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San Antonio proposal includes 400 homes

Original post made on Sep 23, 2009

A developer has proposed 400 homes and 225,000 square feet of new retail space for the San Antonio shopping center — the topic of a three-hour City Council study session Tuesday evening.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, September 23, 2009, 1:22 PM

Comments (39)

Posted by j, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 23, 2009 at 2:26 pm

Home Depot would be way better. Where will the extra water for these complex's come from?

Posted by chas, a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 23, 2009 at 2:42 pm

With a large apartment complex like this I would be concerned about the influx of students to the elementary school system. I don't know if the school system would have the capacity and there is not much land left around town for building new schools.

Maybe the council should consider including a new school as part of the apartment complex.

Posted by Nick, a resident of another community
on Sep 23, 2009 at 2:54 pm

Simple answer to your question J: The water will come from the very same Hetch Hetchy aqueduct pipes that run through the San Antonio Center.

All growth projections point towards more people moving to the Bay Area over the next 50 years due to the fact that we're still an international job center. So the question is not if growth will occur, but where. Do we want to put people out in the boonies where we have to build new wells, new water pipelines, and new freeways - stetching our resources even MORE thin and causing more gridlock? Or do we put it in under-developed properties within existing cities like the San Antonio Center? At least at San Antonio Center all the urban infrastructure is already in place and access to mass transit like Caltrain is good.

That said, while it looks like this plan is leaps and bounds better than the previous proposal from the old owners - I worry about the urban design issues being brought up by the Council and the Planning Department. I do not want to see the blank walls of a parking garage line El Camino Real and San Antonio Road. Those streets should be lined with active ground floor uses (shops, housing, offices, anything but blank walls!) otherwise they'll become ugly, dangerous, and potentially unsafe dead-zones for people walking along those streets, especially at night. I hope the Planning Department continues to work with the developes to make San Antonio Center and the streets it fronts pleasant and pedestrian friendly.

Posted by tommygee, a resident of Rex Manor
on Sep 23, 2009 at 3:04 pm

If they want to put in a 60,000 sq ft grocery store, the Safeway on California St. has not been currently remodelled yet as most have been. So why not just move Safeway into the new proposal at the San Antonio Shopping Center. Because a 4th grocery store in that area is really NOT NEEDED.

Posted by Nick, a resident of another community
on Sep 23, 2009 at 3:08 pm

Good question, Chas. I think this is in the small part of MV that is in the Los Altos School District. I wonder if the developers have been in contact with the school district yet. High rise apartments are somewhat less likely to attract families with school aged children. More often its young couples and empty nesters living in those types of places. But, still this would be a new neighborhood and it could result in an increase in students. It'd be interesting to see those numbers and if there's any need for mitigation between the developer and the school district.

Posted by kathy, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 23, 2009 at 3:35 pm

A Home Depot would NOT be better (for numerous reasons), the MV voters voted against Home Depot several years ago (in all precincts except one) so no need to go there again. With that said 10 stories is WAY too high, I hope the Mayor re-thinks her position on this. Also, how could there possibly be a market for a Grocery store when Safeway, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's are walking distance?? The downtown area needs a grocery store, not San Antonio. The developer will want to pack as many properties as possible so we are counting on the Council (including the Mayor) to control the scope of this project and do what is right for MV.

Regarding movie theaters, an art house with maybe 2 or 3 screens would be great and would not compete with Shoreline, The former movie theater on Castro Street (now the Monte Carlo, a blight on Castro Street) would have made a wonderful art house movie theater.

Posted by Diana Kravel, a resident of The Crossings
on Sep 23, 2009 at 3:48 pm

I was not wild about the tall apartment building interfering with the view of the Mountains. After all, isn't this Mountain View? I hate the thought of an even taller, enormous structure going in and blocking more of the view. I also agree with the person who stated that there is no need for a larger, additional grocery store. We have plenty to chose from. Theaters? Didn't we have one in the Old Mill and it was under utilized? So you want to put another one there? Didn't we learn from our past?

Posted by phm, a resident of The Crossings
on Sep 23, 2009 at 4:01 pm

As a Crossings homeowner and art film fan I'm biased, but I'd LOVE a movie theatre in walking distance and bet I'm not the only one. Although housing near job centers is needed, today's (9/23/09) SJMN has a cover story about downtown SJ highrise condos not selling. I also think San Antonio and El Camino is not the most desirable location to live.

