Sancho’s taqueria conquers Palo Alto | P.15 JANUARY 1, 2010 VOLUME 17, NO. 52
INSIDE: MOVIES | PAGE 18
Mountain View’s top 10 stories of 2009
ike most California communities, Mountain View felt the pain when the nation’s and the state’s economies fell apart in the economic downturn of 2009. The city’s tax receipts plummeted, and school districts were hit hard while the Legislature and governor tussled over ways to reduce a deficit now projected at $21 billion. A drastically reduced budget was not adopted until well into the third quarter, and in the meantime the city and school districts have learned to make do with less. But while many of the year’s biggest stories are budgetrelated, plenty of others captured headlines in the Voice. Below, in no particular order, we present our picks for the top 10 stories of 2009:
TWO BIG MOVES FOR EL CAMINO
fter seven years of meticulous planning, El Camino Hospital finally completed construction on its new, seismically safe, $480 million campus in Mountain View. The new hospital, which sits adjacent to the old one, complies with earthquake safety standards approved in the mid 1990s. It features 399 hospital
El Camino Hospital patient Emma Joy Ham, 5, is transported by staff from the old hospital building to her room in the new building.
beds and more state-of-theart technologies than before, including an improved, $20 million radiology department. The hospital officially opened on Saturday, Nov. 15, with a well-choreographed patient move and emergency room swap — the old ER closed at 6 a.m. and the new one opened at 6:01 a.m., with its first patient
arriving only minutes later. El Camino purchased the Community Hospital of Los Gatos, signing on to invest a total of $103 million on the facility. The campus was closed temporarily before reopening mid-July. With both campuses, the organization’s total bed count is up to 542.
BIG YEAR FOR CITY PLANNING
AD-HOC BMX PARK espite slowdowns in the BULLDOZED
real estate market, 2009 was a big year for land use planning in Mountain View. Hundreds of residents gave input in general plan hearings, where many supported turning Mountain View into a network of
SUPPORT NETWORK OFFERS WOMEN A SAFE PLACE TO RECOVER
he holiday season can make a bad situation even worse for a battered woman, say staff members at Support Network, a Sunnyvale organization dedicated to supporting women and children who are victims of domestic violence. With private donations, and
liday o H und F
community partners, such as the Voice Holiday Fund, Support Net-
work provides the services and guidance a woman needs to free herself from an abusive situation. “Really, emotionally, our clients are struggling right now,” said Denise Henderson, director of clinical services, who works with women on a day-to-day basis. With children See SUPPORT, page 8
GOINGS ON 20 | MARKETPLACE 21 | REAL ESTATE 23 | VIEWPOINT 13
he city drew ire from residents in August when a bulldozer was ordered to destroy the ad hoc dirt “Creek Trails” bicycle track known along See LOOKING BACK, page 12
Developer threatens lawsuit against city
Haven for domestic violence victims By Kelsey Mesher
“villages” while preserving each neighborhood’s unique character was also important for many. Many welcomed news that a major redevelopment was in the works for 16 acres of San Antonio shopping center that may include 400 homes or a movie theater. Meanwhile a clash ensued between smart growthers and neighbors over a plan to redevelop Minton’s Lumber and Supply into a 214-unit apartment complex near the downtown train station, complete with dueling petitions and a heated neighborhood association election battle. A report on the city’s housing needs earlier in the year said Mountain View is “jobs rich” in regards to its jobs-to-housing ratio. The report also mentioned a state requirement for the city to zone a site for a homeless shelter, a cause that has been taken up by an 86-year-old homeless man, Jess Santana, after 173 homeless people were counted in the Mountain View-Los Altos area in January.
MOZART SEES OPPORTUNITY UNDER COURT RULING By Daniel DeBolt
he city of Mountain View is bracing for a lawsuit from developer John Mozart after his lawyers sent a letter in October protesting the city’s below-market-rate housing fees.
