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Mary Hodder


By | Affordable Housing, City Planning, Design, Historic Buildings, Livability, MV Council, Walk Appeal | No Comments

OUR PROCESS:  Each of the nine candidates responded to our questionnaire on critical issues affecting livability now and in the post-pandemic future such as the future of our historic downtown, office-housing balance, local control over development and the development of Moffett Street adjacent to downtown.

Eight of the nine candidates accepted our offer of an interview to expand on their written responses.

RESULTS: Lisa Matichak and Margaret-Abe Koga were the two candidates whose written responses were 100 percent in support of the advocacy and goals of Livable Mountain View and who we feel would give Mountain View much needed leadership during this critical time.

We wish to thank all the candidates for their efforts.  Please see the questionnaires of candidates who gave us permission to publish (see links below).


Formed in 2018 to advocate for Mountain View City Council candidates and actions that promote the livability of our city, LivMV was a key contributor to the 2018 election of our (former) steering committee member Alison Hicks to the Council. We also endorsed first place council candidate Ellen Kamei. Livable Mountain View was the prime driver behind Weilheimer House (Chez TJ) and the Air Base Laundry building (Tied House) receiving eligibility for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. Prior to this honor being granted by state and federal commissions we lobbied our Council to preserve these buildings with a 2600 signature petition and appearances before the Council when their destruction seemed imminent. In the last two years, Livable Mountain View has lobbied the Council on a number of other issues, including the inappropriateness of cannabis stores in our downtown, positive characteristics of an affordable housing project proposed for downtown Parking Lot 12, and the need for a competitive process for the design of the new downtown Transit Center to create a world class entry to our city.

Here are the full questionnaires from Candidates:

NOTE: Alex Núñez and Sally Lieber refused permission to share their answers.

Margaret Abe-Koga (pdf)

Lisa Matichak (pdf)

Pat Showalter (pdf)

Lenny Siegel (pdf)

José Gutiérrez (pdf)

Paul Roales (pdf)

John Lashlee (pdf)

Susan Kirsch, Founder of Livable California sends this message to take action around SB50.

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Susan Kirsch, Founder of Livable California sends this message to take action around SB50.

Note that Livable Mountain View was formed before the other Livable orgs, and while we have different views on issues facing California, and want to promote building housing with planning for schools, parks, transit and infrastructure like sewers and water systems to support this new housing.

Mountain View put in 18% of housing built in Santa Clara County last year, and yet we are less than 1% of the land mass. We cannot ask people to live in density without parks, or provide schools for kids etc. So we must plan it locally, and the state bills that will remove local zoning are “one sized fits all”. But Mountain View isn’t like Modesto or even Fremont. We are different, and are managing getting a lot of housing in quickly without the State of California handcuffing our city and ruining our historic downtown.

Therefore we oppose these bills and suggest the state find other ways to encourage communities not putting in dense housing to do so, because MV is building in excess of the State standards for adding new housing.

Hi All –

We’ve had inquiries about advocacy, priorities and action during the next few weeks.  Here’s a guide.   

You’re not expected to do everything; only that you do one or two things–the ones that you’re good at! 

Resource for all bills:

ADVOCACY.  Livable CA, working closely with Coalition to Preserve LA, is focusing on legislative advocacy, especially opposing SB 50, SB 330, and AB 1487.

SB-50 (Wiener) Planning and zoning: housing development: incentives.

Schedule, Actions, Contacts 

Now –  Make calls, send email to Senate Governance & Finance Committee, recruit others to call and send emails

4/17 –  Deadline to email comments to  Subject line: OPPOSE SB 50.

4/17 –  Deadline to email letters to the full committee:

4/23 –  Livable CA, Coalition to Preserve LA Lobby Day.  Contact Rick Hall: Rick@LivableCA.

4/24 –  Governance & Finance Committee Hearing, Sacramento.  9:00 am, Room 112.  Get a sticker.

Resource: Please Share this Stop SB50 Link – Click Here

SENATE Governance & Finance Committee

Mike McGuire, Chair   (916) 651-4002  

John Moorlach, VC      (916) 651-4037 

Jim Beall                      (916) 651-4015  

Robert Hertzberg        (916) 651-4018 

Melissa Hurtado         (916) 651-4014 

Jim Nielsen                  (916) 651-4004 

Scott Wiener               (916) 651-4011 

SB-330 (Skinner) Housing Crisis Act of 2019.

