Mayfield's 260 homes nearly a done deal

Mountain View City Council approves master plan for 21-acre project

While details about trees and architecture have yet to be worked out, the Mountain View City Council approved a master plan for a 260-unit housing project at the site of the former Mayfield Mall Tuesday night, in what appears to be a quiet end for a once-controversial project.

"Some of us have been with this project 10 years now," said Mayor Jac Siegel at the end of an unusually quick and easy meeting, which gave developer Summit Land Partners proper zoning and parcel map for the 21-acre project at Central Expressway and San Antonio Road.

The council voted unanimously to approve the project, with council members Ronit Bryant and John Inks recused because of conflicts of interest. Bryant's husband works for Hewlett Packard, which is selling the property, and Inks owns property within 500 feet.

Council member Laura Macias remarked at how few public speakers there were Tuesday night compared to the last time, when the council approved a previous iteration of the project with 450 units. Developer Toll Brothers passed on their option to buy the property and develop that plan when the recession hit.

Only two people spoke with concerns about traffic, the loss of native trees and the safety of the pedestrian tunnel under Central Expressway to the San Antonio train station that the developer has agreed to build.

City staff reported that 30 neighbors were pleased overall with the project at a May 11 community meeting. But while the protests have subsided, neighbors are still concerned about traffic, said Monta Loma Neighborhood Association vice president Helen Wolter. She reported Tuesday that 60 percent of the neighborhood's 1,000 households remain concerned about traffic impacts. Walter said new Mayfield residents might use the neighborhood as a cut-through to Highway 101.

The council will sign off on final plans for the project in August or September after review by architects on the city's development review committee.

Though the $6 million tunnel was a leftover requirement from the previous project, Summit vice president Rhonda Neely reassured council members, "We're going full speed ahead with the tunnel."

She said Summit wanted an out-clause on the requirement if the tunnel was found infeasible because of plans to add to high-speed rail tracks to the Caltrain corridor.

Summit will soon begin a year-long demolition of the 500,000-square-foot building that was once the Mayfield Mall. The property is being sold by Hewlett Packard, which more recently used it as an office building.

Development partner William Lyon Homes will build up to 260 homes with an estimated average price of $913,000. The city expects to see an increase of $154,000 in property taxes from the $235 million project.

Instead of including 26 below-market-rate homes in the project, the city will be paid $7 million in fees to go toward subsidized below-market-rate housing elsewhere.

The plan includes two-story, single-family homes around the north and east edges of the site and the rest as three-story condominium buildings. The condos have individual garages, 39 percent of which have controversial tandem parking (cars park front to back, increasing on-street parking), the highest percentage of any development in the city.

There is space for two public parks that have yet to be designed. The total size of the parks, 3.62 acres, is more than twice the size of what would normally be required. Monta Loma neighborhood residents who have long complained of a relative lack of park space in the area.

In total, 456 trees will have to be removed from the Mountain View side of the project, including 163 large heritage trees and 55 coastal redwoods. Summit proposes to add 613 trees.

The City Council received a petition from 36 people and several letters from neighbors decrying the loss of trees and lack of native and drought-tolerant trees proposed for the project, with arborist Dave Muffly noting an "almost total lack of drought tolerance among the trees selected."

Summit's Tim Unger noted that the existing redwoods are relatively thirsty. Other trees that neighbors expressed dismay about losing are not native, he said. Nevertheless, Neely said Summit has "no motivation not to work with the community of Monta Loma" in selecting proper trees for the project.

Dozens of redwood trees would be relocated on site, and an arborist hired by Summit predicted a 95-percent survival rate for the redwoods. A survey of bird's nests would be conducted to make sure that no birds are harmed as trees are removed.

About a dozen of the redwoods on the site could remain in one of the two parks, Mayfield Park, but that may require an unattractive 6-foot retaining wall on the edge of the park. Neely said Summit is hoping to remove and replace the trees lower in the ground, but the feasibility of such a plan is uncertain.

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Like this comment
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jun 24, 2011 at 10:37 am

"In total, 456 trees will have to be removed from the Mountain View side of the project, including 163 large heritage trees and 55 coastal redwoods. Summit proposes to add 613 trees."

WHAT? So the laws to protect redwoods and heritige trees are simply for the common folk and the developers get to cut down whatever they want?

