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False rumors swirl around shopping centers closing in Mountain View

The misinformation came from confusion around city discussions to update Mountain View’s zoning ordinance

Grant Park Plaza shopping center in Mountain View on Dec. 12, 2022. Photo by Malea Martin.

In response to some rumors and misinformation floating around town, the League of Women Voters and city officials want to set the record straight: shopping centers like Blossom Valley and Grant Park Plaza are not closing, nor are they likely to be redeveloped any time soon.

The League’s Los Altos-Mountain View Chapter President Karin Bricker said she first heard the rumors brought up during a League Housing Committee meeting. Then, she saw a post on NextDoor that claimed Nob Hill Foods on Grant Road was closing.

“I shop there, so I went to the manager and said, ‘I hear you’re going to close,’ and he was like, ‘No, no, it’s just spreading, it’s this wild rumor,’” Bricker told the Voice. ‘He said, ‘We are not closing.’”

The League of Women Voters is an organization focused on voters’ rights but also advocates for issues important to voters, like health care, immigration and housing.

The false rumors about Mountain View shopping centers closing seem to have sprung from city council discussions around updating Mountain View’s zoning ordinance to give shopping centers a mixed-use designation. Mixed-use means that both commercial and residential are allowed on a site.

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But updating the zoning for shopping centers does not mean those sites are suddenly going to be redeveloped, Bricker said. In fact, the city’s general plan already designated these sites as mixed-use 10 years ago. The plan created a new land use designation called “village centers,” and included shopping plazas like Blossom Valley and Grant Park Plaza in this category.

“These are envisioned as mixed-use commercial centers within walking distance of residences, and with improved pedestrian and bicycle connectivity to the rest of the city,” the 2012 general plan states.

Blossom Valley Shopping Center in Mountain View on Dec. 12, 2022. Photo by Malea Martin.

While the general plan establishes a high-level vision for how the city will approach future development, the city’s zoning ordinance controls how that development actually pans out. The two documents are meant to be aligned — and per Senate Bill 1333, which passed in 2018, cities are legally required to make their general plans and zoning ordinances consistent with one another.

“Mountain View, for the most part, has zoning that is consistent with the general plan,” Mayor Lucas Ramirez told the Voice. “But not every property.”

Ramirez said one of the biggest gaps between the city’s general plan and zoning ordinance are the village centers.

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“The general plan allows for mixed-use development with residential uses, but the zoning was never changed to implement that general plan designation,” Ramirez said of the village centers. “What SB 1333 requires us to do is put in place a zoning that is consistent with, that conforms to, the general plan. That’s, in part, why we have to do this.”

Under the state’s Housing Accountability Act, if a residential project complies with either the general plan or the zoning ordinance, cities aren’t legally allowed to deny it. This means that, even under current zoning, a developer today could theoretically pursue a residential project at a village center because of the general plan’s mixed-use designation.

The city is slated to approve zoning ordinance updates in January, Ramirez said. But when it does, shopping center sites aren’t suddenly going to be flooded with residential development proposals.

“There has not been any indication that any of these property owners are interested in residential development,” Ramirez said.

If a property owner becomes interested in redeveloping a village center site sometime in the future, updating the zoning ordinance today actually gives the city more control over what that development can look like, Ramirez explained.

“In addition to complying with state law, it’s in the best interest of the city to put in place development standards that help implement the general plan so we can guide the project in a way that is more compatible with our community vision for these areas,” he said. “That’s how we can do things like require minimum amounts of retail. We can require ground floor, active uses.”

“We can better guarantee outcomes that meet the expectations of our community.”

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Malea Martin
Malea Martin covers the city hall beat in Mountain View. Before joining the Mountain View Voice in 2022, she covered local politics and education for New Times San Luis Obispo, a weekly newspaper on the Central Coast of California. Read more >>

Follow Mountain View Voice Online on Twitter @mvvoice, Facebook and on Instagram @mvvoice for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

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False rumors swirl around shopping centers closing in Mountain View

The misinformation came from confusion around city discussions to update Mountain View’s zoning ordinance

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Mon, Dec 12, 2022, 1:43 pm

In response to some rumors and misinformation floating around town, the League of Women Voters and city officials want to set the record straight: shopping centers like Blossom Valley and Grant Park Plaza are not closing, nor are they likely to be redeveloped any time soon.

