News

Council backs big El Camino Real plans

City plans for buffered bike lanes, new bus stations and six-story buildings

In a study session Tuesday, council members began finalizing the precise plan that is to guide future development of El Camino Real. Members showed support in a series of straw votes for bike lanes on key portions of El Camino Real and six-story buildings in "village centers" at major intersections, among other things.

With Mayor Chris Clark and vice mayor John McAlister having to recuse themselves because they own property on or near El Camino Real, the remaining five members shaped the draft "precise plan" for the El Camino Real of the future, which is set to be approved by the end of the year. It focuses development at "village centers" where ground floor commercial space would go under housing or offices.

Planners introduced a new feature of the draft plan: buffered bike lanes along El Camino, including a stretch of six-foot wide bike lanes -- with a two to three foot buffer -- from Calderon and Phyllis Avenue all the way to the Sunnyvale border. With no side streets connecting through in that area, planners said the buffered lanes would be key to allowing safer riding on that portion of the El Camino Real corridor. At Calderon Avenue, the buffered bike lanes would connect to a bike boulevard along on Church and Latham streets, which runs parallel to El Camino Real from Calderon Avenue to San Antonio shopping center, where bike commuters find Palo Alto's own El Camino Real-adjacent bike boulevards not too far away.

When the council was asked whether they'd support even more bike lanes on El Camino Real as space became available during redevelopment (council members say too much of the street is now used for parking), the only member vocally opposed was Jac Siegel, who says El Camino Real is too dangerous for bikes. John Inks also voted no, saying the draft plan had specified sufficient bike lanes.

"I am against bicycles on El Camino -- I don't think that should be major path," Siegel said. "I don't know where we'd get space to make improvements like protected lanes all the way through."

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Several resident praised the bike lanes in the plan, along with representatives from the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition and the Greenbelt Alliance. "We like the design guidelines," said Colin Haney of the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition. "It shows that we're really pushing for bike lanes that will accommodate all users."

The plan describes the way a bike boulevard on Church and Latham could look, with "in-street bicycle stencils, vehicle traffic diverters, in-street planters or bollards, meanders, and other techniques to create a bicycle priority street."

The plan also specifies green bike lanes, saying "green colorized pavement" should be used for bike lanes along El Camino Real, and may be used for turn lane boxes at intersections and other "high conflict areas."

Resident Jack Miller called for stronger language in the plan to make sure that the bike infrastructure aren't just "amenities allowed" but are "amenities to be installed."

All five council members passed on implementing "mode shift" car trip reduction goals from developers, such as what is in the works for the North Bayshore area, though car trips will have to be monitored and reported and there are requirements for membership on a transportation management association.

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"We should definitely have a mode shift goal," said resident Jarrett Mullen. "The EPC (environmental planning commission) discussed at length that cumulative impact and actually wanted to do something about it."

Council members struggled with a clear community desire to have affordable housing in the plan, but couldn't find a way to require it from developers, even though it is listed as a top community benefit that would be asked of developers who want build to maximum densities, along with bike and pedestrian amenities, parks and public parking facilities.

A group of residents, along with the SVBC and the Greenbelt Alliance, supported having developers build 25 percent of housing projects on EL Camino Real as affordable housing. The city's inclusionary zoning requires 10 percent of rental and ownership housing be below market rate unless in-lieu fees are paid, but court decisions have made that requirement unenforceable for the rental housing that is favored by developers on El Camino Real.

"If we put a 25 percent requirement there, nobody is going to build it," said council member Jac Siegel.

Planning director Randy Tsuda said that the plan's environmental report projects that 800 units of housing will be built on El Camino Real

"At 10 percent, that's 80 units," Tsuda said. "Look at that over the long term of the precise plan, 10 percent in my view is not that big a number. I don't think you should feel that 10 percent is unattainable."

Buses get attention

Bus station improvements are key feature of the plan, with bus bulb-outs proposed, allowing bus stops to protrude a short distance into the street to allow buses to pick up riders without having to pull over. There would be benches under roofs to protect riders from the weather, Clipper card stations that allow fares to be paid before boarding, and electronic signs with real time bus information.

Resident and transit planner Cliff Chambers called on the council to make sure that bike lanes are separated from the bulb-outs, creating a sort of bus island in the street so bicycles don't have to contend with buses and traffic. Planner Eric Andersen said that would be allowed by the plan, but is not specified in it.

"What the EIR says is over the next 20 years, El Camino is going to get really congested, that's the way it is," said council member Ronit Bryant. "If we don't want to sit in congestion, we can use the train or we can use transit."

Council member Margaret Abe-Koga advocated for dedicated bus lanes to avoid the day when buses will be stuck in traffic too. A majority of the council has opposed it, along with most of the council candidates running this year.

"I think our precise plan goes pretty well in line with the dedicated lane option," Abe-Koga said. "Most people know I've always supported the dedicated lane option because, exactly as Ronit said, El Camino will be congested and we cannot build more lanes on El Camino. Having faster (bus) service that runs every five, maybe 10 minutes, is really the only option at that point. Maybe it will turn into light rail at some point. In San Jose, that's the hope. That's what we have to look at, alternative transportation to cars."

Council member Siegel was the only council member who wanted fewer than six stories as the maximum height at village centers, saying he was concerned about the "canyon effect," echoing concerns of several residents in the area. He also was the minority in supporting a planning commission recommendation for fourth floors to be set back by 5 feet, which Abe-Koga said would cause a "wedding cake effect."

"When you have one-story buildings and six lanes of traffic, I feel completely lost," said Ronit Bryant, defending the six-story limit, adding that she needed taller buildings "to make me feel like I'm in a human environment."

Council member Inks wasn't satisfied with the height and density limits in the plan.

"It doesn't give us the flexibility we need to accommodate growth without impacting other areas of the city," he said.

This story corrects errors in the print version about transportation management requirements and the terminology used for inclusionary zoning.

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Council backs big El Camino Real plans

City plans for buffered bike lanes, new bus stations and six-story buildings

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Fri, Sep 26, 2014, 10:44 am

In a study session Tuesday, council members began finalizing the precise plan that is to guide future development of El Camino Real. Members showed support in a series of straw votes for bike lanes on key portions of El Camino Real and six-story buildings in "village centers" at major intersections, among other things.

