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Original post made
on Jul 5, 2007
The Mountain View City Council will be faced with an important decision on Tuesday night (July 10) about the Mayfield Mall/Hewlett-Packard site. I encourage the Council to take full advantage of this opportunity to provide as many homes as possible.
It's hard to find a home that's affordable here -- especially for young people who grew up here. I have several friends who have moved out of the area, and in some cases have left California entirely, because they couldn't find a place they could afford in places like Mountain View.
Redeveloping the Mayfield Mall site is an incredible opportunity to provide needed homes right here in town, without paving over farmland or requiring long commutes by car. The site is right by the San Antonio Caltrain station and local shopping (i.e. grocery stores, restaurants, etc.). It makes sense to put more homes there. I live near Caltrain myself - I take the train to work every day and I am lucky in that I haven't had to commute by car in over 3 years (in fact, my wife and I just downsized to a one-car household earlier this year). I know that when you live near the train station, you're much more likely to take the train to work instead of driving.
Let's not waste this opportunity. This is a big site in a great location. We can build enough homes to create an attractive new neighborhood where people can walk to shops and take the train to work. If we do that, we'll have created a real community, protected open space, and helped to relieve traffic. Sounds like a winning plan to me.
Don't worry the mountain view city council is renowned for building high density on something as small as a postage stamp....go take a look at the monstrosity being built on Ferguson drive next to 237 bu Pulte homes....
As a planner, I've been watching the progress of this project for some time. It's evident to me that this is the type of development that should go on this parcel. These pockets of density, placed, appropriately, near many transportation choices, afford the residents AND the surrounding neighborhood more walkable retail, services and amenities. A sprawling neighborhood doesn't have the density to support nearby retail, thus, all trips need to be made by car. I don't need to preach, in this era of rapid climate change, about the need to minimize car usage by focusing on creating ped, transit, and bike-friendly denser communities that pollute much less than sprawling, single-family-home developments.
And to put things into perspective, one big-box chain store generates much more car traffic than a compact residential development.
How many of these NIMBY residents call themselves environmentalists, I wonder?
The biggest complaints (aside from the immediate neighbors, who have been heard for years and had many concerns addressed from what I understand) about the project come from Palo Alto. Wonder how many PA teachers, police and firefighters might end up living at Mayfield. PA needs to quit whining about a few extra cars on Alma and address their own need for denser housing
The high density housing will be condos starting at $700K (with prices going up from there) -- NOT affordable, even by inflated Mtn View standards. Toll Brothers builds luxury homes; they make no bones about it. This is what they are proposing -- luxury living -- with NO BMR units.
I'm not sure what restaurants you are writing about. The closest one is a struggling coffee shop across Central and the tracks (by the train station). Anything else is at least .75 to a mile away -- even urban planners don't consider that walking distance. In fact, all retail is across seven lanes of traffic using a slow-cycling traffic light for crossing, through a tunnel and beyond The Crossings. Try taking kids shopping for groceries through a trek like that.
You live near a Baby Bullet station. This is the growth sector of CalTrain. The San Antonio station has seen service cut (now, once an hour during peak times) and will likely -- by CalTrain's own admission -- see more cuts in the near future. Don't bet on people having useful train service from this station.
Sorry, but your arguments don't hold water.
If they build the Mayfield housing, more people will be using San Antonio Station. So maybe Caltrain will see a need to increase service there. Ever thought of that? I would use Caltrain a lot more if they started half-hour service again. It is a total catch 22. Reduce service to save costs and drive away even more customers. Nice plan Caltrain.
If we need BMR units, then Council should demand that of the builder. That is what Palo Alto does. They just need to stop dragging out the process.
So, Matt, you are pro-dense housing, anti-tax revenue, and concerned about overcrowded schools. Do you not see the problem here?
I'm not any more 'anti-tax revenue' than the other citizens of Mountain View who voted against Home Depot a few years ago. Now we have a PAMF there that doesn't produce any sales tax. I'm not really concerned about over crowded schools. I'd be happy if they just let Santa Rita be 630 students. It is LASD that needs "small schools" for whatever reason.
I don't see a problem with my ideas. I do see a problem with California's school funding model. We spend less in this state per student than most other states. It is no wonder the schools are such a mess. Thanks Prop 13.
Why the personal attack? Matt made a valid point. The Mayfield site is sitting empty, and unsightly. The San Antonio station is a viable station most specifically to those living near it - and to a few working near it. The more who live near it, the more it will get used, and the more it is financially beneficial to CalTrain to make more frequent service here.
I understand that it would be nice to have more open space again, but the urban sprawl has happened. Now we need to make sense of the land we have that is already industrialized (feeling badly about the Grant Road space, even though I "get it" that that farm was more front than working farmland).
It's just sensible to make the San Antonio station more of a service hub, now that it's built. One way to do that? Build more housing around it.
Matt, my Home Depot response is in a different thread, so I wont be redundant. PAMF (something I too was in favor of) is quite frankly a luxury afforded to our city because MV used to be a pretty pro-business place-- otherwise, that site would really "need" to be a cash cow for the city.
