News

Developer plans to keep Rose Market, other local businesses

A developer is promising that several popular businesses at the corner of El Camino Real and Castro Street won't have to leave if 170 proposed apartments are built there.

In a City Council study session held Tuesday, Sept. 24, Dan Diebel of developer Greystar said his firm is making agreements with Rose Market, Peet's coffee, Sufi Coffee shop, Tanya Hair Design and Le's Alterations, giving them space in the new mixed-use, four-story project that's proposed. Efforts are even being made to temporarily relocate the businesses to an open lot across the street, though the largest of the bunch, the Rose Market, wouldn't be one of them.

"I think this is a moral issue," Diebel said. "We're making deals with them now to

relocate them and move them back in. We would accept a condition to do that."

A council majority did not have major issues with the first look at a rough initial design of the project as it was proposed Tuesday. Another study session on the project is planned.

Council members and several members of the public praised the developer for making the unusual effort to save the local businesses on the "gateway corner."

"I can't think of another developer we've worked with that would keep Rose and Peet's and everybody else," said longtime council member Mike Kasperzak. "What they are doing to keep the sense of community is really laudable."

It turned out that Rose Market's owner Javad Mehran was still concerned about employment for his 25 employees during construction, an issue Diebel said he promised to continue to work on.

Despite several neighborhood meetings with a developer who was said to have pitched over a dozen different designs for the project -- lowering its height from five to four stories, reducing the apartment count from 192 to 170, doubling the retail square footage to 10,063 and increasing parking spaces -- a vocal group of a dozen neighbors continued to have numerous complaints. The issues included increased traffic, the four-stories towering over the neighborhood, the orientation of a plaza at the corner being too close to busy El Camino Real, a possible "road diet" aimed at making the street safer and even complaints about a possible increase in crime and infestations of rats and cockroaches from the new buildings.

The apartments will be home to some of the city's wealthier new residents if new apartment projects around the city are any indication.

Most council members indicated support for keeping the proposed plaza at the corner as opposed to an alternative that would have it behind Peet's coffee along an alleyway, which some said would be better than breathing exhaust fumes from traffic on El Camino Real. Others mentioned examples of pleasant places to sit along El Camino Real - the plaza in front of Kepler's bookstore in Menlo Park, and even the benches in front of the Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop in Mountain View. "I would sit there," said council member Ronit Bryant of the proposed plaza.

"I do have a patio on El Camino Real but if you try to conduct any business there, it's difficult," said council member John McAlister, who owns the Baskin-Robbins.

The developer said that a "glass screen" would be used to keep noise down from El Camino Real, while there would be shade from umbrellas and a trellis for a "front porch" effect.

One neighbor has taken issue with all of the complaining, and she lives right next to the project. "I think it looks beautiful," she said. "I would like to have that next to me instead of the current buildings that look old."

Kasperzak noted that it could be worse for those neighbors. The site is zoned for up to eight stories in the city's new general plan, as long as there is "significant community benefit" from the project. He questioned all the neighborhood opposition to the height of the buildings, which have the third and fourth stories set back from the rest.

"The buildings around the fence line are garages," Kasperzak said. "Behind the garages are two-story apartment buildings. I personally don't think noise" will be an issue. "The cars and garages will be more of a problem for people sitting in the public areas of the apartment complex."

A slide show revealed that the developer plans to put the Rose Market along El Camino Real, next to the corner where Peet's Coffee would have a plaza. Sufi Coffee Shop would go in just west of Rose Market, while Le's Tailoring and Tanya's Hair design have spaces fronting Castro Street on the other side of the publicly-owned alley that would continue to run through the site. Apartments would be built above all the retail space, with stoops along much of Castro Street. Parking would be in a garage tucked under the apartments. The architecture is strikingly modern and boxy, which would not fit in with the neighborhood, some council members said.

Council members indicated some support for the "road diet" on that portion of Castro Street, which would calm traffic in front of Graham Middle School, where several students were hit by cars last year. While the idea has had many champions over the last year, critics appeared to multiply when the project was proposed.

"How we cannot do both this project and the road diet at the same time, I can't understand," said council member Jac Siegel. "These projects are related and I'd really like to see them done together."

Business owner pleads for help

The owner of a new restaurant at 1036 Castro Street, Gochi Japanese Fusion Tapas, pleaded for help from the council Tuesday, having not been one of the businesses the developer decided to help relocate.

Sakae Mouji said he and his wife had spent their life savings renovating the inside of their restaurant, which opened in August. He said that he signed a lease for the building not knowing that he could be forced out in two years. He recalled the landlord saying "it wasn't his job" to explain the lease to him, though English is his second language.

"Basically he lied to us, he tricked us," Mouji said. "I have a family. I have a new young daughter. All of my money, I spent."

There was no response to the situation from the developer of the project, which "raises ethical questions playing favorites with certain businesses," said Mayor John Inks.

Comments

Posted by ConcernedCitizen, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 25, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Like in the San Antonio area development - offering businesses space at high rent in new developments does not really help most of the businesses or the community. A lot of these businesses pass the savings from their lower rental or owned overhead along to the community and will no longer be able to do so. Sometimes that is the reason we shop at Rose Market or get out hair cut at a certain salon or use a certain tailor. Greystar Dvelopers isn't really doing them any favor. And there are worse places in Mountain View that need overhaul than that plot of land.


Posted by Jim Neal, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 25, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

A promise is not a plan. The developer clearly stated that they did not yet have a temporary space for Rose Market to relocate to, and the owner of Rose Market asked the Council if it would be possible for him to operate a food truck while the new space was under construction. Given the recently passed restrictions on food trucks, I think the owners of Rose Market might have problems even with that!

