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City Council backs plan to close Castro Street

Original post made on Jun 23, 2016

In a decision with big impacts for the city's scenic downtown, the Mountain View City Council on Wednesday night, in a 5-2 vote, backed plans to close Castro Street to car traffic at the Caltrain crossing.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, June 23, 2016, 1:57 PM

Comments (105)

Posted by Resident
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 23, 2016 at 2:19 pm

So now we get to pay for this, deal with construction while enjoying MV's already-great downtown, and get to also pay for the eventual unraveling of it in 15-25 years when our kids wonder what we were thinking. Got it.


Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 23, 2016 at 2:28 pm

What do you expect from this bunch of Ideology driven liberals they are the same ones that want to close one lane of El Camino you get what you vote for


Posted by WTF???
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 23, 2016 at 2:43 pm

Clearly the council has not tried to get from Shoreline to (or across) Castro on Villa on a weekday afternoon, because that's already a nightmare, and that's including the additional entry to downtown. Take that entry/exit away and that traffic (through neighborhoods) goes up exponentially. Seriously, what are they thinking? And if enough businesses suffer due to the construction or reduced access, then who benefits? Do none of these people want to be reelected? Time to listen to your constituents, people.


Posted by psr
a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 23, 2016 at 2:45 pm

Another plan to making things harder on the businesses, as if raising the minimum wage and making parking more difficult weren't enough.

Just wait until the City Council has to deal with the exodus of businesses from the downtown area due to all the extra burdens the council's "feel good" legislation has on their ability to survive. This same council will have the nerve to scratch their heads and look confused as to the reason.

They should start checking their mirrors for the cause right now and avoid the wait.


Posted by OMG
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 23, 2016 at 2:48 pm

"the city commissioned a $30,000 economic study"

Really? There goes your hard-earned tax dollars for what seems to be an obvious conclusion.

I am so disgusted and disheartened with city planning.


Posted by Bruce England
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jun 23, 2016 at 2:49 pm

I'm very pleased City Council made this decision (even while understanding reasons for concern the article mentions). As we know, Mountain View has never been static as a city, going back to its beginning, and planning for anticipated changes (e.g., in response to increased use of the rail system through that area) simply makes sense. Anyone who has driven on Castro between Villa and Moffett, and anyone who has walked or biked the Castro/Central intersection knows something needs to be done, even now. Also, I expect the area of Castro between Central and Villa is going to be much more pleasant and inviting as a result, which will be good for business as well.

Kudos to Council for looking ahead and responding decisively!


Posted by Resident
a resident of Jackson Park
on Jun 23, 2016 at 2:51 pm

Typical action by the City Council;full speed ahead with blinders on. What was the hurry? Why wouldn't they listen to the concerns of the members of the Chamber of Commerce and reps from the business owners downtown. Just who are you representing? Unbelievable. This city council are puppets to those that may work in mountain view, but not to those that live here; especially in the areas that will be impacted the most.


Posted by Juan Olive
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 23, 2016 at 2:58 pm

I've lived in Mt. View 40 years. There is no way I am going to:
Find parking and pay $$$$$
Walk downtown. I run 20 miles a week already.
I love Mt. View. But footing it is not happening.

I feel for the businesses that will suffer. The only ones that will enjoy this crazy idea are the ones that are for
NO CARS
ELIMINATE SMOG
IT'S GOOD FOR US

WOW. I can't believe it.













Posted by Castro Street
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 23, 2016 at 3:00 pm

And some of us remember when Castro Street was two lanes in each direction.

Why does anyone use Castro to travel through Mountain View these days? It is not worth the long wait at the traffic lights at each intersection, longer wait at Central, all over-ruled by Cal-train's busy schedule.


Posted by Curious
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 23, 2016 at 3:03 pm

What if we spent our $30,000 study money on a temporary block to the crossing and see how it works before just pulling the trigger on millions of dollars for the construction with our eyes closed and fingers crossed.
For three months block off Castro from Central to Villa to all road traffic. After 3 months collect the date and poll the visitors and business owners. Use that to make a final plan.
We are going to have to upgrade that area and as much as I would hate to see this happen, I can't think of a better way. It will speed up Central Expressway in the process.


Posted by MV
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 23, 2016 at 3:10 pm

Here is the thing about those bicycle and pedestrian underground underpasses, as a woman if I was alone there would be no way I would go through a underpass alone in the evening or night, plus can you imagine all the homeless that would hang out down there.

Bad Idea.


Posted by Move Castro crossingNv4W
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 23, 2016 at 3:15 pm

City Council should consider moving the crossing at Castro and Central down to around Ferguson and Central. Anywhere past the point where light rail has crossed Central. Since much of the downtown traffic is now generated by the new homes in the once industrial part of Old Mountain View, this could help ease traffic away from Castro.




Posted by Deb H.
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 23, 2016 at 3:15 pm

Wow, that "close" headline is pure clickbait. The option approved last night *diverts* Castro St. traffic onto Evelyn, and puts all turn options back into place at Evelyn (which doesn't exist now). I went to the community input meetings and learned about all the options and the research Staff and the consultant did leading up to this proposal. I think this is truly the best option for safety, access, and economic viability. If we do nothing, the train track gates will close **every 3 - 4 minutes** during the commute hours; so that's basically closing off the intersection with none of the positive mitigation measures this plan puts in place. The process to fully design this change will take a few years; I look forward to giving very specific feedback to make sure the re-routing of Castro doesn't suck.


Posted by reside
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Jun 23, 2016 at 3:24 pm

I agree that this council has no idea about the traffic on Shoreline. Don't they have plans to take a lane from Shoreline for a protected bike lane and a dedicated bus lane. I guess residents in this town don't count anymore. Besides Shoreline the next way to downtown is via Whisman and all those small streets through Old Mtn View. I am sure the residents there will love the extra traffic.
All of us on the wrong side of the tracks will have a much longer way to the post office and forget going to any restaurants downtown. Not all of us are young enough to walk the distance.


Posted by Brian Smith
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 23, 2016 at 3:26 pm

Several months back I submitted an idea to the City that involved synchronizing the traffic signals on Castro with the grade-crossing signals at the RR tracks. When grade-crossing lights are green, the signals on Castro would also be turned green and permit flow of traffic along the Castro corridor. And vice-versa.

This synchronization would be supplemented by WALK/DON'T WALK signals to control the flow of pedestrian traffic in the Castro St. crosswalks; particularly those closest to Villa. When the grade-crossing signals are green, pedestrians would receive a DON'T WALK indication and be prevented from crossing Castro. Thus permitting freer flow of vehicular traffic.

As it stands right now, when the trains arrive, the pedestrians going to and from the transit station cross Castro quite randomly and in virtually a continuous stream, thus "holding hostage" the vehicular traffic on Castro. I use the Castro/Central interchange each day and observe this happening. It's maddening.

This suggestion of mine went nowhere. It seems to me that before we spend $45M, this option should at least be tested in the real-world. I can't imagine it being that expensive. Studies are one thing, decisions based on experimental evidence are another. I'd be in favor of trying "Curious" suggestion as well.

Am I all wet?


Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 23, 2016 at 3:32 pm

Us old timers remember when the downtown redevelopment was being planned and they were going to turn Castro from Evelyn to California into a pedestrian mall. It was a great idea but of course the business owners poo poo'ed it because they were afraid of losing parking spaces. Now they want to use the spaces for tables and outdoor dining. In fact many of the businesses were against the entire project which has turned MV into a real town. Pedestrian only downtown's make sense. Who wants to sit outside trying to enjoy a meal while a giant bus blows smoke and soot into your food and the noise is terrible.

Hasn't anybody been to Europe? Almost every small town has a pedestrian city center and it's peaceful, relaxing, and great for people watching.


Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 23, 2016 at 3:35 pm

Whyy spend money on this idea not counting the impact on downtown. The rail systems are creating the problem how did it get turned around to make the city pay.

The rail systems Cal Train and High Speed Rail will need to tunnel down so that our two crossing at will be bridges over the probably open trench depressed rail systems. Don't let anyway say that Stevens creek is a problem because this problem is easily solved.

Oh and by the way don't vote for the City council members that voted for this action plus others like overbuilding Mountain View with high dense housing and offices and don't forget the lane reduction on El Camino vote.


