City Council wants to close expressway entrance

The City Council is leaning towards closing a Central Expressway on-ramp at the end of Stierlin Road to create a public promenade and the start of a "cycle track" between downtown and Google headquarters

Council members stated their positions on the topic last week in a study session on an apartment project that will be built over the southern end of Stierlin Road, on Moffett Boulevard. Prometheus Real Estate Group proposes 190 apartments for 100 Moffett Blvd., replacing the County Social Services building and auto shops on the end of Stierlin. Four stories will rise above an underground garage along Moffett and Central, sloping down to two stories along neighboring residences.

"That decision will be a tough one. Good luck, let your conscience be your guide," said Prometheus vice president Jon Moss of the option to close the on-ramp. He added, "If we were laying out streets today, we'd be hard pressed to believe council would want cut-through traffic through a residential neighborhood" and put an entrance to Central only 50 to 60 feet away from another entrance at Moffett.

On the council the opponents of closing the on-ramp were John McAlister and Mayor John Inks. McAlister told neighbors of the site: "You are going to have more traffic in your neighborhood" without the on-ramp because cars at the new complex would have to go through the neighborhood.

The rest of the council was either strongly supportive, open to it or leaning towards the idea of closing off the on-ramp to make the area more bike- and pedestrian-friendly, a top council goal this year.

"This connection right here is really going to be the primary bike-pedestrian connection from the (downtown) transit center to the heart of North Bayshore," said bike advocate Jarrett Mullen, who supported the promenade option. "That's a 10-minute bike ride. Any kind of unnecessary detours you make for bikes eats into the competitiveness for bikes."

He added that the site is "a good location for this density. It's 200 feet from Caltrain, VTA and shuttles. I don't think there's a more transit-rich area in the city."

With or with out the on-ramp, the site could be the start of a bi-directional "cycle track" up the length of Stierlin Road to Shoreline Boulevard where it could run to North Bayshore, Shoreline Park and Google headquarters. According to a city staff report, it would be the width of the Stevens Creek Trail -- 14 feet -- with "physical barriers" separating it from walking paths and vehicle traffic. It could remain with the road, but the cycle track would have to be combined with the walking paths, like the Stevens Creek Trail.

How to fit the cycle track along the rest of Stierlin and Shoreline has yet to be studied.

Neighbors who spoke at the meeting were split over whether to close the on-ramp.

Central Avenue resident Vince Gomez said he welcomed the closure of the on-ramp to keep cars from cutting past his home from Moffett Boulevard to get the on-ramp at Stierlin and avoid the rush hour traffic backup at Central Expressway on Moffett.

"It becomes almost a freeway in front of my driveway," Gomez said, adding that he supported the option to "close it and stop the freeway coming down Central" Avenue.

Neighbor David Zuckerman disagreed. He said one reason he moved to the neighborhood was "my easy access to Central Expressway." He said that without the on-ramp, "you are proposing putting hundreds of vehicles in our non-arterial streets" with the new project, because residents leaving the new project would have nowhere to drive but through the neighborhood.

Neighbors are also concerned about adding to the traffic that backs up at Moffett at Central during rush hour when train crossing arms are often down.

"This is a tough one," said council member Jac Siegel. "In general, for the neighborhood I think it is better to close the amp, although I'm not sure," he said, adding that he wished he had more information.

Council members didn't support increasing the number of apartments by 10 percent beyond general plan limits in exchange for "significant" community benefits, a move allowed by the new 2030 general plan. Moss had offered a set of community benefits he valued at $1.9 million in exchange for the higher density, including a $250,000 gateway "Mountain View" arch sign for nearby downtown, $325,000 worth of sidewalk along Central Expressway from Moffett Boulevard to Granada Avenue, a $65,000 VTA bike-sharing station. He also offered $500,000 in park improvements if the project's park fees were used to build a park nearby, possibly on the site of the Community Services Agency building next door. CSA could move if a larger building is found because the non-profit is looking to expand, Moss said.

