Friday, September 4, 2009

We, the homeowners and residents of the NEW Mountain View neighborhood believe that the overwhelming majority of our membership opposes the high density levels proposed for the Minton’s property by the Prometheus Real Estate Corporation.

We favor development which is consistent with the City General Plan and with the Evelyn Area Precise Plan which aim to maintain the character of the Old Mountain View neighborhood.

Procedurally, we oppose the Prometheus Corporation application to destroy heritage trees and demolish the existing buildings until the environmental impact reports are completed and have been subjected to public review as is normally required by State and local law.

Density : The developer proposes to build 64 apartments per acre (214 units on 3.36 acres ) which is double the City’s current limit of 25. This level of density is unfair to neighbors who live in the Neighborhood with the assumption that the City would adhere to its General Plan.

The plan was adopted to promote Mountain View’s sustainable growth while maintaining the charm that attracts people to live there and patronize its businesses. It is unfair to the people of Mountain View to sacrifice the long term future of the city by issuing waivers and variances that deviate from that plan.

Street Set Backs & Loading Zones:
That the buildings will be so close to the streets on every side shows that the developer has not left any access for garbage and recycling services. If the project is built at the current density, and we assume that each unit changes renters every two years, there will need to be a moving truck blocking one of the city streets, three days of every week.

The project’s high densities of apartments and parking are based on untested assumptions that many or most of the project’s tenants would embrace a one car per household model. That hasn’t been the case with apartment complexes located near the Whisman Station. Even in households where commuting by public transport is feasible, people still need a car for medical emergencies and simply to shop for groceries.

Parking: We think that reduction the City’s parking requirement from 2.3 spaces per unit to 1.5 spaces would create serious and intractable parking problems in the neighboring areas. While the burden of these problems would fall on the project’s neighbors, we also believe that the 1.5 parking formula would adversely affect the Castro area. Adequate parking is one reason that Mountain View has become an attractive destination.

Traffic : The Evelyn Avenue Corridor Precise Plan seeks development that protects
neighborhood areas from traffic intrusion. This proposal to build 214 apartments will create a traffic trap. The project will flood Evelyn and Villa with traffic which will be hemmed in by the railway tracks. Traffic congestion will make it difficult for people to reach the downtown area and depress commercial activity.

If we assume that 25% of the residents of the apartment complex took public transportation that leaves 160 new apartments generating traffic. If we take the City’s Engineering department figures that each single family home generates 10 trips per day, and if we make allowances for the different demographics at play here that leaves, nonetheless, a significant increase in vehicles traveling Evelyn, Villa, West Dana and Bush streets.

Design: Achieving a balance with neighboring structures is cardinal principle architectural planning. The Evelyn Corridor Plan seeks to improve Evelyn Avenue as an attractive gateway to Downtown. The developer’s proposal to build a four story building undermines that goal.

The importance of aesthetics for this project was dismissed at a recent City Council meeting. That perspective fails to appreciate the importance architecture has played in contributing to Mountain View’s charm.

Architecture should be central to any considerations of new development. As the architect Charles Gwathmey once observed:
Architecture is the mother art, it affects all our lives subconsciously and consciously... its impact is conscious, and the perceptual parameters of one’s existence is total.

Alternative Proposals: We are not opposed to development. We don’t propose to memorialize a lumber yard. Indeed, we believe that some mix of townhomes, single family homes along with apartments would make sense for this site.

Conclusion: We note that the Evelyn Plan calls for “architectural and site design excellence”. We ask that the City maintain its high standards of residential development for Mountain View. An essential step in that process is for the City to remain loyal to its General Plan and to adhere to all existing zoning laws which apply to the Minton property


Homeowners and Residents of New Mountain View

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