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OMVNA Newsletter

September 2008
Volume 20, Number 6

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: Velva Rowell

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OMVNA Steering Committee Nominees from Coming Year
From the Chair
OMVNA General Meeting and Candidate Forum
A Few Minutes With...Paul Goldstein
Are You New in the Neighborhood?
Steering Committee Dates
Steering Committee Update
Downtown Committee Update
Coming Soon: Monte Loma Candidate Forum
Critter Column: Skippers
Our Newsletter Sponsors

OMVNA Steering Committee Nominees for Coming Year

Each year a Nominating Committee is formed to identify residents who are willing to spend a few hours each month serving on the OMVNA Steering Committee. This year’s Nominating Committee was chaired by Velva Rowell (our Newsletter Editor) and it nominated the slate of candidates listed below.

  • Chair: Noam Livnat
  • Vice-Chair: Bruce Karney
  • Treasurer: Aaron Grossman
  • Secretary: TBD
  • Newsletter Editor: Velva Rowell
  • Community Liaison: Ken Rosenberg
  • At Large: Shelly King
  • At Large: Kim Copher

Most of our candidates are carrying over from this year, so this is a very experienced group of candidates. You’ll notice that the role of Secretary is still open. We are open to people nominating themselves for these positions. Please contact Velva Rowell at if you are interested.

The Nominating Committee also tapped Aaron Grossman to continue to lead the CERT Committee. The election will be held during the General Meeting and Candidate Forum on Thursday, Oct. 16 from 7:30 – 9:30 pm in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

From the Chair: Burning Man
by Noam Livnat

by Noam Livnat

Last week I attended Burning Man, a unique festival in which, for seven days, “Black Rock City” materializes out of the scorched earth of the Black Rock desert, 110 miles north of Reno.

Fifty thousand people from around the country and the world participated this year (double from the last time I was there in 2001). They set up tents, camps, RVs, and makeshift shade struc-tures in a giant horse-shoe pat-tern, enclosing a vast open area known as the playa. At the heart of the playa stood the Man, 40 feet tall on top of a 90-foot ped-estal, ready to erupt in a blaze of fire and fireworks at the climac-tic closing ceremony that gives the festival its name.

This year’s theme was the American Dream, and the festi-val’s art interpreted and com-mented the theme. Like every-thing at Burning Man, the art can be wacky and profound simulta-neously. The Temple (which is also set on fire at the end of the festival), an intricate structure of wood and ornaments, is a place of remembrance and letting go, where people cover every sur-face with photos of loved ones and messages to those they can no longer talk to. Steven Gold-man, from Mountain View, erected a shrine to the Oven Mitt, an American Icon. Another group created the Bummer, a 38-foot long, 16-foot high replica of a Hummer, painting it in a way demonstrating its duality as both a military and family vehicle. In both contexts, according to the artist, the Hummer is about es-tablishing one’s power and posi-tion. Somebody set up a faux ATM, which didn’t dispense cash, but allowed revelers to meet other people while standing in its line.

Art is only a part of the expe-rience, which emphasizes par-ticipation. The Billion Bunny March, a long-held tradition, in-volved hundreds of participants, dressed in bunny costumes, who hopped, skipped, and jumped across the playa in a show of Le-poridaean power. Next to them, a small group of determined car-rots protested their quiet suffer-ing at the mouths of evil bunnies. A group of self-appointed Playa Animal Control gathered in the meantime, complete with a giant animal control vehicle, red over-alls and enormous butterfly nets in order to capture and tag the bunny rabble while explaining in their megaphone that they are protecting the health and prop-erty of participants from rabid playa animals. The clash of the groups was something to behold as it rapidly devolved into a wild dance party. Across the “street” from my campsite a group orga-nized a pool party (no pool, of course). People gathered around the imaginary pool, were served drinks and danced to music while a lifeguard regularly ad-monished them not to run next to the pool and to not enter it with their beverages.

