https://mv-voice.com/square/print/2022/04/21/mountain-views-planning-commission-backs-seven-story-office-project-at-san-antonio-center-following-big-revisions


Town Square

Mountain View's planning commission backs seven-story office project at San Antonio Center following big revisions

Original post made on Apr 22, 2022

The third redevelopment phase of Mountain View's San Antonio shopping center is nearing the finish line, after the city's Environmental Planning Commission voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of the seven-story office project.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, April 21, 2022, 1:43 PM

Comments

Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 22, 2022 at 1:00 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Oh look, a SEVEN story OFFICE PROJECT where the developer managed to boost "the density of the project more than five times higher than what's normally allowed." Is there ANYONE on staff who considers the jobs/housing imbalance when reviewing such projects? If not, why not?

"Merlone Geier is asking for a steep reduction in parking, just 283 of the 637 spaces normally required, arguing that the larger network of parking infrastructure built in the shopping center will be able to accommodate the future employees."

Awesome. The developer wants to build less than half the normal amount of parking, so the employees will take up parking spots all day that are intended for shopping. Not to mention the new school that is supposed to be constructed nearby. Boy, I would so love to send my child to a school that constantly has so many strangers milling about. And what about the normal drop off and pick up routines that are part of the normal school experience? With not a drop of extra parking to spare, these are sure to be completely safe for all concerned.

"Residents of the nearby Crossings neighborhood raised concerns that the project, along with the heavy load of residential development in the San Antonio area, is going to worsen traffic woes that have increased in recent years."

"Tim Mather, also a Crossings resident, said the city and its traffic consultants have unrealistic expectations that public transit will lower vehicle trips to a tolerable level. But [Commission member Chris] Clark said these concerns have been vetted."

Surely the public deserves more than a "look, we got this" when it comes to concerns about traffic when any new high density building is constructed. What new transportation magic is going to relieve the pressure? Many of us would like to see the math for ourselves.

This project looks like a whole bunch of horrible to me.


Posted by Tim Mather
a resident of The Crossings
on Apr 22, 2022 at 1:02 pm

Tim Mather is a registered user.

Unfortunately, Michelle and I ran out of time to fully discuss our objections to this project.

As Rebecca Shapiro, Deputy Zoning Administrator for the City of Mountain View, stated during the call, ¨each development plan is reviewed individually¨. That's exactly the problem! The City looks at these developments through a soda straw. The City is utterly failing to to appreciate the cumulative impact of all of these projects together. R4 + R4 + R4 = too much development, and too much density for the present infrastructure to handle. And, the sole improvement that the City has made to the local transportation infrastructure is to add a second left turn lane from San Antonio Road onto California Street. You´re kidding me - right?

Not only is the road infrastructure on San Antonio Road overwhelmed, but the City´s projections that CalTrain and local bus systems will offset increased traffic are completely unrealistic. The City has not even conducted a traffic analysis for the area. The City's ¨traffic analysis¨ in the San Antonio Precise Plan (P-40) is nothing more than a description of the existing transportation infrastructure. The City has paid far more attention to a parking analysis than it has paid to a proper traffic analysis about how all of that additional traffic is going to get to that parking.

Additionally, the local PG&E infrastructure is overwhelmed. The company's ability to properly conduct capacity planning is terrible. In The Crossings, and surrounding areas, we have had thirteen (13) power outages in less than two years.

CalTrain´s San Antonio station is already the 17th busiest station, even though it is a limited station (i.e., no Baby Bullet service). And, one CalTrain leaving that station (#223) is already one of the fullest trains at 104% capacity.


Posted by Tim Mather
a resident of The Crossings
on Apr 22, 2022 at 1:04 pm

Tim Mather is a registered user.

Contiuing with my previous comment...

The WiFi and cellular densities are so high that local networks are often unusable. Calls routinely go immediately to voicemail, only to have those voicemail messages arrive several hours later. And, there are a total of fourteen (14) EV charging stations available for how many hundreds of EVs in the immediate vicinity of San Antonio Road?

The facts are that population density within ZIP Code 94040, which includes San Antonio Road, is already too high for the infrastructure to support - it´s overwhelmed and failing today. And, these problems are only going to get worse with current City planning. Local residents´ quality of life is deteriorating, and the City government is failing its residents.


Posted by Tim Mather
a resident of The Crossings
on Apr 22, 2022 at 1:42 pm

Tim Mather is a registered user.

During the call, two of the Commissioners demonstrated their total lack of appreciation for the cumulative impact of these multiple developments along San Antonio Road. One Commissioner´s only objection to the project was the width of the planters. And, another Commissioner´s stated objection to the project was / is the lack of an internal passageway connecting the retail outlets to be hosted within the building.

