News

A transformed El Camino Real in the works

Council wants bike lanes, development on abandoned lots

In a study session Tuesday, City Council members made some preliminary -- but very significant -- moves in planning the El Camino Real of the future.

If council members' direction Tuesday is any indication, an El Camino Real "precise plan" drafted for approval by year's end may allow higher density development in four "activity centers" at major intersections, along with bike lanes on portions of El Camino Real where street parking isn't needed, and some incentives for the development of shallow and often long-vacant lots, all while requiring "sensible" building heights against neighboring homes.

The four "activity centers" included the shopping center areas at Grant Road and Highway 237; a large area where El Monte and Escuela both meet El Camino; the north sides of the intersections at Showers Drive and San Antonio Road, and a large stretch between Castro Street and Shoreline Boulevard. Other intersections, such as those at Sylvan Avenue and Rengstorff Avenue, would be "medium intensity" areas.

Among the challenges in redeveloping El Camino Real is the large number of shallow lots (over half the parcels on El Camino Real are less than an acre) where there's little room for buildings with parking. Several have been vacant for years, notably on the stretch between Calderon Avenue and Castro Street.

"Do we want to provide any favors to people" interested in redeveloping these sites "or do we always want the (vacant) Tasty Freeze to be on El Camino -- and the (vacant) car lot next door?" asked council member Mike Kasperzak of two sites that have been vacant for many years.

The environmental planning commission recommended "auto-oriented uses" on the shallower lots, while Kasperzak and others disagreed. Council member Ronit Bryant said the lots were destined to become sites for town homes, while Mayor Chris Clark said some should be open space.

"I personally have issues with 'car-oriented' stuff," Kasperzak said, echoing the opinions of other council members, adding that it did not fit into the regional vision for a "Grand Boulevard" on El Camino that is walkable and attractive. "Jiffy Lubes and gas stations -- that doesn't make sense to me."

Others interpreted "car-oriented" to simply mean uses that require street-level parking lots.

While council members have hinted in the past that they would allow higher densities to encourage the redevelopment of long-vacant lots, the shallow lots would remain in "low intensity" areas, according to plans council members supported. That's partly because many of them are next to single-family homes, and council members agreed with the planning commission's recommendation that new buildings have transitions so that they are only one story higher than nearby homes.

In the "activity centers" where development density could be higher, the intensity would be limited by "floor area ratio" which is a way of measuring a building's intensity by comparing its square footage to the size of the piece of land under it. Council members indicated support for going up to 1.85 FAR, up from 1.35 before, and only above that with permission from the City Council and significant public benefits.

"El Camino with very low buildings is a very unattractive place," said council member Ronit Bryant, who also complained that uniform building types and heights create a "tunnel effect" that is unpleasant. "With taller buildings it feels like a better place to be a person there."

Bike lanes get some support

"We think El Camino Real is an excellent potential corridor for bikes in Mountain View," said Colin Heyne, deputy director of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. "Research has shown bicycles are more likely than drivers to stop and go shopping."

Council members were asked to decide whether to focus bicycle lane improvements on El Camino Real or the parallel side streets of Latham and Church -- or study both options. Bike advocates wanted both, noting that it was impossible for bicycles not to ride on the busy street in order to get to many destinations on El Camino and nearby. "A bicycle boulevard on Church and Latham is an excellent project but not entirely sufficient." Heyne said.

Kasperzak asked Heyne which option he'd choose if he had to pick one, to which Heyne responded, "El Camino." When asked if he'd ride with children on El Camino, a common concern among council members, he said "not in its current configuration.

Despite the safety concerns about bicyclists riding next to higher speed car traffic, in the end council members seemed amenable to a "phased approach" to putting in bike lanes on El Camino Real, as suggested by Mayor Clark.

"There's no reason why we can't start phasing in bike lanes where we don't have a lot of parking," Clark said. "Between Phyllis and Castro, there's very few cars parking on the street." Clark said that the parking could be incrementally moved off the street as El Camino redevelops.

Council members also decided to study bike improvements along Latham and Church, where bike advocates want to see a bike boulevard like those in Palo Alto -- a route that would connect with one to the north.

City planners said Tuesday that in order to better connect neighborhoods divided by El Camino, three new crossings would be studied with new traffic lights on El Camino Real. They would be located at Bonita Avenue (between Calderon and Castro), Crestview Drive (between Bernardo and Sylvan) and Mariposa Avenue (between Shoreline and El Monte). Some members had concerns that new lights could slow traffic.

"Are we making El Camino car-oriented, and go as fast we can, or a more pedestrian-friendy, bike-oriented place?" asked member Margaret Abe-Koga. "I don't know how we can do both."

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 6, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

I really can't understand why the City Council wants to create problems on El Camino Real. Most people have made it clear that we don't want BRT or Bike Lanes there. The BRT is unnecessary and bike lanes on what is essentially a state route, are too dangerous.

I wonder what will happen after the bike lanes are installed and someone is hurt or killed due to an accident? To me this makes about as much sense as putting bike lanes on 101. The only difference is one is a highway and the other is a freeway.

The Council keeps talking about the need to get everyone out of their cars, but I don't seem them on the buses and trains that I ride every day. I didn't see any of them walking to the meeting at the Senior Center from downtown Mountain View as I did.

Don Bahl, who was at the meeting, noted that even thought there were over a dozen people that spoke about wanting bike lanes on El Camino, only one bike was present outside!

Mountain View is not an island or some isolated area that no one ever comes to. If it were, I would not care if the City wanted to impose a bikes-only or bikes-first mentality on the rest of us. But the fact is that Mountain View is right in between two of the top 5 longest commute areas in the US; San Francisco and San Jose.

Many people here have a commute that is over 50 miles each way and for many of them it is simply impractical to expect them not to drive. Many of those who want bike lanes spend the majority of their time in Mountain View and rarely venture further outside the city than Palo Alto and that is fine, but they don't seem to have an understanding of what life is like for the rest of us. Most of us, if we take public transportation to and from work, would spend over 5 hours a day just commuting! (Maybe 4 if you get the express trains)

Also, many people have more than two children, are elderly, are disabled, or have some other limitation that prevents them from cycling. What are they supposed to do? I also see a lot of Prius's on the streets of Mountain View. Why are they suddenly not good enough as a solution if the point is to limit green house gases?

I think if some on the Council really want to reduce car traffic in the City; start by selling your own. If I can go without a car for a year, so can you. I would next propose that the city eliminate the garage under city hall and sell all city owned vehicles.

I think it is ridiculous to approve so many projects that will bring 10 to 20 thousand more people into the city, and then depend on 19th century transportation solutions.

All bike lanes and BRT lanes on El Camino will do is force traffic into the neighborhoods, YOUR NEIGHBORHOODS.

There is no doubt that a lot of new apartments and offices are coming online in the next few years so the only question is, do you want the cars on El Camino or cutting through your neighborhood?

Jim Neal
Old Mountain View
Web Link


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Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 6, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

One more thing: It's not about being able to go as fast as you can on El Camino, it's about what's safest for cyclists and drivers!



Jim Neal
Old Mountain View


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Posted by MV Home
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 6, 2014 at 2:05 pm

Definitely thumbs up for dedicated bike lanes on El Camino. It's time we embraced new age commuting. Since its arterial and mostly flat, its the easiest commute road. Having biked on El Cam with the high speed traffic, it definitely is unsafe at this point, however buffers with bike lanes will help tremendously. Give people a chance to enjoy the amazing weather and get healthy without even thinking about it. YES TO BIKE LANES!


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Posted by MV Mom
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 6, 2014 at 2:12 pm

I'd love a light at Mariposa and El Camino. I can't tell you how many times I see pedestrians crossing the street there while I wait for the bus to go to work, and so many times there's an extremely close call. I always get off at El Monte and cross with the light, but it would be so nice to save myself a half mile of walking because I could cross safely at Mariposa.


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Posted by Janet L
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 6, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Jim, making a road or street more accessible for bikes does not mean that people won't be able to drive around anymore. It means that people will have *options* other than driving. Right now, only a small fraction of people who own bikes would be comfortable riding on El Camino. That's why we want to change it.

As for why my bike was the only one in the rack, perhaps it was because three of the other people who spoke for bike lanes that night walked, and another brought her folding bicycle into the room. Oh, and since the meeting ended at 11:30pm maybe a few didn't want to be out so late on a cold night. Did you see the number of bikes at the daytime session a few weeks ago? The bike racks were overflowing.

