Mountain View Voice

News - September 3, 2010

Teens question the city's general plan update

by Daniel DeBolt

Some weighty topics — climate change, green building technology and gentrification — are on the minds of members of the city's Youth Advisory Committee, a group of 16 teenagers who raised concerns about the future of Mountain View on Monday.

City planners are seeking feedback from various groups as the city's general plan update is drafted, summarizing in slide show presentations an emerging blueprint for future development. The update includes zoning for higher density buildings in North Bayshore, on El Camino Real and the San Antonio shopping center, among other places.

But questions from the youth indicated that they had more on their minds than the typical topic of building density.

"How are you going to promote green living among residents?" was a question from one youth. City staff appeared to struggle to answer the question, but mentioned the city's efforts to educate residents on recycling and water conservation.

YAC member Cassandra Magana said much of her family had been asked to move with little notice from an apartment complex along Whisman Road that was slated for redevelopment. "I don't think things like that should happen," she said.

City Planner Melinda Dennis said she knew which project Magana was referring to and acknowledged that the project at 291 Evandale Avenue sparked a debate and spurred a policy to give renters three months notice in such situations.

Another teen added that redeveloping older apartment complexes means less affordable housing in the city. But Dennis pointed out that many are "soft story" apartment buildings that could potentially fall in an earthquake. The building at 291 Evandale Avenue, however, is not among them, as it is being renovated.

Rising sea levels are a concern for one youth, who said her eighth-grade teacher pointed out that it would not be good for the city's Shoreline landfill to be under water.

Other teens asked questions about what sort of businesses the city is trying to attract and how businesses are being encouraged to go green. Planner Noah Downing said commercial developers are allowed to build at higher, more profitable densities when they build green. Dennis added that many of the younger tech CEOs locating in Mountain View don't have to be prodded to build green facilities, many won't even consider locating in older buildings for environmental reasons.

At the end of the meeting the committee set a time to talk about the Rengstorff Park Master Plan, which includes the Rock Church property on Escuela Avenue, a potential site for a long-sought after teen center.

E-mail Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

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