News

City Council looks to revitalize the “other half” of downtown Mountain View, with plans to rezone Moffett Boulevard

New precise plan would bring major changes to the thoroughfare

The City Council supported a proposal to develop a Moffett Boulevard Precise Plan, rezoning a large area north of downtown Mountain View. Photo by Michelle Le.

Quite literally on the other side of the tracks, Moffett Boulevard has long been a neglected afterthought to downtown Mountain View. But a recent plan to overhaul the drive-through corridor could transform the area into a destination worthy of visiting in its own right.

“We did a major redo of our downtown approximately 30 years ago, and it's time to do that again and include the other half of our downtown,” said Mayor Alison Hicks, referring to Moffett Boulevard, at a City Council meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 14.

The area under consideration is about 20 acres in size and runs along both sides of Moffett Boulevard. Anchored by Castro Street, it starts at Central Expressway and stretches north past Cypress Point Drive to West Middlefield Road, omitting the Moffett Mobile Home Park and 555 W. Middlefield Road development.

A map of the proposed boundaries for a Moffett Boulevard Precise Plan, shown in red stripes, that was presented to the City Council on Nov. 14. Courtesy city of Mountain View.

While the council report referred to Moffett Boulevard as a “gateway to downtown,” Hicks challenged this designation, stating that the area needed to be more than a gateway. “It needs to be a place in and of itself,” she said, adding that this was a reason to develop a Moffett Boulevard Precise Plan.

The study session’s proposal for a precise plan – one that would lay out a comprehensive vision and guiding principles for future development along Moffett Boulevard – garnered unanimous support from the council, as well as from public commenters who lined up to express their enthusiasm for the idea.

Help sustain the local news you depend on.

Your contribution matters. Become a member today.

Join

“I think we should prioritize the resources and framework we need to create a thoughtful and intentional vision for our neighborhood,” said April Webster, a resident of the area.

“I think we need to think bigger, bolder and more holistically about what we want it to look like, what we want to prioritize in it and how we can create that, not only through our built environment but also through community programs,” she said, adding that this only could be achieved as a precise plan.

Speakers also pushed the council to extend the proposed boundaries of the precise plan, bringing it up to highway 85, which would link it with the Stevens Creek Trail and provide more opportunities for bicycle and pedestrian-friendly pathways.

The council largely supported lengthening and widening the precise plan boundaries, with the exception of Council member Lisa Matichak. Concerned about the implications of zoning changes and how this would affect property values, she expressed a preference for the more limited boundaries proposed in the council report.

With the discussion of the precise plan boundaries, the council honed in on the future of Shenandoah Square, a federally-owned 17-acre site, located at the north corner of Moffett Boulevard and Middlefield Road. Over the years, the city has been in varying conversations with the U.S. Army about developing the site for housing and other possible uses.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Those conversations have not gone anywhere so far, and are unlikely to anytime soon, said City Manager Kimbra McCarthy.

“The army doesn't move fast. If you think government is slow at the local level, it's even slower at the federal level. So, I think having some sort of framework now, given the state of affairs, would probably be helpful,” she said, in response to council’s deliberations about the precise plan boundaries.

Council member Margaret Abe-Koga supported this approach, stating that the Army’s previous proposal to build 1,000 luxury apartments at Shenandoah Square did not align with the city’s priorities or vision for the area.

“Let's look at all of the possibilities and figure out what we need as a community and just put it out there. So that, when the Army is ready to engage, they know what we are thinking, because it's not just going to be dependent on what they come up with,” Abe-Koga said.

The proposed expansion of the boundaries – to include Shenandoah Square and other adjacent neighborhoods, like 555 W. Middlefield Road – prompted questions about the timeline of the precise plan, which staff said would take about two years.

This would be a quicker turnaround than the Downtown Precise Plan update, which the council considered at a study session held on Nov. 7.

The council leaned towards creating a Moffett Boulevard Precise Plan that would be comprehensive and well-integrated, with substantial community engagement, rather than something expedited and more limited in scope. But city staff expressed an interest in a fairly quick turnaround, wrapping up by December 2025, in order to meet a rezoning timeline in the recently adopted 2023-2031 housing element.

Council member Emily Ramos said she felt the creation of a Moffett Boulevard Precise Plan is in the spirit of the housing element. It is identifying and responding to the needs of the community, she said.