What you're missing is that we don't need everyone to give up their cars. We don't even need everyone to ride a bike for some of their trips. What we need is for more people to choose a bike (or walk) for more of their trips.

Even a simple increase in the number of people riding bikes, say from 6% to 12%, would have a huge impact on the number of people we can move around this city. And that won't happen if the city's retail core is inaccessible to bicycles.


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Posted by Lee Ann Norkoski
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 6, 2014 at 2:37 pm

"El Camino with very low buildings is a very unattractive place," said council member Ronit Bryant, who also complained that uniform building types and heights create a "tunnel effect" that is unpleasant. "With taller buildings it feels like a better place to be a person there."

I'm not sure what she means here! Don't taller buildings give you the feeling of being in a tunnel? We are not supposed to be downtown San Francisco, we were once the suburbs with a view of the mountains.


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Posted by GDM
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 6, 2014 at 2:38 pm

I like the way you think Jim Neal. I wish more council members thought as you do.

Maybe we should just all check our cars at the city limits.


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Posted by Corinne Winter
a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2014 at 2:41 pm

The fact is that lots of people are *currently* riding their bikes on El Camino Real. We need to create a space for those people on the street so that they will be safe and crashes will become less frequent.

El Camino Real shouldn't be a viable alternative to 101 and Central Exp and 280, serving commuters that just drive through our community and offer no benefit to local residents.


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Posted by incognito
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 6, 2014 at 2:42 pm

"El Camino with very low buildings is a very unattractive place," said council member Ronit Bryant, who also complained that uniform building types and heights create a "tunnel effect" that is unpleasant. "With taller buildings it feels like a better place to be a person there."

What the heck does Ronit Bryant mean by THIS?!

Low buildings are unattractive and it feels better to be among tall buildings? According to who?

Maybe I'm mistaken, but I get the idea that there are quite a few like me who like the small town feel of Mountain View. It's big enough to have more than everything nearby, and small enough to bump into people that you know at the store and to know our elected officials, school superintendent, etc on a first name basis.

Tall buildings almost always require the removal of heritage trees, they block the sunlight and most importantly they block the gorgeous view of the hills that we have from most parks, school playgrounds, and wide streets. With all the new stuff going up in Sunnyvale and now in Mountain View, the view of the hills from El Camino Real is being destroyed.


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Posted by AH
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 6, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Will this mean that cyclists will stop riding on the sidewalks. Does this also mean that most cyclists promise to obey the law and stop at EVERY single red traffic light and not weave into the crosswalk while pedestrians are in it. Somehow most cyclists believe that because they are on a bike they do not have to stop at a red light or a stop sign - the fact is you do. You can all get fired up over this post, but you know, most cyclists don't stop at red lights, or stop signs, and don't yield to pedestrians. If you believe otherwise, take some time to observe what happens when bikers disembark at the MV Caltrain station.
If your reasoning is to be green or healthier, WALK.


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Posted by What bikers ?
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 6, 2014 at 2:56 pm

At the risk of annoying the easily annoyed bikers I just gotta point out there are very very few of you out there. Someone claims 6% - nonsense - maybe 1% at best. Where are all these thousands of bikers - I never see them and I've lived here for twenty years. Its just a very vocal few trying to impose their will on the rest of us. Furthermore, What makes you so special? Why not lanes for wheelchairs or skateboarders or joggers?
The truth is, and no one seems to want to admit it, 99% of people like to drive in their own cars. What is so wrong about that? Sure the cars could be electric and smaller but all the same cars really are what most people want.


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Posted by Enough "No" Birds
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 6, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Jim Neal, unless you're ready with statistics, please do not speak for others:
"Most people have made it clear that we don't want BRT or Bike Lanes there."
(A very telling "We")

Yes, as it stands NOW, its not safe for bikes on ECR. If we have thoughtful planning to make the route SAFER for cyclists, the argument that "Its unsafe" goes out the window, but it sounds like your mind is already made up.

I've noticed that someone who's mind is already made up before most facts are known is not beneficial to progress.


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Posted by Litsa
a resident of Jackson Park
on Feb 6, 2014 at 3:03 pm

"El Camino with very low buildings is a very unattractive place"

Hello??? It's called Mountain View for a reason. You want to be surrounded by tall buildings. Go to the city, so you can "feel like a better person".


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Cycling on El Camino Real is a challenge, which I think taking your own life into your hands. The idea is to cater to short haul rider with access point to and from El Camino Real via pathways, alleys or side streets.

The plan sounds good, like I have told people before not all of El Camino Real is going to become high density 5 story buildings, those shallow lots are a example.

Small mixed you projects, study pre-approved building ideas and plans, small 2 story shop keeper units, small retail uses.

Nothing wrong with added parks, plazas or other open space ideas. Food truck pads, small buildings for small uses, like bike repair, auto detailing, produce stalls, flower stalls, small retail buildings that will host small businesses.


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Posted by Janet L
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 6, 2014 at 3:08 pm

@What bikers?, The 6% number was cited by me. It came from the US Census' American Community Survey, a yearly sampled survey of residents by zip code. Its data shows that in 2012 6.2% of MV residents commuted to work by bike, up from 4.1% in 2010.

This number is strictly work commutes. It does not include students commuting to school, bike trips by unemployed, retired, or stay-at-home parents, nor errand or social trips by employed people. In other words, the bikes you see taking kids to school every morning, or those parked all over Castro Street at night by people going out to dinner aren't included in this number.

It also doesn't include many people like me, who use bike + transit to get to work. I ride my bike for 30 minutes and take the train for 15 minutes, but I'm counted as a transit commuter because I cover more miles on the train.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by mr Avicer
a resident of Bailey Park
on Feb 6, 2014 at 3:08 pm

It should be interesting, the owners of the vacant Foster Freeze and car sales lot also vacant next door have very deeeeeeeep pockets and want to spite the city of MV planners. That is why they remain undeveloped.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Distances are to great to bike
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 6, 2014 at 3:10 pm

When I was a kid I couldn't wait to get a car and toss that old bike. The distance around here are too great for everyone to bike ride. Maybe you have to much time on your hand if you can take a leisurely ride somewhere that takes you 2hrs when it would take 10 min in a car. And within that 2hrs you have more of a chance to get hurt then if you were in a car.

All the pedal pusher if that is what you want to do that is fine, go kill yourself on our roads, i'll place a rose by your grave. But don't think that everyone is wanting this old fashion way of getting around.

Our cars are getting more and more efficient and green, that is the future, not everyone running around on a bike like if this was tokyo.


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Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 6, 2014 at 3:21 pm

"El Camino with very low buildings is a very unattractive place," said council member Ronit Bryant who also complained that uniform building types and heights create a "tunnel effect" that is unpleasant. "With taller buildings it feels like a better place to be a person there."

Ronit thinks that "Taller is Better."
It sounds like Ronit would like to eliminate any view of the Mountains to our South.

Ronit either does not understand or does not care about quality of life for Mountain View residents.We need the right people on the Council to guide the city to a livable, sustainable future.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 6, 2014 at 3:27 pm

@ incognito,


I too, along with my neighbors, like the small town feel of Mountain View. It's big enough to have more than everything nearby, and small enough to bump into people that you know at the store and to know our elected officials, school superintendent, etc on a first name basis.

I am a long time member of Mountain View Trees. We plant tress instead of cutting them down.

The majority of the current City Council either does not understand or does not care about these issues. We need the right people on the Council to guide the city to a livable, sustainable future.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Yes I agree with the "distance it to great", people who ride their bikes will ride within their comfort zone. Comfort zone being close to work, home and shops. Riding a bike on El Camino is challenge, would really want to ride the full length but riding from some of the nearby neighborhoods is good, can be made easier.

Also want to point out lots of El Camino was built when Mountain View was a small town, growing suburb, and now a smallish city. Most of these buildings were built when driving to Sunnyvale or Palo Alto was a drive. Build when the large shopping centers haven't yet been built, Great Mall was a Ford Plant, and Bayshore Highway still had traffic lights.


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Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 6, 2014 at 3:35 pm

@Enough "No" Birds,

At the BRT study session, in June of 2012, I, and many others voiced our objection to BRT. VTA employees and bus drivers were the main supporters.

At the ECR study session, on January 11, 2014,I heard many people suggest Latham as a preferred bicycle route.


