Letter to Council from OMVNA Parking Subcommittee (May 2021)

The OMVNA Parking Subcommittee met to discuss the City Council May 11, 2021, Agenda Item 3.1 “Downtown Parking Strategy” on Saturday, May 8, and then sent the following letter to the council.

Honorable Mayor Kamei, Vice Mayor Ramirez, and Members of the City Council,

The OMVNA Parking Subcommittee thanks you for the opportunity to comment on item 3.1, “Downtown Parking Strategy”.

We first thank the city staff and consultant for reaching out to us as stakeholders and including the feedback we gave them in the staff report.

In particular, we appreciate their taking notice of our ongoing issues with spillover parking in our neighborhood, which has over the years been primarily been due to office employees parking their cars on our residential streets. This happens for a variety of reasons including:

(1) a preference of employees for parking in open, daylight-illuminated, un-cramped areas,

(2) a lack of on-site parking provided by their employer,

(3) dropping their cars in Mountain View, sometimes overnight, while they ride public transit to and from their work.

While the problem has lessened during COVID, we expect it to return to the same or higher levels as employees return to work in the offices. This is not only a problem for residents of Mountain View, but also for the operators of restaurant and retail businesses, who are left with inadequate parking for their customers.

We also thank staff and the consultant for noting our continued dissatisfaction with the current residential parking permit program (RPPP), which due to its extremely complicated qualification system has resulted in the creation of no RPP zones since its inception many years ago.

We generally support the approach taken in this document and ask the council to move forward with it.  In particular, we are very interested in the suggestion of “expanding the RPPP program with no permit fees for the residential areas in the downtown”.  As a guiding principle, we believe that the lessening of parking requirements for businesses will only work if conscious and definite steps are taken to ensure that employees, who will not have a parking space as a result of the reduced requirements, are compelled to find another method to get to their place of employment.

Beyond that we have the following comments and suggestions on items in the staff report:

  1. Since 60% of downtown parking is in private garages, we would be interested in exploring partnerships between the city and the owners of the private garages to share parking spaces.  In particular, to provide evening parking spaces for visitors to the downtown when employees are no longer at work.
  2. We support guidelines on when in-lieu fees should be paid rather than building parking. We recommend that in-lieu fees match the actual cost of building parking.
  3. We support programs that discourage employees from arriving early in the morning and parking premium parking spaces all day without charge.
  4. We request some sort of management of parking in the evening hours.  There is none now, and evening hours, particularly Friday evening, can be peak hours for restaurant customers.  
  5. We would like staff and the consultant to quantify how much certain programs like transit subsidies have helped in other cities.  Actual metrics are the key to knowing the extent to which this can be a viable solution.
  6. We caution against using one-time in-lieu parking fees to support on-going programs like TDM. Ongoing programs need to be funded by ongoing fees, or what do you do when the money runs out?

Thank you for your consideration of our views and drawing us into the dialogue on this matter of key importance to our neighborhood.

Robert Cox, Jamil Shaikh, Annette Nielsen, Mary Hodder, Roberto Miller

The Old Mountain View Residential Parking Subcommittee

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Looking for Your Input: Ice Cream Social

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OMVNA May 2021 Newsletter

Check out our latest newsletter. Hand delivered to your doorstep over the weekend of May 8th.

Our Old Mountain View Neighborhood Association (OMVNA) Newsletter is hand delivered to neighborhood homes where accessible to the public* and available at omvna.org. Content is written for and by neighbors.

If you live in a gated apartment complex in Old Mountain View and do not receive the hand delivered copies, you can reach out to our Newsletter delivery team and maybe you can help us get them to you and your neighbors in the future!

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Highlights from the
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
See below to download the full report

The historic survey found that downtown Mountain View has some historic structures at the local, State, and national level. But overall, there are relatively few Environmental Planning Commission Staff Report May 5, 2021 Page 7 of 19 qualifying buildings, and the historic integrity of many older structures has been compromised. As such, downtown Mountain View does not meet the criteria to create a downtown historic district. (More information about this analysis is provided in Exhibit 7—Historic District Memo).

Even though the historic survey did not find that downtown Mountain View could be designated a historic district, the existing historic resources in downtown are protected through the City’s Historic Preservation Ordinance and CEQA. The City’s Historic Preservation Ordinance in Chapter 36 (Zoning) provides protection for historic resources and sets a process for modifications to historic resources and to add historic resources to the Mountain View Register. Historic resources can only be substantially modified or demolished with approval of a Historic Preservation Permit and are considered a project under CEQA.