With Mayor Chris Clark and vice mayor John McAlister having to recuse themselves because they own property on or near El Camino Real, the remaining five members shaped the draft "precise plan" for the El Camino Real of the future, which is set to be approved by the end of the year. It focuses development at "village centers" where ground floor commercial space would go under housing or offices.

Planners introduced a new feature of the draft plan: buffered bike lanes along El Camino, including a stretch of six-foot wide bike lanes -- with a two to three foot buffer -- from Calderon and Phyllis Avenue all the way to the Sunnyvale border. With no side streets connecting through in that area, planners said the buffered lanes would be key to allowing safer riding on that portion of the El Camino Real corridor. At Calderon Avenue, the buffered bike lanes would connect to a bike boulevard along on Church and Latham streets, which runs parallel to El Camino Real from Calderon Avenue to San Antonio shopping center, where bike commuters find Palo Alto's own El Camino Real-adjacent bike boulevards not too far away.

When the council was asked whether they'd support even more bike lanes on El Camino Real as space became available during redevelopment (council members say too much of the street is now used for parking), the only member vocally opposed was Jac Siegel, who says El Camino Real is too dangerous for bikes. John Inks also voted no, saying the draft plan had specified sufficient bike lanes.

"I am against bicycles on El Camino -- I don't think that should be major path," Siegel said. "I don't know where we'd get space to make improvements like protected lanes all the way through."

Several resident praised the bike lanes in the plan, along with representatives from the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition and the Greenbelt Alliance. "We like the design guidelines," said Colin Haney of the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition. "It shows that we're really pushing for bike lanes that will accommodate all users."

The plan describes the way a bike boulevard on Church and Latham could look, with "in-street bicycle stencils, vehicle traffic diverters, in-street planters or bollards, meanders, and other techniques to create a bicycle priority street."

The plan also specifies green bike lanes, saying "green colorized pavement" should be used for bike lanes along El Camino Real, and may be used for turn lane boxes at intersections and other "high conflict areas."

Resident Jack Miller called for stronger language in the plan to make sure that the bike infrastructure aren't just "amenities allowed" but are "amenities to be installed."

All five council members passed on implementing "mode shift" car trip reduction goals from developers, such as what is in the works for the North Bayshore area, though car trips will have to be monitored and reported and there are requirements for membership on a transportation management association.

"We should definitely have a mode shift goal," said resident Jarrett Mullen. "The EPC (environmental planning commission) discussed at length that cumulative impact and actually wanted to do something about it."

Council members struggled with a clear community desire to have affordable housing in the plan, but couldn't find a way to require it from developers, even though it is listed as a top community benefit that would be asked of developers who want build to maximum densities, along with bike and pedestrian amenities, parks and public parking facilities.

A group of residents, along with the SVBC and the Greenbelt Alliance, supported having developers build 25 percent of housing projects on EL Camino Real as affordable housing. The city's inclusionary zoning requires 10 percent of rental and ownership housing be below market rate unless in-lieu fees are paid, but court decisions have made that requirement unenforceable for the rental housing that is favored by developers on El Camino Real.

"If we put a 25 percent requirement there, nobody is going to build it," said council member Jac Siegel.

Planning director Randy Tsuda said that the plan's environmental report projects that 800 units of housing will be built on El Camino Real

"At 10 percent, that's 80 units," Tsuda said. "Look at that over the long term of the precise plan, 10 percent in my view is not that big a number. I don't think you should feel that 10 percent is unattainable."

Buses get attention

Bus station improvements are key feature of the plan, with bus bulb-outs proposed, allowing bus stops to protrude a short distance into the street to allow buses to pick up riders without having to pull over. There would be benches under roofs to protect riders from the weather, Clipper card stations that allow fares to be paid before boarding, and electronic signs with real time bus information.

Resident and transit planner Cliff Chambers called on the council to make sure that bike lanes are separated from the bulb-outs, creating a sort of bus island in the street so bicycles don't have to contend with buses and traffic. Planner Eric Andersen said that would be allowed by the plan, but is not specified in it.

"What the EIR says is over the next 20 years, El Camino is going to get really congested, that's the way it is," said council member Ronit Bryant. "If we don't want to sit in congestion, we can use the train or we can use transit."

Council member Margaret Abe-Koga advocated for dedicated bus lanes to avoid the day when buses will be stuck in traffic too. A majority of the council has opposed it, along with most of the council candidates running this year.

"I think our precise plan goes pretty well in line with the dedicated lane option," Abe-Koga said. "Most people know I've always supported the dedicated lane option because, exactly as Ronit said, El Camino will be congested and we cannot build more lanes on El Camino. Having faster (bus) service that runs every five, maybe 10 minutes, is really the only option at that point. Maybe it will turn into light rail at some point. In San Jose, that's the hope. That's what we have to look at, alternative transportation to cars."

Council member Siegel was the only council member who wanted fewer than six stories as the maximum height at village centers, saying he was concerned about the "canyon effect," echoing concerns of several residents in the area. He also was the minority in supporting a planning commission recommendation for fourth floors to be set back by 5 feet, which Abe-Koga said would cause a "wedding cake effect."

"When you have one-story buildings and six lanes of traffic, I feel completely lost," said Ronit Bryant, defending the six-story limit, adding that she needed taller buildings "to make me feel like I'm in a human environment."

Council member Inks wasn't satisfied with the height and density limits in the plan.

"It doesn't give us the flexibility we need to accommodate growth without impacting other areas of the city," he said.

This story corrects errors in the print version about transportation management requirements and the terminology used for inclusionary zoning.

Comments

Konrad M. Sosnow
Cuesta Park
on Sep 26, 2014 at 2:45 pm
Konrad M. Sosnow, Cuesta Park
on Sep 26, 2014 at 2:45 pm
14 people like this

Daniel DeBolt again overlooked those of us who spoke against 6 story buildings.

I am concerned that the plan has too much housing.

The height limits are excessive, and will impact the Quality of Life for adjacent residential neighborhoods, and will have the effect of creating ECR Gulch


ECR is a state highway.
Most Mountain View workers do not work in Mountain View but commute.
Many of us take ECR to route 237 in order to get to North San Jose, Santa Clara, Milpitas, Fremont, etc.
Many of us take ECR to I-85 in order to get to Cupertino, Campbell, Saratoga, etc.
Many of us take ECR to get to Palo Alto.