Posted by Nick, a resident of another community
on Sep 23, 2009 at 4:37 pm

The Old Mill Mall was locked up for years, but the AMC 6 movie theater still pulled in enough patrons to stay open up until the entire complex had to be demolished in '94 to build The Crossings. So, there was then, and probably still is now, a demand for a theater closer to the center of town.

I also wonder how long Century 16 is for this world. It's getting kind of old and is sitting on prime real estate. Now days people want to go to theaters in places that have shops, restaurants, and bars to go to before or after the film - and Century 16 is pretty isolated from all that. I could see a company like Google buying the land it's sitting on and *poof* bye-bye movies in Mountain View.

I think the best place for a theater is near Castro Street, but if the San Antonio Center folks think the economics pen out - why not let them give it a shot? You could get dinner, see a movie, and stroll around the new shopping area and the new park they're proposing along the Hetch Hetchy right-of-way. It could be pretty nice.

Posted by Tom, a resident of Rex Manor
on Sep 23, 2009 at 5:29 pm

Movie Theater? When the trend is Movie on demand at home how long do you think a Theater will be a profitable enterprise. As for the High Rise Apartments/Condos they will add to the tax base which MV will surely need to beef up Fire Fighting equipment,school busses,traffic control,EMT Services etc, to name just a few.

Posted by Frances, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 23, 2009 at 7:54 pm

Chas, they would go to school in Los Altos.

Does anyone know why part of Mountain View is zoned for Los Altos schools and why Springer school is in MV but part of the LA school district?

Posted by dfb, a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 23, 2009 at 8:55 pm

I think this type of plan is good for Mountain View and the bay area. They are building dense housing and retail along major thoroughfares and close to public transportation. This is, I think, what is meant by smart growth.

As for pedestrian and bicycle friendliness, the city council and state need to get their acts in gear to make El Camino a better place people other than those in cars. To reduce trips by car I hope the city asks the developer to pay to make Latham a bike boulevard from Castro (as Church) to Showers.

Posted by Ben, a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 23, 2009 at 10:44 pm

I keep hearing more homes, more jobs ,more homes , more jobs! What officials and most people have not figured out is, that there are not too few jobs; there are too many people for the number of essential jobs needed to sustain a society!

Economic and Smart Growth will result in next bubble/bust cycle that will be harder to recover from. (No one wants to control overpopulation.) No one knows how to control the bubble/bust cycle, therefore we just continue on the same jobs and smart growth path that will be more difficult to solve when the population has doubled.

Posted by Optimistic, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 23, 2009 at 11:32 pm

I think Nick makes some excellent points in his 2 posts above. I am cautiously optimistic that this plan, while still early, would be a nice improvement to the San Antonio Center area. I'd like to see the City keep the focus on the pedestrian- and bicycle-friendliness of the development as it faces El Camino and San Antonio.

@Ben - I see your posts on many of these MV Voice article message boards, with the same theme almost every time. Yours is a convenient argument, but it far oversimplifies the current economic situation. The bubble/bust cycle was not created by 'smart growthers' (in fact, smart growth is antithetical to most of the wild overbuilding in places like Phoenix, South Florida, the fringes of the Bay Area, etc that occurred in this last cycle). The bubble/bust cycle was fed by the near-total lapse of government oversight of the financial markets which turned real estate development into a gambling den that sucked in investors and pension funds across the world. Perhaps you should focus your efforts at pressuring the Obama administration and Congress to enact some needed reform, which would prevent this type of excess in the future.

Physical constraints, the high cost of construction and community scrutiny will always temper growth in places like Mountain View and the Peninsula. It was not our level of building that led to the current bust, and the approval or disapproval of a project like this (or the one proposed at Minton's) will not make a whit of difference in the larger boom and bust cycles if the financial markets and regulatory system are not corrected.

Posted by Quaint, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 24, 2009 at 12:30 am

They are tearing down the Palo Alto Bowl to build homes. It would be nice if they could include a space for a bowling alley. The Mountain View Bowl has a nice ring to it. Agree with posters against high rises too. 4 stories is enough. Beyond that and we will lose our mountain views.

Posted by No Growth, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 24, 2009 at 6:38 am

They want to build more houses when the school district is under-performing? Let's get things right before building more.