A similar letter was the precursor of a lawsuit recently filed against the city of Palo Alto. Being challenged is Mountain View’s “inclusionary zoning” policy, which requires developSee CHALLENGE, page 6
caring for our community
A History of Caring
or ﬁfty years, Community Services Agency (CSA) has been providing vital social services for residents of Mountain View, Los Altos, and Los Altos Hills. We understand that hardship can come at any time and knows no age limit. We provide a safety net so that independence and self-sufﬁciency can be restored and maintained.
An evolving name reflects an evolving organization CSA has grown from humble origins. In 1957, a group of Mountain View residents, concerned about the welfare of low-income families in the city, gathered to talk about the plight of the local migrant farm workers. They decided to form the Mountain View Welfare Council to address the needs of this population. Within a year, the council was incorporated, and it was planning its first sharing of holiday gifts for families. By 1967, the interests of the council had expanded to include housing issues, immigration issues, and the needs of senior citizens. Accordingly, its name was changed to the Mountain View Community Council. With a move into larger, permanent office space in 1974, the organization changed its name once again, this time to Mountain View Community Services, reflecting the increasing services provided, such as meals and counseling. CSA assumed its present name, Community Services Agency, in 1982, in recognition of a client base that extends through Los Altos to Los Altos Hills.
A growing repertoire of programs and services CSA’s first program in 1958 was a holiday gift distribution called Christmas Clearance. Later called Santa Claus Exchange, the program remains today an important element of CSA’s work, now the Holiday Sharing program. 1974 was a big year for the agency. Clothing distribution was added to a growing list of Emergency Assistance services. Also, the agency moved into larger facilities at 204 Stierlin Road, Mountain View. Interior painting of the building was performed by clients and board members, while volunteers from the Mountain View Police Department handled the move from the old office space to the new.
s 4HE FIRST "ROWNIE AND 3COUT GROUPS FOR MINORITY CHILdren, now integrated into the Girl Scouts. The agency has also sought and established partnerships with other nonprofit providers, to ensure their delivery to CSA’s clients. Examples: Women Infants and Children, Lawmobile, and Rotacare.
CSA Today Another milestone occurred in 1977, with the initiation of food service to the needy. CSA’s Emergency Assistance program added crisis intervention services in 1982 and the Community Kitchen (food distribution) and financial assistance services in 1983. The Senior Services program added transportation in 1983 and case management in 1984. In 1989, the agency launched a new Homeless Services program designed to lift the homeless up from their situation to rejoin society. The Alpha Omega Shelter was the first service offered, in cooperation with 17 local churches. CSA conducted a capital campaign and dramatically upgraded its facility in 1990. Among other features, the building had greater capacity for food service, then termed the Food Closet. The Homeless Services program stepped up in 1995 with the creation of Graduate House, a transitional housing facility managed by Project Match. CSA was a partner in this facility. In 1998, CSA fundamentally changed the nature of its Food and Nutrition program by creating the Food Pantry (grocery store for the needy) at the Stierlin Road facility and discontinuing its meals program. Another fundamental change occurred in 2006, when CSA discontinued the rotating homeless shelter in favor of enhanced case management services, pursuing the demonstrated “housing first” model for serving the homeless. The revised program is now called Alpha Omega Homeless Services. Programs Originated or Facilitated by Community Services Agency Throughout its history, CSA has been a source for new, innovative social services within the community. Many of these services are now administered by other agencies. A few examples: s 4HE FIRST DAY CARE CENTER IN -OUNTAIN 6IEW NOW 7HISman Child Care Center. s -OUNTAIN 6IEW #OMMUNITY (EALTH #ENTER NOW MANaged by a community group. s 4RANSPORTATION SERVICES FOR STUDENTS IN %NGLISH AS A Second Language (ESL) classes, now operated through Mountain View-Los Altos Adult Education.
