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Protest of Castro Street development

Original post made on Jul 13, 2013

On Monday at 6:30 p.m. a group of residents is set to assemble to speak their minds about a redevelopment proposed for Castro Street and El Camino Real that will displace a slew of local businesses.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, July 12, 2013, 12:00 AM

Comments (58)

Posted by resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 13, 2013 at 10:07 pm

How much traffic would be added if 200 apartments with 1-2 cars each going and coming to work is added to the morning commute there? Isn't El Camino Real from Castro St. to 237 one of the busiest streets in town at those hours (and very slow now going east)? And, I just remember reading a while back that kids going to Graham Middle School where often involved in accidents as they walk/bike to school. Would this not make things more difficult for them as more people are in a rush in the same streets?

Posted by MVResident67
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 14, 2013 at 10:26 am

There is so much WRONG with this development proposal as it stands currently that it's hard to list everything.

1) The developers propose to replace nearly 26,000SF of retail space with just 6,000SF or retail space...bad for the merchants, bad for the residents of Mountain View. Rose Market alone is 4,000 SF, not including the outdoor seating space.

2) THREE middle school children were stuck by cars this past school year in close proximity to Graham Middle School, the increased traffic and congestion that would be present with the addition of 200 apartments will only make it more dangerous for all pedestrians in the area.

3) The traffic congestion at the corner of Castro Street and El Camino Real is already BAD. It routinely takes me 2-3 light cycles to make the left turn from Northbound El Camino on to Castro Street, heading towards Graham middle School -- between say the hours of 7AM and 8PM.

4) This is a FOUR story PLUS rooftop deck development proposal that will back up (within 20 yards) of single family homes and small two story apartment units. It will TOWER over the small quiet neighborhood streets of Park, Sonia and Harpster, resulting in a loss of privacy, increased noise, congested streets and a generally diminished quality of life in the neighborhood compared to what it is presently.

I am not opposed to re-development per se, but it needs to be SMART re-development that should enhance the neighborhood, not destroy it. And, as this development proposal currently stands, it will destroy this's merchants, it's residents and pedestrians alike.

City Council needs to take a breath here and LISTEN to the residents...the same people who elect them to serve.

Please, if you can, come to the community meeting @6:30 Monday evening in front of Rose Market to learn more and voice your opinion on this matter!

Posted by Alan R.
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 14, 2013 at 10:43 am

This development does not benefit the residents or businesses of Mountain View. It destroys a neighborhood ... noise, traffic, loss of privacy and congestion ... and for what? Who benefits? The developer of course.

The City Council need to pay attention to the people who elected them and can just as easily remove them from office at the next election.

Posted by MVResident67
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 14, 2013 at 11:23 am

FYI, I have been doing some research on what needs to happen in order to hold a recall election of any Mountain View city council members, including the mayor.

If the Mayor and the rest of city council refuses to act according to the wishes of the RESIDENTS who elected them to serve us, then they SHOULD be removed from office.

We do NOT have to sit and wait until their current terms are up - and they have succeeded in causing irreparable harm to the city and it's residents - in order to vote them out of office.

This link has pertinent details found in section ll. RECALL OF LOCAL OFFICERS.

Web Link

Would need to have legal representation, but it is certainly not out of the realm of possibility to hold a recall election of those city council members who seem to have forgotten who they were elected to represent here in Mountain View.

Posted by incognito
a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2013 at 9:00 am

I too am opposed to a 4-story building on that corner, that will impact traffic and neighbors' privacy.

I hope that the gathering tonight will be peaceful, in which MV residents can calmly and quietly share their views, WITHOUT arguing, name-calling, put-downs, dismissing other points of view, "us vs. them" thinking, and WITH the sincere goal of finding areas of agreement and compromise.

Posted by MVResident67
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 15, 2013 at 9:55 am

It is disheartening to think that there may be an "us vs them" mentality, but if there is, it is certainly one that our city leaders have created - and to a large extent fostered - with their apparent indifference to the very legitimate concerns of numerous residents of Mountain View.

I am not opposed to re-development in general, but I am opposed to a city government that callously, and to some extent recklessly, imposes it's will on the residents who elected them. Rule by fiat? Not for long.

Posted by Greed Driven
a resident of Castro City
on Jul 15, 2013 at 11:55 am

This development KILLS a wonderful neighborhood and its gathering places. Are the council members planning on running again?

Posted by Concerned MV voter
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jul 15, 2013 at 1:04 pm

I too am not against development - who could argue with rebuilding some of the run down buildings with more modern facilities? However, I am opposed to over-building. And four story apartments over such a a large part of the block is definitely overbuilding. Oh and then don't forget that they will be given parking variances.