Although there is one owner that seems perfectly happy with all the chaos to come, I find it strange that the article does not mention the 400 people who signed a petition against this project. The majority of the neighbors are very happy with the way things are and do not want to lose the quality of life they currently have.

As far as the "road diet", there is no proof that they result in "traffic calming" or fewer accidents. The road diet for Arastradero in Palo Alto has resulted in nightmare traffic jams. High tech workers and those in medicine (both of which are in abundance here) work irregular schedules much of the time and therefore must rely on their vehicles. If you are travelling just on El Camino, the buses work fine, but try going to Shoreline on the bus or getting to the Hospital from downtown on a weekend without a car. Not everyone can ride bicycles either.

If you really want to live somewhere with constant gridlock and tall buildings, why change Mountain View when San Francisco is only 45 miles away?


Posted by OMV Resident, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 25, 2013 at 3:12 pm

@Jim Neal - "As far as the "road diet", there is no proof that they result in "traffic calming" or fewer accidents."

Actually, there is substantial evidence. A simple web search finds recent report by the Federal Highway Administration in 2010 that looked at 45 lane reduction/road diet sites in California, Washington and Iowa (including ones in Mountain View and Sunnyvale). This study found a 19 percent reduction in total crashes in CA/WA and a 47 percent reduction in total crashes in Iowa. The report is available here: Web Link

Besides this, you appear to be mixing apples and oranges. The 'road diet' that is referred to in this article is the proposed lane reduction on Castro between El Camino and Miramonte, which the city recently applied for a grant for. You seem to be referring to the possible conversion of lanes on El Camino to Bus Rapid Transit lanes. Now you could argue that the El Camino proposal is relevant here, too, but that's not what Siegel and others were referring to in the quotes in this article.


Posted by Janet Lafleur, a resident of Rex Manor
on Sep 25, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Janet Lafleur is a registered user.

@Jim Neal The road diet on Arastradero DID work. Its goal was to bring vehicle speeds closer to the 25 mph speed limit and thus reduce collisions. As reported in the PA Weekly, the percentage of vehicles traveling over 37 mph dropped from 12-15% to 2.4-3.8%. The number of collisions dropped from six in 2009 to one in 2010 and one in 2011. Web Link

Sure, drivers aren't happy that they can't go over 35 mph in a 25 mph zone, but isn't safety--especially for schoolkids--more important than saving a car commuter a few minutes?

Secondly, this short stretch of Castro is nothing like Arastradero. If drivers don't like a 2-lane Castro, they can take 4-lane Shoreline which less than 1/4 mile away.

As for bikes and transit, we don't need everyone to ride a bike. Imagine how much less traffic we'd have if we get a mere 10% of the people currently driving alone to leave their cars at home for some of their daily trips.


Posted by NB, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 25, 2013 at 3:28 pm

I was hoping this would be the end of Rose Market. Those people are rude. It is dirty and smelly in there. I hope the rent for retail spaces is high, as it should be, so they just go away.


Posted by kathy, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 25, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Mountain View's 'wealthier residents' are going to live in apartments off EL Camino....seriously? Are they the same affluent people who are going to work out at the old Rite Aid (closed to make room for a health club).

The Japanese restaurant really got a raw deal, spent their life savings which they would not have done if they realized the property was to be redeveloped. The landlord sounds like a real gem of a guy.

Regarding the comment that architecture is modern and boxy, that is code for CHEAP.


Posted by Maher, a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Sep 25, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Maher is a registered user.

The developer's across the street temp locations for the retailers except Rose's market sounds very sketchy to me. "Efforts" seldom mean actually results.

I am a devoted Rose's market client (just shopped there this afternoon and bought their Halal meat like kosher) and I am very unhappy and suspicious about just how ethical the developer's processes will be. I'm deeply concerned about whether the offered spaces in the new buildings will be suitable vav the retailer's needs.

It's all a bit too vague and sketchy to warrant any sense of ultimate good results for anyone but the develper.

I hate this version of progess.


Posted by Jerry, a resident of Slater
on Sep 25, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Dramatically increasing the density in the neighborhood with this project while reducing the number of lanes for cars on Castro seems to be decisions headed in opposite directions. The road diet reduces the capacity of the road while the high density design of the project increases the use of the road. It makes as much sense to reduce the amount of water, electricity, gas, and sewer line capacity in the neighborhood while adding to the consumption by adding 170 more apartments. Actually since this is a 50% reduction in capacity on Castro I guess a 50% reduction in gas, electrical, and water capacity would be right in line with the current logic being bandied about.


Posted by concerned neighbor, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 25, 2013 at 6:57 pm

There will be no parking lot for the stores, only underground.
We think this whole project is crazy.
Please at least leave some of the charm of MV that exists at that location.
The citizens are the ones that are always inconvenienced. Especially the elderly ones that can't walk far.
We now have to go to Safeway in Cherry Estates in Sunnyvale in place of the lost Rite-aide to get our prescriptions.
Please do not do this.


Posted by serrano, a resident of Gemello
on Sep 25, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Rose Market is run by bunch of crooks and they definitely cheat most of their customers with outdated and obsolete products that have been in their shelves from the inception of the store. They overcharge many times when you are not looking at the cash machine. I would rather see Rose Market driven away to somewhere else like South Sanjose and see the Japanese restaurants who are honest and ethical business owners stay.


Posted by Ellen, a resident of North Whisman
on Sep 25, 2013 at 10:45 pm

SAVE GOCHI!!!!


Posted by Arastradero, a resident of Cuernavaca
on Sep 25, 2013 at 11:13 pm

Janet,

I don't know how you can proclaim the Arastradero road diet "worked". Maybe by your narrow definition. But traffic is much more congested, and neighbors hate it, as increased traffic now diverts through the arterial streets. When Castro gets switched to 1 lane, the new route to El Camino will be Miramonte to Hans to Phyllis to El Camino.

