Viewpoint - April 14, 2010

Letter: Firmly opposed to new downtown plan

I see that the City of Menlo Park has debuted their plan for the demolition of the downtown district.

Replacing it will be up to six-story buildings lining El Camino Real creating Menlo Park's own Grand Canyon. That's not all: little parks will replace valued parking places and speaking of parking, there seems to be more trees than parking places in the design.

The existing business community will be thrown out during the rebuilding process as no cars or trucks will be able to get to town. Both Redwood City and Sunnyvale have traveled similar roads. The tale of two cities has already been written in print, cement and bad bond issues.

The city has enlisted and paid a rather healthy sum to "progressive" planners to design this monstrosity. They talk of "car-free paseos" and permanent farmers markets. What about Carpaccio, Trellis and Branislav Tailors?

Cars bring commerce, and bicycles, for all their health benefits, don't. Now I know why the city has let the empty car dealers stay empty, the downtown go to hell and kept the parking rules so restrictive.

These elected officials have devised a plan to turn Menlo Park into their version of Santana Row. Myself and my friends object. If we wanted a walled canyon on El Camino Real and a downtown which would end up as a ghost town, we would live somewhere else. I plead for people with some common sense to run for City Council, and then help build out the downtown area and develop the El Camino corridor while preserving the fabric of the Menlo Park where I was born and raised.

Pat White

Santa Cruz Avenue, Menlo Park


Posted by my hometown too, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 17, 2010 at 11:50 am

I'm with Pat! The city planners are wearing rose colored glasses. How many of the city staff pushing this 'Vision" forward actually live in Menlo Park? Our downtown is not broken and doesn't need this! I vote a big NO on ruining our downtown.

Posted by property owner, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 18, 2010 at 8:33 am

"Our Downtown"? Which property do you own, rent, or operate a business? Perhaps you forgot that most of the downtown is private property with rights attached. You can choose to patronize or not the businesses attached. You can choose your elected representative to address zoning. Beyond that, your inclination to state ownership is offensive to those of us who actually own, operate a business, or otherwise make a living here in the downtown.

You may have a idyllic vision of Mayberry RFD, quaint shops, quiet and not busy. You have no stake in it. I have a mortgage and kids to feed. I am part of a business community that provides goods and services. Our downtown isn't some kind of ersatz village located in Disneyland.

Posted by old timer, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 19, 2010 at 12:04 pm

I agree with Pat White. The visioning has gone completely off track.

The new consultant, coming from a high growth, large city environment, just like our present City Manager, has produced a plan which is not at all in tune with what the residents of Menlo Park want. When you look at the push for higher and more dense buildings, two parking structures and 2 hotels, you now understand that this is a plan to convert our lovely community into a Sunnyvale or Redwood City.

Furthermore,a large majority of the downtown property owners have stated they don't want the plan either, and they are the major stake holders and they have been shunted aside by our City Manager and our City Staff. Shame on the Council for allowing this to happen.

The same planning philosophy has been employed by the City Manager and staff to advocate for the Bohannon Gateway project, with its 140 foot high structures, projecting 2300 new jobs, but providing no housing and the school impacts will be huge, but our school districts will not receive impact fees, since they will all go to Redwood City Schools.

Both of these issues have gotten out of hand; the council has been brain washed and certainly seem to have turned their backs on those who supported and voted for them in their election to council.

Its time to get this out in the open. We certainly need new leadership in City Hall.

Posted by truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 19, 2010 at 12:14 pm

thanks old timer (read: morris brown) for your consistent desire to control the future of a town you have no right to control. the old linfield oaks guys will rant and threaten to run council out of town. they always do. they would rather have nothing than something that makes them nervous. welcome to small town politics.

it is unfortunate really. the folks who will support this dramatically outnumber those who do not. the problem is, those who support it have young families and work all day. they aren't retired and they can't spend all their time here posting nasty comments.

down with high speed rail. down with menlo gateway. down with downtown plans.

menlo park, do you see a trend?

Posted by Thanks Truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 19, 2010 at 7:03 pm

Truth has it right. This was THE most transparent process I have ever witnessed in a town, and I have lived in over 20+ cities in my lifetime. Everyone had a say, no matter who you were, or what position you held, or how long you lived here. However, if you don't like change, enjoy sending nasty comments, or have all kinds of time to fearmonger this issue, we can all be willing to bet the same old people that have kept our car dealership lots empty, the theatre abandon, the Mattison Property abandon, the Derry Project from being built, the pushback of Bohannon's project and the recently counted 9 empty store fronts in a 3 block area of Santa Cruz of ever having a renter.(sorry for the run on sentence) I wish more people would think of the community as a whole, not for themselves, and their own wallet. This was a fantastic process, that offers up some great ideas, some creative ideas, and quite frankly some projects that will make our town better, and increase the property value of all of our homes, with some great new retail and open space!

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