I didn't count the votes, but my sense is that Jim Neals's comment is accurate.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by bike commuter
a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2014 at 3:44 pm

My husband and I both commute by bike. He rides through Mountain View everyday riding from Sunnyvale to Stanford and Back. I don't go as far as I ride from Sunnyvale to Santa Clara for work each day. When there are better bike lanes etc, people really will bike more.. the build it and they will come works very well. We also often go shopping in Mountain View by bike.. and sometimes we must ride on El Camino... It is not much fun. And to those people who accuse bicyclists of breaking the law when they ride.. I would like to point out that almost all car drivers think nothing of exceeding the posted speed limit, this poses a large risk to all other people using the roads.. cars, bikes and pedestrians..


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 6, 2014 at 3:46 pm

@Garrett,

I am glad that you were right concerning El Camino Real is going to become high density 5 story buildings.

I think that Ronit Bryant and Margaret Abe-Koga join Jac Siegel and John McAlister in opposing a 5 story Silicon Canyon. All John Inks, Mike Kazpersak, and Chris Clark needed was one more vote and El Camino Real would have become Silicon Canyon.

John Inks, Mike Kazpersak, and Chris Clark either do not understand or do not care about these issues. We need the right people on the Council to guide the city to a livable, sustainable future.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by bike commuter
a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2014 at 3:48 pm

Oh BTW my husband and I are well over 50 years old.. so really anyone can ride a bike to get around... If they felt safe on the roads.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Janet L
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 6, 2014 at 3:51 pm

@Konrad, I was at the BRT meeting last June. The support for BRT went far beyond VTA employees and bus drivers.

Did you leave before the half dozen community college students spoke? They said the bus was the only way they could stay in school and get to work at the same time. Aren't the needs of our young people who are trying to get ahead important?

You also forgot another handful of people like me who are long-term residents, with jobs, who use transit to get around and spoke us for more efficient bus service on El Camino?

As for the bikes on the El Camino corridor, the decision from council was that they study both, which was the recommendation that came out of several group discussions at the January 11 meeting.


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Posted by Joseph Brody
a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2014 at 4:01 pm

This is good news. The Mt. View needs bike lanes on El Camino, bike boulevards and dedicated lanes for BRT. Not everyone can drive or afford a car. If we want to fix traffic we need to have efficient alternatives.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by No To Ronit
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 6, 2014 at 4:06 pm

"El Camino with very low buildings is a very unattractive place," said council member Ronit Bryant who also complained that uniform building types and heights create a "tunnel effect" that is unpleasant. "With taller buildings it feels like a better place to be a person there."

Ronit is all about Ronit. She is not architecturally competent and has little aesthetic sense. For example, she wanted to keep a little house boxed in by the city owned garage and two condo projects. She wants to kill the Milk Pail while at the same time she wants to save the Rose Market. Then she supported a 150+ car garage at the old Dunns Automotive site have it's entrance/exit right next to an existing house. And finally she makes comments as quoted above.

Thank goodness she terms out soon.


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Posted by oldabelincoln
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 6, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Bike lanes on El Camino just aren't practical, nor are Bus Rapid Transit. I wish that such things could be done, but there is just not enough room on most segments to make it so.


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Posted by CW
a resident of Jackson Park
on Feb 6, 2014 at 4:29 pm

SO excited about city concil making the bold move to have Mountain View study seperated bike lanes on El Camino!! Students cycling to Castro school, Graham Middle School, Los Altos High School and St Joseph Catholic School will especially benefit from safe lanes along El Camino. Currently, there is no safe passage for them to get across El Camino. Miramonte has no bike lanes and is scary. All other streets between there and and San Anotiono, which is also not suitable for students biking, are T-intersections and require a cyclist to go some distance on El Camino, whether they want to or not. Students need safe routes to school. Separated bikeways on El Camino will go a long way on that front.


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Posted by Greg perry
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 6, 2014 at 4:47 pm

If you squeeze cars off el camino, you squeeze them onto side streets. That is where we and our children walk and ride their bicycles.

Our general plan, and those of other cities, will make sure that 101 is slow. That is what happens when you add millions of square feet of cubicles : the in commute clogs your freeways, and traffic gets heavy on secondary routes.

If you also cripple your secondary routes, traffic will go onto side streets, and people will get hit.

And, as side streets get unsafe, expect walking and biking rates to fall, despite your grand boulevard.


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Posted by CW
a resident of Jackson Park
on Feb 6, 2014 at 4:49 pm

@Distances are to great to bike

FYI: a car trip on city streets that takes 10 minutes does not take 2 hours by bike, it takes 15 minutes. The fact is, living in Mountain View is an incredibly convenient place to bike around because it doesn't take any longer than 20 minutes to get just about anywhere within the city (starting from a central-ish location like my home near Jackson Park).

By the way, I'm not out to convince you, or anybody, to get out of your car and ride a bike. I just want to see safe enough roads that biking is an option for everybody who wants to, especially kids and those who are intimidated by our current bike infrastructure, which is very scary in places.


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Posted by Ernie
a resident of The Crossings
on Feb 6, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Er, the new buildings that just went up at San Antonio plaza are hardly my idea of something you would find on a grand boulevard. They all that back up to El Camino and face inward. All you see are the emergency exists and utility closets. That's hardly walkable or attractive, yet that the latest in new construction along El Camino.


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Posted by Janet L
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 6, 2014 at 4:56 pm

For everyone concerned about "squeezing cars off El Camino"

The current proposal city staff is investigating does not involve any travel lane removal. The space would come from street parking removal, and it does not include the sections of El Camino between Castro & Shoreline (due to businesses with limited parking there) nor north of Rengstorff (because that's managed by Los Altos).

As for BRT, it is not within the scope of the city's El Camino precise plan. It's a separate matter that VTA is managing.


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Posted by SB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Feb 6, 2014 at 5:23 pm

@CW

Thanks for pointing out the need for more North/South bike routes across El Camino. As mentioned, this is a key commute route for our kids (including Santa Rita, Egan Campus and Almond). This is also key for increasing the number of biking work commuters from South of El Camino (Mountain View and Los Altos) to their jobs in Mountain View.
This also happens to be a smart way to reduce car traffic across and on El Camino.


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Posted by Jack Cormode
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 6, 2014 at 5:55 pm

Two problems with the Grand Bike Plan: Time and Money. Time - Using a bike takes longer to get around, especially if you are running errands and shopping and have several stops to make. Money - Will there be a bike tax to pay for maintenance of the streets? Reducing the number of cars will reduce the wear and tear on the streets, but there is still maintenance, etc., and bikes do not provide any revenue to pay for this.


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Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 6, 2014 at 6:56 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

@Enough No Birds -- I actually do have facts on my side. I attend almost every single City Council and EPC session, so I hear what people say. I also attended the workshops recently held at the senior center and heard the same opinions there.

As for me making up my mind before the facts are known, I dare say that I am far better informed than most people, as I have been following this project closely for the last year. So perhaps before you judge someone's motivations prematurely, you should just ask.

Also, I very heartily support the Alternative bike route on Latham because it is far safer and will minimize the potential for fatal conflicts and disruption to the neighborhoods.

If you have not been to the City Council meetings or EPC meetings where these issues are being discussed, I think you should come. I almost always speak my mind and if you have questions about my opinions you can walk right up to me and ask (If you don't know who I am, I am very easy to spot, I always wear my cowboy hat). However since you are using a pseudonym here, you will have to let me know who you are so I have a frame of reference.


Jim Neal
Old Mountain View
Web Link


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Posted by tommygee54
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 6, 2014 at 8:17 pm

The last time El Camino Real was 'transformed' was in the late 1960's when the center median was installed from San Jose to Palo Alto. So here it is 5 decades later and city counsels want to transform El Camino into something more specific, complete with the possibility of BRT running from San Jose to Palo Alto. Just watch this actually happen!!!