ECR is already very congested from early morning until the late evening.
Adding thousands of additional residences will add to traffic.

I know that it has been said that the additional residents can take the 22 bus to work.
Remember, the jobs along ECR are service businesses like Peets Coffee.
I don't see Baristas affording to live in the luxury apartments currently being built along ECR.

In addition, some new apartments will have optional parking.
That is, a resident can choose not to pay for a parking, and then park in the adjacent neighborhood, perhaps in front of the homes of current residences.
Three stories, or less, is ideal.
Four stories is O.K. in some locations,
but higher is not acceptable.

This plan prioritizes the desires of developers who maximize profits by building tall and dense, and those who do not live in Mountain View but MAY - a big MAY - move here and ignores the Quality of Life of those of us who do live here!


Old guy
Old Mountain View
on Sep 26, 2014 at 2:47 pm
Old guy, Old Mountain View
on Sep 26, 2014 at 2:47 pm
8 people like this

It should turn out great, just like downtown Sunnyvale.......


Glenn Meier
Blossom Valley
on Sep 26, 2014 at 3:02 pm
Glenn Meier, Blossom Valley
on Sep 26, 2014 at 3:02 pm
9 people like this

I agree with Konrad Sosnow's comment above. I also wonder about the bus bulbouts so the buses don't need to pull over. What happens to the cars driving in this lane behind the buses? They will need to stop or switch lanes. I visualize terrific traffic tieups as well as additional fender bender accidents when people change lanes. Of course the additional congestion will please some of the council members quoted in the article who almost called for more congestion.


Janet Lafleur
Registered user
Rex Manor
on Sep 26, 2014 at 3:14 pm
Janet Lafleur, Rex Manor
Registered user
on Sep 26, 2014 at 3:14 pm
3 people like this

@Konrad, While the new housing on El Camino is likely to be too expensive for people working retail jobs, there are plenty of higher paying employers in the El Camino corridor, like Palantir and Stanford University in Palo Alto, tech companies in downtown Mountain View, and PAMF in MV and PA.

In addition, El Camino is about 3-4 miles from Google in N Bayshore, a 20-25 minute bike ride, and 1/2 to 3 miles from the MV Caltrain station with bullet service.

As for those retail workers, many live in older apartments along the El Camino corridor between San Jose and Redwood City. The fact that the VTA 22 has 24 hour service with 15 minute headways means they can get home on the bus quicker even at 10pm.


Old guy
Cuernavaca
on Sep 26, 2014 at 4:24 pm
Old guy, Cuernavaca
on Sep 26, 2014 at 4:24 pm
3 people like this

Perhaps the author of this item, or someone else can provide a web link to the picture and the plan that was "courtesy city of mountain view". While I tried to find it, I gave up after about 15 minutes on the city's web site. I know it's there, I just don't really feel like spending another half hour slowly downloading reports from 2011 while trying to find the latest version. (Google fiber might make it quicker, but that's a different article.)

Thanks!


commuter
Old Mountain View
on Sep 27, 2014 at 10:12 am
commuter, Old Mountain View
on Sep 27, 2014 at 10:12 am
7 people like this

I hope that the city does a better job of keeping this bike lane clear of cars that they do with other bike lanes around the city. I've given up bicycling on Middlefield Road because of cars illegally parked in the bike lane. Merging into high speed traffic to get around the cars is really dangerous. I'd rather bike on the sidewalk than in a bike lane that is clogged with parked cars.


builders-wonderland-MV
another community
on Sep 27, 2014 at 11:52 am
builders-wonderland-MV, another community
on Sep 27, 2014 at 11:52 am
10 people like this


Mountain View...
Keep building apartments and fill them with residents.
Encourage the new residents to keep electing city council members
that will support building more apartments.

Builders are finding that MV is the builders paradise.
Traffic congestion and gridlock? Who cares?
The long term livability of Mountain View? Who cares?

The one thing that is even more annoying is that there
is absolutely no setback from the roads when these
new buildings go up.
Dilapidated 1 to 2 story buildings are far more appealing
than these new multistory glass and concrete buildings
hitting your face while driving through these roads.

San Antonio phase-1 ... these 330 apartments... where
is the aesthetics? MV residents and visitors not only
have to sit in the traffic, but they have to stare at
these new glass and concrete devoid of any aesthetics while
sitting in that traffic.

Why would any city want to self-destruct with this type
of "development"? MV city council needs to stop adding any
more jobs to this already congested city.


CopperC
Cuesta Park
on Sep 27, 2014 at 1:12 pm
CopperC, Cuesta Park
on Sep 27, 2014 at 1:12 pm
7 people like this

Bulb outs will slow traffic. Get the busses out of travel lanes while stopped. Bays, not bulb-outs.


concerned
Waverly Park
on Sep 28, 2014 at 1:01 pm
concerned, Waverly Park
on Sep 28, 2014 at 1:01 pm
9 people like this

And more growth (mini-towns this time) when we are out of water. Yes, I know, the drought might end, and not come back for another 10 years, when we will need 40% rationing, unless we fix the infrastructure now.


Deb
Sylvan Park
on Sep 29, 2014 at 7:03 am
Deb, Sylvan Park
on Sep 29, 2014 at 7:03 am
9 people like this

Six story apartment building lining El Camino... Guess the "View" of Mountain View will only be enjoyed by the folks that can afford the 3-4K that the rentals will go for. Most service people and retail people will have to leave town as the older buildings get torn down and "renovated" so that all landlords can get in on the gold mine. Doesn't matter Sunnyvale will be happy to take the tax revenue - money from people who have to buy goods since lines will be unbearable at most fast food and retail establishments left in Mountain View. Just check out the pharmacy line at Walgreens any time of day, it is what you get to look forward to


Voter
Willowgate
on Sep 29, 2014 at 8:33 am
Voter, Willowgate
on Sep 29, 2014 at 8:33 am
8 people like this

This city council has been extremely developer-friendly. They will be leaving behind a legacy of ill-advised overbuilding and congestion. I'm sure that they had some pictures from the planning dept. showing a lovely "Grand Boulevard," but the reality is going to be awful if they go ahead with the 6-story buildings lining El Camino.