Schedule, Actions, Contacts 

Now –  Make calls, send email to Senate Housing Committee, recruit others to call and send emails.  

Noon: Deadline to email comments to   Subject line: OPPOSE SB 330.  Sample:  Livable California letter attached

4/17 –  Deadline to email letters to the full committee:

4/22 –  Housing Committee Hearing, 3:00 pm, Room 112. 

Issues with SB 330:  1) Restricts a local jurisdiction or ballot measure or initiative from downsizing or imposing building moratoria on land where housing is an allowable use; 2) Prohibits a city or county from conducting more than three hearings on an application for a housing development project; and 3) Prevails as a ten-year emergency statute.

Script:  I’m calling re: SB 330.  Me and my voting neighbors and friends OPPOSE this bill and urge Senator ___ to vote “No.”

SENATE Housing Committee

Scott Wiener, Chair     (916) 651-4011

Mike Morrell, VC          (916) 651-4023

Anna Caballero            (916) 651-4012

Maria Durazo               (916) 651-4024

Shannon Grove            (916) 651-4016

Mike McGuire            (916) 651-4002

John Moorlach             (916) 651-4037

Richard Roth                (916) 651-4031

Nancy Skinner             (916) 651-4009

Thomas Umberg          (916) 651-4034

Bob Wieckowski          (916) 651-4010

AB-1487 (Chiu) San Francisco Bay area: housing development: financing.

Schedule, Actions, Contacts 

Now –  Make calls, send email to Assembly Committee on Local Government, recruit others to call and send emails. 

4/18 – Letters due by 5 pm:   Go to “Submit Position Letter.”  Sample:  Livable California letter attached

4/24 –  Local Government Committee Hearing at 1:30, Room 127

Issues with AB 1487 (comes out of the flawed CASA Compact):  1) Establishes the Housing Alliance for the Bay Area (HABA), a new regional entity serving the 9-county Bay Area to fund affordable housing, preservation and tenant protection programs; 2) Authority to place unspecified revenue measures on the ballot, issue bonds, allocate funds, etc.;  3) Governed by a Board composed of members of MTC (9) and ABAG (9) and staffed by MTC; 4) A trial Trojan Horse rolled out in the Bay Area, and with success is likely to be rolled out around the state.

Script:  “I’m calling re: AB 1487.  Me and my voting neighbors and friends OPPOSE this bill and urge Assembly member ___ to vote “No.”

ASSEMBLY Committee on Local Government  

Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, Chair       (916) 319-2004

Tom Lackey, VC                        (916) 319-2036

Richard Bloom                           (916) 319-2050

Tasha Boerner Horvath          (916) 319-2076

James Ramos                           (916) 319-2040

Luz Rivas                                  (916) 319-2039

Robert Rivas                             (916) 319-2030

Randy Voepel                           (916) 319-2071

Don’t give up!!   This is a long-haul effort to stop SB 50 and the other bills that threaten communities. Sen. Wiener and his colleagues have had over a year to build momentum, relying on MTC, CASA, Bay Area Council network, Silicon Valley Leadership power, etc.  We are the David in this battle with Goliath.  Here’s what happens next.  

  1. April 11-April 21 -Legislators are on Spring Recess. They’re likely home.  Make an appointment for you and 1-2 others to meet with your local representatives. If you can’t get a face-to-face meeting, convey your concerns by phone.
  2. May 31 – Last day for bills to pass on their floor of origin (Senate Bills on the Senate Floor; Assembly Bills on the Assembly Floor.  We’ll continue to lobby between 4/24 and 5/31 with a goal to defeat the bills.
  3. July 12 –  If SB 50 and SB 330 are still alive, they will be heard in Assembly Committee before 7/12.  We’ll lobby to defeat and are told our chances might be better in the Assembly
  4. August 6 – Last day for Assembly to make amendments on the floor.
  5. September 13 – Last day or any bill to be passed to go to the Governor
  6. October 13 – Last day for governor to sign or veto SB 50 and all other bills

What does your imagination and creativity nudge you to do?  

