Council moves ahead with major projects


Budget problems notwithstanding, the City Council supported moving forward with many of its infrastructure plans during a study session Tuesday, including a $9 million athletic field, a $10 million fire station and several climate change initiatives.

The council has labeled about 40 percent of the capital improvement projects "non discretionary." These include basic items such as regular road and sewer maintenance, but some particular projects got a boost as well.

For example, the Shoreline tax district is seeing a drop in property tax revenue -- $25.2 million next year, down from $27.6 million in 2007-08 -- so city staff have proposed a bond to pay for several large projects in the area, including a $9 million athletic field on a former landfill along Garcia Avenue, a $10 million fire station on Shoreline Boulevard, and $4 million to build a crossing for the Permanente Creek Trail over Highway 101. Because the bond will not raise taxes it does not have to be approved by voters.

The proposed hotel next to Google could also receive a substantial investment through the Shoreline bond -- as much as $30 million -- but the exact figure has yet to be determined. The city is expecting a substantial return on its investment in the hotel, at least $1.5 million a year in tax and lease revenue for the city's general fund.

Council member Mike Kasperzak was surprised by the $9 million price tag for the ball fields, which city staff explained was necessary to pay for artificial turf, lighting and to address landfill and wildlife issues.

Among the new projects are six sustainability projects totaling $870,000: $100,000 to help homeowners with energy efficiency improvements under AB811, $140,000 to "green" the library, $50,000 for "bike boulevard" improvements, $150,000 to explore renewable energy options for the city (half paid for by the Shoreline tax district), $230,000 towards the study of a "zero waste" plan for the city's garbage (paid for by the solid waste fund), and $50,000 towards creating a green building code. Most of the projects get funding from the construction and conveyance tax fund.

The council also did not object to two large new "discretionary" projects that were part of the proposed Capital Improvement Program: $5 million to extend Stevens Creek Trail from Sleeper Avenue over Highway 85, and a proposed $1.8 million seismic upgrade to the water reservoir on Whisman Road to be paid for with water funds. But council member Laura Macias was skeptical about the necessity of using $887,000 in Shoreline tax funds to fix storm drainage along Shoreline Boulevard within Shoreline Park.

Among several ongoing projects, the package includes $1.1 million in park funds for design and construction of a mini park on Del Medio Avenue. The previously approved project is moving forward after an apartment building and a house on the site are demolished. The last tenant, an elderly woman, is moving to Tracy in July.

The council chipped away at the city's $6 million general fund deficit as well by supporting the transfer of a $1 million annual Civic Center debt payment out of the general fund and into the city's construction and conveyance tax fund, which has revenue of $2 million to $6 million a year, cutting the general fund deficit to $5 million. The move is part of $4 million in cuts the city manager will support May 5. The trade-off is that fewer infrastructure projects can be funded with the tax fund.

Three projects were deferred -- including improvements for McKelvey and Crittenden parks -- but only one drew concern. Council member Ronit Bryant was dismayed at the deferral of the $205,000 design of support space for the Center for the Performing Arts' SecondStage, which would allow both stages in the center to be used simultaneously, increasing its use and marketability. But the $1 million needed for construction is unavailable because of new constraints on the construction and conveyance tax fund.

The proposed Capital Improvement Program will return to the council on May 29 for adoption.


Like this comment
Posted by GDM
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Apr 16, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Transferring the $1 million debt payment for City Hall from the General Fund to another Fund is NOT a cut in expenses, it is merely a part of the very old 'shell game' that politicians love to play. It should instead come from the $2 million to be taken from reserves.

Like this comment
Posted by GDM
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Apr 16, 2009 at 2:43 pm

$9 million for ball fields on Garcia Avenue is ridiculous.
1. That is a terrible place to put ball fields, it is way too windy and cold.
2. Artificial turf does not make a good playing surface and it is not natural. Injuries occur more frequently on such surfaces.
3. Why does Mountain View have to provide Sports Leagues with 'curb service'? In other cities the Leagues provide the maintainance and upkeep of the fields. They also fund any buildings, like snack shacks, bleachers, restrooms, etc. I'm not against athletic fields, in fact I think the city needs more of them. I don't see how the MVLA League gets by with one little dinky field.

Like this comment
Posted by Ted
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 16, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Does the City of Mtn.View really need a $10 million fire station on Shoreline Blvd, north of Hwy 101?
How many calls/responses to emergencies has this temporary location received in the past couple of years since it's opening?
Was this station conceived a few years ago when the city was flush with extra $$$'s?
How much will this station add to our budget difficulties in the coming years?

Like this comment
Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2009 at 8:05 pm

$9M for even MORE sports fields to accomodate private elite club teams and adult leagues for non-residents, but the long delayed secondstage project--a potential revenue generator-- gets whacked? Ridiculous!

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Posted by Dude
a resident of Castro City
on Apr 19, 2009 at 1:06 pm

I can see the fire station project - ok they are currently in a mobile trailer (Sad). But those other projects? are you kidding me? That hotel should be completely paid for by Google. Sell the land to them and let them build whatever they want. I think the City Manager is being greedy on this one. How can the city approve all these projects when a couple days ago this paper siad the city was asking for employee layoffs and cut salaries? You can not have it both ways.

Like this comment
Posted by Dude
a resident of Castro City
on Apr 19, 2009 at 1:08 pm

Additionally, who uses those small parks. I rarely see anyone using them. If you're going to improve on a park make it a big park. I am sure the other side of Shoreline Park could be used to make it a championship golf course.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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