Posted by A Great Day
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 23, 2016 at 4:09 pm

It appears, once again, that the majority of people who post here don't know what they are talking about. About 13% of all vehicular traffic into the downtown come from across the tracks. 87% comes from all the other areas. At that spot where the 13% comes from, a train track is an obstacle causing all kinds of gridlock on Castro today as well as huge delays for those trying to get from Moffett onto Castro. This train track will see such a large increase in train scheduling - once every 3-4 minutes at peak when electrification (6 years) and High Speed Rail comes (10 years?) - that vehicular traffic will be next to impossible. The increase in ridership on the train (both arriving and leaving) will result in a huge amount of new pedestrians and cyclists. Without an underpass, many of them will walk across the (already) incredibly unsafe intersection of Central Expressway and Castro/Moffett. How many dead bodies would it take for the very people on this thread to say, "Gee, Council can't get it's act together. I can't believe they left that crossing open!" Please tell me you see that doing nothing is not an option. And spending the $100 million MORE just to have a grade separation for cars is foolhardy for only 13% of the incoming cars. Council made the right decision.

To the women who believe it will be a dark tunnel, please look at the plans. It will open to the sky in large parts, be wide and safe. These thoughts are being considered. Nobody wants muggers and homeless to camp there.

Once again, as Deb pointed out above, Castro is NOT being closed to cars. Only the crossing at Central will be changed to pedestrian only. Everything else is status quo. So where are you getting the information that that will cause businesses in masse to go bankrupt and/or leave the downtown? Most people who patronize the downtown areas do not come from that entry point. And those who do, will re-route. how is this complicated?

Please be informed before you post.


Posted by Common sense
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 23, 2016 at 4:11 pm

Deb H.: "that "close" headline is pure clickbait."

Well, the plan blocks off the intersection. That's a traffic closure (in every sense except maybe rhetorical); people who now get downtown from Moffett Blvd. will find a dead end.

Deb H.: "I went to the community input meetings and learned about all the options and the research Staff and the consultant did leading up to this proposal."

You didn't see the economic-impact consultant study, since that was only barely finished before the Council decision (no time for serious digestion or discussion, just enough time for the Council members -- most of whom appeared to me to've made up their minds on this issue literally months ago, anyway -- to claim the business impacts had been duly studied). At the community meetings, City staff assured people they were working closely with the two business associations. The associations themselves have been publicly contradicting that now for weeks, saying they'd been largely ignored in the whole process.
So much for "the research Staff and the consultant did leading up to this proposal."

Missing from most Council members' apparent perceptions, from the set of "Alternative" proposals (created somehow, then treated as the only possible options), and most dramatically missing from the City-Staff report for this meeting, was evidence of real sensitivity to concerns of the downtown business community. Even the last-minute economic-impacts study collected much of its information about downtown businesses indirectly, from property brokers, instead of talking to the actual businesses about THEIR realities. So on Wednesday night, we had the bizarre spectacle of a brand-new Staff report on this subject, making no mention at all of the business community's increasingly vocal objections (or the C-of-C's bike-pedestrian bridge proposal) which news media (including this one) had been reporting for weeks.


Posted by PA Resident
a resident of another community
on Jun 23, 2016 at 4:51 pm

As someone who comes to Castro Street to eat frequently, I tend to use Shoreline, but the problem is that I like to use Central but have to choose Middlefield instead. The Central/Shoreline is not a good route obviously. If the crossing is closed at Castro can something be done about Shoreline/Central?

My other question is will Castro be closed to traffic too and made a proper pedestrian precinct? That would be lovely.


Posted by Jim C
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 23, 2016 at 4:55 pm

The Council made the right decision. Now they have the challenge to do all the other stuff right. I have accepted the idea that a change must be made at Castro/rail tracks. Have you thought about going over or under and what that would do to the 100 block of Castro? Now staff/consultants must connect Evelyn in the best way and provide a good change to Centennial Plaza.

I was involved in the decision to change Castro Street from four lanes to three lanes, plus widen the sidewalks, etc. Merchants were very upset at the idea of having Castro all torn up in front of their businesses. It was difficult for all of them, but when I look at the success of Castro Street now, I wouldn't change anything. It is great!

We have a tunnel under the tracks near San Antonio and it works fine. No camping and no trash. We can do it again at Castro. Deb H is right that if you are going to be a planner or engineer on the Castro project, you should go to all the citizen meetings to hear the whole story.


Posted by Bob
a resident of Slater
on Jun 23, 2016 at 5:09 pm

This is certainly a target rich discussion. For years, the city has been trying to develop the "Gateway Corridor" along Moffett, from Hwy 101 to Central Expressway. The most recent component of this is the Hotel proposed for the former Vector Control site near 101. With the blocking of traffic at the tracks, Moffett is looking like the road to nowhere, a gateway to a dead end.
Soon, the community who resides north of the tracks, the 13% of the visitors who drive to downtown via Moffett, will soon feel even more disinclined to visit as yet another impediment is added. Once again we find ourselves on the wrong side of the tracks.
There is a tactic often used by staff & consultants to steer a discussion. The only options presented to the public for their consideration are ones that they wish to see happen. The public is democratically choosing from a pre-selected set of options that the staff or consultants are pushing, and we get a warm feeling that we had a voice in the process, while we are only rubber-stamping their choices. Any suggestions from the public usually get the "we'll take that into consideration" and go in the trash. If you feel that this is cynical, its only due to years of experience.
Finally, when did Mountain View vote to give up its sovereignty to Cal Train? This is what happens when city's stop thinking locally and begin thinking "regionally"
PS, Britan is voting on this issue today.


Posted by PH
a resident of another community
on Jun 23, 2016 at 5:32 pm

So glad I was able to move out of the area. There are so many problems with solutions that will leave many unhappy, or thrilled, depending on their perspective. Someone will always lose when others win. BART was the solution years ago but certain people didn't want it. Any and all new plans need to be really good and not the compromises so often found with governments today. Grade separations are the best way to go but cities won't, and shouldn't, pay the cost. If mass transit is the solution then let agencies such as VTA pay for it as well as the state and Feds. Whatever agency that uses the tracks or funds the trains should pay for grade separations. Think of all the lives saved and time and fuel (less pollution) we could have saved by doing things right many years ago. I wish all of you the best and hope you end up with something you can live with.


Posted by TQ
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 23, 2016 at 5:42 pm

Please do not close rengstorff too. That will completely block the north central of mountain view divide the city. Might as well call it city of north mountain view. Right now it is utterly inconvenient to travel from north to south, and ironically that's where the JOBS are.


Posted by Old Steve
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 23, 2016 at 5:43 pm

Victims of our own success. Went to dinner on Castro, took a half hour to park, and another to get a table. What would be wrong with a little drop in business? Mountain View is one of the busiest Caltrain stations, mostly used by folks who either work here, or live here. We did not have to encourage Google, but we did. Why can't we deal with our success instead of wishing for the bad old days again. I remember the merchants complaining before the street was updated, just like those in PA recently did about Cal Ave. Isn't it strange how resistant to change folks are in a community that literally helps lead the world forward?


Posted by Paul Davis
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 23, 2016 at 5:52 pm

I think the Council did listen to residents and made the right, difficult decision.

I agree with those who observe above that this change will improve downtown business owner's prospects and make downtown an even more inviting ding and shopping hub. Of course this will affect traffic flow and nearby streets but that would happen anyway given more frequent gate closures due to increased and faster train traffic. Better to plan for inevitable change than wish for a past that won't come back absent severe economic decline.

I like the idea of making at least the train crossing end of Castro pedestrian only with more outdoor dining / gathering space. I guess all of this will require more adjacent parking structures.

I respect other views but don't get or like all the vitriol and negative harping of some habitual posters here. This might be a more civil forum if everybody had to post under their real name.


Posted by Chuck
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 23, 2016 at 6:26 pm

I think this a great idea. I'd like to see Castro closed to auto traffic and turn it into a walking street (it would be nice it the street were bricked). This would allow the restaurants greater flexibility in outdoor seating. As it is now I won't eat outside because of the closeness to traffic noise & pollution. I think it will actually help to increase business on Castro as it becomes a nicer destination location. I always use Shoreline/Villa or Rengstorff/California to get to downtown Mtn. View.


Posted by Monta Loma
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 23, 2016 at 6:27 pm

I agree that this move is necessary. The consultants did a good job of evaluating the conditions that are precipitating the need for reconfiguring the intersection, and they did a good job of evaluating and presenting the alternatives for dealing with it. On balance, this is the best plan available. The other alternatives would have ruined downtown, and at a great cost, too.

For those who were misled by the headline, the plan does NOT call for closing Castro, but rather calls for joining the two sides of Evelyn, and rerouting Castro into the reconfigured Evelyn, at a "T" intersection. Evelyn will be joined to Shoreline with a ramp. Design details have not been worked out yet.

Please read the materials that the consultant provided the Council - they are available on the City website, attachments on page 3 of this document: Web Link

Downtown merchants should welcome this plan. The other alternatives were poor, and doing nothing would have been just stupid.


