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Mountain View's planning commission backs big infill housing project despite health concerns

Original post made on Jan 6, 2022

A major proposal to add hundreds of housing units to an existing apartment complex won support from Mountain View's Environmental Planning Commission Wednesday, despite concerns over construction and pollution.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, January 6, 2022, 12:08 PM

Comments (11)

Posted by Ed
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 6, 2022 at 2:27 pm

Ed is a registered user.

Kudos to the planning commission for moving the project forward. We desperately need new housing of all types, and surface parking lots are among the best places to put it.

Posted by ivg
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2022 at 7:55 pm

ivg is a registered user.

Yes, thanks to all of the commissioners for the unanimous approval.

I want to address the issues brought up in this article. First, the long construction schedule results from the project phasing (it won't all be under construction at once), which was requested by the neighbors. Second, the connection with Stevens Creek is a complete red herring. The creek is on the opposite side of the highway! Finally, the heritage trees being removed are non-native, whereas the new landscaping will use mostly native plants. (Thanks to the developer for switching the landscape palette!)

Posted by bkengland
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jan 6, 2022 at 8:06 pm

bkengland is a registered user.

I echo kudos to the EPC for approving this project. There are many reasons why this will benefit Mountain View, not the least of which is by providing sorely needed housing and helping to reduce commute-related vehicle miles travelled. For overall environmental sustainability benefits, it's essential to weigh all the pros and cons, which the commissioners did well, along with valuable input from community speakers.

Posted by SRB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jan 6, 2022 at 8:31 pm

SRB is a registered user.

Kudos also to the developer for working with city and community to improve the proposal. It's also not every day that 300 new housing units produce a new 1.3 acres public park.
I agree that the link with Stevens Creek was a bit of a red herring since SR85 separates the project from the trail.

Posted by Shane
a resident of Willowgate
on Jan 7, 2022 at 9:17 am

Shane is a registered user.

I read your article on the important EPC meeting held on Wednesday, January 5, 2022. As you may know, the reason why this project has been in the planning stage since 2015 is because the developer, AvalonBay, has not been capable of providing an acceptable project plan to the EPC or City Council. Additionally, the developer had failed to address the major concerns of the residents and currently has refused to consider practical and economically feasible alternatives to their proposed design that would add more housing and preserve the urban forest and tree canopy. I believe you could be the first newspaper to bring public awareness to a significant local problem that has nationwide repercussions. Simply put, we have a decades long defective urban land use planning process. The process is inherently adversarial and it should be a cooperative process between the corporate developers, the residents, and the public officials. A solution is a paradigm shift in perception and the willingness to adopt adopt the concept of Biomorphic Urbanism. The premise is we have a defective land use planning process in the City of Mountain View and most cities across our great nation. My primary concern is that corporate developers nationwide have been surreptitiously taking over the urban land use planning process from the local public officials and ergo the people. The developers in Mountain View actually pay the EPC consultants to draft the EIRs. This is a direct conflict-of-interest. The proposed 555 W Middlefield High-Density Housing Development will clear cut an urban forest and wildlife habitat (120 trees, 62-Heritage trees) with a nexus to the Stevens Creek Trail Corridor. The tree canopy provides a protective barrier and significant health benefits between Highway 85 and our homes. The tree canopy absorbs noise and filters out toxic fumes and hazardous airborne particulates from car and truck tailgate exhaust, brake linings and tires.

Posted by Gayle
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 7, 2022 at 10:23 am

Gayle is a registered user.

This grove of heritage trees is definitely connected to Stevens Creek Trail, and not on the opposite side of 85. If you walk over the top of the burm you are on the trail!

I have walked this area, and there is no reason for the developer to clear cut these trees. They in no way impede construction. This is a purely aesthetic choice, which is a violation of the City's own agenda and Code of Ordinance:

Chapter 32 - Trees, Shrubs and Plants* - Article 1 - General
Sec. 32.35. - Criteria for removal; Conditions; Findings...
2. The necessity of the removal of the heritage tree in order to construct improvements...
5. Balancing criteria. In addition to the criteria referenced above which may support removal, the decision-maker shall also balance the request for removal against...
C. The effect of the requested removal with regard to shade, noise buffers, protection from wind damage and air pollution and the effect upon the historic value and scenic beauty and the health, safety, prosperity and general welfare of the area and the city as a whole.

