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Publication Date: Friday, August 10, 2001

"It's something that has worked very well in Seattle and other places, and I think there is potential for it here... It can be a mini-neighborhood." @dropname:City Council member Sally Lieber, on rezoning city land on Shoreline for housing. "It was zoned for open space, and the fact that it looks underutilized now is a function of the fact that it has not been landscaped as a park would be landscaped, but I think it serves an important role as a buffer." @dropname:City Council member Rosemary Stasek

Council votes to explore housing on empty Shoreline parcel Council votes to explore housing on empty Shoreline parcel (August 10, 2001)

Property was designated open space in 1995

By Justin Scheck

When Mountain View widened Shoreline Boulevard into a four-lane road in the 1960s, a few small pieces of land, taken through eminent domain, were left over. Located on Shoreline between El Camino and California Street, the four parcels have been the subject of on-and-off city discussion for years.

Most recently, the sites were designated open space by the City Council in 1995, when residents objected to the prospect of developing them.

But now, with the city in the midst of a housing crisis and working to amend the housing element of the general plan, the council has ordered to Environmental Planning Commission to look into the prospect of building housing on the site.

However, this would require rezoning the parcels from the Public Facilities zoning designation they were given in 1995.

Michael Percy, the city's principal planner, said that in the mid-1990s a group of local residents worked closely with the planning department to get the area preserved as open space.

But this year's work on the city's housing element, combined with the housing shortage, has made the parcel an obvious spot to consider housing opportunities.

Council member Sally Lieber said she would like to see small cottages -- from 600 to 900 square feet -- developed on the site to provide affordable housing, possibly to local public employees.

"It's something that has worked very well in Seattle and other places, and I think there is potential for it here... It can be a mini-neighborhood," said Lieber.

She said the cottages would fit into the neighborhood in a way that normal single-family residences, with a garage fronting on Shoreline, would not.

Although Lieber was joined by most of the council in supporting the study of housing at the sight, Council member Rosemary Stasek and Mayor Mario Ambra opposed the plan.

"It was zoned for open space, and the fact that it looks underutilized now is a function of the fact that it has not been landscaped as a park would be landscaped, but I think it serves an important role as a buffer," said Stasek.

Ambra expressed concern that the city could run into legal roadblocks selling land that was taken by eminent domain.

Ann Schneider, the head of the environmental group Sustainable Mountain View, lives near the parcels on Shoreline. Schneider said last week that she would like to see the open space preserved and used for public community gardens.

"When we took the community gardens issue to the Parks and Recreation Commission in June we specifically asked to look at that parcel because it is near where a lot of people live in apartments," said Schneider.

She and other nearby residents expressed mixed feelings to the council July 31 and Schneider asked that nearby residents be given notices when the issue comes up again.

Percy said he does not yet know when the item will come to the planning commission, although housing element discussions have been in full swing for months, and are set to take place through the fall.


 

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