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OMVNA Newsletter

April 2004
Volume 16, Number 3

Downtown Beat

OMVNA Summer General Meeting

History Corner: Moffett Field's Darkest Day

CERT Update: Is Your Family Ready?

From the Editor: Time to Say Thanks

Downtown Beat
By Tom Matula

On April 20, the City Council held a study session to discuss the Historic Preservation Ordinance and Downtown Precise Plan. In this session Council took a number of straw votes concerning the Historic Preservation Ordinance. Most notable were the following results:

  • The purpose of the Historic Preservation Ordinance is to protect both neighborhood characteristics and individual houses.
  • If there is an ordinance to protect houses, it should be voluntary.
  • If there is an ordinance, the current historic register should be readopted and owners should be permitted to remove themselves.
  • An ordinance should protect the entire exterior of a house or commercial building.
  • The City will offer incentives and benefits to property owners who choose to comply with the ordinance, including a rebate of the City’s share of property taxes, and loans or grants for building rehabilitation.

This indicates that the City Council is considering a voluntary rather than mandatory ordinance, and is exploring ways to encourage compliance with the ordinance through special incentives and benefits available to historic property owners.

The City Council will next address the Historic Preservation Ordinance during a public hearing on May 25, 2004, in the City Council Chambers in City Hall.

In the April 20 study session the City Council also discussed the recommendations made by the Downtown Committee on the Downtown Precise Plan. These recommendations included the following:

  • Lowering the maximum building height on the 100-300 blocks of Castro Street to 35 feet for the facade facing the street with a building maximum of 45 feet after a setback of 10-15 feet from the facade. The City Council asked the city staff to study allowing a maximum building height of 55 feet on the 300+ blocks of Castro Street and other buildings not facing Castro Street.
  • Instituting a parking in-lieu fee to gain sponsorship of public parking facilities from restaurants, which most contribute to peak parking congestion.
  • Housing will be allowed on the parking structure planned for the corner of California Street and Bryant Street.
  • The City Council also asked city staff to study housing density allowances of more than 30 units per acre on Castro Street between California and El Camino.

The next opportunity to address the Downtown Precise Plan is at the Downtown Committee meeting on May 4 at 8:00 a.m. in the Plaza Conference Room in City Hall.

If you have any questions or comments about the issues in this article, please post them on the online bulletin board at or email me at

Please note:

The April 24 Downtown Beat in the OMVNA newsletter contained some incorrect information concerning the California St Parking Structure and potential residential development on Castro and Hope Streets.

The article stated that housing will be allowed on the parking structure planned for the corner of California and Bryant St. The City Council discussed and rejected this idea early in the planning process. Housing would be allowed on top of any future commercial/parking development on an additional single City parking lot, e.g., the one across Hope St. from the post office.

The article also stated that City Staff was asked to study the possibility of allowing more than 30 residential units per acre on any redeveloped parcels between California and El Camino. The area under discussion for this area is actually between Castro and Hope, from Church to Fairmont.

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OMVNA Summer General Meeting

When: Saturday, June 12 from 1-3 p.m.
Where: Dana Park on the corner of Dana and Oak Streets next to Fire Station #1

Please come join us at the park next to Fire Station #1 for our next general meeting. There will be a fire truck for the kids (and grownups) to look at, as well as a presentation by members of our CERT team.

More details will follow in the next issue of the OMVNA Newsletter.

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History Corner: Moffett Field’s Darkest Day
By Bruce Karney

April 12, 1973, was a warm and beautiful spring day. Among those enjoying it were the Sunnyvale and Monte Vista High School golf teams, who were playing a match at the Sunnyvale course. Suddenly at 2:50 p.m. there was the horrifying sound of an enormous collision. Startled golfers looked up in terror to see two large planes falling to earth. Within seconds, a Convair 990 jet and a Navy P-3 Orion had plowed into the golf course’s twelfth tee and were engulfed in an orange-red fireball. The crash site was just two hundred yards short of the busy Bayshore Freeway and on the North side of Highway 237.

Lee Boyd was the coach of the Sunnyvale golf team. He recalls, "The P-3 was on top and the jet was on the bottom and they started to hit each other. The P-3 started to pull up, and the jet did, too. I assume that they both realized that they were both coming in on the same runway. As the P-3 was trying to abort the jet came up and punched a huge hole in the fuselage. I'll never forget the gaping hole the jet made in the top of the P-3’s fuselage. Both planes caught on fire at impact, and golfers were trying to break the front window of the planes to give help. Ray Kong, a golfer from our team, threw a parachute over the lone survivor."

Petty Officer Bruce Mallibert from the P-3 was the only survivor of the crash. His survival was a double miracle, because one of the fire trucks responding to the call saw only a parachute on the ground, but not the man under it, and drove right over the parachute. It is believed that he fell from the P-3 before it hit the ground, possibly from as much as 100 feet. Though he survived, he was paralyzed in all four limbs.

Ray Kong’s memories are also vivid. "Our foursome was probably the closest to the impact except for a group on the tenth or eleventh holes. We were walking up the third fairway when we heard the noise, and my two competitors from Monte Vista High School and my partially deaf teammate, Ray Vlach, dropped their golf bags and started running to the left, away from the planes. I thought ‘What the heck is going on?’ and then looked to my right and behind and saw the two planes, which had already collided, descending to the ground in a surreal slow motion. The nose of the P-3 was pointed up, seemingly attached to the wing of the Convair.