Their removal is unnecessary.

Posted by Free Speech
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Jan 7, 2022 at 10:45 am

Free Speech is a registered user.

A few days ago I received a postcard in the mail, from the City of Mountain View, concerning the water shortage. On the reverse side, the words "Save Our Trees - Trees and plants create wonderful benefits to our community. Keep mature trees and plants healthy by watering them as needed".
Is this current council hypocritical, ignorant or corrupt? Or a combination of all three? Developers run this city, that is clear.

Posted by Bernie Brightman
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jan 7, 2022 at 1:57 pm

Bernie Brightman is a registered user.

"only 57 trees"?! What's the point of a heritage tree law if violations of this magnitude are sanctioned?

And why is nobody discussing the fact that we are now going to 4 stories in a residential part of town? There's an old story that if you want to cook a live frog you can do it by gradually raising the temperature little by little until it is cooked to death. In a like way 4 stories will lead to 5 and then 6 and then so on. But do we really want to be that frog?

How about 4 stories in the Cuesta Park area? When's that happening, hypocrites?

Another big problem that this is only going to exacerbate is that people in that complex routinely make a lefthand turn from the driveway onto Middlefield, GOING AGAINST TRAFFIC, to turn into the Valero gas station at the corner, traverse the station to reach Moffett and then go wherever. I turn the corner at Middlefield and am routinely confronted by WRONG WAY traffic! Add more residents and this is only going to get worse.

This whole corner and area should be re-studied, including the possibility of removing the Middlefield Road driveway, before this project is approved.

And by the way, this idea of what the builders "should do to be good citizens" isn't worth a bucket of warm piss. If it's not in writing with a penalty behind it, they'll do whatever they gd please.

Posted by Kristine
a resident of Willowgate
on Jan 7, 2022 at 2:47 pm

Kristine is a registered user.

My partner & I live at 555 W Middlefield Rd. And we attended the 1/5 EPC meeting and were very confused that the EPC did not seem to hear or address our concerns just as Avalon did not address them after we attended and voiced these concerns at multiple community meetings. Essentially, we want to live in a safe redwood tree filled community, and Avalon and the EPC are suggesting if we want to stay we have to face significant health risks and also have a huge number of heritage trees removed that currently help protect our air and noise quality, particularly from neighboring highway 85. 80-100 feet of heritage trees are currently giving us a great protective barrier from many highway toxins and air pollutants along with the tremendous noise this highway creates even though we live several buildings behind this tree canopy protective barrier. The health risks current residents would face are not small and we are troubled to find the city of Mountain View seems to not prioritize the health and safety of us as residents by potentially allowing this type of development while saying residents won’t be displaced but understanding for us to stay we have to endure major environmental health risks including the exposure to significant air pollutants along with noise that is not sustainable for even days in the very old buildings we live in that have thin unsealed windows. So to stay, we’d have to risk our health and ability to continue to work from home. This is not okay. I have lived in Mountain View several years both now and 16 years ago and it seems to me Mountain View is turning into a very different place because of pressure to develop. What I am seeing now is a Mountain View that sends post cards about preserving old growth trees but yet has officials voting to destroy them. This is confusing. Perhaps stop focusing on development as priority when you haven’t yet accounted for all of us who will be leaving due development that is not environmentally savvy enough?

Posted by ivg
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2022 at 6:25 pm

ivg is a registered user.

People only care about trees they can see. Propose 323 homes on quarter-acre lots in the wildfire country of the Sierra foothills, and I guarantee you that you won't have 50 people calling into a Planning Commission hearing to stop the project.

Posted by I can't breathe pollution
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 11, 2022 at 5:08 am

I can't breathe pollution is a registered user.

According to the EPA, if you live within .3 miles of a "major roadway" (having a stop sign counts) then you are at risk for cancer, heart disease, and dementia. As my mother died from cancer living in this area, I am truly appalled at the priorities of the city

The World Health Organization reported that 18 percent of deaths worldwide are from airborne pollution.

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