Mountain View Voice

Opinion - September 18, 2009

Some suggestions for new development on Minton's site

by Beth Mezias

I submitted some comments to City Council in advance of the study session planned for Wednesday, Sept. 16 to discuss the Minton's site development. I would like to share them with others in the city as there are a few points I would like to raise.

First, are there any plans for solar panels or renewable energy? Residents in luxury apartments are sometimes heavy electricity users, owners of the latest gadgets and maybe an extra refrigerator. The developer could mitigate the increase in the city's carbon footprint by putting renewable electricity into the buildings themselves.

Is the developer going to build in any kind of greywater usage or water recycling for the buildings and their outdoor spaces? In a time of drought, when the Santa Clara County water authorities are asking every city to reduce water consumption, it is smart to ask that any new apartments, have minimal impact on the city's overall water consumption. The council should ask the developer to consider installing a system that will water all of the beautifully manicured outdoor spaces with greywater.

One last but important green innovation is the building roof. There is significant new data about technical changes to make a building's roof "white." This can make a huge difference by reflecting sunlight back into space and reducing the amount of heat that is absorbed by the built environment.

Minton's is a large site, perfect for easy access to transit and services. It is on the edge of a commercial zone that has suffered since the dot-com bust. That area could be revitalized at any time as the economy recovers from the current recession. In fact, the developer of that site could trigger the change, attracting new businesses to occupy the surrounding sites.

Finally, I would ask for a mixed-use development on the site. Freshly wired, modern facilities could keep start-up companies coming to Mountain View. I would suggest they incorporate significant "green building" measures — architecture that demonstrates vision and innovation rather than simply meeting the current legal requirements and pacifying the public demand.

While the development will undoubtedly help with the jobs-to-housing imbalance and reduce the vehicle miles traveled by some of the good people working in Mountain View and living a distance from town, it is my hope that City Council and staff will hold this site to a very high standard.

Beth Mezias lives on East Middlefield Road.


Posted by Irvin, a resident of another community
on Sep 18, 2009 at 2:18 pm

all excellent suggestions, Beth. I just would note that the newest homes usually have the most efficient appliances, and with codes constantly being updated, more efficient construction. It's more likely that a new refrigerator will be more efficient than an older one, and a new home will have better insulation, more efficient AC, etc. I do not know what the state of MV's requirements for new residential construction is - I'd be curious.

Posted by Bruce England, a resident of Whisman Station
on Sep 18, 2009 at 2:40 pm

Excellent, Beth! I agree with you on all points. While current requirements and codes are great for establishing at least minimum compliance with certain sustainability goals, there is always more that can be done, and your suggestions, if considered, would certainly raise the bar.

Posted by Mike Laursen, a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 18, 2009 at 4:31 pm

I suggest we let the developers know the limits on how much traffic they can generate, how high they can build, noise limits, etc. then let them build whatever they like there. This method of zoning is called "performance-based", and one of the best things about it is that it sets limits while reducing the impact of the public's and City's arbitrary tastes and caprices on the owner's property rights.

Posted by Ted, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 25, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Did anybody reading this page attend the study session the Planning Dept. held on Sept. 16? Sustainability is just one of countless unsolved problems with the Minton site's development plan submitted by a remarkably disillusioned developer, Prometheus. In addition to the matter of how much -- make that LITTLE -- sustainability that company's plans call for, there are serious issues with density, parking, traffic flow, and aesthetics.

On the first matter, the developer's proposal completely disregards both the General Plan and Precise Plan for that site, building at several times the density called for in those plans! Parking and traffic flow have been presented through rose-colored glasses; even a child knows that for every new home there's an adverse impact on traffic. As for the proposed buildings' looks? Good God, the Soviet Union built better-looking residences. This is madness, folks -- pure madness! Don't let a developer with a fat wallet and promises of Shangri La housing step all over City Hall and Mtn. View residents.

Speak up or you'll see one of the worst excuses for a development in your own back yard.

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