The City Council also requested that staff look into additional incentives, such as Transfer of Development Rights (TDRs), which would allow historic property owners to sell unrealized development rights to another location within the City. The TDR value could be used for facade improvements or building renovations. Staff does not recommend a TDR program.

Historic Preservation Staff Recommendation

Make no changes to the DTPP regarding historic preservation and rely on existing preservation authority under CEQA and the local Historic Preservation Ordinance. Preservation of downtown character can be enhanced through updates to the DTPP standards and guidelines, though this would not have the effect of preserving individual nonhistoric buildings (see “Development Character and Design,” below).

Design Standards and Guidelines

The Precise Plan standards, guidelines, and procedures provide a strong framework for the oversight of development in the area. However, the City can better communicate the intended character of the district by clarifying the intent of existing design guidelines, reviewing where design guidelines can be promoted to the “Design Standards” section and including more illustrative graphics. In order to keep the focus of change to Areas A, G, and H, changes to the Area H design guidelines, which are also referenced in other areas of the Precise Plan, should be avoided.

Maximum Floor Area Ratio—Office

Area H is the only downtown area where building intensity is not controlled by the Floor Area Ratio (FAR). Instead, intensity is controlled by height, and staff recommended upper-floor step-backs. However, the lack of specific standards makes it especially challenging to address the design expectations for buildings and projects that require several design iterations. Staff is, therefore, recommending reviewing the inclusion of standards to provide clarity and streamline the development review process.

However, the City cannot add such general controls on massing for residential development (residential is a provisionally allowed use in Area H) under SB 330, and the City cannot adopt new standards that constrain the development of housing. However, staff proposes to study the massing controls illustrated in Figure 2 and identify other standards to include, but not limited to, FAR that would apply to nonresidential buildings only.

Ground-Floor Office

Office uses come in three primary varieties in the Downtown Precise Plan: • Office refers to general business offices and personal service offices, such as tax preparers, lawyers, architects, counseling, etc. • Administrative office refers to business offices performing headquarters activity, and management and administration of firms and institutions. Technology development and similar offices are included in this category. • Banks and financial office refers to banks, lending and investment companies, and similar uses. Administrative offices have the least ability or desire to provide transparency, pedestrian interest, and customer activity. In effect, this means administrative offices generally do not meet the pedestrian activity and interest standard for provisional uses on Castro Street and the cross-streets. As a result, to provide more clarity it would be preferable and more straightforward for the DTPP to simply prohibit the use. If Castro Street and the cross-streets prohibited ground-floor administrative office use, Figure 2 shows a map of the areas this would affect, while other areas would still require provisional use permits for the use.

Read More: R3EPCReport below…

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R3 Rezoning Update April 2021

Presented by Vice-Chair Robert Cox

• Review
• What’s New?
• Key Issues
• What’s Next?
• For Reference

Review: Mountain View’s R3 Rezoning

• R3 parcels currently consist primarily of townhomes and smaller two-story apartment buildings

• Good examples in our neighborhood are Glenwood (SW corner of Villa and Calderon) and the two-story apartment buildings like Monte Vista on the 200 block of Bush Street.

• Two outreach meetings with the public were held over Zoom in 4th quarter of 2020

• Attended by around 50 Mountain View residents and housing advocates from other cities

• City-hired consultant noted that many older apartment buildings will not be redeveloped unless zoning changes

• Discussed zoning changes including density increases (2-3x), reductions in parking requirements (1 or few parking spaces per unit), reductions in park fees and open space requirements, roof top decks

• Transitions to existing buildings, including existing single-family residences, were a point of discussion

• Significant up-zoning can help the council meet its RHNA obligation (But is it really needed?)

• SB-330’s requirement that demolished rent controlled units be replaced adds significantly to the up-zoning needed to make a property feasible for redevelopment

• Rents in Mountain View have fallen 30-50% since last year, is rezoning for increased housing appropriate now?

• Taking back an up-zoning once it is given can raise legal challenges (“taking” of a property’s value) and is currently not allowed on residentially zoned lots due to recent state legislation.

• The EPC (Environmental Planning Commission) and Council will hold study sessions in early in 2021 (Done!)

Read More: R3-Rezoning Presentation below…

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