News

Council balks at bulky Avalon Bay project

W. Middlefield Road development would replace parking lots with 350 apartments

Mountain View leaders are walking a fine line as they try to dramatically expand the city's housing supply without running afoul of longstanding residents, and that balancing act played out succinctly on Tuesday night.

In a study session at the April 18 meeting, the City Council reviewed plans to squeeze nearly 350 new apartments into a site at 555 W. Middlefield Road that's already built up with more than 400 homes. Developers with the firm Avalon Bay presented plans to nearly double the number of housing units on the property by replacing parking lots with a pair of large, mostly four-story apartment buildings. The property would also fit in a new 1.5-acre park.

But other residents in the area didn't exactly lay out the welcome mat. Neighbors to the south of the property, along Cypress Point Drive, complained the project's design was bland, obstructive and simply too gigantic. They also pointed out all the parking from the proposed project would be funneled out on their street. About a half-dozen residents came to the meeting to urge the City Council to scale it back.

"I'm adamantly opposed to making this is a high-density project; it's out of the character to our neighborhood," said Patti Powell, a nearby resident. "All of these cars are going to be coming out along Cypress Point Drive, and the road can't handle it."

Residents in the Willowgate neighborhood had other reasons to worry. City staff pointed out that the area has two other huge housing projects in the pipeline a 711-unit project at 777 W. Middlefield Road and tentative plans to build 1,000 apartments at the Shenandoah Square site.

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Council members took some of the public's concerns to heart, but they weren't willing to scuttle the project. Several members criticized the boxy, "office-building" look of the proposed apartments, urging the Avalon Bay team to enliven the design. They also wanted to see larger setbacks, so the tall new buildings wouldn't ruin the view of the neighborhood. The council also suggested that the developer make every effort to preserve as many of the trees on the site as possible.

Traffic proved a thornier issue. Council members acknowledged that congestion would only get worse if the project were built, and they offered an array of remedies. Councilwoman Margaret Abe-Koga suggested the developer could coordinate with the city's Transportation Management Agency, a bike-share project or the community shuttle to encourage people not to drive. Councilman Lenny Siegel pushed staff to design the project to include a future stop for an automated-guideway transit system, a far-off vision currently being studied by city staff. He and other council members said that the project needed a good connection to the Stevens Creek Trail.

"Unless I thought we were going to address (these problems) in a reasonable way, I wouldn't be approving all these projects in one area," Siegel said.

Nathan Hong of Avalon Bay did offer several amenities to assuage the fears on the council. Unlike most other large housing projects, the 555 Middlefield proposal would retain all of its existing housing, which helps avoid the huge displacement of tenants that's typical of these projects. Hong also pointed out all the future apartments would be prepared so they could someday be converted to for-sale condominiums, an extra step that the City Council has frequently requested.

But the scope of the project left some council members apprehensive, making it unclear whether they would support the apartment project in a future decision.

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"I do hesitate at the size of this," Abe-Koga said. "I know things have changed and there's an increased interest in more housing, but we're looking at three projects in the area with high density."

Since this was a study session, the council could not take a vote to approve the project. The 555 W. Middlefield project is expect to come back to the City Council in the near future.

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Council balks at bulky Avalon Bay project

W. Middlefield Road development would replace parking lots with 350 apartments

by Mark Noack / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Mon, Apr 24, 2017, 8:04 am

Mountain View leaders are walking a fine line as they try to dramatically expand the city's housing supply without running afoul of longstanding residents, and that balancing act played out succinctly on Tuesday night.

In a study session at the April 18 meeting, the City Council reviewed plans to squeeze nearly 350 new apartments into a site at 555 W. Middlefield Road that's already built up with more than 400 homes. Developers with the firm Avalon Bay presented plans to nearly double the number of housing units on the property by replacing parking lots with a pair of large, mostly four-story apartment buildings. The property would also fit in a new 1.5-acre park.

But other residents in the area didn't exactly lay out the welcome mat. Neighbors to the south of the property, along Cypress Point Drive, complained the project's design was bland, obstructive and simply too gigantic. They also pointed out all the parking from the proposed project would be funneled out on their street. About a half-dozen residents came to the meeting to urge the City Council to scale it back.

"I'm adamantly opposed to making this is a high-density project; it's out of the character to our neighborhood," said Patti Powell, a nearby resident. "All of these cars are going to be coming out along Cypress Point Drive, and the road can't handle it."

Residents in the Willowgate neighborhood had other reasons to worry. City staff pointed out that the area has two other huge housing projects in the pipeline a 711-unit project at 777 W. Middlefield Road and tentative plans to build 1,000 apartments at the Shenandoah Square site.

