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OMVNA Newsletter

March 2007
Volume 19, Number 2

The OMVNA Newsletter is distributed to 1900 households and 175 downtown businesses by dedicated volunteers.  The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the OMVNA Steering Committee. Let us know what you think!

Editor: Bruce Karney
Phone: (6 - 9 PM only) 964-3567
Mail: 833 Bush St., Mountain View 94041

[view as PDF]

Sidewalk Replacements
Letter from the Chair: Peace of Mind — Our Final Gift to Those We Love
Mountain View Residents Get Priority on Shoreline Amphitheatre Tickets
Meet Landels' New Principal
New 405-Space Parking Structure Opens in April
Lion Observed Near School
The Critter Corner: Homeless Chickadees Seek Help from Homeowners
Old News! We’ve Got Old News!
Energy Action: MV Co-op Will Lower the Cost of Rooftop Solar
Living La Vida solar
Steering Committee News
Recently on OMVNAtalk
Steering Commmittee Meets
Tim Johnson Leaves After Many Years of Service
Our Newsletter Sponsors

Sidewalk Replacements

Each year the city budgets about $500,000 to replace the most deteriorated sidewalks.  Because our neighborhood’s sidewalks are so old and were not built to modern standards, they are being replaced at no cost to adjacent property owners.  This program has been active since 1999, but with a few pauses during times of fiscal belt-tightening.

This year the Dana sidewalk between View and Calderon will be replaced, as will the west side of Bush from Dana to Villa.

In 2008 the City plans to upgrade Fairmont between Bush and Shary, Shary between Sierra and Fairmont, and Villa between View and Houghton.

Sidewalks that aren't on the priority list but which present a tripping hazard will be serviced by leveling them with asphalt or grinding down the high points. Leveling is only a temporary solution; property owners may also request to have their sidewalk replaced by taking advantage of a cost sharing program. This program is available to residential property owners who wish to have their sidewalk replaced in advance of the block-by-block program. The actual cost of reconstructing the sidewalk will be evenly split by the City and property owner.

For more information, contact Quan Tran in Public Works at 903-6311 or by e-mail at:

Quan also notes that between Bush and Calderon some portions of sidewalk are raised a lot due to tree roots. He has hired an arborist to look at trees in this area, and is waiting for the report.

In the Shary and Fairmont area the City needs to relocate some electrical pull boxes to install new curb ramp before they repair the sidewalks. For this reason, if there is a delay in moving the underground wires then there will also be a delay in the sidewalk replacement schedule.

Finally, Quan says that if there are emergencies such as water main or sewer line breaks the City will need to revise the replacement schedule.

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Letter from the Chair: Peace of Mind -- Our Final Gift to Those We Love
By Ken Rosenberg, OMVNA Chair

Two months ago I learned that a long-time acquaintance died while vacationing with his family in Mexico. He was playing golf with his son and complained he didn’t feel well. He went back to his hotel room and decided to sleep it off. His wife urged him to call a doctor, but he declined saying that he’d rather nap and see how he felt later. Within an hour he was dead at age 52. He left behind a wife and five children.

A few weeks ago, the father of one of my son’s friends died. He went to bed in the evening and when his young daughter was sent to wake up daddy he didn’t wake up. He was 38 years old. He left behind a wife and two children.

For all the knowledge we have today about healthy living, for all the access some of us have to world class health care, we are, in the end, still human animals. We are mortal. We are fragile.

I wonder how many people reading this have a store of water in the event of a major earthquake or other disaster. How about a week’s worth of food? Emergency supplies and equipment? How well insured is your home or apartment? How about your life?

In both of the cases I mentioned above, the families are financially secure. They had the necessary funds to get by the day after the tragedy and the one after that. Do you? If you are prudent enough to have an emergency supply of food and water, do you also have an emergency supply of money in the event you lose your spouse or partner? What are the consequences to you if that income stream ceases?

I deal with these questions every day for my clients. Nobody wants to talk about death, but the reality is that we’re all headed for the same fate. We might wish that we could spend our last dollar on a great bottle of wine to share with friends and family before kicking the bucket, but life -- and death -- don’t work that way. Because we never know what tomorrow will bring, we must always be prepared.

One of my clients just switched jobs. For about a month, he was without health insurance or corporate term life insurance. He was essentially placing a bet that he would wake up healthy each and every day for a month. He did, and everything is fine. Most often this will be the case. But if you don’t like the answer to the question: “What happens to my family if I don’t wake up tomorrow?” then you must take action to remedy your personal situation.

In my business, we have a saying: “Nobody plans to fail financially, they simply fail to plan.” It’s all about having answers to the “What if…” questions. Because we are fragile, we must comprehend the reality that, as sad as it is when a loved one dies, the survivors must survive.

