Hotel project approved for Denny's site

High levels of toxic TCE at Leong Drive property raise concerns

Overruling complaints from a competing innkeeper, the Mountain View City Council on Tuesday approved a new 74-room Holiday Inn to replace a shuttered Denny's restaurant on Leong Drive.

City officials had already approved the three-story hotel in September during an Adminstrative Zoning meeting, but a neighboring hotel appealed that decision to the council days later.

C.K. Shah, who manages the nearby County Inn, asked that the city reject the proposed hotel, alleging it would bring numerous problems to the neighborhood. He cited increased traffic, parking demand and possible environmental concerns stemming from high levels of trichloroethylene (TCE) in the soil and groundwater.

Speaking before the council, Shah said he was also upset the city was willing to bend the rules for the new hotel. His project never received these perks, he said.

"The planning department has decided to change the ground rules that we were faced with, " he said. "When we went through the planning commission, they had rejected everything that they're doing right now."

The city did grant some exceptions to the proposed Holiday Inn, allowing it to be built taller and with less parking than city policies would normally require. Senior Planner Diane Pancholi said that those exceptions were given in exchange for public benefits, including allowing local government and nonprofit groups to use the future hotel's meeting space free of charge. Pancholi said she was confident that all the issues raised by the appeal had already been addressed.

City Council members signaled they agreed with the staff assessment.

"As a small business owner, I'd also be concerned about a competitor moving in next to me," said Councilman John McAlister, who owns a Baskin Robbins shop. "But the items you wish to dispute, I just don't see merit in it."

The council rejected the appeal and approved the project in a 6-0 vote with Mayor Ken Rosenberg absent.

One concern that did prompt a lively discussion was the local Middlefield-Ellis-Whisman Superfund plume of contaminated groundwater. Recent soil gas samples taken from the Denny's site showed considerable TCE contamination, which reportedly stemmed from a leaking sewer line nearby. In some cases, recent soil gas samples from the site were approximately 14,000 times greater than the EPA safety threshold expected to be enforced for the future development.

TCE is a known carcinogen with any means of prolonged exposure, according to the EPA. In Mountain View, the primary risk from the toxic chemical, which was widely used in the semiconductor industry, is when vapors from contaminated groundwater seep through the soil and build up to hazardous levels inside structures.

Nevertheless, EPA officials at the meeting said the project could go forward as long as it included a rigorous cleanup and treatment program. Council members quizzed an EPA representative on the safety concerns at the site.

"In order to build on the property as part of the mitigation measures, we're requiring the reduction of TCE in the soil gas and groundwater contamination," said Alana Lee, the EPA's vapor intrusion project manager. "The concern is the volatilization of TCE into the airspace of the workplace and living space of this new development."

As part of the approvals, the developer will be required to minimize dust and water runoff coming from the construction. In addition, the builder will be obligated to follow a long set of safety protocols for its workers. The developers also must put together a vapor intrusion control plan to show how their building is preventing exposure to toxic vapors. EPA officials will reportedly be monitoring the site to ensure these safety goals are achieved.


5 people like this
Posted by who's running mountain view?
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2017 at 8:49 pm

Leong Drive is a conglomerate of business and residential.. Is the City of Mountain View still planning on closing Castro at the Central Expressway intersection?

20 people like this
Posted by Hi, my name is google
a resident of North Bayshore
on Nov 9, 2017 at 10:37 pm

I'm the sheriff in this town. Pleased to meet you.

13 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2017 at 11:55 pm

Not the historic Denny's! It should be preserved for future generations!

11 people like this
Posted by Lots o' memories
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 10, 2017 at 6:18 am

That was one notorious Denny's back in the 80's. The location is a good place for a hotel, but I guess if your the owner of the existing hotel and you don't want to fix it up, it may be tough to compete. I don't feel we need to protect the run down hotels by making them the only choice. Now there will be choices in that area.

13 people like this
Posted by Diablo
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 10, 2017 at 10:02 am

These developers must be laughing all the way to the bank - they get their way and they get it soooo cheap!

"Senior Planner Diane Pancholi said that those exceptions were given in exchange for public benefits, including allowing local government and nonprofit groups to use the future hotel's meeting space free of charge."

Don't we have anyone in City government that can play hardball with these massive for-profit companies (including Google)?

8 people like this
Posted by DoctorData
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 10, 2017 at 4:25 pm

DoctorData is a registered user.

I don’t know what massive corporations @Diablo proposes to play hardball against. Holiday Inns are often franchises, and not directly owned by the branding corporation. Temple Hospitality appears to be a small regional development company based in Milpitas.

9 people like this
Posted by Alex M
a resident of Willowgate
on Nov 11, 2017 at 1:33 pm

Personally I'd rather Denny's was still operational there, but a hotel is OK too.

14 people like this
Posted by Grand Slam
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2017 at 2:52 pm

I'm with you Alex M. We have such varied cuisine around these parts, but not if you want some pancakes at 11pm. I'll take a Denny's any day. Also I'd go for a Bob's Big Boy over any of the latest 12 dollar hamburger shops.

3 people like this
Posted by tommygee54
a resident of Rex Manor
on Nov 14, 2017 at 3:13 pm

I'll rent a room at the Holiday Inn when it opens up. Sure I will.

But I'll go for a Bob's Big Boy burger any time as well. Have not had one of them in decades.

3 people like this
Posted by son of a Big Boy
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2017 at 9:36 am

Bob Wian's Big Boy chain almost* went out of business after decades of expanding from it's Glendale California (Colorado Ave.) home of 1936. My father ate there in high school, but alas, my own kids will not get that privilege unless they go to one of the few remaining SoCal locations.

But, In and Out was another successful SoCal hamburger joint, as is the massively larger international McDonalds.

Here is to the replacement of old retail service establishments by new comers and new operators.

Web Link

6 people like this
Posted by Kevin
a resident of Whisman Station
on Nov 15, 2017 at 3:27 pm

This is a win-win for the city. We get a new hotel, and the developer pays for pollution mitigation.

7 people like this
Posted by MyOpinion
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Nov 15, 2017 at 4:35 pm

MyOpinion is a registered user.

Maybe Mario's will re-open for dinner with a new hotel across the street. Love that place, currently only open for lunch and catering, making your own hours is a luxury enjoyed only by the few restaurants that own their building.

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

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