There's an election coming up, and a number of candidate forums are scheduled. Listen carefully and read between the lines when they discuss development. Be careful who you vote for!


Randi
another community
on Sep 29, 2014 at 10:27 am
Randi, another community
on Sep 29, 2014 at 10:27 am
4 people like this

Please - it's El Camino - NOT The El Camino. The El Camino is redundant - El means the.


Jarrett M
Rengstorff Park
on Sep 29, 2014 at 10:28 am
Jarrett M, Rengstorff Park
on Sep 29, 2014 at 10:28 am
3 people like this

@CopperC

The bus bulbs will help improve transit service and the ride quality for transit patrons. It will also improve the sidewalks because there will be a larger boarding area with shelters, refuse bins, etc, that won't block the sidewalk. If you're driving, you can use one of the two other lanes to get around the bus. It's a small sacrifice for drivers that will pay big dividends to VTA's most frequent and heavily used line- the 22/522.


MVResident67
Cuesta Park
on Sep 29, 2014 at 10:41 am
MVResident67, Cuesta Park
on Sep 29, 2014 at 10:41 am
14 people like this

Anyone who has been driving El Camino Real during the current wave of construction knows all too well how horribly backed up the road becomes when one lane (usually the right lane) of ECR is blocked/closed because of the construction. The impact on the other two lanes of traffic is significant and occurs multiple times daily. Often times these lanes blockages make what should be a 10 minute drive up ECR into a 14+ minute drive. If that's what is in store for drivers by design, well then, good job on implementing another "tool" to make driving a state highway and major arterial route more unpleasant. Oh wait, that's the goal, right...to make driving so unpleasant as to "force" people to find other routes or other modes of transportation?

Kudos.


Konrad M Sosnow
Cuesta Park
on Sep 29, 2014 at 2:36 pm
Konrad M Sosnow, Cuesta Park
on Sep 29, 2014 at 2:36 pm
10 people like this

@Jarrett M,

The bus bulbs will be great for the VTA and bus riders.
However, they will effectively reduce ECR to two lanes, forcing traffic onto sde streets in residential communities.


Konrad M Sosnow
Cuesta Park
on Sep 29, 2014 at 2:42 pm
Konrad M Sosnow, Cuesta Park
on Sep 29, 2014 at 2:42 pm
8 people like this

@Janet Lafleur,

Drivers, like myself, who drive to North San Jose, Santa Clara, Milpitas, Fremont, Palo Alto,Cupertino, Campbell, Saratoga, etc., which are NOT bicycle accessible due to time and distance, and NOT VTA accessible due to time and distance,are being srewed to benefit the VTA, a few 22 Bus riders, and a few bicyclists.

The bicyclists and the VTA are trying to force us out of Mountain View!


Voter
Willowgate
on Sep 30, 2014 at 12:04 pm
Voter, Willowgate
on Sep 30, 2014 at 12:04 pm
10 people like this

@MVResident67 - You wrote, "Oh wait, that's the goal, right...to make driving so unpleasant as to "force" people to find other routes or other modes of transportation?"

You are right about that, and it's not just hyperbole.

Planning and Council have never come right out and admitted it, but their actions make this policy very clear: road diets, putting inadequate parking into new developments on the theory that it will discourage car ownership by tenants, and in the case of North Bayshore (Shoreline Blvd.), as well as El Camino, "prioritizing" bike and public transit at the expense of autos.

This is sadly misguided thinking. These actions will worsen congestion, not improve it. We should be able to encourage bike, ped, and public transit without intentionally making car use a miserable experience.


Voter
Willowgate
on Sep 30, 2014 at 12:04 pm
Voter, Willowgate
on Sep 30, 2014 at 12:04 pm
5 people like this

@MVResident67 - You wrote, "Oh wait, that's the goal, right...to make driving so unpleasant as to "force" people to find other routes or other modes of transportation?"

You are right about that, and it's not just hyperbole.

Planning and Council have never come right out and admitted it, but their actions make this policy very clear: road diets, putting inadequate parking into new developments on the theory that it will discourage car ownership by tenants, and in the case of North Bayshore (Shoreline Blvd.), as well as El Camino, "prioritizing" bike and public transit at the expense of autos.

This is sadly misguided thinking. These actions will worsen congestion, not improve it. We should be able to encourage bike, ped, and public transit without intentionally making car use a miserable experience.


Konrad M Sosnow
Cuesta Park
on Sep 30, 2014 at 1:54 pm
Konrad M Sosnow, Cuesta Park
on Sep 30, 2014 at 1:54 pm
7 people like this

@Voter,

Yes, we should be able to encourage bike, ped, and public transit without intentionally making car use a miserable experience.

The majority of our City Council like to penalize those of us who drive cars.


KH
Sylvan Park
on Oct 1, 2014 at 2:56 pm
KH, Sylvan Park
on Oct 1, 2014 at 2:56 pm
5 people like this

As soon as the opportunity presents itself, plan to move out of here, never in my life did I think I would say that, but hate the direction the City is taking, developers are their constituents, not us.

Regarding Ms LaFleur's solution for retail workers who will lose their housing.. "The fact that the VTA 22 has 24 hour service with 15 minute headways means they can get home on the bus quicker even at 10pm" Quicker than what? I assume your solution is moving all of these low income workers out to East San Jose, in which case a commute from Showers Drive to Eastridge Transit center will require nearly 2 hours on the bus each way. If we lived in a real city it would be FASTER to use public transit, here the 22 is used only by folks who cannot afford a car or homeless people looking for a place to sleep. It is nearly empty most of the time. Web Link


I how magooo
Castro City
on Oct 1, 2014 at 4:17 pm
I how magooo, Castro City
on Oct 1, 2014 at 4:17 pm
5 people like this

I hope the city does a better job of getting rid of bicyclists


OMV Resident
Old Mountain View
on Oct 1, 2014 at 4:35 pm
OMV Resident, Old Mountain View
on Oct 1, 2014 at 4:35 pm
3 people like this

@KH...
So many exaggerated/strained arguments here, hard to know where to begin.

"Regarding Ms LaFleur's solution for retail workers who will lose their housing.."
Where does Ms. LaFleur's comment address retail workers who are losing their housing? She is talking about retail workers who cannot afford to live in the new housing developments being built - none of which are displacing any significant numbers of existing housing units. It is true that lower-wage workers are being priced out of Mountain View, and that is a shame - but that is because of the huge amount of office growth that is being approved, not because of new residential developments which add to the housing supply.

