Almanac

News - June 19, 2013

Menlo Park: Subcommittee gives update on Stanford-Arrillaga project

by Sandy Brundage

When last we heard from the Menlo Park council on the proposed eight-acre Stanford-Arrillaga project, a subcommittee had been appointed on April 16 in the hopes of guiding concerned residents and Stanford to a detente.

Since then, the subcommittee has met four times with city staff and representatives of Save Menlo, a grassroots coalition organized to oppose the eight-acre mixed-use development.

The latest version of the project proposed under the regulations implemented by the downtown/El Camino Real specific plan would replace mostly vacant car lots along 300 to 500 El Camino Real with 25,000 square feet of medical offices, 174,500 square feet of regular offices, 10,000 square feet of retail, up to 170 apartments, and a public plaza at Middle Avenue with two car lanes, along with a pedestrian and bicycle path from El Camino Real to a potential future bike tunnel.

Save Menlo has publicly stated that it wants zero medical office space and a smaller overall project. Given that, the council members appointed to the subcommittee — Kirsten Keith and Catherine Carlton — weren't expecting to have an easy time reconciling the project with the residents.

Still, the subcommittee has made some progress. In a report given during the June 11 council meeting, Ms. Carlton said the panel directed staff to collect traffic data before the end of the school year and expand the scope, by including streets bounded by Middle Avenue, University Drive, Creek Drive and El Camino Real.

Save Menlo agreed to use that data as a baseline, Ms. Carlton said, since the city's previous data set was a few years old, particularly in regard to cut-through traffic on neighborhood streets, which the grassroots group believes will rise should Stanford build its complex.

Next on the subcommittee's "to do" list: figuring out who else should be participating in their meetings.

As for the council's review of the downtown/El Camino Real specific plan, that is slated to begin in September, according to city staff, giving the subcommittee time to finish its work.

Meanwhile Stanford is waiting to see how it all plays out. "We don't think it is appropriate to comment on the process at this time, while the subcommittee is doing their important work," said Steve Elliott, the university's managing director for development, land, buildings and real estate. "We appreciate the time they and staff have spent on this, and are confident the process will help highlight the many benefits the specific plan and our project will bring to Menlo Park."

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