Volume 14, Number 7
My Lesson in Civics
By Thomas Macagno, OMVNA Secretary
We all want to live in and feel part of a vibrant and safe community. But who is responsible for making our community a place where we want to live? I found answers to this question in a ten-month ordeal involving the LimeLight Club (228 Castro).
Like many people, we choose to live in downtown Mountain View because we can easily walk to shops, restaurants, and CalTrain. The downtown area is lively, clean and safe. Coming from San Francisco, we saw Mountain View as a way to marry city with suburban living. Additionally we found the Christmas events and summer concerts put on by the City gave us a strong sense of belonging to a community.
For two years we loved living in the downtown area. Then at the beginning of this year the ownership of the LimeLight Club changed. The Club is situated across the parking lot from our home. With the change came problems. The major problems include:
Though these problems are not unique to the LimeLight, previous
Like most people, I thought a quick call to the police would resolve the matter. I wanted somebody to solve the problem so I could get back to enjoying the fruits of the community. The police responded quickly to my complaints. Visions of quiet nights and clean sidewalks filled my head. Then they informed me they could only ask the owners to turn down the music and address other problems. This was due to a lack of specific laws empowering them to take action against the owners. Of course if someone was doing something illegal the police could take action. Then I recalled my 8th grade Government class - the police only enforced laws.
I spoke to several of my neighbors - residential and commercial. They agreed that there was a problem with the Club. They had personally experienced many of the issues I mentioned. We all agreed somebody should do something. I felt very self satisfied that the infamous somebody would solve the problem. I waited. To my amazement, that somebody never appeared. The problems continued.
Thinking back to 8th grade I remembered that the legislative branch made the laws. Maybe the City Council could solve this problem. I spoke about this idea to some of the long-time residents and merchants. Their response was almost unanimous - "don't waste your time". I couldn't believe that a City that would give us cookies and hot drinks at Christmas would not help me.
I contacted the City Council. I hoped I could hand this problem off and they would promptly solve it. After all did I not vote them into office? The City Council quickly acknowledged my issues.
When I opened the initial response from the City Council I anticipated it would say, "Sir, you can sleep soundly tonight because we have solved your problems." What the message did say was the Council would look into the issues. Of course anger was my initial response. I thought, "The old-timers were right!" Then I considered that possibly mine was not the only problem with which the City Council and City Departments were dealing.
I realized the Council and the City needed to balance the needs of the entire community. Therefore I needed to show how this issue impacted more than just my family in the community.
Alternatively, I could keep hoping someone else would solve the problem or we could move away. We worked hard to make our garden and home nice. I was not ready to move on account of someone else's irresponsibility.
I then understood how communities fall into disrepair. Members of those communities decide not to take action or let the infamous somebody else act when there is a problem. Like a flash of lightning, I realized I had found the infamous somebody else - it was I. If something were going to happen I would need to take action. In fact it would take community members working as partners with the City and others to solve the problem.
Luckily we live in a community where many people do care and actively participate in shaping our community. Various long-term residents and the OMVNA supported my efforts. More importantly I learned from their examples of community participation. I saw how it is necessary to become actively involved if I wanted to help shape the community. This holds true for small to large, or, fun to serious matters. I still have a lot to learn. Hopefully next time I will more quickly identify that somebody else
(The initial results of this effort are encouraging -- please see Downtown Beat in this issue).
Ed Flowers and Gloria Hernandez-Alvarado have been Old Mountain View residents for years. Both Ed and Gloria have decided to move from the area.
Both Ed and Gloria have served as community volunteers, and when word spread of their departure, a proclamation was prepared and read at the last Mountain View City Council meeting. The proclamation is a wonderful thanks to two people who have served their community well.
