News - July 7, 2010

Planning Commission challenges housing plan on El Camino

by Sandy Brundage

A proposed housing development at 389 El Camino Real near College Avenue in Menlo Park will undergo further analysis after members of the Planning Commission challenged the plan at a June 28 study session.

Commissioners expressed concerns that the developer, the Matteson Companies, requested 13 waivers on development standards. Matteson plans to build on the site 17 townhouses and nine single-family homes, most three-story structures.

City planning staff said in a report that they believed some waivers were unnecessary.

The commission received 17 letters from residents living near the site, asking that the developer address issues ranging from overcrowding to parking and whether two-story homes would be more suitable than three-story units.

"Obviously we have a lot to wade through," said Matt Matteson, president of the development company. "We're focusing on the commission's comments; the feedback from the residents isn't really new."

He agreed the commission was right to be concerned that the city attorney, Bill McClure, was not at the study session, given the project's complexities. "The nature of state density bonus laws is key to the project," Mr. Matteson said. "For the Planning Commission to be there without enough information on what that meant, was disappointing. There was a way for them to be better prepared, either through staff reports or by the city attorney attending."

Planning for the project began four years ago, he said. The slow crawl toward construction will continue with further staff analysis and another presentation to the Planning Commission. "But we can't say when that will be," he said.


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