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Mountain View Residents Get Priority on Shoreline Amphitheatre Tickets
By Bruce Karney

One of the lesser-known benefits of living in Mountain View is that we have priority in purchasing tickets for shows at Shoreline Amphitheatre. If you’re willing to stand in line for an hour or so, you can get some of the best seats in the house. (The very best seats are reserved for VIPs who buy season tickets for the entire year.)

By the way, this is not a discount program. Residents pay the same price as everyone else, but we get to buy our tickets first, so we get the best available seats in our chosen price range.

Though I’ve known about this perk for years, last year was the first time I took advantage of it. When I heard that Roger Waters, the bassist of Pink Floyd, was going to perform The Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety, I decided I wanted to be there.

You will need to bring two forms of ID to prove your Mountain View residency: a government issued photo ID and also a utility bill (PG&E, cable, city utilities, or phone bill) that shows your name and address.

Armed with these documents and a credit card, go to the Box Office one or two days before tickets go on sale to the public. Depending on the popularity of the event you want to see (and other events going on sale that day), you may need to wait an hour or more to reach the ticket window. When you get there, you will be shown a seating chart and price list. For the Roger Waters show I selected seats in the middle of the second row of Section 202, right next to the sound mixing board. The sound and the sight lines were both fantastic. In my opinion, the front rows of Section 202 offer the best values at Shoreline. They are just a few yards behind the VIP Boxes, but cost 20-40% less.

The number of tickets you can buy is limited. There is a per-show quota for all residents, and a per buyer cap that is usually 2 or 4 tickets per person. If you go with a friend to get tickets, your friend needs Mtn. View ID too.

Instead of getting tickets, you will receive a receipt for the tickets that you, the ticket buyer, must bring to the Will Call window on the day of the show, along with your photo ID. If you lose the receipt or are unable to go to the show to pick up your tickets, you’re out of luck. Despite this somewhat challenging process, I think the Resident Ticket Priority Program is a very nice perk.

For info on upcoming shows, see

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Meet Landels’ New Principal
By Shelly King

Phyllis DeMattosLittle did Miss Hall know what she was starting way back when Phyllis DeMattos was a shy little girl from an immigrant family sitting down in her first grade classroom.

“I spoke English, but it was not my primary language,” says the new principal of Landels Elementary School. “My memories of Miss Hall are of how she made school fun and how she made me feel totally accepted. As I grew up, I knew that I wanted to work with children in some capacity where I could make a difference in their lives.”

Now it’s Phyllis who is making school fun, continuing her career as an educator here in Mountain View. With 30 years of experience under her belt, she took the reins at Landels at the beginning of the current school year. And she was not the only new kid on the block. Joining her were 120 students and transferred teachers from Slater School, which closed last year. But now it seems like they have all been together for much longer than half a school year.

“The biggest surprise for me is how well the students and staff at Landels have embraced all the changes that have occurred this year,” said Phyllis. “Landels truly celebrates diversity and has a resiliency to overcome challenges and seize opportunities.”

Before coming to Landels, Phyllis worked in the Buckeye Union School District outside Sacramento, serving as principal of William Brooks Elementary in El Dorado Hills for eight years. She was also a principal for two schools in the Central Valley, and also has experience as a language arts intervention instructor.

Phyllis takes great pride in the many programs offered by Landels School, especially the Aimed Instruction for Mastery Program. It is an intervention program conducted in a learning center. The program designs instruction for students with specific academic needs so they can meet standards. This instruction targets specific skills that students clearly understand so they can monitor their progress towards personal academic goals.

A strong desire to work with children is not the only thing Phyllis carries on from her childhood. She enjoys reading mystery novels, a passion that started with the Nancy Drew series when she was a young girl. “As an adult I love to read mysteries and books with new and fresh plots. My reading taste is quite eclectic.”

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New 405-Space Parking Structure Opens in April

According to Rey Rodriguez, a project manager in the City’s Public Works Department, the new parking structure at California and Bryant will open in April. The Longs drug store on the ground level will open in the fall.

As the local economy has revived and the vibrant Castro Street restaurant scene has begun to draw patrons from cities throughout the South Bay, downtown parking has become increasingly hard to find.

Rising above the rooftop parking spaces will be a 90 kilowatt solar electric system, the first major solar project installed by the City of Mountain View. The power output will be enough to completely cover the needs of the building’s elevators and the lighting for the five parking decks.

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Lion Observed Near School

Lanny the LionWe received reports that a lion has been seen at Landels Elementary School. The photo below shows the animal as he stares down the intrepid photographer.

People have begun calling him “Lanny,” and he has exhibited odd behavior for a lion. He loves to travel and to have his picture taken near prominent landmarks.

Lanny sightings have been reported from Chicago, Philadelphia, Memphis, and even Cancun and Beijing (see photo below). Lanny is variously reported as being 10 to 14 inches in length and weighing 6 to 10 ounces.

