Rolls are stars at Joy Sushi weekend | P.19
September 30, 2011 VOLUME 19, NO. 37
INSIDE: Movies | PAGE 22
Council OKs outsourcing golf course City hopes savings from new operator will pull course out of fiscal hole By Daniel DeBolt
S Veronica Weber
President Barack Obama answers a question at a town hall meeting at the Computer History Museum on Monday.
Obama praises Mountain View President’s town hall meeting at LinkedIn draws a range of queries on economy By Daniel DeBolt
efore president Obama’s town hall meeting in Mountain View on Monday, May-
or Jac Siegel said Obama had some flattering words about this small city of 76,000 upon his arrival at Moffett Field on Sunday evening. “I know a lot about your city,”
Siegel recalled Obama saying during their meet and greet. “It’s one of the few cities in the country that has escalating real estate and is See Obama, page 10
MVHS grad’s movie in African film fest Local festival grows in its second year at CSMA By Nick Veronin
documentary by a filmmaker with local ties will be among the nearly three dozen films featured in this year’s Silicon Valley African Film Festival. Opening at the Community School of Music and Arts in Mountain View on Friday, Oct. 14, and running through Sunday, Oct. 16, the festival celebrates African filmmakers and the culture they seek to capture in their works, said Chike
C. Nwoffiah, the festival’s director. Now in its second year, the festival has grown substantially since last year, he said. Nwoffiah said he is encouraged by the growth of his festival. This year, festival organizers received about 70 film submissions, which they whittled down to a bit more than 30. Last year, Nwoffiah said, only about 50 films were submitted. This year, the festival will also feature a handful of documentaries — a genre that was absent from last year’s event. One new face at this year’s Silicon Valley African Film Festival may be
recognizable to the Mountain View High School class of 1998 — Ekwa Msangi-Omari. Msangi-Omari was born in Oakland in 1980 and lived in Palo Alto until she was 5, when her parents, who had been Fullbright Scholars at Stanford, moved back to their native Africa, to Kenya. She moved back to the Peninsula in 1997, living with her brothers and attending Mountain View High School for the second half of her junior year and all of her senior year. The budding writer, director and producer took her first film class See Film, page 6
GOINGS ON 24 | MARKETPLACE 25 | REAL ESTATE 27 | VIEWPOINT 18
aying they were forced to do so by difficult circumstances, the City Council approved on Tuesday the outsourcing of Shoreline Golf Links management to Touchstone Golf, a Texas-based golf course operator. The council voted 6-1 for the deal as the course was set to lose as much as $1 million this year alone, and as much as $6.3 million over the next five years if no changes were made. Council member Margaret Abe-Koga was the only opponent, saying it seemed arbitrary that the city couldn’t subsidize golf when it subsidizes so many other recreational activities. “I’m prepared to support this because we’ve run out of time,” said Council member Ronit Bryant. “We’ve talked about it and talked about it. We’re at the point where reserves are gone. We’ve possibly waited too long.” City staff said 14 golf course employees would lose their jobs at the course, but Mayor Jac Siegel said a big factor in his decision was that the city could absorb 12 of the employees into other vacant positions in the city. Touchstone also expressed interest in hiring the workers, but what they would be offered “does not mirror or come close to matching the salary and particularly the benefits,” paid by the city, said Community Services Director Dave Muela. City management believes that Touchstone could bring the city $237,000 in revenue next year and $2.5 million over the next five years with revenues increasing steadily, helping to fund core city services. The deal is structured so that the city receives all golf course revenue and pays Touchtone a percentage, depending on
revenue levels. The city will retain control over the land as Touchstone won’t be leasing the course. Mark Luthman, Touchstone executive vice president, said the company would use an aggressive marketing and online presence to bring in more golf reservations, adding that revenues were growing at all 20 of Touchstone’s courses around the country. User fees for the course will remain the same. Touchstone will continue the city’s fight against the flocks of Canada geese and American coots that are keeping golfers away. Council member Tom Means, a frequent golfer, said he’s seen “foxes, coyotes and turkeys” at other courses, “but they don’t sit there in the middle of the course and crap all over everything.” The city has tried an array of methods to drive off the geese, including strobe lights, special sprinklers, fake alligator heads and remote control boats in the course’s ponds. Touchstone will also have to work with the city to preserve habitat for the rare burrowing owls that like to live on the golf course. Council passes on alternative City staff created an alternative involving pay cuts and accounting moves to keep the course city-run and bring in a modest profit of $200,000 over the next two years. But the course would begin losing money again in six years if fiscal trends continue, city management reported. In that plan, $487,000 in savings were agreed to by the unions which represents the golf course workers, Service Employee International Union and the mid-level See Golf, page 7
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Visit our Innovation Stations (1–4 p.m.) Meet our CEO and president, Tomi Ryba Watch new technology demos and videos Catch up on women’s health news Meet “Nurse Barb” (Barbara Dehn) from CBS Channel 5 Learn about new clinical trials in progress Get physician referrals, tailored to your special needs Watch healthy cooking demos and enjoy samples Learn more about our new medical app Gain hands-on practice with our Family History Tool Grab some goodies and giveaways Have a healthy good time
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■ MOUNTAIN VIEW VOICE ■ SEPTEMBER 30, 2011
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A woman jogger from Mountain View encountered a man masturbating within view of the Stevens Creek trail at about 2:45 p.m. on Sept. 25, police said. Officers searched the trail after the incident was reported at about 3:27 p.m., but found no one, according to Liz Wylie, public information officer for the Mountain View police. The man clearly intended to be seen by someone, Wylie said. He was standing out in the open and he reportedly smirked while making eye contact with the victim, age 51, as she jogged past. Wylie said the man was described as being around 18 years old, thin and about 5 feet 9 inches tall, with wavy, medium length dark hair. The man was white, with very light skin. He was wearing a brown plaid longsleeved shirt and tan shorts. He made no attempt to approach the woman or follow her, Wylie said.
