|A flood basin at the Cuesta Annex came a step closer to reality on Tuesday, after the City Council voted 5-1 in favor of the idea.
The proposed basin would be at least 12 feet deep, occupy the front third of the 12.5-acre area, and would be built by the Santa Clara Valley Water District, which has lobbied heavily in favor of the idea.
The water district is looking to spend $35 million in bond money that voters approved several years ago to protect at least 1,600 Mountain View homes, most of them north of El Camino Real, from flooding during the "100-year flood" expected sometime in the Permanente Creek flood plain.
Earlier this year, Save Open Space and the Mountain View History Association, which is hoping to build a history museum at the rear of the Annex, made the surprising announcement that they supported the flood basin idea. Both groups had previously opposed the plan, but now believe it will enhance the beauty of the area -- and the water district will provide landscaping free of charge.
Council member Laura Macias was the only opponent, disagreeing with claims that the basin would qualify as open space. She cited her concern about the city's increasing inability to add open space while housing is developed.
Every other council member disagreed, except for Jac Siegel, who was absent.
"For me, this is a very easy decision," said council member Ronit Bryant. "There is a risk for a flood. I'd like to move forward before a flood actually happens."
Council member Nick Galiotto called it a "proverbial win-win" and said it was important for Mountain View to be a role model to Los Altos, which is being asked to allow flood basins at Rancho San Antonio and Blach School. It is also anticipated that, under the plan, McKelvey Park in Mountain View would have a flood basin.
Though it now seems likely, the Annex flood basin is not yet a certainty -- the water district has yet to issue a final plan, and the council has yet to approve an Annex master plan, due within a year.
Several public hearings will be scheduled to sort out the details of "Concept B" for the Annex, a vision selected after a public comment process in 2006.
Once approved, the flood basin may take less than a year to build, said member Matt Pear.
The council also approved a revised parks and open space plan on Tuesday, a section of the city's general plan that the parks and recreation commission has been considering for some time. Changes from the 2001 version include a new definition of open space, along with a recommendation that there be another large park within the city north of Central Expressway and south of Highway 101.
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