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Posted by Words Vs Deeds
a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2014 at 8:49 pm

I ride a bike a lot but not so much on El Camino Real. When I do, I ride on the sidewalk. This works fine because hardly any pedestrians use the sidewalk anyway. Unfortunately, the sidewalk is NOT in very good shape and it's safer to ride than it is to walk. There are steep slopes in the pavement caused by trees. The city has let AT&T place huge green above ground cable vaults in the last 5 years, where they take up 1/2 the width of the pavement. They were never there before. Where the new Holiday in Express was created by the recent remodel of an existing property, that remodeling created a new wheel chair ramp into the building. Where does that ramp intersect with the sidewalk? Right where there is one of these new AT&T Cable vaults. There's another very close nearby too. I can't believe this is ADA compatible to block the opening at street level of the wheel chair ramp with a cable vault 5 feet tall, 6 feet long and 2.5 feet wide. The motel has a zero setback now and as part of the remodel extended the front of the building out completely all along the edge of the sidewalk. A little common sense in areas like this would keep the sidewalk passable and obviate the need for a bike lane for short distances. For long distances the bikes can be taken aboard the buses, as there aren't many other riders, generally.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Feb 6, 2014 at 9:00 pm

El Camino in Mountain View did not have even curb and gutters in 1960, that came later in the 70th. The road was to flat, there were didches for drainage. It look like a country road, but there was a lot less traffic. When El Camino was widenend and sidewalk were added, it left those narrow useloss lots behind. Now any time of the day the traffic is bad on this road, bikes should be on side road. That would be a lot safer for bikes and cars. Or do it like in Europe were most bike pathes are next to the sidewalk, separated to the street by the curb with difference in pavement color.


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Posted by Waldo
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 6, 2014 at 9:17 pm

Waldo is a registered user.

El Camino Real is a major transportation corridor, and has been that way since the missions were established. They probably had traffic naysayers even back then, complaining about horses and stagecoaches. Bicycles belong on side streets, where the lack of noise and air pollution from cars and buses make for a more decently pleasant ride. Even when I was a kid here sixty years ago, everyone knew to avoid El Camino on a bike. If we were bold, we would put public transit under El Camino Real, and make room for bikes on that system. Instead, want to experiment with wacky concepts like BRT and bike lanes, all the while adding more buildings and traffic on this major artery. How bad does it have to get before we come to our senses?


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Posted by OMV Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 6, 2014 at 10:07 pm

@Konrad M. Sosnow -
Why should anyone believe your claims on this message board, or buy into your trite slogan repeated ad nauseum at the bottom of all your posts, when on a message board on another recent article, you refuse to back up exaggerated, misleading claims you made about the Council repeatedly approving high-density apartment projects that replace single-family homes?

We're still waiting to see your response. Could it be that you were just blowing smoke and distorting the facts to push your vendetta against the majority of this Council?

Folks, check out my post on Jan. 30th on this message board, and the lack of response from Konrad to back up his claims, and you decide whether you should trust what he says.

Web Link


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Posted by JB
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 6, 2014 at 10:26 pm

I look forward to safe, convenient bikeways on El Camino. Those who prefer to drive a car will still be able to. But with bikeways, more of us will choose to bike and leave our cars at home. That means less car traffic for those who do drive. Everyone wins!


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Posted by Janet Lafleur
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 6, 2014 at 10:28 pm

Janet Lafleur is a registered user.

"Bicycles belong on side streets, where the lack of noise and air pollution from cars and buses make for a more decently pleasant ride."

While I enjoy a pleasant ride on a side street when that makes sense, when I have a job to do, like shop for food and household items for my family, side streets won't get me to the store on my bike.

My bike can carry all I need to buy, the question is whether our streets will be safe enough for me to bike on them. Or should I just hop in my car to drive the 1-3 miles to the stores and add to the traffic? That hardly makes sense.


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Posted by MV Mama
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 6, 2014 at 11:01 pm

Ronit Bryant has lost her mind. Does the council forget that there are single family homes that back up to most of El Camino? The neighborhoods behind El Camino would be adversely affected by the addition of anything over 2 stories.


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Posted by bike commuter
a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2014 at 11:52 pm

This idea that you should only allow bikes on side streets may seem appealing.. as long as you consider biking as a recreation, rather than as transportation. For one thing it is extremely difficult to find these obscure 'bike routes' that wind their way through side streets to avoid the main roads... few people will know they are there, so how will they know to ride on them? Also, bicyclists want to ride a direct route (just like car drivers do). Recently a bicycle tourist who is riding around the world, road all the way down El Camino Real from San Francisco to Sunnyvale.. and how would he have know where else to go?

Bicycles are no longer children's toys to be relegated to the park.. Many people use them for transportation.. and more are every day. Bicycles are used to go everywhere people want to go. In countries where most people bicycle (for example: Holland) there is clear marking on EVERY street as to where cars, bikes and pedestrians should be. Streets with high speed car traffic have separated and protected bike paths, side streets have simple markings...

If you don't like having to interact with bicycles while you drive your car.. demand bike lanes, that will get us 'out of your way'...


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Posted by Garrett83
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2014 at 5:52 am

Garrett83 is a registered user.

El Camino from Grant Rd to about San Antonio Center was rebuilt in the early 80's, I know. Was a bike rider and learning to drive, I reneger the cones, the holes and the dirt. Both old and new El Camino weren't bike friendly, businesses were not pleased when most of their parking was changed.


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Posted by Janet L
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 7, 2014 at 9:22 am

@Garrett83 I'm curious. How did the parking change? El Camino has parallel parking now. Was there angled parking before? I moved here in 1986 so this is before my time.


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Posted by Nick
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 7, 2014 at 9:26 am

Why not retain the small town feel of Mountain View, and make it easy for cars to get around? Why the big push for all this density, for companies and apartments? Too much traffic, too many people.


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Posted by Garrett83
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2014 at 10:02 am

Garrett83 is a registered user.

@ Janet L.

Yes, angled parking would be best describe El Camino, backing cars, pot holes and the center turn lanes. Whole buildings were torn down or at least the fronts removed


Lots of parking spaces were removed, once was 10 become 3.


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Posted by Elaine
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 7, 2014 at 10:21 am

Does anyone else note a contradiction here? Some folks would like MV to remain spread out, for that "small town" feel. I don't know if they've been to El Camino Real lately, but "small town" is not really the experience.

I grew up in a real small town (where by the way, everyone knew everyone and the politics were nasty). We rode our bikes everywhere except on the freeway. That's because the scale of development supported activities like cycling and walking.

Even large, dense, thriving cities like Copenhagen, Denmark can keep the feeling of a village. That's because they incorporate cycling needs into their planning process. There are massive, major arteries in the heart of the city that have separate cycle tracks. People come voluntarily to visit CPH, but when I drive on El Camino toward MV and can't get anywhere, I just think "oh no" and "do I really need anything on Castro Street?". I can't imagine anyone having a pleasurable, "small town" driving experience in Mountain View


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Posted by Brett
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2014 at 10:41 am

I'm all for bike lanes but not at the expense of existing car lanes. They should eliminate the street parking and use that for the bike lanes.


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Posted by Elaine
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 7, 2014 at 10:49 am

This is a forum for discussion, learning, and looking at issues from multiple points of view. I feel very uncomfortable with my fellow residents using this forum to make personal attacks against Ronit Bryant. I don't know her personally, but really - disagreeing with something, or most things, someone has done or said is completely allowed. Bashing is not. We're building community here. Kindly keep it civil and on topic.


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Posted by PhilC
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Feb 7, 2014 at 11:24 am

How about a rethink of ECR route for bikes and pedestrians? Just defer the debate about auto right-of-way on the main street- view the sidewalks as bike-friendly avenues, and make them the primary access for bike travel along ECR. This will permit bikes to travel as they presently prefer, avoiding the dangers of sharing auto lanes. There are few pedestrians along these sidewalks, so the inconvenience for them would be minimal. I am a pedestrian, too - for the record.
The condition fo the sidewalks could certainly be improved. Those leafy trees that so enhance the appeal of our streets also tend to spread their roots to the detriment of the concrete sidewalks, making sizable mounds and broken pavement, enough to produce walking hazards that seem to perpetuate with little attention from our fair city.
The point made earlier about the AT&T utility boxes occupying the sidewalk next to the remodeled Hyatt is a valid point of concern. This outlandish installation uses about half the width of the sidewalk and is adjacent to the VTA bus stop bench. Together they reduce the useful width of passage to less than 3 feet. How does this conform to code??


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Posted by Think it through better
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 7, 2014 at 11:32 am

Its not "Bike first" It just appears that way to those locked in their own opinion. The ability to move people in cars has maxed out. Even CalTrans is being looked at as needing a retooling because they are stuck in the old "lets build more roads" mind set, because its not the answer anymore. We're at the limit.

Now, one confirmed way we can reduce congestion on the roads is to eliminate some percentage of cars. I would LOVE a 10% reduction in cars on the road. That would benefit me as a driver greatly. But how to do that? Oh yah, we make it more attractive for SOME (note not all) to get out of their cars and thus, reduce congestion on the roads.

