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OMVNA Newsletter

June, 2000
Volume 12, Number 4

Important Update on Neighborhood Preservation and Zoning

Ten Years of Preservation and Improvement in Our Neighborhood

The Downtown Beat: Walk to Shop

Post Office Begins Remodeling

Mountain View Forms Centennial Celebration Planning Committee

Evelyn and Franklin Possible Site for Low-Cost Apartment Project

Join the Neighborhood E-Mail List

Mercy-Bush Park is Funded!

History Corner: Foothill College Started Here in Old Mountain View

Help Select the Play Equipment for the New Mercy-Bush Park

Emergency Preparedness Update

Help Wanted (adv.)

Important Update on Neighborhood Preservation and Zoning
by Garth Williams, OMVNA Chair

Last year the OMVNA Steering Committee made neighborhood preservation one of our top priorities. We want to give the neighborhood an update on where things stand and what we're doing.

We have been working the City Planning Department to develop a process any neighborhood can use to petition the City for a Neighborhood Design (ND) zone. ND zoning allows a neighborhood to work with the City to incorporate specific design guidelines from a preservation plan into the zoning code. This elevates the guidelines into firm rules and gives them the same enforceability as house size and setback requirements.

The Council will be reviewing the proposal soon, probably on June 13. This will be a public hearing; everyone who wants to can speak on the issues. We hope the Council will pass an ordinance we can work with.

If all goes well, we will go to work getting an ND zone implemented in some portions of our neighborhood. The process is likely to go something like this.

  1. We will submit a proposal to the City for an ND zone. This proposal may require a certain percentage of affected property owners to sign it.

  2. City Council will review the proposal and determine if the it has enough merit for the Planning Department to work with the neighborhood on it.

  3. The neighborhood and Planning Department will work together to develop specific language to be written into the City's Zoning Code.

  4. Ballots will sent to all the affected property owners to determine the level of support for the plan.

  5. If supported by the neighborhood, the plan must be approved by both the Planning Commission and the City Council before it becomes law.

If preserving our neighborhood is important to you and you want to learn more, please contact any of the OMVNA Steering Committee members or come to one of our monthly meetings!

Ten Years of Preservation and Improvement in Our Neighborhood

In 1991 the City of Mountain View published an important document about our neighborhood: The Old Mountain View Neighborhood Preservation and Improvement Plan. The Plan was the result of a long and careful study of our neighborhood by the City Planning staff, a large and dedicated group of Old Mountain View residents, and a firm of architectural and planning consultants retained by the City.

The Plan addresses three major themes that continue to be very important to the neighborhood: traffic management, neighborhood improvements, and residential design.

Since 1991, many of the Plan's traffic management solutions have been put into place. Parts of Dana Street and California Street have been narrowed; there are more stop signs; we have a new road configuration near Bush and Villa; and there are speed humps and traffic circles on Dana and View Streets.
The neighborhood improvement portions of the plan have also shown progress. There is a new park on Dana Street, and will soon be one at Mercy and Bush. About a dozen houses that were owned by the City are now in the hands of private owners, most of whom have lovingly restored them. We have also seen a significant amount of sidewalk repair in just the last year or so.

But the area of residential design is one in which we seem to be in danger of losing ground. Wealthier cities have been dealing for years with the issues of new and remodeled homes that are out of scale and out of character with their neighborhoods, but until recently we had not seen much of this activity in Old Mountain View.

Our neighborhood's wonderful character is a fragile thing. Care must be exercised in the process of renovation and development to preserve and enhance the characteristics of old Mountain View that we all find so appealing. That's why activities relating to "ND Zoning" (see article above) are the OMVNA Steering Committee's top priority in 2000.

The Downtown Beat: Walk to Shop
by Julie Lovins (964-0368,

It may surprise you to learn how many of your neighbors don't rely on a car to get around, either by necessity or by choice. Living near downtown Mountain View, with its many shops and restaurants and public transit options, would seem to be an ideal situation. But the general market, stationery store, and two drug stores that made an almost carless life feasible when I moved here twenty years ago, have all disappeared. We still have several dry cleaners, shoe repair shops, florists, and the wonderful Quilting Bee. I hope they all stay -- but I can no longer buy a piece of cheese, a box of paper clips, or a bottle of aspirin downtown.