Council member Lucas Ramirez also supported a holistic approach to the precise plan, which he said might take longer but would be worth it years down the road. A piecemeal or phased approach to the plan, which could better align with the housing element deadline, would not benefit the community, he added.

“If we just do the general plan area now, which is very small – 20 acres of small and shallow parcels – and then we come back later, I don't think we would be doing ourselves and our community a service. Because we would have denied everyone an opportunity to think more holistically about, ‘What does this corridor look like in 30 or 40 or 50 years?’” he said.

George Markle, a resident of the area, agreed, encouraging the council to recognize the full potential of Moffett Boulevard, and its surrounding neighborhoods, and to invest in them. He said he would like to see something similar to what already has happened with Castro Street on the other side of the tracks.

“I’d like you to please consider seriously the potential benefits to our city for not taking shortcuts as we’ve done in the past,” he said.

Craving a new voice in Peninsula dining?

Sign up for the Peninsula Foodist newsletter.

Sign up now

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

Get uninterrupted access to important local city government news. Become a member today.

City Council looks to revitalize the “other half” of downtown Mountain View, with plans to rezone Moffett Boulevard

New precise plan would bring major changes to the thoroughfare

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Thu, Nov 16, 2023, 12:29 pm

Quite literally on the other side of the tracks, Moffett Boulevard has long been a neglected afterthought to downtown Mountain View. But a recent plan to overhaul the drive-through corridor could transform the area into a destination worthy of visiting in its own right.

“We did a major redo of our downtown approximately 30 years ago, and it's time to do that again and include the other half of our downtown,” said Mayor Alison Hicks, referring to Moffett Boulevard, at a City Council meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 14.

The area under consideration is about 20 acres in size and runs along both sides of Moffett Boulevard. Anchored by Castro Street, it starts at Central Expressway and stretches north past Cypress Point Drive to West Middlefield Road, omitting the Moffett Mobile Home Park and 555 W. Middlefield Road development.

While the council report referred to Moffett Boulevard as a “gateway to downtown,” Hicks challenged this designation, stating that the area needed to be more than a gateway. “It needs to be a place in and of itself,” she said, adding that this was a reason to develop a Moffett Boulevard Precise Plan.

The study session’s proposal for a precise plan – one that would lay out a comprehensive vision and guiding principles for future development along Moffett Boulevard – garnered unanimous support from the council, as well as from public commenters who lined up to express their enthusiasm for the idea.

“I think we should prioritize the resources and framework we need to create a thoughtful and intentional vision for our neighborhood,” said April Webster, a resident of the area.

“I think we need to think bigger, bolder and more holistically about what we want it to look like, what we want to prioritize in it and how we can create that, not only through our built environment but also through community programs,” she said, adding that this only could be achieved as a precise plan.

Speakers also pushed the council to extend the proposed boundaries of the precise plan, bringing it up to highway 85, which would link it with the Stevens Creek Trail and provide more opportunities for bicycle and pedestrian-friendly pathways.

The council largely supported lengthening and widening the precise plan boundaries, with the exception of Council member Lisa Matichak. Concerned about the implications of zoning changes and how this would affect property values, she expressed a preference for the more limited boundaries proposed in the council report.

With the discussion of the precise plan boundaries, the council honed in on the future of Shenandoah Square, a federally-owned 17-acre site, located at the north corner of Moffett Boulevard and Middlefield Road. Over the years, the city has been in varying conversations with the U.S. Army about developing the site for housing and other possible uses.

Those conversations have not gone anywhere so far, and are unlikely to anytime soon, said City Manager Kimbra McCarthy.

“The army doesn't move fast. If you think government is slow at the local level, it's even slower at the federal level. So, I think having some sort of framework now, given the state of affairs, would probably be helpful,” she said, in response to council’s deliberations about the precise plan boundaries.

Council member Margaret Abe-Koga supported this approach, stating that the Army’s previous proposal to build 1,000 luxury apartments at Shenandoah Square did not align with the city’s priorities or vision for the area.

“Let's look at all of the possibilities and figure out what we need as a community and just put it out there. So that, when the Army is ready to engage, they know what we are thinking, because it's not just going to be dependent on what they come up with,” Abe-Koga said.

The proposed expansion of the boundaries – to include Shenandoah Square and other adjacent neighborhoods, like 555 W. Middlefield Road – prompted questions about the timeline of the precise plan, which staff said would take about two years.

