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OMVNA Newsletter

May / June 2004
Volume 16, Number 4

Downtown Precise Plan: Updated

Downtown Shopper: Treasure Trove for Children Downtown

OMVNA Summer General Meeting

From the Chair

CERT Update: Check Your Gas Valve!

History Corner: It Used to Rain Jets: Part 2

Errata


Downtown Precise Plan: Updated
By Ronit Bryant

After more than a year and a half of discussion and debate in City Council, various commissions, and committees, the updated Downtown Precise Plan was finally approved at City Council’s May 25 meeting. Very little public input was offered: three speakers, of whom two (myself and Bruce Karney) were neighborhood residents. Council itself spent very little time in discussion.

Of particular interest to our neighborhood are the following updates:

  • Building heights on the 100 and 200 blocks of Castro (in the historic downtown area) will be 30 to 35 ft. with an additional 10 ft. setback of 10 to 12 ft. (for a total of 45 ft.).
  • Building heights on the 300 block of Castro (also in the historic downtown area) will be 45 ft. with an additional 10 ft. setback of 10 to 12 ft. (for a total of 55 ft.).
  • Residential density on the Castro front of the Castro-Church-Hope-Fairmont area will be 50 units per acre (and building height of 55 ft.). The density on the Hope side of this area will be 30 units per acre (and building height of 35 ft.).
  • South of Fairmont, on the corner of El Camino, a six-story hotel would be considered a provisional use.

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Downtown Shopper: Treasure Trove for Children Downtown
By Alison Hicks

I can rarely take a walk around my block without spotting parents strolling offspring. Yet Mountain View barely has any children’s clothing or gear stores, and downtown retail is almost entirely aimed at adults. The newly opened House of Forgotten Treasures, which sells both new and gently used children’s items, finally changes that.

Located in one of the city’s oldest homes at 902 Villa Street, just off Castro, the store finally gives Old Mountain View parents a children’s store we can drop by while walking downtown. Given that merchants and nearby residents have both called for more retailers to round out our restaurant-saturated downtown, the store should be a welcome addition. I envision meeting friends on the sunny wraparound porch before tricycling off to the farmers’ market.

Having rapidly-growing children around the house can turn your life into an endless and expensive shopping spree. I’d rather shop used clothing stores and avoid fresh-from-the-sweatshop clothing pushed by the major outlets. The best-used children’s stores are hangouts and community centers as well as stores. They need community support to thrive — so haul those bags of tiny clothing out of your garage and down to 902 Villa, check out the wares and sun yourself with other parents on the porch.

The house at 902 Villa Street may not be with us for long, given that the city’s preservation ordinance has expired. I am hoping that we can support House of Forgotten Treasures at its current location or some new location downtown if need be. For more information on the House of Forgotten Treasures go to www.kids-treasures.com.

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OMVNA Summer General Meeting

When: Saturday, June 12 from 1to 3 p.m.
Where: Dana Park on the corner of Dana and Oak Streets next to Fire Station #1 at 231 S. Shoreline Blvd, between Villa and Dana Streets
What: Safety demonstrations, firehouse tours, and an ice cream social

Bring your favorite ice cream topping or sundae ingredient and come join us at Dana Park. There will be firehouse tours, a demonstration of how your gas valve and fire extinguisher work, a CERT presentation and goodies for the children. Also, there will be ice cream and drinks provided by OMVNA.

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From the Chair
By Ronit Bryant

Do you want to know what’s going on in town? Do you have a few hours to spare? Come join the Old Mountain View Neighborhood Association (OMVNA) Steering Committee.

What does the OMVNA Steering Committee do? When City Council and Commissions worked to update the Downtown Precise Plan and discussed the new parking garage on California and Bryant, members of the OMVNA Steering Committee advocated for the neighborhood and its interests. When individual neighbors worked with the City and downtown businesses to resolve a variety of problems, members of the OMVNA Steering Committee were there to advocate, give advice, and provide support. Members of the OMVNA Steering Committee have planned and put together neighborhood parties, walking tours, potlucks and talent shows. OMVNA has funded and trained a neighborhood community emergency response team (CERT) which is now over 30 members strong.

What is the OMVNA Steering Committee? It is a group of eight people: a chair who represents the association to outside organizations; a vice chair who serves as an alternate for the chair and prepares agendas; a secretary who takes minutes and preserves records and correspondence; a treasurer; a newsletter editor; a community liaison who keeps the Steering Committee informed about ongoing activities of city organizations that may impact the neighborhood; and two at large members who are assigned various tasks depending on their interests and the Steering Committee’s needs. The Steering Committee is elected by the membership for a one-year term at the October General Meeting.

Being on the OMVNA Steering Committee is not necessarily a major time commitment. The positions of chair, newsletter editor, and community liaison require a significant investment of time, however the at-large positions require no more than a few hours each month. The reward for being on the Steering Committee? Having a better idea of developments in town; making new friends and acquaintances; feeling you’re working for your neighborhood.