This is an outrage!!!

Like this comment
Posted by GM Neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 24, 2011 at 10:51 am

Neighbor, you are so correct. Developers and city planning staff have a tight working relationship--follow the money. More taxes for strapped cities and pension funding. Existing residents don't get the time of day. And not just about trees, but about packing in more housing as dense (profitably) as possible. Hello traffic congestion!
Hello crowded schools, already strapped for cash. All for a paltry $154,000 increase in property tax? That's about one year's retirement for a supervisory or management level city employee. It's not just Mountain View, either. It goes on in Palo Alto, as well. Time for a taxpayer revolt, maybe the T-Party people have part of it right.

Like this comment
Posted by Dan
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 24, 2011 at 3:29 pm

"The city expects to see an increase of $154,000 in property taxes from the $235 million project."

Mountain View has .07% property tax?

Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 25, 2011 at 8:48 am

"no motivation not to work with the community of Monta Loma" in selecting proper trees for the project.

Doesn't that aay it all? As profit and greed is the motivator, our way of life declines.

Do we relly care about greenhouse gas and global warming? No? It happens somewhere else.

Shoe horning 260 units, clear cutting and who cares about the neighborhood. Our officials only care about how much money they'll get to fund the black hole of union pensions and salaries.

Oh by the way, my prediction is that the tunnel will never be built.

Like this comment
Posted by Shorebreak
a resident of another community
on Jun 26, 2011 at 4:35 am

Either create more housing or stop attracting high-tech workers to the valley. Where do those that object to new home construction expect people to live? The days of the two hour commute from places like Stockton or Los Banos are going to go away as the price of energy increases dramatically in coming decades. Rental rates have surged in the valley to prohibitive heights as less people can afford to purchase homes. As usual, it's property value greed and the NIMBY ethic that comes-out when anyone proposes more homes being built in the valley. Particularly around the Menlo Park, Palo Alto and Mountain View neighborhoods.

Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 26, 2011 at 2:54 pm

NIMBY is an Ethic? Or something that is not happening to you?

Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 26, 2011 at 4:32 pm

I would have a lot less of an issue with building new homes if builders were require to build a school for the students attracted by the housing. This happens in many parts of the country, a subdivision is required to have a real park (big enough for soccer fields, baseball fields and playgrounds) and build at least an elementary school. I would assume 260 units of housing would realistically generate a 100 students at minimum. That could cost the City of Mountain View 10 million plus to educate them.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 26, 2011 at 4:43 pm

I agree with palo alto mom. If we were building further out into the suburbs, schools and other facilities would be built. We are not doing that. We are turning office space into sardine cans for people to live in. We can't expand our schools even with the school impact fees that developers have to pay. Our school sites are finite sites and so are our parks, playing fields and other green areas.

If we had undeveloped land to extend into, I wouldn't have the problems with housing. But we are a congested valley and the problems of more residents within any city are not invisible. Build the houses, but where should we build new schools and why should those of us already living here pay for these new school buildings that the new housing will require? It is the developers who should be paying for the school infrastructure, not more school bonds or parcel taxes to residents who have lived here in homes that are 30+ years here, even if we haven't lived in them that long.

Like this comment
Posted by Frank
a resident of another community
on Jun 26, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Solution: Move all the money making corporations of Silicon Valley to Texas so the people that have been residing in the area for 30 plus years, like "Resident", can just go back to living like the good old days when there were fewer people and less traffic. Keep dreaming. The homes will be built. Get used to more congestion.

Like this comment
Posted by wow!
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 26, 2011 at 5:15 pm

I'd say that we need to keep our tall, healthy trees!! We need shade. Our weather is changing to more and more heat, so we need our trees to shade us, and keep the overall temps lower. Must also really try to lessen our water use, and probably need to pay more for the water since it will be almost like gold down the line...

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 26, 2011 at 5:41 pm


I am all for progress, but am really worried that with all the housing we are not building infrastructure to support it.

I haven't lived here for 30+ years, but my house has been here that long. I am quite a new resident compared to some in my neighborhood. We moved into our home 10 years ago and have upgraded it but not demolished it. I love Palo Alto and when we moved here the schools seemed small. But, shopping is terrible and so is public transport. Nearly all the tax dollars we spend go to other cities. On top of that, my kids are unable to go to a local park on a Saturday afternoon to kick a ball, play catch or frisbee, without someone complaining they are too close to their picnic or toddlers - very justifiable. There is so little space, we are putting more and more people into this little town and we don't have the infrastructure to support it.