Posted by PR matters
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 23, 2016 at 6:42 pm

They should probably rename the West end of Evelyn to Castro, so people will stop losing their minds at the idea of closing it. Then we can celebrate EXTENDING Castro for 3 more blocks!


Posted by George
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 23, 2016 at 7:00 pm

Ah, for the good old days....When MtnView was a place of common sense....Today it has become a hot bed of friggen liberal safe the world idiots
It is now a left wing council, carrying only about big "studies" (expensive) and forget the citizens of the town.
Egads...Let's close Castro, let's block the 101 and 280 offramps and let's get horses and carriages.
Leave Castro Street alone. Let those money grubbing I.T. folks wait in line to clear the intersection.
If they don't like a vibrant Castro St. area, move to Lodi.

Bye George


Posted by Christina
a resident of North Whisman
on Jun 23, 2016 at 9:00 pm

Wouldn't it make more sense to put a parking garage north of Central Expressway? Then much of the traffic trying to cross central simply wouldn't have to. You could put a pretty overpass to the Caltrain station with a nice elevator on both sides. Then there'd also be MORE parking to placate the local businesses.


Posted by Me
a resident of Willowgate
on Jun 23, 2016 at 10:22 pm

Where would you put a parking garage on the north side of central expressway near castro? Right off shoreline?


Posted by @bob
a resident of Slater
on Jun 23, 2016 at 11:09 pm

Bob, sounds like you're familiar with Agenda21. If not, google it, you're right on the money.


Posted by KH
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 24, 2016 at 1:30 am

Make Castro Pedestrian, we on vacation in UK, every city we have visited has pedestrian retail/restaurant areas, all buzzing with activity. I know it's not a popular idea in Mountain View...no vision. Mountain View is overdeveloped with apartment blocks and office space. downtown MV no longer has any appeal.


Posted by Ken M
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 24, 2016 at 7:00 am

Step one complete. Now we need to close Rengstorff. Good move council.


Posted by Common sense
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 24, 2016 at 7:01 am

Paul Davis: "I agree with those who observe above that this change will improve downtown business owner's prospects" So you disagree sharply with those business owners themselves (do you really assume you know better about their businesses than they do?) One of several recent articles: Web Link

Monta Loma: "For those who were misled by the headline, the plan does NOT call for closing Castro..." Already dealt with that rhetorical claim, please read earlier comments. When you block off an intersection; when Moffett traffic finds a dead end at Central; in ordinary language, the street is CLOSED. (To deny that simple reality requires an Orwellian stretch and will appeal just to True Believers.)

KH: "Make Castro Pedestrian, we on vacation in UK... pedestrian retail/restaurant areas... I know it's not a popular idea in Mountain View" Far to the contrary, that idea is proposed relentlessly on this and every other local forum by people who've seen successful pedestrian mall areas, but do not know about the pitfall (also amply explained before in Town Square). The problem isn't popularity of the vision, or lack of appeal when it works; the problem is it doesn't always work, and has killed a few US small-town business districts that tried it; therefore you're obliged to proceed carefully, checking for that possibility. Exactly as City Council has knowingly opted NOT to do with the Castro closure, despite cautions from all the most knowledgeable experts and most of the business community.


Posted by T.man
a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2016 at 7:33 am

This is going to happen, with or without the blessing of the City of Mountain View. For decades, the Joint Powers Board (that owns and operates Caltrain), the Santa Clara County Department of Roads and Airports (that maintains and operates Central Expressway), and other public agencies have all had a stated goal of separating the entire rail line from San Francisco to San Jose. Federal and State grant money may also be available for this kind of improvement to rail transit safety. As it is, only 13% of all downtown trips traverse that crossing. An expanded pedestrian plaza and through street at Evelyn offer great opportunities for improving circulation within downtown Mountain View. Check out California Avenue in Palo Alto. It underwent a similar truncation about 50 years ago, and is still a very vibrant business district.


Posted by Bill McFarland
a resident of Willowgate
on Jun 24, 2016 at 9:42 am

what is the plan for the Rengstorff crossing? Close it also? It's kind of a mess when I make a left turn from Central heading toward California Ave. I often get stuck at the Leland/Crisanto red light! Who did this signal timing?

Unfortunately Mt. View is becoming split by the RR tracks. We'll only have San Antonio, Shoreline, and Whisman crossings.

When they built BART in Berkeley, Union City, Albany, San Francisco, the tracks were elevated in areas. I know it would be a major, expensive undertaking, but could the Caltrain tracks be elevated?


Posted by Adam
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 24, 2016 at 11:11 am

Delighted to see this common sense, safe, and reasonable approach. It was carefully deliberated and I believe it will make downtown more, not less vibrant.

I also agree 100% with the many others here who note the MANY outstanding examples of pedestrian-only streets. These aren't just in Europe, but also often quite successful in the U.S., including in Santa Monica and Boulder.

Hopefully this adjustment to Castro will be just the first step, and with parallel improvements in parking and public transit, I look forward to Castro eventually being a pedestrian-only street.


Posted by Adam
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 24, 2016 at 11:11 am

Delighted to see this common sense, safe, and reasonable approach. It was carefully deliberated and I believe it will make downtown more, not less vibrant.

I also agree 100% with the many others here who note the MANY outstanding examples of pedestrian-only streets. These aren't just in Europe, but also often quite successful in the U.S., including in Santa Monica and Boulder.

Hopefully this adjustment to Castro will be just the first step, and with parallel improvements in parking and public transit, I look forward to Castro eventually being a pedestrian-only street.


Posted by AC
a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2016 at 12:00 pm

AC is a registered user.

@Castro Street

"why does anyone use Castro Street these days?"

- Egress at the end of the night when businesses/restaurants/bars close
- Delivery trucks that supply those businesses in the middle of the night. (I can't imagine why people want those trucks rolling through their neighborhood side streets)

I didn't mind closing Castro to Central in the daytime.
I mind closing it permanently. It's just too useful as a connecting road. Let's count its touchpoints:

- US 101
- SR 85
- El Camino
- Central Expressway
- Middlefield

I would have liked to see it closed in the day and open at night, for patrons to leave and delivery trucks to use.


Posted by AC
a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2016 at 12:04 pm

AC is a registered user.

@Brian Smith

They talked about that at the Council meeting, and I completely get it.

I didn't like the response. But it was simple and factual, and as much as I didn't like it, I couldn't complain or dispute it.

- Mountain View doesn't control Central, it's a County road
- Mountain View doesn't control the train gates, it's JPB which controls Caltrain

And neither of them give a whit about Mountain View. County cares about traffic flow, and Caltrain cares about right-of-way; so there's no way to get them to time the intersection as you (and others) suggested. Even though I think most people would agree it's a sensible and cheap thing to try.


Posted by AC
a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2016 at 12:07 pm

AC is a registered user.

@Gary

Yes sir, I've been to Europe. But they have five weeks of paid vacation, they don't have a "time is money" attitude, and they aren't trying to get to seven different places to run their errands in two hours time in an expensive town where they pay high rent (quite a few younger people inherit a flat) as their normal lifestyle.

It's lovely sir, I grant you that. But for better or worse, it's not our lifestyle. And we can't afford that lifestyle even if we wanted it to be.


Posted by AC
a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2016 at 12:10 pm

AC is a registered user.

@Rodger

I too would aesthetically and practically wish to tunnel down. Problem is, we don't own the tracks. JPB and HSR would have to do it, and they just won't. Besides, we'd bust their chops about the water flow from Stevens Creek and Permanente and the like.

And tunneling down with take an awfully long time and a ton of money.

We don't own those things. It's not up to us.

I disagreed with the City Council's call, yes. But I also understand the bind they're in. I can accuse them of not doing a poor job representing their constituency and their wants and needs. But by no means am I going to call them morons. They had a tough call to make. I disagree with it, but respect it.


Posted by AC
a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2016 at 12:17 pm

AC is a registered user.

@Chuck

I understand it would be nice, but please no.

I live in the Monta Loma area. Please don't make it hard for me to get to the post office or to church.


Posted by AC
a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2016 at 12:20 pm

AC is a registered user.

@KH

Respectfully, you've already said it. You're on vacation, and yes it is lovely.

When I'm on vacation, I find it lovely too.

But I live here. And I have to get all my errands done in a reasonably amount of time, much of it with poor planning and last-minute urgencies; because that's my cost of living.


Posted by AC
a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2016 at 12:25 pm

AC is a registered user.

@T.man

California Street in Palo Alto does not connect the city to freeways. Moffett/Castro does. To more than one freeway in fact. 1 county highway, 1 state road, one US freeway, and one state freeway. That's the difference.


@Bill McFarland

There's no room. It would hit the Shoreline overpass. Like I mentioned above, whether I agree with them or not, the City Council had a tough call to make and some very real constraints. Like this one.


