Businesses: developer using fence to force land sale Around Town, posted by Editor, Mountain View Voice Online, on May 16, 2012 at 3:10 pm
The owners of several small businesses say a cyclone fence went up behind their properties the evening of May 10 with no real purpose other than to cut off access to their shops and force the sale of their properties.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, May 16, 2012, 1:54 PM
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 16, 2012 at 3:10 pm
Tsk, tsk, it appears that the developer, Merlone Geier, doesn't know how to play nice, or at the very least, doesn't want to.
Its common knowledge that a layout plan outlining construction fencing is required to be submitted to the City for relevant review of fire and medical access, public access, and property line demarcation.
Even a property owner concerned only with their property rights, and not intending intimidation or malice, knows this. One who wants to be cooperative with the City and a good neighbor would certainly know this.
Even more so Merlone Geier, which lists $2.3 billion in capital, 17 million square feet of space, and over 100 west coast properties specializing in retail and mixed retail.
Posted by Nancy Morimoto, a resident of the The Crossings neighborhood, on May 16, 2012 at 4:46 pm
Please attend the Environmental Planning Commission Meeting tonight at 7 pm at the city council chambers to stand up for local businesses and the needs of the local residents. We need to show the city that we do want them to stand up for our interests. If you can't attend, please send an email to either the EPC or city council. Let's take back our neighborhood and have it meet our needs, not the developers'. We will get run over if we don't speak up!
Posted by Woodrat, a resident of another community, on May 16, 2012 at 9:22 pm
I come from Cupertino to shop at Barron Park Plumbing Supply which has fantastic customer service shop and an excellent inventory. Of course, when I'm already in Mtn. View I then shop at places like the Milk Pail and Cost Plus. I certainly won't need to bring my out-of-town dollars to a hotel or offices. The city of Mtn. View should make a concerted effort to keep specialty businesses like Barron Park and the Milk Pail...and our out-of-town dollars.
Posted by Mike Rodgers, a resident of the St. Francis Acres neighborhood, on May 21, 2012 at 10:49 am
It's bad enough that the city drove out long term speciality meat provider, multi generational family owned Dittmer's (over disputes on their rebuild plans after their unfortunate fire...they are now relocating down the street in Los Altos, a great loss for Mt View)....this egregious unlawful behavior by Geier ouught to result minimally in a fine if not more....the city should be looking to Geier's plans to incorporate these highly valuable unique businesses (Barron Park, Halal, and the Milk Pail) into their larger plans as they gobble up and plan out this large commercial area of the city...not forcing them out and attacking their businesses financially (when they don't even own the land at this point)..the city planning commission and council should be insisting on solutions from the developer on these unique businesses not forcing them out with strong arm tactics..Mt View is already developing a reputation for being the most difficult city to work with for small businesses in the area, this isn't helping the situation
Posted by Political Insider, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on May 21, 2012 at 8:58 pm
Amazing how much false info is provided above.
Some council members wanted a hotel (instead of housing) for the hotel tax money and told MG, no housing fee, then no housing. MG came back with hotel and commercial office space to make up for a lower revenue generating hotel.
As far as the fences, MG is merely asserting their rights to land they will eventually own and replace with office space. Except for the milk pail, the other owners have no agreement to use the parking spots on MG's property . Perhaps, MG should be allowed to use Barron Park's parking spaces. The SAPP and parking agreement does not apply to this small corner lot parcel.
Dittmer's was not forced out by the city. They chose to move to another location.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 22, 2012 at 11:29 am
"As far as the fences, MG is merely asserting their rights to land they will eventually own and replace with office space. Except for the milk pail, the other owners have no agreement to use the parking spots on MG's property . Perhaps, MG should be allowed to use Barron Park's parking spaces."
The issue here isn't about property rights, nor a right to assert them. Its about common courtesy and being a good neighbor. There were many ways for Merlone Geier to approach this issue that would have eliminated the poor PR and relationships with the existing businesses.
It chose to take a different route.
Moreover, regardless of their property rights, they still had a responsibility to have their fencing plan reviewed by the City for Fire and public access. According to the news story, the City was not informed as well.
There's a difference in being convicted of wrong doing in the eyes of the court, and being convicted in the eyes of public opinion and the governing body which authorizes your work (the City).
For a high profile project like this one, Merlone Geier would do well to pay attention to managing both priorities.
Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community, on May 22, 2012 at 12:10 pm
I understand the upset about the fences, I can understand the owner doing it, maybe one day the owners of the small properties are going to wake up and find a back wall of building instead of a fence. The plan is not a done deal, this is what they want to build doesn't mean they will get this plan.