On the topic of the development...for most in the neighborhood, the objection has little to do with the retail or Rose Market. It has to do with adding 170 units in 4-story buildings, and what that does to the look and live-ability of the neighborhood. The concern is compounded by the incompatibility of more car trips (170 x 8? per day = 1,360?) at an already busy intersection, and on a street being cut back to 1 lane.


Posted by Jerry, a resident of Slater
on Sep 25, 2013 at 11:24 pm

This article fails to mention the 470 signature petition submitted to the city council with 300 of those being confirmed as MV residents. Why?


Posted by Janet Lafleur, a resident of Rex Manor
on Sep 25, 2013 at 11:56 pm

Janet Lafleur is a registered user.

@Arastradero Narrow definition? Are you saying that it's more important that drivers be able to go 10 mph over the speed limit in a school zone than have rush hour congestion on Arastradero? I suspect the parents of kids walking or riding their bikes to Gunn or Terman might think differently.

Or do you think all those parents should drive their kids to school instead for safety sake? There are over 1800 students at Gunn alone and 40% walk or bike to school. How many cars would that be if their parents drove them instead? Or worse, the older students driving themselves?

As for the 170 apartments, there are twice that many apartments at the old Mountain View High site on Castro Street. Those apartments are surrounded by two lane, 25 mph streets. I've ridden past them many times during rush hour and haven't noticed significant traffic. And they don't have close access to a 6-lane highway, just the skinny side streets and of course, the road dieted part of Castro Street.


Posted by Hey Serrano , a resident of Gemello
on Sep 26, 2013 at 12:30 am

Why don't you get out of here? Your ignorant and prejudiced comments show you have no idea what you are talking about. Rose Market is a local gem that will be permanently changed if this new building goes up.


Posted by stompthelittleguy, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 26, 2013 at 1:01 am

I don't think these offers from the developer are legit. He will make a show of offering the tenants space so that he can appease the community/council to get his super high density monstrosity approved. Of course, businesses like Rose will get far less space, inability to cook and be charged a much higher rent. So, yeah..they were offered space, but 'market rate' of the redeveloped area puts these guys out on the street.

Don't fall for it!


Posted by Calmer in Traffic, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 26, 2013 at 6:28 am

Here's the mindset of those opposed to traffic calming for safety reasons:
Yes, accidents are reduced (safety goal successfully achieved)but drivers can't drive as fast as before so its deemed a failure by those who cannot comprehend the original purpose of the plan.

Its like saying "We're going to put grippy floors in the Safeway produce isle to reduce slip and falls" and having some misguided person saying it the program is a failure because the carts don't roll as smoothly.
If you continue to claim the Arastradero project is not success then you simply are not a logically thinking person, or are someone so married to your opinion that they won't accept reality.
Jim Neal's uninformed views on this and ignoring of the accident data is disturbing, knowing that you have City Council intentions. He need to rethink this issue without the personal biases.


Posted by MVResident67, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 26, 2013 at 8:28 am

I would like to know why this article mentions the SOLE resident of the immediate neighborhood who has publicly spoken in favor of the project proposal, yet the petition with over 400 verified Mountain View resident signatures is not mentioned once?

As for the Castro Street road diet, I take issue with the fact that City Council defacto approved the road diet - sans any of the proper studies having been completed - in order to grab the $870K grant money. When council asked the staffer if the development proposal and anticipated additional cards/traffic had been factored in to the calculations for the Grant proposal...the answer was "No" (Wonder why that wasn't done? ;) ) And when Council asked the city staffer if the "road diet" was removed from the traffic calming plan for Castro Street, would the city still received the VERBS grant...and after a little hemming & hawing, the staffer said that if the "road diet" was removed the city could probably lose the grant.

So, there you have it...shoot first and deal with the consequences later


Kind of ironic that VERBS stand for Vehicle Emission Reduction Based at Schools. Does anyone really believe that choking traffic down to one lane each direction 24/7 while adding 175 apartments less than 75 yards from the school is going to ultimately REDUCE vehicle emissions?

Really?

The additional caution around the school is something that needs attention for maybe a total of ONE HOUR out of a 24 hour period, 5 days a week for 9 months a year. Imho, a "road diet" is not the best solution, but it seems to be the solution that comes with $870K attached to it, so it's what the city has decided to run with...studies be d@mmed.


Posted by Political Insider, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 26, 2013 at 8:37 am

This is what you get when you allow special interest groups who are not vested in the project to impose their personal preferences. The developer will say anything to get the project approved. Does anyone really think Rose Market will pay the higher rent for a new building that requires them to meet new code requirements? The same goes for the other small business's. My bet is that only Peetes will survive.


Posted by MVResident67, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 26, 2013 at 9:01 am


Political Insider:

"My bet is that only Peetes will survive."

~~~~~~~~~~

And this would be by design, as Peets is the ONLY business that was initially contacted by representatives from GreyStar about plans to incorporate them in to the RE-development.

Incindentally, saying the the residents of the city and/or the residents of the immediate neighborhood surrounding this proposed development have nothing "invested in the project" would be incorrect. It would surprise me if most nearby residents and the community at large, don't consider their quality of life to be a very real investment, on top of the actual negative financial impact nearby residents are likely to see in the value of their homes once their nice quiet neighborhood becomes loud, busy with traffic, and has a four story development with apartment balconies squared up directly behind their homes.

So yeah, I'd say residents are heavily invested here. Those who own their homes probably have a large chunk of their life savings invested in those homes and would like to preserve their homes values along with the quality of life that they currently enjoy, and have enjoyed in the neighborhood...which I have no doubt was a factor that many people considered when purchasing their home.


Posted by Anna S., a resident of Rex Manor
on Sep 26, 2013 at 9:20 am

I agree with Janet: the traffic calming measures on Arastradero have worked very well. On the old road, it was difficult for me to keep to the speed limit, and I am a pretty conservative driver in general. Something about the wide open lanes encouraged me to drive 40 instead of 25. But now, even when the traffic is sparse, I seem to automatically want to keep to 25. Interesting psychological effect. I'd like to see similar measures on popular routes to schools in MV, even if it does increase driving commute times. Safety of pedestrians and bicyclists is more important.


Posted by MVResident67, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 26, 2013 at 9:37 am

Anna,

"Something about the wide open lanes encouraged me to drive 40 instead of 25."

