News

Memos reveal details of Menlo's downtown plan

EIR scheduled for release Thursday

By Barbara Wood

Special to the Almanac

Refinements in the long-range plan that will govern development in downtown Menlo Park and along El Camino Real for the next 30 years will be released by the city on Thursday afternoon, April 19, when it publishes the environmental impact report and final draft of the El Camino Real/Downtown Specific Plan in preparation for Planning Commission discussion on Monday, April 30.

Click here if you can't wait to read the details of the final EIR and want to read city memos that were posted Friday on more than a dozen items the council had asked to explore further.

Among the highlights:

■ Parking garage in Plaza 2. The memo says a parking structure on Parking Plaza 2 could provide between 250 and 310 parking spaces, depending on whether part of the parcel is left as a small park. The five-level structure would replace 95 existing spaces, with one level underground.

■ El Camino roadway and sidewalks. The memo suggests that four lanes with bike lanes and on-street parking is the preferred configuration for El Camino Real, and also suggests including curb extensions to improve pedestrian safety.

■ Senior housing. The memo recommends allowing senior housing in mixed-use zones, but without creating a separate zoning designation. Suggested developer incentives include reduced parking requirements and increased density allowances.

■ Retail grouping along El Camino Real. The memo supports making El Camino Real a mixed-use neighborhood with pedestrian-friendly retail, including restaurants and small stores, along with offices and residences. It suggests grouping retail uses along El Camino near downtown Menlo Park and at Middle Avenue and El Camino.

■ Economic analysis of regulations for potential projects. The memo says mixed-use residential development with the proposed densities should generate a profit for the developers at current land values, but residential development with the proposed densities might have more financial problems.

Worse off are mixed-use office projects at current market rents, which do not appear economically feasible even with increased density.

"Under current market conditions, it is unlikely that new office development will occur in the study area for most small and large parcels," the memo says.

Other items discussed in the memos include building heights and setbacks, bike lanes, sustainability, live/work zoning and restaurants.

Comments

Posted by Frugal, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 17, 2012 at 5:11 pm

FIVE LEVELS? I wonder how many residents know this?


■ Parking garage in Plaza 2. The memo says a parking structure on Parking Plaza 2 could provide between 250 and 310 parking spaces, depending on whether part of the parcel is left as a small park. The five-level structure would replace 95 existing spaces, with one level underground.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 17, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Do we want a vital downtown like Palo Alto or not? If we don't, then leave things as they are. If we want a vital downtown with a lot of business IT REQUIRES PARKING. Palo Alto realized this long ago and has built numerous parking garages. Do we want a vital downtown (like Palo Alto)? If the answer is "yes," we need to take the steps necessary to accomplish that. If not, then we can remain an antiquated little village that looks like it is still in the 60's. Menlo Park, you have a choice.


Posted by Frugal, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 17, 2012 at 8:57 pm

The question is not do we want a "vital downtown like Palo Alto" but do we want to LOOK LIKE downtown Palo Alto. I for one like our downtown pretty much as is. (Except for El Camino where we can all agree that as soon as financing once again becomes available responsible development should follow.)


Posted by Marcy Magatelli, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 17, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Is it just me, or do other people have trouble remembering which parking lot has which number? In the interest of really making sure everyone affected, really does understand everything about these plans, it might be nice to see pictures, diagrams, examples, etc. Something people can quickly identify. My own store's parking lot is one that got assigned to be available for extra time, for pay, but I didn't even know where the dumb meter was, to show people where to buy a ticket! If you are like me, we really do care, but we don't have a lot of time to devote to all this, so please make it really clear and simply. Thanks!


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 18, 2012 at 7:18 am

Frugal:

Santa Cruz Ave. storefronts are desperately in need of updating. Like I said, it's like stepping back inot the 60's along much of the street.

As far as ECR is concerned, most of the vacant land is owned by Stanford. I don't think financing is an issue with them. The economy perhaps.


Posted by concerned, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 18, 2012 at 8:05 am

Stanford has ground leases that haven't expired yet. And they are waiting to see how big they can build under the new rules.

Is anyone else concerned that the consultants who just concluded that mixed-use buildings (unless residential) on Stanford couldn't provide any public benefit are the same consultants who are also employed by Stanford?


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