THANKS for all your efforts! Sometimes success comes from the most unlikely source, strategy, person or idea.  

Hold the vision: SB 50, SB 330, AB 1487 and others – go down to defeat!  We change the narrative.  

Best wishes, 


Susan Kirsch, Founder

Livable California

What’s the latest on saving Chez TJ and Tied House?

By | Historic Buildings, Livability | No Comments

Livable Mountain View is pleased to inform you that the 1894 Weilheimer House (Chez TJ’s) and the 1931 Air Base Laundry (Tied House) now qualify for consideration to be included on the National Register of Historic Places!

On February 1, 2019 the State Historic Preservation Commission (SHRC) in Sacramento met to consider a decision (details at this link). This is the culmination of more than a year of research, signature gathering and filings in LMV’s efforts to preserve the historic core of our city. This decision is our opportunity to inform city leaders, planners and developers that preservation of these historic buildings is crucial to maintaining the welcoming, unique sense of place that is vital to our downtown, to encourage walkability and to lend a rich texture to the fabric of our community.

You can find more detailed information about these buildings, their significance, history and the effort to save them here a our archive history link.

History Of Castro Street And Its Buildings

By | Historic Buildings, MV Council | No Comments


•  1852 The first Mountain View was a tiny settlement formed around the first stagecoach stop for the first stagecoach service originated by John W. Whisman near Grant Road and El Camino.  Richard Carr opened the first general merchandise store.

1853 The Weilheimer brothers, Seligman and Samuel, German-Jewish immigrants, arrived from Germany and take a shot at the American Dream. They opened the second general merchandise store. Competition and diversity had an early start in Mountain View.

1854 The settlement is named “Mountain View” by a local store shop keeper and post master, Jacob Shumway. 

1856 The Weilheimer brothers established a general store, livery, and hotel in Mountain View.

1860 The census listed Julius Weilheimer as being 9 months old. He would eventually run the family businesses, serve as town mayor, town trustee, help create and serve as co-founder and vice president of the local Farmers & Merchants bank (now occupied by Red Rock Coffee) which eventually became Bank of America. He also built and resided in the Weilheimer House at 938 Villa in 1894 (whose living room served as the city council meeting chambers and is currently occupied by Chez TJ), led the effort to rebuild a shattered downtown after the 1906 earthquake, and served as postmaster and Wells Fargo representative among other contributions to our city.

1864 The railroad in the form of the Southern Pacific arrived and by locating its rail line in its present location, the Mountain View we know today grew and prospered.

1865 The new Mountain View town grid was laid out and remains today with Castro as the main street.  The area was called Villa Lands.

1867 Henry Rengstorff built his house near Rengstorff Landing where he operated a ferry between Mountain View and San Francisco.

1870-71 The Weilheimer brothers thrived and opened more businesses on and near Castro Street. Their 1874 Farmers Store at 124 Castro Street remains today and is occupied by Oren’s Hummus. It is believed to be the oldest building on Castro Street and perhaps the peninsula.  

1880 The Weilheimer family built its home and opened a stable on what is now Evelyn Street with and another general merchandise store in the first block of Castro Street.

• 1902 Mountain View was incorporated and Mountain View High School opened. We had electric streetlights, telephone service and a municipal water system.

1905 The Ames Building at 171 Castro Street, was built with its Spanish influenced tiled roofline and is one of Castro’s oldest commercial structures.  For decades it was occupied by the Jehning family lock business and Lock Museum.

1906 The Mockbee Building at 191 Castro Street, occupied by Knapps, is an example of the Italianate Style of commercial buildings popular in Mountain View. It was originally a hardware store and meeting place for civic groups.

1906 the San Francisco Earthquake destroyed many downtown businesses including the Ames Building which was quickly rebuilt.

1913 The Jurian Building at 194 Castro Street, most recently a candy and pop shop, was a drug store and general merchandise building that had a hall upstairs for dances, civic gatherings and celebrations.

1920 The Farmers and Merchants State Bank at 201 Castro Street, now occupied by Red Rock Coffee was built with the participation and investment of Julius Weilheimer and remains a distinguished building with Romanesque features and elaborate decoration.