"I don't see the public benefit to justify going larger," McAlister said, though he expressed interest in the gateway sign that could go above Castro Street near the train tracks.

"We just finished the general plan," explained council member Jac Siegel after the meeting. "For them to come in immediately and ask for higher (density), we just didn't want it, we just said no."


Posted by neighborhood, a resident of Jackson Park
on Apr 12, 2013 at 2:44 pm

I live in this neighborhood & I am not sure how I feel about this.

I use this ramp often in order to avoid the downtown traffic stuck @ the train arms. Currently there isn't much traffic in the neighborhood, which is one of the reasons I love it. It's quite, close to downtown and has a lovely park right in the neighborhood. But can see that with this new apartment it will definitely cause some congestion & if the ramp is open then it will gear more cars towards that ramp and lead to traffic in the neighborhood. It's a tough call.

I personally don't want that apartment to be built on the site for the same reasons I listed above quite neighborhood, etc., but know it most likely will be built there. I do hope the city decides to get more out of the deal though than a sign & building a park nearby since there is already a park w/in a one block radius on Stierlin.

Posted by Jimmy, a resident of Jackson Park
on Apr 12, 2013 at 2:49 pm

was the ramp there when you bought your home? if so, deal with it. i grew up in the neighborhood, and still live in the adjoining one. i spent my youth having a healthy respect for cars on that route.

its the closest viable entry to central expressway during rush hour. forcing everyone on to the Moffett entrance would be a disaster. its already jammed and even when its not rush hour, sitting at the light to cross and watching up to three trains go by is ridiculous

instead, i'll still go down central ave and go down shoreline to get to central expressway until they close that as well and waste more gas.

Posted by Alex M, a resident of Willowgate
on Apr 12, 2013 at 2:56 pm

That Stierlin Road entrance ramp to Central Expressway really helps during commuting hours when Moffet traffic is backed up from the Central Expressway intersection. I'd hate to see it go away.

But if it goes away, the solutions are TRIVIALLY SIMPLE. I'm amazed Jac Siegel says "this is a tough one". No, it isn't. Sure, remove access to the Steirlin Road ramp. But then, do the following:

1. Lengthen the left turn lane from Moffet to Central Expressway. I constantly see cars wanting to turn left who can't because they can't get into that left turn lane. There's PLENTY of room to chip away the concrete median to extend the length of that turn lane a good distance. This would alleviate some backup.

2. Create a new right turn lane from Moffet to Central Expressway. Currently there's just a small right curve at the intersection. With a combination of lane re-striping and reclaiming a bit of land currently occupied by sidewalk, cars could more easily turn right without needing that extra on-ramp at Stierlin Road.

3. Reprogram the traffic signals so that the light that has been red longest (or the sensor that senses traffic standing the longest) is the first one to turn green after a train passes. Currently, every time a train passes (frequent during commuting times), the traffic signals RESTART their sequence regardless of how long cars have been waiting! This is stupid. Admittedly the lane that suffers the most is the left-turn from Central to Castro, not the Moffet-crossing-Central traffic. At times the trains come more frequently than the cycle time of the traffic signal, so that some lights never get a chance to go green.

I wrote about these solutions to three Mountain View city employees last year who are supposed to be involved with traffic management (Renee Gunn, Sayed Fakhri, Rebecca Shapiro). I never got any response, not even an acknowledgment of receipt. That is displeasing.

Posted by Al, a resident of another community
on Apr 12, 2013 at 3:48 pm

I currently live on Stierlin and use that on ramp daily. Please don't do this. Please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I know its too early to panic or is it? One of the worst ideas yet.
I'd rather have a weekly parade.

