Mayfield's 260 homes nearly a done deal


While details about trees and architecture have yet to be worked out, the City Council approved a master plan for a 260-unit housing project at the site of the former Mayfield Mall Tuesday night, in what appears to be a quiet end for a once-controversial project.

"Some of us have been with this project 10 years now," said Mayor Jac Siegel at the end of an unusually quick and easy meeting, which gave developer Summit Land Partners proper zoning and parcel map for the 21-acre project at Central Expressway and San Antonio Road.

The council voted unanimously to approve the project, with council members Ronit Bryant and John Inks recused because of conflicts of interest. Bryant's husband works for Hewlett Packard, which is selling the property, and Inks owns property within 500 feet.

Council member Laura Macias remarked at how few public speakers there were Tuesday night compared to the last time, when the council approved a previous iteration of the project with 450 units. Developer Toll Brothers passed on their option to buy the property and develop that plan when the recession hit.

Only two people spoke with concerns about traffic, the loss of native trees and the safety of the pedestrian tunnel under Central Expressway to the San Antonio train station that the developer has agreed to build.

City staff reported that 30 neighbors were pleased overall with the project at a May 11 community meeting. But while the protests have subsided, neighbors are still concerned about traffic, said Monta Loma Neighborhood Association vice president Helen Wolter. She reported Tuesday that 60 percent of the neighborhood's 1,000 households remain concerned about traffic impacts. Walter said new Mayfield residents might use the neighborhood as a cut-through to Highway 101.

The council will sign off on final plans for the project in August or September after review by architects on the city's development review committee.

Though the $6 million tunnel was a leftover requirement from the previous project, Summit vice president Rhonda Neely reassured council members, "We're going full speed ahead with the tunnel."

She said Summit wanted an out-clause on the requirement if the tunnel was found infeasible because of plans to add to high-speed rail tracks to the Caltrain corridor.

Summit will soon begin a year-long demolition of the 500,000-square-foot building that was once the Mayfield Mall. The property is being sold by Hewlett Packard, which more recently used it as an office building.

Development partner William Lyon Homes will build up to 260 homes with an estimated average price of $913,000. The city expects to see an increase of $154,000 in property taxes from the $235 million project.

Instead of including 26 below-market-rate homes in the project, the city will be paid $7 million in fees to go toward subsidized below-market-rate housing elsewhere.

The plan includes two-story, single-family homes around the north and east edges of the site and the rest as three-story condominium buildings. The condos have individual garages, 39 percent of which have controversial tandem parking (cars park front to back, increasing on-street parking), the highest percentage of any development in the city.

There is space for two public parks that have yet to be designed. The total size of the parks, 3.62 acres, is more than twice the size of what would normally be required. Monta Loma neighborhood residents who have long complained of a relative lack of park space in the area.

A lot about trees

In total, 456 trees will have to be removed from the Mountain View side of the project, including 163 large heritage trees and 55 coastal redwoods. Summit proposes to add 613 trees.

The City Council received a petition from 36 people and several letters from neighbors decrying the loss of trees and lack of native and drought-tolerant trees proposed for the project, with arborist Dave Muffly noting an "almost total lack of drought tolerance among the trees selected."

Summit's Tim Unger noted that the existing redwoods are relatively thirsty. Other trees that neighbors expressed dismay about losing are not native, he said. Nevertheless, Neely said Summit has "no motivation not to work with the community of Monta Loma" in selecting proper trees for the project.

Dozens of redwood trees would be relocated on site, and an arborist hired by Summit predicted a 95-percent survival rate for the redwoods. A survey of bird's nests would be conducted to make sure that no birds are harmed as trees are removed.

About a dozen of the redwoods on the site could remain in one of the two parks, Mayfield Park, but that may require an unattractive 6-foot retaining wall on the edge of the park. Neely said Summit is hoping to remove and replace the trees lower in the ground, but the feasibility of such a plan is uncertain.