Mature at age fifty, CSA now follows a strategy of first contact for the community’s needy, providing fundamental services and referring clients to other agencies for additional services.
Caring for the homeless CSA’s Alpha Omega Homeless Services provides case management, direct assistance, and referral services (most importantly housing) to individuals and families. CSA partners with numerous other county service providers, assembling a comprehensive package of assistance to the local homeless population. Caring for the working poor and unemployed CSA’s Food and Nutrition Center supplements the nutrition requirements of needy families with fresh and staple groceries. Food items are contributed by community supermarkets and by nonprofit organizations like Second Harvest Food Bank and Hidden Villa. CSA’s Emergency Assistance program provides a much needed helping hand to those afflicted with shortterm severe needs. Assistance includes rent, utility payments, short-term shelter, medical purchases, and many services for children, especially related to school. Holiday Sharing, providing food to families and fun toys to kids, is a joyful program that draws together volunteers and clients from throughout the community.
Caring for the elderly Senior Services is the fastest-growing CSA program, reflecting the growth of the elderly population in our community. Case managers deliver in-home assessments, counseling, referrals, and educational seminars, designed to allow local seniors to remain safe and independent. Our Senior Nutrition Program at the Mountain View Senior Center serves subsidized hot lunches every weekday, countering the isolation and apathy that can afflict the elderly.
COMMUNITY SERVICES AGENCY 204 Stierlin Rd., Mountain View, CA 94043 s s www.csacares.org MOUNTAIN VIEW SENIOR CENTER 266 Escuela Ave., Mountain View, CA 94040
s LOS ALTOS SENIOR CENTER 97 Hillview Ave.Los Altos, CA 94022
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■ MOUNTAIN VIEW VOICE ■ JANUARY 1, 2010
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The Mountain View Voice is published every Friday by Embarcadero Publishing Co. 450 Cambridge Ave, Palo Alto CA 94306 (650) 964-6300. Application to Mail at Periodicals Postage Rates is Pending at Palo Alto, CA and additional mailing offices. The Mountain View Voice is mailed free to homes and apartments in Mountain View. Subscription rate of $60 per year. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Mountain View Voice, 450 Cambridge Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306.
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■ CITY COUNCIL UPDATES ■ COMMUNITY ■ FEATURES
Arrest warrant issued in foundation theft case By Kelsey Mesher
n arrest warrant was issued Dec. 24 for a former Silicon Valley Community Foundation employee suspected of stealing $100,000 from the organization, according to the Mountain View police department. Frances Louise Stewart, 52, was still being sought by the police on Dec. 29, as the Voice went to press. Police spokesperson Steve McCoy said he could not give out any more information until an arrest was made. On Monday the foundation announced that it had fired an employee on suspicion of theft. “Our finance department noticed a discrepancy, and they began trying to figure out what was going on,” said Rebecca Salner, vice president of marketing and communications for the nonprofit, located at 2440 West El Camino Real near Showers Drive in Mountain View. An internal investigation was launched, and on Dec. 9 the case was turned over to the Mountain View Police Department. Stewart worked in the foundation’s human resources department, Salner said. “The theft was identified by our finance department as a result of internal controls and we intend to pursue every possible remedy to ensure that restitution is made to the community foundation,” said CEO and President Emmett D. Carson in an e-mail. “The incident remains under investigation by external authorities and the community foundation is engaging a forensic accountant to provide further assistance as needed,” said a statement on the organization’s Web site. The statement emphasized that the money taken was from “flexible spending accounts” that are used for employee See THEFT, page 7
City staff members who retired at the end of December include, from left, Kathy Farrar, Karen Burnett, and Cathy Lazarus.
