Menlo's parking limit
We read many articles in our local newspapers concerning complaints from business owners regarding parking restrictions, which hurt their businesses.
Recently I was shopping for a wedding gift, picked up my medical prescriptions, and then had a quick luncheon. When I returned to my car, there was a citation for overtime parking. I could not have been more than a few minutes over the two-hour parking limit!
It is very disconcerting when one must keep on edge trying to accomplish a few errands, with one eye on the clock (or watch, whatever the case may be). It is, therefore, virtually impossible to patronize our local merchants and businesses in so short a time. Why not at least three hours? This would be of help to the Menlo Park businesses, and to the local folks who do want to support them.
I paid a $45 fine for a very few minutes of overtime. I find this outrageous. If we are encouraged to shop locally, there should be some way to accommodate "we the people" who try to do our part.
Marie C. Zahn
Glenwood Avenue, Atherton
Will downtown plan
If the downtown/El Camino Real specific plan is approved and the recommended development occurs, the vibrancy touted by its advocates could look more like blight.
Residents and visitors to the community who regularly use the services provided in downtown Menlo Park could find themselves avoiding the area rather than utilizing it. This proposed development of downtown Menlo Park with its zoning changes and heightened density will not serve the community but rather strain it.
Today, because of the pace of Santa Cruz Avenue, families with small children visit the commercial area on a regular basis. During the week, mothers with children patronize the shops, and teenagers frequent the area after school.
On Saturday mornings, Santa Cruz Avenue is a popular meeting place for coffee, breakfast and lunch. On Sundays, the farmer's market brings the community out again and worshipers at the local churches promenade along Santa Cruz Avenue.
There does not appear to be any lack of vibrancy in this community. On any given day, Santa Cruz Avenue and adjacent streets have a lot of foot traffic. Resources like medical and dental offices, the hardware store, restaurants, banks and the post office enjoy high levels of usage and residents appreciate the opportunity to handle many of their personal shopping, banking, grooming and medical needs within the several block area of Santa Cruz Avenue.
Throughout the year, Santa Cruz Avenue becomes a festival for children participating in the July Fourth parade to Burgess Park or the Halloween parade along Santa Cruz Avenue. If the proposed specific plan goes forward in its current form and Santa Cruz Avenue becomes a circulation gridlock, street closings for tricycles and local children in costume will cease and Santa Cruz Avenue will have lost its familiar, small-town feeling.
If the build-out goes forward, the new downtown Menlo Park will lose the threads of community that the area has for so long enjoyed. Such an initiative could suck the life out of many important community events and gatherings that this community created and hopes to maintain.
Those who want to preserve the charm and scale of Menlo Park's downtown with its unique retailers, sunlit promenades and open air parking should have their voices heard, too.
The alarm bell has sounded and I would urge those in Menlo Park who hope to preserve the treasures within our community, such as the Guild Theatre, Kepler's bookstore, Menlo Park Academy of Dance, Menlo Clock Works and all the businesses they cherish along Santa Cruz Avenue, to get vocal and fight for their preservation. It is time to circle the wagons and sound the horns because the developers are coming.
The citizenry should never discount the power of its voice in the face of new development initiatives. The community's voice and the community's views will be considered when initiatives like this are brought forward and eventually voted on. No single body is more aware of this than our elected City Council.
Oakhurst Place, Menlo Park