Posted by Jamie, a resident of Shoreline West
on Apr 12, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Can someone from the City Council please explain why Prometheus owns this town? I am serious I would really like to know. Who do they know? Who are they in with? Mom? Dad? Sister? Brother? Aunt? Uncle? Cousin? City Council? There are so many developers. Why just them? And who gives Prometheus the right to tell the City Council "Good Luck" on any thing the City Council decides to do? What am I missing?

Posted by Answer, a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 12, 2013 at 4:54 pm


Money talks volumes. Isn't there a golden rule in there somewhere?

Lets get real, we need new homes for all the people that left Detroit and the other failing towns from all over the world.

Posted by Before the counsel makes, a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 12, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Before the counsel makes a decision they should take a poll on what the people think about this and not just listen to the Lobbyist (Google) that pay or hammer them to do it.

Posted by Politically incorrect, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 12, 2013 at 6:47 pm

Jamie, you hit the nail on the head, it is ABAG and the MTA they steal our gas tax money and feed the trough for developers at transit nodes to feed off of. Scandalous corruption that smites of communism in our city. But then again I think that really is the case! Too much Pink Castle decisions with communists in control. Hey did I piss someone off? Good you deserve it. Get over it.

Posted by Politically incorrect, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 12, 2013 at 6:51 pm

Oh and the zoning is mixed use, yet its all Prometheus like on Evelyn. We need a better developer like Mr. Pearson Home Property that project turns into true mixed use. You want residences facing Moffett or a Starbucks or a breakfast place? The latter I do!

Posted by Aegis, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 13, 2013 at 2:34 am

Are there any plans to extend VTA light rail from downtown up to North Bayshore in the future? If so, then the City Council should plan ahead for this and explore using Steirlin and Shoreline as the most direct route. Maybe it could go alongside a cycle track?

Posted by Rich, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Apr 13, 2013 at 6:56 am

Seems like a simple principle of planning that if you close a ramp that is clearly used by a lot of people, you have to provide for an alternative. If the entire corner is being redeveloped, isn't it a good time to look at improving the Moffett/Central Expy intersection so that it can handle the traffic, freeing up the land that the existing ramp uses while taking some away from the Moffett side of the project?

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Apr 13, 2013 at 10:17 am

Remember reading a earlier plan that did have retail space but somewhere in the stages of planning it was changed. As for the developer I don't think city has control over who buys or leases property.

I think the main why the developers is everywhere, they are based in the area. Agents acting on behalf of the developer find suitable sites.

Google has plans to expand, Samsung will be building soon, San Antonio Station will see office tenants soon, and the office buildings in downtown. This 190 units are central, close to all those new jobs in brand new space.

Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 13, 2013 at 11:26 am

Max Hauser is a registered user.

Alex M. made some very well-thought out specific suggestions above, re the Moffett-Central intersection in general, and apparent easy opportunities to improve it. (The comment that City staff did not even bother to acknowledge those suggestions is troubling.)

Alex's point #3 especially stands out. It's astounding and frustrating to see, despite road sensors and modern programmable signal sequencing, the traffic signals at that intersection ignoring recent history and waiting traffic, re-starting their cycle from scratch whenever interrupted by a train. I've observed it often. In the very town where silicon valley began, no less. It might have been understandable with the fixed relay-based signal controls of 50 years ago, but today it is glaringly incongruous. What happened to all the Markov-chain flow modeling that traffic engineers are supposedly taught in universities?

So-called "smart" traffic signals that do "dumb" things provide a 21st-century affirmation of Alexander Pope's incisive comment that a "little learning" is a dangerous thing.

Posted by John, a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 13, 2013 at 8:56 pm

"If we were laying out streets today" Unfortunately Prometheus is laying out the streets today!

Now the city is giving away streets to the developers!

Our elected officials are over matched and out manned as the city is swallowed up.

High density because its near the slow motion light rail and caltrain?
Yea right. High density so Prometheus can make more money more like it.

Posted by Mr. Big, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Apr 14, 2013 at 2:04 am

Bad idea unless it's part of the large plan that includes all the changes needed for the high speed rail project.