Posted by Brian Smith
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 24, 2016 at 12:53 pm

@AC

Thanks for letting me know that the signal timing option was discussed at the CC meeting. I had a conflict with another event and couldn't attend.

As a systems engineer, I'm sorely disappointed that each consitiuency having skin in the game (SC Co, Caltrain & MV) can't come together and devise a compromise solution. Too many separate fiefdoms at play. I suppose that ultimately Caltrain is the big elephant to which everything else must accommodate.

Were any reps from the County or Caltrain at the CC meeting?

How does the proposed N-WB Evelyn connection from Castro tie into the Shoreline overpass? The diagram in the Fact Sheet from the City shows a basic T-intersection. This is insufficient detail, and the details are important for efficient traffic flows connecting Shoreline with the north side of Castro.


Posted by Adam
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 24, 2016 at 1:09 pm

AC, I lived in Europe (Germany) and have visited over a dozen countries in Europe during that time. Yes, Europeans may have overall a better quality of life (or at least work/life balance) than we Americans do, but I disagree with your assertion here:

> they don't have a "time is money" attitude,
> and they aren't trying to get to seven different places
> to run their errands in two hours time in an expensive
> town where they pay high rent (quite a few younger people
> inherit a flat) as their normal lifestyle.

London. Paris. Lots of high powered jobs, and stores with typically far more limited open hours than ours in the States (try to go shopping on a Sunday, or even a Saturday evening!)

And furthermore, as I noted in my earlier post, pedestrian streets aren't just a European thing. I've seen them throughout Asia, and even here in the U.S. (I've personally visited both the ones in Boulder and in Santa Monica, and each seem to be bustling and thriving).

You seem to think that making a street a pedestrian zone would inherently make your errands take a lot longer. I also disagree with that. With reduced traffic, strategic placement of parking garages just outside the street, and improved public transit, I think you'd find that you could complete your errands in just about the same amount of time... perhaps even faster during peak traffic hours.


Posted by AC
a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2016 at 2:01 pm

AC is a registered user.

@Brian Smith

I didn't note any reps from County or JPB at the meeting. Just the City Staff and a couple of consultants.

I'm a Systems Engineer too, and I get the impression that like you I have a tendency to look toward solutions and their consequences (intended and unintended), but also at the ground rules and what the drivers of those rules are (read: personal or departmental agendas).

I'm afraid I don't have an answer. Agencies which wield their own power bases, is my understanding of them. Like EVP of Product Marketing versus EVP/CTO in a company. A simplistic view to be sure, but it's the one I can wrap my brain around...

I think the Evelyn connector is lacking in detail, just as you said. In particular, I am concerned for egress of police vehicles. I don't get to make it to many council meetings due to schedule conflicts too, and I hope I'm able to stay on top of the info that comes out.

I think the biggest takeaway that I got as a resident is that a whole lot of people seem disappointed at the insufficient communication. Or more specifically, what is perceived as insufficient communication about plans and initiatives. In the case of the rights of residents, I think it falls under "perception is reality" when people who live/work/play here don't get enough notice about what's going on and what's at stake. The City Council acknowledged it with both agenda items 6.1 and 7.1, and I hope they come up with some solutions.


Posted by CitizenO
a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2016 at 2:12 pm

Has the city council considered introducing more electric shuttles to ease traffic in MTV? It seems the folks at VTA only know how to increase bus fares and add lanes to 101. Free buses with good frequency would probably encourage many residents to commute without driving.

Worth a try, no?


Posted by AC
a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2016 at 2:20 pm

AC is a registered user.

@Adam

I definitely appreciate where I understand you to be coming from. And please don't mistake my point here. I think it would be lovely. In my mind's eye, it actually looks quite nice.

What I'm saying is that ingress to the southeast side of Castro is poor, and I leave on the northeast side of town.

Respectfully, please don't assert that it will have no impact on my route and time. I'm the one who goes about my errands.

I am at church several times a week, at varying times of day, weekday and weekend. I maintain my mailing address at the Mountain View Main Post Office.

Ingress to that area using California via Rengstorff is poor. And imagine if I couldn't cross Castro at all? My normal ingress route is Central to Shoreline (overpass over the train), turning left on either Villa or Church, depending on where I'm going.

In *every* use case, I have to cross Castro. Because heading down to Whisman (or worse, Mary) requires doubling back over Central, and then navigating neighborhood streets, several of which have multiple stops and even rotundas in the intersection.

Now, with regard to "it's not just Europe" and their hustle-and-bustle being commensurate to ours; please consider this. Like I said, I live in town. I bike to work when the weather is good (which is most of the time). I run errands by bike when I can. I'm fit, and I can walk; and I enjoy it.

But I don't go to worship in my cycling shorts with a sweat towel on my shoulders. And if one of my panniers is full of mail, I have less room for groceries (from Safeway #0705 at Shoreline and Middlefield). And I can't drive an elderly person around from their retirement residence on my bike.

Now, I could make some sacrifices in my activities, plan my routes better, be more punctual about when I try to get somewhere, or just lighten my load of what I'm trying to get done in a day.

But that's not my life. It's not my lifestyle. Or my neighbors' (yes, I know who my neighbors are). I'm not willing to sacrifice my civic activities. I'm not rich enough to own a home with a freezer in a garage where I can make one car shopping trip to Costco per month and freeze a month's worth of food. Nor am I rich enough to own a home (which would eliminate the need for a P.O. box).

I need to be able to drive, at a moment's notice, whenever I feel the need to, or whenever I feel the want to. And I need to be able to cross Castro street without restriction or good planning. For all I know, I just left Shoreline and my golf clubs are in my trunk.

In a perfect world, I would be organized, punctual, and build plenty of time into my schedule to get things done.

That's not reality. Not for me. Not for many.

And I'm a single person, with no kids to pickup or shuttle around, no elderly mother living at home who I might need to take to the hospital, or any of the many other very good reasons why Castro needs to be crossed.

The aesthetic isn't worth the inconvenience to the population. And I'm just me. There are residents with many more (and probably more compelling reasons) than I, and those should be considered.

Or how about this? Delivery trucks to those businesses. The side alleys and neighborhood streets bordering it. How do those folks feel about sustaining that traffic? Could an 18 wheeler navigate smaller ingress roads? Shoreline is wide, they can turn wide. If they can cross Castro. Or, if you've ever been around late at night, park in the middle of the Castro turning refuge to unload.

All of this being said, I agree Castro would be lovely as a pedestrian thoroughfare. The 100 block, as the City Council mentioned, is kind of a perfect candidate once the Central Expressway connection closes. Traffic is rerouted anyway. It'd be nice.

Heck, I'd even concede this: go ahead and shut down Castro during the day. Just leave it open at night for egress of customers and usage by delivery trucks.

And if I had even less choice, I'd concede even this: go ahead and shut down Castro to cars traveling up and down it; but let cars get across it.

There may be ways to achieve the desired aesthetic without cutting other people off at the kneecaps.


Posted by Me
a resident of Willowgate
on Jun 24, 2016 at 2:20 pm

The discussion about this intersection has been going on for at least 8 years now. At least we're making progress now (finally!)


Posted by AC
a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2016 at 2:27 pm

AC is a registered user.

@Adam

I got a little worked up there, so apologize for my tone.

But again in the interest of making it work, if that's really what people want...

Calderon would need to be widened, speed limit increased to 35, and connected to Central Expressway. That would definitely work for me.

I can get somewhere by car, and have a much safer bike ride into town. Win-win for me. And probably for some others too.


Posted by Brian Smith
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 24, 2016 at 2:50 pm

One of the consequences of closing the Castro/Moffett intersection for those of us that live off of Calderon is that getting across Central to the North Bayshore or NASA (where I work) would require use of the Shoreline overpass (very indirect) or the Dana St. overpass to Whisman.

My kids and now my grandson attend Landels Elementary School. There is a lot of related foot and bike traffic in the morning and afternoon hours (parents and kids) at the Calderon/Dana intersection. As much as a Calderon overpass might be beneficial, the additional traffic in this area could increase the risk to this demographic.

Some additional traffic leaving the downtown headed toward the Sunnyvale area will funnel off of Evelyn and Villa onto Dana via Calderon.

I wonder if the impact on Dana St. traffic in front of Landels due to the Castro closure was factored into the analyses fed to the City Council?


