I recently ran into Mayor Ronit Bryant at Le Boulanger and spent a little while chatting over coffee. Mayor Bryant moved to Old Mountain View in 1987, having convinced her husband Cliff that downtown Mountain View was the place to be. The couple had spent time living in Sunnyvale and elsewhere in Mountain View, but really wanted to be downtown, to be able to walk to get a cup of coffee, or to the library, or to a favorite restaurant for a meal. This meant moving into a home that was smaller than the one they left, but the trade-off was worth it for them.
Not long after moving to Old Mountain View, Ronit became involved with OMVNA in its early days. At that time, the neighborhood was focused on the Evelyn Corridor Precise Plan, and creating design guidelines for Old Mountain View, to preserve its unique characteristics. “When you look at the houses in Old Mountain View, you generally see front doors and windows facing the street, not blank walls or garage doors,” said Ronit. This is a hallmark of Old Mountain View and a characteristic the design guidelines seek to preserve. During her service to OMVNA, Ronit spent six years as newsletter editor, two years as chair and webmistress and moderator of OMVNAtalk. When the time came to incorporate the organization, Ronit signed the Articles of Incorporation.
Having a passion for parks and open space, Ronit sought and received appointment to the Parks and Recs commission, where she served for 8 years. A big believer in planning, she helped shepherd through a rewrite of the Parks & Open Space Plan, something in which she takes great pride. “Planning rationalizes things,” she said, “you get input from all parties, and think through the goals.” The resulting updated Plan increases transparency and gives council and staff the flexibility to respond to change. The updated Plan formulates goals that are tied into the General Plan, provides a clear way to analyze neighborhood needs, and a transparent method for prioritizing these needs in a city-wide context.
Before Ronit helped to update the Parks and Open Space plan, the city’s process for acquiring and developing new parks was unclear to residents. This became obvious as she and other neighbors attempted to get Mercy Bush park built. With the updated Plan in place, the city now has clear goals with regard to the acquisition of land and development of parks. Under the new Plan the city will build the new Del Medio and Dana/Mariposa neighborhood parks in the next couple of years.
On the topic of planning, Ronit also pointed out that updating the General Plan was a key plank of her election platform, and that the update is nearing completion. “We have worked very hard to obtain input from all the various constituencies in Mountain View — not just the usual players,” she said. “We went out into the community and actively sought input. We conducted meetings in Spanish, Chinese and Russian to make sure those communities were heard. We reached out to seniors and youth as well.” As the plan nears completion, she is satisfied that it represents the will of Mountain View residents and will serve the city well over the next twenty years.
The conversation naturally turned to city governance and finances. “Mountain View is one of a very few cities in the country that still has a AAA bond rating” she said. This is a testament to the city’s conservative approach to financial management, including balanced budgets and protecting reserves. Ronit said “we don’t spend money we don’t have.” Unlike many other cities, Mountain View still has significant reserves, because we don’t rely on reserves to balance the budget. Ronit said “we have a wonderful City Manager and committed city staff who have been creative in reorganizing city functions to deliver the same levels of service with fewer resources.”
A cofounder of Mountain View Trees, Ronit enjoys gardening in her spare time. She also enjoys walking in the neighborhood and talking with the neighbors she runs into along the way. “Old Mountain View is so pleasant to walk around, so lovely, and the people are so friendly.” These walks remind Ronit of why she moved here in the first place, and what she works so hard to protect from her position on Council.
originally published in the Old Mountain View Neighborhood Association newsletter