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OMVNA Newsletter

June, 1998
Volume 10, Number 4

The OMVNA Spaghetti Dinner

Why All This Digging Downtown? Or: Undergrounding Utilities

I Hate Those Ugly Overhead Wires

Keep Your Canines Safe and Secure!

Revisiting the Evelyn Corridor Plan

Light Response to Preservation Survey

The Old Mountain View Neighborhood is bordered by El Camino Real, Shoreline Boulevard, Evelyn Avenue, and Highway 85. The Old Mountain View Neighborhood Association consists of residents interested in preserving the quality of life in our neighborhood. Together we can make a difference—join us!

The Merciful Singers entertained the crowd at the OMVNA Spaghetti Dinner. If you love to sing, the Merciful Singers invite you to join them. They meet on Sunday evening, about once a month. For more information, call Josef Cayot, 968-8892.

The OMVNA Spaghetti Dinner

Some 70 friends and neighbors came to socialize and have dinner together at the May OMVNA Spaghetti Dinner honoring the newsletter delivery crew.

Thanks go to Pat Mercedes and her crew who cooked an enormous quantity of spaghetti; Aaron Grossman who spent many hours shopping for supplies; Julie Lovins who pulled it all together; the Merciful Singers who entertained us; and all of you who came and shared the afternoon with us.

And Julie can always use more newsletter delivery people. It's fun—ask anyone and they'll tell you. You can contact Julie at 964-0368.

Why All This Digging Downtown? Or: Undergrounding Utilities

by Ronit Bryant

So what's going on downtown? The overhead utility lines are being undergrounded—and it's a long and complex process. Undergrounding utilities is considered a positive step for a city to take, one that enhances the environment, and Mountain View's goal is to eventually underground all utilities. But, given the expense and complexity of the process, the best we can look forward to in the next 20 years, says Bob Kagiyama, Principal Civil Engineer for the City, is the undergrounding of utilities along the major arterials in town.

And who is paying for this? In 1968, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) established a program that required PG&E to annually allocate funds to cities and counties within its service area for the undergrounding of existing overhead electric facilities. This program is commonly referred to as the Rule 20A undergrounding program. To be eligible for the program, an undergrounding project must extend for a minimum of one block or 600', whichever is less, include both sides of the street, and meet one of the following criteria:

  • Eliminates an unusually heavy concentration of overhead lines; or
  • Involves a road that is extensively used by the general public and carries a heavy volume of pedestrian or vehicular traffic; or
  • Passes through an area of unusual scenic interest to the general public.

When Rule 20A funds are used, both Pacific Bell and, in Mountain View, the cable television company must underground their overhead facilities at their cost and at the time and to the extent that PG&E converts its own overhead facilities.

Council has reviewed and approved a priority list for undergrounding utilities, and the City has been accumulating Rule 20A funds from year to year to pay for major projects. The undergrounding of utilities in the downtown area (bounded by California, Hope, Evelyn, and Bryant) has a price tag of $1.6 million. The City's only contribution is administering the project.

Currently, PG&E, Pacific Bell, and the cable television company are digging trenches and putting conduits underground. The overhead utilities are still active. The next step will be to dig lateral trenches to each individual building and have each property owner install a converter so as to be able to access the underground utilities. Once that has been accomplished, the underground system will have to be energized, building by building. When everybody is on the underground system, the overhead system will be de-energized. Then the utility companies will remove their wires and poles. And finally the hole is replaced by the appropriate material (pavement or dirt). In some places, trees might replace the poles.

I Hate Those Ugly Overhead Wires

Ronit Bryant

Ugly poles and uglier wires—wouldn't it be great to underground the utilities as in the new developments! It can be done—at a price.

If you live on a small residential street and you want to underground the utilities on your block, you have to pay for it—some $225 per linear foot. The process involves digging a trench down the length of the block, but also digging lateral trenches to connect each house to the underground conduit, plus a conversion box for each house to access the underground utilities. And, finally, the overhead transformer needs to be relocated to ground level and placed in a large and visible cabinet.

Interested? Start by petitioning your neighbors to participate in the cost of undergrounding the utilities. The City will oversee an assessment district process. (This is a way to provide financing to property owners at reasonable interest rates over a 15-year period—you pay the cost through your property bill.) For more information, call Bob Kagiyama, Principal Civil Engineer, at 903-6311.

Keep Your Canines Safe and Secure!

Anita Louis Grossman

I don't know about you, but when I see a friend of the canine variety running loose around the neighborhood, I see red, because these furry four-legged animals truly are at risk when they wander.