My kids have very little chance to get on the school football/baseball/basketball team, or to become class president or get a decent role in the school play. They ride their bikes to school and have to cross busy roads where there is very little space for the 20 - 30 bikes or pedestrians to wait to cross. There is no suitable bus or shuttle for them to take and when I have to drive them because they need to take a large homework project with them, we have to leave 15 minutes earlier than when they ride their bikes.

I approve of progress. I want a large one stop grocery store and affordable family style shops. I want recreational activities for my kids in biking distance or on bus routes. I want to live in Palo Alto, not just sleep here.

If we continue to build housing, we must open Cubberley, Greendell, Garland and Ventura schools. We must improve traffic flow by having our goal to move cars at the limit and without stupid intersections eg Alma/Sand Hill or reducing lanes so that traffic moves at a crawl. We must build the type of shopping that doesn't involve the majority of us having to drive out of town to get what we need on a regular basis. Build more housing, fine. But build the infrastructure to go along with it and make the developers pay realistically for the cost of it. Is that too much to ask?

Like this comment
Posted by Frank
a resident of another community
on Jun 28, 2011 at 5:24 am


I have seen Palo Alto grow from 1955. It was indeed an idyllic city to reside in. It still is wonderful compared to many other cities. If you think the shopping and public transportation is bad in Palo Alto you need to take a look at the majority of other communities across the country. They have nothing compared to the SF Peninsula. Unfortunately, economic realities occur and when an area becomes a hub for technology advances, it's usually the quality of life for the residents that begins to suffer.

The infrastructure can indeed be built to accommodate increased housing. One would have to look at the regulatory process and restrictions that have hindered such improvements, proposed in the past, that would enable more efficient traffic flow.

Looking for a decent size grocery store? Look how long it's taking for a replacement for the Lucky supermarket at the Embarcadero/101 location. Ridiculous, a new, affordable, market should have been there a long time ago. Infighting among residents, organizations and politicians delay project after project.

If you truly want all those improvements you yearn for it's a question of money and political will on the part of your fellow residents who share your views. Money in the form of city revenue funneled to the right projects and politics whereby foot-dragging is the exception rather than the rule in the approval of projects.

You will be fighting a large group that wish to maintain the status quo, however. There are many residents that prefer to keep traffic at a crawl to discourage drivers from passing through the area on their commutes to and from work. Everything would be fine if only bicycles were the primary mode of transportation. Yeah right.

Meanwhile, good luck on hoping for a better experience for you and your family in Palo Alto. You are fortunate to be able to afford to reside it one of the most desirable but expensive locations in the country. Many of us have decided to move away to less populated and more inexpensive locations in our twilight years. Yet we are truly amazed, on our return visits, at the difference a little over half a century can make in a city from when we were children, growing-up in a quieter, less populated Palo Alto.

Like this comment
Posted by Terry Bohme
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 3, 2012 at 12:25 am

My grandparents Mamie & Joe Suda ran their Barron Park Taxi' Biz out of 430 and 420 Cambridge Ave before the two present lots were divided. Halfway between El Camino and It was an old 2br 1920s home on the 430 w. side and had a huge bamboo forest at the back & loaded with geraniums. They had it from about 1949-1957. We later moved in across the street about '58, into a big semi victorian 1920's duplex at 415 owned by John & Norma Shaddle. It is a cheap 2 story courtyard office complex now. My childhood MD, Dr. Jenks was at 470 I think. The city parking garages were not built then and our grade school was Mayfield 2 blocks away. SO... Leave It To Beaver neighborhood. My brother Jay & I never were babysat so at 6+ we were running all over California Ave and knew all the store keepers from Alma to Page Mill. It was innocent then. My aunt worked at Woolworths there and my mother in H.S. had been a movie hostess? there where we saw The Fly & The Alligator People at the Fine Arts Theater on Califoria July '59. We were terrified to walk home 1 alleyway across the 170' dark stretch B of A lot, directly across from the theater door. We would even go up to the Stanford Drive In sometimes after school. Crazy little vagabonds.

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