Really? Talk about soda straw thinking! I think that these two Planning Commissioners should get out into the real world more often. Take a walk along San Antonio Road.


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Apr 22, 2022 at 2:01 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

It's interesting to note that to build underground parking spaces to the full specified level would cost the developer another $30 Million for this project. I guess that $20 Million on the development rights netted them a savings of $10 Million plus the right to build this massive amount of office space. Something seems fishy. Should such justifications be allowed to be based on so called promising signs? Are the other office buildings already built even fully occupied yet? It seems like wishful thinking to me.

Anyway, it seems that since it ended up saving the developer all this cost of parking garages due to the favorable location next to where they already had so called unneeded parking, then what they did pay for entitlement to footage was not a community benefit. They still owe benefits on the height issue. Many of them might help address the issues of forcing or inducing employees to use transit. They could perpetually pay to operate bus shuttle service across the whole city and Palo Alto too, for example.


Posted by Lyn
a resident of Shoreline West
on Apr 22, 2022 at 2:03 pm

Lyn is a registered user.

What a nightmare. Not only will this be a gigantic eyesore for all to see, but also a parking catastrophe. Do these city council members use their rational mind? Mountain View is turning into an overly expensive concrete jungle for the rich.


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Apr 22, 2022 at 5:30 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

The dodged parking spots might cost more like $300 Million than $30 Million. So the TDR's were quite a bargain if they get to not build a minimal amount of parking for office workers.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 22, 2022 at 5:42 pm

Frank Richards is a registered user.

One of the most reliable things in the world is people of a...certain generation... getting absurdly angry about parking. We'd solve climate change if we could figure out a way to harness that energy source!


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Apr 22, 2022 at 8:24 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

Mad about a $300 Million short cut and the lack of the NORMAL community benefits for a height increase that sticks out like a sore thumb. NOT mad about parking at all. The logic being used rests on current demand for transport for a project that is largely empty and then trying to extrapolate forward to a new tower. That's crazy. Make the developers provide transport for all workers, or for the portion without parking. Stanford has been providing transit passes to employees for years. Why should this new building be different from that? The developers could pay CalTrain to have more stops at that station. There are loads of things they could do that do not involve parking. They are cheating.


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 22, 2022 at 9:54 pm

Frank Richards is a registered user.

That post was very convincing that you're definitely not mad about parking. Amazing that you all think the best thing to do with $300M is make homes for cars.


Posted by Tal Shaya
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Apr 23, 2022 at 6:12 am

Tal Shaya is a registered user.

It's my street corner and I'm not happy about it. But what can you do?

Mountain View will not become the next Sand Hill Road. It will become like downtown San Jose.

I don't own property so I plan to leave asap. Lots of places are not overdeveloped.


Posted by Polomom
a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 23, 2022 at 10:20 am

Polomom is a registered user.

So maybe the WF development on Castro can now become housing "in Pioneer Park". Since we are building offices here. Can we please for once look at the big picture in our city.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 23, 2022 at 10:56 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

"One of the most reliable things in the world is people of a...certain generation... getting absurdly angry about parking. We'd solve climate change if we could figure out a way to harness that energy source!"

Frank, I'm glad that you are apparently young and healthy and able to ride a bicycle wherever you wish to travel. Are you aware that some people of a ... certain generation ... are not as physically blessed as you? And others have young children, which makes biking exceedingly impractical?

Are you a parent? Have you ever routinely dropped off and picked up young children from school?

Would you allow a small child to walk or bike to school by themselves if the school is in the San Antonio shopping center? Would you allow them to cross San Antonio or California St, with all of the heavy traffic, alone? I cringe at that thought.

I'm glad that you don't have a need for parking, but until there are better transportation alternatives, that is not true for everyone. Do their needs not matter?


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 23, 2022 at 11:39 am

Frank Richards is a registered user.

Leslie highlights exactly what I'm talking about. A whole generation of people that can't even conceive of living their lives without abundant free parking as far as the eye can see, and demand we all subsidize their lifestyle. I have kids, bike them around basically everywhere, and, yes, drop them off at school with bikes. People even ride the bus all the time, have you ever used the bus here?

However, I think the funniest part of your post is that you think the way to solve dangerous roads is to add *more parking and more cars*. Just a beauty.