The best way I can describe a walk around the playa at night, when it really comes to life, is like wandering in a giant medie-val circus camp: bursts of fire erupt from various places; a green-glowing double-decker furry bus serves as a roving party; giant mysterious shapes in strange colors move around. Mu-sic is everywhere.

More than anything, though, Burning Man is about people. And since most people wear very strange clothes, or none, one isn’t prone to pre-judging them by their appearance. It’s simply impossible to know if the person in front of you wearing fur boots, a green bikini and a Mad Hatter hat is a bum or a banker. Hud-dling around an ornately carved fire barrel waiting for sunrise I chatted with Mark from Mary-land, whose camp built a mini-golf attraction. A state official back home, Mark was very con-cerned with the coming elections and the apathy of the younger generation. I met Kyra, a fire dancer, who asked us to send some love to her friend who was somewhere on the east coast, or-ganizing veterans to protest the war in Iraq. “Isn’t it interesting,” she said, “that he and I are in op-posite places. He is fighting for the American dream and here we are, celebrating it. And it’s im-portant that we do both.” I also spent some time with Spooner, a Sioux Indian and somewhat of a Burning Man legend, who hitch-hiked from Kansas to attend. Re-fusing on principle to pay for a
ticket, he hiked over the moun-tains from the nearest town. He was mightily proud that, using his Jedi mind tricks, he was able to buy a three dollar coffee for two (coffee and ice are the only things one can buy in Black Rock City).

And for me, it’s not the art, but the people of Burning Man, that best symbolize the American Dream: fifty thousand people who simply enjoy each other’s company, even if they are meet-ing for the first and last time. Fifty thousand people who ac-cept and support wacky self-expression, indulgence, and ex-perimentation. Fifty thousand people who are delighted to in-vite you to their camp, care for you, spend time with you and expect nothing in return.

For it is the trust that people are good, the openness, and the revelry in diversity that makes America the subject of so many dreams.

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OMVNA General Meeting and Candidate Forum

Join us on Thursday, October 16 at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall for our biennial Candidate Forum. All of the candidates running for City Council have been invited, and the acceptances are coming in!

This is also the meeting where we elect our OMVNA Steering Committee. There are still spots available on the board, so please check the article above and see if there is a position you would be interested in filling.

This promises to be an exciting and informative event, and we hope to see you all there!

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A Few Minutes With...Paul Goldstein

by Velva Rowell

I first met Paul when he and his wife moved back to Mountain View in 2004. I watched them remodel the house on Mercy Street that they have owned since 1972. When I re-joined the Steering Committee, I noticed that Paul was a regular attendee at the monthly meetings. We sat down last week to have a chat about the different endeavors that he is part of here in Mountain View.

Paul first moved to Mountain View in 1968 to teach in the Whisman School District. He was an elementary school teacher, primarily of kindergar-ten, for 20 years before moving to Bakersfield to become a prin-cipal. He says he wasn’t as ac-tive in the community back then because his job took most of his free time.
When Paula and his wife re-modeled their house, they de-cided to create landscaping that would draw birds and butterflies and save on water. They went on the California Native Plant tour and found a designer who helped them to create a landscaping plan. “The majority of the property is native California plants, part of the plant community that belongs in this area.” Their yard has been part of the California native Plant tour which includes over 100 yards in the Santa Clara County tour.

After his retirement and return from Bakersfield, he joined the Mountain View Kiwanis. This group has a foundation that gives annual grants. “We gave out 200 thousand dollars to other non-profit, local organizations primarily focused on children and the elderly.”

As part of his work with Kiwanis, Paul also got involved as a member of the Community Roundtable. This group meets quarterly and is comprised of representatives of the local Kiwanis, Lions, Rotary and Quota chapters as well as the Los Altos Community Foundation. The primary purpose of this group is to provide a way for these different service groups to keep form competing and to focus on elements of the community that need help. The focus of the group is primarily on the needs of the Mountain View-Los Altos area.

