In our conversation with Nancy Minicucci, Deputy Zoning Administrator in charge of the redevelopment of the Minton properties, I asked her some questions about the density of the project and got some insightful answers. I’m going to reproduce this in question and answer form from memory. My apologies if it is not 100% verbatim, but rest assured that I am doing my best here to accurately reflect the content of the conversation.
NMVNA: I wanted to touch base with you on some of the things that I heard at the meeting with the Prometheus representatives yesterday. Near the end of the meeting, they mentioned that they had met with the council members a year ago, and that they believed that they had a green light to go ahead and explore higher densities in the redevelopment of the Minton properties. You have said repeatedly that the Prometheus plan has not been approved, and yet many of us wonder if there is some sort of understanding between the city council and Prometheus that the higher densities are basically acceptable to the council, and that if Prometheus puts forward a proposal at those densities it will be approved, perhaps after some minor modifications. Given that, it seemed to me that your role is to evaluate that Prometheus’s design given that same understanding. Is this an accurate assessment of the council’s view and your position?
Nancy: Well, to get a firm answer on the council’s opinion, it would be best to ask them. There is no such understanding between the council and Prometheus, and council hasn’t definitively laid out their position on the density issue.
NMVNA: Most of us are having a hard time understanding why the council believes that high density is good for our neighborhood and Mountain View in general. We’ve even started brainstorming about this, and one of our group suggested it might have something to do with VTA funding. Is the push for higher density around VTA motivated by a need to boost VTA usage in order to maintain the viability of the Mountain View’s VTA station?
Nancy: No, not at all. There are people who honestly believe that the best place for high density development is around public transportation hubs. There have been a lot of studies done and articles written about this, and many experts advocate this a path toward sustainable development.
NMVNA: And yet the house that I live in was built according to the current precise plan, and is part of a development that was zoned at 11 units per acre. I understand that the precise plan permits up to 25 units per acre, but the Prometheus people are asking for more than 40. That’s shocking to some of us.
Nancy: Actually, their plan calls for more than 50 units per acre. It’s true that the thinking is different these days. It’s possible that if the conditions had been as they were today back when the precise plan was written, that where you live might have been developed differently.
NMVNA: Still, it’s hard for many of us to believe that Prometheus’s current proposal, if carried out as they intend, won’t lead to serious parking and traffic problems. I personally think it could overwhelm the neighborhood.
Nancy: It’s up to them to prove that it won’t. That’s why we’re having the meetings to discuss these issues.