It's clear that the businesses that proved "uncompetitive" will not return by magic. The list of difficulties encountered in attracting "neighborhood-serving retail" would fill a book.

But there are things we can do to make life better for people who do not drive, or find themselves temporarily carless. These same steps will help all residents who would like to make walking, biking, and transit a bigger part of their daily lives.

I recommend that we try to convince existing stores to carry just a few more "basic goods." I think we can do this. It's easy to get started: we just need a community shopping list of the kind of goods we want to be able to buy downtown. Here's the start of mine. Please get back to me with your comments and additions.

  • canned goods: vegetables, tuna, fruit, juice...

  • packaged goods: cookies/crackers, sugar, salt, flour

  • dairy products: milk, eggs, cheese, yogurt...

  • paper goods

  • basic stationery supplies: staples, paper, envelopes...

  • over-the-counter medications

  • first-aid items: bandages, germ-killers ...

  • personal hygiene items: shampoo, toothpaste ...

I've left out prescription pharmaceuticals, the one critical category that's not amenable to this approach. Any suggestions? And I've left out fresh produce, meat, fish, and bread, as they are all currently available.

So what do you want to buy?

Post Office Begins Remodeling

Mountain View Postmaster Ken Baker says that all operations have been moved from the main post office at 211 Hope St. to either 357 Castro (retail, boxes) or the facility on La Avenida (carriers). The Hope St. building will be extensively remodeled and will reopen next year with an expanded retail section.

Meanwhile, the staff is doing its best at 357 Castro. Please note it is now necessary to ask for mail pickups (as when returning from vacation) a day ahead of time, since the mail has to come from the La Avenida facility.

Mountain View Forms Centennial Celebration Planning Committee

Mountain View was founded in the mid-1800's and received its official town charter Nov. 7, 1902. Our Centennial Year is just 2 years away! A Centennial Celebration Planning Committee has been established and is developing plans for many special events throughout 2002. A book chronicling Mountain View's rich history will be available for sale in the centennial year.

Former Mayor Dena Bonnell and Barbara Kinchen are two neighborhood residents who are members of the Committee. Bob Weaver is the Committee Chair. All Committee meetings are open to the public; the next one is on June 15 at 7 pm in the Plaza Conference Room at City Hall. Please attend if you'd like to learn more!

Evelyn and Franklin Possible Site for Low-Cost Apartment Project

The Summer issue of "The View," the City's quarterly newspaper, reports that two sites are under consideration for "efficiency studio housing". One is the San Antonio Loop site near California and San Antonio. The other is the corner of Franklin and Evelyn.

For more information and to be put on a list to be notified of upcoming hearings, call the Community Development Department at 903-6306.

Join the Neighborhood E-Mail List
by Bruce Karney, OMVNA Webmaster

OMVNAtalk is a neighborhood e-mail list you can join if you would like to send or receive e-mail about issues of interest to Old Mountain View residents. It is an unmoderated list, which means that messages are not censored or filtered by anyone.

You may send announcements of any kind, including commercial announcements, as long as there is a clear link to Old Mountain View. For example, an announcement of a garage sale or an artist's open studio in our neighborhood would be appropriate. So would a message containing your opinion about current local events.

To read the usage guidelines and learn how to join, go to:

Mercy-Bush Park is Funded!

On April 25, the City Council approved funding for Mercy-Bush Park. Congratulations to everyone who has worked so hard over the last 10 years to make this dream come true! The Park should be open by December.

History Corner: Foothill College Started Here in Old Mountain View
by Lisa Windes

A college district was formed January 15, 1957 to serve the communities of Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Sunnyvale, Palo Alto, and Cupertino. The college was to offer a fully accredited program with courses that paralleled those of the University of California. A $10.4 million bond would finance the construction of a campus for 3,500 students.

After considering many names for the new college including Junipero Serra, Earl Warren, Herbert Hoover, Altos, Skyline, and Intercity, the district chose Foothill. The First President of the college was Calvin C. Flint. He determined to open the new college immediately while searching for a permanent location. Foothill College opened on September 15, 1958, only six months after Flint was hired. It was the first California college to receive full accreditation during its first year.

