Almanac

News - February 24, 2010

Menlo Watch: LED street lamps may come to Menlo Park

by Sean Howell

One way or another, Menlo Park looks set to put high-efficiency lights in its streetlamps.

The city is poised to sign an agreement with PG&E, authorizing the energy company to replace high-pressure sodium bulbs with light-emitting diodes on several city streets. The retrofits would either be funded through the federal stimulus package, or through the redevelopment purse for some areas of the city east of Middlefield Road, if the application for stimulus funds falls through.

Either way, the project would cost about $160,000, with about 10 percent of the city's 2,300 streetlights converting to LED. It would save the city between $13,000 and $15,000 per year in energy costs.

The City Council could approve the contract with PG&E at its meeting Tuesday, Feb. 23.

Homeowner's default cost city $100K

Between legal fees and missed loan payments and homeowners' association dues, the default on loans by a homeowner of a below-market-rate housing unit in the Menlo Square complex cost Menlo Park about $100,000, according to the city.

The city re-acquired the one-bedroom condominium Dec. 1, 2009, through a court ruling, after covering mortgage installments and homeowners' fees for over two years to prevent various lenders from foreclosing. The payments came through the city's flush below-market-rate purse, funded by land developers.

City management is recommending that the City Council at its Feb. 23 meeting choose to resell the home to another applicant for below-market-rate housing, rather than recoup its losses by selling the unit at market rate.

Bohannon project schedule delayed

The approval process for the million-square-foot Menlo Gateway office/hotel development proposed by develop David Bohannon has been delayed, as Menlo Park works to revise its analysis of greenhouse gas emissions generated by the project.

City management originally expected to present the City Council with a draft term sheet at its Feb. 23 meeting following negotiations with the Bohannon Development Co.

Now, the city hopes to do so in early April, and to prepare the project for a final vote prior to the council's summer recess.

The shift could mean a crowded agenda for the council and Planning Commission in late spring and early summer, as the city unveils preliminary long-term plans for the downtown area, and works to pass a budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year.

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