"...in which case a commute from Showers Drive to Eastridge Transit center will require nearly 2 hours on the bus each way" First of all, the trip on the 22 from Showers to Eastridge around 10pm on a weekday takes just over 1 hr, 20 minutes - far short of the 2 hours you claim (Do you always consider being off by 50% (80 vs. 120 min) to be part of making a reasoned argument?). Second, Ms. LaFleur made the point that there are plenty of older, lower-cost apartments along the El Camino corridor between Redwood City and San Jose. Most of those - for instance, in Santa Clara or just east of downtown San Jose - are a far shorter ride on the 22. Picking Eastridge is cherry-picking about the worst-case scenario.


Janet Lafleur
Registered user
Rex Manor
on Oct 2, 2014 at 4:53 pm
Janet Lafleur, Rex Manor
Registered user
on Oct 2, 2014 at 4:53 pm
3 people like this

@Konrad How is having a road with four lanes open to cars equate to you being forced out of Mountain View? You're acting like we're trying to ban cars from El Camino.

What we're trying to do is (a) give the people who take the bus a time advantage in return for not having door-to-door service like they do in a car and (b) make it possible for everyday people, not just hardcore cyclists, ride a bike comfortably to get to destinations like homes, jobs and stores on El Camino.


concerned
Waverly Park
on Oct 2, 2014 at 5:02 pm
concerned, Waverly Park
on Oct 2, 2014 at 5:02 pm
12 people like this

@Lafleur The problem is that we currently have six lanes open to cars, and we still have backups. Obviously, dropping to four is not going to make that better. I think the city's hope is that mass transit/bikes would lower that traffic, but that really isn't likely - origination and destination points are just too distributed, and both stretch outside MV. Then factor in the plan to increase offices and housing, and unless there is something in one contract or the other that the resident has to work in that facility, it's not getting better...


Linda Curtis
Cuesta Park
on Oct 2, 2014 at 6:33 pm
Linda Curtis, Cuesta Park
on Oct 2, 2014 at 6:33 pm
4 people like this

@Janet Lafleur-

"As for those retail workers, many live in older apartments along the El Camino corridor between San Jose and Redwood City. The fact that the VTA 22 has 24 hour service with 15 minute headways means they can get home on the bus quicker even at 10pm." Yeah like a whopping ten minutes faster from SJ to MV (not worth it), until their homes are sold out from under them:

You talk about people living in older housing that will use the buses, I guess because they are poor. But building high along ECR increases the property values so greatly that the older stuff, like apts., the mobile home park, and somewhat run down houses, etc., that are old enough to be priced lower, will be sold for great money, and all these folks you envision riding the buses will be having to move out of the area.


Konrad M. Sosnow
Cuesta Park
on Oct 2, 2014 at 9:25 pm
Konrad M. Sosnow, Cuesta Park
on Oct 2, 2014 at 9:25 pm
7 people like this

@Janet Lafleur,

It is simple arithmetic. Reducing 6 lanes to 4 will increase the traffic density of the renaming 4 lanes by 50%.

Traffic already backs up many hours of the day and evening. Adding a couple of thousand additional residences along ECR will only make it worse.

What will happen is that traffic will go onto side streets.

A question for you? How many bus riders vs. car occupants use ECR each day?
Answer - a whole lot more.
We will be put to graet inconvenience for a relatively few bus riders.

If we took buses off of ECR, traffic would flow much better!





Konrad M. Sppsnow
Cuesta Park
on Oct 2, 2014 at 9:27 pm
Konrad M. Sppsnow, Cuesta Park
on Oct 2, 2014 at 9:27 pm
3 people like this

I meant - Answer - a whole lot more car occupants than bus riders!


Janet Lafleur
Rex Manor
on Oct 2, 2014 at 10:02 pm
Janet Lafleur, Rex Manor
on Oct 2, 2014 at 10:02 pm
5 people like this

@Konrad I care more about how many *people* can travel on El Camino, not how many cars. Right now we have two lanes dedicated to parking. That's no people. Then we have six lanes of traffic which is predominantly single person per vehicle, with no time-saving incentives for people who take transit and therefore use a fraction of the space of a person in a car.

Prioritizing cars over forms of travel that are more space-efficient is the worst thing we can do at a time where we have to accommodate more people. Especially when younger residents are less interested in driving than their parents and more inclined to take transit, ride bikes or walk.


Konrad M. Sosnow
Cuesta Park
on Oct 2, 2014 at 10:18 pm
Konrad M. Sosnow, Cuesta Park
on Oct 2, 2014 at 10:18 pm
5 people like this

@Janet Lafleur,

You may have noticed that the 22 bus goes up and down ECR.
The 22 bus is great if you are going between any two points along ECR.

I, and many others, don't live along ECR. We have a long walk to the bus.
I, and many others, go to North San Jose, Milpitas, Fremont, Pleasanton, Cupertino, Saratoga, Alameda, Berkeley, etc.

Yesterday, I went to Monterey by car and returned in the afternoon. By bus it would have not been possible.

Tomorrow night I am going to a meeting in Berkeley. I couldn't get home by bedtime by bus.

Saturday, I am going to Sausalito and will return by dinnertime. That trip would not be possible by bus.

I can't take clients to lunch via the bus.




Janet Lafleur
Rex Manor
on Oct 2, 2014 at 10:39 pm
Janet Lafleur, Rex Manor
on Oct 2, 2014 at 10:39 pm
3 people like this

@Konrad No one is taking away your ability to drive. For the trips you described a car is the right option. But most people don't have jobs with that variety of destinations and long ranges. I know that for my tech job in North San Jose I only need to drive to work once every few months.

As for whether I know where the VTA 22 goes, yes I do because I have actually ridden it, even though I live almost two miles from El Camino. Based on your comments about the 801 El Camino project I assume live much closer to El Camino. Have you ever ridden the VTA 22? Surely you must occasionally have need to shop, dine or got to a destination on El Camino outside of your work obligations.


Janet Lafleur
Rex Manor
on Oct 2, 2014 at 10:39 pm
Janet Lafleur, Rex Manor
on Oct 2, 2014 at 10:39 pm
3 people like this

@Konrad No one is taking away your ability to drive. For the trips you described a car is the right option. But most people don't have jobs with that variety of destinations and long ranges. I know that for my tech job in North San Jose I only need to drive to work once every few months.