Lanny the LionDespite his small size and lack of opposable thumbs, he is an accomplished writer. Each time he leaves Mountain View, he seems to be compelled to write about his travels. He seems most interested in recording interesting facts about geography, culture and history. Perhaps because he spends so much time at the elementary school, many of his travelogues seem to be written with 4th and 5th graders in mind. Some speculate that he thinks these letters help these subjects “come alive” for Landels students, but this cannot be confirmed because the lion has refused requests for an interview.

Marti Wright is the local expert on Lanny and his movements. If you’d like to learn more about Lanny, or possibly pack him in your suitcase on your next trip and help him write about new adventures, you can contact her at

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The Critter Column: Homeless Chickadees Seek Help from Homeowners
By Jack Perkins

ChickadeesThe Chestnut-backed Chickadee is a native cavity-nesting bird species that isn’t as plentiful as it used to be. It requires cavities in trees to nest in, and these are often former woodpecker nests. Their nest site requirements are so specific that if the entrance to their cavity is more than 1.25 inches in diameter, non-native birds like the English sparrow or Starling will take over the nest.

Each nesting season I volunteer with the Santa Clara Audubon Society, and last year I installed cavity nesting boxes in 44 backyards, mostly in Mountain View. The homeowners who received the small nest boxes agreed to lift up the hinged panel on the box, peek inside, and record the activity each week. These nest boxes are also attractive to three other native species: Bewick’s wrens, titmice and nuthatches.

I discovered that the best location to attract chickadees is right next to a big redwood tree or a cluster of smaller redwoods. The chickadees build their nests inside the box using fluffy strands of bark from the redwood tree, and the tree also provides them with an abundance of tiny bugs to eat.

Every nest box I placed next to a redwood tree had chickadees nesting in it, and, eventually, fledglings.

Would you like to help with this year’s nest box project? It won’t take much effort to increase the twittering sounds of native songbirds in our neighborhood

If you have a redwood tree in your yard, I will install a small nest box for you. I hope you will agree to record your weekly observations by entering them into the easy-to-use Audubon Society web site ( If you’re interested in helping with this project, please e-mail me at

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Old News! We’ve Got Old News!
The writers and editor of the OMVNA Newsletter strive to bring you the latest news about the neighborhood we share, and we’ve been doing it for 19 years. We pride ourselves on having something fresh to deliver to your doorstep every 6-7 weeks.

But we also pride ourselves on the outstanding collection of archived newsletters on our web site. We have PDF copies of newsletters from 1989-1991 and HTML versions of the issues from 1998-2007. Soon we will fill in the gap from 1992-97 thanks to the efforts of Valerie Harris, who is doing the scanning.

Why would anyone want to read old news? Well, perhaps you’re new to the neighborhood and want to understand the context of some of the changes that have happened over the last 19 years. For example, if you didn’t attend the dedication of Mercy-Bush Park in 2001, you can still get a feel for what a special day it was by reading the April, 2001 Newsletter and seeing the photo of more than 200 neighbors who enjoyed the opening day festivities.

Besides the chronological index, there’s also a topic index. My favorite topic is History Corner. It has links to about 30 different articles written over the past 9 years. One of these, “The Doors Lead Singer Jim Morrison Lived in Old Mountain View,” is the most-viewed article on the OMVNA web site and has been ever since it was published in 2000. History Corner also features stories about pioneers, important events and “the great naming flap of 1930.”

To find all the old OMVNA newsletters, point your browser to:

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Energy Action Column: MV Co-op Will Lower the Cost of Rooftop Solar
By Bruce Karney

“Energy Action” is a new column that will provide information on ways that we can reduce the amount of energy we consume, thereby saving money and helping the environment.  We welcome reader suggestions and feedback!

I am organizing a cooperative effort to get 50+ Mountain View homeowners and business owners to buy rooftop solar panels from a single vendor to save 25-30% for all participants. A co-op just like this one recently succeeded in Portola Valley. 77 families there purchased solar systems in December which are now being installed.

The next information meeting about the co-op will be held March 10 from 3-4:30 p.m. at the Mountain View Senior Center at 266 Escuela Avenue.

If enough families and businesses participate, a 2.5 kilowatt (kW) solar system will cost about $12,000 after rebates and tax credits. A 2.5 kW system produces enough power to completely offset the electricity bill of an energy-conscious 2-person household. However, larger families will benefit the most from an investment in solar power because they may already be paying 3 times as much per kilowatt-hour as small households because PG&E's steeply tiered rate structure charges heavy users more per kilowatt-hour than light users.

Please call (964-3567) or e-mail me ( if you would like to learn more about the co-op.

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Living La Vida Solar
By Bruce Karney

There are five homes between Castro and Calderon with solar electric systems. By interviewing the solar pioneers I learned that no two solar systems – or solar families – are alike.