Changing of the guard PROFILES OF THREE CITY DEPARTMENT HEADS WHO RETIRED THIS WEEK By Daniel DeBolt
uman resources director Kathy Farrar started working for the city of Mountain View in 1971 as a ‘junior typist clerk.” She was only 20 years old. “Some people think I’m crazy to stay in one place for 38 years,” Farrar said. Farrar, who is retiring this month, is often pointed to as an example of how a person can move up in the ranks of the city’s government. Her “can do” attitude was noticed at the start, and she is remembered as someone who “never met a challenge she didnít like.” Among her jobs over the years in city hall, she has been the city’s legislative analyst and director of the city’s centralized document processing center. She has been the city’s human resources director for 15 years, which means she has seen through numer-
ous employee union contract negotiations. Being a department head was Farrar’s dream job, and now her departure is “an opportunity for somebody else,” she said. The longtime Mountain View resident says she will continue to work part time for the city, and will now spend her free time with her mother and her grandchildren.
LEADING THE LIBRARY INTO THE FUTURE The Mountain View library was taken into the 21st century under the watch of director Karen Burnett, who is retiring this month. “It’s just been the most fantastic job I’ve ever had,” Burnett said. She won the Helen Putnam award for creating the library’s after-school programs for teens. She worked with Google to fund and build the city’s high-tech bookmobile,
and made use of technology to automate book checkout and book returns, leaving staff more time to help library users. City manager Kevin Duggan noted Burnett’s efficient spending of city funds. “We are serving more customers and checking out more material than we ever have with fewer people and less public cost,” Duggan said. He added that that’s unusual because “library directors can be very much into their profession and not into efficiency and effectiveness.” Before coming to Mountain View, Burnett worked for the county library in Milpitas. Her first job was as a library page when she was in high school “I always knew I wanted to be a librarian,” Burnett said. “Itís the satisfaction you get when you have helped people help themSee PROFILES, page 14
Santa Clara County bus, light-rail cuts coming VTA PLANS CUTBACKS OF 8 TO 16 PERCENT DUE TO HUGE BUDGET GAP Bay City News
ajor cutbacks in bus and light-rail service will hit Santa Clara County transit riders in January, the Valley Transportation Authority announced Dec. 21. Starting Jan. 11, VTA will reduce service to help mitigate a projected $70 million budget deficit in the 2010-11 fiscal year. Weekday service will be cut
8 percent, Saturday service 10 percent, and Sunday service 16 percent. The deficit is the result of a continued loss of state transit funding and a decline in sales tax revenue, VTA spokeswoman Jennie Loft said. VTA bus lines that operated every 15 minutes will be cut to every 30 minutes or more. Line 76, which offers service between Los Gatos and Summit Road in
the Santa Cruz Mountains, will be entirely cut. The River Oaks Shuttle will be discontinued after July 9. “In general you’re going to find service reductions primarily in areas and commute times when there’s not a lot of ridership,” Loft said. “On weekends you’re going to find times in the morning and night when there’s not a high volume of ridership.” Loft said the service reductions
will save the authority around $6.4 million. VTA will look further for cost-saving strategies, such as deferring the purchase of bus rapid-transit vehicles, Loft said. In addition to service cuts, the VTA has implemented many other cost-saving measures, including employee furloughs, wage freezes and a fare increase. Information about service changes is available at www.vta. org/service_modifications. V
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Maki Yama of Gretel Lane sent this photo of Girl Scouts raking some leaves â€” and horsing around with their siblings â€” on Nilda Avenue. â€œEvery time I see this photo, it just cracks me up,â€? she wrote. If you have a photo taken around town which youâ€™d like published in the Voice, please send it (as a jpg attachment) to email@example.com.