1933 U.S. Naval Air Station, Moffett Field was established with buildings in the Spanish Revival style then popular in California.  The Air Base Laundry, now occupied by Tied House, opened at 954 Villa Street to serve the needs of the Air Base and utilized the same Spanish Revival architecture, as do other buildings in Mountain View, Sunnyvale and Palo Alto.

New MV City Council Sworn In: Congratulations to Alison Hicks, Ellen Kamei & Lucas Ramirez

By | MV Council | No Comments

Congratulation to the three new council members sworn into the Mountain View City Council last night at a ceremony held in Council Chambers. Alison Hicks, Ellen Kamei and Lucas Ramirez became members of the council last night.

Alison Hicks, Ellen Kamei and Lucas Ramirez (R to L) being sworn into the MV City Council

Additionally, for the 2019 year, Lisa Matichak was voted into the position of mayor and Margaret Abe-Koga was voted into the position of Vice-Major. Congratulations to both!

Many citizens turned out to witness the evening and support democracy in action. In fact it was packed and the room was hot due to all the folks there. But it was fun and exciting to see it all happen.

Livable Mountain View looks forward to working with all the Council, both newly elected and those already in office, to make our city the most livable on the peninsula!


By | Affordable Housing, City Planning, Design, Historic Buildings, Livability, Walk Appeal | One Comment

Below are our endorsements for City Council, after a written question and answer period, where some candidates asked for in-person interviews. Following are links to their written statements, if they submitted them:

LivMV Council Endorsements 2018See written answers from:  Alison Hicks (pdf), Ellen Kamei (pdf),  Pat Showalter (pdf), Lenny Siegel (pdf), Lucas Ramirez (pdf).  NOTE: Candidate John Inks elected not return the questionnaire or respond.

Based on a 5 questionnaire form and interviews (optional) the current Council Candidates received the following scores: Alison Hicks (5), Ellen Kamei (4), Pat Showalter (3), Lenny Siegel (1.5), Lucas Ramirez (1), John Inks (0).

Our questions were focused on topics that greatly affect livability and quality of life in Mountain View.

Scoring was based on one point for each signed response and comments were considered which were provided by the candidates. Partial credit was given to those who supported the spirit of the question both through comments and their voting records.



What is a Deadzone?

By | City Planning, Design, Walk Appeal | No Comments

There are an alarming amount of “deadzones” in Mtn View. This is a planning term used for areas that have no public interaction or service to the community. Here in black are the areas people are barred from entering in our downtown:Deadzones in black: Mountain View's downtown


    Deadzones harm the remaining businesses trying to survive because they hurt foot traffic numbers and the remaining businesses feel less interesting. Less retail concentration in proximity leads to less vibrancy and sustainability for the remaining businesses. Deadzones come in many forms:
    • Permanently closed shops
    • offices allowed on our main walking streets that block out the windows and don’t allow interactive use
    • buildings with blank walls feet from our main sidewalks on Castro,
    • buildings with temporary closures for remodels or even, as we found out interviewing shopkeeps, from lack of traffic that simply means they stay open very few hours.
    • Out of town developers come to make money on land they deem most profitable: office space, but contribute to the deterioration of our downtown by putting office buildings which are not interactive, closed to the street, and contain commercial kitchens that feed their employees for free, starving our downtown restaurants. A triple threat to our downtown.
      Quora offices at 605 Castro

      Quora’s office use creates a deadzone on Castro Street.

Here is an example, right on Castro: The Quora Building at 605. Note the closed shades, right on our main street, in the middle of the day. Surrounding retail businesses struggle when some areas on the main street are closed. Foot traffic decreases in these deadzone areas.

Combining Density and Livability

By | City Planning, Design, Historic Buildings, Livability, Walk Appeal | No Comments

Urban Grain and Vibrancy of Older Neighborhoods: Metrics and Measures is a new paper by Kathryn Rogers Merlino at University of Washington. It speaks to what Livable Mountain View has been saying we need for Mountain View’s downtown, which is to create density but with livability that includes a sense of place that is unique to Mountain View. One of the things we hear from Sunnyvale folks, both residents and their leaders, is that it was a huge mistake to tear out their historic downtown (all but two blocks). The 5 story boxy steel and glass buildings have tenants who live in them above, but the retail shops below aren’t all filled, and the sidewalks are deserted after 5pm. It’s not a place that is special or that people want to be. And we’ve heard that Sunnyvale is now looking to recreate that as an extension to the 2 blocks of Murphy Street so they can get it back.

