Volume 14, Number 5
You may know--especially if you're a Giants fan--that weekend Caltrain service has been suspended for the next 22 months so that the tracks can be upgraded.
The reason for the construction is something new: "Baby Bullet" or Express Service trains. These trains will travel from San Jose to San Francisco in under 55 minutes with only 4 to 6 intermediate stops. Along the way they will have to pass slower trains, and one of the construction project's main goals is to create several passing tracks. Limited operation will begin next year, and full operation is planned for Summer 2004 when up to 17 trains a day will run on weekdays.
Imagine being able to get to San Francisco in 40 minutes, to SFO in 30 minutes with no parking hassles, or to downtown San Jose in 12 minutes during commute hours! When these dreams come true, Old Mountain View will be an even more desirable place to live and work.
But Baby Bullet trains won't stop in Mountain View unless local residents and businesses get involved. We need to let Caltrain officials know that we deserve to be one of the stops. Millbrae has been chosen as an Express station because of its connection to BART, but the other stations haven't yet been selected.
We are likely to find ourselves in a head to head, winner take all competition with Palo Alto to be the northern Santa Clara County stop. Palo Alto has several advantages: more riders board there, it has more political influence, and its residents may spend more for lobbying if it comes to that.
While Palo Alto has the second-most boardings after San Francisco, we're number three -- ahead of even San Jose! That's a big deal, and is one of the keys to being selected. Our other big advantage is our connection to the Light Rail system. We're one of only two stations where Caltrain and Light Rail currently connect.
Our city won a similar battle in the late 1980's when the Light Rail line was being planned. It seemed certain that it would terminate in downtown Sunnyvale, but we prevailed thanks to a strong lobbying campaign by residents and elected officials, plus $15 million pledged by the City Council to fund part of the construction.
The battle for high-speed Express Service will be much more important than the fight for low-speed light rail. Better train service can help revive our city's economy by making office buildings that now stand empty more attractive to new businesses. When the economy revives and the freeways become completely jammed again, having the Express Service stop here will be a big plus for Mountain View.
What you can do
A sample letter is on OMVNA's web site at http://www.omvna.org/jpb-letter.rtf
(2) Let City Council members know you want them and City staff to lobby hard for us to be chosen.
(3) When public hearings on this topic are held, attend and speak up for Mountain View.
Our city is celebrating its centennial this year. Originally founded near the intersection of El Camino and Hwy. 237, the town moved to Castro St. in the 1860's to be closer to the new railroad. What better hundredth birthday present could we give our hometown than to make sure that rail service continues to be an essential part of its future?
While driving down El Camino Real past Old Mountain View you may be surprised to see a charming Mission Revival Bungalow tucked between tilt-up commercial buildings and fast food depots. The Molinari family, Italian immigrants, built the house at 1098 West El Camino Real in 1924.
The Mission Revival style was popular in Mountain View in the 1920s. Examples of this style include the Masonic Lodge, Saint Joseph's Church and the old Mountain View High School. The Molinari House on El Camino though, with its porches, custom windows, woodwork and tilework, is an ornate example of this style for the city.
The lot beneath the Molinari House is currently for sale. With the commercial zoning of the lot, it will surely be bulldozed and replaced with a commercial structure. The house is in reasonable shape, and could be relocated without too much trouble. Several people have voiced interest in moving the house to a lot in Old Mountain View and restoring it there.
If you know of a suitable lot for sale, either vacant or with a replaceable and less charming house on it, please e-mail the Mountain View Preservation Alliance (MVPA) via firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the website at
The next meeting of the MVPA will be Saturday, July 27, 4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. at 575 Oak Street, near Eagle Park. Please contact Jean McCloskey if you wish to attend and discuss this relocation issue.
The hot topic downtown these days is "the ordinance". The theme of my attempted summary here is that there are, not surprisingly, many more than two sides to consider.
To start, some things that I am convinced are concrete facts.
1. By the time you read this, there will have been a "second reading" July 9 before the City Council, and possibly passage, of an ordinance that goes into effect December 31, 2002, unless a counter-ordinance should be introduced and passed before then.