The proclamation is as follows:
WHEREAS, Edward Flowers and Gloria Hernandez-Alvarado, have played a vital role in the life of Mountain View and have, through their service, enriched our community, enhanced the life chances of youth and families in our City and worked to establish peace and promote peacemaking everywhere; and
WHEREAS, Ed and Gloria have worked to promote learning and self development, through Ed's long-time service as a Trustee of the Mountain View Elementary District and through their tutoring and mentoring of students at Alta Vista High School and the Adult School; and
WHEREAS, Ed and Gloria have added to the vitality of the arts in Mountain View, through Gloria's participation in the Merciful Singers, the St. Joseph's Church Choir and her sharing of the arts through the Music for Minors Program and through Ed's participation in coaching new media exploration; and
WHEREAS, through their en-ergy and commitment, Ed and Gloria have worked strengthen services to families and youth in Mountain View and have served the community by volunteering their efforts to assist the Community Health Awareness Council, the Restorative Justice Program and Casa SAY; and
WHEREAS, Ed and Gloria's home in Mountain View, the Harmony Center, has become a much loved gathering spot and a neighborhood Safe Place for children; and
WHEREAS, the peace expressed in their home has been extended by their activism to their neighborhood, the community and to the world through Gloria's service on the Global Nonviolent Peaceforce; and
WHEREAS, Ed and Gloria will soon leave Mountain View to begin a new chapter in their lives and to enjoy their children and grandchildren; and
WHEREAS, it is appropriate, at this time, to highlight the many positive impacts of Ed and Gloria's generosity, creativity and commitment and to celebrate the value that we place on their service;
NOW, THEREFORE, do I, Sally J. Lieber, Mayor of the City of Mountain View, along with my colleagues on the City Council do hereby extend our most heartfelt thanks to Ed Flowers and Gloria Hernandez-Alvarado for their service and urge all community members to recognize Ed and Gloria by serving others.
Signed and sealed this 8th day of October, 2002.
Fourteen years ago Lou Jemison, owner of the Tied House, and Pat Figueroa met to discuss putting on, behind the Tied House Café and Brewery, a Small Brewers Festival in downtown Mountain View. This event was to be different from other Beer Festivals because there would be no paid staff, no admission fee; with Jemison and Figueroa serving as co-chairs and coordinating the festival production.
Proceeds from this festival were to go to non-profit organizations in exchange for their helping with volunteers needed before, during and after the Festival. The first year the festival had few breweries and only involved a couple of organizations. The festival was fun, well received and met the planners' expectations.
This year, the Small Brewers Festival of California celebrated its 14th year in Downtown Mountain.
View, still behind the Tied House, but now one of the biggest Beer Festivals in the State of California. Still co-chaired by Lou Jemison and Pat Figueroa, in 2002 the festival had 40 Small Breweries with over 100 different beers, from throughout the State of California. The festival offers the public the ability to come and enjoy the ambiance of the 16,000 square foot beer tent at no charge, or listen to the Music in the Music Tent.
These past 14 years the festivals have donated approximately $850,000 to their partnering non-profit organizations. Ninety percent of the non-profit organizations that are grant recipients are Mountain View based or service the community of Mountain View. These non-profit organizations, along with the many community volunteers, are what has made this event successful. The grant recipients in 2002 are American Red Cross (Palo Alto Area Chapter), Blackberry REACT 57, Mountain View Boy Scout Troop 80,
The festival organizers are very pleased that 90 percent of the organizations have been grant recipients for many years and the festival works together like a family with many people doing the same job for years. Some examples: the Boy Scouts do the trash pick-up, Blackberry REACT is part of the communication system, Canine Companions always do the I.D. Check and bring their dogs to expose them to a festival atmosphere. The music is coordinated by Young at Heart, an organization that brings musicians together to perform in convalescent homes.
In the 1930's, the US Navy had a fleet of rigid dirigibles stationed at Moffett Field. The most famous dirigible located at Moffett Field was the Macon. Dirigibles were capable of carrying their own fighter protection. The dirigible, Macon, was launched in 1933. The Macon was really a flying aircraft carrier, able to carry, service, and launch five fighters that could return and land. The Curtis F9C-2 "Sparrowhawk" fighter was carried internally, dropped out of the Macon, and then recovered by the pilot snagging a hook dangled underneath the ship.
