August 26th, 2005


Neighborhood Meeting

Mountain View City manager Kevin Duggan looks exactly like the school counselor in South Park, Mr. Mackey. And there the resemblance ends, um-kay? In last night's Whisman Neighborhood meeting, he was articulate, humorous and businesslike as he and more than 20 other Mountain View city staffers responded to question cards from the audience.

This is the second one of these meetings I've gone to, and both times I have been impressed with the quality of the city staffers and council members. In almost two hours of answering our questions, nobody ever side-stepped or played the "let me get back to you" game. They all did their best to provide at least a preliminary answer, and the handful of "we'll email you"s were given when they wanted to research a fuller answer than what they knew off the top of their heads.

Mayor Matt Neely chaired the meeting. He's about 6'8" tall, slender, 30-ish,  To his right was the previous mayor and now councilman Matt Pear, a little older, shorter and not so slender and to his left was the guy who was mayor before Pear, and now councilman, Nick Galioto, who is still older, shorter and less slender. They also took their share of questions.

The combined staff updated us on some new housing projects, their take on the elementary school closure slated for next year, and issues ranging from traffic signals to recycling bins to dogs barking to on-street car repairs.

Also present was the brand new superintendent of the local school district, Dr. Maurice Ghysels, who came as an audience member but volunteered to answer questions about the school closure. He was astoundingly knowledgeable for someone who has only been on the job for 16 days.  Heck, he would have been impressive if he'd been there for years.

All in all it was a very good meeting, though the answer to my question "when do they plan to make Castro Street safe for bicyclists?" got an answer of "we don't". To his credit, the traffic engineer who answered the question didn't look like he was entirely comfortable with the lame answer he gave that Castro Street is designed as a high congestion zone, and traffic is slow so bikes should be able to ride in the traffic lane. The fact is, the multitude of crosswalks and the insane parallel parking model on that street makes it extremely dangerous to bike there. But at least he gave an honest answer.

One gripe I did have is they held the meeting at the German School, a private school, instead of at a city facility or public school. The elementary school slated for closure is only a few blocks away, it really should have been held there.
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