We don’t want to see Mountain View lose our first three blocks (See our analysis of our Downtown Precise Plan which shows that every building, even ones that might one day be on the historic register, can be removed and bulldozed the next.) And frankly, we are concerned that without the preservation of the buildings that give us character we could end up just like Sunnyvale. Regretting it and not having the new development used as a downtown like it should be. We want density, but we want to use the lots and areas without special buildings to make it and leave the special buildings in tact and protected.

Current trends of urbanization across the country are focusing on increased density in our cities. While the idea of living at higher densities can combat sprawl, how does this affect existing, older neighborhoods? Many new buildings built for high density lack a sense of historic character and uniqueness of place, and cover entire blocks that don’t lend themselves to a quality pedestrian experience. Density must be combined with livability if we are to make quality cities that make successful places for people. This paper presents a study that suggests that a variety of age, texture and scale in buildings inherently assert a degree of richness in neighborhoods. Preliminary results of the study suggest that fine grain buildings in a block correlate with increased pedestrian activity and therefore urban vibrancy.

The study’s conclusion:

…preliminary results of the study provide quantifiable data that suggest a finer grain block with older building ages corresponds to increased pedestrian activity and street vibrancy. Higher ratings were found on blocks that had shorter average building widths that corresponded with older buildings and more durable materials. Blocks that had long, continuous building facades appeared to provide no interest or engagement for the pedestrian, nor did blocks that had open, empty lots, or buildings with poor material quality.

As the Merlino team at UW continues the study collecting data and analyzing the ways people react in different urban environments, we will keep you updated.

Historic Mountain View: Weilheimer History

By | Historic Buildings, Livability, Uncategorized, Walk Appeal | One Comment

Update Aug 12, 2017:  One of twho historical treasures that were slated to be destroyed . . .

The Weilheimer House — or Chez TJ, as it’s been known the past 30 years — was built in the 1890s by early Mountain View settlers and features Queen Anne architecture.

THE WEILHEIMER HOUSE or CHEZ TJ as it’s known today:

A walk along Mountain View’s Villa Street reveals a perfect example of Victorian Architecture from the late 1800’s. The Weilheimer House at 938 Villa Street remains at it’s original location on a grassy knoll with large Heritage Trees in front. Built in 1894, and having survived the 1906 Earthquake, it is one of the oldest buildings on the Peninsula. The Weilheimer House has a rich chronicle of Owners and is rooted in Mountain View’s Living History.

The Weilheimer House is on land that was originally part of Castro’s farm. When Castro died (around 1856), his sons hired the Lawyer Houghton to defend them against squatters and secure the land.

Weilheimer House circa 1894

From the State of California National Resources Agency:

“As payment for representing the Castro’s in court, Houghton was given land. A portion of the land Houghton received included the property. It was part of what he named “Villa Lands.” Circa 1869, Houghton sold a good portion of his land in Mountain View to Doctor Bowling (D.B) Bailey for $3,500 (he was not a medical doctor; his first name was Doctor). Over the next twenty years Bailey began developing Villa Lands and by 1887 had recorded a subdivision map.”

The Weilheimer House was built in the 1894 to be the residence of Julius Weilheimer and his young bride, Fanny. Julius was the son of Seligman Weilheimer, an early Mountain View pioneer who arrived in the city with his brother, Samual, during the California gold rush. The brothers owned a general store located on Castro St., which Julius would later operate.

The younger Weilheimer would go on to serve two terms as mayor of Mountain View.  He was a merchant, bank officer and member of the first Town Board.


“938 Villa Street, now Chez TJ, was built for Julius Weilheimer, one of Mountain View’s most prominent pioneer families. A property survey states that the Weilheimer home was built in 1894. According to the City’s 2003 Survey, “the house is an excellent example of a Queen Anne style cottage.”