~~~~~~~~~~

When you drive 280 and traffic is light, is it also difficult for you to drive the posted speed limit?


Posted by Anna S., a resident of Rex Manor
on Sep 26, 2013 at 9:49 am

@ MVResident67:

"When you drive 280 and traffic is light, is it also difficult for you to drive the posted speed limit?"

No; why do you ask?
As I said, I am a fairly conservative driver in general.


Posted by MVResident67, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 26, 2013 at 9:59 am

Looking at the numbers and being generous.

Let's say there is a 45 minute drop-off window at Graham in the mornings and a 45 minute pick-up window when school lets out in the afternoon when there is markedly increased traffic and children arriving/departing from the school...that equals 1.5 hours out of the day X 5 days a week X 40 weeks a school year = 300 hours annually that this stretch warrants some sort of measures implemented to increase pedestrian safety. That's 300 hours out of 24 hours in a day x 7 days in a week x 52 weeks in a year = total of 8,736 hours.

Just so we're clear, we are talking about negatively impacting traffic flow 24/7 = 8,736 hours annually, in order to address an issue that needs to be addressed comprising just .0343% of those 8,736 hours.

My math is correct, it's the city's solution - "road diet" - that is wrong here.


Posted by Jerry, a resident of Slater
on Sep 26, 2013 at 10:00 am

What I've observed when I dropped my kids off at Graham is that at the high tide times of drop-off and pickup the roads around Graham are clogged/congested and a 10-15 minute traffic jam ensures. When this occurs drivers (mostly parents) get frustrated and do stupid & dangerous things to extricate themselves from the jam. Cutting down a lane will exacerbate the frustration of drivers not calm them down. An improved, more effective, and more orderly system of drop off and pickup would go further to solve the problem than a road diet that would seem to be 1-2 years away. Also adding embedded crosswalk lights so drivers can clearly determine if someone is using the crosswalk would be a quick low cost improvement that neither the city council nor Staff showed any interest in.


Posted by MVResident67, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 26, 2013 at 10:22 am


Anna: "Something about the wide open lanes encouraged me to drive 40 instead of 25."

MVresident67: "When you drive 280 and traffic is light, is it also difficult for you to drive the posted speed limit?"

