Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Future Of Mountain View: Art, Science, Technology & Big Thinking vs NIMBY's & City Government

Yesterday Google & LinkedIn and a host of other Mountain View companies launched a shared initiative for the growth and development of the North Bayshore area and it's surrounds.

I grew up in this valley and have lived all over the country before moving back in 2000. One of the great failings of this area is our utter lack of creative, innovative or even generally good looking architecture. SF has the Transamerica Pyramid, Coit Tower and little else. The South Bay's most architecturally interesting structures are Hangar 1 (built in 1933) and a pedestrian footbridge over 280 near Wolf Rd.

Apple is soon to change this landscape a bit, though I fear from the outside, at ground level, it'll look something like a rounded off version of The Pentagon.

Mountain View has this, and only this, opportunity to be the home to something lasting, innovative, creative and beautiful. To create not just for the area, but for the world, a touchstone for the confluence of art, science, sustainability, and utility and all while creating a place where Mountain View residents can recreate and live as well.

Combining sustainable and beautiful commercial structures that offer public spaces with housing and infrastructure in the North Bayshore area MUST happen. The undeniable answer to Mountain View's soaring real estate prices is to increase inventory. The best place to put that inventory is close to where it's residents will work, not along El Camino further clogging that already overloaded artery (and don't get me started on that insane VTA BRT boondoggle).

Google & Linkedin and other N. Bayshore companies have already done great things in terms of mitigating the traffic impact of their employees. Each of those buses (that so many non-thinking people like to complain about) takes 60-65 cars off the road and saves untold gallons of fuel & emissions. All privately funded and all to the benefit of you & I.

By putting a percentage of those companies’ workforces within walking distance of their office space they will further alleviate the traffic impact on the S. Bay and reduce the need for vast expanses of paved parking areas around the commercial buildings.

The list of who is able to do something like this can be tallied on one hand. If Mountain View blows this opportunity, there will not be another and we'll be left, both literally and figuratively with a bunch of old, inefficient, 80's era commercial buildings....and nobody to occupy them. Those companies ARE going to continue to grow.

The question for our City Council is where?

The Mountain View City council needs to stop being the crotchety anti-growth "get off my lawn" body that it has been for years and embrace these projects. Embrace job growth. Embrace real-estate inventory growth. Embrace innovation. Embrace creativity. Embrace sustainability. Embrace art & beauty in architecture.

In doing so they have the opportunity to be a part of the solution rather than the obstacle they have heretofore been

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