Council members took some of the public's concerns to heart, but they weren't willing to scuttle the project. Several members criticized the boxy, "office-building" look of the proposed apartments, urging the Avalon Bay team to enliven the design. They also wanted to see larger setbacks, so the tall new buildings wouldn't ruin the view of the neighborhood. The council also suggested that the developer make every effort to preserve as many of the trees on the site as possible.

Traffic proved a thornier issue. Council members acknowledged that congestion would only get worse if the project were built, and they offered an array of remedies. Councilwoman Margaret Abe-Koga suggested the developer could coordinate with the city's Transportation Management Agency, a bike-share project or the community shuttle to encourage people not to drive. Councilman Lenny Siegel pushed staff to design the project to include a future stop for an automated-guideway transit system, a far-off vision currently being studied by city staff. He and other council members said that the project needed a good connection to the Stevens Creek Trail.

"Unless I thought we were going to address (these problems) in a reasonable way, I wouldn't be approving all these projects in one area," Siegel said.

Nathan Hong of Avalon Bay did offer several amenities to assuage the fears on the council. Unlike most other large housing projects, the 555 Middlefield proposal would retain all of its existing housing, which helps avoid the huge displacement of tenants that's typical of these projects. Hong also pointed out all the future apartments would be prepared so they could someday be converted to for-sale condominiums, an extra step that the City Council has frequently requested.

But the scope of the project left some council members apprehensive, making it unclear whether they would support the apartment project in a future decision.

"I do hesitate at the size of this," Abe-Koga said. "I know things have changed and there's an increased interest in more housing, but we're looking at three projects in the area with high density."

Since this was a study session, the council could not take a vote to approve the project. The 555 W. Middlefield project is expect to come back to the City Council in the near future.

Comments

Where would they park?
Cuesta Park
on Apr 24, 2017 at 8:26 am
Where would they park?, Cuesta Park
on Apr 24, 2017 at 8:26 am

Where would the current and to-be-added residents park?


Reside
Stierlin Estates
on Apr 24, 2017 at 10:42 am
Reside, Stierlin Estates
on Apr 24, 2017 at 10:42 am

It's not where all those new residents will park, all new high density apartments developments are being planned for one neighborhood, east of Shoreline to past Moffett on Middlefield. 2100 plus new apartments means 5000 plus new residents with cars; if you think they will all ride their bikes or take uber (two trips for all pick ups) dream on. This council has no respect for us who live in this area. This city has a general plan and at no time was this area zoned for this type of development. There is no infrastructure to support this type of development, you need schools, stores, medical support etc. And where is the water these new residents coming from, the next drought will be here soon. Don't pave over every inch of land, the ground water will never be replenished. Enough is enough!


David
Jackson Park
on Apr 24, 2017 at 11:31 am
David, Jackson Park
on Apr 24, 2017 at 11:31 am

Is it possible for the neighborhoods north of Central to secede to our own city? The city already sued us to put up 100 Moffet, so I am not sure they have our best interests in mind. They didn't even come ask for our signature before investing in a lawsuit. I would say they don't even have other Mountain View resident's interests either because it would have save a lot of money to just ask for the signature. Just to keep in mind for everyone else, living in a construction zone is a pain for many years with these large projects, and the city doesn't account or mitigate for those effects either. I wouldn't say I am a NIMBY, but existing residents do need to live here.


Rainbows and Unicorns
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2017 at 3:40 pm
Rainbows and Unicorns , Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2017 at 3:40 pm


For those who don't have to suffer through years of living with the construction noise and the disruption to daily life that these types of projects foist upon nearby residents, be thankful.

I live in an area that has had three maajor construction projects ongoing for over a year now, with a 4th project just getting underway and expected to take at least two years to complete. All of these construction projects are within 1500 feet of my residence. The noise, dust and ground vibrations seem almost never ending, although we do get a break on Sundays. I am awakened by construction noise nearly every weekday, and am unable to open my windows or enjoy my yard because of the ceaseless construction noise. Heavy equipment and huge trucks are constantly rumbling and beeping, and occasionally driving down our street, which is against city ordinance.

Construction workers are filling up parking and occasionally camping overnight on neighborhood streets. Egress from my residential street has been encumbered because of this construction nearly every day for a year now. We have at least two more years of this to look forward to before the residents get any kind of relief from this nightmare. Two more years before we may be able to open our windows once again on a weekday. Two more years of being awakened nearly every morning by the sounds of heavy equipment and construction noise.