THe kinds of apartments being proposed throughout MV tend to be luxury apartments with studios, one and max 2 bedrooms. This tends to build a transient community of younger people who will share apartments and then leave --- what of building a community? What about families? Families and longer term residents are a key part of what makes this a community.

THe City Council should be paring back some of this development, asking intelligent questions and putting in some limits. They also seem to be extremely hostile to local businesses that give the city its character.

The current City Council has turned into a rubber stamp for developers. TO the person in Cuesta Park who talked about a recall, there are several MV residents who are looking at this. I would not be surprised to see a recall effort mounted against the entire city council. I know that I for one would probably vote for a recall -- if for no other reason than to have the whole city vote on these development related issues in a free and democratic way and to put an end to the constant squabbling. The current spate of proposed development is so large that if the Council keeps at their current pace of approving everything in sight, we will have binged on development, be setting up another bust and irrevocably altering the character of the city.

Posted by All
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 15, 2013 at 2:39 pm

For a recall! Not the Mountain View I paid big bucks to live in.

Posted by ELF
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 15, 2013 at 3:25 pm

2 stories should be max height at that location. Enough with the damn over build-up!

Posted by Looking under the wrong Rock
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 15, 2013 at 3:26 pm

People, you are missing the forest through the trees! Don't blame the developers. This project is 100% motivated by city staff. You see, city staff wants to collect money from developers who build big projects. So the city staff initiated this project to try to drum up more money so that they could have more money to spend on their pet projects.

The city staff identified the area where they thought a developer could build a project. Then city staff found a developer who wanted to pursue it. The developer thinks it's a slam dunk because after all city staff proposed it. And the developer knows that the city staff will support this project 100% to the city council. Finally, city staff pretend like they have nothing to do with it.

Posted by resident
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 15, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Which officials will be present to listen to the protest? When are these development plans to be discussed at a city council meeting?

I'd like to come show support for local businesses and find out more information on development plans. I know emotions run high on the subject, but it'd be great if the meeting is constructive, informative, and thoughtful while voicing opinions. Hopefully that would make it easier to have a constructive dialogue by whoever is attending no matter their stance.

Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Just because someone comes along and plans to build 200 units. Doesn't mean they are going to get it approved, not a done deal.

200 units are far to much, to massive and will be mostly like a big ugly block. 4 story is fine in a small building that gets reduced towards the 2 story homes. 6,000 square feet of retail, that is small. You got restaurants that are closing, you could always need more retail or non tech related businesses.

How about lofts or some kind of work/small business space.

Posted by MVResident67
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 15, 2013 at 3:37 pm

@ Looking under the wrong rock:

If what you say is true, then it's all the more reason to seriously consider getting the ball rolling with the recall process. There is no reason the residents of Mountain View have to sit back and watch as the City Council irreparably destroys the fabric of this wonderful city.

Please, if you can make it, attend the protest meeting this evening @6:30 in front of Rose Market.

Posted by MVResident67
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 15, 2013 at 3:44 pm

@ Garrett:

The homes this project would butt up against along Sonia are ONE story single family homes. Also the homes on the opposite side of Castro Street are also ONE story single family homes. As a matter of fact, one of those homes was was built less than a year ago, and the developer (yes, it was a spec home) wanted to make it a two story home and asked for several variances. After quite a bit of input from the neighbors, the city had the developer come back with ONE story plans and was granted just one variance, having to do with the proximity of the driveway to the corner of the street.

There are small two story apartment units along Park that will exist in the shadow of the FOUR story PLUS rooftop deck (Don't forget about the problems that a rooftop deck will mean to the noise, lights, complete invasion of privacy.)

Posted by MVResident67
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 15, 2013 at 4:18 pm

P.S. Don't forget that the city is actively working working on "re-developing" the corner of El Camino and Miramonte/Shoreline...bulldozing over the Jiffy Lube and Harv's Car Wash, and "redeveloping" with another high rise apartment block, which would back up to the remaining small one and two story homes on Park. Oh, and when they are done with that, evidently there are plans in the hopper to "redevelop" the opposite corner of Castro Street and El Camino Real - across from where Rose Market and Peets currently sit - the Chase Manhattan property, and put in yet another high-density apartment building...which will back up to the single family, mostly one story homes on Sonia. Yup, it's the master plan(scheme?) for the "Grand Boulevard" and if this comes to pass, it will absolutely destroy not only numerous businesses but also the small quiet neighborhoods that sit directly behind these proposed "redevelopment" sites. Just wait 'til the city allows the narrowing of El Camino Real to TWO lanes in each direction. It will be fabulous!

In the meantime, I need to go run some errands, pick up some groceries at Roses, stop in and get my afternoon coffee at Peets...while i am still able.

Posted by MVResident67
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 15, 2013 at 4:21 pm

I wonder when the city will decide it's time to "redevelop" John McAlister's Baskin &'s just across the street from the Jiffy Lube on the corner of El Camino and Miramonte/Shoreline?