2. The title is: "Review of Land Use Changes in the Downtown Precise Plan Area". That defines the legal and geographic purview of the ordinance, along with the specification that additions under 5000 square feet are to be covered for the first time.
3. It pertains only to the implementation of City Code that is already in effect; it does not introduce any new criteria.
4. It might therefore be viewed as a "speed-up" ordinance, a mechanism for starting a discussion on compliance before it might otherwise start. (There are currently inadequate resources for code enforcement, though this is being worked on.)
5. The ordinance will work like this: depending on the degree and type of land use change contemplated, approval is made contingent on various levels of review. In most cases, a formal permit process will not be required. The "level of review", tiered according to the type of application, correlates with what code items must be satisfied at that level.
6. The wording and provisions of the ordinance are a great improvement over initial drafts several months ago.
Some of the angles:
1. Enormous public and private investment in the downtown area has generated pressure for other changes, which some feel will improve the payback (by attracting customers from both Mountain View and environs) as well as get us something more like a full-service shopping environment for downtown residents and employees.
2. Not all of the requested changes require expense on the part of business owners. Not all of them pertain to code violations. For those that do, the violations run the gamut. Not all of them will ever come to the fore unless there's a change of use. All of these "ifs" have made discussion difficult.
3. Discussion is also clouded by disagreements on personal aesthetic criteria, and some confusion as to what City Code does or doesn't say on the subject, despite the precision of the Down-town Precise Plan.
4. It is however clear that some types of proposed changes at whatever point they might kick in are intrinsically a hard sell for some downtown business owners. They have observed that even the more spiffy businesses are hard-pressed in the current economic environment. They feel that many building improvements, which they would need to make in conjunction with City monetary contributions, will ultimately provide the most payback for the building owners, not for their businesses. This factor, in combination with current severe economic pressures, may go far in explaining the wide gap in priorities between some business owners and some Councilmembers, and how we have gotten to where we are now.
5. They have suggested that it would be very helpful for the City to do more outreach to downtown property owners to get them to contribute more to building maintenance and improvements.
6. They feel that uneven enforcement of ordinances already on the books has been unfair to several subsets of the community as a whole (both those who have been "enforced" and those who haven't), and has therefore not improved relations between the City government and the business community. They are asking for more help from the City with enforcement of its own ordinances, in conjunction with the "peer education" activities that members of the Central Business Association are now engaged in, and have committed to devote themselves to assiduously during the six months before this ordinance goes into effect.
Come to the second meeting of the Old Mountain View Restoration Club. Bring questions about home repair and restoration work you intend to take on as well as experiences we can learn from. Our first meeting covered a lot of ground, including sanding your floor, finding a good roofer, laying brick and heritage landscaping.
The meeting will be held on Thursday, August 15, at 7 p.m. at the home of Alison Hicks at 602 Church Street. We will take a walk through this 1914 shingle Bungalow, with interior woodwork by a local miller. Refreshments will be served. RSVP to email@example.com
On June 27 the Mountain View Council Neighborhoods Committee awarded OMVNA a $1,500 grant to add an old house element to its web site. This year the Council Neighborhoods Committee encouraged projects with a Centennial theme. Our project was granted funds because of its preservation and neighborhood beautification focus.
The new pages will provide resources to assist people restoring homes in or near Old Mountain View. Resources will include local and hard-to-find old house suppliers, craftspeople, contractors, books, articles, budgeting information, web links and much more. Hopefully the site will help us all go to Home Depot a little less and patronize local suppliers and craftspeople a little more. If you have home restoration information you would like to add to the web pages please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Estamos buscando a voluntarios multilingües de Español y Ingles para ayudar a asegurar a familias de habla hispana somos listos también para las emergencias. Sabemos esto somos importantes, y le apreciaríamos que llama para ofrecer ayuda. Hemos encontrado los ma-teriales disponibles en Español (en el WWW), pero estaríamos muy in-teresados en voluntarios de habla hispana ayudar a coordinar y a traducir algunos materiales. Muchos gracias.
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The opinions printed in this newsletter are not necessarily those of the OMVNA Steering Committee.
Last updated: 9/16/02