Mountain View Voice

Opinion - August 13, 2010

Don't forget 'hip' in city's plan

by Emma Mae Carr

I just graduated from Los Altos High this year but as a longtime resident of the city, I have some definite opinions about the future of Mountain View I would like to share.

It is a great idea to spruce up the city, but the current plans don't go far enough. Mountain View has potential to become a hip place — somewhere people want to visit and don't have to explain, "I live 45 miles south of San Francisco." These building plans are the meal ticket to put Mountain View on the map.

If you are raised here, you are familiar with every type of person and culture, which I greatly appreciate. We should embrace that by making our city more of a draw, rather than just adding more dry cleaners. Castro Street is the only place that's developed a decent night life, with ethnic restaurants, clubs, and bars open late.

Mountain View resident Robert was smart in pointing out that Moffett Boulevard is a place to extend "the downtown environment." Absolutely. I also like the idea of building higher on El Camino, especially if the "walkable" idea is incorporated. Who wants to spend time on El Camino now, as it is?

The corner of Rengstorff and Middlefield also has potential. There's already a Starbucks. The Monta Loma neighborhood is still waiting for that ex-grocery store to come back to life. Every shopping center like that doesn't always have to have the standard dry cleaner and liquor store. There is a captive audience eager for hip, independent stores.

The same is true with the area around the movie theater complex on Shoreline. It's always had a trashy air to it, but that could change. Besides, if you're considering putting a hotel there, shouldn't there be attractions that would entice people to stay in the hotel? Chris Banen said, "The idea is not to recreate downtown" in the North Bayshore neighborhood. Umm, disagree! If you're expanding the housing and practical parts of the city, shouldn't you also expand the entertainment industry? We need independent coffee shops, hip restaurants and unique shopping. What about a music nightclub where local bands play? And the bigger issue is you're only aiming to help future Google employees. Help the die-hard MV fans also, why don't you!

I also hope the architecture for this future construction will steer clear from the design of standard suburban buildings. Mountain View is home to fantastically innovative people. Show the rest of the Bay Area how much we drip in culture. Give them spicy architecture.

When it comes to the San Antonio Shopping Center, I love the idea of something besides a rundown Sears. That space goes to waste and looks trashy. Embarrassing. Where's the flare? Even with the Santana Row-esque idea. Don't just make a pretty mall with chain stores. After all, Mountain View is the heart of Silicon Valley! We're original people. We need to reflect that in our businesses. I'm such a fan of this town, and Castro Street is just the beginning. Let's see what else we can do.

Emma Mae Carr is 18 and just graduated from Los Altos High. She is taking a gap year in France this fall and has lived in Mountain View most of her life.

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