Neighbors threaten to sue over McKelvey plan


A plan to turn McKelvey Park into a flood detention basin has drawn the ire of neighbors who say they may sue over plans that could increase noise from the park's baseball fields while removing the large redwood trees that shade their homes.

Neighbors Elizabeth Thompson and Tapan Bhat said Tuesday that a group of neighbors will oppose the redesign of the park as a flood basin at the Dec. 11 City Council meeting. It is up for a vote along with a larger Permanente Creek flood project that may or may not include a similar basin at the Cuesta Annex.

Neighbors say the plan to lower the park by 15 feet flips the orientation of the park's highly used baseball fields, putting the bleachers up against neighboring homes where there is now just an outfield. And nearly all of the park's trees will be removed, including a row of "old, big, gorgeous redwood trees" along their back fences that create a noise buffer with the park, Thompson said. The footprint of the trees would be replaced by the concrete walls around the edge of the flood basin that double as bleachers and walkways.

"They've got all the noise and lights where the people's houses are, which doesn't seem terribly logical," said Bhat, one of a dozen homeowners adjacent to the park.

"It seems that once it was brought up it should have been fixed," said Thompson, former chair of the St. Francis Acres Neighborhood Association. "And now it's coming down to a potential lawsuit -- it shouldn't have to come that."

"We are talking about getting a lawyer to force some kind of legal action to get this redesigned," Bhat said. "This is something we don't want to do, but we are being left with no other choices."

Thompson began raising the issues in 2010 when she and others proposed two smaller baseball fields at McKelvey to make room for more park space that would serve everyone, which they say the neighborhood lacks. Youth sports leagues strongly opposed the idea of losing what's known as the "Big McKelvey" field. Thompson was not pushing that idea this week.

"We just want a design that is for the next 50 years that doesn't negatively impact anybody, and I think it's possible," Thompson said. "At least try."

"We are not arguing against doing this project or against flood protection for the area," Bhat said. "We just want this area redesigned. It's OK to plan for the future but when it gets to the point when it is affecting your home, affecting your property values, it is getting personal."

In the $10 million revamp of McKelvey Park, local Little League teams were promised new ball field facilities, including new bleachers, a new snack shack, artificial turf and improved lighting, among other amenities. The park would also have a new mini park and playground for the neighborhood.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District has offered to pay for the revamp of the park in exchange for being able to use it as part of its Permanente Creek flood protection plan, a project that has barely stayed within its $40 million budget so far. The project aims to protect over 1,600 properties north of El Camino Real in the event of a rare, 100-year flood of Permanente Creek. A so-called 100-year flood is a severe flood that has a 1 percent chance of happening every year.

Similar basins proposed for Blach Middle School and Cuesta Annex have been cut from the Water District's proposal, leaving McKelvey and a basin at Rancho San Antonio.

Thompson and Bhat say the design of the parking lot for the mini-park next to the ball-fields also remains a source of complaints from neighbors. They want to remove a second turn-around for cars next to the new neighborhood mini-park in order to increase the size of that section of the park.

"It puts this drop-off area there in which basically cars would drive into the driveway and immediately drop off the kids where the playground is. We are concerned with not only safety issues but a really big waste of space."

The meeting is set for the evening of Dec. 11 at City Hall, 500 Castro Street. See for a council agenda to be posted on Dec. 6.


Like this comment
Posted by Downstream
a resident of Rex Manor
on Dec 5, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Once again, we see selfish NIMBYism opposing something that's good for a larger community. How much noise do you get from a Little League field? And the kids are only there during the day. I also don't like to see trees removed, but new trees will grow back. Basically, these people don't give a damn if their downstream neighbors get flooded out. As long as their own little lives are not inconvenienced.

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Posted by NW Resident
a resident of North Whisman
on Dec 5, 2012 at 3:15 pm

One minor inaccuracy of the article is that only Big McKelvey's field orientation is being rotated in this design, compared with its current layout today. Little McKelvey keeps its current orientation, facing Miramonte Ave.