Posted by Concerned Mtn view resident
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 15, 2013 at 5:06 pm

I wish I could be at the meeting tonight. As it is, I am flying back to the Bay Area from a business trip and deeply disturbed but all I have been reading as of late about the city's development plans. I am not against development but I concur with some of the other comments around smarter development. It seems every week in our local paper all I read about is more buildings being torn down to make room for more high density housing. I am still bitterly disappointed with the San Antonio shopping center. It was initially pitched as a gateway project to be like a Santana Row of sorts. All I see is ugly apartments and a Safeway. Really? And what happened to our beautiful " Mountain View" as you travel down the overpass....gone. Let's not talk about the traffic disaster created on Shoreline Boulevard. How will our roads continue to support all of this extra development while also closing on ramps and narrowing roads for bicycles? I know I am confused and concerned. Sorry for the long missive but something has got to give and soon. I agree that is it time to take a hard look at our leaders and ask the difficult questions. I am against the 4 story proposal as mentioned here. Yet another travesty.

Posted by Rita Boland
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 15, 2013 at 5:09 pm

I wonder if anyone on the city council has used servuce provided in these buildings. I am a regular at the small and very reasonably price tailor shop. I love the food Rose Market has and cooks. My family go to Peet's Coffee daily. I suggest they tear down the Baskin Robbins and small stores there facing El Camino. Oh...can't do. Perhaps someone on City Concil might own Baskins. Rita Boland

Posted by Scott Lamb
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 15, 2013 at 5:19 pm

MVResident67: you make some good points that suggest this is a bad decision. But a recall is an extraordinary measure. Is this one decision so bad as to justify it? Is it completely at odds with the platforms that got the current council members elected? Does it really "irreparably destroy the fabric of this wonderful city"? Have you first tried to convince council members to change it? And if you are planning on voting them out en masse, who are you planning to vote in? Do you have candidates lined up?

I'm tired of the constant allegations in Voice comments that the City Council is not trying to act in the best interests of Mountain View residents. I don't think they're helpful.

At election time, by and large I vote *for* candidates who I believe will make good decisions, not *against* candidates with allegedly poor morals. Don't tell me these candidates are evil. Don't state without proof that they're doing something for money. Tell me why what they are doing is wrong for the city, and more importantly, why you think these other candidates would do better. And keep in mind we each get several votes for city council each election; hopefully there are at least that many candidates you actually like. If you care that much and can't find enough candidates you like, maybe you should run yourself. But I bet if elected you won't have too much fun; everyone will instantly assume you've sold out.

Between elections, I'd rather you first try to convince the city council themselves. The cat licensing thing showed they can be swayed by public opinion. Sure, organize a protest, but please use it to talk to the city council. I bet they'll be more inclined to listen to you if you stop insulting them for a minute and state your case. Don't tell them they're not listening. Stay away from hyperbole. Just take a deep breath, imagine they're reasonable people, and try to convince them.

Posted by OMV Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 15, 2013 at 5:54 pm

@Scott Lamb - Thank you for your well-written, reasoned post above. It was a breath of fresh air after all the hyperbole and 'the sky is falling' posts preceding it.

I would like to point out that development of this type - mixed-use, higher-intensity, focused around a key intersection - is exactly the kind of development that was envisioned for key spots along El Camino in the General Plan that we just adopted last year. In fact, the General Plan's designation for this area (Mixed Use Corridor) allows up to 4 stories in general, and up to 6 stories for projects "at key locations with significant public benefits and amenities specified within zoning or precise plan standards." So not only is this project consistent with the height guideline in our General Plan, it may actually under-shoot it, considering that this is certainly a key location along El Camino.

I think a more productive discussion (rather than bad-mouthing Council members or engaging in hyperbole about 4-story buildings 'towering' over the neighborhood) would be to push for a bigger amount of retail in the development, or for more public benefits with the project, such as improved sidewalks and crossings of El Camino Real.

Here's a link to the section of the General Plan (see p. 84): Web Link

Posted by OMV Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 15, 2013 at 6:01 pm

And MVResident67 -
You certainly have loud mouth on this message board. Interestingly, I don't see any posts by a MVResident67 on the article about the meeting where the building heights along El Camino Real were being debated. (See Web Link

The General Plan we just adopted involved something like 50 or 75 meetings where the public could voice their concerns, including Council EPC study sessions and hearings, several city-wide meetings on weekends, meetings held in individual neighborhoods, etc etc. There was more than ample opportunity to weigh in when things like heights were being discussed.

Could it be that you tuned out during that 3+ year process, but now are polishing up your pitchfork for a recall election when a specific development comes along that carries out the General Plan vision?