The first couple in the neighborhood to go solar was Philippe Habib and Heidi Cartan. They live at 526 View, and in 2001 Philippe installed a 2.5 kilowatt (kW) system that provides much of the energy needed by their family of four. They have an excellent southern exposure, but the steep pitch of their roof made the installation a physical challenge. At one time they also owned an electric truck whose batteries they recharged at night.

Julie Lovins and Greg Fowler were the next family to go solar. They purchased their 2 kW, 12-panel system in Sept. 2003 from Akeena Solar and had it installed on their east-facing roof where it catches the morning, mid-day and early afternoon sun. Julie and Greg have found that the system provides nearly all the electricity their home needs, and their electricity bill has been reduced to less than $5/month. They note that the growth of redwood trees in neighbors’ yards is decreasing the output of the system more each year.

Steven and Bonnie Prescop at 752 Calderon were the next family to go solar in November 2003 as part of a remodel that expanded their home from 1200 to 2200 sq. ft. Their 18-panel, 2.5 kW solar array is on the south side of their addition and is invisible from the street. Bonnie runs an in-home day care business that takes a lot of electricity. Even though they nearly doubled the size of their home, their electricity bill is about half of what it was prior to their $13,000 investment in solar electricity. Steve expects the system to pay for itself in 7-10 years.

The 2.5 kW system of Jordan and Wendy Dea-Mattson (311 Jessie Lane) is also quite hard to see from the street. They had it installed by Akeena in mid-2004. Looking to the future, Jordan is very enthusiastic about the cost reductions that will occur when Palo Alto-based Nanosolar brings its new manufacturing facility in San Jose on line late this year. Nanosolar has developed a semiconductor ink can be used to make a solar cell using a simple printing process. The ink is deposited on a flexible substrate and the nanocomponents in the ink align themselves properly via molecular self-assembly.

The newest, largest and most visible solar system in the neighborhood is at 541 Bush Street, near Mercy-Bush Park. This is the home of Tim and Terri Petersen and their two daughters. Their 4.4 kW system, installed by REgrid Power, became operational on Jan. 5 of this year. Thanks to a sunny January, it produced 474 kilowatt-hours in its first four weeks of operation. The Petersens have owned their home since 1999 and paid for their system by taking some cash out when they refinanced their home last summer. Tim says that he expects the system to reduce their PG&E bills by 80-85%. The initial idea for the solar system was Tim’s, and Terri was hesitant at first. However, as Terri said when I interviewed her, “We watched An Inconvenient Truth and I stopped arguing.”

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Steering Committee News

Two individuals have applied to fill the At Large vacancy on the Steering Committee. Both had indicated that they would attend the February 12 Steering Committee meeting, but one candidate had to cancel because of another commitment.

The candidate who was present briefed the Committee on his background and long record of civic involvement. The Committee decided to postpone the selection until the March 12 meeting, when the other candidate will present her qualifications.

At the General Meeting later than evening in City Hall, OMVNA members unanimously approved our balanced 2007 budget of $11,000. Details of the budget appeared in the January issue of the OMVNA Newsletter.

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Recently on OMVNAtalk

OMVNAtalk is an online community that operates like our neighborhood’s back fence in cyberspace. Recent conversations among the 261 subscribers have covered a wide range of topics:

  • Free 15’ Inflatable Pool
  • Looking for Quiet Room to Rent
  • Suspicious Passers-by
  • Bike and Bed for Sale

To subscribe to OMVNAtalk, send an e-mail to

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Steering Committee Meets

Our next meetings will be March 12 and April 9 at 7:30 p.m. in the Chamber of Commerce Board Room at 580 Castro St. Everyone is welcome to attend!

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Tim Johnson Leaves After Many Years of Service
By Aaron Grossman

Tim Johnson will soon be leaving us and moving to Oregon to pursue his avid love of fishing. Tim has been a strong and continual neighborhood contributor. He joined the OMVNA Steering Committee as Vice Chair in 1994, served as Chair for 1995 and 1996, and then as Secretary from 1997 through 2001.

Tim also started the all-volunteer OMVNA CERT, our Community Emergency Response Team. CERT helps local residents prepare in advance for a major disaster, such as an earthquake, and then becomes the local communications and coordination team after it happens. Tim took the city’s CERT training course in 2000 and was so enthusiastic he convinced fellow board members Julie Wrobel and me to also take the class.

Along with Twana Karney, we started the team and secured grants to purchase a small command trailer, radios, and basic disaster response equipment. Tim was gone most of 2001 and 2002 due to the demands of his job with the California State University system, but he returned to Mountain View following his retirement in 2003 and once again resumed his role as a key CERT leader.

Tim's departure leaves only 38 CERT members, and it will take at least five or ten regular volunteers to bring us to full strength. I think Tim’s advice would be to step up and get involved. Tim, you will be missed! Good luck!

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