The League’s Los Altos-Mountain View Chapter President Karin Bricker said she first heard the rumors brought up during a League Housing Committee meeting. Then, she saw a post on NextDoor that claimed Nob Hill Foods on Grant Road was closing.

“I shop there, so I went to the manager and said, ‘I hear you’re going to close,’ and he was like, ‘No, no, it’s just spreading, it’s this wild rumor,’” Bricker told the Voice. ‘He said, ‘We are not closing.’”

The League of Women Voters is an organization focused on voters’ rights but also advocates for issues important to voters, like health care, immigration and housing.

The false rumors about Mountain View shopping centers closing seem to have sprung from city council discussions around updating Mountain View’s zoning ordinance to give shopping centers a mixed-use designation. Mixed-use means that both commercial and residential are allowed on a site.

But updating the zoning for shopping centers does not mean those sites are suddenly going to be redeveloped, Bricker said. In fact, the city’s general plan already designated these sites as mixed-use 10 years ago. The plan created a new land use designation called “village centers,” and included shopping plazas like Blossom Valley and Grant Park Plaza in this category.

“These are envisioned as mixed-use commercial centers within walking distance of residences, and with improved pedestrian and bicycle connectivity to the rest of the city,” the 2012 general plan states.

While the general plan establishes a high-level vision for how the city will approach future development, the city’s zoning ordinance controls how that development actually pans out. The two documents are meant to be aligned — and per Senate Bill 1333, which passed in 2018, cities are legally required to make their general plans and zoning ordinances consistent with one another.

“Mountain View, for the most part, has zoning that is consistent with the general plan,” Mayor Lucas Ramirez told the Voice. “But not every property.”

Ramirez said one of the biggest gaps between the city’s general plan and zoning ordinance are the village centers.

“The general plan allows for mixed-use development with residential uses, but the zoning was never changed to implement that general plan designation,” Ramirez said of the village centers. “What SB 1333 requires us to do is put in place a zoning that is consistent with, that conforms to, the general plan. That’s, in part, why we have to do this.”

Under the state’s Housing Accountability Act, if a residential project complies with either the general plan or the zoning ordinance, cities aren’t legally allowed to deny it. This means that, even under current zoning, a developer today could theoretically pursue a residential project at a village center because of the general plan’s mixed-use designation.

The city is slated to approve zoning ordinance updates in January, Ramirez said. But when it does, shopping center sites aren’t suddenly going to be flooded with residential development proposals.

“There has not been any indication that any of these property owners are interested in residential development,” Ramirez said.

If a property owner becomes interested in redeveloping a village center site sometime in the future, updating the zoning ordinance today actually gives the city more control over what that development can look like, Ramirez explained.

“In addition to complying with state law, it’s in the best interest of the city to put in place development standards that help implement the general plan so we can guide the project in a way that is more compatible with our community vision for these areas,” he said. “That’s how we can do things like require minimum amounts of retail. We can require ground floor, active uses.”

“We can better guarantee outcomes that meet the expectations of our community.”

Comments

bkengland
Registered user
Whisman Station
on Dec 12, 2022 at 7:16 pm
bkengland, Whisman Station
Registered user
on Dec 12, 2022 at 7:16 pm

Good news Nob Hill is staying. Since they are, maybe they can finally remove the errant bike wheel attached to their bike rack by the driveway.


Neighbor
Registered user
Shoreline West
on Dec 12, 2022 at 9:33 pm
Neighbor, Shoreline West
Registered user
on Dec 12, 2022 at 9:33 pm

Thanks for the clarification!


Johnny Yuma
Registered user
Blossom Valley
on Dec 13, 2022 at 9:02 am
Johnny Yuma, Blossom Valley
Registered user
on Dec 13, 2022 at 9:02 am

Frankly, I don't understand how these rumors start. That said, I'm incredibly pleased that those shopping centers will not be closing.


Jerry
Registered user
another community
on Dec 13, 2022 at 10:51 am
Jerry, another community
Registered user
on Dec 13, 2022 at 10:51 am

"If a property owner becomes interested in redeveloping a village center site sometime in the future, updating the zoning ordinance today actually gives the city more control over what that development can look like, Ramirez explained."

I don't understand this statement at all. I'm extremely skeptical. They are loosening the zoning rules to accommodate mixed-use housing rather than just commercial use. But somehow that gives the city MORE control. Explain it to me like I'm five.


ivg
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2022 at 9:47 pm
ivg, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Dec 13, 2022 at 9:47 pm

Thanks for putting this to rest.


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