Posted by Anthodyd
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jun 24, 2016 at 3:38 pm

This is proceeding OK- first the discussion, leading to definitive planning. Now for some equally definitive decisions.
I see the attractive possibility of a Villa/Castro entrance to a pedestrian mall on Castro to Evelyn as Evelyn jogs to the West and so provides access to Shoreline. Provide a fountain or sculpture garden as a byway next to the tracks for the bike/pedestrian crossing on Central.
Have we lost sight of the necessity for the business and residential access from Castro Terminal to the access-impacted Shoreline business park? In view of our limited options crowded around Castro/Central, is there a possibility that VTA could extend their Caltrain rails to Rengsdorff, to use that option for transit to Shoreline Park, as it ultimately joins Shoreline just before CA 101?
Just asking'....


Posted by Roy Drury
a resident of Jackson Park
on Jun 24, 2016 at 4:04 pm

Who are these out-of-touch so called business folks?

Have they ever tried to cross Central at rush hour? Have they ever walked in the first few blocks of Castro or sat anywhere out side at a restaurant with car fumes, ghetto exhausts and subwoofers? Perhaps they should do what real and successful business folks do – care about their customers.

The real businesses and business folks will do even better as the the first few blocks are transformed in to a proper pedestrian precinct.

And maybe a few more competent businesses will relocate to loser’s vacated spaces?


Posted by psr
a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 24, 2016 at 4:37 pm

I love the way people find it so easy to make decisions that affect the lives of others, as if those people don't have an opinion that counts.

Saying a business person doesn't know their own business is incredibly arrogant. To say that they "could be fine with a little drop in business" is just about as silly a thing as I've read here. Do you understand that our City Council, in its infinite wisdom (or so they think) decided to implement an increase in the minimum wage? Do you REALLY think businesses that are barely making it with the high rents on Castro will survive that "little drop in business" once they have to pay far more to workers? Have you ever RUN a business? Did you know it isn't a charitable concern and the owners need to make a living or they won't bother?

I am tired of having a council focused more on social engineering than they are with the people who have to cope with their decisions. If that is the sort of thinking that drives this city, rather than the quality of life of the residents, then I will happily take my business to Los Altos, where I can park my car and get where I'm going any time of day. Dealing with Mountain View is a complete waste of my time.


Posted by Old Steve
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 24, 2016 at 4:53 pm

When you walk several blocks of Castro St on a warm evening two things are obvious:

Help wanted signs in many windows -- Maybe a higher minimum will help, since raising wages can be scary for single small businesses.

Many more people out much later than in Downtown Los Altos. If parking in front of your destination is the most important thing, they usually have it weeknights after 8pm.

I find it helpful to evaluate comments at face value, without projecting a certain knowledge or experience onto other comments. From a customer's perspective, waiting for a table has a limit. If it was the only thing that mattered to me, I'd probably go to Los Altos more often.=)


Posted by Paul Davis
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 24, 2016 at 5:35 pm

@ "Common sense"

Does having "common sense" require an extreme position?

No, I don't "sharply disagree" with business owners. Those are your words. Are you a Castro Street business owner? Do you speak for a community of Castro Street or other business owners? If so, why not post under your real name or association? If not, why does your opinion have more standing than mine?

I don't have to be extreme to express an informed opinion. Nor do I need to rant on with every detail. There are many others here who have expressed views I agree with or F1uUJhave brought up good ideas and constructive solutions. I do wonder if some business owners can't see the future through the present. It is understandable that if successful now, they don't want risk. The future is all about managing risk.


Posted by Paul Davis
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 24, 2016 at 5:35 pm

@ "Common sense"

Does having "common sense" require an extreme position?

No, I don't "sharply disagree" with business owners. Those are your words. Are you a Castro Street business owner? Do you speak for a community of Castro Street or other business owners? If so, why not post under your real name or association? If not, why does your opinion have more standing than mine?

I don't have to be extreme to express an informed opinion. Nor do I need to rant on with every detail. There are many others here who have expressed views I agree with or F1uUJhave brought up good ideas and constructive solutions. I do wonder if some business owners can't see the future through the present. It is understandable that if successful now, they don't want risk. The future is all about managing risk.


Posted by Paul Davis
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 24, 2016 at 5:35 pm

@ "Common sense"

Does having "common sense" require an extreme position?

No, I don't "sharply disagree" with business owners. Those are your words. Are you a Castro Street business owner? Do you speak for a community of Castro Street or other business owners? If so, why not post under your real name or association? If not, why does your opinion have more standing than mine?

I don't have to be extreme to express an informed opinion. Nor do I need to rant on with every detail. There are many others here who have expressed views I agree with or F1uUJhave brought up good ideas and constructive solutions. I do wonder if some business owners can't see the future through the present. It is understandable that if successful now, they don't want risk. The future is all about managing risk.


Posted by Downtown MV Resident
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 24, 2016 at 5:41 pm

I'm very pleased to see the City Council made the right decision! Thank you to the Council members that voted yes. There are many MV residents that support your decision to close Castro Street at the train tracks. Keep up the good work!


Posted by Paul Davis
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 24, 2016 at 6:07 pm

Sorry everybody. I don't know why my last post appeared four times.

Let me add that Castro Street business owner interests and opinions are important. They make it all happen and create the buzz that makes downtown special. They are an essential part of our community but they don't operate in a vacuum. They benefit from location and past policy decisions to make the downtown area more inviting. Resident's interests are also important.

So, "common sense," I am trying to say that community interests might outweigh individual business owner interests; that business interests do not have defacto precedence.


Posted by Adam
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 24, 2016 at 10:55 pm

AC, I didn't find your tone offputting at all. Rather, I really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and example in so much detail; it gave me a lot to think about!

And the idea of closing off the section only during daytime hours is intriguing, though I worry that it could be confusing / dangerous for late-night (drinking) revelers who aren't expecting cars. But it is nonetheless a fascinating compromise idea.

Re delivery trucks... that's a very good point. And yet, somehow the existing pedestrian streets manage this. Perhaps they remain open to emergency and (for certain early morning hours) delivery vehicles? I'm not sure, but it would be worth knowing.

Anyway, thanks again for the cordial and thoughtful conversation (to you, and to others who've taken the time to share opinions and info in a civil manner). I would hope that most of us realize and respect that we MV residents (and visitors) care deeply about the city... including the businesses we enjoy, the safety of ourselves and others, and so on.


Posted by AC
a resident of another community
on Jun 25, 2016 at 1:12 pm

AC is a registered user.

@Adam

I'm afraid I must agree with you about potential confusion for drunken revelers making their exit out. I don't have an easy solution for that.

I also think that some of my alarmist concern regarding flexibility of traffic along/across Castro in the future stems from my own imagination of what a pedestrian-mall Castro Street would look like, which namely would include the removal of lines in the road, and replacing the street with cobblestone or cobblestone-looking paving; which I would find both aesthetically pleasing and paying homage to those European pedestrian thoroughfares. I liked Nice particularly. Nice was nice.

In a perfect world, and I hope I get off my butt to diagram it when the City Council returns from summer break, I'd like there to be ingress/egress to the northwest side of Castro via Shoreline and its inlets, and ingress/egress to the southeast side of Castro via an improved Calderon. In both cases with connection to El Camino Real on the southwest and Central Expressway on the northeast. I don't know how to maintain or improve freeway artery ingress/egress. Especially considering that the already important artery of Shoreline Boulevard is in dire need of angioplasty whenever there is a concert.

In a less-than-perfect world, I think we need to maintain the ability to cross Castro via Villa, Dana, California, and Church. Aesthetically, I envision turning Castro into defined blocks; with the cobblestone paving in the middle of the street. Additionally, night-time usage of Central; again for people to go home and for delivery trucks to run to the Central Business District. The cobblestone would help enforce slow driving; and really who wants to hear a car or truck going too fast down Castro at 1:00am?

In a really imperfect world; I'd say stick with Alternative 4, which the City Council fairly voted upon (and which was supported by several residents from the other side of the tracks, at Moffett Boulevard), but leave auto traffic open on Castro Street to its new terminating T-intersection at Evelyn. This is my least favourite; because although my personal need to cross Castro is preserved, it's still a snarl to go up and down Castro in the daytime hours.

But most of all, thank you for your graciousness. I too appreciate productive discourse.


Posted by AC
a resident of another community
on Jun 25, 2016 at 1:27 pm

AC is a registered user.

P.S. I still don't like Alternative 4. I think that dropping Castro Street below grade, although expensive and with a long construction table and its associated conveniences is still the most future-proof solution. I respect the decision made, and how and why it was made; but I still disagree with it. Particularly in light of the vocal opposition of the Central Business Association and the Chamber of Commerce. I feel that they weren't properly represented, and I find it sad. I do feel like a vocal minority raised their voices louder and sooner; and I don't think that yelling should solve anything.

For the record, it is my opinion that we have a twofold responsibility in light of our location, in light of our growth, in light of our demographics, and in light of how the culture of the city has been evolving (for better or for worse).

