Mtn. View draws "avalanche" of downtown office proposals

Eliza Ridgeway/Town Crier
A former parking lot abutting Castro Street and St. Joseph’s Church on Hope Street is being remade into a four-story complex containing office space, 12 condominium units and ground-floor retail.

Hoping to capitalize on the vibrancy of Mountain View’s downtown core, developers have shown increasing interest in building out the area’s restaurant and retail sites to include office space.

“It almost feels like an avalanche of proposals for office space,” said Robert Cox, who has served for five years on Mountain View’s Environmental Planning Commission, which advises the city council on whether to approve development proposals.

Mtn. View panel: To house the "missing middle" allow smaller units, less parking

Eliza Ridgeway/Town Crier
Los Altos resident Sue Russell, second from left, explores the MicroPAD unit hauled to downtown Mountain View as an example of super-compact housing.

New housing developments have been rising in Mountain View at a rapid rate, but the city still faces an essential Silicon Valley conundrum: With going rates starting at nearly $3,000 a month for a new studio apartment unit and climbing from there, the “market rate” for new housing remains far above what is affordable – by any definition – for middle-class earners.

Additions to the local housing market typically take one of two forms: either high-end projects able to command “luxury” prices or subsidized affordable housing projects earmarked for specific tenants. New housing includes little – arguably, nothing – accessible to average middle-income earners.

Standing up for safe school routes

Local students who bike to Cupertino Middle School and Homestead High School via Grant Road are forced to make what many consider a dangerous choice near Crist Drive: merge into traffic or cross the road illegally and bike against traffic on a bike path on the opposite side of the road.

State Density Bonus Law incentivizes more affordable housing

Town Crier File Photo
Multifamily complexes like the Colonnade, seen here under construction, could continue to proliferate on El Camino Real after Los Altos folds state Density Bonus laws into the city’s development regulations.

As the Los Altos Planning and Transportation Commission reviewed California’s new Density Bonus Law last week, members agreed that additional housing is needed because of what Commissioner Ronit Bodner referred to as the “crisis” of affordable housing.

“The reason these density bonus regulations have gone into effect,” Bodner said, “is because we as a community are failing to provide enough affordable housing. So the state is taking it out of our hands and imposing this regulation on us to force these communities to do more than the status quo.”

FAA still silent on relief options for Los Altos airplane noise

Los Altos area residents hoping for relief from airplane noise won’t get it anytime soon. Further, local leaders have no idea when it will happen.

A May 17 update by local members of Congress indicated that the Federal Aviation Administration was still in the early stages of reviewing and responding to a host of recommendations put forth last year by residents and local leaders. Some were hopeful they would see actual implementation after six months.

Federal grant jump-starts MV Transit Center

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Caltrain electrification means more riders. The Mountain View City Council last week approved a plan to expand its Transit Center, above, at Castro Street and Evelyn Avenue.

Train commuters – and potential ones – riding in Mountain View received good news last week on two fronts.

First, Caltrain received $647 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The grant closed the loop on the funding needed to move forward with a $1.9 billion plan that would provide electrified rail service between San Francisco and San Jose. Electrification means more frequent train stops accommodating more passengers.

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