I suppose my point is, it's not only what comes AFTER the projects have been completed that will greatly impact the nearby residents, what goes on during the long construction process can be very stressful on a daily basis, for years before the project is even completed. This phase of projects and it's impact - singular and cumulative - on nearby residents should not be overlooked when addressing overall impacts of projects.








@Rainbows and Unicorns
another community
on Apr 24, 2017 at 4:04 pm
@Rainbows and Unicorns, another community
on Apr 24, 2017 at 4:04 pm

I understand what you are saying. My sincere sympathies. I can't open up my windows for a different reason. All my neighbors are smoking pot stinking up the air.


Rainbows and Unicorns
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2017 at 4:38 pm
Rainbows and Unicorns , Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2017 at 4:38 pm


Yeah, I've got that those neighbors too, but they're not constantly waking me up with their pot smoking. Nor has their pot smoking ever exceeded 90db if I had a window open. And, I haven't had to power wash my residence because of thick film of dust that coated the outside of my residence after the demolition phase of a project was completed.

I'd take plain old pot smoking neighbors any day over all the crap we been dealing with for the last year plus, and will continue to deal with for the next two plus years.


@Rainbows and Unicorns
another community
on Apr 24, 2017 at 5:16 pm
@Rainbows and Unicorns, another community
on Apr 24, 2017 at 5:16 pm

I understand. They are going to do construction in my neighborhood too so there is something else to look forward to. My sincere sympathies.


Anke
North Whisman
on Apr 24, 2017 at 5:50 pm
Anke, North Whisman
on Apr 24, 2017 at 5:50 pm

@Rainbows and Unicorns you have my 100% empathy. We lived through several years of construction and I can say you are not exaggerating one tiny bit. Permitted work hours were 7am to 6pm but they regularly started early and worked as late as 9pm. I learned that that is actually allowed as long as they are "loading" and not "working". A front loader picking up debris and dumping it into a dumpster counts as "loading". That makes as much racket and dust as "working" so why on earth is there even a distinction?

@@Rainbows and Unicorns, much empathy for you as well. Hope you get through it.

Regarding the pot smoke - has anyone reviewed the smoking ordinance? Mountain View has pretty strict rules now, and I thought they applied to any smoking, not just tobacco. Do any of the rules apply to residential neighborhoods?


John
Monta Loma
on Apr 25, 2017 at 8:57 pm
John, Monta Loma
on Apr 25, 2017 at 8:57 pm

Routine story

Council balks at project

Later

Council approves project


bummer
Shoreline West
on Apr 25, 2017 at 10:01 pm
bummer, Shoreline West
on Apr 25, 2017 at 10:01 pm

maybe time for you to sell while the market is good since all of this development is going to tank your property value! /s


NoMoreBulkyMV
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2017 at 8:17 am
NoMoreBulkyMV, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2017 at 8:17 am

I support anyone against the Avalon Bay project. Its high time. Go and build in the marshes behind 101. Another ugly, ugly, ugly building coming to town. Greedy, greedy, greedy, greedy. The ugliest and bulkiest building project that has robbed Mountain View its name of mountain viewing is on San Antonio and California St shopping center. No sun to view.Just a box of construction pushed to the main streets. Pedestrians and bikers are an after-thought. What on earth is Mountain View City Council's sense of architecture. You can't even shop there on a regular basis. Can't wait for the stores there to go out business as did Mervyns and Sears. The snail pace of traffic on San Antonio MV does not sustain its property values forever. We saw it during the AOL/Yahoo days. Tech came and went. 2008 knocked with the housing crisis. Tech came and went. Just wait and see.


MVFan
Rengstorff Park
on Apr 26, 2017 at 8:20 am
MVFan, Rengstorff Park
on Apr 26, 2017 at 8:20 am

Once Trump brings changes to H1B visas, Mountain View new homes values will suffer. Supporting the cause.


Steven Nelson
Cuesta Park
on Apr 26, 2017 at 9:26 am
Steven Nelson, Cuesta Park
on Apr 26, 2017 at 9:26 am

New school parcel tax proposal (Measure B) will tax this whole complex at a total of $191, down from $1016 (the max previous for a 1 AC parcel). The added parcel tax for the hundreds of new apartments containing hundreds of thousands of square feet of residences? Let's see, $1016 - $191 =

A school "special qualified tax" decrease of $825.

Vote NO on B!
Come up with a new FAIR SCHOOL TAX - ASAP


Oh good
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2017 at 1:51 pm
Oh good, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2017 at 1:51 pm

Now that Steven Nelson has responded to Vote No on B, I'll vote Yes.

YES ON B!!