Posted by MVResident67
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 15, 2013 at 6:11 pm

@Scott Lamb:

First, I don't believe City Council is "evil" but I do question whether some of them have lost their way, so to speak. And, I have written letters to city council and offered my opinion.

I wouldn't be considering a recall election based solely on this ONE project proposal, but instead looking back at numerous projects that have recently been approved and looking forward towards the numerous projects that are on the docket for approval, that seem to have been ill-advised and/or ill-conceived. Not enough positive about the projects to offset the negative.

I wouldn't necessarily want to vote the entire city council out "en masse" and certainly if a recall election were to be considered there would need to be capable candidates willing and able to serve...that stepping stone is not lost on me.

For the record, I don't believe I have ever suggested that our current city council members are "evil" or "doing something for money". Suggesting that they are not acting in the best interest of the current residents of the city does NOT equate to suggesting that they are "evil" or "doing something for money".

I am aware of a recent conversation between a resident of the nearby neighborhood and a city council member where this 200 unit project was being discussed, and as it was related to me, the tone of the city council member was dismissive, at best...even suggesting that the resident "get used to it" and that "the homes in the neighborhood are old and they will be gone in 20 years". (I was not present for this conversation, so take the quotes as you will.) If true, it's pretty telling about how this city council person views the neighborhood and it's residents.

See you at 6.30.

Posted by David
a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Recalling the city council because of one single project might be jumping the gun a bit. But what is happening is so many projects bunched so close together that there is not time for a proper review. Someone talked about redeveloping the Baskin Robbins shopping center instead, but that's probably in the works too. Another place there will likely be development is the Chase Bank building and huge parking lot across Castro from this proposed project. Look for those to come along soon. There's no system of coordinated development plans and anything is possible.

One thing that is DEFINITELY in the works is a proposal to replace the Jiffy Lube and Harv's Car Wash at the other end of the Alley from tihs project, corner of Miramonte. At that location another similar large number of apartments is projected to be built. More traffic. More bad planning. Already also in the works. Look up and down El Camino. Lots of shuttered fenced off buildings. Lots of construction already underway. Too much too fast. Thst is a reason to recall city council members. These things should be considered more carefully.

Posted by Against Over Development
a resident of another community
on Jul 16, 2013 at 12:09 am

A recall is one way to go, but there might be another. In Palo Alto at least, the citizens can force a referendum on such issues by getting 1000 signatures on a petition. Such a drive is underway there right now. It has to be within 30 days of approval. They were tricked there because there was a 2 part approval and they were spaced by 2 weeks.

In this case, it seems to me that the approvals to date are not binding, so there could be 3 issues put to the voters:

(1) To Sell or Not to Sell the city owned parking lot which the developer says is crucial to his plan. This parking lot service primarily businesses that are left intact by the development, so I am sure for example that Frankie Johnny and Luigi's would support voting down this sale.

(2) To rezone and/or modify the general plan to include the Rose Market Castro Street Properties in with the El Camino high density area. This also seems to address the biggest concern of the neighbors, i.e. the elimination of the transitional commercial area adjacent to the high density El Camino zoned property.

(3) Overall approval of the project, although the project going forward depends on both (1) and (2) already, but anyway that could be put to a vote as well. It could be a 3-part petition with all 3 votes required.

Posted by Against Over Development
a resident of another community
on Jul 16, 2013 at 12:11 am

We did have such a referendum on the proposal in Mountain View to build a Home Depot on the Sunnyvale border, and the citizens won. So there is a precedent. They ran quite a campaign and their symbol was a gorilla representing the developer.

Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jul 16, 2013 at 1:57 am

Don't want to see the this corner filled in by a massive 4 story building, maybe a smaller 4 story building with a reduction as it gets closer to the single family homes. El Camino and Castro should have better retail/small office space with some green space.

Lets face we do need the housing, we need housing for people who aren't yet married or wanting to downsize or just want to live near downtown. As I read in the newspapers about office building breaking ground and getting ready to be built. We need to get ready for the thousands and thousands of jobs that are going to be added.

We are going to need housing for all the non tech support workers, people who are going to retire soon or all these kids who attended Mountain View, Los Altos, St Francis, Homestead, Palo Alto and Gunn High Schools. Just to new a few

Posted by MVResident67
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 16, 2013 at 9:07 am

@Against Over Development:

The city already sold the public parking lot next to Frankie, Johnny & Luigi's to the developer, saying there was no city mandate that FJ&L have off street parking for the, the deal was done.

The re-zoning of the entire proposed development area has already been done.

The city has been moving quickly and relatively quietly (until very recently) with regard to any/everything to do with this development proposal. as far as I know, no residents in the neighborhood directly behind where this development is proposed, were never notified about anything having to do with this development proposal. Until little blurbs about this development proposal began showing up in the Voice, the only way one would have known anything was afoot, would have been if they had attended/watched city council meeting or read the agenda and/or minutes of the meetings.