People who do not vote for improvements to alternate forms of transportation are essentially saying "I do NOT want to eliminate any cars from the road. In fact, more please"

That's just the simple nuts and bolts of it for rational thinkers.
Enjoy.


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Posted by Garrett83
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2014 at 11:50 am

Garrett83 is a registered user.

@ Elaine.

I agree on working towards a small city, nothing with human scale development or not so mega density.

Mountain View is more like a small city each passing year, keeping El Camino in the same low density single floor strip mall style.

Which has always been ugly, nothing says anything about small town.


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Posted by Garrett83
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2014 at 11:53 am

Garrett83 is a registered user.

Meant to say nothing wrong with human scale development.


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Posted by Beth
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 7, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Bike lanes are going to be very dangerous for everyone on El Camino. The biker and the cars. It is not necessary at least on that road.
Also, it would be helpful if people did not jay walk on El Camino. Very dangerous.
Anyway,what we need is to have light rail or whatever you want to call run down El Camino. That would be the best for everyone!


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Posted by Garrett83
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Garrett83 is a registered user.

BRT can be done, instead of 20 years down the road, also needs the density. Buses can be flexible, peak times or non peak times. People are still going to ride their bikes or use the car.


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Posted by Gardener
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 7, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Gardener is a registered user.

The vitriol hurled at cyclists and those who want better access for anything other than cars is amazing.

I cycle whenever I can and I drive or take public transportation when I have to. Would you honestly rather have me drive and cause more traffic and parking problems or have me cycle and create neither? Those proposing better bike and pedestrian access aren't trying to take away your car, they're trying to move people around more efficiently. The population of Mountain View continues to rise. Traffic and parking problems will continue to increase as well unless we find other ways to get people from point A to point B.

Additionally, the argument that cyclists don't pay for road maintenance simply doesn't match reality. Fuel taxes are a small portion (~20%) of total transportation spending, and many cyclists such as myself also drive and pay fuel taxes.


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Posted by 19 year Cuesta Park Homeowner
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 7, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Bikes don't belong on ECR period. ECR is a major thoroughfare and though City Council members, especially Abe Koga, would like everyone to think they are forward thinking in trying to create an utopia where everyone works and lives in the same city and can ride bikes and public transport everywhere, that is just not the case historically, now, nor will it ever be (by the way, I don't see Abe-Koga riding her bike all over the city). Those city council members who are promoting this have a hidden agenda - they are clearly in the back pocket of developers, VTA, and SVACA and are willing to do favors for each other to further their own personal agendas to get these votes through. I thank God that a number of council members are terming out and we will vote in council members who truly believe in serving the citizens of our city. It is frightening how crooked politics is being played in our own little town and how much they are getting away with. Keep it up and there will be massive traffic in neighborhoods all along ECR, making our lovely quiet neighborhoods unsafe for all.


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Posted by And we all live here right now
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 7, 2014 at 3:19 pm

So the theory is that if bike routes are safer, more people will ride, and less cars will be on the road. That's probably the case, but how much is the question. In the evenings, when I look at ECR South starting from about Phyllis now, I can't imagine there would be a significant reduction. Maybe I'm wrong, but lets face it, we are an obese nation and people like their cars, sitting and idling in traffic or otherwise. Now if you also begin to reduce lanes, it will simply not work in reality. If MAJOR commute patterns were altered, it might work, but it would require the probably impossible task of closing the 85 on/off ramps and creation of a 237 flyover. Not very realistic at all.

So, we know the cars WILL be there. That means e need the lanes. If a safe bike lane can also be accommodated, GREAT!, but if not, a good safe alternate route would be the the way to go, even if a bit more expensive. Bike infrastructure is wildly important for a great MV as it moves into the future, don't miss that point at all, but you cannot cut lanes on ECR, that's a no win proposal for anyone.


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Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 7, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Is it safe to bicycle along ECR? I have been told it is not.
Will it be safe to bicycle when bike lanes are installed along ECR?
How about when we have additional traffic from the 1,800 apartments being added along ECR?

I think bicycling is great as long as the distance you need to go is short and you have a lot of time. I enjoyed bicycling along the tree lined side streets and avoiding major traffic routes. I am concerned about safety in a high car traffic environment.

In a collision between a car and a bicycle, guess who wins?


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Posted by Garrett83
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Garrett83 is a registered user.

It is all about choices, people might choose to ride a bike and drive a car. I don't see anything wrong with the option of walk, bike, bus or drive.

How about all of the above.


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Posted by Best tool for the job
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 7, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Konrad, if I'm only going a short distance, my bike is generally faster than my car, door to door. You don't need a lot of time, people have very different fitness levels, however, and "short" or "long" are subjective.
Still, if I need to zip out and back quickly, the bike it the mode in order to achieve the best times. No doubt, for me anyway.

Freeway travel? Yep, I'm in a car unless I have an extra 1/2 hour to bike a normally 40 min commute. Considering parking lot 101, if it continues to get worse, the bike might actually become the fastest mode, for a fit individual. Hopefully that won't be in my lifetime, but who knows.


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Posted by Ron Mandel
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 7, 2014 at 5:30 pm

I live in Mountain View and do not own a car. My bike is my primary and only mode of transportation. I use it to get to work, to run errands, to go shopping, for recreation. Even when I did own a car, I was still a bicycle commuter. Within Mountain View, I can ride to pretty much everything in under 3 miles. While I feel comfortable mixing it up in the traffic on El Camino when I need to, it's very clear to me that in its current configuration the vast majority of our population would not, and for good reason. Some of the other main routes in our city are also a bit on the dicey side, (I can't for the life of me understand why there's no bike lane on Moffett between Central and Middlefield) but that can and should change. It is good for businesses, good for individuals, good for the city.

As much as folks may decry increased density and growth, pretending that it isn't going to or shouldn't happen is short sighted. More people in our city also does not have to mean more cars and more parking. Rather than freak out over change, we should accept that it is coming, and plan intelligently. If we make the choice to not just 'tolerate' or 'accept' bike usage in commercial corridors, but instead plan for and encourage it, the resulting positive experiences build on themselves. We don't have to settle for a self-fulfilling prophecy of dangerous conditions for cyclists because cars are being prioritized. No cyclist is trying to forcibly yank the car keys out of the hands of any driver, but if it's made safe and convenient, the benefits of biking are super clear.

Enjoy the ride.


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Posted by Moffett Resident
a resident of Willowgate
on Feb 7, 2014 at 11:22 pm

Here is the quote from this article that concerns me most:

"Council members indicated support for going up to 1.85 FAR, up from 1.35 before, and only above that with permission from the City Council and significant public benefits."

1.85 FAR is pretty much 4 stories, with one floor of underground parking, using the current inadequate parking formula. That would be bad enough, but notice the rest of the sentence: Denser would be possible with "permission from City Council" and "significant public benefits."

I'm sorry, but given their record, I do not trust this City Council to make responsible decisions about density, and I see definite potential for abuse in defining the "significant public benefits" that would be cited to justify denser projects.


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Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 8, 2014 at 11:27 am

The real point of this article is here comes more high rise buildings and high density with lots more people. If that's what you like continue to vote for city council candidates that think this way, I will vote only for candidates that will fight to keep high density out of Mountain View!


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Posted by Garrett83
a resident of another community
on Feb 8, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Garrett83 is a registered user.

When did a 4 to 5 story became a high rise?

I remember in some cases a 3 story building was a high rise. In some places around here adding on a 2nd floor to house will destroy the area.

Home prices have risen, demand for new housing has risen, the need for more space has risen.

We either go up or out.

El Camino is a throwback to hodgepodge planning when land was plentiful, cheap and no thought to traffic.

Today land is scarce, not cheap, traffic is bad, the average sized food store has grown large. Big giant box stores have eaten into small retailers that once found a place on El Camino, even how are travel habits have changed.

Gone are the little motels and highway businesses.

Auto dealers have moved away, shopping centers and malls have been built. So shopping on El Camino is not or has even been fashionable.


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Posted by Garrett83
a resident of another community
on Feb 8, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Garrett83 is a registered user.

Note. I am only talking about the area of El Camino between Grant Rd. and El Monte, with the expection of few projects. Overall El Camino has struggled changes of habits, market trends and decline.


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Posted by Justin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 8, 2014 at 4:55 pm

@Jim Neal
El Camino is a highway? Funny, I thought the speed limit was 40 mph. I feel relatively safe biking on Central, which is almost a highway, but I am usually too afraid to bike more than a couple of blocks on El Camino without using the sidewalk. You say you see few people use transit, but you oppose BRT too, which would make it much easier to increase density without increasing cars.

