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UPDATES: Downtown Committee Meeting August 17, 2010

by David Lewis

Development Updates

The City Council approved the 51-unit, ROEM affordable housing project at Franklin and Evelyn.  This project has seen a lot of design changes to make it fit in better with the surrounding community.

There will be a new restaurant opening eventually in the space at 292 Castro St. formerly occupied by Food Street.  There is also a yogurt shop (“Yoogle”) planned for 260 Castro.; the Zoning Administrator (ZA) has approved this project.  Another restaurant will be opened at 401 Castro–to be a steakhouse (Rick’s Roadhouse) with outdoor dining.

An application for a 4660 sf single-family home has been submitted for 483 Franklin St. (lot size of 7500 sf); this project has been approved by the Design Review Committee (DRC) and the ZA.  This home is in the Downtown Precise Plan and is not subject to the same restrictions on size as in most of OMV.  The original request for this home was for 5400 sf.  The DTC briefly discussed the possibility of changing the rules to reduce the possibility of more of these type of projects–there are several more houses with lots of the same size, in the same area, that could be purchased for about the value of the land alone.

An application for a permit has been filed to allow the operation of a massage establishment at 357 Castro; this establishment has actually been in operation for some time, without a permit, but with no evidence of any problems with it.
The Classic Communities development on Evelyn is on hold; the DRC recommended conditional approval to the ZA with a number of conditions on design, and the developer canceled the ZA hearing to consider the project.  There is no indication either that the developer has abandoned this project or when it might be brought back to the ZA.

High Speed Rail (HSR)

City staff provided a detailed briefing of the status of the proposed HSR through Mountain View.  The options, as detailed also in the Mercury News, include both at-grade and trench configurations through most of Mountain View, but HSR will not pay for a covered trench option.  As noted before, the at-grade option has severe consequences for Mountain View with respect to the Castro and Rengstorff intersections, the Shoreline overpass at Central and Central Expressway itself.  Tunnels in Mountain View or other local cities have been ruled out for a variety of reasons including cost.  Location of a station in Mountain View will have serious complications; the basic parameters are:

  • 7800 passengers/day
  • 1100 peak-hour boardings
  • HSR station platform would be 1380 ft. long
  • The station building would be about 67,000 sq. ft.

The station would require 1,000 parking spaces downtown, and another 2,000 parking spaces within 3 miles. The HSRA is not expecting to pay for the parking facilities.

The location of a station (MV, PA, RC) might depend on the locality offering resources for the station.

General Plan Update

City staff presented an update on the General Plan revision (GP 2030).  While there are no significant changes in the downtown area proposed, there are some items of concern.  One is the nature of the development at North Bayshore, which could become a second ‘downtown’ and draw business away from Castro St.  This may depend on whether the North Bayshore development includes residential as well as office and retail.  The other is the proposed redevelopment of the San Antonio Shopping Center, that does include substantial residential, and could also become another downtown center.  The final draft general plan and EIR is to be completed by Fall 2010, with the approval of the final general plan in Fall 2011.

CIP Projects

The DTC approved a proposal to replace the high-pressure sodium-vapor streetlights in the downtown area and elsewhere with induction bulbs.  These will provide a whiter light, use less electricity, and have a lifetime about 4 times that of the sodium vapor lights.  The result should be a good return on the investment involved (about $95K).

Downtown Loitering

There continue to be problems with dedicated loiterers on Castro; the Police Department did some intensive enforcement of various ordinances, but has only been able to issue citations for misdemeanor offenses to date and provide a temporary mitigation of the problem.  Anti-loitering ordinances have been difficult to draft and enforce successfully.  The ultimate solution might be cold, rainy weather.

Other

The downtown parking study is underway, currently looking at the current situation–parking availability and usage.  The city is also having a study done of the feasibility of a grocery store in downtown Mountain View (size, type).
Finally, it appears that there are a number of openings on various City committees and commissions, for which volunteers are needed.

Additional High Speed Rail Update

The California High Speed Rail Authority has recently released a revised Environmental Impact Report (EIR).  There are several items of note relative to Mountain View.  First, there is no discussion of a Mountain View station–the report discusses stations in Palo Alto and Redwood City only, and it appears from other information that the station location may depend largely on how much money the locality kicks in toward the station and related services such as parking.
Second, the CHSRA EIR appears to have settled on at-grade or open trench options for Mountain View, primarily based on cost considerations, not any concerns about impacts to communities.  A covered trench, as shown in the City studies would have to be done at the expense of Mountain View.

Third, the EIR appears to dismiss concerns about noise and vibration from high-speed rail–admittedly the greatest potential problem.  They propose worrying about this later (when it is probably too late to do anything), “more detailed mitigation strategies would [be] for noise and vibration impacts [and] would be developed in the next stage of environmental analysis. Experience during previous environmental impact reviews of high speed rail projects has shown that possible increases in noise and vibration are frequently among the potential impacts of most concern to residents in the vicinity of the proposed project.”  The CHSRA approach is to study the possible impact here and try to develop mitigation strategies, unfortunately after the key factor here—the track vertical alignment—has already been decided.  This might mean, for example, if the choice was for a grade level track to be built through Mountain View, that projected high noise levels would require building noise barriers along the track–i.e., 30-40 foot high walls along the track through Mountain View.  You can imagine what that might look like!

David Lewis is the Community Liaison of the OMVNA Steering Committee. Any opinion expressed is David’s own and does not reflect the opinion of OMVNA or the Steering Committee.

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