potential to be transferred from a sending site that provides for a public school in the planning area. By April 2019, the sending site had been purchased for a school within the San Antonio Precise Planning Area partly using revenue from the sale of TDRs to the developers of six receiving sites. Since most of the receiving site projects are offices and the sending site has a residential designation, the program provides for the conversion of development rights from residential units to non-residential floor area. For example, 150,000 square feet of bonus floor area from the 11.5-acre school site were purchased by the developer of a seven-story office building which the city approved for a location outside the San Antonio Precise Plan Area. In the event that a receiving site development fails to materialize, the developers can resell the unused TDRs.