Posted by John, a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2009 at 6:49 am

I think a retail/housing complex is ok on this site.
But I think the walkability - access from all sides - and bike-friendliness - are very important. Something like Santana Row or what they did in Emeryville. I live in Gemello park, fairly close by.
A 4th grocery store is ridiculous - what kind please? If it's a general purpose one like Safeway across the street, then move it there, or shut that one down.
Concerning movie theaters - what makes you think it would be art films?
They are typically small, 2 or 3 screens. I'd like that too; there may be a market for this, in spite of netflix; but I'm not sure whether this is planned or just something we already have in Shoreline.
And I agree that tall structures spoil a lot of the view and the appearance of the city. The avalon Towers are ok, but that is sufficient at this site. I think they shouldn't allow more than 3-4 stories. Saves on the tenant/owner parking, saves on the stress on schools etc. The developers want to make a lot of money quickly but the residents have to live with the results.

Posted by John, a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2009 at 6:55 am

They might even run a shuttle form the caltrain station to the San Antonio shopping area and link it to the VTA hub on Showers Drive.
The San Antonio train station does not have a good link to other public transportation, and a free shuttle would make a difference.
Might induce people who live there to use caltrain.
(They could walk or bike too)

Posted by Susan, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 24, 2009 at 7:41 am

With more housing, think about the impact not only at the elementary schools, but at our two crowded high schools!

Posted by Phil Aaronson, a resident of The Crossings
on Sep 24, 2009 at 10:30 am

I thought Lucky store which was located in the shopping center pretty much proved that an additional grocery store was not sustainable. I'm also not thrilled about two additional towers going in either. Compared to the restrictions developers had to contend with from the council on the Grant road development, design philosophy differences here sounds weak. I expected more of a resident focus. Five stories at the most. I would think a retail level and 3 levels of housing above that would be ideal.

What we could really use is 60,000 square feet of new school. Kids from the Crossings are already being shipped across town to Covington unless they get into BCS. It's nice the council is worried about walking paths and auto-centrism but what about the hundreds of additional cars driving across town to get their kids to and from school everyday?

Posted by ben, a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 24, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Continued theme of overpopulation? - if anyone that listen to the news, read the papers, or scientific magazines they either have their head in the sand or are ignoring the fact that most problems are strongly tied to overpopulation and the rest are loosely tied to overpopulation.

Example – Some people want a walkable San Antonio shopping center (I assume they want to walk there without using a car). If the foot traffic of the present population around the area uses the San Antonio/California crosswalk more than they do now, it will back up traffic even more than it does now on San Antonio Ave.and California St.and California St.(Going to Los Altos on San Antonio Ave.& going north on California St.) Now we add more high-rise units, more car traffic, and hopefully more foot traffic - rigth? How much of a problem that will cause is hard to say, but I can run a simulation by continually crossing the streets. Traffic at times backs up over the train overpass (the Jewish Center is not yet fully occupied) and it will only become more congested with the HP/Toll Brothers development. (Example - I have run a transit simulation – it took about 10 minutes to get to work, less than 6 miles by car, with the transit it took 55 minutes and I still did not have a car if I had to get to another company location.)

It takes about 30 second for the light to change when a person pushes the crossing button. If they cross in the other direction, it then is 1 minute of traffic delay. I will guess that if I would continually go around the intersection I could back up traffic to Middlefield Rd. if I pick the right time of day. I guess this is not viewed as a population problem by some people.

PLEASE EXCUSE THE GRAMMER AND SPEELING ERROS – It is not worth the time going over to correct errors because most people do not carry their thinking to such details that they will change their minds.

P.S. I guess I have to check on how the pedestrian crossing changes the timing of the lights – I think if the button is not pushed the pedestrians are no give a crossing light sequence time.

Posted by phm, a resident of The Crossings
on Sep 24, 2009 at 3:30 pm

I agree with most of what Phil says, although when Lucky became Albertson's it went downhill, which probably contributed to its failure - when they brought in the do-it-yourself scanners, I quit shopping there. He's right that our neighborhood needs its own school, especially with all the proposed new housing that may actually be built and occupied when the economy improves. (Note to No-Growth: Loa Altos schools are still among the best-performing in the state; they are not "underperforming," just too crowded.)

Posted by curious, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 24, 2009 at 4:53 pm

To all the not-so-smart-growthers, once again slowly, I and most other people did not buy property in Mountain View because I wanted to live in a densely populated urban area. If you want that, you can move to Frisco or downtown San Jose. Adding more housing here is crazy. The Mayfield mall project is just sitting there with full approvals because the developer can't justify spending the money to proceed. The Jewish housing center on San Antonio Road near the freeway has just started to fill up and already the intersection of Charleston and San Antonio is grid-locked in the morning and afternoon.