Happy New Year Letâ€™s Make a Commitment to Being Green As we welcome 2010, letâ€™s also welcome a greener way of thinking about transportation. Weâ€™re lucky to live in an area that has so many different transportation options that we might take for granted. If each of us made a resolution to use a greener method of getting around at least twice a week, think of the difference we could make. Here are a few ideas for you to consider in your travels: s #ALTRAIN OFFERS SERVICE FROM 'ILROY TO 3AN &RANCISCO www.caltrain.com s 64! "US AND ,IGHTRAIL SYSTEM 9OU CAN RELAX AND take the bus all the way to the Gilroy outlets, the #APITOLA -ALL THE 4ECH -USEUM OR THE 3AN *OSE &LEA -ARKET WWWVTAORG s +WICK#ART IS A PEDICAB COMPANY THAT JUST CAME TO -OUNTAIN 6IEW 2IDES ARE FREE AND THEYLL TAKE YOU anywhere in the downtown Castro area. s -OUNTAIN 6IEW "IKE -APS ARE FREE FROM THE #ITY OF -OUNTAIN 6IEW 0UBLIC 7ORKS $EPARTMENT s -ANY EMPLOYERS HAVE SHUTTLES THAT RUN BETWEEN THE TRAIN STATION AND THE JOB SITE s E2IDESHARECOM CONNECTS PEOPLE WHO WANT TO CARPOOL TO OR FROM -OUNTAIN 6IEW s !ND THERES ALWAYS GOOD OLD FASHIONED WALKING 7E COULD ALL USE THE EXERCISE 3O CONSIDER A FEW ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS THE NEXT TIME YOU HOP IN YOUR CAR AND HAVE A (APPY .EW 9EAR 6
â– MOUNTAIN VIEW VOICE â– JANUARY 1, 2010
Continued from page 1
ers to build a certain number of affordable homes in every housing development, or pay a fee to subsidize affordable housing elsewhere. Mozart, owner of housing developer Classic Communities, has sued the city of Palo Alto for a similar ordinance and is threatening to sue Sunnyvale as well. The legal question was first raised in the city of Patterson, where a developer sued in response to a significant increase in such fees. A state court ruled, in a decision an appellate court recently let stand, that the fees had to be calculated in a reasonable way, effectively throwing such fees into question in many California cities, said city attorney Michael Martello. Mozartâ€™s lawyers argue in a letter to city officials that the city has not adequately demonstrated the reasoning for its fees, which makes the fees an illegal tax on development. Mozartâ€™s Classic Communities is demanding â€œprompt refund and reimbursementâ€? of an estimated $2 million fee for its recent Miramonte Avenue development next to St. Josephâ€™s Catholic school, which has 58 single-family homes now for sale. â€œThey are not entitled to a refund,â€? Martello said. â€œThey proposed meeting their affordable housing requirement by paying the fee. They did have a right to object to the fee before it was imposed and argue for no mitigation.â€? However, developers are likely to continue to play hardball as hous-
ing development resumes after the recession, and the city may have to make some changes. Classic Communities already has a proposal in the works for 96 homes on property it owns at Calderon and Evelyn Avenue. â€œThe court decision says if you are going to charge a fee you have to arrive at what the fee is by a certain process, called the nexus study,â€? Martello said, adding that the city may now have to pay consultants to come up with these studies. After 10 years of existence, the cityâ€™s inclusionary zoning, or â€œbelow market rateâ€? housing policy, happens to be due for a scheduled re-evaluation by the City Council, Martello said. Currently it requires developers to build one affordable home for every 10 built in a Mountain View development, or pay an in-lieu fee (3 percent of the actual sales price of each unit) to subsidize affordable housing elsewhere. In Mountain View most developers find it more worthwhile to pay the fees than build affordable units. Only eight â€œbelow market rateâ€? units have actually been built since the policyâ€™s inception in 1999, a cause of lament for some City Council members. Bubb elementary school teacher David Franklin was lucky enough to be chosen from a long list of interested buyers (teachers and lower income emergency responders get first pick) for three units on Evandale Avenue in 2007, and said it was â€œlike winning the lottery.â€? Prices for such units have been in the $300,000 range, Martello said, while the same developmentâ€™s other
