Apology doesn't change approval of roof-top patio

Neighbors of Prometheus' apartments at Minton's site irate over addition to project

In a difficult meeting Wednesday, Zoning Administrator Peter Gilli said he could not remove a controversial roof-top patio from the Prometheus apartment project downtown, and he apologized to a room full of irritated neighbors.

Old Mountain View neighbors said they had lost trust with the city and the developer over the patio, which was not in plans approved by the City Council for the four-story, 203-unit complex on Evelyn Avenue and Bush Street. Some said they felt "cheated" because they had fought so hard over every detail to lessen the project's impacts on the city, only to learn last week that the patio was quietly added to the project with staff's support a year ago.

The 2,200-square-foot-patio on top of the building's fourth floor would likely mean "noise pollution" from the neighborhood from parties or a TV and music system that will be installed, neighbors said.

In an email to neighbors on Friday, developer Jon Moss of Prometheus Real Estate Group said a TV and sound system would be removed from plans for the patio in light of the complaints, acknowledging that it still wasn't likely to please everyone.

Gilli said the patio itself was not an architectural change or a special commercial use that would trigger a "discretionary permit" so it could not be removed. An allowance for such rooftop patios is also mentioned in the precise plan for the block.

With the patio atop the highest building east of Castro Street, "This should concern everyone east of Castro street," said neighbor Tony Merales. "Sound is going to spread out in all directions. There is nothing that is going to stop it; no buildings, no trees. Sound can travel miles in the right conditions."

"I do clearly think this a situation that has damaged the trust the neighborhood has with the city," Gilli said. "Even if there is no ability to say no to the deck, you all should have heard about it earlier. I want to apologize for that."

Moss had been dealt many criticisms, including council member Jac Siegel, who had claimed that the deck was already built in a "brazen" move. Some suspected that the roof deck plans were hidden from the city until after the City Council's approval.

"I don't believe the applicant purposely held this back," Gilli said. "I believe it was an idea that came up later."

Old Mountain View Neighborhood Association chair David Lewis blamed the city's process.

"Prometheus is not to blame here," Lewis said. "The problem is a process where they go into the city, not the City Council but city staff, and they say they want to do this and no one ever hears about it," Lewis said. "That seems like a very bad process."

Gilli said the noise from the deck would have been studied as part of the project's environmental impact review if it were part of the original plans. He added that city staff had supported the deck as an amenity for the residents, and a way to "reduce congestion" of city parks. But he indicated that city policies did not allow him to make a new decision on the deck.

"Maybe one of the aspects that come out of this is that rooftop open spaces need some kind of review," Gilli said. "Right now (city code) doesn't say that it does."

While he said he doubted that the neighborhood would be affected by noise from a deck 300 feet away, Moss promised that Prometheus would do everything it could to respond to noise complaints from the neighbors, even closing off access to the deck and terminating the leases of problem tenants. He said alcohol would be allowed on the deck, and that it could be reserved for parties. It would close nightly at 10 p.m.

"We have to rely on goodwill," Gilli told neighbors.

OMVNA vice chair Robert Cox said in an email that 115 neighbors had sent emails showing their opposition to the project, and that a committee would be meeting next week to discuss spending $1,000 to appeal the decision to the City Council.


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Posted by Ron
a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 27, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Seriously, I think this is all going to be a tempest in a teapot. What will likely happen is that new residents will think the patio is neat, then then over a short time it will never be used again, or at least only rarely. These sorts of things are never all that popular in practical use.

1 person likes this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Apr 27, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Business as usual in Mtn View. Take a project popular with city staff, but contrversial enough for the city council to want final say.
Make whatever promises needed to get the OK, then change it back when the spotlight is off. "sorry about that..."
The issue is not just the plusses and minuses of this particular roof deck. It's more about the city staff machine. Underhanded, unchecked and making irreversible decisions that degrade our quality of life.

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Posted by Steve
a resident of Shoreline West
on Apr 27, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Looking at the Evelyn precise plan, it appears that 150 square feet of useable outdoor space is required for each unit. That's over 30,000 square feet. Where is that on the property?