How do you join? A nominating committee is currently forming to put together a slate for October. Bruce Karney, an involved neighbor and former OMVNA chair, will chair the nominating committee. We’re looking for other neighbors to join us. The time commitment is minimal, but, if you join us, you can do your part to ensure that the officers of OMVNA represent all segments of our neighborhood.

If you are interested, let the nominating committee know. Propose yourself or your willing neighbor for next year’s Steering Committee. You can reach Bruce at (650) 964-3567, or me at chair@omvna.org.

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CERT Update: Check Your Gas Valve!
By Aaron Grossman

CERT strongly recommends that you make sure your gas valve is able to turn and not frozen in place. Use a sturdy and close-fitting wrench to test it.

Don’t turn the valve too far, since it will shut off with only a quarter turn. Remember, the gas is on when the valve lines up with the pipe, and off is at right angle to the pipe, usually located just below the gas meter. For more information, please go to http://www.pge.com/safety/home_safe_home/turn_gas_off/.

Many people erroneously think they should shut off their gas in case of an earthquake. PG&E says don’t shut off the gas unless there’s a strong odor of gas or major damage to the building. Once the gas is turned off, only a PG&E service person or other qualified professional should turn it back on, especially if pilot lights need to be relit. Pilot lights automatically shut off their gas when they go out. See our web site at www.omvna.org for more emergency preparedness links — and come see the CERT display at the June 12 OMVNA party in the park next to Fire Station 1, 231 S Shoreline Blvd; between Villa and Dana Streets.

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History Corner: It Used to Rain Jets: Part 2
By Bruce Karney

In the previous History Corner I wrote about the 1973 mid-air collision over the Sunnyvale Golf Course. While researching it, I read a story in the San Jose Mercury titled "It Used to Rain Jets." It detailed the incredibly poor reliability of jets in the 1950’s and listed more than ten crashes of jets based at Moffett.

Most spectacular and best remembered is the crash that took place in our neighborhood on Feb. 1, 1957. An F-84 Thunderjet was flying north toward Moffett, approximately following the route of Castro Street. It exploded at an altitude of about 2000 feet. Had the explosion happened only a few seconds earlier, the flaming debris would have landed on the Mountain View Union High School (near where City Hall now stands). A few seconds later, and the Mountain View Academy or the Dana Street School could have been hit.

The largest piece of the plane landed on /the home of Mr. & Mrs. Les Wright of 1093 California (near Oak). Mrs. Wright was slightly injured while escaping from her home through a window. She returned to try to get her purse, but was driven back by a wall of flame. The house and its contents were destroyed by the fire.

Fire also destroyed the second floor of the house at 427 Franklin St. and damaged several other buildings. The body of the pilot, Capt. Robert Mulvehill, fell at 445 Bryant St. The jet engine landed in front of 420 Franklin, which suffered some fire damage.

Just four months later, on June 20, 1957, a Moffett-based jet and a propeller-driven plane collided over Mtn. View-Alviso Road (Hwy. 237) just south of Bayshore Highway. Both pilots were killed, and the wreckage landed on a cement truck being driven on Mtn. View-Alviso Road. The truck driver narrowly escaped death.

Another deadly crash in Mountain View took place on Feb. 15, 1960. An A4D Skyhawk jet returning to Moffett Field smashed into a home at 679 Emily Drive. Mrs. Margit Halmi, a refugee from Hungary who lived there, was killed instantly. The pilot, Lt. (j.g.) Gordon Blake, ejected from the plane, but his parachute did not fully deploy, and he also died.

The 1973 San Jose Mercury article said that "a safety crackdown in 1956 eventually lowered the accident rate from 3.8 per 10,000 hours flying time to 1.8." To put this in perspective, Southwest Airlines flies about 3,500 hours per day. If their fleet was as unreliable as military jets were fifty years ago, they would have a crash every day or two! In reality, commercial airlines now have only 2 to 3 accidents per million hours flying time.

The frequent crashes of Moffett jets caused an outcry from residents and elected officials. Consequently, in 1961 jet operations were moved from Moffett to the less-populated environs of Lemoore Naval Air Station in the Central Valley. But four-engine turboprop P-3s continued to operate, with an excellent safety record, until NAS Moffett was decommissioned in 1994.

Editor’s note: Much of the material contained in the first part of this series came from Lost Birds magazine, Jan./March, 1998. Lee Boyd and Ray Kong both shared their memories with Bruce via e-mail, and he was able to visit the crash site with Mr. Boyd.

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Errata

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 articl/e 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 density is actually between Castro and Hope, from Church to Fairmont.


The OMVNA Newsletter
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The opinions printed in this newsletter are not necessarily those of the OMVNA Steering Committee.


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