The machinations were VERY low profile.

Posted by Sadness
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 16, 2013 at 11:40 am

It is too bad that we have to overbuild in our great community. Our community is going down hill and is being overcrowded. My daughter says this town is getting boring. Why not put something for teens to do instead? If you have to do something.
Traffic in that area is already very congested and it is very concerning as a driver going by Graham and the El Camino intersection in the morning and afternoon when school is out. It is a dangerous area as it stands.
Not to mention you are putting small business owners out of business.
What about their income, families, etc.. That is the worst!!!!!

Posted by Against Over Development
a resident of another community
on Jul 16, 2013 at 12:50 pm

The zoning changes are under study. The parking lot has NOT been sold yet. What the city council did was vote to sell it if/when they approve the project. This kind of conditional approval is confusing, but the parking lot has NOT been sold.

From the July planning report:

"13. Greystar (801 El Camino Real West)
In April 2013, Council authorized a Gatekeeper request for a mixed use, highdensity apartment proposal. The project includes a request to sell the adjacent City
parking lot to the developer. EPC and Council study sessions are scheduled for fall
2013. A final Council hearing is anticipated by the end of 2014. (Central Neighborhoods
Planning Area) (Stephanie Williams)"

Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jul 16, 2013 at 1:38 pm

I agree with need more stuff for kids and teenagers, we also need stuff for all adults from young to old. El Camino Real which has been a retail/small office and service based area. We could still maintain this but with better building design.

I agree El Camino Real must keeps it retail/small office and service based businesses which it has been for years. Yes we are adding apartments, housing units but we are going to need retail space for all these new residents to buy good and services.

Rose Market, and all those little businesses need customers, new and old customers to support and also support new business. Most people still like to get out of their homes, walk around and shop.

Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 16, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

I agree with those that have said that trying to do a recall is a bad idea. It takes a ton of signatures and by the time it would get on the ballot, ti would be time for a new election anyway. Even if that were not the case, a recall should only be used in the most extreme cases of malfeasance and I have not seen any to date.

However, with that said, the most effective way to bring about change is to write letters and to start attending the City Council meetings. The more you get involved, the more weight your voice will have in the community. It is for this reason that I ran for City Council last year and why I intend to run again.

With regard to Scott Lamb's comments, it is my hope that most people will not assume that anyone who gets elected to City Council has sold out. When I ran last year, I refused to accept any endorsements or money from any special interest group and my campaign was 80% self financed. When I run next year, it will be the same.

Posted by lcurtis3333
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 16, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Excellent observations re: low quality of developments, ruination of neighborhoods, etc. Read up on the demands of ABAG for Plan Bay Area & turn out en masse on Thur. 7-18-13 at 6:30PM at the Marriott at 1001 Broadway, Oakland. Also see article in today's Daily Post of today "Clock's ticking for project opponents." If we can help Palo Alto get their urgent signatures within the next day and a half dealine for them, they might help us do the same when we possibly end up in such a peredicament here in MV. At the same time we canvass for signatures, we could explain ABAG as we go, & reveal that the "Plan Bay Area" is up for it's final vote of approval on Thurs night. It is a dictatorship over us with no vote up or down and comprised of appointed officials only, and if not complied with in the speed of zoning changes & the speed of thousands of units built in each city, heavy fines are imposed on the cities!!! The Oakland show of numbers on Thursday is non-partisian & hugely important to allow us to grow wisely, with the consideration that takes time, thought, and input that will actually be considered from the citizens. We must also address the next Mtn. View City Council meeting on Sept. 3, 2013, second floor of MV City Hall and express what I read above that you all wrote so well. Tremendously important! Mark your calendars & be there for all our sakes and that of our beautiful Mountain View. All three suggestions of what to act on can really make the difference if we act on them with sufficient headcount, so please do your best to move forward with your efforts or nothing will change. The City Council has told me exactly that. This is serious and important. We can do it if we all help and if we also recruit additional helpers. Ready, set, go!

Posted by MVResident67
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 16, 2013 at 7:04 pm

@ Jim Neal:

I am glad to hear you will be running for city council again. I wish you much success!

Posted by Concerned
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 18, 2013 at 10:53 am

Not all of the city council is for development. People should be paying attention to who is voting for this development.

Posted by Not head
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 18, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Here is the solution, We file a petition on an emergency ballot that puts a two year moratorium on any further commercial construction. We do it based on insufficient water capacity and sewer, which is a truth. MT View is bloating at the seems and we need to screech the brakes on.

Half Moon Bay very successfully stopped development with a moratorium, Mt View can to. I think its high time this council start to address other pressing issues like more manufacturing in the city limits leading to more jobs. I see too many areas being shut down and workers lining Castor asking for handouts. All because this council is in bed with development that is out of control spiraling us into a collapse one day.

