News

Ballot initiative would target large office complexes in Menlo Park

After Menlo Park's specific plan survived its first annual review mostly unscathed following a round of commission and council evaluation, opponents weren't ready to give up, with one grassroots coalition -- Save Menlo --saying it planned "to send a very clear message to the developers who plan to cash in at the expense of the environment and quality of life in Menlo Park."

That message appears to be taking the form of a ballot initiative, as Save Menlo is now collecting signatures to put its proposed specific plan revisions before voters. The changes could cut by about 50 percent the amount of office space allowed in two upcoming mixed-use developments along El Camino Real.

Former Planning Commissioner Patti Fry co-signed the Feb. 19 notice that informed the city of the signature drive. She said that Save Menlo tried to convince the council that the specific plan is flawed, to no avail. Rather than "passively wait" for what the coalition thinks will be the damaging impacts of new, large office complexes along El Camino Real, she said, "residents have chosen to reach out to voters in the hopes of establishing their own remedies."

Ms. Fry described the initiative's revisions as modest changes that would support the goal of promoting renewal consistent with Menlo Park's character.

"No one asked for huge office buildings more suited to an office park; residents asked for a vibrant and sustainable mix of uses: transit-oriented housing, retail/restaurants, hotel, and small-scale offices," Ms. Fry told the Almanac in an email.

The revisions include changing the specific plan's definition of open space to mean only space at ground level, and not areas such as balconies; capping office space development at 100,000 square feet per project, or 240,820 square feet total; and requiring voter approval for any project that would exceed the cap or result in total non-residential development within the specific plan area exceeding 474,000 square feet.

Dissatisfaction arose once two large proposals appeared on the planning horizon after the city, following five years of discussion and community engagement, approved the specific plan in 2012. The projects would add 409,500 square feet of office space within the downtown/El Camino Real specific plan boundaries.

Stanford University and developer John Arrillaga want to build a mixed-use project that would replace mostly vacant car lots on 8.43 acres along 300 to 500 El Camino Real. The project would involve 199,500 square feet of office space, 10,000 square feet of retail, and up to 170 apartments.

A second project, designed by Greenheart LLC, would put 210,000 square feet of office space and 210,000 square feet of apartments, with 13,000 square feet of retail included, on 7 acres located at 1300 El Camino Real at Oak Grove Avenue.

The number of signatures that Save Menlo needs to get the initiative on a ballot for the November election remains to be calculated, according to the city clerk's office. In 2010, pension reform initiative Measure L reportedly needed 2,500.

Comments

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 25, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Beware the uniintended consequences of poorly conceived initiative language.

The Downtown ECR Specific Plans takes advantage of Stanford's ownership of adjacent ECR parcels to encourage an integrated mutt-parcel plan. For example, this initiative would force Stanford to submit three separate plans
each with its own separate driveway connections to ECR.


Posted by dana Hendrickson, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 25, 2014 at 12:46 pm

"Ms. Fry described the initiative's revisions as MODEST changes that would support the goal of promoting renewal consistent with Menlo Park's character."

Who thinks Modest is accurate?



Posted by Mike Lanza, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 25, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Wrong, Peter.

This initiative limits the total amount of office development as well as the amount of office space in individual developments. It gets the office space limit directly from the Environmental Impact Report, which was created to support the Menlo Park Specific Plan.

This limit, 240,000 square feet, was intended for *all* El Camino and Downtown development, and it was intended to last for thirty years. If Stanford were crafty enough to get City Council to agree to two or three separate, adjacent parcels, they would effectively eat up the entire allocation of 240,000 square feet all by themselves.

It would be up to City Council to decide if this were fair, given all the other properties on El Camino and downtown.


Posted by Mike Lanza, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 25, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Dana -

All square footage limits in the initiative are copied *directly* from the Menlo Park Specific plan and the Environmental Impact Report that accompanied it.

And, these limits were intended to apply for thirty years. Meanwhile, in less than two years, the City Council and Planning Department have been working closely with two developers on projects that would *exceed* those limits.