Anna: No; why do you ask?

~~~~~~~~~~

Just wondering if it's all wide opens lanes that seems to encourage your speeding or if that only happens when you are driving on residential streets in front of schools?


Posted by incognito, a resident of Waverly Park
on Sep 26, 2013 at 10:23 am

My hope is that all these separate yet interacting concerns will each be carefully addressed by council:

- traffic, road diet
- high density housing
- preservation of small businesses
- the trustworthiness or sincerity of promises made by out-of-town developers
- nearby residents' petition and concerns
- etc

And mostly, who qualifies as a special interest group? existing residents? future residents? existing small businesses? drivers who use El Camino and/or Castro? developers? ABAG? council? bicyclists? GMS students?

All these "groups" have different needs and concerns. Is it possible to find a solution in which every group gets at least some of what they want?

I would like Council to answer: Whose needs are of highest priority here? Are the needs of one group (e.g. developers, future residents) more or less important than the needs and concerns of another group? (e.g. existing small businesses, existing residents)

What kind of change is good? What kind of change is bad? Exactly what is the long-term goal for how this particular property should function? What are the criteria for making a decision about this property?


Posted by Jim Neal, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 26, 2013 at 10:45 am

Jim Neal is a registered user.

@OMV Resident - I am not sure why you thought my road diet comments referred to El Camino Real. I was referring to Castro Street, I never mentioned the "conversion lanes on El Camino Real", so I will thank you not to put words in my mouth. Also, I checked out your link and the study is based on "a prediction of what would have happened". I hardly find that to be an accurate study since there are many factors that cannot possibly be taken into account such as fewer people working (since this study was done during the heart of the economic downturn), people relocating closer to jobs, variances in accident reporting, etc.

@Janet Lafleur, with regard to the accident statistics on Arastradero, it may be that there have been fewer *reported* accidents there, but another major purpose of a road diet is to get cars off the road. In this case, as I stated previously, it has merely led to more congestion; and cars that are idling burn more Green House Gases that everyone hates than cars operating at speed. And as for people driving less, I have not driven my car in over a year! I walk or take public transportation or cabs almost everywhere I go. This is why I know how vital it is to have a car to travel efficiently and inexpensively from place to place.


@calmer in traffic, I may be wrong, but I also may be right, but at least I have the courage to use my real name and don't stoop to name calling for people that I disagree with. As for being uninformed, I am at every City Council Meeting and have attended all the planning sessions for this project. I have also met and spoken with the residents of the area to find out for myself what they want. Can you say the same?

For those who think we need less cars on the road, I challenge you to stop driving for 1 year also, then let me know what you think.

As far as making the streets safer for bicycles and pedestrians, If the bicycles would stay off the sidewalks, I would feel much safer. I am nearly hit by cyclists almost every day walking home from the Caltrain station. I think that the way to reduce accidents is for drivers to watch out for pedestrians and cyclists, and for pedestrians and cyclists to obey the rules for biking and walking across streets only when they have the light or right of way.


Posted by Political Insider, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 26, 2013 at 3:02 pm

@MVResident67

"It would surprise me if most nearby residents and the community at large, don't consider their quality of life to be a very real investment, on top of the actual negative financial impact nearby residents ...So yeah, I'd say residents are heavily invested here."


You missing a big point here. I agree there are 3rd party benefits and costs to nearby neighborhoods. Whats missing is any vested interest in the actual property. Suppose the development increases the value of nearby homes. Residents receive the benefits without paying for them. If the developer cant capture these 3rd party benefits, why would he provide them. Similarly if the developer was silly enough to build a project that loses money, and lowers land values, residents bear the costs and have no recourse. Similar to a homeowner trashing his house and affecting nearby homeowners. IN that sense nearby residents have no direct vested interest. The fact that they receive 3rd party benefits or costs is not an investment.



Posted by OMV Resident, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 26, 2013 at 5:51 pm

@Jim Neal -- "I am not sure why you thought my road diet comments referred to El Camino Real."

Maybe because your original comment (second from the top) started by talking about the road diet, and then rambled straight into a statement about the viability of taking a bus on El Camino versus to other destinations. At the very least, your comment was rather confused.

Speaking of confused, your characterization of the Federal Highway Administration road diet study that I mention is confused at best, or more likely, you are deliberately dismissive of it because it doesn't fit your world view. The study DID use actual crash data, before the road diets at the treated locations, and after the road diets at the treated locations. What IS predicted is what would have happened without the road diet treatment. This is necessary because, well, you can't have actual crash data for the same roadway, for the same time period, both with and without a road diet. It's an impossibility.

Also, as the study states: "The methodology corrects for the regression bias, changes in traffic volume at the treatment sites, and other possible confounding factors as well as provides a method for combining results from different jurisdictions by accounting for differences in crash experience and reporting practice." This addresses your claim that the study doesn't take into account changes due to fewer people working or people living closer to their jobs, or differences in accident reporting.

I find it troubling that you make confused, and perhaps deliberately dismissive statements about a national, peer-reviewed research study just to fit your own ideological viewpoint. More troubling is the thought that you might end up on our City Council with this kind of intellectual approach.




Posted by Cuesta Resident, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 26, 2013 at 6:50 pm

Wow, butt ugly and sterile. I had hoped for better. Sorry, I think the builder could have done better: a more of a community-feel, quaint and friendly. Instead we have more of the sterile, ugly buildings that I see up and down El Camino in Palo Alto and SF.


Posted by Jim Neal, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 26, 2013 at 7:53 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

@omv resident - Most people do not seem to have had much difficulty in following what I had to say. I am familiar with regression bias but my argument is that predictions are much like statistics in that they can be manipulated to fit the bias of the person/group conducting the study. From your dismissive statements about me, I would assume that I will not get your vote at this point, but I would invite you to look at all of the articles that I have written and the posts that I have made on a wide variety of issues that affect the people of Mountain View before making your decision. However, if you feel that this one issue is enough for you to make up your mind, then of course that is your right.

When I ran for office last year, I knew that not everyone would agree with me on every issue. All I can do is decide my policies based first and foremost on what the residents want, and then on the information that I have and my own prior experiences. In that, I do not see how I am any different than anyone currently serving our city.

The only reason that I am running is that I have chosen this city to make my home and I am not intending to leave any time soon, so I want to add my voice and make sure that Mountain View continues to be a place that we can all be proud to call home.

I already have a full time job and have adjusted my work schedule to make sure that I am able to attend as many Council and EPC meetings as possible. I attend because I want to speak out on issues important to me and so that I can hear opposing points of view; and believe it or not I have changed my mind on occasion when it was clear that the vast majority of affected community wanted or did not want something.

I sincerely hope that you will choose to attend one of the Council or EPC meetings and introduce yourself to me so that we can discuss things as reasonable adults. While we may not change each other's minds, I am sure that we will both learn things from each other. One thing that I have learned is that while I may have policy disagreements with some of the members, I have respect for them and the amount of work that goes into the job they do.


Jim Neal
Old Mountain View


Posted by MVResident67, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 26, 2013 at 9:55 pm


@ Political Insider

"Suppose the development increases the value of nearby homes. Residents receive the benefits without paying for them. If the developer cant capture these 3rd party benefits, why would he provide them. Similarly if the developer was silly enough to build a project that loses money, and lowers land values, residents bear the costs and have no recourse. Similar to a homeowner trashing his house and affecting nearby homeowners. IN that sense nearby residents have no direct vested interest. The fact that they receive 3rd party benefits or costs is not an investment."

~~~~~~~~~~

Do you honestly believe that the only way to "pay" for something is in physical dollars? NO amount of money will give me back the TWO YEARS of nearly constant mind numbing construction noise, the dust and heavy truck traffic which basically made me a prisoner in my own home - in that I was unable to open my windows or patio doors because of the earsplitting noise and choking dust that filled the air. I may have not paid physical dollars for that little development (which wasn't that little) but I paid in terms of my quality of life both during and since the development's completion.

How many nightmare years of construction will the residents of the neighborhood directly behind this proposed development on the corner of El Camino & Castro be forced to endure? How about the increased traffic congestion, the noise and lack parking that will become part of these residents daily lives...none of that is going to go away, ever.

