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Publication Date: Friday, September 19, 2003

City considers Mayfield future City considers Mayfield future (September 19, 2003)

Once an Indian cemetery, current HP-owned offices could give way to housing

By Candice Shih

With Hewlett Packard's Mayfield campus vacated and ready to be sold, the city council is considering a slate of potential future uses, including housing, retail and open space.

Although the site may not get rezoned until it is sold, the council discussed the issue at a study session on Tuesday.

"A use that's going to transition well into the neighborhood. . . . That's going to be an important concept for me," said Council member Rosemary Stasek, echoing the concerns of residents from the nearby Monta Loma neighborhood

They had objected to earlier plans to build high-density housing on a portion of the site, which they said would impact local traffic, schools, and the character of the neighborhood.

But some are open to the housing potential of the entire campus. "The majority of people just want something that integrates into the neighborhood as it now stands," said Nola Mae McBain, vice president of the Monta Loma Neighborhood Association.

Council members have different ideas about what kind of housing would be best for the site.

"What I would prefer would be residential bordering the existing residential," said Council member Nick Galiotto. He advocates adjusting the height of new buildings so that they match the height of existing single family homes near the periphery of the site, but rise to accommodate a higher housing density further away from existing houses.

Council member Greg Perry had another idea. "I'd really like to see housing and a park, and there's room for both," he said. Rather than situate new housing next to Monta Loma residents, he would like to see a park next to the neighborhood and four-story housing further away.

"There are plenty of people who are willing to say density should go somewhere else," Perry added. "It's easy to push the problem off. This is a way to solve it."

But Galiotto was concerned that a new city park could be challenging to build and maintain, especially since park maintenance services were reduced in recent city budget cuts.

Creating new housing in Mountain View has long been a problem, with jobs outnumbering housing units in the city and little space for new developments. The city's housing plan, which was approved by the state in January, identified sites in which to build 3,423 new housing units, including at Mayfield.

While the amount of housing will be under discussion, there is general agreement that the new Mayfield site should include retail, which would generate revenue for the city through sales tax. Using the ground floor of a new development for retail and the upper levels for housing units is a popular option thus far.

And Whole Foods has already shown interest in opening a new grocery store at the site, said the Ron Geary, the city's deputy community development director.

Although many remember the Mayfield site as the Mayfield Shopping Center, it was known much earlier as the Mountain View Mound, the city's most significant archeological site.

Archeologists from Stanford University unearthed the remains of more than 150 Native Americans and their artifacts in the 500-foot by 300-foot, 10-foot-deep mound in 1893. The mound was demolished and sold as topsoil in the 1940s, and the city considers its archeological and spiritual value destroyed.

Most recently, the 27-acre parcel was occupied by HP for 14 years until it announced in 2001 that it would move the 1,000 employees working at its Mayfield campus to other local offices.

In April, the Mayfield campus, which borders Central Expressway, San Antonio Road and the Monta Loma neighborhood, was emptied. HP is accepting bids on the property and will review them at the end of this month, said spokesperson Brigida Bergkamp.

Five acres of the site are within the city limits of Palo Alto and are zoned for housing, while the remainder is in Mountain View.

"It's not often we get that large a piece of land to create something with," said Mayor Mike Kasperzak.

E-mail Candice Shih at


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