As for whether I know where the VTA 22 goes, yes I do because I have actually ridden it, even though I live almost two miles from El Camino. Based on your comments about the 801 El Camino project I assume live much closer to El Camino. Have you ever ridden the VTA 22? Surely you must occasionally have need to shop, dine or got to a destination on El Camino outside of your work obligations.


Voter
Willowgate
on Oct 2, 2014 at 11:50 pm
Voter, Willowgate
on Oct 2, 2014 at 11:50 pm
7 people like this

@Janet LeFleur - You wrote, "Prioritizing cars over forms of travel that are more space-efficient is the worst thing we can do at a time where we have to accommodate more people."

I know that forcing the population out of cars is like a religion to some people. Other people, unkindly perhaps, call this "social engineering". The reality, however, is that vastly more people use autos than use public transit or bikes. There are reasons for this. Right or wrong, that's not going to change any time soon.

You wrote, "Konrad No one is taking away your ability to drive. For the trips you described a car is the right option. But most people don't have jobs with that variety of destinations and long ranges."

Closing lanes to "prioritize" bus use over auto use would indeed be taking away our ability to drive, when it will predictably cause gridlock. Public transit just cannot serve enough destinations; that's why the number of riders is so much smaller than the number of people using autos.

You wrote, "Especially when younger residents are less interested in driving than their parents and more inclined to take transit, ride bikes or walk."

I've heard this line a lot lately, from developers who don't want to include adequate parking in new projects, and from "true believers" who want to make auto use so miserable an experience that we will all ride bikes to work. I don't buy it. Most of these kids will grow up and want cars. It's just a delusion to believe that a whole generation will convert to the point where we can reduce ECR lanes by 50% and not create gridlock.

We should be able to encourage bike, ped, and public transit without intentionally making car use a miserable experience.


Smart Voter
Old Mountain View
on Oct 3, 2014 at 1:09 am
Smart Voter, Old Mountain View
on Oct 3, 2014 at 1:09 am
4 people like this

@Voter, you wrote, "We should be able to encourage bike, ped, and public transit without intentionally making car use a miserable experience."

With increasing traffic, the buses take longer and longer, schedules get fouled up so connections to other buses or other transit options fail. That results in an extremely hard life for people that rely on public transportation. Equally as importantly, it negatively impacts ridership.

So, how would you encourage the use of buses when it could take 1/2 day to get somewhere (missed connection scenario)? Let's hear your ideas!

I think many people take their cars places, when a public transit option could work. Many people are used to cars and not used to transit. Unfortunately, there is a cart & the horse problem. People won't take public transit unless it goes everywhere, available often and works pretty flawlessly. So, ridership is down, which impacts budgets to service existing routes and makes it difficult to justify funding for expansion. With limited schedules, connections are more difficult, people get frustrated at having to wait longer, so ridership goes down... And around it around it goes....

So, again, what would you do to encourage ridership? The idea that is being implemented is to dedicate some roadway to buses to protect schedules, but I guess you don't like that. Idea? Anything?


concerned
Waverly Park
on Oct 3, 2014 at 6:31 am
concerned, Waverly Park
on Oct 3, 2014 at 6:31 am
3 people like this

Was over at San Antonio Square last night. Still lots of first floor retail space for lease. Makes me wonder as all this new development builds mixed retail/housing at the El Camino Real intersections, if a year after completion, all of that new retail space will also be vacant.


rainbow38
Sylvan Park
on Oct 3, 2014 at 7:38 am
rainbow38, Sylvan Park
on Oct 3, 2014 at 7:38 am
8 people like this

Many people, such as myself, go to multiple places in different locations during a day. The only way this can be done in the shortest possible time is by using a car. Carrying purchases from one location to another using public transportation can be quite challenging but is easily done with a car. And some people need their cars to get around at and/or for work.

Narrowing El Camino by reducing lanes, bulb-outs, etc. in Mountain View is a really bad idea given that two freeways, 237 and 85, have entrances/exits on El Camino.

Proponents of reduced car use should give up all use of their cars for about 6 months and experience how this works for them and their families. No exceptions. I think few would find this doable.


Worried
Gemello
on Oct 3, 2014 at 9:51 am
Worried, Gemello
on Oct 3, 2014 at 9:51 am
5 people like this

Six story Building next to our homes! What is council thinking? Was Mike Kasperzak there? Does anyone know if he vote to allow this kind of thing in our neighborhood?


Voter
Willowgate
on Oct 3, 2014 at 11:33 am
Voter, Willowgate
on Oct 3, 2014 at 11:33 am
9 people like this

@"Smart Voter" - Thanks for your question about how to increase ridership. As you said,

"Unfortunately, there is a cart & the horse problem. People won't take public transit unless it goes everywhere, available often and works pretty flawlessly. So, ridership is down, which impacts budgets to service existing routes and makes it difficult to justify funding for expansion. With limited schedules, connections are more difficult, people get frustrated at having to wait longer, so ridership goes down... And around it around it goes...."

You are right about this, although to say "People won't take public transit unless it goes everywhere, available often and works pretty flawlessly" is hyperbole. It's not so black and white. Improvement can be incremental. If service improves, more people will ride. It doesn't have to "go everywhere" or work "flawlessly."

The first step in addressing congestion is to avoid policies that will only make things worse. That was the main point of my post. Fortunately, the council does not favor closing lanes on ECR. I don't think bulb-outs are such a great idea. I see the right lane getting stalled repeatedly by stopping buses, with drivers behind the buses trying to cut into the lane to their left. What a mess.

Good ideas? Re ECR, putting bike traffic on parallel streets is one. Generally, creating bike lanes where they will not conflict with traffic. Free citywide shuttles; I'm looking forward to that. Improving VTA service is obviously necessary, although that's easier said than done. As you said, the money has to come from somewhere, and raising fares only discourages ridership.

On the more controversial side, I'd like to see an absolute freeze on new office space, and I'd like to see only a moderate, careful increase in housing, preferably weighted towards ownership rather than more of those "luxury" apartments. I think 6-story buildings on ECR are a poor idea, that will exacerbate congestion.

