Artists in Residence: MV Center for the Performing Arts

Our community is blessed with an extraordinary arts center, that never fails to amaze and inspire with its extraordinary works. A recent visit to their web site presented a thoughtful and informed letter to all of us, from Executive Director Scott Whisler.

I’m excited about the future of the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, mostly because of our past. We’ve brought new music, new art, new theatre, and new ideas to Castro Street with astounding regularity since the Center’s dedication in January 1991, and there’s no end in sight!

I don’t think anyone fully realized what was started back in the late 1980’s when the City of Mountain View decided to dedicate part of its new Civic Center Complex to the arts. (I still have architect’s drawings in my office that refer to the “Mountain View Community Theater.”) But those visionaries knew that however it evolved, a public theater space would be important to the economic and cultural well-being of the newly redeveloped Downtown as well as to the surrounding community and region. So, with the support of the citizens of Mountain View, city leaders took their chances, and went ahead and built a beautiful facility for the arts.
Guess what? Those forward-thinking civic leaders got it right!

Their experiment in community arts is now the vibrant heart of downtown Mountain View, home of world-class theatre, dance, and music along with visual arts displays, lectures, and corporate events. Over 170,000 people annually flock downtown to see those shows, stopping in shops and restaurants on the way.

Audiences at the Center have seen performances by Joel Gray, Paula Poundstone, Audra MacDonald, Della Reese, Dizzy Gillespie and the Duke Ellington Orchestra. They’ve met Robert Redford, Al Gore, primatologist Jane Goodall, radio host Michael Krasny, business giants Jack Welch and Guy Kawasaki, and sports legend Bill Walsh. They’ve listened to lectures by writers Peter Matthiesen, Robert Hass, Terry Tempest Williams, photographer Galen Rowell and many more. World-class performances by TheatreWorks, Smuin Ballet, Bella Lewitzky Dance and Pilobolus, and many internationally-known flamenco artists as well as regional favorites like Lamplighters Music Theatre, The Pickle Family Circus, The Nuclear Whales and Schola Cantorum have entertained millions of Center patrons.

But it doesn’t stop there. Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts isn’t just a place to watch other people, it’s a place to create art yourself. Whether it be singing in community choruses, playing in small ensembles and symphonies, or dancing with ballet schools and folkloric groups, every season sees numerous shows by local artists contributing to the community in their own way.

An entire generation of performers has learned to act, sing, dance, and play for an audience on the Center’s three stages, thanks to the work of local schools and organizations like Peninsula Youth Theatre, Pacific Ballet, Western Ballet, Oriki Theatre, and Quadre–the Voice of Four Horns. These groups’ work will live on in those young performers’ hearts, whether their art becomes a career or an avocation. Who knows how many careers in the arts have been launched by these companies, or by TheatreWorks’ New Works and Young Playwrights Initiatives? Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Memphis, first performed here at the Center, is the most visible success of those programs, but it isn’t alone, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

What will the future years bring? I’m pleased to say, much more of the same! More new plays! More new music! More new ideas! And more young artists sharing, growing and creating the art that will keep Mountain View vibrant and alive!

by W. Scott Whisler Executive Director

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What’s Up? Update on New Development in Mountain View

The deadline for new California state legislation is September 30. Due the recent housing crisis, the state has taken an increasingly active role in overriding local control of housing decisions.

One of the most significant changes this year has been in relax-ing the rules on building accessory dwelling units (ADUs), also called granny flats and mother-in-law units. The new state rules reduce setbacks to four feet and allow the ADU to cover the entire rear yard of the property. Furthermore, ADUs may now be constructed on the property of existing apartment complexes. Mountain View city staff reports that some older complexes in Mountain View are now constructing ADUs on their property.

The state has also loosened or struck down parking requirements associated with ADUs. The park-ing lost when a garage and carport is converted to an ADU need not be replaced. Furthermore, studio ADUs need not have an associated parking space. The upper lim-it on fines for violators of the use of an ADU as a short-term rental have sharply increased. The state expects that the loosening of these regulations and increasing fines will help encourage the construction of more ADUs for long-term rentals and ease the housing crisis.

In general, the state housing law revisions this year have been more modest than many legislators would have liked. 71% of California’s residential parcels are zoned for single-family homes. Senate Bill 1120 would have changed that by allowing up to four units to be built on any single-family lot in the state. This bill passed both the Senate and Assembly but failed to make it to governor’s desk in time. Most likely, a new version of the bill will be crafted next year.

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Livable Mountain View Endorses Abe-Koga & Matichak for City Council

by Nazanin Dashtara

Local civic group Livable Mountain View is endorsing Margaret Abe-Koga and Lisa Matichak for reelection to the City Council on November 3.

Each of the nine candidates running for a council seat responded to the group’s questionnaire on critical issues affecting livability in Mountain View now and in the post-pandemic future, such as how the historic downtown should be preserved, office-housing balance, local control over zoning, and the development of Moffett Street adjacent to downtown. Most of the candidates accepted our offer to have a live Zoom interview to expand on their written responses.
Abe-Koga and Matichak were the two candidates whose written responses were fully aligned with the advocacy and goals of Livable Mountain View, and who the group determined would give Mountain View much-needed leadership during this critical time.