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Posted by Loud
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 27, 2012 at 4:02 pm

PARTY? WHAT PARTY? I can't hear it over the noise from the trains and Air National Guard C130/Helicopters.

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Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 27, 2012 at 5:23 pm

This is an embarrassing misstep on the part of the City and Prometheus, regarding the plan check procedures in place. The City has opened their plan approval processes to scrutiny with this issue, as it is unacceptable that something as large and high profile as a roof top patio could have passed through without proper review and discussion by all stakeholders.

At best it was an innocent mistake which suggests incompetency on the part of the City. At worst it was an intentional effort to skirt open review, which suggests duplicity by the developer.

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Posted by Alex M.
a resident of Willowgate
on Apr 27, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Based on my personal experience, I doubt this patio will be a problem for anyone.

Some years back I lived for half a decade in a high-rise apartment building that had a rooftop patio. It was a nice, large patio, wooden deck and all, covering the entire roof except for an exercise room and the building HVAC machinery.

Residents tended to use the patio (when they used it at all) almost exclusively for sunbathing. If anyone wanted to throw a party, they did it at the ground-level swimming pool area.

I expect a similar thing will happen here after the novelty of the patio wears off.

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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Rooftops decks are a nice feature to urban living, but done right should not be a problem. I hope the building of the 4 story apt building will take out the Big Screen TV and the speakers this just seems something that will be open to theft and damage, put in a sound fence to prevent unwanted nosie and prying eyes. We had one in the building I managed, had very little problems expect for a odd loud voice, people running up and down the stairs (kids), open flame, people going onto the roof and a nude sunbather or two Make it where the rules and guidelines to roofdecks are covered and addressed before it gets to this point. We had very strict rules on the use of the roofdeck with our tennants. Funnything was more complaints about parties in the units and on the patio.

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Posted by Jack Petkins
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 27, 2012 at 9:12 pm

I get it,
Gilli is really the Mayor and Moss is the constituency.
Finally some clarity , scales have fallen from my eyes,
Everything makes sense now.

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Posted by OMV Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 27, 2012 at 10:55 pm

@Steve and your questions about open space on the property -
If you've passed by the site you can see that each unit has an individual balcony or porch which makes up part of the required space. The development also has two courtyards, one inside each building... one has a pool, the other probably a BBQ area and other stuff. You can see these on the drawing on under Development Details. I'm sure between the private and common outdoor space the development meets the requirement.

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Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 28, 2012 at 8:25 am

My inside sources tell me that Prometheus will remove the TV, sound system, and private massage tables from the deck. Also, Tsuda may be fired, but Gilli is protected by the union. Unfortunately this may not appease the whiners who will always object to something.

Also I hear from people in the neighborhood that several OMVNA leaders are being offered free membership by Prometheus to the "Roof Club".

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Posted by EricW
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 28, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Prometheus has an interesting delema. The firm followed the rules but in what is now well documented, avoided formal review. The safety of all users of the terrace may shift from City code to Prometheus. The first drunken 20-something who takes a swan dive from the sky deck may have a substantial claim against Prometheus. Given the publicity Prometheus' insurance carrier may leave Prometeus exposed on matters related to the deck.

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Posted by John the Man
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 28, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Poor babies......... the Old Mountain View neighborhood people now know what it feels like to get screwed over on zoning issues, or to not get their way.

How does it feel? Feels like people don't listen to you? Like someone doesn't care how you feel?

Then you Old MV people know how the rest of us feel when you ramrod through what *you* always want to do and the rest of us MVers have to deal with it.

You'll live.

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Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Apr 29, 2012 at 9:59 am

This overly dense eyesore should have never been approved, we don't want to turn Mountain View into canyon city. We need to elect city counsel members that are apposed to this kind of density. Remember this idea during the elections.

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Posted by Steve
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 30, 2012 at 6:23 pm

At least there will be no more drive throughs on El Camino & we won't be allowed to use plastic bags anymore. So everyone quit your whinning, can't you see the city is busy with important stuff?

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Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 30, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Will smoking be allowed up on that deck? I'm worried about second hand smoke.

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Posted by Mr. DePortum
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 2, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Pertaining to the immigration article, notice how they limit the comments, just only 2 ???, I think that the editing goes against Freedom of Speech!!!

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