They chose to pay those fees in lieu of providing the required five or six below-market-rate (BMR) units called for by the city of Menlo Park. Mr. Beltramo convinced the Planning Commission to accept fees, which they'll certainly build into the cost of the completed units, rather than abide by the rules for BMR units.
Local power family gets perks and this sets an interesting precedent for all future projects, wouldn't you say? Even City Attorney Bill McClure noted the precedent. "Demands and roadblocks" ... "blackmail" ... "unethical and unfair." Wow. You went all out here.
The developer could have opted to abide by the regulations already established instead of lobbying planners to cut him a fee-based exception. He got what he wanted and your outrage is misplaced and inflammatory. Worry more about planning commissioners who can so easily be swayed by the prospect of money flowing into the coffers.
Carol Bartlett, El Camino Real, Menlo Park