Oh and let's not forget that the city is poised to begin work on turning McKelvey park into a 1,000 year flood retention zone. (Oh, I think I am exaggerating on the 1,000 year flood thing...probably only a 150 year flood boondoggle, er project.) Anyway, just imagine the tons of dirt that is going to be removed from McKelvey park - via heavy trucks and all that goes along with that, taking place on Miramonte, then combine that with the demolition and construction of 175 apartments and some token retail being RE-developed along Castro Street and El Camino Real. There is a neighborhood nestled in between these two major construction projects, and the residents of that neighborhood are going to suffer both during and after the construction. Make no mistake about it...the residents of that neighborhood will be paying, for as long as they live in that neighborhood.

It's your apparent complete lack of empathy for these residents that I find troubling.


Posted by Political Insider, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 27, 2013 at 8:31 am

@ MVResident67

"Do you honestly believe that the only way to "pay" for something is in physical dollars?"

Never claimed every benefit or cost can be put in terms of dollars. But you failed to address my comments regarding counting all benefits and costs in deciding whether a project improves a neighborhood. Your complaint about your costs are purely subjective and may be seen as benefits by other residents. In the aggregate the benefits outweigh the costs, other wise all land value would decrease reflecting lower subjective values. People would move if they thought they would be worse off.

I attended a meeting on McKelvey Park. Almost every resident approved of the new design because they were getting a new park and a new ball field. That tells me they believe the benefits outweigh the costs to them personally.





Posted by MVResident67, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 27, 2013 at 9:10 am

Political Insider: "Your complaint about your costs are purely subjective and may be seen as benefits by other residents."

>>> Could be. I would be happy to walk around the neighborhood and ask the residents - who were living her both before and after the development project I am referring to was completed - to see if they presently view that development a beneficial to them. I will try to do this in the next couple of months and report my findings back to you.

~~~~~

Political Insider: "In the aggregate the benefits outweigh the costs, other wise all land value would decrease reflecting lower subjective values. People would move if they thought they would be worse off."

>>> It wouldn't surprise me at all if people move, if they are able to move. I am presently considering moving -- not far away, but out of Mountain View -- in order to get away from a city whose leadership I believe no longer represents what it once did and what attracted me to this city in the first place.

Hmmmmm...maybe I should just lease out my home for $4K or so per month, which should go a long way to subsidizing my new digs.

Out with the old and in with the new, I suppose.


Posted by konrad M. Sosnow, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 27, 2013 at 12:51 pm

@Incognito
The City Council has already answered your questions through their actions.

QUESTION - 1; I would like Council to answer: Whose needs are of highest priority here? Are the needs of one group (e.g. developers, future residents) more or less important than the needs and concerns of another group? (e.g. existing small businesses, existing residents)

ANSWER - 1 Mike Kasperzak told us that we were lucky that the buildings at El Camino and Castro are only going to be four stories and not eight.

Two other Council members were concerned about drinking coffee outside of Peet's.

Only Jac Siegel and John McAllister voiced concerns about the residents.


QUESTION – 2 What kind of change is good? What kind of change is bad? Exactly what is the long-term goal for how this particular property should function? What are the criteria for making a decision about this property?
ANSWER – 2 Mike Kasperzak has said that he wants to Manhattanize Mountain View. City Council has eighty projects ongoing. What will Mountain View look like with 20,000 more apartments, 30,000 more people and 25,000 more cars?


Posted by Mike Nutile, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 27, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Is this how the Mountain View city council is supporting small businesses?

They let Mr. Mouji (the owner of the newly opened Gochi2) spend his life savings opening a new restaurant in an area being scheduled for development? What kind of message is this sending prospective businesses? Mountain View needs to be presenting itself as a business friendly city for start-ups and entrepreneurs of all types. This is incompetent/negligent at best.

Gochi (the original) is an upscale Japanese restaurant; with an excellent ranking on yelp; and strong word-of-mouth. This is exactly the kind of business Mountain View should be fighting to attract to promote and enhance food-culture (and tax revenue) of downtown- something that indirectly and directly benefits Mountain View businesses and residents and makes Mountain View a more attractive city to work and live in.

So, as Mayor John Inks touched upon, if you're going to move location-dependent businesses in order to build apartments, you can't leave some behind and you definitely shouldn't be letting anyone leasing out the properties to someone with the intent of opening a small business.

The city council needs to do a better job of making Mountain View the kind of place to open up shop, especially in this economy, and they need to make sure no shops are left behind- and especially not put out of business.


Posted by Fred, a resident of another community
on Sep 27, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Every time I drive by that corner, I see smoke coming out of the back of the shop. Huge smoke columns, probably from cooking BBQ or Kebab?

I just wonder how the neighbors have put up with this egregious pollution. Not only it must smell horrible. It's also very unhealthy.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Sep 27, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Hoping the developer will keep his word in keeping these popular businesses on this corner. I would say one day they are going to need more retail space for the downtown area and not places to eat or drink.




Posted by Denise Pinto, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 28, 2013 at 7:55 am

Jim, your 9/25 article was spot-on. Thank you for writing the truth; as The Voice's article missed the reality of what took place in the 9/24/13 City of MV Study Session. I have to say, I was surprised when council members took to threatening the residents with larger FAR numbers, higher building elevations, and asking to not have a very-much-needed 2nd study session on this project. In addition, one of the council members felt compelled to hale the lone decent on this project, when there were approximately 20+ residents voicing their objections to this behemoth complex AND 475 petitions against this project. Odd the council member failed to 'hear or mention' these voices. This is a democracy, right? Re the petitions against this project, they hold true, as the project has changed very little - the buildings are still 4 story, parking and traffic issues have been dismissed even though two more known apartment projects will be going up in the same area, plus, Castro will be reduced to two lanes only with the influx of another 600 residents. The MV EPC made solid suggestions to the council for project changes, the same issues the residents state over and over again; 1) reduce the height of the proposed buildings; 2) solve parking issues and traffic issues PRIOR to approval of this project; 3) the other two huge apartment projects and the Grand Blvd project need to be taken into consideration when making decisions on the 801 Castro project. And, yet again, the council continues to ignore the EPC's and resident's input. So, since the council members are public servants, I ask the question WHO IS THE COUNCIL LISTENING TO AND WHY? CLEARLY, THEY ARE NOT LISTENING TO THE CITIZENS OF MV." Another council member even commented on Harpster Drive not having sidewalks – like this was somehow barbaric! Please, leave our neighborhood alone. The students and residents have been symbiotic for over 42 years! Other pertinent points such as the increase of crime in this area and the likelihood of rat and roach infestations with the new "garbage barn" being built to hold the many garbage bins from the new apartments and retail stores were again ignored. Matter-of-fact, The Voice article dismissed the crime increase, stating wealthy people will be living in the complex. Not sure how being a wealthy resident keeps crime down?? Oh yes, one more point, the developer said that ALL of the neighborhood businesses would be relocated to temporary buildings across the street during construction. Tonight, we learn that the developer cannot accommodate Rose Market. Silver tongues?


Posted by MVResident67, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 28, 2013 at 9:36 am


Denise Pinto: "I have to say, I was surprised when council members took to threatening the residents with larger FAR numbers, higher building elevations, and asking to not have a very-much-needed 2nd study session on this project."

