Almanac

News - June 25, 2014

Specific plan initiative qualifies for ballot

by Sandy Brundage

Save Menlo celebrated the news over the June 21 weekend that its grassroots initiative to change sections of Menlo Park's downtown/El Camino Real specific plan had enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

The measure needed approximately 1,780 registered voter signatures to qualify. During the July 15 council meeting, the city staff will present a report confirming certification of the signatures. The council must then decide whether to adopt the initiative as is or put it on the ballot for the Nov. 4 election.

Initiative co-sponsor Patti Fry told the Almanac that the group estimated that they had submitted at least 40 percent more signatures than required. "Registered voters signed from every Menlo park neighborhood, and (signers) include scores of new voters," she said.

Save Menlo, organized to protest the specific plan in light of large mixed-use projects proposed along El Camino Real by developers Stanford University and Greenheart Land Company, notified the city in February of its intent to get the initiative on to a ballot.

The city's summary of the initiative states that it would make these restrictions in the specific plan area: restrict office space for individual project to 100,000 square feet; limit total new office space to 240,820 square feet; and cap overall new, non-residential development to 474,000 square feet.

The proposed changes would cut the amount of office space allowed in the Stanford and Greenheart developments by 50 percent.

The initiative would also redefine open space to mean only areas no higher than 4 feet tall. Save Menlo has stated that one of its goals is to prevent balconies from counting as open space.

In addition, voter approval would be required to revise any aspects of the ordinance besides exceeding the cap on residential development.

Lisa Wise Consulting is working under a $148,420 contract with the city to independently analyze what impact the initiative's changes would have on future development. The council is expected to hear a presentation of the findings on July 15.

Save Menlo has stated that the group wants the council to adopt the initiative, rather than putting it on the ballot.

Meanwhile, another grassroots group — Menlo Park Deserves Better — has formed to fight the initiative.

Comments

Posted by Al, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 30, 2014 at 10:56 pm

Here come the attacks on the initiative - starting with the guy from Atherton, city staff and ploticians and followed by persons and business entities with special interests to protect.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 1, 2014 at 8:16 am

Al:

I am none of those folks you mention. This is a terribly written initiative which will do irreparable harm to our city. It has already caused problems. It is full of unintended consequences, unless of course you believe as I do that Savemenlo's actual intentions are to make it so that nothing gets done in this town in the next thirty years.

Enjoy the view.


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