Remember all money and energy wasted on the remodeling of Castro St. only to tear it down a few years later to redo it again. And, they had to pull all trees after that due to bad planning.

We need a comprehensive plan for the Rengstorff to Whisman rail/Central Express way corridor that includes all the changes needed for the high speed rail project (it's coming like it or not).

Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Whisman Station
on Apr 14, 2013 at 8:27 am

I see. I don't think that an overhead arch BRIBE is good for the City of Mountain View. That is just as tawdry and cheap looking as the " Welcome to Reno " arch.
When you rely on TOURIST money as part of the city ( Golden, CO for example ) people can get away with it, tourist towns are usually flashy and cheap looking as they lighten wallets.

Don't let a developer " fix " ( yes, I mean that word for SEVERAL reasons ) what isn't broke just to line their pockets at the expense of the original inhabitants of Mountain View. Killing off the business tax base makes everyone lose while a developer smiles all the way to the bank....

Posted by John, a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 14, 2013 at 8:41 am

Headline ahiyks be Prometheus wants to close xway entrance.

And are googlers going to leave their closed compass to bike to downtown? Why?

Really? When we already have Stevens Creek?

One would think Prometheus would be happy with what its already done to Mountain View, but wait, greed is good, and getting these orijects approved in the city is a walk in the park for developers.

Rubber stamp the plan of Prometheus, after all it is the titan. And oh boy we get a tawdry arch sign!

Posted by John, a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 14, 2013 at 8:55 am

Very simple solution, just say no to the street give away.
Can we buy the street in front of our house with a so called public benefit?

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Apr 14, 2013 at 9:27 am

Improve the ramps at Shoreline, and the Moffett intersection.

Improved pedestrian and cycle flow to and from the Shoreline Blvd area. I don't the city will allow it to be built for Google.

The question of the day? Is it still going to be a public right a way.

Posted by ORACLE, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 14, 2013 at 9:44 am

Does the city council work for Prometheus and Google or do they work for the citizens of Mountain View? The council really needs to go back to the drawing board and rethink this bad decision.

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Apr 14, 2013 at 11:48 am

Google has grown over a period of time, it keeps growing. No more little start up, but draws talent from all over the globe.

Prometheus has purchased or lease some land in Mountain View, just like Google they too have expanded. All those tech workers need a place to live.

Put the 2 together you will have growing firms, needing space for their business. We could send Google out of state, Prometheus could build low income housing. California is 41st. on the list of business friendly states.

Posted by John, a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 14, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Google has a bus fleet that picks up the googlers where they live, SF.

This land grab by Prometheus has nothing to do with Google and everything to do with an over matched city council.

Don't have to give up a street and don't have to rezone.

Posted by Steve, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Apr 15, 2013 at 8:42 am

Before we ponder any of those silly trinkets of 'significant benefit', Let's require developers to improve city infrastucture to accomodate all the new people. Addressing Moffet Blvd/Central Exp should be the first hurdle before dumping 190 new units at the corner. Does the planning department staff actually live in Mtn View?

Posted by AA, a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 15, 2013 at 10:06 am

John - many Googlers do live in MV, PA area, in addition to SF. More jobs will bring a need for new homes close to work and public transit.

The intersection of Moffett/Central is really awkward. Lots of car traffic with the railroad as others have said. Pedestrian and bike paths are dangerous. I'm often walking to downtown with 2 kids in a stroller waiting at that cement median while cars race by me at 45-50 miles per hour. It's a deadly accident just waiting to happen. With the new apartments there you'll have a big increase in foot/bike traffic. The city REALLY needs to rethink the design of this intersection, also considering the possibility of high speed rail.

Can some lanes of Central expressway be changed to go down as they approaches Castro? Those cars could keep going fast and not have to stop for a light. Then pedestrians and bikes would only be close to traffic going relatively slow heading into downtown. They'd still have to deal with the train, but I bet adjustments to the crossing bars could be made to decrease accidents even further.