A new cashier at the Target on Showers Drive has been accused of pocketing nearly $2,000 in cash over the course of his first two solo shifts at the register, police said. Alex Guevara, an 18-yearold Mountain View resident, allegedly stole $1,974.75 over the course of two days, loss prevention officials at Target told police. After officials at the store discovered that cash was missing from Guevara’s register after the first solo shift on Sept. 15, Target security watched him on camera as he worked his second day, Sept. 21, Liz Wylie, a spokeswoman for the Mountain View Police Department said. The store’s loss prevention team confronted and detained Guevara, allegedly finding money in his sock. Police arrested Guevara on suspicion of embezzlement and booked him into jail. —Voice staff
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■ MOUNTAIN VIEW VOICE ■ SEPTEMBER 30, 2011
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More room for Google in new office project By Daniel DeBolt
Comic Steve Mazan will be at El Camino Hospital Tuesday to screen his film about living with terminal cancer.
Standing up in the face of cancer Comedian with terminal illness aims to inspire with film By Nick Veronin
tand-up comedian and cancer patient Steve Mazan will be making an appearance at El Camino Hospital on Tuesday, Oct. 4, to tell a few jokes, share his experiences living with his terminal diagnosis and screen his inspirational biographical film. The screening is sponsored by the Healthy Young Attitude, a cancer support group run by the Peter Morey Foundation, which
was established in the memory of Peter Morey, who grew up in Mountain View and died of melanoma less than a week before his 24th birthday. Ann Morey, Peter’s mother and the founder of Healthy Young Attitude, expects that Mazan and his film will resonate with her group of men and women in their 20s and 30s who have been diagnosed with cancer. Back in 2005, Mazan was diagnosed with liver and intestinal cancer at the age of 34. While surgery was largely successful removing the growths from his intestines, doctors told him the
tumors on his liver were inoperable and that he could have as little as five years left to live. Six years later, Mazan lives in Southern California with his wife, is still touring the country, and is making a comfortable living as a stand-up comedian. “I feel great,” he says. “I feel probably as good as I have since I got the diagnosis.” The comedian’s positive outlook may be related to his achievements since 2005. Over the past six years Mazan has kept his nose to the grindstone, touring steadily and even achieving a lifelong goal — See Comic, page 15
Group wins approval of co-housing project By Daniel DeBolt
n Tuesday the City Council unanimously approved a 19-unit “cohousing” project at 445 Calderon Avenue, the culmination of a two-year labor of love by a group of Baby Boomers who want to live together in a communal environment. The group led by Susan and David Burwen say they are now set to build the first ground-up co-housing community in Silicon Valley. Susan Burwen called
it an “environmentally sensitive, village-like community with gardens and paths and a clubhouse for sharing activities.” With the architecture completed, “we are all very pleased with the results. The response has been overwhelmingly positive.” The project will be built on a 1.3-acre lot, displacing the 1885 home of Anne Bakotich and an old orchard with 49 trees classified as “heritage trees” by the city. With rear portions removed, the Bakotich house will be moved to the street frontage and converted
to a 750-square-foot space for guests and a live-in caregiver. That makes room for a pair of threestory buildings connected by balconies that house the 19 units, common recreation and dining areas, a pool, a rooftop deck and an underground garage with an elevator. Council members were enthusiastic in their support of the project, even though the group asked for special fee exceptions from the city to offset the costs of restoring the historic home. “I haven’t heard a single nega-