I like the San Antonio Center as it is now but if the new owners want to change it, the City Council should not change the zoning to allow residences and insist that they keep the present retail business zoning.

Posted by Nick, a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2009 at 6:07 pm

Curious in Cuesta Park, before you make broad-brush declarations on why "most people" moved to Mountain View, you should probably brush up on some basic demographic stats on the city. Only 28% of homes in Mountain View are single-family detached units. The vast majority of Mountain View residents, especially north of El Camino Real, live in apartments, condos, and rowhouses. Our home values are still high because so many people want to live here, in all kinds of different types of neighborhoods. These developers wouldn't propose changing the zoning to allow mixed-use/housing if it didn't make economic sense to do so.

Besides that, it's pure hyperbole to suggest that Mountain View will ever be anything near the density of places like "Frisco" or Downtown San Jose just because someone's proposing turning an aging strip mall into a mixed-use neighborhood. We'll likely only see some new dense housing where it makes sense, like on half-empty parking lots near major transit nodes (ie, San Antonio Center). The rest of Mountain View will stay much as it is today.

Posted by Frances, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 24, 2009 at 9:28 pm

Curious in Cuesta Park, oh you did not just go there! Frisco? Ouch.

Posted by Quaint, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 25, 2009 at 9:45 am

400 homes sounds like a greedy grab for more property tax dollars. Wish someone actually cared about the quality of life around here and not the maxed out cash value of every new development.

Posted by tommygee, a resident of Rex Manor
on Sep 25, 2009 at 2:32 pm

Another grocery store indeed!!! Why not just move the Safeway on California St. since it is the only one apparently that has not been remodeled yet, to the new location inside the NEW section of San Antonia Shopping Center?
In the southern part of Mtn View, we have Ranch 99, Nob Hill, the Japanese Market, then on Miramonte we have another Safeway store. And then Whole Foods on El Camino, nearby Trader Joe, then the California Ave Safeway. Not to mention all the Walgreen's, CVS/Pharmacy in the area. Then of course we have Wal Mart as well selling groceries. We do not need another "NEW" grocery store.
Have I missed anything???

Posted by Parent, a resident of Waverly Park
on Sep 25, 2009 at 4:23 pm

Frances, as to why Springer is in MV but part of Los Altos, and why the Crossings area is Los Altos School District: the school district boundaries are older than the cities. Mountain View School District was founded in the 1840's or 50's, but Mountain View was not incorporated as a city until a little over 100 years ago.

School districts in California are separate entities from the cities and towns, and often overlap city boundaries. Some kids who live in Los Altos go to Cupertino District schools. Kids in Sunnyvale go to Sunnyvale, Cupertino, and Santa Clara schools; some kids in Los Gatos go to San Jose schools, etc. Los Altos Hills kids are split between Los Altos School District and Palo Alto district. Happens all over.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Waverly Park
on Sep 25, 2009 at 4:31 pm

Regarding all the comments about a new school: Probably everyone would agree that a new school site would be welcome, including the LASD administration. But -- would LASD have to purchase the land, even if the developer agreed to build the school? That won't happen given the state of school funding. Maybe the developeers could build a school and lease it to LASD, but I doubt they would want to do that, either. My guess is the city won't get involved with any part of that, since they have no control over/say in school district issues. Worth asking about, though.

Posted by SMG, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 25, 2009 at 5:39 pm

This project is so cool. It puts Mtn View on the map as one of the leading progressive towns in in the county.

Posted by Matt Raschke, a resident of The Crossings
on Sep 25, 2009 at 6:57 pm

"The city also has an outstanding concern over a lack of adequate bike paths in the proposal, said city planner Nancy Minicucci."

Amen to that! My kids and I bike along and through the shopping center often. I know other families in my neighborhood that do the same. I expect my boys to bike everyday to Egan Middle School in a few years. Many of the teachers at BCS bike to and from the train station along this route. The architectural renderings don't look bike friendly at all.

The sidewalks along San Antonio and El Camino are too narrow. Right now the nice bike lanes on the Los Altos side of San Antonio vanish when you enter Mountain View. That needs to change! I would request that the planning entitlements require additional right-of-way and construction of bike lanes along the frontage on San Antonio.

Posted by Ayleen, a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 27, 2009 at 12:10 am

I don't think it's a good idea. It's known as a shopping center and I think it should be kept that way!

