This Tuesday, April 26, the Mountain View City Council will decide whether to grant Merlone Geier Partners a permit to continue with their proposed design for redevelopment of almost a third of San Antonio Center. The Public Hearing on this matter will start shortly after 7 p.m. at City Hall.
Several MVCSP members will be making a presentation at this meeting, suggesting significant improvements to the design in addition to those that have been recommended by the Environmental Planning Commission and proposed by City Staff. We believe that these improvements will make the project much more successful economically for both the developer and the City.
Please come and support our suggestions. WE NEED PEOPLE THERE, whether or not you speak. The presenters will ask you to stand or raise your hands to show your support, and the Council always counts these votes!
We also encourage you to comment on this item, after our presentation, from your personal point of view. Your own experiences, dreams, and technical expertise are what Council wants to hear from Mountain View residents. A few thoughts that might help, in no particular order:
* Why do design decisions like this matter? It is up to the Council to make sure that the project is done "right", and you are counting on them to do so.
* What have been your experiences with San Antonio Center that may make the developer's proposal look like a great improvement, but also make the MVCSP proposal look more like your dream of what Mountain View should really be like?
* Why is it important to you and to the City that this project be sustainable? (That means socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable for many years to come.) What will make it sustainable in any or all of these respects?
* Why is it important to you to be able to walk or take efficient public transit around town? And to enjoy these experiences? Why would you particularly welcome the rebirth of El Camino Real as a Grand Boulevard, with interesting and useful shopping opportunities right next to a wide, pleasant sidewalk on one side, and efficient transit on the other? (The Grand Boulevard Initiative is waiting in the wings, and this project could be a real impetus to getting it going--or, with poorly designed edges, it could serve as an excuse for not getting it done, when other redevelopment projects come up.)
In addition to the MVCSP presentation, some people will be speaking specifically to the need for affordable rental housing at San Antonio Center, both for people working right there at fairly low wages, and for others in the community who have very low incomes and need to be close to shopping and transit. (This pillar of sustainability will not be described at length in the MVCSP presentation, which will focus on design issues, but it is supported by MVCSP as "good planning", and a very obvious fit for this site.)
The developer is proposing over 300 market-rate rental units in one part of his project. We are encouraging public input saying that a significant number of them, perhaps 10%, should be "affordable". (Council knows what "affordable" means: housing expenditures are no more than 30% of household income at levels defined as various degrees of "low" (which is also legally defined); we don't need to define these terms when we speak.) There ARE legally and economically realistic ways that Council can get this done, despite some recent legal background that makes it a bit roundabout, and we are asking them to take the trouble to do it.
Personal experience on this topic should not be at all hard to find.