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OMVNA Newsletter

January 2004
Volume 16, Number 1

From the Chair: 2004 - Looking Forward

Meet Our New Downtown Liaison

The Downtown Beat

Local School Funding: Measure J on March Ballot

The Downtown Shopper: Snack Time

CERT Update: CERT Hurts on North of Castro

From the Chair: 2004 - Looking Forward
By Ronit Bryant

As we start a new year, downtown Mountain View faces a number of changes. And any change to the downtown affects us, residents and business owners alike. You have chosen a Steering Committee to represent the interests of the neighborhood and go to meetings and advocate for the neighborhood. Experience teaches, however, that decision makers listen even more carefully to residents who feel strongly enough about a subject to come to a meeting and express their opinions. If you have an opinion, come and express it! Silently agreeing and silently disagreeing are equally ineffective in bringing change or protecting what you cherish!

One of the changes coming to downtown will be a new parking structure at California and Bryant Streets, replacing the current surface parking lot. One plan for this structure is to build the usual parking structure (four floors of parking spaces). Unfortunately the structure will be on a very visible corner, a proposed “gateway” to downtown Mountain View. Another plan is to have retail on the street level of the parking structure. This option would somewhat reduce the number of parking spots offered by the building, but would enhance the pedestrian-friendly character of downtown. By the time this newsletter reaches you, City Council will have discussed the matter again and, probably, reached a decision.

Another change involves the update of the Downtown Precise Plan, which will define for years to come what buildings (their size, their look) will be built downtown: for example, will buildings in the historical retail district of Castro be 35 feet high or 45 feet high? The very tip of the Ames building between Villa and Evelyn is 36 ft. tall, while the building that used to house Global Café is 45 ft. tall. The Downtown Committee will discuss the update on February 3, and the Environmental Planning Commission (EPC) will take it up on February 18.

Then there’s the Historic Preservation Ordinance. Should Mountain View have an ordinance to protect its older, historic buildings and preserve its particular character, or should it leave matters in the hands of property owners and the real estate market? The EPC will hold a study session on January 21 to continue discussing preservation of the historic character of neighborhoods and incentives and benefits for designated historic buildings. Other meetings will follow.

And finally, the Parks and Recreation Commission will be discussing the trees on Castro (see article in this newsletter) on February 11.

You can find more information on the City’s website and on the Coming Events page of the OMVNA website. And remember: the time to help shape the vision of downtown is now.

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Meet Our New Downtown Liaison
By Velva Rowell

It gives us great pleasure to announce that Tom Matula, OMVNA’s representative to the Downtown Committee, has agreed to take on the position of Downtown Liaison. He will replace David Andrzejek who resigned shortly after the last General Meeting.

Tom has lived in Old Mountain View for a year and a half since moving here from Chicago, IL. He currently works as a Mortgage Consultant for Wells Fargo and enjoys traveling and racing sailboats. Tom says, "As a member of the Steering Committee and the Downtown Committee, I look forward to working to continue to build a friendly community in Old Mountain View and helping make Castro Street a vibrant and exciting place to visit."

We hope that you will join us in giving Tom a warm welcome to OMVNA.

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The Downtown Beat
By Tom Matula

In the late 1980s the City of Mountain View undertook a project to rebuild, redesign and improve Castro Street and City Hall. An important part of this redevelopment effort was planting new trees along Castro Street to beautify the street and create a more favorable pedestrian environment. The type of tree that was selected was the robinia, or Idaho locust tree, because of its drought-tolerance and profusion of flowers in the spring and early summer.

These trees have had an unexpected downside, however. The wood is brittle and tends to break in high winds. In addition, there are considerable costs for maintaining these trees, including pruning, removing fallen branches and leaves, and spraying for insects.

At the December Downtown Committee meeting, the Parks and Recreation Committee (PRC) presented a list of possible replacements for the locust including sycamore and Chinese pistache. The PRC believes that these trees are better suited for Castro Street because of their wind-and drought-tolerance and their demonstrated success in this area. The PRC is also considering whether to choose one type of tree for Castro Street or a variety of types. The total cost for replacing the trees will be around $51,000. This amount represents a fraction of the unexpected expenses associated with maintaining the existing locust trees. If you are interested in voicing your opinion on this issue, please attend the next Park and Recreations Committee meeting on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 at 7:00 p.m. in the Community Room at the Library, 585 Franklin Street, or contact me at

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Local School Funding: Measure J on March Ballot
By Judy Levy, Mountain View-Whisman Initiative Supporting Education (MVWISE)

On March 2 voters will weigh in on an important issue - maintaining the quality of our local elementary and middle schools. If approved by voters, Measure J will create a modest and temporary annual school assessment to protect essential educational programs at our local schools from budget cuts.

This year, the Mountain View-Whisman School District was forced to make severe cuts to educational programs. Music and art education were eliminated, school librarians were cut - nine essential programs were on the chopping block. As a stop-gap, the Mountain View Educational Foundation, a completely volunteer organization, was able to obtain funds for six of these programs by soliciting donations from local residents and businesses - for this year only. But this marathon effort is not a sustainable way to fund our schools. In short, it’s not an alternative.

Given the State budget crisis, state funding continues to be unreliable. For instance, to prepare for the possibility of ongoing lack of funding next year, the District is in the process of closing a neighborhood school.