units, indistinguishable from the affordable ones, usually go for $800,000 or more. City Council member Tom Means, an economics professor at San Jose State University, has long opposed inclusionary zoning. He and two colleagues published a 2007 study called â€œBelow Market Housing Mandates as Takings,â€? which argues that cities with inclusionary zoning produce fewer homes at higher prices. Means said that in good times, homebuyers and landowners pay the costs of inclusionary zoning, and the developer is happy to go along with it. But with the recession putting the squeeze on the housing market, it appears that developers are looking for some relief, and perhaps the ability to sell their homes for less. Because the price of each affordable unit is fixed upon resale, there is little incentive to keep it maintained or to upgrade the affordable home as it gets older, Means said. There is also little to keep a buyer from renting the home at market rate for a tidy profit. It can â€œlead to all kinds of arbitrage thatâ€™s not useful,â€? Means said. There are proponents of the practice, however, including the majority of past City Councils, who argue that it is effective in subsidizing much needed affordable housing. Through the fees, the city has accumulated millions in a below-market-rate housing fund, part of which is going towards a 51-unit affordable housing development on Evelyn Avenue and Franklin Street. V
MV: Waiting List Open
Martello takes interim gig in Los Gatos By Daniel DeBolt
ountain View city attorney Michael Martello was all set to retire at the end of December, leaving public service behind him for good. But then the city of Los Gatos came knocking. Martello told the Voice he has agreed to take an interim “town attorney” job in Los Gatos, which is looking to replace outgoing attorney Orry Korb. After interviewing several other possible interim replacements, the Los Gatos Town Council decided Martello would be a good interim town attorney while they go through a “full-blown recruitment process.” Martello served as city attorney for 16 years in Mountain View and developed a reputation for aggressively fighting for the city’s interests and building a legal department
that city officials had faith in. He successfully fought several Davidand-Goliath legal battles, defending the city’s interests against the likes of Clear Channel and AT&T. “He’s one of the most respected city attorneys in the state,” said city manager Kevin Duggan. “He’s got an incredible amount of knowledge.” As much as Los Gatos might want him to stay on permanently, Martello said he made it clear that he is “very interested in retiring.” He and three other retiring Mountain View department heads are throwing a retirement party on Friday, Jan. 8. The following Monday, Martello begins transitioning into his new temporary role in Los Gatos, taking over for Korb, who is leaving after 14 years there. Los Gatos is a good city to work for, Martello said.
ountain View could be among three transportation hubs to test out a new bike share program this spring, thanks to a $500,000 grant the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority secured earlier this month. “It’s a conceptual project at this point,” said Jennie Loft, VTA spokesperson. “There aren’t a lot of details.” VTA officials estimated that there will be about 100 bikes available through the program to start. The VTA is conducting a feasibility study before a pilot program can be implemented in 2010. The VTA said in a statement that its initial findings are that more than half of those they surveyed would use a sharing program if it was made available. The basic idea for the project is to make bicycles accessible to anyone who wants to use them — without the hassle or worry of bike parking or theft. Bicycles would be made available at three VTA transit centers — Mountain View, Palo Alto and San Jose — with pods or bike sharing stations scattered within a
Continued from page 5
health care and dependent care expenses. The monies were not budgeted for any philanthropic grants or programs, the statement said.
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three-mile radius of each. The transit centers were chosen because of their high ridership and frequent overcrowding on trains. “It’s more about the commute versus going to the grocery store,” Loft said. “They can just kind of leave one (bike) behind and then catch up at the other side.” Bike sharing is relatively new in the United States. The VTA said it will be looking at models in Paris and Montreal, where bike sharing is more popular, and will continue to work with partners like the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee as it plans for the spring launch. The $500,000 grant is funded by $1 bridge toll increases made by Regional Measure 2. The “Safe Routes to Transit” grant, as it is called, was awarded by TransForm, a Bay Area nonprofit that “works to create world-class public transportation and walkable communities” according it’s Web site. The grant was approved by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission on Dec. 16.
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