Clearly, City Council and the Planning Department don't think the limits they themselves approved less than two years ago are reasonable.

I happen to think they're perfectly reasonable.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 25, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is the exact language in the proposed initiative:

"3.3.5. After this measure becomes effective, the maximum amount of
Office Space that any individual development project proposal
within the ECR Specific Plan area may contain is 100,000 square
feet. No City elected or appointed official or body, agency, staff
member or officer may take, or permit to be taken, any action to
permit any individual development project proposal located within
the ECR Specific Plan area that would exceed the foregoing limit."

Stanford has three adjacent parcels on ECR - what do you think Stanford would do if it were forced to submit proposals for less than 100,000 sq. ft.? Simply three separate proposals with no connectivity, no continuity, no integrate design and multiple accesses to ECR.

Another provision states:
"Voter approval shall be required to increase the amount of net, new
non-residential or Office Space square footage allowed beyond the
limits stated in this measure."

This initiative should be labelled as the Lawyer Full Employment Act.

A 12 page voter initiative is a crazy idea and will lead to nothing happening - which is EXACTLY what Save Menlo wants.


Posted by Mike Lanza, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 25, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Peter -

You're only quoting one part of the initiative. Another section of the initiative adopts the Environmental Impact Report's (EIR) limit of 240,000 square feet of office space.

Recall that the Specific Plan, supported by the EIR, was intended to apply to development for the next thirty years.

The proposed Stanford and Greenheart developments, which are being helped along by the Planning Department and City Council, would go far beyond this 240,000 square foot limit, scarcely two years into a thirty year plan.

BTW, regarding the 12 pages of the initiative, the Specific Plan is hundreds of pages long, and Stanford has a few full-time employees (including lawyers!) working on ramming their plan down Menlo Park's throat.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 25, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

To be clad, these folks want to eliminate representative government including the City Council and the Planning Commission and ignore the entire professional staff of the city:

"PRIORITY.
5.1. After this measure becomes effective, its provision shall prevail over and
supersede all provisions of the municipal code, ordinances, resolutions,
and administrative policies of the City of Menlo Park which are inferior to
the Planning Policy Documents and in conflict with any provisions of this
measure."

Just imagine having a city wide election every time someone wants to do anything in Menlo Park. Nothing will happen and as the old things leave no one will step forward to replace them - which is EXACTLY what so-called Save Menlo wants.


Posted by MP communter, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 25, 2014 at 3:04 pm

We clearly need some life in those locations besides empty car lots, and it would be great to see more and better restaurant options, but I'd hate to see the city add high density use and more traffic to this already clogged section of El Camino.


Posted by Bob, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 25, 2014 at 4:10 pm

It would definitely be good to see some revitalization downtown.

But the question needs to be asked: how much vacant office space is there already in Menlo Park?

With our schools complaining about over crowding, can we accommodate more residents with children?

With our crowded parking and streets, how do we add more?

The answer is much bigger and complicated than commenting on just office complexes.


Posted by realist, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 25, 2014 at 6:16 pm

The critics have to cherry pick the documents to find any reason to object to the initiative.

Throughout most of the visioning process, residents were asked for our input. And we told the consultants what we would like to see on El Camino: walkable areas, open plazas, retail and restaurants. Most residents were ok with another hotel, understanding the revenue that a hotel provides. Stanford indicated that it would build senior housing, and residents were fine with that too.

No one anticipated that the final document would be created by Stanford-paid consultants and filled with imprecise language that could be reinterpreted to allow massive office development. Massive office developments do not help our city at all, providing no sales taxes. Nor do they serve residents eager for the retail options they were promised earlier.

The net result of the plan as currently worded: lots more traffic. El Camino gridlock most of the day. Neighborhood cut-through traffic. Parking challenges a la San Francisco.

The initiative serves primarily to tighten the language and get rid of the loopholes that Stanford has exploited. That's all. To make it a document that truly reflects the needs of the residents and our city rather than developer greed. We all want to see those vacant lots disappear, but let's not be so impatient that we lose sight of the bigger picture.