Google has another option for expansion in Mountain View now that the City Council has approved the construction of a 181,000-square-foot building at 369 North Whisman Road. Developer Keenan Lovewell Ventures has already leased to Google an existing office complex on the site called “the Quad.” A representative of Google, Luis Darrow, assured concerned neighbors that more cars in the neighborhood would not be a problem with “environmentally conscious” Google. “The actual proportion of cars to people in these building is significantly less than any other company around here,” Darrow said. “Everybody will be very pleased with Google as a neighbor.” The project adds two office buildings, one four stories tall and one three stories tall, to a 29.3acre site that already has 447,000 square feet of office in seven buildings. The buildings will have a LEED silver rating, as called for in the city’s green building ordinance. Two parking garages will be built as well. Two new bike paths will be built on the site, one running northsouth and the other running eastwest along its northern edge, connecting to the Hetch-Hetchy and Stevens Creek trails. In return for granting the development agreement which allows the project to be built anytime over the next 10 years (building permits usually last only two years) the city will receive an unusual “community benefit contribution” of $100,000 tive comment from anyone” about the project, said Council member Ronit Bryant. She said she liked the idea of the old farmhouse becoming part of the streetscape, as it is currently shrouded by trees. “I knew Anne Bakotich and she would be very pleased that her house is being saved,” said Mayor Jac Siegel. In total, the group said they were facing a bill from the city for $1.2 million in fees. That includes $550,000 in below-market-rate housing fees if 1.9 BMR units are not built. One member of the group said he was “dismayed” by the process of getting the project
for the project, an off-site trail from the property to Middlefield Road and the under-grounding of utilities along the property’s border with Symantec. The 10-year agreement “does give us the ability to expand on a moments notice if we have to,” Darrow said. “We need that ability to move quickly.” Kennan Lovewell will also pay $1.2 million in below market rate housing fees. Mayor Jac Siegel and council member Laura Macias said they liked the project but voted against it because they felt it was unnecessary to approve a 10-year agreement. They also opposed subdividing the site into nine parcels, which could make future redevelopment of the site more difficult. “We’re sort of behaving as if businesses don’t want to come here and we’re offering incentives, but that’s not the case,” Macias said. An opportunity to push for new TCE cleanup? Because the building sits on top of an underground plume of toxic industrial solvent TCE left by early computer component manufacturers, the buildings are required to have sub-slab ventilation systems to prevent toxic vapors from entering the buildings. Mayor Siegel asked if city staff was aware of new technologies to clean up the TCE faster, presumably because the new development presented an opportunity to require new cleanup efforts on the site, or See office, page 11
approved, particularly the delays caused by a costly state-required Environmental Impact Report because the Bakotich house is considered historic by the state, even though it was removed from the city’s list of protected historic homes at Bakotich’s request. City Council members supported the possibility of removing the BMR fee as an incentive for historic preservation, but put off their decision on that until it can be explored along with other options for financial relief. A member of the See Co-housing, page 7
September 30, 2011 n Mountain View Voice n
Filmmaker Ekwa Msangi-Omari, a graduate of Mountain View High School, views the set-up for a shot in her short film “Taharuki,” which will be showed at the Silicon Valley African Film Festival.
Continued from page 1
at MVHS and found her calling. “I knew that I wanted to go to film school, but it was a very arbitrary idea,” Msangi-Omari said. A fan of New York director Spike Lee, she applied and was accepted to New
York University, where she went to study film. After finishing school, MsangiOmari returned to Africa, establishing a base in her old home city of Nairobi, Kenya. She set out to make films about East Africa told from the perspective of East Africans. Though she had seen documentaries about the wildlife in East
African countries, such as Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda, and while she had seen white actors playing foreigners with a strange African land as their backdrop, she had never seen a film about Africans, with the exception of works focused on the destitution and poverty that can be found in many African countries.