Before placing the new measure on the ballot, the Board sought input from all segments of the community, including supporters and opponents of Measure E. Measure J is the result of this work. It is a new measure, scaled back and carefully crafted to meet only the most urgent needs at each of our neighborhood schools. Former opponents of Measure E now support Measure J.

Measure J provides locally controlled funds that protect the most essential educational programs from budget cuts. Specifically,

  • Measure J funds will be used to retain qualified and experienced teachers, restore music and art education, keep school libraries open, keep schools and classes small and protect other crucial programs from budget cuts.
  • Measure J will cost the average homeowner about $6 a month—or less than 20 cents a day. It will be in effect for five years and is fully tax deductible on state and federal taxes.
  • An independent citizens’ oversight committee will be appointed to make sure that all Measure J funds are properly spent. Measure J funds can legally be spent only to protect essential educational programs. No Measure J funds will go to pay administrators’ salaries. All Measure J funds will stay here in our community and benefit local children.
  • Residents over the age of 65 can apply for an exemption.

Investing in good schools will benefit Mountain View by preparing students for future success. It makes Mountain View a very desirable place to live and work, and it raises property values. Join us in voting yes on Measure J.

For further information visit the website at or contact the Mountain View-Whisman School District at (650) 526-3500. To get involved in the campaign to pass Measure J, call Gloria Higgins at (650) 961-3943.

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The Downtown Shopper: Snack Time
By Velva Rowell

It was a warm day, and he had a long way to go. He hadn’t gone more than half-way when a sort of funny feeling began to creep all over him. It began at the tip of his nose and trickled all through him and out at the soles of his feet. It was just as if something inside him were saying, "Now then, Pooh, time for a little something."

Sometimes, after dinner or walking around town on a weekend afternoon, you just want what Pooh would call "a little something." We live in a downtown area with more restaurants and snack places in walking distance of home than can be enumerated in one article, so I’m just going to focus on the three that my family visits most often on those warm summer evenings and chilly winter afternoons.

My stepdaughter, Evelyn, has been going to the Hong Kong Bakery (210 Castro Street) since she was stroller-age. They have a wide variety of traditional Chinese pastries and fresh dim sum including moon cakes. One favorite in our house is something that Evelyn calls "banana-rice cakes" which are a cylindrical, banana pastry.

Another favorite dessert is ice cream, and we get ours at Double Rainbow (135 Castro Street). I tend toward the fruit sorbets, especially the berry flavors, although Double Chocolate is also tempting. Evelyn tries a different flavor every time we visit. My husband, Dave, frequently asks for "It’s a Goody," which has peanut butter and chocolate chips in vanilla ice cream. We especially enjoy eating our ice cream at the outdoor tables while we people-watch and listen to Ted Wood play his guitar.

Dana Street Roasting Company (744 W. Dana Street) offers a wide range of items for our snacking pleasure, and they have really good coffee as well. Our primary purchase at Dana Street is a pound of house-roasted coffee beans per week. When we drop in after dinner or on weekends, we usually get madeleines or triple berry crunch bars, but we’ve also succumbed to the temptation of the array of cakes in the display case. One of their summer treats is homemade strawberry lemonade, which is a great hot-weather alternative to coffee drinks. Our other favorite summer drink is an iced blended mocha, and we usually end up getting one of these treats about once a week. During the holiday season we often treat ourselves to an eggnog latte, but the season for these is fleeting. We also enjoy their excellent soups and sandwiches, but that’s another column.

I’m aware that these three businesses offer a lot more than the foods described here, and I encourage you to wander out downtown for lunch or dessert sometime. I also encourage you to write a couple of paragraphs about your favorite places to grab a quick snack in downtown Mountain View and send them in to the OMVNA Newsletter.

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CERT Update: CERT Hurts on North of Castro
By Erin Sanders

Did you know that 27 Old Mountain View residents are volunteers for the OMVNA Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)? They are the local coordinators and neighborhood contacts who will provide crucial local communication and direction during an emergency.

For those of us who live between Castro and Shoreline, we have a large problem. Only 2 of the 27 CERT volunteers live in our area! In the event of a major earthquake or disaster, we’ll need much more assistance and support from CERT than 2 volunteers can manage.

What can we do? We need more volunteers, homeowners and renters alike. Before you say you have no time, let me explain the duties - it's fun and easy. CERT volunteers:

  • Attend one annual 2 hour CERT training meeting, coming up on January 24.
  • Test your walkie-talkie once a month during a quick radio check.
  • Hand out safety preparation leaflets and collect basic information on 10 to 15 neighbors - this is a great way to meet them.
  • Provide crucial local communication and coordination during an emergency.

Volunteers receive a great "Go-Pack" with about $100 worth of emergency supplies, including a helmet, radio, and waterproof LED flashlight. In the event of an emergency, you’ll be a communication link to your neighbors. You are NOT expected to provide them with food, water, or serious medical care. It’s that simple!

CERT chairman Aaron Grossman can answer any other questions you may have about being a CERT volunteer - or 650 969-4031. You can also contact him to attend the January 24 meeting as a guest, with no obligation to join - but we hope you will!

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The OMVNA 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: 1/21/04