This shopping center is a nightmare to get any kind of mall or big center, to many property owners with to many different leases. Plan and build something really nice, something with residences, offices, shops and a hotel or two.
Posted by Political Insider, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on May 23, 2012 at 5:13 pm
There's only one registered libertarian on the council. One of the few sane members.
Garret has an excellent point. These business's are being surrounded and the landowner wants to move on.
Hardin, to say the issue is not about property rights or asserting them is complete nonsense. What do human rights mean if you cant enforce them? Common courtesy is a two way street. Both parties have to AGREE. I assume you would be OK if your neighbors decided to use your house as a parking lot without your permission.
Posted by Rodger, a resident of the Sylvan Park neighborhood, on May 23, 2012 at 6:22 pm
I seem to remember there is a common law practice that goes something like this. If a property owner has allowed traffic, people in this case, to park or drive on their property for many years and has done nothing to stop the traffic then an easement is established that cannot be stopped by the property owner belatedly decided to fence off the traffic. The new owners take on the liabilities of the property just like the old owners. If I owned one of the fenced off businesses I would talk to a lawyer.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on May 24, 2012 at 8:27 am
"Hardin, to say the issue is not about property rights or asserting them is complete nonsense. What do human rights mean if you cant enforce them? Common courtesy is a two way street. Both parties have to AGREE. I assume you would be OK if your neighbors decided to use your house as a parking lot without your permission."
As I've stated before, the issue is not about property rights, because on that score, Merlone Geier is within the law in fencing off their property. No argument there, its just not the important part of this story.
The larger issue, ie problem, is the WAY they went about enforcing their property rights, and how the method they chose to do so was a poor choice with regards to the court of public opinion (like this news story). Companies don't hire PR folks for no good reason. There is a definite strategic and business value in having good relationships with your neighbors and the City.
Being technically right, but culturally wrong, can mean failure in business.
You're also seemed to have conveniently left out the fact that Merlone Geier did indeed violate technical procedures in not submitting their fencing plan for City review for Fire and Public safety access.
And to answer your question, I would definitely protect my property rights if they were infringed, but would have chosen to SPEAK with my neighbors first, before throwing up a fence.
The way I see it, I'll be living next to these folks indefinitely, and the last thing I would want is bad neighbors who would be ready to call the City at the drop of a dime, especially if I were beginning a large remodel on my property, like Merlone Geier is. Its the wrong time to pick a fight.
Posted by Political Insider, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on May 24, 2012 at 9:25 pm
Hardin makes some good points about PR but eventually these parking spots are going to disappear. My feeling is that that the sooner they send that message, the better.
"Being technically right, but culturally wrong, can mean failure in business."
Not sure what cultural aspect you are referring to.
"You're also seemed to have conveniently left out the fact that Merlone Geier did indeed violate technical procedures in not submitting their fencing plan for City review for Fire and Public safety access."
Technically, changing a light bulb could require a permit. Backyard fences and extensions are routinely approved with a phone call. City staff are just covering their rear ends here. You havent heard them telling MG to take down the fence. They would eventually approve a fence
Posted by Sparty, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on May 28, 2012 at 4:50 pm
Anyone who goes into that parking lot has to deal with the oblivious drivers and pedestrians rushing to get to Milk Pail Market. Car stopped in the middle of the parking lot intersection and people who are compelled to walk in front of cars without looking.
And the International market is easily the filthiest store in Mountain View. The baskets for shoppers don't look like they have been cleaned ever--the look like the bottom of a trash can.
Eventually the access is going to be blocked off, that's they way things work out sometimes. It has been YEARS since there was talk about redoing this shopping center, some folks have just made bad choices and buried their heads in the sand when it comes to what may have come in the future.
Posted by Seer Clearly, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on May 30, 2012 at 6:51 pm
These small businesses are the heart of Mountain View, and the city's punitive and aggressively anti-neighborhood policies are a big factor in making it easy for me to consider looking to live elsewhere (outside California for that matter.) The fact is that as citizens, we have more than enough access to generic, unimaginative mass-developed retail that is the product of more capital than sense, as Merlone Geier seems to manifest. What we need are vibrant neighborhoods with businesses that cater to our unique lifestyles. I was recently in Denver appreciating how they have cultivated the diversity of their neighborhoods and their local businesses, wondering why Mountain View seems incapable of doing so. I think the answer is that we have local government leaders in thrall of big corporate money without a real sense of ownership of the city. Much like our Supreme Court, they confuse what's good for corporate america with what's good for their city. It's a sad state of affairs, and reminds me that our council is an inexperienced, expedience-focused bunch.