| Mike Brady, a Menlo Park resident and an attorney who lives near the site of the former Acorn restaurant on El Camino Real, is appealing to the City Council to overturn Planning Commission approval of a medical office complex at the site.
Mr. Brady claims that the applicant for the 9,825-square-foot project took advantage of the city's relaxed building guidelines in getting the project approved.
The City Council is scheduled to hear Mr. Brady's appeal at its July 17 meeting. The Planning Commission approved the two-story project, located at 1906 El Camino near Spruce Avenue, on May 7.
Joe Colonna, who is listed as the applicant for the project, said he would not comment before the council hears the appeal. Mr. Colonna has another office project proposed nearby -- at 1706 El Camino Real, the site of the closed Gaylord India restaurant. That proposal has not yet been reviewed by the Planning Commission.
When city staff considered the proposal for the Acorn site, elevator shafts and mechanical rooms weren't included in measuring the total square footage of the complex -- a practice that has been used over the past several years, according to staff.
But that calculation allowed the project -- listed at 9,825 square feet -- to slip under a requirement for a traffic study on projects of at least 10,000 square feet.
"[The developer] is trying to be clever and circumvent the rules," Mr. Brady said. "The city has been laid back in the past, but that's not an excuse for this project. I just don't buy that."
In May, after hearing residents' concerns about how square footage was calculated, the council directed staff to abide by a stricter, "more literal" definition of the rules, rather than grant exceptions.
But the council also decided projects already in the pipeline would be exempt from the stricter definition, which means the Acorn site project should be off the hook.
But City Attorney Bill McClure noted that the policy set by the council is not binding, and council members could choose to ignore it.
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