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Apr 23, 2022 at 3:01 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

If the developer puts up 1/2 of its savings for skipping the required parking on that very profitable office bonanza creation, then that would be $150 Million for mass transit enhancement. It doesn't have to go for parking. There is precedent for developers spending to support transit. It would still be 1/2 the cost of the required provision of parking spaces for an automatic approval. The issue is that the developer is saving a lot of money and there is no assurance that the reduced parking size is truly workable. If it pays CalTrain to do more stops there, that's worth something. Caltrain plans to increase anyway, but that stop needs a lot of work before it is usable as other stops. The size of the stop is inferior and the pedestrian space for waiting is quite small. A bigger station would make a lot of sense overall.

This is about transport, not just parking. The developer could also fund a better system for bus stops unloading their passengers, whether private or otherwise, and for car services too, i.e. Uber. The developer is asking to cheat, not just to reorganize what is provided to accommodate an alleged difference in workforce preferences. It's a SCAM. Nothing in the LASD TDR's said they can skimp on parking or public benefits for height allowances beyond the city's plan.


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Apr 23, 2022 at 3:41 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

In other words, if the developer is accurate that employees prefer transit, does this not create a big burden on the transit in the area? Already residents of the apartments nearby are drawn by CalTrain and they ride it out to work each day. This loads the nearby station. The apartment residents use other transit too. If the car usage had truly switched to MOSTLY transit, then this development needs to help the transit infrastructure as opposed to the cars parking. Or use the building for a massive data center with few workers inside. That's a valid argument if they are doing that.


Posted by Marion Bailey
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Apr 24, 2022 at 9:51 am

Marion Bailey is a registered user.

Effective use of available and remaining commercially-zoned sectors of Mountain View is critical as the population increases.

San Antonio Road from Central Expressway to El Camino Real is a prime example.

Though the area is somewhat compressed compared to that of yesteryear, the developers have made good use of the land by accommodating new housing and retail businesses.

Parking has always been a problem regardless of time frames as most folks have always prefered to park as close as they can to the stores they are frequenting. Nothing has changed regardless of the shopping venue.

This section of San Antonio Road now has a vibrant look compared to the older days when all there was were Sears, Oshmans, and a Burger King + the mediocre San Antonio Shopping Center directly behind it that housed a Menu Tree, hobby shop and some smaller, utterly forgettable stores.

This is 2022 and we must be willing to adapt to the future of things to come.

As for cellphone reception, a tower can only accommodate 30 calls or 60 texts at one time and while No Service and Emergency Calls Only notifications can be problematic, the solution is simple.

With a seven-story building available, just add another tower.

No one will see it except for aircraft and 5g microwaves have not yet been proven as detrimental to human health.

Why are folks stressing over progress?




Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 24, 2022 at 11:18 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Frank, please stop putting words in my mouth and overgeneralizing what I say. It is a nasty habit. You get it wrong almost every single time.

Yes I've used the bus. I have already said I would love to keep my car at home. Until there are good transportation options that make this possible, I cannot do it. Why don't you advocate for better public transportation options and see how that goes? You seem indifferent to the plight of anyone who is not 20 or 30 without kids and able bodied. Getting groceries for a large family with kids in tow, and biking them to doctors appointments is not only impractical ... where on earth do you find the time? Do you really do this?

YOU are the one who seems to not understand that YOUR LIFESTYLE is not for everyone. You also seem indifferent to the problems that others are facing, as described by Tim Mather and others. If it's not a problem for YOU, then apparently it doesn't matter.

But what I notice most is that rather than talking about the jobs/housing imbalance you have chosen to focus on parking. Here we have a seven story office project where the developer managed to boost "the density of the project more than five times higher than what's normally allowed." And you are silent about what all those new jobs will do to the cost of housing.

You appear to care more about parking than than the cost of housing. I find that strange, unless your goal is primarily to help developers maximize their profits. What are your thoughts about a moratorium on new office construction in MV until the jobs/housing imbalance has been addressed?


Posted by Frank Richards
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 24, 2022 at 1:03 pm

Frank Richards is a registered user.

Again, it's a beautiful sight seeing someone incapable of understanding how anyone can live life without a car. People do it every day. I've got 4 kids, it's not that hard here. Just try it!

But fine, how about a trade: for every two parking spaces they don't want to build, the city should allow them to build a home, by right. Surely, you won't find that objectionable.


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2022 at 1:41 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

We aren't dealing with ideologies alone here. The bottom line is that in our current environment, the developer is relying on others to provide needed transport infrastructure for this project. That's not the only issue, but it actually does not depend on whether you believe cars are evil or not. If the developer argues that there is no need for parking, then let the developer provide some other kind of transport support for the future users of the building.

