"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.