There is no one, magic solution to our congestion problem. But a good start is to avoid making things worse for the vast majority of road users, who use autos for unavoidable reasons.


Konrad M. sosnow
Cuesta Park
on Oct 3, 2014 at 1:59 pm
Konrad M. sosnow, Cuesta Park
on Oct 3, 2014 at 1:59 pm
7 people like this

@Worried,

When we told City Council that we wanted a 3 story, not a 4 story apartment complex at 801 ECR. Mike Kasperzak said that we were lucky it wasn't 8 stories, which is allowed.

Mike's motto is build ,build build to the sky. Cover every square inch of Mountain View with tall, high-density, residences. Double the residential units and the population


BTW, Lenny Siegel,Greg Unangst, and Ken Rosenberg are in that camp.


builders-wonderland-MV
another community
on Oct 3, 2014 at 2:47 pm
builders-wonderland-MV, another community
on Oct 3, 2014 at 2:47 pm
3 people like this


Mountain View...
Keep building apartments and fill them with residents.
Encourage the new residents to keep electing city council members
that will support building more apartments.

Builders are finding that MV is the builders paradise.
Traffic congestion and gridlock? Who cares?
The long term livability of Mountain View? Who cares?

The one thing that is even more annoying is that there
is absolutely no setback from the roads when these
new buildings go up.
Dilapidated 1 to 2 story buildings are far more appealing
than these new multistory glass and concrete buildings
hitting your face while driving through these roads.

San Antonio phase-1 ... these 330 apartments... where
is the aesthetics? MV residents and visitors not only
have to sit in the traffic, but they have to stare at
these new glass and concrete devoid of any aesthetics while
sitting in that traffic.

Why would any city want to self-destruct with this type
of "development"? MV city council needs to stop adding any
more jobs to this already congested city.

Drowning in traffic, pollution, new apartment buildings with
no aesthetics, over-crowding, etc. etc. Welcome to MV,
the developer's paradise!


OMV Resident
Old Mountain View
on Oct 3, 2014 at 2:55 pm
OMV Resident, Old Mountain View
on Oct 3, 2014 at 2:55 pm
4 people like this

@Voter - "It's just a delusion to believe that a whole generation will convert to the point where we can reduce ECR lanes by 50% and not create gridlock."

No one is proposing to reduce ECR lanes by 50%. The rapid bus proposal would convert 2 of the 6 lanes to bus-only, a reduction of 33% in the number of lanes available to autos.


Konrad M. Sosnow
Cuesta Park
on Oct 3, 2014 at 3:08 pm
Konrad M. Sosnow, Cuesta Park
on Oct 3, 2014 at 3:08 pm
5 people like this

@OMV Resident,

If you now have 3 lanes with 2 cars in each lane (6 cars total), and take away 1 lane, you then have 2 lanes with 3 cars in each.

The increase in traffic in each of the remaining 2 lanes is (3-2)/2 = 50%.


Voter
Willowgate
on Oct 3, 2014 at 3:28 pm
Voter, Willowgate
on Oct 3, 2014 at 3:28 pm
7 people like this

@OMV Resident - Please let me rephrase:

"...younger residents are less interested in driving than their parents and more inclined to take transit, ride bikes or walk."

I've heard this line a lot lately, from developers who don't want to include adequate parking in new projects, and from "true believers" who want to make auto use so miserable an experience that we will all ride bikes to work. I don't buy it. Most of these kids will grow up and want cars. It's just a delusion to believe that a whole generation will convert to the point where we can reduce ECR lanes by 33% and not create gridlock.


Janet Lafleur
Registered user
Rex Manor
on Oct 3, 2014 at 4:06 pm
Janet Lafleur, Rex Manor
Registered user
on Oct 3, 2014 at 4:06 pm
5 people like this

"make auto use so miserable an experience that we will all ride bikes to work"

Actually, the reverse is the truth. For the past 60 years cities have put policies in place that make walking, biking and transit such a miserable experience that people will all drive cars: widening roads, requiring big parking lots to cross, raising speed limits, eliminating transit.

It's so bad that people will drive for pathetically short trips, like driving across El Camino from WalMart to Whole Foods, or from Cost Plus to Petco. We're talking driving for a few hundred feet. How is that efficient?

And cars aren't cheap. Does it really make sense that people spend more per month on cars than they do on food? AAA says the average American spends over $8,000 a year on a car. If your family could get by with one car instead of two, think of all the things they could do with an extra $8,000 a year. Like put kids through college.

Why are we all but forcing people to drive by making other options miserable? We need to stop building roads that are so unpleasant to walk across that people drive instead, that are so hostile that few people consider them safe to bike, and stop offering transit that's almost always much slower than driving.


Monkeys behind the wheel
Bailey Park
on Oct 3, 2014 at 4:45 pm
Monkeys behind the wheel, Bailey Park
on Oct 3, 2014 at 4:45 pm
4 people like this

I don't think driving is miserable. I think drivers are. I do drive, but what makes every trip in my car a pain is the selfish behavior of most every driver out there. Wanna make someone speed up? Turn on your signal, they'll cut you right off. Wanna make right turn? someone will ride your bumper as if you were exiting the freeway, not turning 90 degrees.
Stop signs? Yah, I see most bikes roll them, but I see cars roll them all the time as well, not coming to a complete stop probably 90% of the time. The freeway if filled with people trying to get on front of some other person at all costs, endangering everyone so they can be first to sit in traffic at the next major freeway connection.

Driver's attitudes: Address that and we'll resolve a lot of traffic issues.


Konrad M. Sosnow
Cuesta Park
on Oct 3, 2014 at 9:40 pm
Konrad M. Sosnow, Cuesta Park
on Oct 3, 2014 at 9:40 pm
7 people like this

@Janet Lafleur

People are rational, more or less.

If public transit were convenient, comfortable, and clean people would use it.
Why would I want to walk a few blocks in 90 degree heat and wait in 90 degree heat for a bus that doesn't go where I want to go?
I guess that if i were a masochist I would take the bus instead of my air conditioned, comfortable, clean car.