We wish to thank all the candidates for their efforts. The question-naires and responses from candidates who gave permission to publish them can be read here:
Livable Mountain View is an all-volunteer group of residents committed to making Mountain View the most livable city in California. The group supports smart growth throughout Mountain View and advocates for development that shows respect for the city’s rich heritage, irreplaceable historic structures and vibrant downtown. For more information, go to www.

Please remember to vote on or before November 3!

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Restaurant Scene: October 2020

Castro St. closure extended indefinitely: Four downtown blocks of Castro St. have been individually closed to car traffic (a pro-gram called “Summer StrEats”). In early September the City Council voted to extend the closure for the duration of the pandemic, and also to widen the range of businesses eligible to use the outdoor space. The Council also approved expanding outdoor business activity to other parts of town where space allows, notably in parking lots.

More info:
Restaurant changes:
While the pandemic’s constraints force some downtown restaurants to close (including Le Plonc and Flights), others are evolving. Olympus Caffe & Bakery (135 Castro at Evelyn), a Turkish bakery-café related to Ephesus nearby, had a large outdoor dining area already and has converted it to a “socially-distanced” German-themed beer garden with
food, Das Bierhauz. Shabuway, the Japanese hot pot restaurant formerly at 180 Castro, was replaced by an expansion location for SF’s Udon Mugizo. (Udon are relatively thick Japanese noodles — some udon dishes have long been featured at nearby Japanese restaurants such as Maru Ichi and Sushi Tomi — but Mugizo specializes in them and makes the noodles fresh, in-house.) Michelin-star-winning Chez TJ on Villa St. recently reopened with a new outdoor patio, an interior organized around separate small dining rooms, and new flexible menu options.

List of open restaurants and other businesses:

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Minutes — Sept. 28, 2020

Minutes of OMVNA Steering Committee meeting, Monday, September 28, 2020, 7:30PM, convened electronically (via Zoom).

Present:  Regular SC and subcommittee personnel; CERT chair Sherril Brennan and Aaron Grossman; several community members.

(1) Call to order: Chair David Lewis.  Meeting came to order 7:42PM.

(2) Call for additional agenda items: Chair David Lewis.  No additions.

(3) Approval of minutes from last meeting: Chair David Lewis and Secretary Max Hauser.  Moved (Cox), 2nded (Shaikh), passed.

(4) Confirming time and place of next OMVNA meeting(s): Chair David Lewis.  For the Annual/general meeting, after some discussion (Dec. 14, 21, 28), Dec. 14 was generally favored; moved (Bickford), 2nded (Cox), passed.  Beyond December, next regular SC meeting date will be Monday Jan. 25, with first 2021 Newsletter coming out a week or so later.

(5) CERT update: CERT chair Sherril Brennan.  A grant initiative over Summer secured some $680 of a hoped-for $1k from the City — part of a $10k City grant — this will go to emergency supplies.  OMV CERT has been re-checking current roster for any updates.  Also working on improving radio-service reliability (issues surfaced of interference back and forth).

(6) OMVNA election matters:  Report of nominating committee for the steering committee elections: Nominating Committee Chair Jerry Steach.  Candidate slate reviewed.  Motion to accept candidate slate moved (Cox), 2nded (Shaikh), passed.  Discussion on how to conduct elections during the annual meeting over Zoom.  Main upshot:  Zoom offers a “raise-hand” option (found under “Participants”), convenient and appropriate for speakers wishing recognition from meeting chair.  (MH comment:  Let’s inform attendees about this procedure in future electronic meetings.)

(7) Report on upcoming City Council Forum (Sep 30): Forum subcommittee: Robert Cox, David Lewis, and Susan Bickford.

(8) Website and social media discussion: Newsletter Advertising Chair Kristin Bailey.  In the past, email contact points for SC personnel were public on the website.  Not so currently, but they’re easy enough to add.  Dave Lewis is interested in working on “some of the historic stuff;” Kristin will take up the subject with Omvnatalk[2], the MV Historical Society, and Livable MV.  There’s also an OMVNA Facebook page.  Kristin can load permanent info onto the website on request.  

(9) Brief review of state legislation affecting our residential neighborhood: Vice Chair Robert Cox.  State legislation pends, promoting or easing the adding of ADUs (supplemental small dwelling units) to existing residential property.  City of MV also is supporting ADUs, including a new permitted category of “Junior ADUs” (up to 500 square feet) which can attach to a house, with separate entrance, and accommodating kitchen but not necessarily bathroom facilities.  These can be rented out, but not short-term (“30 days plus”).  Other relevant state legislative activities include SB1120, which passed State legislative bodies but too late for gov’r signature; came nearer to being law than the controversial SB50 before it, so a similar measure is likely again next year.

(10) Steering Committee/Subcommittee Chair member reports

           (a)   Chair David Lewis

           (b)   Vice Chair Robert Cox

           (c)   Secretary Max Hauser

           (d)   Treasurer Larry Rush.  Treasury balance $24946.92

           (e)   Downtown Committee Jamil Shaikh.  Very short recent DTC meeting by Zoom; City lighting study results due at next DTC meeting.

           (f)   Newsletter Susan Bickford. 

           (g)   At Large: Larry Rosenberg and Lorraine Wormald

           (h)   Historic Preservation: Jerry Steach

           (i)   Parking: Robert Cox & Jamil Shaikh

Adjournment:  Chair David Lewis.  Meeting adjourned 8:55PM.

— Max Hauser, OMVNA Secretary.

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