http://mv-voice.com/print/story/print/2011/05/27/council-briefs


Mountain View Voice

News - May 27, 2011

Council briefs

Fast track for North Bayshore

With the pressure on from the city's biggest companies, a new "precise plan" for Google's neighborhood got a jump start Tuesday when the City Council decided to fund various studies on the impacts of new development with $450,000.

Community Development Director Randy Tsuda said Intuit, Google and Microsoft are among the big-ticket companies looking to build in Mountain View's office park north of Highway 101. But there's just one problem — the city's zoning regulations are unclear because of an ongoing general plan update.

"It's hard to tell people, wait, wait, wait while we figure out what we want," said council member Tom Means.

There are 40 other precise plans, a sort of area-specific blueprint, that need updating in the Mountain View general plan update, and Council member Laura Macias and Mayor Jac Siegel questioned the need to give North Bayshore priority.

"It's almost like this is undercutting the general plan and making assumptions prior to its completion," Siegel said.

Council member Ronit Bryant acknowledged remarks from Tsuda that the council had already given lots of input on its wishes for North Bayshore, but said she was concerned about the unresolved question of whether to allow housing inside the office park, as Google has requested.

Row homes to replace strip mall

A housing project killed by the recession won unanimous approval by the council Tuesday, May 24, replacing a vacant strip mall at the corner of Middlefield and Alvin streets with 32 row homes.

Some council members weren't entirely happy with the design, which squeezes five, two-story buildings, a small driveway network and a tiny park on a triangular 1.85-acre parcel, putting the park up against the neighboring Toyota dealership. There was a long discussion about the walkability of the sidewalk out front and whether the residents would use their front doors because garages were placed to the rear of each home.

The project was said to have the support of the Monta Loma neighborhood and the environmental planning commission. A previous iteration of the project the council approved pre-recession had 75 apartment units.

The homes will average 1,500 square feet and are two- and three-stories tall with two-car garages.

A small commercial space had been designed into the project but was found infeasible without street parking, which was removed to allow for a bicycle lane that extends through Palo Alto on Middlefield Road.

Council OKs $1.2m for senior home

A group of five low-income seniors will soon have a group home in Mountain View after $1.2 million in city affordable housing funds were approved Tuesday.

With the new funding San Jose-based Senior Housing Solutions will soon select a home in Mountain View that can house five seniors. The agency already operates 15 such group homes for seniors averaging 72 years old, with rents an average rent of $300 a month. The seniors are regularly provided various health and social services.

"I hate to say 'Here's $1 million, go try a project,' but that's kind of what we're doing," said Mayor Jac Siegel.

Council member Laura Macias made the only vote against the request, saying that the agency's staff of three could not adequately maintain what would be 16 group homes. "That doesn't meet my pragmatic standard in terms of what is doable," she said.

It was pointed out by council member Margaret Abe-Koga that the subsidy per person for the project, $240,000, was higher than the 51-unit affordable housing project for families on Evelyn Avenue, which she put at $150,000 per person if four people lived in each unit. Nevertheless, she and other council members felt it was a worthwhile investment in a project that serves a unique population of low-income seniors.

City staff reported that 16 Mountain View seniors on a waiting list of 350 would be given priority for the new home.

— Daniel DeBolt

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