Visions for San Antonio: better walking and biking; more school capacity and green space; divided on density

In two visioning sessions and two online surveys in late 2012 (Survey #1Survey #2), Mountain View residents and stakeholders shared their visions of the San Antonio area, currently dominated by big box retail and car-oriented shopping.

While a visioning step typically is only the first step in the creation of a city’s zoning plan, Mountain View plans to use the results of visioning to guide a resubmission of the massive Merlone Geier development proposal, which is on hold pending the results of the visioning.

The top concern for the area was the mix of uses.  Amost all survey respondents (90%) shop at San Antonio. Residents are concerned about shopping being replaced by office space in the Merlone Geier development proposal.

The second concern, listed by 57% of survey respondents, was making it easier to get around by walking and bicycling.  Residents want better walking and biking even though most people drive today;  92% of respondents currently drive, 48% walk, and 35% bike (the question could have more than one answer).  The San Antonio area is at the border between Mountain View, Palo Alto and Los Altos, and participants wanted to improve connections to the neighboring cities.


Other issues important to many residents are adding school space, parks and more trees in the area.


Responses were mixed regarding density.  In the survey and the in-person visioning sessions, some respondents objected to the idea of 4-5 story buildings, and many (but not all) objected to the idea of 6+ story buildings. The Merlone Geier development proposal that is on hold called for a twelve story building and two 9-story buildings.

Favorite 2-3 story mixed use building


Favorite medium format retail building design

Favorite 4-story office building design

Some higher density will help pay for parking structures that put vehicle storage into a more condensed area and allow for a more pedestrian and bike access, and a livelier walking environment.  What balance will meet the desires of residents, the economic goals of developers, and help pay for some of the public spaces and services that residents want?

If you attended these meetings and participated in the process so far, what is this summary post missing?

The City Council will need to give guidance to the developer based on the visioning process alone, without the benefit of a deeper study of the economics, circulation, parking, public service needs, and other topics that will be considered in the overall Specific Plan.  The City Council is expected to review the vision materials on January 22 and set the direction for the development.

For people interested and concerned about the future of the area, the January 22 meeting will be particularly important.

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3 Responses to Visions for San Antonio: better walking and biking; more school capacity and green space; divided on density

  1. Pingback: Mountain View Council to consider San Antonio Vision further before inviting Merlone Geier back | Peninsula Transportation Alternatives

  2. Ian Turner says:

    Can we please not demand parking structures as part of new development? Mandating parking just encourages driving and makes things more expensive for those who don’t come by car.

    • admin says:

      Ian, there need to be at least some parking. One choice is whether to have surface parking lots or parking structures. Parking structures are better because they use less land to accommodate cars compared to surface parking, which takes a lot of space and creates an pedestrian-unfriendly environment (like what there is now). Another choice is whether to charge for parking. If parking isn’t free, then people can make more rational decisions about whether to take transit or bike, if those are workable choices for the trip. – Adina

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