by Anthony Chang
Every 20 years or so, cities update their vision for what they want their communities to look like over the next 20-30 years. Mountain View has been engaged in this “General Plan update” since summer 2008 and this year our beloved city will put the finishing touches on a blueprint that will guide what our neighborhoods and community look and feel like for years to come. For more info, visit http://www.mountainview2030.com/. Here is one OMV resident’s take on where we are:
Of all of the feedback that residents provided during the “community visioning” process of the General Plan update, the message that rose to the top was that we want to be a “City of Villages”. People want to live in neighborhoods, feel connected and have easy access to amenities. While dealing with the inevitable population growth in MV, our City planners have taken this message to heart; early drafts of the land use map and plan policies have referenced this City of Villages concept. And for good reason—it’s a great idea!
I believe there are two major issues that the City needs to deal with in order to implement this City of Villages concept successfully. First, the City needs to put the right policies and land use planning in place to make villages possible. And second, the City can take this opportunity to greatly enhance the quality of life of each “village” by increasing the connectivity between neighborhoods.
To make these villages possible, the City need look no farther than our beloved OMV for a blueprint for what this can look and feel like. Where else can residents easily walk to so many amenities—food (restaurants, cafes, MV Market, farmer’s market), retail shops, parks, the library, hospital or bank? I love that I can walk to most everything I need on a daily basis. The City can import many of these elements to other potential “villages”—by creating open and public spaces through parks and community gardens, planning for mixed use buildings or neighborhoods, and concentrating enough housing to feasibly support local businesses.
To create a “city of villages” that connect to and reinforce the benefits of each other, OMV can again serve as an example of the possibilities. Where else can you get around so easily without a car by hopping on bike trails or roads, or accessing Caltrain, light rail or bus lines? I would love to hop on a bike or take a short bus ride to “villages” across the city—like a redeveloped San Antonio “village” with a vibrant paseo or square to walk, enjoy open space, and shop locally. The City can create this connectivity by creating transit hubs along El Camino (with 522 Rapid bus service), near the San Antonio train station, and light rail stations.
If growth is coming to Mountain View—and the research shows that it is—why not use the General Plan to prepare for it and make sure that Mountain View enjoys the benefits that this growth can bring if it’s done right. OMV is already the first and best of Mountain View’s villages. Let’s use the General Plan to create our City of Villages.