The groups that participate in the Community Roundtable regularly perform a community-wide needs assessment which Paul describes as “a little bit like visioning except its more current.” They also use one unified scholarship application to ensure that the needs of as many scholarship applicants as possible are met.

Paul got involved with CERT via the city and then joined OMVNA CERT. He then started to attend Steering Committee meetings as an interested ob-server. He now serves as a sort of unofficial liaison between OMVNA and the local service clubs.

Last year Paul was involved in the Soap Box Derby when the Mountain View Kiwanis provided four cars for special needs drivers. Paul is also an environmental docent at Shoreline Park and a member of the Palo Alto Mountain View Pensulaires Men’s Barbershop Chorus.

Paul says that playing tennis, walking and community activi-ties keep him busy. He enjoys living in Old Mountain View because “it’s a very friendly community. There’s a sense of community and things are al-ways changing.” He also likes that it is a walkable community which is central to everything via CalTrain and the VTA.

If you are interested in any of the groups that Paul is a part of, you can find them via the Internet.

  • • Kiwanis Club of Mountain View: /kiwania_mv
  • The Peninsulaires:
  • California Native Plant Society, Santa Clara Valley Chapter:

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Are You New in the Neighborhood?
by Julie Lovins

Old Mountain View is uniquely interesting and walk-able, offering unusual opportuni-ties to get to know your neigh-bors while enjoying the view and the exercise.

Eight times a year, you can also provide an invaluable serv-ice to the community by delivering this newsletter to homes on a couple blocks of the neighbor-hood. Residents can sign up to do a trial run, be a "roving sub-stitute," or deliver to the same area each time. If you're out of town, you can ask for a substi-tute. We provide route maps, in-structions, and match you with a compatible route (for example, "stroller-friendly"). You don't need to knock on doors, just put the newsletter in a stable place.

Each route is designed to take 40-60 minutes. Most people do them on the weekends, and your package will be delivered to your doorstep – you don’t even have to pick them up! Call 964-0368 for more information and to sign up.

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Steering Committee Dates

Future meetings: Monday October 13 and November 10 at 7:30 p.m. at 580 Castro in the Chamber of Commerce Board Room. Everyone is welcome to attend! Agendas are sent to the OMVNAtalk e-mail list a few days before each meeting. To suggest a topic, send e-mail to:

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Steering Committee Updates

Many thanks to all of the neighbors who came out and helped to make the annual Ice Cream Social a success. Almost 400 neighbors came out to enjoy ice cream, activities and music. We even got a visit from the fire department who showed some of the children how to use the fire hoses.

As you can see from our front page, we are still searching for a secretary for next year. If you are interested in this position, please contact Velva Rowell at

Also, we are in the midst of planning for our biennial Candidates Forum which will be held from 7:30-9:00 on Thursday, 16 October. This event is always interesting and informative. It is also paired with the OMVNA elections. Please come prepared with questions to ask the candi-dates.

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Downtown Committee Update
by Ken Rosenberg

In 1998, City Council formed the Downtown Committee with the purpose: “To promote the vitality of downtown Mountain View through recommendations to the City Council / Revitaliza-tion Authority on programs, pro-jects, and policies for economic development, a quality down-town environment and the main-tenance and development of the parking facilities.” Based on this purpose, the Downtown Com-mittee developed an ambitious work plan that was adopted by the City Council in March 1999. Many of the tasks outlined in the original work plan have been completed and have resulted in a positive transformation of the downtown. With the completion of these tasks, the role of the Committee is in a period of tran-sition and will now be focusing on retail recruitment, ongoing operations and downtown issues as they emerge.

There is a new surge towards independent retailers in the downtown (The Home Gallery, Mystique, Boutique and Therapy), and it is proposed that the City continue its efforts in this direction in order to improve the quality and diversity of retail in the downtown.