Posted by Delighted, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Feb 25, 2014 at 8:58 pm

Thank goodness, an initiative was filed before these 2 large developments got built and people woke up and nothing could be done. There does't need to be office building of more than 100,000 square feet on the Stanford parcels or the Derry and Cadillac parcels. 100,000 square feet is huge. Menlo Park hired a consultant that was in bed with Stanford. The result is a plan that should be called the Stanford Plan, not the Specific Plan. Stanford's architect was working on the design during the Specific Plan process and our city staff included in its reports to the council each and every instruction Stanford gave. Our Staff and our consultant never said no to Stanford except to keep the plaza at 120 feet wide and then Stanford turned the plaza into a driveway for cars to get to the underground parking lot.

This initiative is good. Our council cannot be trusted. November this initiative will be on the ballot along with the re-election of three council members who all voted for the Specific Plan. They have one more chance to save their skins. Once the signatures are verified, the council can adopt the initiative's three demands or they can let it be on the ballot and suffer the consequences.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 25, 2014 at 9:47 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Once the signatures are verified, the council can adopt the initiative's three demands or they can let it be on the ballot and suffer the consequences."

"demands" - what illustrative language.

"or suffer the consequences" - what illustrative language.

These folks are not interested in democratic government but rather in getting their own way.


First they have to get the signatures - probability of that is about 10%.

Then they have to get a majority vote - the probability of the voters deciding to freeze Menlo Park in the last century and disenfranchising the elected City Council is close to zero.


Posted by PC's interior voice, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 25, 2014 at 10:02 pm

"These folks are not interest in democratic government but rather in getting their own way." - Can't have that, I'M the one around here who is the most interested in getting my way, no matter what I have to say.

"First they have to get the signatures - probability of that is about 10%." - Yeah, 10% is a nice round number. I'm so clever.

"Then they have to get a majority vote - the probability of the voters deciding to freeze Menlo Park in the last century and disenfranchising the elected City Council is close to zero." - I wish that I could high five myself. Freeze in the last century is brilliant. Keplers, Borrone, car dealerships, so last century. Give me office, lots of office. That's the ticket.


Posted by Frugal, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 26, 2014 at 10:35 am

Anyone know what it costs per signature to hire a third party?


Posted by Mike Keenly, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 26, 2014 at 11:26 am

The critics of the ballot initiative process are afraid of direct democracy, whereby the residents would have an actual say in what happens in Menlo Park.

If you live in Menlo Park and don't this or any other ballot measure, just vote against it. And if you don't live in Menlo Park, how about letting the residents decide what's best for them?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 26, 2014 at 11:42 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"And if you don't live in Menlo Park, how about letting the residents decide what's best for them?"

Absolutely, but that doesn't mean that residents should not be fully informed before they cast their vote.

Direct democracy is great in theory BUT it requires all of the participants be be fully informed and to participate in every decision. That is why we have chosen representative democracy. If you want to see the chaos created by initiative government just look at the California State Legislature whose hands are tied by the longest constitution of any state.

" With 512 amendments, the Constitution of California is eight times the length of the U.S. Constitution and has been criticized as "a perfect example of what a constitution ought not to be" and derided for being "more about legal technicalities than principles; an embarrassment for an otherwise cutting-edge state"."


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 26, 2014 at 11:44 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Anyone know what it costs per signature to hire a third party?"

More relevant is how much will it cost to put this on the ballot both financially and in terms of arrested/delayed economic investments in Menlo Park?


Posted by frugal, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 26, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Do I sense a bit of nervousness from the developer side?

BTW regarding 3rd party signature gathering I think $3/signature with a minimum of $3000-$4000 would get the ball rolling depending on the how soon the volunteers get geared up.


Posted by Dana Hendrickson, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 26, 2014 at 1:23 pm

1. Do the currently proposed Stanford and Greenheart developments meet the requirements detailed in the MPS and EIP? If yes, they should proceed.