Whichever way the big field ultimately faces, it seems that one row of bleachers will still have to be on the MV Avenue side near the residents, unless it's rotated so that home plate is near Miramonte, which doesn't seem like a very good fit.

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Posted by Julia
a resident of The Crossings
on Dec 5, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Sucks that they want to remove large established redwoods.

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Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2012 at 4:07 pm

It seems to me that the Santa Clara Valley Water District has a lot of money and wants to dig somewhere. Now that they have abandoned plans to dig up Cuesta Park Annex, they need another playground. How about letting them go out to the salt ponds and play there?

Like this comment
Posted by Anna S.
a resident of Rex Manor
on Dec 5, 2012 at 8:38 pm

Keep the redwoods.

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Posted by Saejin
a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 6, 2012 at 12:36 am

At the meeting the water district said it would cost 80 Million to update Permanente Creek so that it could carry the 100 year flood and they were only given 40 Million, so they elected to build the retention pond. Keep in mind the park will be badly damaged each time they flood it. The retention approach only handles a short term peak, beyond which it does not fix the problem. Clearly a bandaid not a fix.
Complete waste of money.

This park will have lights. It will have loud speakers announcing each batter up. If I lived next door I would take the city to court to block this design. A large portion of the park is being used for parking lot without a single tree for shade. Why not put the parking next to the houses? Beter yet.... fix the creek... leave the park alone....

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Posted by please be nice to one another
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Dec 6, 2012 at 3:50 am

I wanted to point out the report by the water district, which has the areas of former and projected flooding well laid out - Figure 4-1 in this doc:

Web Link

All the other reports etc. are available here (it is amazing to which level of detail things have been planned; one has to wonder how governments can get anything done):
Web Link

While the plans aren't perfect, and probably cannot be, one should consider the benefits that this project brings to the area, and if you look closely at the map, actually including the houses next to the park. Without protection, they will probably get flooded sooner or later.

Hopefully some compromise can be found with respect to how McKelvey park should be upgraded with the new flood protection feature. Shrinking the big field just a tad so it can be rotated and provide some space for trees to fit in, or doing away with one of the circles would seem sensible, perhaps. It would seem that kids can easily walk from either circle to the fields or the park, and the circles use valuable space (including perhaps, the right one might make rotation of the big field harder?).

By the way, one funny thing. If you look at this from a satellite picture, the area that's immediately south of it ... is yet another baseball field. One kinda does wonder how many baseball fields are needed on such a short stretch. But please ... lawsuits seem like a pretty inefficient way to find a solution / improvement. Thanks for being considerate!

Like this comment
Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 6, 2012 at 2:43 pm

$10 million to plan for a storm that has a 1% chance of happening each year?

And how did Mountain View buy for the last 100 years without this flood basin?

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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2012 at 4:20 pm

The time we get any flood project work done, the 100 year would have happened already.

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Posted by Cynthia Riordan
a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2012 at 8:59 pm

The water district's flood projections are exaggerated by 200%. Although they have been collecting data on water levels for decades, they have not used this data in their flood projections because the data does not show a need for flood basins. A large 2 acre pond in Rancho San Antonio has been handling Permanente Creek overflow since the 1950's. Permanente Creek has not flooded since the culvert behind Blach School was built in 1959.

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Posted by information
a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2012 at 11:03 pm

Dear Cynthia, your assertions seem incorrect. Since 1959, the creek has flooded at least three times (1983, 1995, 1998). See Fig. 31, "Recent Flooding":
Web Link

Can you please explain where your 200% number comes from? If you have done research that is more thorough than what's in the study done by the district, please elaborate and link to it.

Like this comment
Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 7, 2012 at 9:45 am

"This park will have lights. It will have loud speakers announcing each batter up. If I lived next door I would take the city to court to block this design."

The baseball park already has these amenities. If you move near a park, school , or a baseball field you should expect noise.

Like this comment
Posted by Ralph
a resident of another community
on Dec 7, 2012 at 10:12 am

This is needed because of global warming and raising sea levels will soon cause Mountain View to be under water. So unless you all want to live under water you better give in to this. Live in fear of global warming and give hundreds of billions to the UN so they will save all of us.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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