Following a serious car crash Saturday on El Camino Real near the former Acorn restaurant site, the Menlo Park City Council decided Tuesday night a traffic study is needed before a proposed medical office complex can be built on the property.
The council voted 4-1 to send the plan -- which involves demolishing the restaurant and building the two-story office project at 1906 El Camino -- back to the Planning Commission. Councilman John Boyle voted in opposition.
The project, with the traffic study results, will return to the Planning Commission for final approval.
The traffic study will take at least five weeks, according to city staff.
The Planning Commission initially approved the project at its May 7 meeting, but resident Mike Brady appealed that decision, arguing the applicant took advantage of the city's relaxed building guidelines in getting the project approved without a traffic study.
On Saturday, July 14, a car crash left a 28-year-old woman from Alameda severely injured as her car was struck by a van as she apparently attempted to turn left onto southbound El Camino Real from Watkins Avenue, according to police.
The recent accident, coupled with two non-injury accidents that have occurred at the intersection in the past two years, prompted council members to require a traffic study before the project moves forward.
"The issue here is that it's a dangerous intersection," said Councilman Heyward Robinson.
Mr. Brady, who lives several blocks from the Acorn site, and five other residents who live in the area, stressed that the intersection is dangerous as is, and the medical office complex would increase traffic at the site.
Council members said the traffic study should include potential mitigations to slow traffic and make the intersection safer, but any safety measures will have to be approved by Atherton -- the former Acorn site is in Menlo Park, but that segment of El Camino Real is in Atherton.
Councilman Boyle agreed measures should be taken to make the intersection safer, but he said that process shouldn't hold up the construction of the medical office project.