1. Does the SM initiative reduce the allowable office, non-office, or total space below the limits in the current "Menlo Park Specific plan and the Environmental Impact Report that accompanied it." If so, I am against it.


Posted by Lorie Sinnott, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 26, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Let's remember the strong opposition that Menlo Center ( Keplers and Cafe Borrone) had when it was going through the city process. There is nothing wrong with really examining all projects that go through planning ,as we currently do, requiring good design and public benefits, but not to the point of suffocating them.


Posted by Delighted, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Feb 26, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Dana: could you use your words instead of acronyms, please. I know ECR and EIR but you lost me on MPS and EIP.
What's wrong with reducing office?
What are the benefits of office complexes?
What is so sacred about the Specific Plan that it can't be revised so it works for the next 30 years? The initiative will help the city use the specific plan as it was intended. As it is now the EIR studied only half of the projected 30 year build out. Is it a coincidence that the amount studied in the EIR is exactly the amount of Stanford's initial proposal? This fact alone could turn me into a conspiracy theorist. When you add the fact that the consultant the city hired was also working for Stanford on a huge project in Redwood City at the same time.
The city needs to slow down; approve the first 2 developments in the queue and take a breather. Lets see how El Camino Real handles these big developments and the traffic each will produce. If both Stanford and Greenheart are approved as is and over 8,000 more cars are on ECR, residents might think that we need to stop.
For the Menlo residents who took part in the Specific Plan meetings, they believe the final plan does not reflect the goals of the plan. It's our city and we voted for the current council and we pay the salaries of the city employees and we are in charge.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 26, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

For some reason Save Menlo has not posted their proposed initiative on their own web site - so here it is:

Web Link

It is nice to have the facts in order to have a more thoughtful discussion.


Posted by Frugal, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 26, 2014 at 9:40 pm

Reading the initiative, it certainly looks like a clear winner to me.


Posted by Cmon, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 27, 2014 at 5:17 am

If you have attended Council sessions where Save Menlo has commented on issues, you'd see that they are short on facts and reasoning and high only on traditional protest. This is an anti-development group pure and simple -- with an organized line up of "members" (very few) who are coached on what to say and when. Quite unimpressive, in my view. Take a look at their own website. This organization and its handful of members would rather have empty car dealerships than vibrant space with an important partner of our town. There is no fact based, reasonableness to their approach to the issue -- none. Success to this organization is that MP never develops further. If that were not the case, we'd see more substance from them. Save Menlo does not represent the voice of this town, not by a wide margin.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 27, 2014 at 6:01 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The irony is that Save Menlo is proposing an initiative whose language has never been presented for public comment and which they want to be binding over all other city ordinances for thirty years. They have not even posted the proposed initiative on their own web site. No public discussion, no opportunity for revisions or corrections - just take it or leave it. Correcting even a single error in the initiative ( and a 12 page document produced in secret without public input and review is likely to have a number of both errors and policy misstatements) would require another expensive ballot measure:
"the voter adopted development standards and definitions set forth in Section 3, above, may be repealed or amended only by a majority vote of the electorate of the City of Menlo Park voting "YES" on a ballot measure proposing such repeal or amendment at a regular or special election."

Save Menlo wants to substitute their judgement and their choice of words for a multi-year, deliberative, iterative process including scores of open forums, Planning Commission meetings and Council meetings, all with public input, that produced the current Downtown ECR Specific Plan. Hopefully the wiser citizens of Menlo Park will neither sign the petition to place this initiative on the ballot or vote against it if it does make the ballot.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 27, 2014 at 9:30 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here are just two specific examples of why this initiative is fundamentally flawed:

1 - Medical offices are defined as

"3.3.2. As adopted on July 12, 2012, the ECR Specific Plan's Appendix
includes the following Commercial Use Classification for "Offices,
Medical and Dental": "Offices for a physician, dentist, or
chiropractor, including medical/dental laboratories incidental to the
medical office use. This classification excludes medical marijuana
dispensing facilities, as defined in the California Health and Safety
Code." The foregoing Commercial Use Classification is hereby
adopted by the voters.

