The Year in
Review: Notes from OMVNA Chair Garth Williams
We started the year with an extensive goal-setting process, thanks to the hard work and efforts of Jean McCloskey, who led the Steering Committee in this effort. As a result, we decided to focus energies this past year on two primary goals: 1) to become more pro-active in the neighborhood and 2) to work toward ensuring that the neighborhood preservation and improvement plan is implemented. With respect to our first goal, we had great success with major improvements to the OMVNA website. If you haven't already visited the site in the last few months, I encourage you to do so. The website has new links and meeting notices, not only for the OMVNA-sponsored meetings, but also for other meetings of potential interest to Old Mountain View residents. Kudos to Bruce Karney, our new Webmaster for providing the web magic that makes it all happen! Bruce also got OMVNAtalk, our very own e-mail list service, up and running, with the gracious help of Jeff Farmer. If you have not joined OMVNAtalk, now is the time; you can even join from the OMVNA website (see related article).
Also, as evidence of our new proactive stance, we received a grant from the City of Mountain View for our Emergency Preparedness program. Tim Johnson and Aaron Grossman have been heading up this team and putting in many hours to ensure we are ready for the unexpected. With Y2K on our heels, let's hope we don't need to use their newly-acquired talents ... but we should all be able to rest a little easier knowing this program is in place.
With respect to implementation of the neighborhood preservation plan, our results have been mixed. We still have a great deal of work to do in order to get this fully implemented. On the positive side, Mercy-Bush Park was approved and is in the City's budget for this fiscal year! The City Council recently awarded a design contract, which calls for the design to be developed by June and construction to start in September. The park is expected to open in November 2000.
The downtown business district is also going through major changes that will affect all of us. We have been actively trying to help shape the development of the downtown area that is literally at the center of our neighborhood. Julie Lovins has worked tirelessly as the OVMNA representative on the Downtown Committee and gone well above and beyond the call of duty on numerous occasions.
In the midst of all this we were also able to have a little fun at our two general meetings. At our spring meeting we had a great BINGO game with lots of prizes, thanks to a number of downtown merchants. At the fall meeting, we elected the new steering committee (see page 4 for listing and e-mail addresses) and were entertained, courtesy of Bob Reay and company!
I'd like to thank all the steering committee members for taking time away from their families and work to try to help make the neighborhood an even better place to live! Finally I want to thank all the folks involved in the production and distribution of this newsletter -- Anita Grossman, our editor, and Julie Lovins, our distribution coordinator. To those of you who deliver the newsletter, many, many thanks. And to those of you who would like to help with this part of the newsletter process, I encourage you to contact Julie at 650/964-0368. To all, thanks for all your hard work in 1999 and let's have a happy and prosperous (and glitch-free) 2000!
Editor's Note: the monthly meetings of the OMVNA Steering Committees are now on the second Monday of each month, from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. at in the Reading Room of Trinity Methodist Church. ALL ARE WELCOME!
You may have already heard that the Downtown Committee, on December 8, and then the Environmental Planning Commission, on December 15, will be holding public hearings on proposed Downtown Precise Plan revisions that definitely affect our neighborhood. As you are reading this, December 8 is past, but please attend the December 15 meeting in City Hall, 7:30 p.m. The two groups are listening and deliberating separately this time, so we must be at both meetings. (See the Downtown Precise Plan Map.)
The good news is that maximum building heights, in the "transition areas" east and west of Castro, are up for reduction (relative to what's in the current, 1988, Precise Plan for the area). Fairly high residential density is still planned, but there will be intrinsic limitations imposed by new on-site parking requirements and lot size (by a sliding density scale), so what's on the map may not even be a practical maximum. There will still be up to 180 new residential units built close to downtown, in addition to Park Place II. This will improve the customer base for downtown businesses (including the "basic" ones we've been asking for) and for public transit. To the extent that a "residential" preference is being substituted for a "commercial" one, we should end up with a much lower increase in traffic than would be generated by the 1988 Plan.
Contemplating this much additional housing has motivated a close look at what it should look like, and a number of great look-and-feel guidelines are also included in the package, starting with increased building setbacks. There will be an attempt to have "compatible" land uses back-to-back on a given block, though compromises will be needed closer to Castro Street. Making "mixed use" less "mixed" by concentrating housing and businesses on different parts of a single block, in these areas, is also being looked at.
