Mountain View Voice

Opinion - March 15, 2013

Investing in our community

by Julie Lovins

Our new General Plan allows sizeable increases in housing and commercial activity in the area anchored by San Antonio Road, between Central Expressway and El Camino Real. The San Antonio Shopping Center is to play a dual role as a "village center" and a wider destination.

"Village Center" should mean daily-useful, walkable goods and services for nearby residents, and safe bike routes and good public transit, as well as adequate provision for vehicles, so that other residents of Mountain View, and those in neighboring cities, can also shop there. California Street (either or both sides) is a logical place to have a deli, a shoemaker, a hardware store, a coffee shop, a bakery, a stationers' with copy services, locally-owned small grocers — the list goes on. This is no more than what residents of this area have every right to expect, and it's what really pumps up our local economy.

To date, the bakery and the hardware store in San Antonio Shopping Center are gone. The future of the iconic Milk Pail Market is in jeopardy, even at its current location, if the city allows its required parking to become unavailable. No locally-owned businesses will exist in the area if they are expected to pay the rents that high-margin chain retailers take in their stride, even if suitable spaces are provided. Local residents face a "services desert" environment, in addition to the current dearth of open space, an urgent need for improved circulation for all mobility modes, well-designed access to public transit, and so on.

But wait. We used to have something called a Precise Plan. A new one would give us a shot at specifying places for all of these necessities, at figuring out the whole puzzle, before developers are granted permission to pour lots of concrete and build blank walls with utility doors in them along streets that we want to be "pedestrian-friendly."

On March 19, residents will have an opportunity to tell the City Council that doing community planning on paper has limited usefulness after large buildings are sitting on the perfect place for a park, for example; that excluding or removing locally-owned small enterprises means destroying the heart of a sustainable community; and that "in", as in "investment in the comnmunity," should mean a great deal more than just a physical location for new buildings.

Julie Lovins lives on California Street and has lived in Mountain View for over 30 years.

Comments

Posted by Developer love fest., a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 15, 2013 at 6:15 pm

I so agree with Ms. Lovins. We need neighborhood-serving businesses...and, according to the the school district, a school. Decent bike and walking routes, and community services should be considered in a comprehensive planning process for development of this mammouth scale.

Kasperzak has got to go. He consistently demonstrates he is in the developers' back pocket. It's one thing to work with developers. It's another to roll over for them at the expense of good community planning.

Council, we'll take note how you vote on this...and I, for one, will make a point of reminding voters what you did during the next election cycle.


Posted by Lost Altos, a resident of another community
on Mar 15, 2013 at 6:47 pm

One of the only reasons I come to Los Altos is so I can come to the Milk Pail. They are a treasure, one of their kind, wonderful store and they pull the community together. I live half an hour away! It is not only Los Altos residents that benefit from this tiny institution, but also us, out of towners. If Los Altos is foolish enough to force out one of it's priceless assets - then please, Milk Pail, come to San Jose! We would love to have you!And I will not make the drive down to frequent your new Safeway or Starbucks. Thanks - we have plenty of those!


Posted by Mary Mercogliano, a resident of another community
on Mar 15, 2013 at 8:34 pm

I visit The Milk Pail every time I am in town visiting my mother. Besides my mother, The Milk Pail is the best thing about Mountain View. Removing this locally owned and operated jewel would be a crime. My hope is that whomever needs to make decisions recognizes the jewel. Those of us who do not live close to Mountain View would love to have a Milk Pail in our neighborhood.

Think before it is too late!!


Posted by Neighbor, a resident of The Crossings
on Mar 15, 2013 at 9:56 pm

We love the Milk Pail!

City Council, please don't turn our neighborhood into a service desert, driving out all the wonderful little locally owned businesses in Mountain View! Please consider the residents and the COMMUNITY in your plans, not just gross profits.


Posted by Elloumi, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Mar 15, 2013 at 10:18 pm

The Milk Pail is weekly tradition for my family and the ONLY reason for us to go to that side of Mountain View and do our other shopping in the area. If The Milk Pail was no longer there, shopping in Sunnyvale and Cupertino would be more practical for my family. We currently spend a minimum of $300 a week between the Mt. View farmer's market, The Milk Pail and Whole Foods.


Posted by Tapan, a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Mar 16, 2013 at 7:35 am

This Op-Ed piece rings so true. This is not just an issue about MilkPail or even the San Antonio corridor -- but something that is occuring all throughout Mountain View.

The development being considered is permanently altering the character of our city without (a) general consensus on increased density and what this will do to our city (b) a plan for necessary infrastructure or any precise plan. The General Plan calls for increased density. That's not the issue. The issue is that there is no agreement throughout the city on what this increased density constitutes. Throughout all the working meetings/neighborhood input etc that lack of agreement is clear. The surveys that were created are fundamentally biased because there is no "None of the above" options: we are asked if we want a 3 floor building or a 6 floor building. What about neither? Increased density does not mean every inch of land has increased density - as the developers (mostly outsiders) seem to be advocating.

Further, the type of development being done, particularly by Merlone Geier is building high-end high density housing, limited parking, greater traffic and high-end retailers. This totally messes up the diversity of the look, feel and character of the city. Not to mention that the prevailing aesthetic creates an inward looking fortress with a wall on ElCamino.

These developers want to create a "Village" to market themselves and benefit their pocketbooks. But we already have a village. It's called Mountain View - a thriving place where we have local "real" businesss, real people and a community -- very much unlike what's happened in the downtown Palo Alto area. Let us hope that our currently elected officials protect the residents and character of Mountain View.


Posted by Juan C, a resident of The Crossings
on Mar 16, 2013 at 2:47 pm

The council must listen before its too late.


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