None of those categories showed ing to Nwoffia. In the West, he said, the middle class, suburban life all to often the only thing shown on Msangi-Omari had known grow- television or in films is “an Africa ing up in the Lavington Green that is always on its knees, begneighborhood of Nairobi. ging for something. In the “Living in Mountain films we are showing you View, nobody knew anysee people just living their thing about where I was everyday lives.” from,” she said. “I knew so Msangi-Omari said that much about America and she hopes her films might Americans, mostly from be instructive. “I definitefilms and TV. Yet, I came ly have a global audience across people who knew in mind,” she said. “It’s nothing about me. That’s Msangi-Omari important to me because always been a major part it’s part of my identity, of of who I am.” course,” she said. “There In “Taharuki,” a short film writ- are really beautiful inspirational ten, produced and directed by stories to be told.” Msangi-Omari, she gives her audiBesides the introduction of ence a peek into life during a very documentaries, there’s another recent and tumultuous period in new feature at this year’s festival: Kenyan history — the riots and the American Leadership Forum tribal warfare, which erupted after Silicon Valley will be hosting a the country’s rigged 2007 presiden- special screening of “Rwanda: tial election. Beyond the Deadly Pit,” a 2010 The film, which will be shown film from director Gilbert Ndaat the festival, is only 12 minutes hayo about a survivor of the 1994 long and has little dialogue. How- Rwandan genocide. After the film ever, what little talking takes place the Leadership Forum will host a is revealing. The characters alter- community dialogue and wine nate between English and Swahili, and cheese gala. reflecting the country’s colonial The festival is attracting bigger past. A man is killed for doing what names this year, as well, Nwoffiah he believes is right, and the entire said, like award-winning South film takes place inside a strip mall African filmmaker Zola Maseko. shop that sells beaded jewelry and “It’s a sign that we are coming of other accessories. age,” Nwoffia said of the festival’s This is the “real Africa,” accord- growth.
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said vice mayor Mike Kasperzak, echoing concerns of other council members. Three local residents spoke about the issue, all of them in favor of keeping the course city run. One cited problems with a previous operator who leased the course in the 1980s, which resulted in a lawsuit that cost the city millions of dollars. Others said the course was never designed to make a profit and said the city’s Shoreline Fund should cover its costs. One speaker said she was shocked that the city was charging itself for water on the course and said the city’s recent marketing efforts showed promise. Ultimately, Siegel said that the course just couldn’t compete anymore with other privately run courses, which pay their employees less and are operated by companies that develop marketing expertise at courses around the country. “We just can’t compete with other golf courses at this rate,” said mayor Jac Siegel. “Most other golf courses are doing the same thing.”
Continued from page 5
co-housing group said he would not be able to afford the project without some financial relief from the city. The $800,000 cost of restoring the historic home has already increased the cost for each household by $40,000. Council members raised the possibly of counting the Bakotich house as a BMR unit, instead of requiring the large BMR fee. Council member Jac Siegel said he was concerned about setting a precedent by waiving the BMR fee. “I cannot support anything that will jeopardize the city for lawsuits,” from other developers who
Lenny Siegel, a member of the Save Hangar One Committee who last week delivered a 2,700-signature petition to Congress members urging that funds be appropriated to re-skin the hangar, said in an email that it was “unrealistic” to expect Congress to appropriate money for the hangar while the study was being conducted. “This means that no funding is likely until fiscal year 2013, although with the anticipated delays in the overall appropriations process this year, there is a very remote chance that a positive NASA report might lead to re-inserting funding this year,” Siegel wrote. -Daniel DeBolt
managers’ union, the EAGLES. Employee pay and benefits would have been cut and two pro shop employee positions and two greens-keepers positions would have been eliminated. The plan also relied on some accounting moves or “gimmicks,” as council member Means called them. Michaels at Shoreline, a restaurant at the course, could pay for the course with $150,000 in revenue that normally goes to core city services. The city would also have to stop charging the course for administrative costs, which would pinch another $275,000 from the core services like police and the library. The city would also stop charging about $431,000 a year for water, a cost which would be spread among the city’s water users, increasing water rates city-wide by 2 percent, according to a city staff report. Those accounting measures would still mean that taxpayers would be subsidizing the course,
The Senate Committee on Appropriations has killed President Obama’s $32.8 million request to restore Moffett Field’s Hangar One in its markup of the 2012 federal budget, just as the House Committee on Appropriations did in July. The Senate committee gave the same reason as the House committee, saying only that it was “due to concerns raised in a June 2011 NASA inspector general report.” The report questioned the need to fund the restoration of the historic building when other more “mission critical” projects would be delayed. In response to that report, NASA is studying the cost of several options for the hangar, which is due by the end of the year.
Continued from page 1
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oppose the city’s BMR ordinance. “Ways to mitigate any risk of litigation has been one of the challenges of our discussions,” City Attorney Jannie Quinn said. In an effort to meet the city’s parking requirements, Susan Burwen said the group would be spending $2.5 million on the underground garage, but even then they requested an exception to the city’s parking requirements of 2.3 spaces per unit. She said the two spaces per unit approved is justified because the group is made up of older folks who don’t need so many cars. V
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