While a lot of new construction is going on, much of this zoning is for the future, as ownership and land use change naturally through attrition.
We are looking at a pattern that is to evolve gradually over time, as we remake Downtown in a way that will be compatible with what we have now and want to keep, as well as generating great new locations for living and working.
Not only the Tasman West Light Rail extension, making it a straight shot from downtown Mountain View eastward to the Baypoint transfer station past North First Street, but also the new multi-modal Transit Center near Hope and Evelyn will be opening on December 17. There will be a grand opening ceremony for LRT going on from 11 to 3 on the 17th, and free Light Rail rides all weekend. It will now be possible to travel from our neighborhood all the way to south San Jose (and vice versa) 24 hours a day on the LRT lines.
To supplement the goodies available from our local Farmer's Market on Sundays, sign up for a biweekly box of carefully selected seasonal organic produce from a wonderful farm in Guinda. For this delivery period, the boxes will arrive in our neighborhood on Saturday mornings, starting January 8, nine times through April 29. Please contact me for more information and to get a sign-up form, if you are not already enjoying this service.
Corner: Pre-light Rail!!!
The railroad system had a great impact on Mountain View. Cristano Castro, property owner of the land around Mountain View, gave the fledgling San Jose and San Francisco Railroad right of way across his property in exchange for a flag stop across from his home (the Castro Station at Rengstorff Avenue). Today, Caltrain follows the same right-of-way as the original railroad line. In 1864, S.O. Houghton, Castro's attorney and owner of acreage adjacent to the right of way, offered the railroad a strip of land 100 feet wide by 600 feet long on which to build a station. Mr. Houghton supervised the surveying and laying out of adjoining streets. Mountain View, originally a stage stop on the corner of El Camino Real and Highway 237, developed the land along the railroad tracks at Mountain View station, now Castro Street. This business district was called New Mountain View.
The San Francisco and San Jose Railroad was the third railroad to be built in California. Construction began at San Francisquito Creek on May 1, 1861. The train reached Mountain View on November 14, 1863, and full service from San Jose to San Francisco began in January 1864, with one trip daily. The train fare cost 5 cents a mile ($2.50 one way) and took 3 1/2 hours, compared to the stagecoaches' $32 fare and all-day trip. The railroad owned the first heavy locomotive built in the state (at Donahue's Union Iron Works in San Francisco) and established a speed record for train travel west of the Rockies in August 1865.
In addition to passengers, the train transported up to 10 carloads of apricots, sugar beets, and other fruit. Local wineries, dairies, and lumber companies also transported goods by railroad. The access to new markets was responsible for higher land values in Mountain View. Along with the benefits of the train service came difficulties. Range fences needed to be built along the track to keep cattle off, and there was always the danger of fire caused by cinders from the smokestack.
The San Jose and San Francisco Railroad merged with three other railroads to become the Southern Pacific Railroad in October 1870. Murphy Station (Sunnyvale) and the Mountain View Station were the two major flag stops on the line.
By 1875, New Mountain View had a church, hotel, livery, general store, druggist, carpenter, two blacksmiths and shoemakers, and three saloons for a population of 250. The increase in population and prosperity in the area led to expansion of the railroad. By 1892, ten trains ran each way daily. The second track was laid by 1925, and 34 trains ran each day.
Preparedness for Pet Owners
This is the fourth in a series on safety and emergency preparedness.
If an earthquake or other disaster were to force you to evacuate your home and seek emergency shelter, you will have several options available to you. However, most such shelters will NOT allow you to bring your pets with you. Therefore, it is important to have a plan in place for your pets. Below are some tips.
The Animal Health Branch of the California Department of Food and Agriculture was the source of this information. They provide more useful information for owners of dogs, cats, birds or reptiles at http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/programs/disasterprep/animals.html. If you don't have access to the World Wide Web, please feel free to contact OMVNA Secretary Tim Johnson at 962-8609 for more information.
OMVNAtalk is a neighborhood e-mail list about issues of interest to Old Mountain View residents. For more information, see http://www.omvna.org/omvnatalk.html
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The opinions printed in this newsletter are not necessarily those of the OMVNA Steering Committee.
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Last updated: 12/11/99