Lets put a commercial building moratorium on the ballot before its too late and we have to go to a museum to wonder why our fine city was ever called Mountain View! Lets take all this energy of signatures and put it to good use.

Jim you spear head this I guarantee you its a feather in your cap to running in the next election.

Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 18, 2013 at 10:18 pm

Amazing how a few uninformed residents are already against this project and know how a land owner should use their property. For those that say the project is too high or doesn't fit, how do you know this. Staff will perform a traffic and parking study before recommending the project to council. The landowner and developer will be spending millions of dollars to build a successful housing/retail project. If it doesnt work they stand to lose millions of dollars. How much are the NIMBY types risking?

With regard to a recall, I say go ahead and waste the effort. These current council member were elected by a majority of residents. To say they are not listening is nonsense. They listen to all residents, including the NIMBY types before they make a decision that is in the interests of all residents, not just the ones with low time values that can waste an evening attending boring council meetings.

Posted by ViewFromAfar
a resident of another community
on Jul 19, 2013 at 3:58 am

How about a land owner use his/her property in a manner befitting the surrounding residential neighborhood, a manner which does not require re-zoning and additional variances from the city? Oh, and how about not killing multiple independently owned businesses by replacing 26,000SF of business space with only 6,000SF of business space while "redeveloping" the area?

As for the project being too high; uh, have you taken a look at the surrounding residential neighborhood recently? Not sure how one could possibly believe that a 200 unit FOUR story PLUS rooftop deck PLUS 1/2 story partial unground parking structure - parked on top of a quiet residential neighborhood that is comprised almost entirely of one story single family homes (Sonia and Harpster) along with some duplex homes and small two story apartment units on Park - could be anything other than destructive to said neighborhood.

As for the residents, whom you so fondly call "NIMBY"s, I would be willing to speculate that many of those folks have a large portion of their life savings invested in their homes - which seem to be worth about approx. 1 million per residence (looking at zillow) - so yeah, I'd say the residents are heavily invested in their homes.

Glad to know you empathize with the residents who have invested so much of their lives in their home, their neighborhood and their city.

Carry on.

Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jul 19, 2013 at 7:25 am

200 units is too much for this corner which a small 4 story building is OK, but not the whole site. More retail for this corner is needed, maybe some office space.

Don't really think Mountain View is HMB, which is fought to build anything that has to do with growth. Reasonable growth, well planned growth and well designed growth are good.

As for factories, and those kind of jobs. Land, fuel and employee wages will just be too high. Housing alone will scare of any business person.

Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 19, 2013 at 7:30 am

"How about a land owner use his/her property in a manner befitting the surrounding residential neighborhood"

This goes both ways. The landowners want to change the use of their land because current residents dont support the current uses enough. In any case this was all settled in the general plan. This is not a residential area. It is near a residential area and the streets you mention are only nearby.

Homeowners are not investing in this project and bear no financial risk to objecting to this project and seeing it fail.

Asserting the project is too tall, doesnt make it so just because you say so. I emphasize with the residents that have do deal with NIMBY's who lack the tolerance to accept new people in the area. Are you worried they will be different than you?

Posted by ViewFromAfar
a resident of another community
on Jul 19, 2013 at 8:57 am

Well alright then, I hope the city will approve my plans should I decide to add an additional two/three stories to my residence and also change the zoning to high density/multi-family, and if the residents of the neighborhood that will be directly impacted by my decision to better utilize my land don't like my doesn't really matter, right?

How can you possibly believe that placing a driveway/egress point to this development on Castro Street approx. 15 yards from Sonia will not have serious negative impact on the residents of that street and the immediate neighborhood?

The streets I mentioned are either directly behind the proposed development and will be directly and negatively impacted by having a 4 story plus rooftop deck towering over their small single family homes. In addition to the loss of privacy these residents will be forced to live with - no longer able to look out at the blue sky from their homes, but instead looking out at a four story apartment block - there will also be increased traffic and certainly pedestrian safety issues, parking problems as well as increased noise. There exists great potential for the small quiet residential streets directly behind this proposed development to become nothing more than cut thru streets and overflow parking for this development.

And, are you okay with replacing 26,000SF of retail with only 6,000SF of retail? How does taking away retail and replacing it with rental apartments foster any sort of sense of community? Let me help you out with the answer; this development as it has been proposed, does nothing to foster a sense of community. It's not about community building or trying to create something that will be good for the neighborhood that will be the most negatively impacted by this development as currently's about how many how much money those who stand to benefit from such a project are able to make off the development. And from what I understand, it's not retail space that is going to reap the maximum financial rewards for those financially interested parties.

Posted by ViewFromAfar
a resident of another community
on Jul 19, 2013 at 9:09 am

@Political Insider:"Homeowners are not investing in this project and bear no financial risk to objecting to this project and seeing it fail."