This would be a quicker turnaround than the Downtown Precise Plan update, which the council considered at a study session held on Nov. 7.

The council leaned towards creating a Moffett Boulevard Precise Plan that would be comprehensive and well-integrated, with substantial community engagement, rather than something expedited and more limited in scope. But city staff expressed an interest in a fairly quick turnaround, wrapping up by December 2025, in order to meet a rezoning timeline in the recently adopted 2023-2031 housing element.

Council member Emily Ramos said she felt the creation of a Moffett Boulevard Precise Plan is in the spirit of the housing element. It is identifying and responding to the needs of the community, she said.

Council member Lucas Ramirez also supported a holistic approach to the precise plan, which he said might take longer but would be worth it years down the road. A piecemeal or phased approach to the plan, which could better align with the housing element deadline, would not benefit the community, he added.

“If we just do the general plan area now, which is very small – 20 acres of small and shallow parcels – and then we come back later, I don't think we would be doing ourselves and our community a service. Because we would have denied everyone an opportunity to think more holistically about, ‘What does this corridor look like in 30 or 40 or 50 years?’” he said.

George Markle, a resident of the area, agreed, encouraging the council to recognize the full potential of Moffett Boulevard, and its surrounding neighborhoods, and to invest in them. He said he would like to see something similar to what already has happened with Castro Street on the other side of the tracks.

“I’d like you to please consider seriously the potential benefits to our city for not taking shortcuts as we’ve done in the past,” he said.

Comments

ivg
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2023 at 1:24 pm
ivg, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Nov 16, 2023 at 1:24 pm

Looking forward to seeing this come to fruition. More downtown for everyone!


George Markle
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2023 at 3:21 pm
George Markle, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Nov 16, 2023 at 3:21 pm

We were all pleased with the unanimity of the council for proceeding with a Precise Plan. That last sentence in the article may have slightly abbreviated my intended message, which was that today's appearance of Moffett Boulevard reflects a less-than-thorough planning approach in the past, and that a Precise Plan is what we need now. I certainly didn't mean to suggest our city is in the habit of taking shortcuts. It is not. Listening to each council member's reasoning Tuesday evening reaffirms my admiration — IMHO, we really do have a great council!


ivg
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2023 at 4:57 pm
ivg, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Nov 16, 2023 at 4:57 pm

The quote is a little odd, but I think I understood the gist correctly.


CA Native
Registered user
Sylvan Park
on Nov 16, 2023 at 5:11 pm
CA Native, Sylvan Park
Registered user
on Nov 16, 2023 at 5:11 pm

'Moffett Boulevard as a “gateway to downtown,”'. Yep, travel down Moffett Boulevard and when you get to Central Ave, you will see downtown, just across the tracks; but you can't get there from here, so.... turn right on Central, turn right at Shoreline, then turn left at California. That will eventually get you to downtown.


ivg
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2023 at 6:19 pm
ivg, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Nov 16, 2023 at 6:19 pm

That's if you're traveling by car. If you're traveling on foot or by bike, you have to cross Central Expressway at grade -- one of only a handful of such crossings anywhere along that road. Fortunately, this is planned to be fixed with a new undercrossing, but it'll take years to finish.


Jay
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Nov 16, 2023 at 6:46 pm
Jay, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Nov 16, 2023 at 6:46 pm

Happy to see this area in focus for development as it's neglected. How does this work with private property owners in this area? Until an underpass or some way to allow foot traffic with Central ave in the way is ready, it cannot reach its full potential.


Steven Nelson
Registered user
Cuesta Park
on Nov 20, 2023 at 10:11 am
Steven Nelson, Cuesta Park
Registered user
on Nov 20, 2023 at 10:11 am

Long out plan - will that meet the Very Urgent deadline to actually get rezoned - Housing Element suggested areas for new residential development? I think that is what the staff was taking about, and what all local cities are 'rushing to get finished'. (even Los Altos!)

Small Alpha stage Precise Plan / followed by Beta? (bigger). It might be better to 'have a good, timely small Plan, and then have The Best BIG Plan' ?? :)


John J
Registered user
Willowgate
on Nov 20, 2023 at 10:31 am
John J, Willowgate
Registered user
on Nov 20, 2023 at 10:31 am

I am pleased to hear that the area is considered for development. However, I am concerned about gentrification. I would hate to see the small market on the corner of Central Avenue and Moffett be replaced. How can we retain a diversity of community offerings and have the area be developed?


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.