Calvin Flint found the temporary instructional facilities for his new college at the old Highway School on the corner of Calderon and El Camino. The 22-room former school on a 7-acre lot was built in 1927 and had most recently been leased to Lockheed Missile Systems. The facility was cramped. Over 1,500 college students plus faculty and staff crowded into a building designed for 650 elementary students. The drinking fountains were only two feet off the ground!

Despite the building's rustic appearance, students were entering a rigorous academic program that offered 75 courses in 25 subjects. The faculty, hired in the five months before the beginning of fall term, were highly qualified. Over 25% held doctorate degrees compared with the statewide junior college average of 10%. There was no tuition, only a student body fee of $3 to cover the cost of student government and social activities. Some social activities were not covered by the fee, for example, in 1959 students entertained themselves by cramming 14 people in a phone booth.

There was a passionate debate over the selection of a school mascot. "Footsie," an 800-lb. concrete owl removed from the old bell tower of the Highway School, was the top contender on a list including condors, hornets, and cheetahs. When the owl eventually won, an "Anti-Footsie League" repeatedly stole and then returned the owl for several years.

On September 15, 1958, the same day Foothill College opened the Mountain View campus, the permanent site for the college was selected. The Board of Trustees found "it would be possible to obtain land in almost any desired area, with careful shopping" for $1 million. The site selected was 122 hilly acres off El Monte Road at a cost of $1,007,922. The new campus opened on September 5, 1961. The old Highway School was declared a fire hazard and razed in April, 1963.

Help Select the Play Equipment for the New Mercy-Bush Park

Here's a great opportunity to show your kids what it's like to make a difference in local government affairs.

The City will conduct a neighborhood meeting at City Hall at 7 pm on Monday, June 12 to review and solicit comments for play equipment for Mercy-Bush Park. The City would like public input in determining specific elements of the playground structure. This meeting is intended to expand on the alternative play structure presented to the Parks and Recreation Commission on April 12. Your comments are important and will be used to make sure the playground equipment that is installed fits the needs and wants of the neighborhood.

If you are unable to attend, you may send written comments or suggestions to: City of Mtn. View, Public Works Department, Attn.: Mercy/Bush Street Park, P.O. Box 7540, Mtn. View 94039-7540. You can also call Rey Rodriguez, the project manager, at 903-6311 or send him e-mail at

Emergency Preparedness Update
by Tim Johnson, OMVNA Secretary & CERT Chair

Here's an update on OMVNA's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). More than 40 surveys distributed with the last newsletter have been returned. (It's not too late to return yours if you still have it!)

Information from the questionnaires will be valuable to the CERT volunteers. In addition to assisting in the identification of key neighborhood resources, the information will help the emergency response team better serve the neighborhood in the event of "the big one." We are in the process of cataloging this information.

OMVNA CERT is pleased to announce that we recently received a grant of $1,500 from the City's Council Neighborhood Committee. This money was awarded to us for the purpose of purchasing first aid supplies and equipment. These and other supplies will be held at the temporary OMVNA CERT storage facility located at the Grossman's home at 234 West Dana Street.

There is more good news. The Parks and Recreation Department has expressed a commitment to provide a permanent, locked CERT storage facility at the new Mercy-Bush Park. Since Mercy-Bush is in the center of our neighborhood, this is probably the best possible location for storing all of our emergency supplies. It will enable OMVNA CERT to use the park as a central site for providing first aid and other emergency services in the event of an earthquake or other disaster.

OMVNA CERT volunteers will begin meeting in early summer to begin putting together an emergency response plan for the neighborhood. If you have any questions, comments or want to get involved, please call me at 962-8609.

HELP WANTED: Leadership Mountain View Program Director seeks detail-oriented Admin. Asst. 10 flexible hours/week. Send qualifications & cover letter to Carol Olson, MV Chamber, 580 Castro, MV 94041 or call her at 968-8378. Benefit: attend LMV program days.

The Old Mountain View Neighborhood Association Newsletter
is published by a volunteer editorial committee & distributed to some 2400 homes and businesses by volunteers.

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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: 6/1/00