Downtown Project Updates:

  • Opened since last meeting: Z Pizza, Diyar Bistro and Wine Bar, FuLam Mum.
  • UWink: No update other than the ball is in their court to complete the job and open.
  • Yogurberry: Apparently the franchisee did not tell corporate that major façade improvements would have to be completed be-fore they could open. Corporate balked. Now it is up to the fran-chisee to either fund the refur-bishment or give up the lease. Good news for yogurt lovers, if Yogurberry falls through, there are least two other yogurt stores that are willing to pay the freight and go into that space.
  • Train Depot: Castro Point won the right, but has not received any permits to open their snack bar.
  • Old Xanh space: no news to report
  • 142 Castro (was WG Grinders): SV Kosher Restaurant coming soon.
  • 357 Castro (was TK Noodle): Sakoon. We think it will be an Indian restaurant coming soon
  • 873 Castro (was Spice): Savory! Vietnamese Restaurant. Should open soon.
  • 903 Castro (was BikeSpring): Polyvore, Inc. A startup is taking over the space
  • Lastly, in the space that used to be the “hotel” on the 100 block of Castro, Something interesting and unexpected was uncovered. During demolition of the interior, the new owners have discovered many architectural artifacts (columns and other structural devices) that reflect the period when the building was constructed (late 1800s). They are incurring the expense of renovating these features as opposed to simply removing them. They don’t know what will go into the space yet, but it should look fabulous when they’re done.

Downtown Signage Program

The Committee voted in favor of a look and feel for new parking / directional signs for the Downtown. This will be recommended to Council for approval. The Parking signs will “pop” with easy to identify colors and be consistent for the entire area. As far as new “informational” signs that would lead people to downtown sites (e.g.: Library, City Hall, Performing Arts Center, etc.), the Committee was split on the design and the color schemes, and even on the efficacy of having such a sign to begin with. We also voted in favor of installing two “Yield to Pedestrians” signs during the next re-surfacing of the pavement at the two entering points (train tracks & El Camino) to Castro (see: ).

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Coming Soon: Monte Loma Candidate Forum

You say you can’t make it on a Thursday night to meet the candidates? Well, the Monte Loma Neighborhood Association has graciously offered to make us welcome at their candidate forum on Saturday, October 25 from 9:30-noon in the Monte Loma Elementary School Multi-Purpose room. Refreshments will be served.

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Critter Column: Skippers
by Jack Perkins

Skippers are very common, orange and tawny colored, inch long butterfly-like creatures. They are not true butterflies but lie somewhere between butterfly and moth; mostly leaning towards butterfly.

There are over 3500 species world-wide and are doing quite well. You will always see Skippers in our neighborhood; they are so common they go unnoticed.

Butterflies, Skippers and Moths are in the order Lepidoptera and Skippers are classified in the Hesperiidae family of the Lepidoptera order.

My yard has two kinds, Sandhill Skipper and Fiery Skipper. However, identification is difficult and I am no lepidopter-ist. I see them darting around my yard, March through October, preferring open sunny areas with flowers and grass.

They are stout little butterflies about one inch long, and they are scrappy and tough. They jostle bumblebees and wasps to get at flowers; hummingbirds are wary of them too.

They are fearless and quick and make little orange streaks across the yard. They are always having aerial spats and some-times four or more streak by jostling each other in a scrappy formation.

Or they lilt and skip low over my lawn occasionally alighting and depositing an egg on a strategic grass blade. Their eggs hatch into caterpillars that love to eat grass, the caterpillars turn into pupae and the pupae turn into the Skipper which is an im-portant pollinator. They work my flowers amid four kinds of bees, paper wasps, yellow jackets, and hummingbirds. Shoulder to shoulder.

Skippers have a long proboscis they expertly insert deep into a flower to extract nectar, it is quite a thing to watch.

Their wings are swept back like a fighter jet and when they land they often spread their wings and they look like a little F-16.

They have big round black eyes and long antennae, which they use to sense the air for scents, wind and nectar.

Wanting to learn more about their habits I tried tagging them like they do on all those great nature shows. But they just flopped around on the ground, even after I removed the tags. Fortunately there are millions more!

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