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Mountain View City Council approves zoning changes to add residential and mixed-uses to city's shopping centers

Original post made on Jan 27, 2023

The Mountain View City Council brought the city’s housing element draft one step closer to completion on Jan. 24 by approving a few key zoning amendments, including allowing for future residential development at shopping centers.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, January 26, 2023, 1:02 PM

Comments (10)

Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 27, 2023 at 5:49 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

It's sad to me that the tone of the reporting on this issue tends to demonize residents for being afraid when a lack of information was presented to them by our fine city government. Rumors do tend to swirl whenever an information gap exists on important subjects. What cures the rumors? Increased COMMUNICATION and TRANSPARENCY.

I happen to be a fan of mixed use developments at shopping centers, I can see how housing units near grocery centers can eliminate the need for some car trips. That could be fantastic if it is executed well. Some of us are smart enough to know, however, that when something is torn down there is no guarantee that it will ever come back. Witness what is happening elsewhere in MV, "Mountain View's Charleston Plaza faces retail exodus as Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond and others leave town" Web Link . Is there any kind of guarantee that retail will return to that site? In comments, I found: "Every employee that I spoke with at the remaining stores said that housing was the reason for the store closures. And yes MV needs more housing, MV also needs commerce, retail stores, places for those of us who live here to shop. "

The idea of grocery outlets leaving the area, in the same manner as retail has left Charleston Plaza, is legitimately TERRIFYING to many people. Please don't mock residents for not putting their blind faith and trust into MV leaders, when CLEARLY retail is in very bad shape around these parts, and "housing" seems to be the only priority on the table.

There is another rumor that is swirling around MV, maybe the Voice can look into that one too? Some people believe that building more housing of any kind, even wildly expensive housing that is UNAFFORDABLE TO OVER HALF of existing residents, is an actual cure to the housing crisis. Can we please, please, please put that nonsense to bed too?

Posted by Another MV Resident
a resident of Willowgate
on Jan 27, 2023 at 6:44 pm

Another MV Resident is a registered user.

Love it. Build, baby, build! We need more more more. Big beautiful residential towers along el Camino and Castro and all throughout the town.

Posted by Steven Goldstein
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 27, 2023 at 9:09 pm

Steven Goldstein is a registered user.

Just an Observation,

The City Council is going to have to address the fact they have allowed illegal apartments for rent in the city.

David Avny when he bought 184 Centre Street KNEW in 2015 that the apartment was in non conformance of the zone it resides. Here is the documents (Web Link

The City website declares the zone an R3.1 which requires 21,000 sq ft for 11 units, there is only 8,000 sqft in this lot (Web Link

The buyer clearly should have seen it. This record was found from the cases 16CV291570 and 2015-1-CV-288597

"10. One of the material facts about the Property that should have been disclosed to plaintiffs, but which was not disclosed to plaintiffs (either by the sellers or by Alain Pinel), is that the 11 unit apartment building is a nonconforming use under the zoning laws of the City of Mountain View. Under that zoning law, if fifty percent (50%) or more of the apartment building is substantially destroyed or removed, then the owner of the Property will not be able to reconstruct an 11 unit apartment building. Instead, the owner would be allowed to build only two residences on the Property, having a commercial value substantially less than an 11 unit apartment building."

"On October 29, 2015 Plaintiffs learned that the 11 unit apartment building on the Real Property is a non-conforming use under the City of Mountain View zoning laws, with the result that if fifty percent or more of the apartment building is destroyed, the apartment building cannot be rebuilt; instead, only two residential units would be allowed to be built, which would be a significant decrease in the value of the Real Property."

This was prepared by David Avny’s attorney
2166 The Alameda
San Jose, CA 95126

Posted by Jerry
a resident of another community
on Jan 29, 2023 at 12:35 pm

Jerry is a registered user.

I agree with @Leslie Bain on mixed-use developments at shopping centers. Wholesale replacement of shopping centers with high-density housing will require many more residents to travel outside their neighborhoods for groceries and services. And how will those residents travel? Cars, of course, since public transportation doesn't go where anyone wants or needs to go. It's simple mathematics.

The minimum requirement here should be to preserve retail space at these sites. And if at all possible, preserve the existing businesses, such as Safeway and it's satellite shops. Not doing so will lead to traffic armageddon.

I've lived here for over 30 years and the quality of life now is certainly getting worse by the decade. It's not the people, it's not the job opportunites, and it's not the social/cultural experiences. It's not even (so much) the crime. It's the transportation system that's clogged due to more people.

Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 30, 2023 at 11:19 am

Frank Richards is a registered user.

Jerry, I'm not sure your complaints about public transit are accurate today. As far as I can tell, the Mountain View Community Shuttle travels to all the village centers mentioned in this article. Give it a try!

Posted by Jerry
a resident of another community
on Jan 30, 2023 at 7:12 pm

Jerry is a registered user.

Wasn't aware of the Community Shuttle. Thanks, Frank.

Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 30, 2023 at 8:41 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

FYI, funding for the shuttle runs out in 2024.

And the weekend schedule doesn't allow one to use it to go downtown for dinner on a Friday or Saturday night.

Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 30, 2023 at 9:09 pm

Frank Richards is a registered user.

It's definitely not perfect, but it's a really useful option. The more people use it and know about it, the more we can expand it. They've already recently expanded the weekday service thanks to VTA's Measure B.

Let's fight for increased service and funding!

Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Jan 30, 2023 at 9:57 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

The kind of housing that will be built on a shopping center's upper levels is likely to be expensive luxury housing. They won't be riding the community shuttle. Not only that but with mixed use, a lot of the upper levels will house new offices. They won't be using the community shuttle either. The only thing that will make these centers be redeveloped is if it is profitable. These centers are having housing built already in Southern California. They are usually larger than what's being made eligible here. Mountain View already allows housing in larger plazas say San Antonio Center. The issue there is that binding long term leases lock down current tenants like Wal Mart. When that gets built it will be fancy housing as well.

I'm not clear if Charleston Plaza will be the same thing. Being next to Costco might make any housing there be more affordable. But Costco has a long term lease too one imagines.

Posted by Steven Goldstein
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 30, 2023 at 10:26 pm

Steven Goldstein is a registered user.

Just an Observation,

The scary part of Mountain view is that you cannot just do tiny lots and try to make more affordable housing. This situation requires that the city use emanate domain to capture a significant size, redesign the roads, gas, electric, water and sewage for the area, and plan out the buildings.

Has anyone ever played the game SimCity?

But since this process is trying to in effect micro surgery a macro problem, you wind up with too much delay and not enough action.

In fact the City Development Staff is so short on experts and efficiency, it needs a major overhaul, along with City safety personnel.

But I do not know when the city will ever get serious about it.

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