~~~~~~~~~~

>>> I wish I could say that I am surprised by the apparent threats and bully tactics that some of our city council members have begun to engage in, but evidently it's just how they roll.

If our elected city officials repeatedly reject the overwhelming voices of the people whom they represent, then the people need to consider alternative forms of action...action in the form of a petition calling for a referendum vote on a particular project and/or a recall election for city council members whom people feel are no longer representing the interests of the people who elected them to SERVE the residents of Mountain View. There are other options as well....organization, legal counsel and people willing/able to help fund the fight would be a good place to start.

~~~~~~~~~~

Denise Pinto: "In addition, one of the council members felt compelled to hale the lone decent on this project, when there were approximately 20+ residents voicing their objections to this behemoth complex AND 475 petitions against this project. Odd the council member failed to 'hear or mention' these voices. "


>>> The lone resident of the neighborhood who has spoken out in favor of the project saying things like, "Frankly I think the development will be a good thing for me. ... For community and neighborhood, more people...hey, new people to meet new people to have community with and new people to be your neighbors. ...I'm not really concerned about the traffic."

Don't hate on me for bringing this up as I KNOW - for a fact - that I am not the only person who has wondered about this, but...

This is the SOLE resident of the neighborhood who has publicly spoken out in favor of the project, in essence saying that this person looks forward to meeting new neighbors and is not concerned about the traffic. In light of the fact that this person shares a property line with the proposed development and the fact that there is a petition that has over 400 Mountain View residents who have expressed concern about the project. One cannot help but wonder if this lone resident supporter has been promised and/or has received some sort of renumeration in return for publicly supporting this project.

I realize this is a rather unseemly thing to ponder, but we are witnessing City Council members resorting to bully tactics and defacto threats to those who speak out with concerns about this project. Who is to say the developer or it's agents would NOT be engaged in unseemly (yet not illegal) tactics in furtherance of their agenda.

We're not in Kansas anymore...

BTW, what was the height limit on this section of Castro Street prior to the city having UP-zoned the area???





Posted by C Thru it, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 30, 2013 at 1:55 pm

The City Council had their minds made up in advance. They didn't even have to hear the more than 100 people who had planned to come to protest how high the plan called for building to be built along existing residential neighbors, because when they move a meeting of such import to 5PM instead of the regular 6:30PM meeting time, most folks either miss it or cannot get off of their jobs to come...


Posted by A schill for sure, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 30, 2013 at 2:02 pm

I think you are right about the lady who attends all the meeting to LOVE this building with not a single suggestion for improvement. Does she really think it won't be build if she doesn't use every opportunity to totally praise it in every respect. That sounds like a schill for sure to me. Also, folks along her street say she was against the plan, as they and all of us were, until she met privately with the developer.


Posted by MVResident67, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 30, 2013 at 3:46 pm



Any financial dealings the city has engaged in can reviewed and made public under a FOIA request, but it would be surprising to me if the city were involved in anything that crossed any lines, legally. However, the way I understand things (and perhaps I am wrong) but a developer is free to engage residents and/or businesses individually and strike just about whatever kind of deal they see fit - financial or otherwise - and as long as the city is not involved in these transactions...then their hands are clean, legally speaking.

Just dirty business, and apparently the way the city of Mountain View rolls these days.


Posted by MVResident67V, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 30, 2013 at 4:08 pm

On that note, it seems to me that if any individual or business has been promised (or already been given) some form of renumeration by a developer who is actively engaged with the city in the planning process, then the residents of the city - and the public at large - have a right to know what these individuals and/or businesses have been promised, and in return for what, exactly??? This should be publicly available information and should absolutely be taken in to account as the city continues with the planning stages of ANY development.

Oh to dream the impossible dream...one where transparency is lauded and our fearless leaders act on behalf of the people who elected them to serve as their REPRESENTATIVES in government.

November 2014 cannot come soon enough.


Posted by MVResident67, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 30, 2013 at 4:09 pm

The above post was made by me MVResident67...not sure how the V appeared in there, my bad.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Oct 1, 2013 at 1:22 pm

I would think the developer would want his retail space filled up with well know local businesses that would cater to his tenants. I still think the project can still be made smaller but other then that the buildings look nice.

I think it would be nicer to have shops on the alleyway, with some landscaping, some really nice street furniture and some really good lighting for the evenings

We do need housing for all these workers.


Posted by konrad M. Sosnow, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Oct 1, 2013 at 2:46 pm

We, the residents of Mountain View expect our views to be listened to and respects by the City Council. Tha6t doesn't mean that they have to agree. I prefer four stories to three because ______ is fine. What I object to is ignoring our views, dismissing them out of hand, and threatening eight story buildings if we don't agree with the developers.


Posted by lINDA, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 1, 2013 at 3:56 pm

We must learn how to start the 2 yr. process to remove our city from ABAG authority; the resolution the city council made to be part of it, must overturned.