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Posted by Litsa
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 23, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Traffic congestion is going to be a nightmare. This Mayfield Mall (yeah, I still consider this a mall) project, along with the Sears / San Antonio project is really going to put a burden on the major thoroughfares.

The city council would sell all the open land if they were certain it would bring a quick buck.
They could care less about quality of life for the residents of Mountain View.

Like this comment
Posted by Sheri
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 23, 2011 at 3:08 pm

I strongly disagree with the comment that the City Council "could care less about quality of life for the residents of Mountain View." In my experience, they care a great deal about it. Their decisions reflect the difficulty in balancing the many varied needs of the community. As for selling open land, none of the projects you refer to are "open land" that the City Council has jurisdiction over. They are privately owned properties. If the city had the money and chose to, it could purchase the land from the current owners. Otherwise, these properties aren't now and would not become "open land".

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Posted by Chuck
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 23, 2011 at 3:24 pm

I disagree with "traffic congestion is going to be a nightmare". Traffic may be a little heaver than we enjoy now but not any worse than when the site was occupied by HP. And not any worse than any other use for the property other than letting it sit there idle as it has for the last 7 years. I want to see that peoperty used, not sitting idle any longer. I also disagree with the statement that the City Council "could care less about the quality of life for the residents of Mountain View". Over the years we have gotten to know all of the members on the City Council and find them to be sincere people who care very much about the city and it's residents. They do listen and take and take our comments/feedback seriously. Their minds have even been changed on ocassion.

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Posted by JLS
a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 23, 2011 at 4:08 pm

$7 million in lieu of 26 units??? And the council agreed to this??? One can't find a 500 sq. ft. studio for $269K. How did the developer get away with this?

Like this comment
Posted by Proofread
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Jun 24, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Sentence fragment: "Monta Loma neighborhood residents who have long complained of a relative lack of park space in the area."

Like this comment
Posted by jj
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 24, 2011 at 5:56 pm

I have to agree with Litsa, our infrastructure can't handle the burden for more families. Just the schools alone can't handle the kids they have already. Now we want to bring more?

Makes real good sense, NOT

Like this comment
Posted by Kristine
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 25, 2011 at 5:31 pm

As a young person raised in this town I find this nimbyism spoken here repulsive. Traffic? is that all we are to you?

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Posted by Joseph
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 25, 2011 at 6:29 pm

I agree! How did the city let the developers get away with building BMR units?? Where will the 7million dollars in fines go??

"$7 million in lieu of 26 units??? And the council agreed to this??? One can't find a 500 sq. ft. studio for $269K. How did the developer get away with this?"

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Posted by James Hoosac
a resident of another community
on Jun 25, 2011 at 7:04 pm

I really like the plan. It is well balanced. Although I wonder why the builder cannot plant more trees. In terms of volume, most of the 456 trees to be cut are probably mature ones of stately size. 613 tiny little trees are not enough.

BMR is never a good idea. But I hope the city spends the windfall well with full accountability.

In terms of traffic, I don't think these few hundreds of units will add too much traffic. The area will become a lot more beautiful and as such this project will greatly enhance the property values of surrounding houses and apartments.

Like this comment
Posted by Iyan
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jun 25, 2011 at 8:55 pm

It's a great project. I am glad the city approved the proposal.

Let us build house for the young families of Google/Microsoft/Apple engineers, El Camino Hospital doctors/nurses. They are the generation to change the future of MV. MV's future is not going to be shaped by the assumption-based 60 percent of the Monta Loma neighborhood's 1,000 households who remain concerned about traffic impacts.

MV Monta Loma neighborhood doesn't own the right of the Monta Loma street system. Anybody has the freedom to drive through this area. Are Monta Loma residents red-necked, anti-young, anti-progress, super conservative?

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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jun 28, 2011 at 4:23 pm

260 units is far better then the 458 units, housing needs to be built but not where it will upset others. The mix of trees are needed, most shade trees are non native or pleasing to the eye, but glad they are saving as many redwoods trees. Schools can always be expanded with 2nd floors.

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