2 Financial institutions are defined as:
3.3.3. As adopted on July 12, 2012, the ECR Specific Plan's Appendix
includes the following Commercial Use Classification for "Banks
and Other Financial Institutions": "Financial institutions providing
retail banking services. This classification includes only those
institutions engaged in the on-site circulation of money, including
credit unions." The foregoing Commercial Use Classification is
hereby adopted by the voters.

And neither of those definitions can be changed except by "a majority vote of the electorate of the City of Menlo Park voting "YES" on a ballot measure proposing such repeal or amendment at a regular or special election."

Well what happens when the world changes and financial institutions no longer engage in the on-site circulation of money (we are almost there today) or when medical marijuana becomes a prescription drug (and cannot be dispensed anywhere in the Downtown Specific Plan area)?

This is why a 12 page initiative, written in secret, never presented for public comment and revision, and locked in forever is NOT the way to plan the orderly evolution of a city and why City Councils, Planning Commissions, professional staff and lots of public input are a much better way to proceed.


Posted by concerned resident, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 27, 2014 at 10:18 am

for once I agree with Lorie.


Posted by Gern, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 27, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Peter, one would think you might greet this initiative effort with great enthusiasm, for at least two reasons:

1. The initiative proponents are following your beloved "rule of law" to the letter, legally and civilly making their concerns known to our local government and citizenry.
2. We will, finally, be able to test your long-held and boldly-trumpeted assertion that "few," that "an insignificant number," that "a small minority" of Menlo Park residents oppose the current Stanford 500 ECR East project. It remains to be seen if your position in this matter will prove more correct than your ill-advised proclamation of yore, that "Menlo Park does NOT want a village!"

Further, I see nothing secret or underhanded about the initiative effort thus far, despite your FUD-worthy claims to the contrary. It was submitted to the City Clerk little more than a week ago and the public vetting will happen just as it's designed to: as signatures are gathered and as citizens read and discuss the text of the measure. Unlike the DSP, which few if any have read in full, the initiative is a comparatively succinct and straightforward 11 pages, a few minutes reading for anyone with sufficient interest in the matter. What is it about this perfectly legal, civil, procedural response that you so fear and loathe, Peter?

For my small part I applaud the efforts of Mike Lanza, Patti Fry, Perla Ni and all the others who continue to raise the issue of overdevelopment in our community. I will gladly sign this petition and hope to help them gather signatures. If we happen to prevail I believe Menlo Park will be much the better for it.

Gern


Posted by Dana Hendrickson, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 27, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Delighted (real name?): sorry if the acronyms in my prior post confused anyone. I try to keep my comments brief and use acronyms to refer to titles that appear in my post and often elsewhere in this forum.

1. No Specific Plan for Menlo Park could please ALL residents.

2. I believe the process used to create our current one fairly and reasonably represents the MAJORITY of residents who CHOSE to participate in the process.

3. There are residents who believe that either #1 or #2 or both are untrue BUT I am not one of them.

4. I strongly oppose efforts to either delay the two developments, stop them or place new demands on them.

5. It's time to spend less time impeding these two projects and focus our town's energy and attention on what the MAJORITY of residents feel are more important.

6. Save Menlo has every right to circulate their petition and I, like them, eagerly await the results. But if it shows that the majority of residents oppose a petition - one that is honestly presented and widely circulated - then I hope they accept the result and cease their efforts to exert their minority view.


Posted by Dana Hendrickson, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 27, 2014 at 1:23 pm

I just noticed a typo in my prior post. I meant to say "oppose the proposal in the petition".


Posted by Dana Hendrickson, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 27, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Peter, thanks for posting the initiative online. Very odd that you had to do this because Save Menlo did not feel it important to do so.