Posted by MVResident67, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 2, 2013 at 10:32 am

If the city council's actions (and reactions) to date is indicative of how this "process" will be handled by council going forward, then it seems to me that organizing as residents and retaining legal representation may be the logical next step.

An fundraising/escrow account can be set up to accept donations to help fund this legal representation. I believe it would be possible to set up an account to accept paypal donations.

Presently working on identifying land use attorneys/firms that might be a good fit for this type of representation.

Thank you mountain View city council for representing the residents of Mountain View well. #epicfail


Posted by Jeff34, a resident of North Whisman
on Oct 2, 2013 at 11:11 am

MVResident67 complains and complains but does nothing.


Posted by MVResident67, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 2, 2013 at 11:42 am

@Jeff34, "MVResident67 complains and complains but does nothing."

Keep telling yourself that.


Posted by konrad M. Sosnow, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Oct 2, 2013 at 2:41 pm

@MVResident67,

Agreed - City council's actions have been consistent and are indicative of how this "process" will be handled by council going forward. It is time to come together to take back our city!

You can't go through life and leave things the way they are.
We can all make a difference, and if I die today, I know I made a difference.

Gene Simmons


Posted by Jerry, a resident of Slater
on Oct 2, 2013 at 2:42 pm

@ MVResident67

I say a Ballot Measure to alter the General Plan to knock it back to a FAR of 1.35 like before and since I see no building higher than 3 stories anywhere South of El Camino in Mountain View except El Camino Hospital we put a 3 Story limit on buildings. Or something to that effect. Either just El Camino or all of MV with the exception of Shoreline north of 101 so google can build high rises for all those workers who apparently (we are repeated told) aspire to live in a 10 X 20 sheet rock lined box and want to bike and walk to work.


Posted by Political Insider, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 2, 2013 at 6:46 pm

@ Jerry?

How do you know how to determine all of the proper constraints to limiting property use? Do you even know what a FAR of 1.35 means? Could a FAR of 1.35 lead to a 4 story building? Lets set the height by looking around? That makes no sense.


Posted by Jerry, a resident of Slater
on Oct 3, 2013 at 11:21 am

@ Political Insider

Well, El Camino used to have a Floor Area Ratio of 1.35 so it was not I but previous City Councils who set this level of density in the past for El Camino. Setting a cap on the number of stories seems to be the way the City does these sorts of things as even Kasperzak mentioned a FAR of 3.0 and a height of 8 Stories yet he goes unquestioned by you when he goes in (What you deem) the proper direction. When I use the same system and go in the opposite less dense direction I draw criticism from you. Your bias and hypocrisy is clear and on full display to the readers of this forum. Make your arguments and convince me that what's valid for Kasperzak to say is not valid for me to say.


Posted by Political Insider, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 3, 2013 at 1:15 pm

@ Jerry,

"Well, El Camino used to have a Floor Area Ratio of 1.35 so it was not I but previous City Councils who set this level of density"

So what. Same goes for them. How do you know this is the correct FAR? You failed to answer my question about FAR. I am not supporting any particular FAR.

"When I use the same system and go in the opposite less dense direction I draw criticism from you. Your bias and hypocrisy is clear and on full display to the readers of this forum. Make your arguments and convince me that what's valid for Kasperzak to say is not valid for me to say."

Kasparzak didnt post on this forum, but rather than making personal attacks on me, its up to you to defend your statements you made. Its not hypocrisy to ask you how you decided the proper planning constraints. If your argument, (like Kasperzaks) is based purely on your subjective preferences and apparent lack of knowledge about planning then say so.


Posted by Jerry, a resident of Slater
on Oct 4, 2013 at 12:32 pm

@ Political Insider,


"So what. Same goes for them. How do you know this is the correct FAR? You failed to answer my question about FAR. I am not supporting any particular FAR."

Since FAR is a measure of density and the GreyStar project is too dense in my opinion and in the opinion of a large portion of the neighborhood who would be subject to the population increase, I thought the old figure would suffice as a starting point. My main point was that I think a ballot measure would be the best way for the citizens of Mountain View to weigh in on this issue as opposed to a legal challenge. I know what FAR stands for and how to calculate for a single lot but I admit I don't know how the city arrives at this figure for an area. I would imagine it is part science and part opinion as to what density an area wants or desires and has traditionally had. I suppose if developers were allowed to set their own FAR we would have even denser developments. You're taking me far more into the weeds than I intended to go as my main point was the ballot measure Vs a lawsuit and my comments regarding FAR and the number of Stories a project can have was just tossed out as a rough unvarnished sample. Now if you have anything you want to add about FAR and how they are arrived at please go on and please state how you acquired all your knowledge of the subject.


Posted by Political Insider, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 4, 2013 at 2:24 pm

@ Jerry

"I would imagine it is part science and part opinion as to what density an area wants or desires and has traditionally had. I suppose if developers were allowed to set their own FAR we would have even denser developments."

As a retired planner from a nearby city, my experience regarding FAR and other land restrictions is that they are not based on science and based solely on personal preferences. There are many restrictions imposed on a development, so no one restriction is binding. I would not favor presetting requirements on land use. Let the developer present a project and then study the 3rd party impacts of parking and traffic and see if they are significant. Its too easy to pre-judge a project and say you don't like it based on personal preferences.


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