Real Estate

New life in Old Mountain View

by Joshua Alvarez

Old Mountain View is not quite living up to its name. Old trees line the sidewalks and populate the various parks, but beneath their soft, aged shade new, young families are out and about enjoying, once again, the perpetual blue skies. The patter of children's feet and the clacking and trilling of bikes and birds drift between the cottages that sit peacefully behind freshly planted gardens.

The ethereality of Old Mountain View's residential area is interrupted, though, by the dynamism of Castro Street. Here, dozens of restaurants and cafes, many of them younger than the children that run past, boast new, diverse flavors from Asia, the Middle East, Europe and South America. Cars coast up and down the street, their drivers looking for parking in vain as young professionals look on from restaurants' outdoor seating.

People want to live here. Residents repeatedly cite the temperate climate, access to transportation and cultural diversity as reasons why they moved to Old Mountain View. The city also boasts several parks and a well-funded public school system. While being kid friendly, OMV is also a hangout for young adults and professionals. The close proximity of the world's biggest technology companies, including Google, to Castro Street's bars and restaurants attracts the regular patronage of its employees.

OMV is highly desirable for renters and prospective homeowners. However, houses don't often go up for sale in Old Mountain View, and when they do they are bought quickly. The result is obvious: Rental rates and property values have increased dramatically, even within the past five years. A slew of new houses, townhouses and apartments are being built throughout the neighborhood.

Unfortunately, rising rental rates are one of the primary reasons people leave Old Mountain View. Additionally, homeowners are reluctant to part ways with their appreciating real estate. As a result, there is a growing trend of owners renting their houses out for long stretches of time.

Roberta Goncalves has been living in OMV with her husband since 2004. They have two young children and found a private school for them to attend in Los Gatos. They want to move there, but they plan to return to OMV after their kids finish school in several years, so they decided to rent their house. Their first tenant is Angela Siddall, a retiree from Portola Valley looking for a fresh change to her lifestyle.

"I moved here for the climate, access to transportation, and the restaurants on Castro Street," Siddall said. "I won't be able to drive forever and want to be active. You can hear your heartbeat at night in Portola, so I will probably have to get used to the noise level here, but I like the idea of walking and eating around Castro at nine at night."

Thomas and his wife recently closed a deal on a house. They've been renting for years and have a young son. They weren't planning on staying in the Bay Area, but decided to stay. "We realized how much we wanted to live near downtown and be walking distance to everything," he said. "We love being near the restaurants, the CalTrain station, the highway, and the library is great for our kid."

FACTS

CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: YMCA Kids' Place at Landels School, 115 W. Dana St.

FIRE STATION: No. 1, 251 S. Shoreline Blvd.

LOCATION: Bounded by El Camino Real, Shoreline Boulevard, Evelyn Avenue and Highways 85/237

NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Old Mountain View Neighborhood Association, David Lewis, chair@omvna.org

PARKS: Dana Park, West Dana Street at Oak Street; Eagle Park & Pool, S. Shoreline Boulevard at Church Street; Pioneer Park, Church and Castro streets; Mercy-Bush Park, Mercy and Bush streets; Fairmont Park, Fairmont Avenue and Bush Street; Landels Park, West Dana Street near Calderon Avenue

POST OFFICE: Mountain View, 211 Hope St.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Mtn. View-Whisman School District -- Landels Elementary School, Graham Middle School; Mtn. View-Los Altos Union High School District -- Mountain View High School

SHOPPING: Downtown Mountain View, Grant Park Plaza

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by randy albin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 13, 2014 at 4:31 pm

well, of course mountain view has changed over the years. there now is an extraordinarily high cost of living. how ravagingly bad that it has changed like this over time. maybe there's life in old mountain view. you better be able to afford to live there


 +   Like this comment
Posted by oldtimer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 14, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Fifteen years ago I worked two jobs for years to save to buy a house here for 200K and we were always amazed at how people could afford to pay 300k and then in a few years it became 400K. Who could possibly afford 400K. But still the people kept on coming.

The truth is these houses at 1 million and up that you complain about are CHEAP, really CHEAP compared to many countries. In ten years time you will still be complaining, that they now cost 5 million. Well you could bought it at 1 million, but you didn't just like you could have bought it fifteen years ago for 250K, but you didn't. Do you really think the world owes you a living?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by hmax
a resident of another community
on Aug 28, 2014 at 4:42 am

Castro Street does indeed have a diverse collection of restaurants which makes it quite interesting...what makes it less interesting is the dated buildings and the tired look of downtown...Campbell has a nicer downtown than MV...Castro Street has a feeling of an open air food court one sees at the mall...and Old Mountain View is just that...old...and way overpriced...it's all in the hype...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Linda Curtis
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 29, 2014 at 5:08 pm

The diversity and character of the mix of buildings that grew up naturally along Castro Street (both ends of it) appeals very much to most people. New stuff looks pretty much all the same, all bland and built at the same time. It soon will be out of date, yet still characterless.

The most beautiful trees I can recall in MV were the "Trees of Heaven" recently murdered that were along the sidewalk on Moffett near the expressway. How walkable is it now with these outstanding shade providers gone? Why could they not have remained to shade the street and the sidewalk? They would have maybe required only a couple of feet off part of the big fat building planned to go up there. Come on.

These exceptional trees took decades to grow, were perfectly suited to that exact place, were in excellent health, and were truly "trees of heaven." A slight curve or indentation along the side of the building would have incorporated them nicely, just like that curve on the new construction at Bryant & Dana that saved a giant Oak.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2014 at 10:30 pm

@ oldtimer

"Do you really think the world owes you a living?"

No the world does not owe us a living, but here in silicon valley the owe us more than $10 an hour.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kitty
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 16, 2014 at 9:11 pm

I wonder where this entitlement is coming from. No, they don't owe you over $10 per hour. Minimum wage is just the state's way of saying, "i'd pay you less, but it's illegal"

But to get serious for a moment, the housing market in Mountain View does price a lot of people out. Its a shame, but its also reality.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2014 at 3:40 am

Sparty is a registered user.

Funny how housing prices went up all over. You could buy a condo in Fremont for $80K in 1995. Now that 2 bedroom condo is worth $400K+. Even with the thousands of houses and apartments that have been built in Fremont since then.


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