Posted by Ken, a resident of North Whisman
on Sep 27, 2009 at 4:51 pm

What is going to happen to the surrounding traffics? The San Antonio/El Camino is pretty much saturated now and I cannot imagine adding 400+ families to the concentrated spot.

Posted by Steven Nelson, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 28, 2009 at 11:52 am

This proposal is not as advanced as one that I just saw opened in Glendale CA (Americana at Brand). About the same size property, near the center of town. This acts as a REGIONAL higher end center (like Santana R). It has a European flavor, not unlike Castro St. The residences are stories 3-5 and there is parking both underground and 5 story integrated structure. There is a 14 screen cinema complex in one corner and a small outdoor fountain and plaza, with the requisite outdoor. A Rite-Aid drugstore is also integrated on an exterior corner. Steet car circulates on an internal loop!
GREAT design feel for a walking / shopping experience.
Glendale has developed into 200,000 by concentrating housing near the commercial banking center of the city. My dad's house from 1927 and surrounding single-family houses from the 30, 40's still are doing just fine all over the other parts of the city. There are now about 20!! screens in the center shopping / entertainment area and as many places to dine as Castro (just spread out more).

Posted by j, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 28, 2009 at 3:06 pm

We know where the water comes from Nick, but what about when the water stops flowing? Because we have overpopulated the area. Has anyone done any studies on that?

The other day i heard on the radio, that we are close to having to mandate on water consumption because we are close to a drought.

Here is what Mtn. View water wants up to be at. "Water Conservation Program – Reduce Water Use by 20% by the year 2020!"

Web Link

How are we going to meet this goal if we keep adding more and more people.

Have you looked at all the rental listings, they are filled with vacancys.

The last thing we need is more residental development.

I won't even start on the added traffic hassel, but have you ever tried to go down san antonio past alma going towards highway 101, this area is packed, even on light days.

I would rather have these added people go to the boonies where they can take mass transit in. There is plenty of open space in S. San Jose .

Posted by Optimistic, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 29, 2009 at 9:56 am

@j - "I would rather have these added people go to the boonies where they can take mass transit in. There is plenty of open space in S. San Jose."

Yes 'j', great solution indeed. Because after all, mass transit is really viable down in South San Jose (where at best you're within driving distance of a light rail station, or a few low-frequency buses), as opposed to at San Antonio Center, which is within a short walk of Caltrain, 2 high-frequency bus routes (22 and 522) and several local bus routes.

And your statement about vacancy rates? Which real estate market has suffered more during this recession - South San Jose or Mountain View? If you look at home prices as a proxy for the overall residential real estate market (including rentals), South SJ has done much worse, with drops of more than 50%, compared to perhaps 20% in Mountain View.

Posted by orule, a resident of Castro City
on Sep 30, 2009 at 12:25 am

Messed up! Its too crowded already! We need more parks, tennis courts, pleasant and enjoyable shopping centers, not condensed and over-crowded housing projects. No way. Traffic congestion is just horrible on San Antonio Ave heading towards/and from 101. Take Rengstorff? No, drivers have to wait an extra 15 minutes at the tracks for trains and pedestrians. Stop crowding my neighborhood.

Look, hi-tech companies in Mountain View! Stop out-sourcing and stop importing foreign engineers. Hire native locally born for a change.

Posted by Steven Nelson, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 30, 2009 at 9:05 am

Interesting comments about "traffic" and employment. The Glendale CA mixed use development is not well integrated to transit - depends on freeways and cars. A San Antonio/ El Camino residential base would need local transit to employment centers down near Google and along El Camino. Know where MOST of commute traffic along Grant and San Antonio comes from? - Just stand at the MV-LA border and you will get your ANSWER! - So even to fix the current level of problem, an "across the tracks" solution that maybe goes into LA is desired for transit. The 'single use people mover' seems like a far-fetched expensive, untested, bad proposal. Low tech (i.e. Brasil) rapid transit buss lanes are much cheaper and adaptable.

Posted by Alan Davis, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 17, 2009 at 11:47 pm

Hi Nick, everyone, I am surprised and astounded that NO ONE has any pictures of the exterior of the Old Mill Shopping Center. I wish someone would post them, as it is still well in my memory, looking at the place from either San Antonio Center, or Mayfield Mall (when it was open). If anyone has more Old Mill pictures, please post, it's one unique place I remember and miss from the past Mountain View memories.

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