"After I caught up with my playing companions, and it was apparent we were not in danger, we stood and watched the ‘landing.’ I will never forget the dropped-jaw look of disbelief on the face of one of the players from Monte Vista, nor the golfer pounding on the plane’s windshield with a golf club to try to help the crew escape — but to no avail. I also remember the intense heat and popping sounds from inside the Convair; the fire truck driving over the parachute; and the large black woman who pulled the parachute back and took Bruce Mallibert's pulse. I thought he was dead. He was lying on his back, face up, with one of his legs twisted underneath."

Lee Boyd also remembers that "The crash trucks had a very difficult time getting on the course because it was fenced and the emergency workers did not have quick access to the gates. The other golf coach and I got the players off the course and safely home."

Eleven men on the NASA research plane and five on the P-3 died in the crash.

The crash investigation ultimately laid the blame for the crash on the air traffic controller. He had lined up the NASA Galileo research jet — the Convair — to land on runway 32R, the easternmost of Moffett’s two runways. The P-3 was using the other runway (32L) for its touch-and-go landings and take-offs. Then, tragically and mistakenly, he instructed the jet to land on 32L. The jet’s pilot acknowledged the change of runway, but never saw the P-3 until it was too late. In the final few seconds the P-3’s pilot, possibly responding to the controller’s frantic instruction to "go around, go around, weave!" did try to avoid a crash by pulling up sharply, but it was too late.

There is no marker or memorial at the Sunnyvale golf course to remind today’s golfers of the tragic events of 1973. One memorial does exist, though, in the form of a scholarship program set up to honor the NASA scientists who lost their lives. For nearly 30 years, the scholarship — administered by volunteers — has been available to juniors and seniors of public high schools in the eight Bay Area counties who intend to pursue a career in engineering, mathematics, or science. As the years have passed, though, funding has been depleted, and soon the scholarship may cease as well. If you would like to contribute to the Galileo Memorial Scholarship fund or apply for a scholarship (the deadline is April 30) see or contact Dr. Gano Chatterji at .In the next issue of the OMVNA Newsletter we’ll cover other noteworthy crashes of Moffett-based jets — including one that rained destruction on Old Mountain View!

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CERT Update:Is Your Family Ready?e
By By Erin Sanders

Earthquakes, flooding, power outages, terrorism — oh my! We live in a threatening world. Is your family ready if something keeps you from essential services? Chances are you’re not. The Red Cross estimates that about 50 percent of Americans are not prepared for a disaster and 58 percent have not taken the steps to make a disaster supply kit.

A disaster supply kit is quite easy to assemble. You’ve probably seen many lists that are quite daunting. The following list will help you prepare your family’s kit with just the basics:

  • Water — a minimum of two quarts per person per day
  • Food — if activity is reduced, you can survive on half your usual food intake for an extended period of time. Items to include in your kit are canned food; dry mixes; ready to eat meats, fruits and vegetables; boxed juices and milk; peanut butter; low-sodium crackers, granola bars and trail mixes; vitamins; instant cereal; powdered milk. Date each item and replace every six months. Keep in mind any special diet needs for infants or the elderly, and don’t forget a can opener.
  • A basic first aid kit with nonprescription drugs
  • Extra pair of prescription glasses or contacts
  • An extra supply of any necessary prescription (ask your pharmacist about storing prescriptions)
  • Tools and emergency supplies including a battery-powered radio, flashlight, matches, extra batteries, duct tape, plastic sheeting, needle and thread
  • Kitchen items, including plates, utensils, seasonings, plastic bags, bleach to treat contaminated water.
  • Sanitation and hygiene supplies, including towels, soap, toiletries, toilet paper, a bucket, heavy duty plastic bags and a portable toilet
  • Copies of important household and family documents
  • Clothing and bedding for family members

Don’t forget other special items that will help keep family members comfortable and pass the long hours.

You may also want to create a mini-survival kit for the car in case you are at work or on the road when a disaster strikes. Include a pair of sneakers in case you have to walk.

Finally, if you keep your kit in the garage, make sure you can easily enter the garage if the electricity is out.

Visit for a complete listing of everything you need to do to prepare for a disaster. Potential disaster is a reality each of us needs to face before it happens. It’s also a good idea to find out who your OMVNA CERT local coordinator is. They will be your link with neighborhood and city services during an emergency, and can help you get prepared. See and click on Emergency Preparedness for more information.

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From the Editor:Time to Say Thanks
By Velva Rowell

Ronit is on vacation, so I’ve decided to take this opportunity to mention some of the people who have been working to make this newsletter happen eight times a year. Without this team, we would have no newsletter.

The most important aspect of this newsletter is diverse content, which cannot be created by just one person. Tom Matula has done a great job with the Downtown Beat this year. His predecessor, Julie Lovins, is now keeping us up to date with in-depth discussions of current issues downtown. She is also a strong voice for local business, as we have seen from her wonderful articles for the Downtown Shopper section. Shelly King has a very personable writing style, and her descriptions of life as a single woman in OMV are always a pleasure to read. Also among our regular writers are Aaron Grossman and Erin Sanders, who are taking turns keeping us up to date on emergency preparedness.

Monica Smith and Ronit Bryant have been faithfully proofreading every issue of the newsletter before I send it to the printer. They keep things properly spelled and rein us in when the run-on sentences take over.

Finally, all this work would mean nothing if it weren’t for Julie Lovins and her loyal delivery team. There are too many names to fit in this issue, but please know that we appreciate your timely delivery of this publication. On behalf of our entire team, thank you for supporting us in our endeavors.

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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: 5/3/04