Posted by Bettina, a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 15, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Alex M. is 100% correct in his assessment. I also feel strongly that the folks he mentioned at the traffic management dept. (Renee Gunn, Sayed Fakhri, Rebecca Shapiro) have forgotten that they work for the taxpayer. Not responding in anyway to his letter is unforgivable.

Posted by Kevin, a resident of Jackson Park
on Apr 15, 2013 at 8:17 pm

There is a petition circulating on line that you might want to sign. Please see below. Thanks, Danelle!



Hi Neighbors,

I've started the petition "Mountain View City Council Members: Vote per neighborhood preferences for the Stierlin onramp" and need your help to get it off the ground.

Here's why it's important:

The closure of the Stierlin onramp to Central Expressway could have huge impact on the neighborhood. Let's be sure the neighborhood wants this ramp to be permanently closed or to remain open before the council takes it to a final vote. In the "Why this is important to you" section please give you name and street address and then tell the City Council whether you would like the Sterlin onramp to remain open or to be permanently closed and why. Thank you for your time.

You can sign the petition by cutting and pasting the following into your web browser: Web Link

Please join this campaign! Our input could make the difference in making our preferences heard and it only takes a minute of your time!

Thank You,
Danelle Oravertz
812 Fountain Park Ln

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2013 at 9:18 pm

I can understand the desire keeping the ramp open but I also see the need to improvement bike and pedestrian links in the North Bayshore and Shoreline Blvd corridor. Yes it will cause more traffic, if so we need to fix the Shoreline Blvd ramp to Central. Improve the Moffett and Central Expressway intersection to handle the flow during rush hour.

Look at a map of the area, plot your course on a bike
Shoreline West to Shoreline Park in a safe manner. Or Rex Manor to City Hall.

Posted by John, a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 16, 2013 at 9:00 am

Biking is fine in the area, we bike from Monte Loma to downtown all the time. We use Stevens Creek from google to downtown. There will not be an improved biking corridor-its a smokescreen

Prometheus doesn't care about biking or anything other than creating the highest density development that they can in pursuit of profit. Nothing wrong with that. Residents also want a livable city, nothing wrong with that.

Council and the traffic management dept. (Renee Gunn, Sayed Fakhri, Rebecca Shapiro) seem to work for Prometheus. When we want traffic improvements for our neighborhood it takes years of studies.

When Prometheus wants to close an expressway onramp so it can have room to build a high desity apartment complex the only question is how soon?

Our city employees are outclassed and the developers are taking a walk in the park to the bakn.

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Would rather see this built instead of adding more car lanes of traffic, why we just don't have the space. Yes better traffic improvements are needed to handle the increase. Shoreline Blvd ramps and signals. Moffett Blvd signals and turn lanes.

The housing that is planned is near job centers, offices and the businesses in downtown. Yes V.T.A. can be compared to a slog, but if you are going from Castro St to East Middlefield Rd where all those new office buildings are either planned or being built. How far of a ride from Whisman Station to Caltrain or even Ebay to 100 Moffett.

We need to start looking at alternatives to getting to and from where we want to go, not just for work but all those other times in the day or night.


Posted by Concerned Vet, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 17, 2013 at 2:40 pm

This is getting out of hand. Bicyclists are taking over the city. They are eliminating the freedoms of us responsible car-driving folks. I bet they are all hippie anarchist googler hackers too.

I just want to drive my Monte Carlo in peace!

Posted by Peter, a resident of Willowgate
on Apr 17, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Very funny, but let's be serious for a minute. Bikes vs. cars is a false choice. The City Council had an option in front of them to keep the ramp, and provide separate dedicated paths for bikes and pedestrians. The only reasons not to go with that option were (1.) that it would require "substantial redesign" by Prometheus, and (2.) that the Council bought the "cut-through" argument. As to the first reason - so, let Prometheus take a little less public land for their own benefit, and do some redesign. Why not? They'll still turn a profit. As for the second, it's clear to me that Prometheus has seized on a "plausible" complaint as a way of getting enough residents' approval to provide cover for what has aptly been called a "land grab." Most of the Council members either don't see what is happening, or are simply too compliant with the developer to look after the public good.