Posted by Mike Keenly, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 27, 2014 at 1:43 pm

If residents believe that the City Council and the Planning Commission are not representing the residents' interests, they have every right to start an initiative effort to bring the issue directly to the voters. It's as simple as that.


Posted by Archer, a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2014 at 2:06 pm

"Save Menlo Park." Really? I think many would call that the height of hubris. Between ballot-driven planning and policies grounded in exclusion this is a recipe for decay and suffering. Like so many efforts like these beware the law of unintended consequences.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 27, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Gern - Thank you for your questions. I will repost my concerns regarding the petition.

A - Process
1 - The petition was created in secret
2 - Without any opportunity for public review
3 - And hence without the opportunity to improve/clarify the initiative to reflect the concerns of those outside the small group that wrote it.
4 - Once the first signature is gathered the language cannot be changed without starting the entire filing process again.
5 - No effort has been or seems to be planned to ensure that potential signers of the petition have even read it.

B - Substance
1 - The initiative is lengthy and covers a number of different issues
2 - Therefore the opportunity for mistakes and conflict are significant
3 - The initiative is a 'forever' document which will, as intended, preclude some changes to the Specific Plan without another vote and will also, as an untended consequence, make it difficult to make any changes to the Specific Plan, particularly given the Priority Clause:
"PRIORITY.
5.1. After this measure becomes effective, its provision shall prevail over and
supersede all provisions of the municipal code, ordinances, resolutions,
and administrative policies of the City of Menlo Park which are inferior to
the Planning Policy Documents and in conflict with any provisions of this
measure."
4 - Some of the language, as noted, does not and cannot accommodate changes in commerce such as banking and medical offices.
5- The initiative would force individuals with adjacent parcels to develop them separately thereby precluding integrated design and shared amenities.

C - Impact
1 - The initiative, even if not passed, will signal to any interested party that Menlo Park's planning process and established rules cannot be relied upon and they will make their investments elsewhere.
2 - The initiative, even if not passed, will delay moving forward with the Specific Plan.
3 - The initiative, even if not passed, will send a chilling message to the Planning Commissioners, the City Council and the planning staff that their efforts to have an open and inclusive process can be thwarted by a small group of disgruntled citizens.

I am sure that others can add concerns that I have overlooked.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 27, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

As examples of the authors apparent attempt to not inform the voters regarding the true nature and specifics of this initiative:
1 - It has not even been posted on their own web site
2- The initiative measure has been titled the "El Camino ReaI/ Downtown Specific Plan
Area Livable, Walkable Community Development Standards Act" which is a far cry from the substance of the initiative.

I am confident that any citizen who actually read the language of the initiative will neither sign the petition to place it on the ballot or vote for it if it is on the ballot.


Posted by Robert, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 27, 2014 at 4:04 pm

Why don't you just look back at history remember the Derry project? the group (MPT) Menlo Park Tomorrow at the 24th hour submitted demands that all but doomed the project many will say it was the economy but this was the shot across the bow to any who wish to invest in MP has anyone thought of the consequences if the developers pull out?

We are the city that "cant do anything big" we will continue to have old dilapidated buildings lining our grand blvd after 40 years nothing changes in MP a small minority has paralyzed our town its the laughing stock in development circles which is an honor that had to be earned and remember just like the Derry project development dollars are cyclical is this what you call smart growth?


Posted by Gern, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 27, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Peter Carpenter wrote:

"As examples of the authors apparent attempt to not inform the voters regarding the true nature and specifics of this initiative: It has not even been posted on their own web site."

Where Peter and Dana see conspiracy and subterfuge the actual text of the initiative (Web Link) hints at a more pedestrian explanation:

"[Title and summary prepared by the city attorney to be reproduced here, once provided by the Cily Attorney, per Elections Code section 9203]" (The full text of Election Code Section 9203 may be found here: Web Link.)

The measure is still wending its way through the city approval process (it was only submitted to the City Clerk February 19th). Peter's assumption that SaveMenlo is spearheading this effort awaits confirmation, of course, but perhaps prudence dictates the measure not be advertised or shared online until it is approved?