Given the huge traffic concerns in Old Mountain View, there's a very real possibility that dogs off-leash will be hit by a car. They are literally accidents waiting to happen. Plus, your dog may be smart, but s/he probably doesn't know that snail bait is poisonous. And while it's probably unlikely, somebody may like your dog enough to a) take the dog home (someone's home, not your home) or b) call Animal Services. Plus folks who do not know your dog, or how friendly s/he is, have every right to take action to protect themselves and their kids.

Besides, according to the City of Mountain View, Article II, Section 5.4, it's illegal. "No person owning or having control of any animal shall permit such animal to stray or run at large upon any public street or other public place, or any unenclosed private lot or other unenclosed private place…" In case you have doubts about the City's good intentions, you might want to take into account the kind-to-critters language of Section 5.12a, item (3): "to protect an animal from injury which has strayed onto public property or public right-of-way."

So let's say someone gets concerned enough to bust your dog by calling Animal Control. Well, you might get off with just a citation. But if you aren't home when this happens, the Animal Control Officer can impound your dog. And that spells time, aggravation, and $$$!!! So be a good friend to your loyal friend (and a good neighbor too—it's annoying to pick up after your pooch) by keeping your dog under your watchful eye or free to roam within the boundaries of your home.

Revisiting the Evelyn Corridor Plan

Ronit Bryant

In 1989, with Castro Street being revitalized and concerns about traffic in our neighborhood, the City sponsored a series of public workshops to launch work on the Evelyn Corridor Concept Plan. The Concept Plan, approved by Council in 1991, envisioned a connector street between Evelyn and Villa, cutting diagonally across the Minton Door block (bounded by Evelyn, Bush, Villa, and View) and separating the residential part of our neighborhood from the commercial downtown area.

The Evelyn Plan was discussed by the Environmental Planning Commission and by City Council, with much public input. Council finally accepted a Precise Plan in 1994. By now, the diagonal connector had become an S-curve connecting Evelyn and Villa at Bush Street. Neighbors warned that the new connector would separate the new development planned for the Minton Door block from the rest of the homes in the neighborhood. But Council approved the plan, and the first part of the S-curve was built.

The Town Square development was built on the site of the Minton Door Company, and the Town Square residents have recently complained to the Council Transportation Committee (CTC) that the S-curve cuts them off from the rest of the neighborhood. They have also expressed concerns about the speed of cars on the S-curve and about their personal safety in such an environment. At the May 20 meeting of the CTC, after considerable public input, the CTC decided to recommend to City Council that the implementation of the rest of the S-curve be delayed and that staff conduct further studies.

Light Response to Preservation Survey

Bruce Karney

In the last issue of this newsletter, we asked for your opinions about neighborhood preservation. Response was light—only 19 people sent back their surveys out of a readership of about 1800 households. So the results may not reflect the attitudes of the neighborhoods a whole. However, those who did respond felt strongly about the contribution that our older homes make to our quality of life and the need to preserve those homes.

One reader commented, "A really large house was built next door despite a petition signed by 50 owners." Another wrote, "I think the City should monitor rentals and how many unrelated adults live in them." Another neighbor wrote, "The survey is so slanted and biased I was unable to compete it… it is possible to preserve the flavor of the neighborhood while remodels occur."

Nevertheless, for those interested in the results of our unscientific survey, here is what our sample, consisting of 84% owners, 89% residents of single family homes, had to say. (This sample is heavily skewed toward single-family home owners.) Also, none of the respondents lived in a dwelling constructed since 1969. 47% said their residence was constructed between 1950 and 1969, 32% said between 1930 and 1949, and 21% earlier than 1930.

Percent agreeing with the following statements:
Our neighborhood (Old MV) is a very nice place to live. 100%
The charming character of the neighborhood is important to me. 94%
OMVNA should help preserve our neighborhood's character. 94%
Older homes are a key part of the character of the neighborhood. 89%
I'm concerned that Old MV may soon lose its unique charm. 83%
I would be upset if a really large house were built next door to me. 82%
I'm concerned about preserving older homes in Old MV. 78%
I'm as concerned about preservation as about traffic in Old MV. 76%
Certain new 2nd floor additions have detracted from Old MV. 76%
I would be upset if my neighbors added a 2nd floor to their house. 75%
I'm aware the City adopted an OMV Preservation Plan in 1991. 71%
Current City single-family zoning policies are just about right. 71%
Zoning policies are too loose; put a stop to "monster houses." 71%
Certain new single-family homes have detracted from Old MV.65%
I'm as concerned about preservation as about crime in Old MV. 65%
Certain new housing developments have detracted from Old MV. 53%
Zoning policies are too restrictive; let people build as they please. 6%

The Old Mountain View Neighborhood Association Newsletter
is published by a volunteer editorial committee & distributed to some 1900 homes and businesses by volunteers.

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The opinions printed in this newsletter are not necessarily those of the OMVNA Steering Committee.