Wallace K. Ewing, Ph.D., of Grand Haven, MI, sent OMVNA News this first-hand account of the Macon's arrival in Los Angeles on its maiden voyage from Moffett Field. Max Ewing was Wallace Ewing's first cousin once removed. Max left behind a quantity of correspondence that Wallace is now editing.
October 29, 1933
As you have observed so often, it is SUNDAY AGAIN.
The naming of Moffett Field is in itself an interesting footnote. The original name was proposed to be "Naval Air Station (NAS) Mountain View-Sunnyvale". Navy planners in Washington felt the connotation of ´Mountain View´ in the name would create questions about flight safety from Congress, so they opted to change the name to "NAS Sunnyvale" - a name that had the connotation of broad pastoral vistas - perfect for an air station which needed plenty of flat land. The station was commissioned "NAS Sunnyvale" in 1933. Several days later, the landing field at NAS Sunnyvale was named "Moffett Field", in honor of Rear Admiral W. A. Moffett who died in the crash of the U.S.S. AKRON. It was the Navy's practice then (as it is now) to name the landing field at an air station for individuals who have by virtue of heroism or significant contribution furthered Naval aviation in some manner. So, "Moffett Field" became the landing field at NAS Sunnyvale.
In the early 1940's, downtown merchants of Castro Street used to pool money together to decorate the trees with Christmas lights for the holidays. As that tradition grew, the Christmas holiday celebration grew into a week-long pageant. Not only were the trees on the boulevard decorated, but also a huge fir tree downtown was also decorated, a choir would sing at 444 Castro, and Santa would pass out little gifts for the children.
The downtown merchants eventually expanded their business community events to quarterly functions: in the spring they held the Antique Fair, in the summer, a 4th of July celebration, and in the fall, the Halloween festival and parade.
The neighboring community of Palo Alto had formed a Business Improvement District, or BID, for the sake of organizing their downtown businesses. Mountain View soon followed. However, the Chamber of Commerce could not foster a group of just downtown merchants because at the time, the Chamber also represented businesses in San Antonio Center, El Camino Real, and elsewhere. The downtown merchants needed their own charter.
In 1983, several downtown mer-chants, Rick Meyer, of Meyer Appliance, Al Jehning, of Mountain View Lock and Key, and Henry Gee, of Gee Reality, Bill Musto, of The Bank of America, and Bernie and Charlie Tieso of Sims Shoe Store hired a lawyer, filed for non-profit 501(c)(3) status, and officially formed the Central Business Association, or CBA. This new organization could now receive money that the City collected as a surcharge on business license fees from downtown businesses, pro-rated on the size of the business.
Rick Meyer was the president of the downtown merchants' association when the CBA was born. The following year, Bill Musto became the president and started collecting the official funding for the CBA. At the time, the retired owner of Central Stationers, Fred Allardyce, served as a part-time executive of the CBA. At its formal inception, the CBA had 250 members.
Eventually, a full-time executive director was hired and the CBA took on roles to advocate cleanliness and safety as well as downtown business promotions. In its first years, the CBA educated merchants on pigeon control techniques and downtown beautification. The CBA also funded steam-cleaning of side-walks at a rate of one block per month.
Today the CBA provides a myriad of services to City Hall and to the downtown merchants. The CBA still promotes downtown businesses, but also assists with community development, acts as an ordinance enforcement liaison, and markets the downtown businesses.
In 1991, the CBA teamed with KKSF Radio Station to host the first-ever KKSF Listener Party. Since then, the KKSF sponsors Listener Parties throughout the bay area, but Mountain View's CBA was its pioneer.
Karen Cabello joined the CBA in April of 1998 to promote business growth and advocate for downtown improvements.
As Executive Director, her focus is to maintain and foster cooperative relationships among downtown businesses, community groups, neighborhood associations, and local government to encourage constant upgrading and improvement of existing buildings and amenities, strive to maintain the highest standards of maintenance and cleanliness and produce high quality community events that will attract greater consumer awareness of the rich, diverse business community in downtown.