Peter also stated, "The initiative measure has been titled the 'El Camino ReaI/ Downtown Specific Plan Area Livable, Walkable Community Development Standards Act' which is a far cry from the substance of the initiative."

I've read every word of the initiative twice and couldn't disagree more with the above. The four sections of chief interest are succinctly and unambiguously laid out in the text of the measure. I encourage everyone to read the initiative (Web Link) and decide for themselves whether the focused amendments therein are not preferable to bookending our town with 400,000 square feet of office space, to say nothing of the attendant traffic impacts which are little understood at this time and may have no reasonable mitigation once known.

Gern


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 27, 2014 at 5:30 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Gern - Thank you using the web link to the document which I posted on Dropbox
Thank you for the web link to the initiative process ordinance. I note that:

"In providing the ballot title, the city attorney shall give a true and impartial statement of the
purpose of the proposed measure in such language that the ballot title shall neither be an argument, nor be likely to create prejudice, for or against the proposed measure."

I am confident that the City Attorney will provide a much more accurate title than the one proposed.


Posted by Robert, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 27, 2014 at 10:28 pm

Advice from the city attorney? I recall some advice given to council during public employee contract vote that ended up being false maybe a second opinion is in order?


Posted by Dana Hendrickson, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 28, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Gern: I do not know where your idea "Where Peter and Dana see conspiracy and subterfuge" came from.

I simply believe if you want everyone to know about and understand your initiative before they decide whether to support it you should promote it as widely as possible and encourage all residents to read it.

Make sense?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 28, 2014 at 12:35 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"I simply believe if you want everyone to know about and understand your initiative before they decide whether to support it you should promote it as widely as possible and encourage all residents to read it.

Make sense?"

Yes


Posted by Gern, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 28, 2014 at 3:58 pm

@Dana, you must have missed my previous comment, wherein I surmised the applicants have not promoted the initiative because it has not yet been approved by the city (it lacks the city attorney's ballot title, as one small hurdle). I imagine once the measure/ballot title are approved there will be a good deal of promotion -- we won't get 2,500+ signatures by hiding the petition from registered voters, after all.

@Peter, truly, thank you for sharing the initiative text on dropbox.

Gern


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 28, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

My concern is that each of the petition signers actually read the entire proposed initiative before they sign their names. Typically the signature sheet only includes the title of the proposed ballot measure. Hopefully all the parties involved will work collaboratively to make sure that each prospective signer is fully informed as to the contents of the proposed initiative.


Posted by Cmon, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 1, 2014 at 3:58 pm

Remember, SaveMenlo is focused almost exclusively on "protesting" any development that goes beyond pure open space. Attend a session where they are present and you will see the tactics. It is easy to try to postpone and to wear out reasonable dialogue -- any detailed project is imperfect and one can find supposed flaws if you try. Don't confuse that tactic with reasonable suggestions toward a compromise. Signing a petition is signing on to this strategy -- not to a dialogue to improve our city.


Posted by John L, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 2, 2014 at 8:47 pm

I have read all of these comments. The huge increase in office space will be good for a lot of local business but terrible for residents due to making an already bad traffic problem worse, especially at rush hour when it is already horrible. I would support limits on how much office space can be created. You can't trust the developer to do the right thing. I will sign the petition and vote for the initiative.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 2, 2014 at 9:00 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The existing Downtown ECR Specific Plan does not trust the developer but rather represents the informed and experienced judgement of the Planning Commission and the elected City Council. Discard that at your risk.


Posted by Mike Keenly, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 3, 2014 at 12:17 pm

It doesn't really matter what one believes are the motives of those who submitted the ballot initiative. The goals of the initiative can be easily determined by reading the initiative language.

Peter, thanks for providing access to the document.