MyOpinion
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 27, 2017 at 3:36 pm
MyOpinion, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 27, 2017 at 3:36 pm

So Oakwood is at 555 W Middlefield, where are they 'squeezing' in these 4 story buildings? Web Link

No doubt council will approve, developers always get their way in Mountain View. The idea that a particular city has to provide housing for all who work within the city limits is ridiculous, let Los Altos build a few highrises in their neighborhood (I know...not going to happen...ever)


resident
Old Mountain View
on Apr 28, 2017 at 8:32 am
resident, Old Mountain View
on Apr 28, 2017 at 8:32 am

Would anyone be interested in starting a petition to have a city ordinance that requires at least 1/3 of resident owners to sign off on any new construction within 1 mile, or a 2/3 vote of the voters of the city to approve any construction that is not a single family home or duplex? Would there be any support for such an movement?


Scooter
Cuesta Park
on Apr 28, 2017 at 9:02 am
Scooter, Cuesta Park
on Apr 28, 2017 at 9:02 am

Who are they kidding? This will get approved one way or another. The city council never rejects a building project.


Mike
another community
on Jul 6, 2017 at 9:43 am
Mike, another community
on Jul 6, 2017 at 9:43 am

The new office buildings at the San Antonio center are so ugly. It looks like a prison. Who approved that eyesore? You'd think that being in the heart of Silicon Valley, the city would have approved something a bit more modern looking. As an example, take a look at the new office building off 101 and Marsh Road or the new office building off Shoreline.


Anke
North Whisman
on Jul 6, 2017 at 10:09 am
Anke, North Whisman
on Jul 6, 2017 at 10:09 am

@resident, hear hear, but let's go after the real root of Mountain Views problems. The destruction of our residential neighborhoods with out-of-control construction is the result of the city council permitting out-of-control tech office expansion. It's great that the big tech companies are prospering and creating lots of jobs (Microsoft's big layoff announcement notwithstanding), but it's terrible that they're concentrating all the growth in a region that's already hopelessly overcrowded. If we petition to limit tech growth, then we can begin to restore balance. Meanwhile, tech companies can and should shift their growth to regions that are desperate for an economic boost. This country has _plenty_ of those.


YIMBY
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2017 at 8:18 am
YIMBY, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2017 at 8:18 am

@Anke

Mountain View is not a gated community frozen in time. Cities grow, and the only reason Mountain View feels crowded is because attempts to build more infrastructure and mass transit around here are like moving mountains. Stop trying to choke job growth in a high paying sector for those of us that haven't hit retirement age yet. Stop blocking new housing development and causing rents to spike. If you want to go live in a gated community then go do it.


Anke
North Whisman
on Jul 7, 2017 at 8:44 am
Anke, North Whisman
on Jul 7, 2017 at 8:44 am

@YIMBY

Money isn't everything; quality of life is important too. Job growth is a good thing. The imbalances we are seeing are degrading quality of life for people all over the country. The job growth is concentrated in a few small regions that are collapsing under their own weight while in other regions people are out of work. Shift some of the jobs to regions that need them, give people opportunities to train for those jobs, and the whole country benefits.


YIMBY
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2017 at 3:18 pm
YIMBY, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2017 at 3:18 pm

Not everyone wants to go live in rural Kentucky. There are economic advantages to clustering people and jobs in the same space. It promotes collaboration and competition for workers. Cities are also more resource friendly and less impactful on the environment than endless suburban sprawl. There's no reason not to cluster in high density spaces beyond personal taste for suburbs.


Anke
North Whisman
on Jul 9, 2017 at 9:20 pm
Anke, North Whisman
on Jul 9, 2017 at 9:20 pm

@YIMBY you've hit the nail on the head. If everyone went to live in rural Kentucky, it wouldn't be rural anymore. It would experience skyrocketing housing costs, transportation gridlock, closure of local businesses, degraded schools and all the other ills we're seeing here. The numerous development projects are adding plenty of housing units (repeated arson in Oakland notwithstanding) but tech is adding office space at 10 times that rate and they're continually bringing in new people to fill the space. Neither the tech companies nor the newcomers are adding to the tax base so there's never funding available to build transportation and other infrastructure to support them. It's completely unsustainable.


YIMBY
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 10, 2017 at 8:50 am
YIMBY, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 10, 2017 at 8:50 am

That's nowhere near the point I was making. Rural Kentucky weather is terrible and the culture isn't very attractive. All of the problems you describe are solved by growth planning and infrastructure improvements.

Well, if you built more housing so everyone didn't have to commute into Mountain View every day, maybe you'd have an expanded tax base.


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