The developer is seeking variances and zoning changes in order to maximize his/her/their financial reward. Again, I'm sure I could earn a lot of extra income if I were allowed to re-zone my residence and be allowed variances, so I could add a couple/few stories on to my residence. I mean the land is not being used to it's fullest potential, so...

..."In any case this was all settled in the general plan. This is not a residential area. It is near a residential area and the streets you mention are only nearby."

Oh, it's far from settled. Good luck with that.

Posted by David Speakman
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 19, 2013 at 12:53 pm

People need to start thinking about life beyond cars. I support the redevelopment. It is the perfect use for that space going forward. It provides much-needed housing in our city and meets a demand of a bike-friendly and walk-able city with a more dense development that is already on a main thoroughfare - and on a corner that is a blighted eyesore now.

Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 19, 2013 at 12:56 pm

@ ViewFromAfar - A lot of emotional rhetoric for a project where nothing specific has been presented. The alleged impacts are just that. I don't know the best use of the land but I do respect the landowner willing to invest millions to try and figure it out. Why would you trust an uniformed and nothing to lose resident to offer any useful advice. He/She has nothing financially to risk in being wrong or right. As to traffic, most roads are under-utilized 95% of the time, which is why the traffic impacts will be minimal at best. As to Graham safety, my recollection is that most of the accidents were caused by parents on school property. As to zoning changes, residential zoning is different from non-residential zoning. You would be allowed to add a story and make it look as high as three stories.

The developer will seek pubic input, but the final project will be his decision based on the best use of the land.

Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 19, 2013 at 12:57 pm

@ David Speakman

I agree

Posted by ViewFromAfar
a resident of another community
on Jul 19, 2013 at 1:10 pm

As far as I know the zoning had not been changed, yet. so unless/until the city approves the re-zoning, then the developer cannot be solely his decision. As a matter of fact, isn't the sale of the city owned/public parking lot next to Frankie, Johnnie & Luigi's contingent/conditional on the city of Mountain View's approval of the redevelopment project, which would have to include re-zoning as per the developer's request?

I'm not talking about adding a single story to my home and my home and simply to it look 3 stories tall, I am talking about re-zoning so I can add 3 stories to my home in order to maximize the potential of my property...nothing different than what Greystar is proposing.


Posted by ViewFromAfar
a resident of another community
on Jul 19, 2013 at 1:20 pm

David Speakman,

I don't take issue with re-development of a portion of the proposed redevelopment area, in general. I do take issue with the size and scope of this particular proposal. And I take great exception to the fact that if this development is approved as proposed then the city will lose even more thriving small local businesses which are part of the fabric of Mountain View, and certainly important to owners of these businesses. Replacing 26,000 SF of retail space with merely 4,000SF of retail space is insulting, truly. And demanding the area be re-zoned and additional variances be given by the city in order to try and shoehorn a 4 story/200 unit (plus rooftop deck!) apartment building into a space that is literally on top of a small quiet residential neighborhood, is clearly bad planning for the reasons I have enumerated above.

Smart development = All for it. Greystar's proposed development as it currently stands = Bad for the residents of Mountain View.

Posted by ViewFromAfar
a resident of another community
on Jul 19, 2013 at 1:25 pm

"I'm not talking about adding a single story to my home and my home and simply to it look 3 stories tall, I am talking about re-zoning so I can add 3 stories to my home in order to maximize the potential of my property...nothing different than what Greystar is proposing."

Wow, the above a bit incoherent. What I was trying to say is:

I'm not talking about adding a single story to my home simply to make it look 3 stories tall, I am talking about having my property re-zoned so I can add 3 stories to my home and rent out the additional units to tenants in order to maximize the potential of my property...nothing different than what Greystar is proposing.


Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 19, 2013 at 1:43 pm

"Smart development = All for it."


Greystar's proposed development as it currently stands = Bad for the residents of Mountain View.

You really mean bad for you. You dont speak for the community.

Posted by ViewFromAfar
a resident of another community
on Jul 19, 2013 at 1:48 pm

No, I mean bad for the residents of Mountain View. Period.

You can put as much lipstick on a pig as you want, but everyone still knows it's a pig.

Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 19, 2013 at 11:07 pm

@ ViewFromAfar

"No, I mean bad for the residents of Mountain View. Period. "

Sorry to say no one has appointed you to speak for all residents. The residents that want to live in these apartments would disagree with you.

Posted by Against Over Development
a resident of another community
on Jul 20, 2013 at 3:50 am

If we don't let this monstrosity be built, the future residents who don't even live in the city yet will find a better place to live in one of the many many other buildings being contemplated. Or, they could take one of the vacancies over in the Carmel Delusion complex on San Antonio.... It's not like the only way to add 200 studio and 1 bedroom apartments to Mountain View involves roof top terraces looking down on adjacent single family housing, violating their privacy and polluting their environment with outdoor noise from an indoor living space on the roof.

Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 20, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Over 60% of Mtn View residents are renters. Most live in high density housing near single family housing. Most rental units are near the end of their useful life and need replacing. Whats wrong with providing renters more opportunities to choose from? Single family housing is too expensive for most of the residents that live her or who want to come her to work and live.

Posted by let's try to be real
a resident of another community
on Jul 21, 2013 at 9:45 am

This argument does not wash. The older apartments are some of the last relatively affordable places to live. New construction is aimed at a very different demographic: Google (etc.) employees who can afford 3500-4000/month for a 1-BR "luxury" apartment. For example, see this link for current prices at the Madera (Minton's) apartments: Web Link

Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jul 21, 2013 at 12:33 pm

In time these older 2 story box apartment building which some are now over 50 years old will be torn down. Not all of them.

Posted by Against Over Development
a resident of another community
on Jul 22, 2013 at 1:25 pm

It's totally arbitrary to classify older apartment buildings as being at the end of their useful life. It depends on the quality of construction and the maintenance care that they have received.

For example, not the oldest, but a fairly old apartment complex is the Village Lake Apartments at 777 Middlefield Road. This is one of the complexes of 2 story buildings and it has 208 units beautifully laid out on 10 acres of land with artificial lakes and other open space all over the complex. It was constructed in 1969, so it is 44 years old.

The owner has proposed to add units to the complex by filling in some of the lakes and using the land thus made available. There would still be considerable open space on the 10 acres but also increased unit density. This land is not on any transit corridor.

The city has REJECTED the owners proposal to add brand new buildings, saying that the owner should instead tear down some existing buildings and replace them with taller buildings instead. In other words, the city is interfering with the rights of the property owner to preserve the existing construction, and is insisting that the owner tear down the buildings. It is not a case of market forces causing the owner to want to tear down the buildings, but it is instead the city's intervention. This beautiful complex has a chance to be preserved with a density increase and the city is instead championing the destruction of perfectly useful buildings. The complex would be much nicer with the owner's plans.

The city has indicated the issue is not with the idea of filling in the lakes. They just want still more density than the owner is proposing. I don't think they have legal grounds to make such a demand, and I hope the owner takes them to court. They deserve it.

Posted by MVResident67
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 24, 2013 at 7:53 am

It looks like Mountain View residents aren't the only ones at odds with the city over development plans. Hit the link for a very informative and very interesting read on what has been going on in Palo Alto. It is a well researched and very detailed article.

Incidentally, iirc, there is now going to be a referendum on the primary project discussed in this article. There is also much discussion of holding a recall election of several city council members. Sound familiar?

Web Link

Snipped from the article:

"The crowd arrived early June 11 and quickly filled every seat in the Council Chambers of Palo Alto City Hall, including the folding chairs set up in the overflow area.

Many were armed with red "No Rezoning" buttons, petitions, videos of traffic congestion and reams of technical legal data. Hundreds had emailed the City Council prior to the meeting, urging rejection of the latest "planned community" development on its way to council approval. Dozens more chose to address the council directly, each blasting the proposed construction of an apartment complex for low-income seniors and 12 single-family homes on Maybell and Clemo avenues."


"Councilman Larry Klein, who had sat on the council for most of the 1980s before returning in 2005, said he had never "experienced such virulent opposition." Bob Moss, a Palo Alto resident and regular critic of large developments, called the opposition the fiercest he's seen in his four decades of watchdogging.

Proponents of the Maybell project tend to dismiss opposition as the latest flashpoint in the perennial battle between builders and NIMBYs, and it's true that opponents cite potential traffic problems and visual blight on the neighborhood as reason enough to halt the project. But this explanation is partial at best.

It is the city's disregard, in the eyes of some residents, for the values that the city itself has proclaimed it upholds, that disturbs residents the most. On top of that, they say, the city's process for approving 567 Maybell Ave. has taken this disregard and shoved it in their faces."

Posted by Life Beyond Cars
a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2013 at 3:06 pm

People who lobby against cars are not considering advancing technology. Sure, gas mileage has improved constantly and each car today has much less impact on the environment then the cars of the 1950's. But, we are likely to see still more evolution. Advanced guidance system will coordinate with traffic lights and mean that time wasted idling is minimized. Electric propulsion is just one possible advance.

The problem today is that the mass transit options are just not practical. It's more likely that something similar to today's car will improve the point of future viability, rather than that we could extend reliable efficient mass transit to cover the entire population.

The FAA is liable to approve personal aircraft operating at low altitudes when the technology gets advanced enough, which is going to be very soon. The same technology that offers us drones is going to allow for off-surface passenger vehicles. People have their head in the sand when they think our only choice is busses much like today.

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