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September 17, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, September 17, 2004

Council Briefs Council Briefs (September 17, 2004)

Caltrain parking still an issue

The continued popularity of Caltrain's baby bullet train has meant a continued parking crunch at the 330-space downtown Mountain View station, one of the express service's four stops between San Jose to San Francisco. City and transit officials are trying several temporary solutions to address the situation.

At its Tuesday night meeting, the city council authorized the use of more than 100 city-owned spaces on Evelyn Avenue for Caltrain commuters. The council also asked staff to work on a more permanent solution to the problem. Among the possibilities suggested is to build a new parking deck at the downtown transit center.

City's $1.9-million electricity bill

The citywide installation of a special type of stoplight in 2002 saved $92,000 and 77,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, PG&E representatives said at a presentation to the council.

Ben Mehta, energy efficiency coordinator for PG&E, reviewed the city's electricity usage and some opportunities for greater efficiency. In 2003, he said, the city spent $1.9 million on electricity and another $180,000 on gas. Since Jan. 1 of this year, the city has spent $1.2 million and $126,000, respectively.

Earthquake risks for low-rise apartments

Nearly 3,000 Mountain View residents live in a type of building prone to collapsing in an earthquake. "Soft-story" complexes typically consist of one or two stories of apartments atop "tuck-under" parking.

With seismologists predicting a temblor bigger than the Loma Prieta quake of 1989 hitting within the next 30 years, the city council expressed its interest in pushing ahead with seismic retrofits of these buildings.

At a study session Tuesday night, the council discussed using a permanent condo conversion ordinance to require those who want to upgrade their apartment complexes to also make them seismically safe. Building inspector Ron Geary said that the cost of retrofitting is typically $16,000 to $20,000 per unit.

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