It was built in an elaborate style for early Mountain View with Palladian windows, an ample porch, an open balustrade and sawtooth shingles on one of the gables. Julius was the son of Seligman Weilheimer a Jewish immigrant from Dossenheim, Baden, Germany, who built Mountain View’s first big general merchandise store in 1856. The Weilheimers also had established a general store in Old Mountain View on El Camino Real during the 1850s stagecoach era. They set up a new shop on Castro Street when the railroad opened.

“The building still stands today as one of the oldest commercial buildings in the North County. The family also ran a hotel, livery, and other businesses near the first block of Castro. Julius was very prominent in a critical era in the city’s history, when it voted to incorporate. Julius was one of our first City Council members, although the body was called the Board of Trustees at the time.  He was also Vice President of the Mountain View Farmers and Merchant’s Bank. The Weilheimer family moved to San Francisco in 1907 whereupon Arthur Free, city attorney and later Congressman had the house until 1914. The Chez TJ Restaurant, now run out of the house has long been advertised as “a contemporary French cuisine restaurant that is uniquely located in one of the most historic Victorian homes in Mountain View.”

The Weilheimer House has a rich chronicle of owners and is rooted in Mountain View’s living history.

The house is on land that had been part of the Mexican land grant of Rancho Pastoria de las Borregas.  This land grant was later passed on to Mariano Castro, who managed a farm on the land that is now Mountain View. When Castro died, around 1856, his sons hired Mr. Houghton, a lawyer, to defend them against squatters and secure the land.


“As payment for representing the Castros in court, Houghton was given land. A portion of the land Houghton received included the property. It was part of what he named “Villa Lands.” Circa 1869, Houghton sold a good portion of his land in Mountain View to Doctor Bowling (D.B.) Bailey for $3,500.  (He was not a medical doctor; his first name was Doctor.)  Over the next twenty years Bailey began developing Villa Lands and by 1887 had recorded a subdivision map.”

The Weilheimer House was built in the 1894 to be the residence of Julius Weilheimer and his young bride, Fanny.  Julius was the son of Seligman Weilheimer, an early Mountain View pioneer who arrived in the city with his brother, Samual, during the California gold rush.  The brothers owned a general store located on Castro St., which Julius would later operate.

The younger Weilheimer would go on to serve two terms as mayor of Mountain View. He was a merchant, bank officer and member of the first Town Board of Trustees. His father and brother owned a general store on El Camino and another downtown, which still stands at 124-8 Castro.

The home’s other notable past residents include Arthur M. Free, Mountain View’s postmaster and city attorney, who went on to become the only U.S. Congressman from Mountain View.

Congressman Arthur Monroe Free

Arthur Monroe Free (January 15, 1879 – April 1, 1953) was a United States Representative from California. He was born in San Jose, California. His birthplace at 66 South 14th Street is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Santa Clara County. He graduated from the Stanford University law department in 1903 and commenced practice in San Jose. Free moved to Mountain View and was a city attorney from 1904 to 1910. He was the District Attorney of Santa Clara County from 1907 to 1919. He voluntarily retired and resumed the practice of law at San Jose.

Congressman Arthur Monroe Free

Free was a delegate to the Republican state conventions in 1914 and from 1920 to 1936. He was elected as a Republican to the Sixty-seventh and to the five succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1921 – March 3, 1933).

Lloyd A. Free (29 September 1908 — 11 November 1996) was Arthur Free’s son.  Born in the Weilheimer House, he was a founder of the Institute for International Social Research.  In the war against Hitler, Free joined the Foreign Broadcast Monitoring Service. He counted references to specific military units mentioned in propaganda broadcasts and made accurate inferences about enemy offensive movements.

After the war, he assisted UNESCO in their communication operations before continuing similarly with the State Department. He helped establish the Institute for International Social Research which did opinion polling in France, Nigeria, Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines, publishing the results, frequently as an Institute publication.  Free was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and of the World Association for Public Opinion Research.

The Weilheimer House has maintained its handsome Victorian-era character over the years. Technically, it can be classified as a “Painted Lady” because it uses three or more paint colors to highlight its architectural features.





This historic house is currently home to the award-winning restaurant Chez TJ, a Mountain View favorite.  Chez TJ has long been advertised as “a contemporary French cuisine restaurant that is uniquely located in one of the most historic Victorian homes in Mountain View.”