OMV Resident
Old Mountain View
on Oct 4, 2014 at 1:01 am
OMV Resident, Old Mountain View
on Oct 4, 2014 at 1:01 am
4 people like this

@Konrad M. Sosnow - "If public transit were convenient, comfortable, and clean people would use it.
Why would I want to walk a few blocks in 90 degree heat and wait in 90 degree heat for a bus that doesn't go where I want to go? I guess that if i were a masochist I would take the bus instead of my air conditioned, comfortable, clean car."

Ever think about the fact that a substantial portion of the population either cannot drive (are younger than driving age, too old to safely drive, or have a disability that prevents them from driving)? Or that some people cannot afford to own & maintain a car to drive? Your mentality, as expressed above, is essentially "screw 'em". Who cares if El Camino is a craphole now that's awful to walk along, or bike along, or try to cross, or wait for a bus along? As long as I can hop in my air conditioned, comfortable, clean car, why do anything to improve the situation for anyone that doesn't have that option? Let's just perpetuate the cycle. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

And I shouldn't just single out Konrad with this comment... just about all the views expressed in this message board so far (except Janet, of course) amount to about the same thing.


Konrad M. Sosnow
Cuesta Park
on Oct 4, 2014 at 5:25 pm
Konrad M. Sosnow, Cuesta Park
on Oct 4, 2014 at 5:25 pm
5 people like this

@OMV Resident,

You are the tyranny of the minority that want we, the majority, to give up our cars just so you can say "Ha, Ha!"

If you hate cars so much, why don't you move to Venice, Sienna, Zermatt, or Catalina Island and let us, who like to drive, drive in peace!


OMV Resident
Old Mountain View
on Oct 5, 2014 at 12:17 am
OMV Resident, Old Mountain View
on Oct 5, 2014 at 12:17 am
6 people like this

@Konrad M. Sosnow --
The condescending, haughty, knee-jerk tone of your comment above speaks volumes.

Where did I say anything about hating cars? Where did I say anything about asking "the majority" to give up their cars?

This message board is responding to an article about possible improvements to El Camino Real in the future. I simply pointed out that your comments above, any many others on this board, which dismiss and deride any proposals to improve El Camino Real for people using modes other than the car, overlook a substantial portion of the population that either can't drive or can't afford to drive.

I am not anti-car. I drive often in Mountain View, but I am also often a pedestrian and frequently have occasion to walk along or across El Camino Real. Right now, the street is designed in such a way that it gives tremendous preference to automobiles (through sweeping right turns at intersections, many turn lanes, long distances between crossings, etc.) which makes it extremely hostile to people walking, biking or taking the bus. There are ways to improve the street which would only modestly affect drivers but would greatly improve the experience for other users of the road. Rather than mocking and grandstanding to oppose these kinds of improvements, why not be part of the conversation to strike a better balance?


AC
Registered user
another community
on Oct 7, 2014 at 2:29 pm
AC, another community
Registered user
on Oct 7, 2014 at 2:29 pm
8 people like this

I still believe bike paths should be bike boulevards one block off of ECR on either side.

Retail on the ground floor means people shopping. Shopping for stuff means driving your car (especially for families who do weekly shopping excursions), because often those same excursions means getting all your shopping done in one trip (going from store-to-store). Which, by-the-by, is a more responsible and eco-friendly way to shop, rather than making multiple trips with its commensurate carbon footprint.

Which means ECR needs to be kept safe for cars, and people coming out of driveways. You don't want to have blind merges for shoppers entering the roadway.

So as a bike-when-i-can person, I'd prefer to be off the main drag.


Car Lover
Jackson Park
on Oct 7, 2014 at 2:49 pm
Car Lover, Jackson Park
on Oct 7, 2014 at 2:49 pm
4 people like this

ECR should be designed with cars as the priority since it is used to access freeways. Retail does Ok if there is enough parking. Otherwise housing would work on a few of the large underutilized lots ( e.g. Castro and ECR )


Great Auntie
Slater
on Oct 7, 2014 at 3:20 pm
Great Auntie, Slater
on Oct 7, 2014 at 3:20 pm
8 people like this

Trying to make El Camino be all things to all people is unrealistic. It works best for vehicles. We need more bicycle paths, etc., but El Camino shouldn't be one of them. Maneuvering a bike on such a street is dangerous, for the bicyclist and the automobile driver - one or the other is likely to do something the other isn't expecting (legal or otherwise). Add to that pedestrians who now think they can cross any street at any time, it is total chaos and tragedy waiting to happen.


Sparty
Registered user
another community
on Oct 10, 2014 at 12:40 am
Sparty, another community
Registered user
on Oct 10, 2014 at 12:40 am
4 people like this

Someone tell those 350,000 daily BART riders they're supposed to have jobs in the town they live in.


concerned citizen
Old Mountain View
on Oct 11, 2014 at 11:03 pm
concerned citizen, Old Mountain View
on Oct 11, 2014 at 11:03 pm
3 people like this

@Konrad, you wrote:

"When we told City Council that we wanted a 3 story, not a 4 story apartment complex at 801 ECR, Mike Kasperzak said that we were lucky it wasn't 8 stories, which is allowed. Mike's motto is build, build build to the sky. Cover every square inch of Mountain View with tall, high-density, residences... BTW, Lenny Siegel, Greg Unangst, and Ken Rosenberg are in that camp."

You are right about these candidates. I'd add Pat Showalter to the list. I won't be voting for any of them. Lenny Siegel is quite clear about wanting to build housing to the maximum, in an effort to "balance" jobs and housing. I think this is a futile idea, that will only trash the city and enrich developers. He means well, but he's just wrong.

The other candidates mentioned here are not quite as up-front about their positions. You have to listen carefully to the candidate forums. For example, today I got a Rosenberg mailer with a Mahatma Ghandi quote on the front (I'm not kidding!) and some vague platitudes inside ("bringing people together..."). But at the August 27 candidates' forum, he dismissed ECR neighbor's concerns about creating a "concrete canyon" as "fear-based" (Web Link, 1:12:20). In my opinion, residents are right to be concerned - the precise plan envisions six stories in many areas along ECR.

If you want the city developed as densely and quickly as possible, you can vote for these candidates. I'm looking for candidates who will proceed more carefully and responsibly with development. So far, my only definite vote is for Lisa Matichak. In her 5 years at the EPC, Matichak has a record of listening to residents' concerns and standing up to developers when necessary.

I'm still not sure about my other two votes. Mercedes Salem and Jim Neal are looking like strong "maybe's".


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