Prior to joining the CBA, Cabello worked seven years as Marketing and Community Relations Director at Hobee's California Restaurants assisting President Peter Taber in new business development and establishing strategic alliances with community-focused businesses and organizations to create a unique and profitable opportunity for both.
Cabello is an active member of the Mountain View community and currently serves as a member of the Downtown Committee, Economic Development Sub-Committee, KMVT Marketing Committee and the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts Marketing Committee. She is a native Bay Area resident and in her free time enjoys traveling, skiing, hiking and backpacking.
Question: On June 4, 1982, where was the downtown merchants' annual dinner and dance party held?
Answer: The dinner dance, entitled, "A Night To Remember," was indeed so. About 150 people showed up atop 444 Castro Street, the newly constructed but not-yet-opened Mountain Bay Plaza. The crew took three full days to carry tables and chairs and supplies to the top floor for a one-night party. The clean-up crew needed two full days to remove all the supplies.
The face of downtown Mountain View nightlife is scheduled to change as a result of the Zoning Administrator hearing held October 9.
The LimeLight, 228 Castro Street, is operating under a Conditional Use Permit granted to the Rio Grande in 1995, since these permits are associated with a property rather than with a specific business. The Rio Grande's business plan, the basis for the original CUP, was to offer country-western music and atmosphere, and lunch and dinner. It is generally agreed that most patrons were over 21.
The LimeLight is currently open three nights a week (and not for lunch), Thursday through Saturday. Operations on two of those nights allow (and market to) patrons over 18, not 21, because the club's alcohol license is designed for restaurants. Restaurants are defined as taking in at least half their revenue from food sales. There is an ongoing ABC inquiry as to whether this licensing is appropriate for the Lime-Light. An alternative "bar and night-club" license, more oriented toward sale of alcohol, would allow only patrons over 21.
As described in the previous issue of this newsletter, there have been numerous neighborhood complaints (backed up by videotapes, and by police testimony) about rowdiness and worse that seem to be associated largely with the public parking lot behind the LimeLight on the nights when the club is open. Neighbors made a clear distinction between "lively" and "rowdy", and support a "lively" situation. Many neighbors feel that illegal underage drinking in and around the parking lot is a major cause of the problems.
Citing the City's goal of a "livable community" where both club patrons and neighbors feel safe, and the failure of extensive discussion between the various interested parties to resolve the issues, over the past 10 months, the Zoning Administrator has now put additional conditions on the club's CUP. These include:
· Bringing acoustic mitigations up to the standards specified by the CUP
· Additional formal requirements for security operations, especially around closing time
· Suspension of "in-and-out privileges"
· Limitation of patrons to over-21
A follow-up hearing will be held on January 22, 2003. Club management is entitled to appeal the above ruling to the City Council.
After the second spontaneous combustion fire on Velarde Street in two years burned a neighbor's garage October 5, we decided to investigate methods of prevention. We spoke with Mona Keegan at the Mountain View Fire Administration (phone: 903-6378). Mona advised us to take the following precautions whenever using wood-staining products:
1. Read the instructions on the can carefully. If it says, "Flammable;" it is.
2. Never bunch up rags that have been used for staining. The oils in such rags can reach a high temperature and spontaneously burst into flames.
3. When finished staining, soak the rags in a water-filled container. Squeeze them out into the container (NOT a toilet, sink or storm drain). Close the container and dispose of this liquid waste at a household hazardous waste drop-off event (call 408-299-7300 to find out where and when).
4. Dry the rags flat outside. Then dispose of them in your garbage can.
5. Organic oils (such as linseed, cottonseed, pine, Brazilian rosewood) are particularly susceptible to spontaneous combustion. Store these oils in a closed, metal container.
6. Unless the can has been completely used up and dried out, dispose of unwanted, leftover staining oils and paints as hazardous waste (see #2 above).
The fire on 10-5-02 would have been much worse, had it not been for the fast and effective response from neighbors and from the M.V. Fire Department. If you ever smell smoke on a warm night, even if you cannot locate the source, please call the Fire Department.
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The opinions printed in this newsletter are not necessarily those of the OMVNA Steering Committee.
Last updated: 11/05/02