By Barbara Wood
Special to the Almanac
Menlo Park's new city manager, Alex McIntyre, has asked the City Council to approve a demanding schedule of meetings in the four-week period from May 22 to June 12, when the council would discuss and take final action on a number of issues that could affect the city for decades. Among them: Facebook, the downtown/El Camino Real specific plan, and the city budget.
Mr. McIntyre warned the council that hearings on Facebook and the specific plan could each last five hours. The council plans to decide on the calendar at a special meeting Monday, April 9, starting at 4:30 pm in the first floor City Council Conference Room at City Hall, 701 Laurel St. in Menlo Park.
After deciding on the calendar, the council will meet in closed session to discuss two legal cases and one potential legal case.
The proposed meeting dates are:
■ Tuesday, May 22, for a public hearing on the proposed fiscal year 2012-2013 budget and capital improvement program.
■ Tuesday, May 29, for a public hearing on the Facebook land-use entitlements, development agreement, and final environmental impact report.
■ Tuesday, June 5, for a public hearing on the downtown/El Camino Real specific plan and its final environmental impact report.
■ Tuesday, June 12, adopt the ordinances finalizing the council's actions concerning the Facebook project; finalizing the council's actions concerning the specific plan and adopting the budget and capital improvement program.
At least one person, Nancy Couperus of the Downtown Alliance, has protested the proposed schedule, calling it "alarming" because "it provides little time for the public, the planning commission and other commissions to review and provide input on the documents," she wrote in an email.
"Is this a deliberate attempt to rush through these important projects without allowing adequate time for public review? We don't know, but we are certainly concerned," she wrote.
It is not only the City Council that will be kept busy considering all these items. Mr. McIntyre has also, in a move he calls in his report "unprecedented," advised the council to tell the Planning Commission "that it has a limited timeframe" to consider and make recommendations on each of these items before the council hears them.
"No matter what the council decides to do with its own calendar for hearings, the planning commission still will need to expeditiously, yet still thoughtfully, work through its own hearings on these," he said in his report.