I don't think we have a responsibility only to our residents. We do, certainly. And these must be addressed through other programs with regard to quality-of-life and city services.

But we're rapidly growing as a business centre, for better or for worse. What with Google, LinkedIn (and its recent acquisition by Microsoft, and who knows that that entails), and many other companies. We've become a pilot ground for self-driving cars and other ideas and innovations (good, bad, or indifferent).

I therefore submit that we also have a responsibility to those who need to get into this town, and who need to get out of it. Quickly, safely, and with minimum disruption to our neighborhoods and businesses. Our businesses who also must attract customers, and must be concerned about their ability to get in and out of town. I don't believe that improvement of pedestrian and bicycle safety and improvement of automobile traffic are mutually exclusively, and I don't think those two worthy goals should be at odds with each other.

With those as the ground rules, I offer the view that *improving* Castro thoroughfare to El Camino Real, Central Expressway, SR 85, US 101, and the neighborhoods they touch should be the goal. Alternative 1, which was not voted for, serves that goal better.

I'm concerned that we're choosing the wrong goals. And I'm concerned that we're making ends-justify-the-means choices. I'm concerned that we're being myopic.

I live, work, play, and worship in our City of Mountain View. But I need to go places too, and I need to be able to do so efficiently and by whichever means I choose. This means, I'll bike in town when I can. This means I'll park at church and walk down Castro Street when I can. It's lovely, healthy, and enjoyable. But it also means that I've got to be able to hop in my car, hit the store, hit the Post Office, and jump on the freeway to get to San Jose for a meeting or event with minimal hindrance. And of course without doing stupid things like driving too fast down a neighborhood street, or rolling stopping through an intersection, or any of the other inconsiderate and ill-advised things that people do when they're running late. Which a lot of people are.

But I'm not going to be angry about it. For one, it solves nothing. For another, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar anyway. I believe that the spirit of American democracy can only be preserved by trying to encourage bodies like our city council to do a better job; not by lambasting them about the job that they are doing.


Posted by AC
a resident of another community
on Jun 25, 2016 at 1:29 pm

AC is a registered user.

P.P.S. "mutually exclusively"? I think I need to get a handle on my rapid typing, or I'm going to be grounded from the use of adverbs. My bad.


Posted by Not so common
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 26, 2016 at 9:12 am

@common sense: Don't want to get pried out of your car, eh? After all those delicious meals we have to hear about endlessly, perhaps a walk would do some good


Posted by K
a resident of Willowgate
on Jun 26, 2016 at 9:20 am

So basically the street I use to get to Castro will be a dead end now? So any large scale grocery shopping/CVS/post office needs I have will need to be diverted to Shoreline? That adds up, gas wise. The toxic plumes, now this, I am determined to move out of Mountain View.


Posted by Common sense
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 26, 2016 at 5:52 pm

No, Paul Davis, I have no connection to any downtown business owner, but I for one respect what they do and what they contribute to the community. I remember many of their businesses opening. They are the people with the most at stake in any downtown reconfiguration. Their livelihoods and investments are at risk. And they collectively protested in the press about being ignored in this planning process ("left out of the conversations;" at the Council meetings, "the decision had already been reached" -- spokesperson in one recent article; I cited another in my previous comment).

Since they already expressed concerns about unintended consequences to their businesses, it isn't the place of other observers (with no such stake or detailed knowledge) to contradict them. As psr noted above, doing so is arrogant, hubristic. (If, somehow, pointing out this reality strikes you as "extreme," but contradicting the merchants themselves about their prospects does not, then we occupy different worlds.)

Also: When your posts appear repetitively (as above), fixing the problem is better than apologizing. On the Town-Square page, these comments have a link "email Town Square moderator." The moderator will happily fix duplicated comments.


Posted by Open Mind
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 27, 2016 at 9:39 am

I understand (and usually agree with) the default notion that anything the City Council proposes should be viewed with a high degree of skepticism, BUT... if it's well conceived, this could be a good outcome for local businesses and the community. As long as some cross traffic options remain (e.g. maybe Villa and California), blocking off traffic on Castro and turning it into a pedestrian "mall" could help create a much more vibrant downtown experience. Again, if well designed, it could be similar to the Pearl Street Mall in downtown Boulder, CO (Web Link) which is a thriving community hub for both locals and tourists. Even a busted clock is right twice a day. Maybe this is one of those times for the Council...


Posted by downtown neighbor
a resident of Willowgate
on Jun 27, 2016 at 3:16 pm

@Open Mind - The proposal that was approved does NOT call for closing any of the blocks of Castro, and will NOT create a dead end for Castro at the tracks. As has been mentioned above, Castro will join Evelyn, and Evelyn will be extended to join Shoreline.

Some details still need to be worked out, but as someone who lives nearby and has watched this planning process, I think this was a good decision. Evelyn and Castro are already gridlocked downtown at peak hours. With a new transit center, increased trains, a new hotel at Hope and Evelyn, and a rapidly expanding city population, this intersection was just not going to work any more.

A number of downtown merchants at the June 22 council meeting were outspoken in their objections to this plan, claiming that they were blindsided by the decision. That's just silly. There was plenty of notification; I followed the proposals all through the process - anyone could. But I don't think the merchants actually have anything to worry about. Of all the proposals, including no-build, this one should benefit them the most.

I don't support the closing of any of the blocks on Castro to create a "pedestrian mall," as that would impair traffic circulation. Fortunately, that is not being proposed.

As for your default skepticism of City Council, I am with you completely on that. This time, for once, they may have done something right.


Posted by Open Mind
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 27, 2016 at 3:34 pm

@downtown neighbor -- thanks for clarifying. I clearly misunderstood the proposal. I still like the notion of a pedestrian mall and have seen it work well in other places, but this does seem less potentially disruptive. Time will tell...


Posted by Michael
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 27, 2016 at 9:04 pm

How about making making Castro a one way street? Simple and effective?


Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 28, 2016 at 2:13 pm

It's incredible that so many people are talking about having a study or doing temporary closure to see the effect. We already know what the effect will be!

Does anybody remember back in February when there was a small event in Santa Clara called the Super Bowl? Well, Castro Street was closed at the tracks then!

Keep in mind that this was the biggest event to come near the Mountain View area in years and people were coming from both San Jose and San Francisco through Mountain View. As far as I know this was the only time that Castro was closed at the tracks for a big special event.

How do you think the businesses did that day? Take a guess!

IT WAS A DISASTER!!! My wife and I went to eat breakfast downtown that day and we were worried that we might not be able to get in the door. Well, we needn't have worried because there was almost NO ONE there! We had a whole restaurant to ourselves (one of the more popular restaurants on any other Sunday) and while I was glad to have a nice quiet place to eat, I hated to think of what effect it was having on the business!

After we ate, my wife and I went to watch the Caltrains arriving with all the Super Bowl fans and just check out the area in general. We ran into Vice Mayor Rosenberg and I told him about how empty all the restaurants were and engaged in other small talk.

After about an hour of trainspotting, my wife and I walked back through downtown and the restaurants were literally begging us to come in and offering free food in exchange for paying a modest cover. However, since we had just eaten shortly before, and watching the Superbowl in a mostly empty restaurant or bar didn't appeal to us, we decided to go home instead.

One other thing that we noticed was that all streets nearby were almost completely empty of parked cars, as well as the parking lots set aside for the now defunct "Paid Parking Program".

In my opinion, this is a perfect example of what we can expect in the future. With the closure of Castro street, plus the BRT lanes on El Camino, Oh and let's not forget the planned BRT lanes for Shoreline and the so-called road diet at the other end of Castro, this should be more than sufficient to kill off the pesky small businesses and restaurants that are clogging Castro street to make way for the Big Hotel and Big Tech companies that would just love to eat up what's left over.

Those of us who live near Castro will get to enjoy more traffic as commuters, cyclists, pedestrians, and the North Bayshore Transit Buses all cut through the neighborhood as a short cut! The Buses are already using West Dana Street as a shortcut now and these ridiculous plans haven't even been implemented yet!

No one expects that nothing will ever change in the MV and that there will never be any growth, but why do so many of the decisions have to have such disastrous effects on our quality of life?



Jim Neal
Old Mountain View



Posted by Darin
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2016 at 3:02 pm

Darin is a registered user.

I think it's a big stretch to call what happened during the Super Bowl a demonstration of what will happen when the train crossing at Castro is closed. That was hardly a typical Sunday, with many people heading for Levi's Stadium, many people avoiding the traffic heading for Levi's Stadium, many people at home Super Bowl parties, etc. I know a number of people who especially enjoy visiting public places on Super Bowl Sunday, simply because everyone else is busy with the Super Bowl, and they have these public places to themselves.


