Open letter to Mountain View City Council about the HSR train station

I urge these issues to be addressed about the HSR station:

  1. PARKING

    Because parking:

    1. is negative-revenue land usage ( costs to build/maintain/ generates no revenues or taxes )
    2. is NOT required for high-ridership. Palo Alto and Mountain View both have Caltrain ridership that vastly exceeds available parking. So limiting parking does not limit low ridership.
    3. costly: $35,000+ / parking stall in construction cost

    THEREFORE, Mountain View should :

    1. audit/survey of all parking lots on all parcels larger than 10 spots.
    2. determine if Shoreline office complexes and Shoreline Ampitheatre have parking lots that are consistently at less than maximum utilization. Map the excess parking.
    3. Identify mechanisms to utilize existing parking more efficiently to free up space for HSR passengers. For example,
      1. by increasing transit access to concerts
      2. enable Shoreline office complex landowners to lease part of their parking lots for HSR passenger usage.
      3. Utilize parking cash-out to reward local employee transit use.
      4. enable office complexes along the LRT line between Yahoo! and Evelyn LRT station to lease parking lots for HSR passenger usage.
    4. make walking/VTA MORE convenient than driving to the station. Bus/taxi connections should be positioned closer than the nearest parking spot.
    5. existing infrastructure should be utilized before building new: specifically the LRT line connecting Mountain View with parking lots and employers in north Sunnyvale.
    6. Take a wait and see approach. Minimize new construction, identify locations for possible parking to be constructed and then WAIT to see if the actual demand exists. 200+ affordable apartment units were torn-down to build BART 3,000 car parking structure in Millbrae. It sits empty most of the time.
    7. All new parking should be priced to cover the cost of construction and maintenance. Determine a pricing mechanism that will make any new parking places self-sufficient – Mountain View should not subsidize Los Altos residents driving to station.
  2. RIDERSHIP DISTRIBUTION numbers are suspicious and should be questioned.
    Source

    Boardings or Alightings
    Auto-dropoff

    2,200
    Auto-park

    2,400
    Rental car

    740
    Taxi

    680
    Transit

    800
    Walk

    1000

    Specifically, only 1800 HSR riders are coming from transit and walking. 4,600 riders are driving to the station. The “1800 from transit” number is significantly less than the number of existing Caltrain and VTA riders at the Mountain View station. Mountain View should control its own destiny and build a station that PROACTIVELY guides how people should access the station. If Mountain View builds a car-centric station, Mountain View will have a lot of car trips. If Mountain View builds a transit-centric station the riders will walk or take transit to the station. Proper schedule integration with LRT, Caltrain, VTA busses and community shuttle busses could easily reduce the number of car trips, congestion, and the need for parking

  3. INCLUSIVE HIGH-VALUE STATION:
    1. right now the first 4 blocks of Castro are high value
    2. Moffet on the other side of Central is low value.
    3. Access to downtown from north side of Mountain View is difficult and dangerous for pedestrians ( Central + tracks)
    4. World-wide train stations are extremely desirable retail space filled with small shops.
    5. Land within 1/4 mile and 1/2 mile has high-value potential and should be reserved for high-value uses.

    THEREFORE,

    1. Mountain View should design a station that makes Mountain View an attractive DESTINATION.
    2. Mountain View should look to maximize land value. All land within 1/2mile of the station should be zoned to uses that increase sales tax revenue/property tax revenue.
    3. Mountain View should construct a 2+-story station/retail mall that utilizes the air rights over Central and Moffet to connect the underutilized Moffet Ave area to the rest of downtown Mountain View.
    4. Retail spaces should be integrated to the station and the Central/Moffet bridging (Similar to Vallco shopping center)
    5. Mountain View explore closing the Castro street crossing and turning the first 2 blocks of Castro into a pedestrian mall ( essentially make the Summer Thursday night street closing permanent )
    6. Integrated residential/extended-stay facility integrated into the station: A commute that consist of taking an elevator to the station is highly attractive and should be explored. Extended-stay facilities would also be useful for out-of-town people with relatives in local hospitals.
    7. A senior citizen assisted living facility should be integrated considered. Such a facility would allow seniors direct access to transit without requiring a car.
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