I support dense housing at Mayfield, frankly, though I think that the impact on Caltrain ridership will be nominal at best-- transit hubs work best as destinations, not feeder points-- that is a proven fact all over the region. Even the densest possible development at Mayfield would only provide a smattering of new riders.
Personally, I am against the proposed development. The initial architectural drawings make me believe this development would be evn more of an eyesore than what we currently have in our neighborhood. I think HP would be better off selling the property to someone with deep pockets (e.g. Google) who would, in turn, renovate the existing structure for commercial purposes. I don't see how more "cookie-cutter" housing is going to benefit Mountain View.
More commercial or business space would also benefit the CalTrain usage. I could go for that as well... but shoot, SOMETHING has to be done there.
"If they build the Mayfield housing, more people will be using San Antonio Station. So maybe Caltrain will see a need to increase service there. Ever thought of that?"
Yes, I did think of that and I checked my facts. What you described was the thinking when The Crossings was in the planning stages. Showers Drive was even narrowed from four lanes to two lanes between The Crossings and the San Antonio Station to promote ease of access and promote ridership. But the projected 17% ridership never materialized, even when there were trains every 15 minutes. The last census count showed only 6% ridership from The Crossings.
Now, if we take that 6% and apply it to the proposed Toll Bros development at Mayfield, using the same disatnce from the train station, there are 324 units to include for comparison (Mayfield is bigger than The Crossings, and it has been shown that ridership falls heavily the farther the walk from the station). I won't even get into the added barriers that are not beeing removed (Central Expressway's multiple lanes and 45 MPH traffic). So, by adding 450 unis at Mayfield, another 19-20 people (6% of 324) would ride the train, but another 880 cars would be on the already over-burdened roads.
Continuing this "train" of thought, the San Antonio station has the lowest ridership of the CalTrain stations between Sunnyvale and Menlo Park, according to the CalTrain 2007 ridership survey. Even adding another two dozen riders (to allow for the rest of Mayfield) would only bring the number up to 549, as compared with 2,999 at downtown Mountain View and 3,307 at Palo Alto (Baby Bullet stations) -- and that doesn't account for the quarterly rider increases the Baby Bullets have consistently seen.
Just because we have a nice platform at San Antonio, does not mean people will change their California driving habits, even if they are within walking distance of the train. From a business perspective, CalTrain will be looking at the stations with the least ridership for future closures. I would not be surprised if the San Antonio Station was eyed closely during CalTrain's next round of cuts.
As far as BMR units, you are right.In a project this size, there would be 45 BMR units. The City of Mountain View should enforce this ordinance more, but they would rather take 3% of the sales price of each unit in cash. Council Member Tom Means stated at the Study Session that a lot of the Toll proposed units are more affordable than his home, so many people should be able to buy; therefore, the official affordable housing definition should not be applied here. (The City Ordinance formula calculates the top cost of an "affordable unit" to be $337,500 with a 20% downpayment for a family of four at the higest end of the "low income" definitions, nevermind the folks in even lower brackets. Means' home is estimated to be worth over $1.3M. That's a gap in home price of a million dollars that he dismissed as irrelevant.)
The fact is people living next to VTA and Caltrain don't use it.
MV council just love developers and Mayor Macias certainly has changed her tune...could it be for a senate seat?..mmmmmm
A quick correction (keeping my facts straight):
In my post on BMR price level, I used the price of a unit that could be purchased by a MEDIAN INCOME family, not "low income." My apologies for the error. Folks in the low income bracket would not qualify for something as expensive as $337,500.00.
People living next to CalTrain DO use it. I watch my neighbours stream through every morning and evening to use it. We use it. It's no small part of why we moved here.
Amanda thats maybe so but a lot DO NOT use it.
I'm hoping Siegel and Bryant put the brakes on this city council as far as developing is concerned.
I hope we never get a city member like Greg Perry again.
Once Tom Means term is done and Galiotto then we will hopefully have a better city.
As I said take a look at the Pulte development on Ferguson ...you can see these 45 feet monsters from the 237 freeway!
"Amanda thats maybe so but a lot DO NOT use it."
Sure, there are always people whose end location isn't any where near a public transportation drop cannot use it.
That doesn't take away from those who DO use it. Your original statement was that "the fact is" people who live near it do NOT use it. Some do, some do not. I simply pointed out that there is a non-negligible amount who do.
Matt and Eric please please run for city council when the time comes.
Anyone who thinks that Monta Loma residents are a bunch of NIMBY whiners really ought to read the first chapter of "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" by Jane Jacobs.
The proposed high density cookie-cutter condo housing that towers over the rest of the neighborhood will not be conducive to forming connections between residents, and as a result, the level of trust in the neighborhood will diminish.
Relatively few will really use CalTrain, San Antonio will be a total mess (especially when the Jewish school pickup occurs), and these will not be "affordable" homes for teachers and firefighters. They will be luxury condos for yuppies who will keep to themselves and break down the sense of community we have here.
I seem to recall a very large lot down on Grant Road. Why doesn't the city build high-density condos there, and turn the HP site into another park in order bring the ratio of parkland-to-population-density in North MV up to the city's own standard?
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