Posted by Resident
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 28, 2016 at 3:53 pm

Super Bowl Sunday is not a good gauge of a typical Sunday, particularly when the game is playing in Santa Clara. I thought we were all told to stay away from downtown to free up space for those visitors who needed parking in Mountain View for the game.

And these days, I don't need Castro Street to be closed at Central for me to avoid that area. Between the gridlock on Castro at commute time, poor parking, the post office with the longest line and my favorite places no longer there, I have little reason to go there anymore.


Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 29, 2016 at 8:23 am

Darin and Resident -- You both made exactly the points I am talking about. The Council predicted that there would be massive amounts of traffic and enacted a paid parking program that was supposed to generate revenue or at least break even. Neither of those happened. So why should we have faith in their prediction that businesses will not be negatively affected by such a massive change? Especially when the only member of the Council that runs a business voted against it and urged caution?

The fact that Super Bowl Sunday wasn't a typical Sunday, and that almost everyone was expecting downtown Mountain View to be packed should be a big red flag! IF the goal was to get everyone out of their cars, it certainly worked for the most part, but the predicted increase in foot traffic never materialized.

I have also been in the restaurants during other major events, such as the Olympics and World Cup Soccer and the restaurants were fully packed. During other Levi's stadium events, the restaurants were packed. The only difference this time was the closure of Castro at the tracks. Unfortunately, there is no way to measure how many people gave up on trying to get into downtown Mountain View that day, but I am certain that it was enough to make a difference between empty restaurants and maybe breaking even on Super Bowl Sunday.

Also, I have provided alternate solutions that would reduce traffic conflicts and increase bike/ped access without closing Castro street and costs a lot less. If my solution doesn't work, it still would allow for Castro to be closed at a later point if traffic was still so bad that there are no other alternatives.

If closing Castro street hurts businesses, it likely will never be reversed and even if it is, those businesses will still be gone. If the objective is not to kick out small businesses in favor of high tech on Castro, the council could simply follow the lead of Palo Alto and pass an ordinance banning any further location or expansion of coding or tech companies within 3 blocks of either side of Castro Street.

Jim Neal
Old Mountain View


Posted by Resident
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 29, 2016 at 8:55 am

It is easy to make Mr. Neal's point when Mr. Neal changes the facts. I simply said "Super Bowl Sunday is not a good gauge of a typical Sunday, particularly when the game is playing in Santa Clara". I never implied as he mentioned that "the goal was to get everyone out of their cars", since it was expected that "everyone" would be merely parking in Mountain View and traveling to Santa Clara.

How can the ever increasing gridlock on Castro Street/Moffett Blvd and Central Expressway be good for businesses in Mountain View? Most people traveling to these businesses will probably use the side streets to find parking in the city parking garages and want to avoid waiting while the trains stop traffic at Castro.


Posted by Overblown?
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jun 29, 2016 at 9:05 am

I've lived in mountain view south of el camino for over 20 years. I frequently eat and use several businesses downtown. I drive to 101. I regularly dirive to locations north of central, including some on or near Moffett.

In all that time, I've probably crossed Central at Castro less than 5 times. Too much of a hassle, and there are already better options. Someone coming from that intersection can't make a left into the transit area, so that option isn't even available. Forging a possible Evelyn through way is interesting (but should be studied in a reputable manner...not council people guessing...as there could be unintended outcomes).

Closing that intersection shouldn't be the catastrophe some suggest, and if a nice plaza area could be added, it might increase the allure of our downtown.


Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 29, 2016 at 9:25 am

Resident - I apologize for not being clear. I was not referring to you in my comments about 'getting everyone out of their cars'. Unless of course you are a member of the City Council.

I was in fact talking about other non-typical Sundays such as the World Cup Finals and other Levi''s Stadium events. I hope that clarifies things for you and anyone else who may have been confused.


Jim Neal
Old Mountain View


Posted by Reside
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Jun 29, 2016 at 9:41 am

Oh, so easy for all of you on the south (right) side of the tracks to get to Castro Street, but there is another side to the city. All of us who live in the north side of town will only have 2 ways to get to Castro Street (or maybe we need to go to the post office). Shoreline is a mess all morning long, cars are blocking intersections all the time, so there goes that left turn signal again and you can't move. I take Moffett in the morning, even with the train traffic it takes a lot less time and I don't have to go through the old Mtn View neighborhood.


Posted by AC
a resident of another community
on Jun 29, 2016 at 10:13 am

AC is a registered user.

@Reside

Thank you. This is one of my main points.

Also, with the "who uses the useless Castro/Central intersection anyway", I think I've mentioned that I use it in the evenings to exit the downtown area; and quite a few other people to do. You're all quite right that it's useless in the daytime.

But again, if there were two connections from Central to the downtown area (like Shoreline and Calderon across Central, just like they are accessible from El Camino), it would alleviate most of my issues.


Posted by MV Neighbor
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jun 29, 2016 at 6:20 pm

I'm glad this is finally happening- hopefully this will eliminate the dangerous crossing and people getting killed either by crossing over and partially blocking their vehicle across the railroad tracks.


Posted by And The Alternative Is???
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 30, 2016 at 12:19 pm

Geeze, there appears to be more closed minds than streets here!

The objective was and continues to be mitigating that awful gridlock where Castro meets the Caltrain tracks and crosses/feeds Central Expwy. The three alternatives the city considered were: 1) do nothing, which was wisely dismissed because the congestion would only get worse; 2) dig a tunnel -- a freakin' TUNNEL! -- under the train tracks and Central -- which would do far more to choke off downtown businesses (notably from Dana to Evelyn) than the other alternatives, not to mention be a huge – several years and many tens of millions of dollars -- construction undertaking; or, as the council opted for 3) simply close off Castro at Evelyn to cars and direct them to other existing points to access Central and destinations north of downtown. There'd still be a safe pedestrian crossing, either under or over the train tracks and Central.

Of all the options to eliminate the congestion at that point of Castro, closing it to cars at the train tracks is the most sensible. For reference – and tales of caution -- look at the grade separations (tunnels under Caltrain tracks) in Palo Alto (University Ave.) and Belmont (Ralston Ave.). For each, where that grade separation starts and finishes, there’s precious little commerce compared to the rest (at-grade) stretches of those streets.

Good decision by the city staff and council.



Posted by Jeremy Hoffman
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Jun 30, 2016 at 1:28 pm

I agree with everything "And The Alternative Is???" said.

I think city council and staff did a good job handling this issue. Doing nothing, and letting the crossing deteriorate into a traffic and safety nightmare, was not an option.

A pedestrian underpass and "extending" Castro along Evelyn seems like the most pragmatic solution.

It's indicative that only 13% of traffic into Castro St comes across Central, and that's before train frequency increases. (And higher train frequency is a great thing -- mass transit is the only way to keep car traffic from getting worse for those who do need to drive!)


Posted by Me
a resident of Willowgate
on Jun 30, 2016 at 6:05 pm

alright, lets get the work started. if traffic trying to get to castro isn't blocking moffett I might be able to get to central expwy instead of having to detor to whisman or shoreline


Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 1, 2016 at 8:15 am

And The Alternative Is??? - No one who opposes this is closed minded. If you read my comments or attended the Council meetings where I spoke about this issue, you would have know that several alternatives have been proposed. I note that those in favor of this project refuse to answer questions on how the gridlock that this project will create will be mitigated. It reroutes traffic through the neighborhoods and increases gridlock in downtown because in addition to closing Castro, the Council intends to add BRT lanes to Shoreline and El Camino and create a 'road diet' at the other end of Castro.

As I have stated several times before, the alternative is to add a bike/ped overcrossing, add timed lights at the intersection, and widen Castro to two lanes. These minor adjustments would be far less costly and would have far less negative impacts on the local businesses.


Jim Neal
Old Mountain View


Posted by Brian Smith
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 1, 2016 at 9:38 am

Well put, Jim. I think you, @AC, and I are kindred spirits.

In my view, there are two major current sources of gridlock (for vehicular traffic): 1. free and unimpeded flow of pedestrians asserting their right-of-way at crosswalks on Castro, and 2. the ill-timed lights at the Castro/Moffett/Central intersection. Sorry to beat this horse...

Rightly or wrongly, we have a culture that prioritizes pedestrian flows above all others. Second to this is the necessary allowance for trains that don't stop other than for passengers.

With the proposed T-intersection that will exist at NE Castro if the Council's plan is adopted, vehicular traffic will still be at the mercy of pedestrian right of way on Castro and on Evelyn. So, in my view even if the Council's plan is adopted, some way to control pedestrian traffic in this area will still be needed; perhaps in the form of WALK/DON'T WALK signals at key crosswalks especially those on Castro between Villa and Evelyn. Without such measures, the flow of traffic intending to enter/leave the downtown area via Evelyn-to-Shoreline or Evelyn-to-Sunnyvale will still be severely affected by the uncontrolled pedestrian traffic in this area. Pedestrian-induced bottlenecks will still be present.

