Although Menlo Park City Council members don't like plans to build a medical office complex at the site of the closed Acorn restaurant, they still decided to approve the oft-delayed project at their Jan. 8 meeting.
The council voted 4-1 to deny an appeal of the Planning Commission's decision to approve the two-story, 9,825-square-foot complex at 1906 El Camino Real, between Watkins Avenue and Spruce Avenue. By denying the appeal, the council allowed the project to proceed.
The project has been the subject of many, and sometimes contentious, public meetings spanning 14 months.
Neighbors said building a medical complex would increase traffic to the already dangerous intersection of El Camino Real and Watkins Avenue, where a 28-year-old woman from Alameda was seriously injured July 14 when a van struck the car she was driving.
Council members agreed with neighbors that the intersection should be safer, but rather than reject the project and leave nothing but an abandoned restaurant at the site, they required the developer to deposit $100,000 into an account for future traffic mitigations.
"We were stuck between the choice of this project or perpetual blight at the site," said Councilwoman Kelly Fergusson after the meeting.
Councilman John Boyle voted in opposition, but said he supported the project. He said he couldn't support the vote because the council was imposing too many restrictions on the developer.
Making the intersection safer, even with $100,000 from the developer, may still prove complicated.
Although the Acorn site is in Menlo Park, that segment of El Camino Real is under the jurisdiction of Atherton and Caltrans, meaning future traffic mitigations, such as installing a traffic light, or restricting left turns onto El Camino Real from Watkins Avenue, would need both parties' approval.