Their argument is weak. The know what they are doing, which is cheating so as to reduce their costs and increase their profits. At this point, that $20 Million they paid for extra footage is not worth it to the community. The school involved is not needed, but the problem is that the developer is getting hundreds of millions of dollars in savings from the generosity of the city in considering this very dense set of new offices in an area which needs housing much more than more offices. The old offices are liable to be idle in the future anyway. This is just a guess that things will change back to past practices after the pandemic. We will go back to 5 days a week of having 6 or 7 workers on site (contractor or employee or support business) per 1000 sf of office space. Or maybe not.... it's just a guess.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 25, 2022 at 11:13 am

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

"The bottom line is that in our current environment, the developer is relying on others to provide needed transport infrastructure for this project."

The game is called Privatize the Profit, Socialize the Cost. Keep all the profits for oneself, force the community as a whole to pay for necessary services.

"Their argument is weak. The know what they are doing, which is cheating so as to reduce their costs and increase their profits."

Agreed. And their cheating degrades the standard of living for others in the community.

Either one believes that there is a housing crisis due to a jobs/housing imbalance, or one does not.

It is hypocritical for those who clamor for more housing development - to supposedly drive housing costs down - to remain silent when high density office projects such as this one are put forward. Adding even more jobs will increase competition for existing housing and drive housing costs HIGHER. Why the silence?

Such persons demonstrate that they are merely fans of development, and of maximizing profits for developers and wealthy investors. Otherwise their silence doesn't make any sense at all. Follow the money.


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2022 at 2:08 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

An irony of this type of dense office development is that the location has potential precisely because Palo Alto is limiting office development. This is a very short distance from Palo Alto areas where there has long been office space. Palo Alto is now limiting that usage. They aren't allowing dense new development and they are converting some of the existing low density office space into housing. So along comes Mountain View and feeds the imbalance with a project like this.

It gets worse. The county transit dollars favor downtown San Jose. Mountain View sales tax contributes a lot of these dollars. (Office space doesn't generally yield much in the way of sales tax though.) They are working to improve transit there by building a very expensive subway for Bart. VTA is not supporting Caltrain and its growth. There is poor connectivity to Caltrain from VTA buses. VTA is focusing on more and better connections--but in downtown San Jose.

Some of what is happening is that developers are betting that companies would prefer to locate near Palo Alto rather than in the areas of downtown San Jose which have density increases planned, with supporting VTA and Bart infrastructure.

So there's a really good case for asking this developer to provide some of that missing support for public transit. If they can save hundreds of millions of dollars in parking garage construction, they should pony up to supply what the future workers are going to need.


Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 26, 2022 at 2:24 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

"So along comes Mountain View and feeds the imbalance with a project like this."

Be aware that nobody polled MV residents about how they feel about this project. It is NOT MV residents who are clamoring for this project. In fact, Tim Mather reported above that "Unfortunately, Michelle and I ran out of time to fully discuss our objections to this project."

I very clearly remember a certain especially loud, self-identified YIMBY stating that MV residents were to blame for the jobs/housing imbalance, it was "our mess" and now we had to "clean it up". They asserted that somehow residents benefit from all of the office construction, and so now we were somehow morally responsible to accept higher density as a consequence.

The only thing that Google ever gave me was a broken garage door. But here I am anyway, trying to improve the jobs/housing imbalance. But the silence in some parts is deafening.

If the jobs/housing imbalance is truly responsible for the housing crisis, where are the voices calling out for a moratorium on new office construction in MV until the jobs/housing imbalance has been addressed, and infrastructure changes have been made to support a 32% increase in housing units?

And why would an office construction project be approved when residents aren't even given enough time to discuss all of their objections to it?


Posted by Andrew G.
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 10, 2022 at 3:30 pm

Andrew G. is a registered user.

Regarding the Milk Pail proposal:

In my opinion, the proposal does not look iconic at all. Would have thought that iconic means outstanding not just with respect to the immediate neighbors, but on an absolute scale of achievement or characteristics. (Otherwise we are all icons.)
Just adding a few curves and a little color to overcome some initial resistance from the council does not make an architectural master piece.
As for the color scheme, the golden panels remind me of the socialistic "Palace of the Republic" in East Berlin.(Web Link
Obviously, this will add yet more traffic, but leaving the lot empty does not seem wise, nor does the odd floor more or less matter in the big picture. That already existing traffic problem has to tackled in a more holistic approach anyways.
But occupying our views of the mountains (Mountain View) with an outdated design (eyesore) that merely tries to get enough council votes (people who make the occasional comment but don't take the responsibility of the whole architectural planning) won't be remedied for many decades to come. Why one would stray from the existing design language in that corridor is beyond me.
Cheers, Andrew