Not having attended the Council meeting, I don't know if this potential problem has been identified or studied. It would be interesting to know if any actual counts/per hour have been made of the number of pedestrians crossing Castro at various times of the day and in various crosswalks vis a vis the number of cars navigating that same area. This is a wildcard I haven't heard fully addressed in this forum - a system-of-sytems problem.

I resonate with your idea of re-timing the lights at the Castro/Moffett/Central intersection. From what I've read here, only 13% of traffic entering/leaving downtown from Moffett/Central does so by crossing the tracks. If the traffic signals could be re-timed and appropriate crosswalk controls were put in place, I wonder how this number would change? Or how many fewer cars would get stuck in the middle of the Castro/Moffett/Central intersection (or on the tracks) when the SB lights turn red (a hazard in itself). Surely an experiment like this to gather more data would be worth the time and money before committing to the full Council plan.

Though Jeremey does make a valid point that train traffic will only increase in the future.

Where you and I can respectfully differ is the notion of converting Castro to two lanes in both directions. I think the current ambience of outside dining that would be sacrificed by eliminating that real estate in favor of two additional lanes is not worth the trade. Did I understand you correctly? How do others feel?

Given the dramatic, documented lack of ridership of buses on ECR, I am in lock step with you on the inadvisability of the BRT lanes on Shoreline and El Camino and the 'road diet' at the SW end of Castro where it meets ECR.

It is very encouraging to see the free flow of information and opinion on this little blog. I'm glad I live in a country where this is possible! I also applaud the Council for making a tough call. I just want to make sure the whole picture is taken in.


Posted by And The Alternative Is???
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 1, 2016 at 9:41 am

@Jim Neal:

To be sure, plenty of open minds have weighed in on this matter -- yours included, as represented by your own comments. (By the way, I attended the entire June 22 council meeting, where ample arguments for and against the Castro St. closure were made.)

Regarding how the gridlock would be mitigated by Closing Castro, quite simply, traffic flow would no longer be determined by trains and Central Expwy., which is nearly exactly what today clogs up Castro leading up to and at Evelyn.

With all due respect, Jim, those "minor adjustments" you suggest are flawed. Timed lights would do nothing with regard to traffic stoppage due to trains passing, which we all know are only to increase in frequency. And widening Castro to two lanes? Where? How? Narrow/remove the sidewalks and take out the maturing trees along it? Any thought to how negatively such a thing would impact the attractiveness of downtown? It would be certain to create a greater problem than the one it's intended to solve.


Posted by Brian Smith
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 1, 2016 at 9:50 am

One more thought/question...

Does anyone know if the proposed pedestrian/bike underpasses would address the pedestrian bottlenecks on Castro/Evelyn I discussed earlier?


Posted by reside
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Jul 1, 2016 at 9:58 am

The crosswalks between Evelyn and Castro need to have lights, just yesterday morning I notice pedestrians just walking across Castro without looking left or right. For them it doesn't matter if cars get stuck on the tracks. They are to observed with themselves. It was the jaywalkers who looked out for the cars. They didn't step of the curb to stop all traffic.
Just one thought, maybe eliminate the left turn from Central over the tracks and see how this makes this intersection flow better.


Posted by And The Alternative Is???
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 1, 2016 at 10:03 am

@Brian Smith:
From what the city and consultants have presented, the underpass/overpass (they haven't decided which) is intended to give pedestrians and cyclists a crossing point unimpeded by trains and Central Expwy., where the true backup exists. Are you referring to just the crossing at Evelyn?


Posted by Brian Smith
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 1, 2016 at 10:24 am

@And The Alternative Is???

I'm referring to the backup that is created by pedestrians crossing Castro primarily between Evelyn and Villa. On my daily commute to Moffett from downtown, because pedestrians can cross Castro at will (with no control) both NB and SB traffic on Castro both north of Central and South of the tracks gets really backed up.

In my post on June 23 I suggested synchronizing the traffic signals on Castro with the grade-crossing signals at the RR tracks. When grade-crossing lights are green, the signals on Castro would also be turned green and permit flow of traffic along the Castro corridor. And vice-versa.

This synchronization would be supplemented by WALK/DON'T WALK signals to control the flow of pedestrian traffic in the Castro St. crosswalks; particularly those closest to Villa. When the grade-crossing signals are green, pedestrians would receive a DON'T WALK indication and be prevented from crossing Castro. Thus permitting freer flow of vehicular traffic.

As it stands right now, when the trains arrive, the pedestrians going to and from the transit station cross Castro quite randomly and in virtually a continuous stream, thus "holding hostage" the vehicular traffic on Castro. I use the Castro/Central interchange each day and observe this happening.

I agree with @reside that pedestrians get immersed, heads-down in their smart phones and don't have a clue about their effect on vehicular traffic on Castro. Maybe DON'T WALK signals would get their attention. Not sure...

Clear as mud?


Posted by And The Alternative Is???
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 1, 2016 at 10:44 am

The clearest mud I've encountered today. ;-/

Understood -- and agreed. Pedestrians do need to take responsibility for their role in traffic flow. They (we!) aren't exempt from laws -- those of the roadways and of common sense.


Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 1, 2016 at 11:12 am

The two lanes would be at the very short section just before the railroad tracks on Castro where currently you only have one lane into Castro from Central and one turn lane from Evelyn onto Castro toward Central.

Remember, a lot of the clogged traffic on Castro at the tracks is not just caused by the trains, but the pedestrians and bike that they have to compete with just to get to the tracks. (I know because I have taken Caltrain to and from work almost every day for 5 years) By providing over crossings, it would speed the flow of traffic the same as it does in Las Vegas.

Timed lights in addition to the changes would also work as long as you don't add HSR to Caltrain (and there is absolutely no reason to have HSR on the Peninsula, but that is another long topic that I won't go into here).


Jim Neal
Old Mountain View


Posted by I_got_mine
a resident of North Whisman
on Jul 5, 2016 at 3:16 pm

I remember a high school I could bike to. I remember " Dog City ". I remember a place where I could bike to to get my first Weller soldering iron. I remember stopping at the pointy roof in town to get the special. I remember paying the BART tax and waiting for it to be built out with SP selling the ROW to BART and getting out of the passenger business.

Somebody took my town away and it is now a place that I never want to live in, EVER. When my parents die, their kids will have a chunk of change to spend and it WILL NOT be spent in Mountain View. There are many " neighborhoods " in the Denver Metro Area and they have *NEVER* had to close any streets to create them. Denver's 16th Street Mall still has bus traffic. Boulder has a bunch of Anti-car NAZIs and you can pay heavily to bring a car in Boulder. So continue your sell-out MVCC. Be unique, like everyone else :-/.


Posted by And The Alternative Is???
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 6, 2016 at 8:50 am

@I_got_mine:

Huhh??!!


Posted by True
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 6, 2016 at 2:46 pm

Show of hands....

How many of you in favor of closing off the end of Castro own businesses on that street?


Posted by True
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 11, 2016 at 4:26 pm

That's what I thought.


Posted by Move business to ECR
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 12, 2016 at 11:10 am

There was a time when the part of Mountain View by the tracks was not that desirable with the Mountain View Hotel, etc., so cities do change--and they can change.

The part of Mountain View that is now run down is the area from El Camino to Church Street (not to mention El Camino itself.) Instead of hurting business when they close the Castro/Central intersection, the city should consider moving the vital downtown business area away from the tracks and expand it up to El Camino. When the upgrade across El Camino starts to take shape, it will just show how shabby this entrance is to the downtown area.


Posted by Just wondering
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 13, 2016 at 2:23 pm

Didn't we leave Europe for a reason?


Posted by Aran Woodfin
a resident of another community
on Jul 20, 2016 at 6:31 pm

It has been a long time since I lived in Mountain View and I can't remember the junction well enough to figure this out - People have talked about the impossibility of raising the rail lines and the horrendous work involved with sinking the road but everyone seems to think raising the road over the rail is so impossible it isn't even mentioned. Why? If there is enough room to consider a tunnel what is different about a bridge, it should be cheaper and easier, surely?


Posted by MV Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 21, 2016 at 12:02 am

@Aron - Putting Castro UNDER the tracks would have required Castro begin its downgrade ditch at Villa, ruining the streetscape of the 100 block of Castro. That was one of the main reasons that this option was rejected.

Putting the road OVER the tracks would require an even greater change in elevation; Castro would have to begin rising even further back. An elevated ramp starting in the middle of downtown would be out of the question.


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