Posted by Trying to be Tolerant, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 3, 2014 at 6:04 pm

I agree with Peter Carpenter and others that understand this is a complex issue and is not just about "us" against "big, bad" Stanford or other large development companies. Bringing in housing and restaurants does not cure everything. Nor does leaving those car lots empty forever help anyone. There are huge number of things that could be said but summarizing:

1. Remember that most of us in this area are here because of Stanford in one way or another. The reason why our houses are worth 10 times more than the national average is because of Stanford and its attraction to tech/venture companies. If Stanford were not here, most everyone would have to be working harder to earn a living instead of arguing on email.

2. Offices are not evil either. Does it mean that none of the Save Menlo folks have an accountant, a lawyer, a doctor, a dentist, a physical therapist, a psychologist, a chiropractor, or an educational consultant in Menlo Park. Or do we all want to have to drive to another city when we have a tooth ache or a feverish child or need physical therapy for a broken leg?

3. There are a lot of people around here who are either seniors or ill who do not need another restaurant or store. They need medical care from hospitals, doctors, dentists, etc.

4. Everyone keeps on claiming they want housing and restaurants while claiming "no traffic wanted". Has anyone thought of how many cars come to a busy restaurant at dinner time? Or how adding more housing means more traffic and people everywhere. In that case, a office that is mildly busy during the day and completely empty on nights and weekends is less traffic!

5. Where do we want traffic to go if not on the commercial El Camino area? Would you rather it go into the residential neighborhoods. There will be more cars and more people in the world -- can't stop that. It seems
better to concentrate traffic on El Camino.

6. If people don't like living next to downtown, they should consider moving. All the houses around here are worth quite a bit of money so it should be easy for them to move to the countryside.

What ever happened to letting other people live? It seems that all people have to say around here is "NO" to everything. Everyone should go volunteer in a country less fortunate and then come back here. Then, we can all feel thankful that we live in such a nice place and stop fighting about everything.

Stop picking on all the people in offices because people don't want huge developments. Also, don't pass initiatives that can never be undone without a vote. Voting costs us all alot of money so should be reserved for things that are really important.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 3, 2014 at 7:44 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Well put Trying.

The bottom line with "savemenlo" is they are a group of NO. When asked none of them can come up with anything doable that they actually want and that won't be incredibly destructive to the future of our city. Unless, of course, one likes empty lots and a total lack of any growth. Oh, sorry, that's redundant.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 4, 2014 at 9:52 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Note what IS happening in Redwood City:

Five-story apartment complex could be latest addition to downtown Redwood City

By Bonnie Eslinger

Daily News Staff Writer

POSTED: 03/03/2014 07:41:29 PM PST | UPDATED: 12 MIN. AGO

A five-story, market-rate apartment complex could be added to downtown Redwood City's growing housing stock tonight if approved by the Planning Commission.

The 133-unit complex, proposed for an almost one-acre site at 439 Fuller St., would join four others ranging in height from six to nine stories that have been green-lighted since January 2011, when the city adopted a Downtown Precise Plan.

Together, the five buildings would provide 1,239 rental units. And that doesn't count two apartment complexes being constructed just outside of the city center -- a 132-unit project at 333 Main St. and a 265-unit one at 640 Veterans Blvd.

By encouraging commercial and residential development near the Caltrain station to accommodate local workers, Redwood City has positioned itself to become "a powerhouse city in the Peninsula," said Gary Johnson, vice president of Menlo Park-based Acclaim Cos., which wants to develop the Fuller Street project.

"They really see the benefit to building density around transit sites," Johnson said in a phone interview Monday. "Not only do they see the benefit, they execute it, unlike other cities."

Full story at Web Link

Note comment "Not only do they see the benefit, they execute it, unlike other cities."


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Services, Dining and Shopping Downtown in Palo Alto
By Steve Levy | 16 comments | 2,344 views

Handmade truffle shop now open in downtown Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 3 comments | 2,121 views

Weekly Update
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 681 views

A Street Fair by Any Other Name
By Paul Bendix | 3 comments | 608 views

Separate Entrances for BMR and Market Rate Apartments?
By Stuart Soffer | 0 comments | 354 views