Mountain View Voice

Opinion - January 17, 2014

801 El Camino project is highly flawed

by Konrad Sosnow

Mountain View has an opportunity to upgrade El Camino Real, and in particular, the southwest corner of El Camino and Cuesta. The current empty lot and strip mall does not represent the best economic or esthetic use of the land. However, the 801 El Camino Real Project, as it stands, is not the solution, as it is highly flawed.

The quality of life section of the 2030 General Plan states that the goal is preserving the land uses within most neighborhoods and establishing policies to help enhance and support their distinct characters, with high density development focused along transit corridors in the El Camino Real, East Whisman, and San Antonio Road areas.

The project at 801 El Camino Real will be built primarily along Castro Street and not El Camino Real. Thus, it should not be considered as being located along a transit corridor but as being primarily located along Castro Street in the Cuesta Park neighborhood. The high-quality Cuesta Park environment should be maintained by preserving the land uses within the neighborhood.

The development at 801 El Camino Real will add 176 cars to the already congested El Camino Real, thus increasing congestion along this important state route. All retail traffic in and out of the development will be forced into the existing alley, which will be shared by delivery truck traffic and garbage pickup for the businesses and residents. Increased traffic in the area will pose safety issues for pedestrians, school children, bicyclists and even drivers.

Another shortcoming of the project is that the 170 one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartment units will have only 176 underground parking spaces restricted to residents only. In addition, the current 162 parking spaces for existing retail would be reduced by 59 spaces, about one-third less, and shared by retail customers and employees, apartment employees, and residents of the 170 units and their guests. Also, there is no designated guest parking for the development.

As a result, tenants of 801 El Camino and their guests will be forced to park in the streets of the Cuesta Park Neighborhood, destroying the quality of life for the residents of Cuesta Park.

I like the architecture of the four-story building at 800 El Camino Real as it has generous set-backs, an open area and sculpture in the front, and was designed to be pleasing to the eye. It is appropriate as it is not next to single-story residences. On the other hand, the proposed development at 801 El Camino Real is four stories next to single-story residences. How would you like this mammoth project next to your home? How would you like your neighbors to be able to look into your backyard?

Gochi's Japanese Fusion Restaurant will be excluded from the development and forced to close or relocate. While there are plans to temporarily relocate Rose Market during the two-year construction phase, there is no guarantee that they will not be adversely affected by the relocation and permanently move or even close.

Let's not ruin this opportunity to make 801 El Camino Real a development that is not only economically and esthetically pleasing, but one that contributes to the quality of life in the Cuesta Park neighborhood.

Konrad M. Sosnow lives on Trophy Drive

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