I shocked Steve. I let them have it.
I went up to him afterwards to apologize for being so emotional, saying that I’d surprised myself– “But then, I realized, I WAS angry!”
He looked at me with this grateful smile on his face getting bigger and bigger and finally, looking in my eyes, said, “Wow. Of *all* the people… I would NEVER have taken you for such a tiger!” and he thanked me. “That was straight from the heart. You were great!”
Nearly five hours into the two hour meeting I had had to put down the knitting and just listen to them drone on and on and sent Richard a note and my Iphone autocorrected that phrase to “inane,” capturing it perfectly, and it was oh please, please let me have my needles back.
Backstory: as I’ve mentioned, we only have one car now because we spent near the equivalent of a small car on my new hearing aids. Which are fabulous. And so, when the Mountain View City Council scheduled their meeting that was essentially the redeveloper vs Milk Pail at 5:00-7:00, Stage II, Richard and I were stuck: it could go to any hour and I couldn’t strand him at work and he didn’t want to strand me from going and supporting Steve, the owner of Milk Pail, on behalf of both of us.
I almost rented a car.
He decided I really did need to go no matter what and made arrangements at work and simply called me at 3:45 to my surprise and said, I’m coming home now. You can go.
Last time I was in those council chambers, I sat there unable to decipher any of the proceedings in that room, even with what was then state-of-the-art aids, simply a mute presence in Steve’s support, so when he shook my hand before it started tonight and thanked me for coming and asked if I would speak, I said, no, no, I don’t think so.
I heard every word coming out of the councilmembers’ microphones. Who knew! Thank you Oticon! Everything, and so when they asked for public comment I leaped to my feet–yeah I had something to say, definitely. With the 1.15 million square feet the developer wants to build along SA Road, I said it was laughable that they claimed it would have zero impact on traffic on SA Road in the adjoining cities just a few blocks away (and near us).
I told of the community that Milk Pail creates, where rich and poor alike come to shop, where the poor can afford fresh veggies because Steve’s prices are so low. Because his costs are so low. He’s been there a long time. (I didn’t say the obvious, that it’s stupid to tell him to move his business–given Proposition 13 and the fact that he’s owned his land for 38 years, he would lose his low property tax edge entirely and the fact that he owns the place outright and would have to raise his prices. Come ON people. But yes, Council asked innocently why he didn’t just move. Duh.)
And then I got down to what I knew they knew: one small halal shop had refused to sell. So the developer had cut off their parking and starved them out and now owns what was their property. They’re trying to do the same thing to Steve. (And the Council itself had abrogated the existing longterm parking agreement that Steve had paid for and then they’d individually denied having voted for any such thing, till Steve showed them chapter and verse at an earlier meeting where they had. I did not bring that up.)
Having mentioned I lived in the town just over one, I told them, “I have shopped at Milk Pail for twenty-six years.” I cited the halal owners and told them “That is why my family and I have boycotted every business built in Stage I. My husband and four grown kids have not and will not step foot in the new Safeway; we used to shop at the old one on California Avenue” (now closed). “IF YOU SHAFT STEVE”–I looked around at them– “you are telling us You. No. Longer. Want. Our. Dollars. Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Safeway, Costco.
We have our own.”
And I sat down. (Thinking, well, except for the Costco, we’d have to go to Redwood City or Sunnyvale if we skip yours. Close enough.)
I didn’t even use up my allotted two minutes. I didn’t have to.
It was great seeing the developer’s head honcho getting defensive and angry in response to some of Council’s questions later.
But they were too divided, and could only decide not to decide yet. Steve’s not out of the woods yet. But with 200 emails pouring in from the community and a record turnout tonight for such a meeting, demanding that Milk Pail be saved, things may be looking up.
We have to keep up the pressure on the City.
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