Alex (above) has some good ideas. As a Moffett resident, I'd say: Keep the ramp, along with separate bike and pedestrian lanes alongside it. On the Moffett/Central intersection, lengthen the left turn lane, and create a new right turn lane. I think even Garrett would agree with this.

Keeping the ramp would route neighborhood and project traffic out of the intersection, as well as preserving the convenience that the ramp provides residents. Creating a right-turn lane would eliminate the motivation for drivers to cut through the neighborhood at peak hours.

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2013 at 7:27 pm

Yes I agree with fixing both Moffett and Shoreline Blvd to improve traffic flow. While I am pushing for better bike and pedestrian flow, I understand the need for better lanes, smarter traffic lights and better intersections.

Getting bikes and pedestrian with their own sections will cut back on bike vs car mishaps.

Posted by John, a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 17, 2013 at 8:29 pm

"(1.) that it would require "substantial redesign" by Prometheus, and (2.) that the Council bought the "cut-through" argument. As to the first reason - so, let Prometheus take a little less public land for their own benefit, and do some redesign. Why not? They'll still turn a profit. As for the second, it's clear to me that Prometheus has seized on a "plausible" complaint as a way of getting enough residents' approval to provide cover for what has aptly been called a "land grab." Most of the Council members either don't see what is happening, or are simply too compliant with the developer to look after the public good."

Agree completely. Say no to the taking of public land. It sets a horrible precedent and can never be undone.

Posted by Peter, a resident of Willowgate
on Apr 17, 2013 at 10:43 pm

Even if the ramp is kept open, Prometheus would be taking some of what is now public land. They should be required to trade some Moffett frontage, to provide a right-turn lane. That's not a "significant public benefit" to achieve higher density, but rather a way of compensating for the traffic problems the project will bring, and as a direct exchange for the land they are proposing to take.

Anyone who is concerned about this project should take a minute to sign the petition that Kevin mentioned above. You can find it here: Web Link

Posted by 100000 cars vs a few cyclists, a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 18, 2013 at 1:35 pm

"The City Council is leaning towards closing a Central Expressway on-ramp at the end of Stierlin Road to create a public promenade and the start of a "cycle track" between downtown and Google headquarters"

Ok, so a few hundred thousand drivers that use this ramp will have to stop using it for a hand full of cyclist.

This is an even worse idea than the narrowing of roads.

Posted by Nonono, a resident of Jackson Park
on Apr 22, 2013 at 11:12 pm

I live right there, and am totally against this idea. The ramp alleviates traffic, and closing it off to create a "hub" will increase traffic!

Posted by Blame the city council, a resident of Jackson Park
on Apr 24, 2013 at 3:20 pm

City staff was actually recommending keeping the on-ramp open following the CPC and EPC meetings. Even the EPC members preffered the option of keeping it open.
It all changed when it came up in front of the council. They disregarded the recommendation from staff and the committees and for some completely misguided reasons voted to pick the development option that closed the ramp.
Email the council and let them know they need to listen their own city staff, committees and residents and keep the ramp open.
Closing it will result in *more* traffic through the neighborhood as *all* cars coming from the new developement will need to travel on them to the main arteries (Central, Moffett, Shoreline).

If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

On Tour at Selective Schools: Chapman, La Verne, Redlands, Whittier
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 1,689 views

The dress code
By Jessica T | 15 comments | 1,524 views

. . . People will never forget how you made them feel.
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 889 views

September food and drink goings on
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 652 views

Camp Glamp
By Laura Stec | 1 comment | 630 views