The Neighborhood

Castro City is a single-family home (R1) neighborhood in Mountain View.

It looks like other R1 neighborhoods in the area. But it has a unique feature: The lots here are smaller.

some houses
These houses all are on ~4,000 sqft lots

Current zoning ordinance starts with a minimum of 6,000 square feet. And while there are some smaller lots in R1 zones throughout the city, the Castro City neighborhood has an unusually high concentration. Most of the homes in the neighborhood are on lots less than 6,000 square feet, including 17 on lots less than 3,000 square feet.

These houses sit on ~3,000sqft lots

Castro City has a density of 25 homes/hectare, vs around 14 in Monta Loma and 8 in Cuesta Park. I am very curious why this neighborhood is different, and how it came to be so. If anyone knows please reach out.

But it is interesting how it does not feel like a dense neighborhood at all. It feels like a normal R1 neighborhood. And 20 homes per hectare is what some consider the minimum density to create traditional walkable neighborhoods. With SB9 in effect it is possible that all R1 neighborhoods could reach the same density as Castro City has today

The Park

Just West of Castro City is Mora Park. Mora Park is the city’s newest public park.

kids play at parks
Mora Park had it’s opening ceremony last week

It is a small neighborhood park about 700 feet from Castro City. But to get there you’d need to walk nearly a mile.

walk 5,000 miles
No thanks I’ll just drive”

There does seem to be a paseo that connects Castro City and the new development. But when I tried to open the door it was locked.

Will it be opened someday? Who has the keys?

The Point

The point here is twofold. We don’t need to build block-sized apartment buildings to create walkable cities. But at the same time just having sufficient density doesn’t automatically make the city walkable.

We don’t need to rebuild the whole city to create a place where people drive less, walk more, and mass tranit is viable.

The new development on the other side of the gate is more dense than Castro City, but like Castro City it is blocked on three sides. The gate should be unlocked so people can walk to Mora Park or La Plaza Market, and maybe even meet their neighbors in the process.