I'm not sure why everyone is talking about El Camino as a transportation corridor. It is an incredibly slow way to go anywhere far. I only drive there to go from Palo Alto to Mountain View. I have learned how to bike the same route, but it would be much more convenient if I didn't have to take a dozen side streets.

I think that BRT and bike lanes would be great for El Camino. It could actually become an attractive place to live in and not so hard to get around. And BRT needs dedicated lanes or it is pretty pointless. I'm not sure how much overlap there is between demographics, but it seems like everyone is complaining about traffic and pollution yet calling for more parking, complaining about housing prices yet railing against density, complaining how bad transportation is yet opposing efforts to implement BRT and extend BART. All these are conflicting ideals and we have a choice to maintain auto-centric, sprawling suburbs or begin to transform into a truly admirable center of development.


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Posted by JS
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 8, 2014 at 5:10 pm

It is great that the City Council is moving to make El Camino Real safer for walking and biking! El Camino splits Mountain View much like Central Expressway, the difference being that El Camino has many destinations for shopping and work and the north-south crossings are all same-level crossings. The El Camino crossings are also scarier due to the disappearing bike lanes and need to travel along El Camino in many instances to continue going north or south- like El Monte to Cuesta. The parallel route of Latham and Church would be complimentary as a quieter, slower way to get across much of Mountain View and get near the places where you need to go on El Camino. Making El Camino safe for pedestrians and cyclists will provide a way for people to get where they are going without being forced to use a car.

I was at the meeting on Tuesday and spoke in favor of protected bike lanes on El Camino. These would make it safer for cyclists and better for automobile drivers. The cyclists would have a delineated space to ride without having to merge into car traffic to get around parked cars or opening car doors and wouldn't have car drivers cutting dangerously close as often. Drivers would have their space without having to worry about cyclists straying into the automobile travel lanes. Also, with safer bike transit, more people would use their bike for errands, freeing up space in the automotive lanes.

I was also one of the people who rode my bike to the study session Tuesday after work, knowing it would be a late night. The gentleman who only saw one bike apparently did not see the fold up bike about 15-20 feet away from his seat at the back of the room or my bike or the other two bikes in the bike rack on the east side of the Senior Center. Including Janet, that is at least 5 people biking- not bad for a long public study session on a chilly school & work night.

By the way, the gentlemen's spoken observation implies that people in favor of safe bicycle lanes should cycle everywhere now- such as to late night council study sessions. This is a specious argument. It is like saying people in favor of safer automobile lanes are not allowed to ride a bike. The reality is that some people ride their bikes everywhere they can and some would not bike ever. Most people are in the middle. The safer our infrastructure is for cycling, the more people who'd like to cycle will be able to get around town safely and the more just it will be for people who cannot afford other transportation.


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Posted by Carless Californian
a resident of another community
on Feb 8, 2014 at 5:16 pm

I was just at Santana Row today, and walking around I couldn't help but think of the 'more than three stories on El Camino will make a lightless canyon' discussion.

Santana Row is much narrower than El Camino, even at its widest point with the park in the center. So any canyon effect and loss of light, and general feeling of oppressiveness would be more pronounced than the same size buildings flanking El Camino.

None of the buildings on the Row are less than four stories, retail at ground and three stories of residential above, with very generous heights for both. Some of the blocks are five stories, and the hotel is seven. At no point, even on this rather gloomy day, did I find the Row lacking in light. I certainly didn't feel oppressed by the height of the buildings, or like there was not enough visible sky, and I did not have the impression of being in a canyon, or even an excessively urban space.

It felt intimate, human-scale, and enjoyable. The Row designers did a good job of mimicking the feeling of a small European city-scape, with the charm, beauty, and comfort of that sort of living. Given how pleasant buildings of these size are on such a small street, I see no reason that buildings of 4-8 stories would be out of scale on the El Camino.

If people could move past the idea that low- to mid-rise buildings are too tall, there could be more focus on the actual architecture of the buildings. While I was at the Row I noticed a lot of different things that were done to help create that intimate, attractive streetscape. Intricate trim and detailing stops the eye, and gives it something to rest on. Horizontal trim, color blocking, varying materials or design details at different heights, all break the building into smaller visual pieces. On many of the blocks the front of the buildings varied in depth, color, trim detailing, etc. every few paces, giving the impression of many connected little buildings, rather than just a few large ones.

Some of the larger buildings were built right up to the street, but cut in on the first floor to provide a wide, sheltered promenade. This would be a good solution to the problem of building on narrow lots, rather than allowing builders to provide only a shallow sidewalk. I also liked how the bigger blocks were pierced with arcades, making them more friendly to pedestrians, while allowing more ground-level retail spaces.

The tiny parks and plazas, even cramming in a playground, are also things that we could request from developer. They make natural places to step down heights and bring more light into the center of larger building complexes.

I haven't been overly impressed with the design of any of the El Camino projects, speaking as a person without a car, who mostly gets around by foot and bus. But the main debates have seemed to mistakenly be about building height, rather than about intelligent, attractive design that will help lure those new residents out of their cars and onto the streets, onto transit, and even onto their bikes. All while being great replacements aesthetically for the ugly, soulless, run-down, sprawling buildings that still make up most of El Camino.


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Posted by konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 8, 2014 at 5:43 pm

@Justin,

State Route 82 (SR 82), was established as a state highway in 1964. Some portions of the highway are named El Camino Real (ECR).

BRT will reduce ECR from 3 lanes to 2, an increase of 33% in traffic density. Where are the cars going to go? Some will stay on ECR to form gridlock. However, many will go on neighborhood side streets. Are youin favor of increasing neighborhood traffic?

ECR is how many of us connect to 237 for jobs in Milpitas or Fremont. ECR is how my neighbors connect to 85 to get to their jobs in Cupertino, Campbell, and Los Gatos.

I do not complain about housing prices. My wife and I have worked hard to pay for our home. We don't want Mountain View destroyed just so a bunch of bike riders can have fun.


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Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 8, 2014 at 5:52 pm

@Ron Mandel,

I am glad that you do not need a car.

However, many of us work 20 mile or more from home and/or have to drive clients.
The majority of people living in Mountain View do not work in Mountain View and need transportation to their jobs.

The majority of the current City Council either does not understand or does not care about these issues. We need the right people on the Council to guide the city to a livable, sustainable future.

Mountain View Citizens for Responsible Development


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Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 8, 2014 at 5:59 pm

@Gardener,

Many of us who drive, are tired of seeing bicyclists who ignore stop signs, ignore traffic lights, and constantly cut in front of us with a 'Screw You
Driver" attitude.

Here is some information for you - Bicyclists are NOT better than pedestrians or automobile drivers!

When bicyclists learn to obey traffic laws and treat drivers with respect, then,, and only then, will we treat you with respect


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Posted by Justin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 8, 2014 at 7:33 pm

@konrad M. Sosnow
Regardless of its history, El Camino is not a highway any more. As I said, no one uses El Camino long-distance commuting. Evelyn and Middlefield also connect to 237 and 85 and it would be nice if Central did too. A bike lane on El Camino would not be for recreational cyclists-if I want to have fun, I'll go up to the hills. It would be a great complement to more housing, making it easy to get to San Antonio for shopping.

Hopefully BRT would be good enough so that people take it instead of cars. People are really driving less and Mountain View is going to be dominated by younger people who are not so attached to their cars. I fail to see how making Mountain View a more livable, sustainable city is "destroying it." It's great that you can afford to live there, but that doesn't mean you should stop others from moving in who are willing to pay even more than you did for smaller houses.

And what do you think of parking? I see many people complaining about a lack of parking from new residences and offices. I would much rather see parking meters for overutilized spaces and apartments without parking that are built for people who don't have cars. I am sure that there would still be plenty of demand from people who don't drive or use ZipCar.


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Posted by Janet Lafleur
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 8, 2014 at 8:27 pm

Janet Lafleur is a registered user.

El Camino was our area's original highway. Before Bayshore Road became the 101 freeway, before Central Expressway and I-280 were built, it was the area's long-distance thoroughfare. Things have changed. Now El Camino functions primarily as our city's primary retail corridor and as an arterial road (like Shoreline). The average car trip on El Camino is a short 2 miles. I don't have data for 101, 280 or Central Expy, but I bet their average trip lengths are many times longer.

