Almanac

News - August 20, 2014

Former and current city officials square off over Measure M

by Sandy Brundage

The arguments that have been filling the air at city meetings for months are now officially on the Nov. 4 ballot. Those for and against "Measure M," an initiative to change Menlo Park's downtown/El Camino Real specific plan, have submitted the primary arguments in support of their positions.

The argument in favor of the initiative, which was put forward by grassroots coalition Save Menlo, is signed by former council members Steve Schmidt and Heyward Robinson; Planning Commissioner Vince Bressler and former commissioner Patti Fry; and Clark Kepler, former owner of Kepler's Books and president of the Hometown Peninsula Independent Business Alliance.

"A YES vote on Measure M leads to a balanced mix of shops, services, restaurants, residences, offices, and open space. A NO vote leads to mega-office buildings in the heart of downtown, heavier rush-hour traffic, and more commuters cutting through our neighborhoods," the pro-initiative argument claims.

Weighing in against the initiative are Mayor Ray Mueller, Planning Commissioner Ben Eiref, Transportation Commissioner Bianca Walser, Chamber of Commerce CEO Fran Dehn, and Menlo Park City School District board member Maria Hilton.

"We strongly urge No on Measure M. Measure M creates negative impacts to Menlo Park's Downtown revitalization, handcuffs the City with unworkable, inflexible rules for 30 years and damages the city, schools', and fire district finances. Additional negative, unintended consequences also happen," says the argument against the initiative.

Measure M would restrict the amount of office space in any individual development within the specific plan area 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.

It would also redefine open space to mean only areas no higher than 4 feet off the ground, thereby preventing balconies and rooftop areas from counting as open space.

If passed, the measure would require a city-wide vote to make changes to its regulations as well as to approve projects that would exceed the non-residential development caps.

Go to tinyurl.com/mavrprs to review the complete text of Measure M, as well as the ballot arguments and other related documents, on the city's website.

Rebuttals to the primary arguments must be turned in to the city clerk's office by noon on Aug. 25.

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