Major upzoning slated for two neighborhoods

Buildings could go to four stories on Moffett Blvd., seven in East Whisman

East Whisman and a portion of Moffett Boulevard may soon be allowed to grow much taller, if directions from the Planning Commission and City Council on Tuesday night become policy.

In a joint meeting held at the Senior Center, the council and commission supported zoning changes that would allow office buildings east of Whisman Road to become more dense, raising the allowed height for buildings to as high as six or seven stories. After a discussion about the effects it would have on the nearby homes, Mayor Ronit Bryant said such a change would come with rules that prevent tall buildings from "overwhelming" the residential neighborhood on the west side of Whisman Road.

"Right across the street are one and two story homes," said Lisa Matichak, planning commissioner and president of the Wagon Wheel Neighborhood Association. "I just can't imagine anyone walking out their door and seeing a seven story building."

A proposal to allow four story mixed-use buildings along Moffett Boulevard between Central Expressway and Middlefield Road was much less controversial. No one opposed it during a brief discussion, although some said the area should be more pedestrian-friendly and better connected to Castro Street and the downtown transit hub.

The group also supported the densest of two proposals for the industrial neighborhood south of Central Expressway sandwiched between Highway 85 and Highway 237. As with North Bayshore and East Whisman, the group supported allowing businesses there to increase floor area ratio to 1.0, which can translate to a building as high as six or seven stories, said planning director Randy Tsuda.

"We are land-constrained; up is the way to go," said council member Mike Kasperzak.

The group voted 10-3 to state a "preference" for park space to eventually replace the Franzia orchard on Whisman Road, followed by public uses, such as city services, or "quasi public" uses, which are private nonprofit uses, such as a church. There was little support for allowing homes on the odd-shaped lot, currently zoned for agriculture, though the owners have expressed a wish for that, said

city planner Martin Alkire.


After having agreed, during meetings over the last two weeks, to significantly increase the allowed densities in five key areas in the city -- including El Camino Real, North Bayshore and San Antonio shopping center -- the group reflected on what it had done.

Matichak and council member Jac Siegel fretted that, even though city planners said their proposals were based on community input, the plans selected did not reflect what residents really wanted.

"I don't think people understood the implications of what they were saying," during General Plan neighborhood hearings, Matichak said.

Siegel said the group may have ignored what residents had said, which he remembered as "I love my neighborhood, please don't destroy it."

"I think we should start over," joked council member Tom Means. "I'm sure a lot of people would like to re-vote on High Speed Rail too."

Means said many of the properties that didn't get developed during the boom years after 2000 would probably never be developed, even after accounting for the increased profit developers might get with higher allowed higher densities.

"Half this stuff is never going to get built," agreed Kasperzak. To illustrate that, commissioner Arnold Soderberg said it would take 11,000 new homes to increase Mountain View's population from 74,000 to 98,000 people by 2030, as projected by consultants under the supported General Plan changes. "It's an unrealistic extreme," Soderberg said.

Over the next year the city and a consultant team will be drawing up a revised General Plan -- a blueprint for future city development.

Tsuda said his department is sensitive to budget constraints and wants to make sure the council approves "the whole package" before expensive environmental studies are conducted.


Like this comment
Posted by MikeR
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 18, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Redwood City is facing costs of up to $600k due to a law suit and additional study for their Downtown Precise Plan because it allows taller buildings. Mountain View should be careful not to fall into that one.

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Posted by SusanW
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 18, 2010 at 2:38 pm

The neighborhood is a mix of commercial and residential. If going taller means redeveloping the older vacant one and two story buildings, great!!! The diversity of commercial, retail, multi-family and single family homes is the uniqueness of the neighborhood. If you only want to see single family homes outside your door, maybe you should move to a different neighborhood?

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Posted by RoxieK
a resident of another community
on Feb 18, 2010 at 3:04 pm

I live in the Whisman area, just across the street from the Wagon Wheel lot. Yes - this is a mixed use area, however, nothing there already remotely comes close to a 7 story building. With limited access to the area, I don't see the sense in putting up buildings that high. Per the recent 2030 plan described in the voice, the Whisman area was NOT designated as one of the very high density areas - what's changed????? I'd love to see 7 story flats put up on Grant near Covington - oh wait, that's the "good" part of town - we couldn't possibly put in high density there. What a bunch of crap.

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Posted by Steve Hill
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 18, 2010 at 3:33 pm

(Resident of the Wagonwheel Neighborhood Association area ... now if we could FINALLY get it on the pull-down of the other Neighborhood Associations!!)

I think that it would be interesting to run this on a SimCity-type of simulation. I'm somewhat concerned about six or seven story businesses and what that will do to traffic and parking. I am not as concerned of Godzilla attacks or tornados, however.

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Posted by East Whisman Neighbor
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 18, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Obviously those in favor of higher density/more buildings in East Whisman have not been around that neighborhood lately. If they had, they would clearly note the numerous vacant office buildings. In fact, I think there's probably more vacant office space than filled. Some of these vacant buildings are brand new! And now they want to build more, higher, bigger. What a waste of money, time and space. Aren't these people supposed to be environmentally correct? What a shame.
I propose that the city committee members who voted for this plan saddle up their bicycles and roll on over here to check out all of the vacant space.

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Posted by woodland
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 18, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Nice, maybe they will also do something with the old Denny's as well. I also agree with "East Whisman Neighbor", that person should be on the committee to help the planners see the light.
p.s. xoxo ewn

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Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Feb 18, 2010 at 11:09 pm

This whole council has to go. Do voters in town realize whats going on in city hall? They are creating gridlock city!

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Posted by Nelson
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 19, 2010 at 2:54 pm

I propose that city management and city council members can only recommend and/or vote *for* high density, 4+ story buildings (residential or industrial)when they themselves live within two blocks of the planned buildings.

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Posted by jane
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 19, 2010 at 3:20 pm

"East Whisman"....that's a new one on me! I live on Whisman and lived (barely) through the Netscape Construction - the largest construction project in MV at the time (1997?) Anyway - construction is horrible to live across from - with so much vacant space why do we want tall buildings here!?!?!?

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Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 21, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Technically the Whisman neighborhood is across the street. It is not up for development unlike the commercial area. Most residents will not even know what's going on because it will have little impact on them. This is a prime area for smart growth.

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Posted by Mr. Construction
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 22, 2010 at 7:41 am

Jane, how do you think the old timers were feeling in the neighborhood when your house was being built. If they would of said that they don't want construction. Where would you be living today?

Like this comment
Posted by Jane Horton
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 22, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Hi Mr. Construction -
This is Jane - well, my home is one story, the core of the home built in 1898, added onto in the 1940's and then in the 80's. I have been here since the 1970s, so am one of the "old-timers." My comment had to do with the multi-story large buildings such as Netscapte, where the construction noise was so loud that inside my home with all the doors and windows closed it was too noisy to even hear a phone or have a conversation. I have had homes built next to me and condos behind me ... completely different that multi-story large buildings!

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

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