You may be surprised that the speed limit on El Camino is 35 mph for its complete span in Mountain View, from Sunnyvale to Palo Alto. Caltrans set this limit for safety reasons due to the number of driveways, parallel parked cars, people walking along it, etc.

The fact that typical free-flowing car speeds on El Camino are above that means that it's not as safe as it should be. Speeding drivers are putting themselves and others at risk. It's no wonder so few people parallel park on El Camino. Stopping and backing up into a spot is a scary activity when who knows when a driver will come barreling up at > 35 mph.


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Posted by Ron Mandel
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 8, 2014 at 11:11 pm

@Konrad

I do not work in Mountain View, my current commute to work is around 5 miles. I've commuted by bike up to 17 miles each way, and it would take me less time that if I were to have driven. Years ago I worked in San Francisco, and took Caltrain. Needing "transportation" to get to work does not have to mean "car." I do recognize that not bike commuting does not work for everyone. However, the need to commute to work by auto does not conflict with having safe bicycle access.

It also feels that you've missed the point of my comment. Making commercial corridors safe for bicycles would go right along with your desire to have our city have both a "livable" and "sustainable" future. I'm having a hard time thinking of something more "sustainable" than being bicycle friendly...


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Posted by Garrett83
a resident of another community
on Feb 9, 2014 at 7:41 am

Garrett83 is a registered user.


El Camino needs big investment for traffic improvements and development. Do we spend money on improving commuters or making El Camino a livable place for those who seek alternatives to car.


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Posted by A
a resident of The Crossings
on Feb 9, 2014 at 9:17 am

Bikes stay off the sidewalk!

Every time I walk on ECR a bike sneaks up from behind and scares the heck out of me. I understand it's safer on the sidewalk but have some common sense and buy a bell.

I'm usually pushing a stroller or carrying the baby. Being almost hit by a bike on the sidewalk makes me angry. My protective instinct is to push the bike off the sidewalk!


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Posted by SER
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Feb 9, 2014 at 11:54 am

El Camino Real is still state route 82, so Caltrans has all the say. When US101 is a parking lot do to much traffic, Middlefield turns into the alternative and it turns into a parking lot with all the traffic. Side streets are blocked, so local residents can not move. The parallel streets of El Camino will experience the same, and I can just hear those residents complaining about all the extra traffic through their neighborhoods. We need arterial to move traffic through Mountain View and thet's what El Camino is.


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Posted by Garrett83
a resident of another community
on Feb 9, 2014 at 12:59 pm

Garrett83 is a registered user.

How long does this traffic mess lasts on each different all within a 12 hour period, 7 days a week?

Most people in 5 day work only have to deal traffic at certains or when everyone is at the same place at the same time.

Morning drive, lunch or football game.

Your have the other time when most people are at work, in school or sleeping. The point is different strokes for different folks.

Is the answer in building more roads in a built area, build bigger further away and watch the amount of commute miles increase.


-


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Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 10, 2014 at 3:15 pm

@ Garrett83,

You asked - "Do we spend money on improving commuters or making El Camino a livable place for those who seek alternatives to car."

any of us use ECR to drive to work to earn money to house,clothe and feed our families

Bicycles and buses are great for those who are retired, have lots of time, or do not have to go far along ECR.


ECR has heavy traffic from 6 to 9 a.m. and from 4 to 8 p.m. every workday.


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Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 10, 2014 at 3:49 pm

@Carless Californian,


You have to realize that Santana Row runs North and South. That allows the sun to shine down the length of the street for several hours per day.

However, El Camino Real runs East and West. Buildings on the South side will cast a shadow, keeping part of the ECR in perpetual shadow, ranging from 20 to 139 feet, depending on the time of the year.


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Feb 10, 2014 at 7:54 pm

One day drove to Napa, took me 3 1/2 hours from Mountain View via San Francisco. The drive to San Francisco alone took 2 hours, I know people chose to live in San Francisco, but even the shuttle buses were stuck in traffic.

I know people work for housing, food and clothing but having to look for cheap housing, sitting in a car for that many miles or time spent setting in traffic.

I know people who have moved out to those far off places, thinking they can get back in, after reality sets in after a few years. Some of them have moved out of state altogether because of the long long commute.

Don't know how long sitting if one counts the time sitting in traffic on El Camino Real but trying sitting in traffic from Tracy. Worse yet from Elk Grove.


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Posted by Linda Curtis
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 11, 2014 at 9:30 am

Instead of adding ever more and more housing for ever more and more people for the ever more and more jobs MV can't resist bringing in here, why can't MV renovate the two ship docks on the Bay at the end of Moffett Field? Then Google could ferry their folks for free from Hayward, Fremont, Alameda, Oakland, SF, or wherever, instead of stuffing them into traffic. Regular public ferries could really take the load off the roadways and provide people employed here a scenic Bay cruise to and from work.


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2014 at 2:17 pm

The reason why I wanted to tell you about my drive to Napa, so many other places to build housing, not everyone works or lives in Mountain View. Overall the bay area is great to come with ideas, solutions but putting a plan into action is tough.

We have miles and miles of streets like El Camino Real, miles and miles of streets like California St. Nothing really special about El Camino. At this time we are created miles and miles El Camino Real and California just by building further and further away from the job rich Silicon Valley.


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Posted by AC
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2014 at 3:55 pm

AC is a registered user.

I know this is going to be unpopular, but I'm against bike lanes on El Camino, and I'm a part-time cycle commuter.

El Camino is an important automobile artery, much like freeway connectors like Shoreline, Rengstorff, et al. If we don't want intolerable traffic, they must be kept automobile/bus-centric. Which by definition means not great for bikes. Controlled intersections and enforcing the laws against jay-walking, etc.

But one block off, paralleling it from Stevens Creek trail to the adjoining Palo Alto Bike Boulevard, a dedicated bike road, lined with cyclist-friendly amenities and construction. Shrubs, trees, drinking fountains, the occassional outhouse. Stevens Creek Trail shows us, we can make bike/pedestrian friendly infrastructure by protecting it FROM, not co-locatiing it WITH automobile thoroughfare.

The alley behind Frankie, Johnny, Luigi would be perfect for this. Well, if not for the apartment parking spaces.


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Posted by AC
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2014 at 3:57 pm

AC is a registered user.

@Linda Curtis

I had wondered that too, but I'm afraid it's not so easy, and would be incredibly costly both to construct and to maintain. It's just too shallow, and it's the delta of a myriad of creeks and streams, and the associated erosion that comes from them.


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Posted by tommygee54
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 11, 2014 at 7:45 pm

Thanks Linda Curtis for bring up the idea of renovating the two ship docks for ferry service right here in Mountain View. And even the public could use it. Hey I would like to ferry from here to Vallejo, or SF. That would get my car off the road.

But I mentioned this idea of ferry service FROM Mountain View at least a year ago!!! Perhaps more people should TALK IT UP about this ferry service idea out of our fair city of Mountain View!!!


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2014 at 9:11 pm

Bay Area wide ferry service sounds like a great plan, Mountain View again will stand to be the gateway into Silicon Valley via Southport Landing. Want to point out dredging of the channel, building of terminal, transit to and from, parking lots need to be built, roads leading to the port to be built. At all can be done.

People will use to come and go, 7 days a week, development around the port will happen. North Bayshore and Moffett Park will take the brunt.


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Posted by tommygee54
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 12, 2014 at 3:36 pm

As I said, this plan is doable; ferry service right here in Mountain View. All we need is the City Counsel to talk it up and approve it with all that has to happen. I even brought this idea up to a few city counsel members at least TWO years ago. Perhaps the time has come...


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Posted by Linda Curtis
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 12, 2014 at 4:03 pm

AC& Tommygee54:
I'm totally with you about the bikes ways built exactly for them only and addressing their needs. I used to bike all over in my younger days. I even carried my cat to his vet appointments on my bike. In those days I also used to teach driving, so believe me, never trust nearby vehicles! The caliber of drivers do not warrant your trust, at all. Driver error, driver failure, mechanical failure, etc.... Too much at stake: Your life! A barrier of parked cars might help along South Castro Street but doesn't help enough for ECR. I can imagine a driver backing into a bike as it parks, etc.

Re: The docks: I heard only one requires dredging regularly. I think that would be worth it, but I don't know all the details yet. It should certainly be studied! Perhaps the big corporations located right there would take on the expense or at least some of it.

I really want to see ECR dropped as a PDA (Preferred Development Area) for many reasons. The diagram on the cover of the Voice contradicts itself with stated goals of "requiring 'sensible' building heights against neighboring homes" (like mine)and then showing red (high density = usually four stories or higher) butting up to grey areas (one & two stories). Frankie, Johnnie and Luigi's too Restaurant is right in the coming red zone! And that's a shallow lot, too, which were never to be "high density." I say there are better areas to grow residences that will not have the exhaust fumes and noise for the residents thereof, and the bikers, too, if they can get behind the better ideas of their own bike highways. Even Cuesta is quite safe and lines right up with the bike bridge over 85. It pays to plan ones commute routes carefully especially if you're on a bike!

Let's keep brainstorming!


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Posted by Jerry
a resident of Slater
on Feb 13, 2014 at 11:11 am

@ Moffett Resident, I agree with you about the Floor Area Ratio allowing high density developments that are too dense. I have no problems with provision being added for bikes or Public Transportation. What I object to is any plan that comes at the expense of automobiles. Such a plan is the BRT. I also feel the city council is knowingly increasing density with no real plan for dealing with the density increase which will result in more traffic and congestion. They are betting Mountain View's future on baseless notions that people will stop using cars and will take a bike or bus everywhere they need to go. Their thinking is clearly demonstrated by their approval of road diets, high density developments, and the under sized parking provision at these new developments. All seem designed to make driving and keeping a car more difficult and force a choice in a direction defined by them.


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Posted by 4 Lanes
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Feb 13, 2014 at 12:01 pm

If the direction is to go with high density growth on El Camino, and if there's a desire to relieve traffic congestion on El Camino (and overflow in surrounding neighborhoods), perhaps the real discussion should be adding a 4th lane for cars on certain parts of El Camino. That would be a discussion based on reality; not one based on fantasy.

Significant numbers of people converting to be bike riders, or taking non-existent bus routes is less likely than Pod cars.

PS - While much discussion focuses on home to work; work to home, I wouldn't be surprised if those "direct" paths only comprise a (small?) portion of daily journeys. And a very small portion on weekends. People take kids places, go to doctor appointments, shop in multiple locations, etc. Many are not traveling alone. Other modes of transportation just aren't effective in this area.


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Posted by Garrett83
a resident of another community
on Feb 13, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Garrett83 is a registered user.

Chances are people going to and from work cause most of the traffic.

Yes people will drive for errands, appointments or school. Congested traffic, not commute related won't go away or even remotely go away.

I am talking about the thousands of solo drivers who have no choice in commuting.


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Posted by Linda Curtis
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 13, 2014 at 4:59 pm

I agree with you, Jerry & others, who realize that we can't keep packing in the people without creating chaos and destroying what attracted us here in the first place: Great places nearby to go that weren't too crowded for us to fit inside and/or to park nearby, the beautiful view of the mountains, quiet residential streets that were not taken over by cars parking there since ECR is being over-built & has just removed it's curbside parking in order to squeeze bikes onto it, and traffic rushing through the residential streets as one, or two, bus lanes on ECR kicked them out just for buses, etc. I've lived here since the sixties and only recollect seeing a total of two bikers on ECR that entire time. No, my memory isn't slipping. I figure this is true because it just doesn't make sense to risk that much when so many streets parallel ECR. Let's work on those separate bike ways. And let's forget about the Rapid Bus lanes. Valley Transit's own manager studying this admitted that dedicated fast lanes allowing BRT only, in going from the other side of Santa Clara through MV, would save a TOTAL of ONE minute! And all those cars kicked out of the fast lane will barrow down the little streets where all the kids and serious bikers I know ride every day. I'd love to add lanes to ECR for cars, but where would they fit? And that's even if the medians don't have to be widen for passenger loading the "Rapid Buses" that really are not rapid. It seems to really just be a plot to further entangle traffic so folks give up driving. Wrong and unwise. Garrett83 is correct: There are thousands of drivers who have no choice. And more and more electric cars are coming in, pod cars I plan to learn about, ferries sounds really good if we can work out the dredging that one requires... many better options!


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Posted by Moffett Resident
a resident of Willowgate
on Feb 13, 2014 at 11:41 pm

Jerry, you are exactly right:

"...the city council is knowingly increasing density with no real plan for dealing with the density increase which will result in more traffic and congestion. They are betting Mountain View's future on baseless notions that people will stop using cars and will take a bike or bus everywhere they need to go. Their thinking is clearly demonstrated by their approval of road diets, high density developments, and the under sized parking provision at these new developments. All seem designed to make driving and keeping a car more difficult and force a choice in a direction defined by them."

I'd add that those with this delusional outlook have allies with other motivations: First: Libertarians like John Inks, who believe that property owners should be able to do as they please (government out of our face), and believe that the market will always produce the best result. Second: developers, who are (professionally, and understandably) motivated only by the chance to profit. Third: Planning staff, who would not have much professional future if they seemed hostile to developers.

Development is not undesirable. It could be done right. That would involve less density than is envisioned by the present council, and it would involve listening to residents who will be affected by developments. The present city council doesn't get this at all.


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Posted by Linda Curtis
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 14, 2014 at 10:57 am

I totally agree with the last statement. Let's redo the dilapidated stuff with charming, not so tall, businesses with the shop keepers' quarters above, plus maybe one more floor, no more. Tall creates shadows and people watching all the while and sun glinting off the windows, etc.


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Posted by Jerry
a resident of Slater
on Feb 14, 2014 at 3:28 pm

@ Linda & Moffett Resident,

I agree with you (Linda) about redoing the dilapidated stuff and I'm all for modest development. The issue in my mind isn't development but over-development and high density projects like what is proposed all up and down El Camino.
As far a libertarians are concerned, they are not all created equal as I believe Jim Neal is a libertarian and is not for uncontrolled growth like Inks seemingly is. Developers wear their hats and represent their interests which is to build and make a profit. The city council needs to wear their hats and represent the peoples interest - the people who are here and who voted for them. The thinking that they need to represent the interests of developers or the interests of undefined future Mountain View residents is wrong headed and not who they are supposed to be representing.


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Posted by Garrett83
a resident of another community
on Feb 14, 2014 at 4:19 pm

Garrett83 is a registered user.

Build tall in front but not go deep to rear property lines, set back from the back.

Allow taller fences, plant taller trees.

Shade tests.

No all of El Camino will become tall buildings, some owners will be happy getting income from their buildings. No need changes needed.


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Posted by Garrett83
a resident of another community
on Feb 14, 2014 at 4:48 pm

Garrett83 is a registered user.

Of course anymore is free to buy property on El Camino, rent, redo and rent. A small retail building.is on the market for 1.4 million, nicer area in Menlo.Park


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Feb 14, 2014 at 6:06 pm

For BRT buses and lanes, this will take a special designed bus. I will try to explain. The bus will have doors on either side, left and right side, a lift system.

The bus will be capable of loading on either side of the bus. If center loading occurs, a system should be designed to prevent doors opening into traffic. We just need to sit down with the bus companies. One of the major bus design was London Transport with Routemaster.

If a complete ferry network is planned, a whole bunch of empty land is in the North Bay could be built on. Thousands of homes in Marin, Somona and Napa County.

Extend BART to Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Hollister, and beyond.

Just an idea.


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Posted by Linda Curtis
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 18, 2014 at 4:51 pm

Remember VTA's own manager analyzed how much faster Rapid Buses would be from the far side of the City of Santa Clara through MV and said that they could make that trip one minute faster than if they did not have the dedicated fast lane! Time to drop the BRT idea altogether on ECR! However the ferries need to really develop.

Most important: We need to really make ourselves heard by OUR city council that ECR should not be made into a wall of tall buildings that cuts our city in half and removes the views, blocks the sunshine & breezes, allows us to be looked down on (snipers are a fact of modern life, as are stalkers). I think four stories pushes it, even along ECR, but to dip that hogh into neighborhoods as the 801 ECR proposal is setting up, is unfair to those living there who will have lost their privacy. Who could have ever imagined this when they purchased? And once built, those adjacent to it have lost forever what they enjoyed and loved about their properties, not to mention in much detail, that everyone in the vicinity gets overrun with heavy traffic zooming through what used to be quiet streets, and all who need to get somewhere, whether by buses, electric cars, or whatever, get caught in the snarl of traffic gridlock there. I've experienced it around the clock. Worse at rush hours, but still jammed up at 10 or 11 AM, etc. Not safe, and pollutes even more when traffic sits and idles. Make our objections known to MV City Council members.


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