http://almanacnews.com/print/story/print/2012/11/28/protests-target-arrillaga-project-in-menlo-park


Almanac

News - November 28, 2012

Protests target Arrillaga project in Menlo Park

by Sandy Brundage

A small group of residents has a large mission: Save Menlo Park. Their target? The eight-acre, mixed-use complex developer John Arrillaga wants to build on property owned by Stanford University along El Camino Real.

Their options? Few. The project proposes replacing car lots between Cambridge and Middle avenues with 96,000 square feet of medical offices, 133,350 square feet of regular office space, 10,000 square feet of retail and 120 rental apartments.

Since the project meets the new El Camino Real/downtown specific plan baseline requirements, the city gets no say in whether to approve it. Only the Planning Commission has some input, and that only regarding architectural details. The city also does not get to negotiate for any public benefits.

Save Menlo pins its hopes on the university's desire to maintain a good relationship with the city, given its use of Menlo Park's infrastructure and the number of Stanford employees, alumni and donors living there.

"So we think we have some political leverage," said Perla Ni, spokeswoman for SaveMenlo.org, in an email.

The offices will add traffic to an already-jammed El Camino Real, without generating sales tax revenue for the city, making the project the target of ire from the group as well as city officials. However, according the city's finance director, Carol Augustine, the university does pay property taxes on the lots, which would increase after development.

Council members and planning commissioners have noted that the project differs from what the university led Menlo Park to expect during specific plan negotiations. Save Menlo would like to see Stanford live up to its assurances by building the senior housing the university reportedly indicated it wanted to build during those discussions — a much less traffic intensive development that would also expand the city's housing capacity.

"Instead, now they have reneged on their commitment, and exploited the good faith that Menlo Park placed in them," Ms. Ni said.

She told the Almanac that Save Menlo stands at 173 members and counting. The group has been putting notices in neighborhood mailboxes, handing out fliers and organizing meetings. There's one coming up on Monday, Dec. 3, at 8:15 a.m. Location? The Peet's Coffee next to the Safeway at 525 El Camino Real — a spot with an excellent view of the car lots Mr. Arrillaga intends to build on.

Comments

Posted by Bike and Car Tunnels at Arrillaga Developments, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 29, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Mr Arrillaga deserves kudos for his treatment of the citizens of MP, however, his proposals for enormous office building developments will use prime El Camino, MP real estate for "office" uses when it should incorporate "mixed-use" (retail, tax-generating) purposes to help the budget stress/strains on the City of MP finances and its residents. Stanford will be the beneficiary of these developments/buildings. I believe Arrillaga needs to do the "right" thing and build major public benefit (pedestrian tunnel and additional car/truck/bus tunnel crossing on the Southern end of MP) to alleviate the dangerous, crowded, and unsafe current railroad crossings at Ravenswood and Oak Grove intersections and ever-increasing burdens traffic/congestion toll is taking on the City of MP and its residents. The mixed-use developments will ensure the City has growing revenues to relieve ever-tightening city budgets from the on-going effects of the worst recession since the Great Depression. Let's be smart here!


Posted by NO! to the car tunnel!, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Dec 2, 2012 at 11:44 am

I wondered how long it would be before someone proffered the idea of a car tunnel adjoining the Arrillaga office complex. Do you have any idea what such a tunnel and corresponding traffic would do to the Linfield Oaks neighborhood?! I'm sure you do and you may not care -- many may not care -- but rest assured an entire neighborhood (as well as Sunset Magazine/Time Inc. and other interests on Willow Road) will fight any such proposal to the bitter end. Why don't you, instead, offer up your neighborhood for traffic mitigation purposes? Let's not be dumb here. (It was my understanding that any "Willow Expressway" opportunity was lost decades ago when the idea surfaced then, and much of the needed right-of-way to affect this ode to asphalt has been sold or otherwise lost to the cause, in any case.)


Posted by registered user, Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 2, 2012 at 12:46 pm

" when it should incorporate "mixed-use" (retail, tax-generating) purposes to help the budget stress/strains on the City of MP finances and its residents."

What is being proposed is totally consistent with the existing zoning. The city established that zoning knowing full well what it would allow and not allow. Now is not the time to change the rules.


Posted by PA for cars, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 3, 2012 at 4:44 pm

It's time Stanford and Palo Alto bear the brunt of their development greed.
Stanford keeps dumping its car trips onto Menlo Park, including by re-locating staff into sites in our town. Palo Alto helps them do this by such things as shutting off the connection between Sand Hill Road and Alma. As result, a great number of u-turns are made in Menlo Park at Cambridge. This contributes to the backups we experience.
Now Stanford wants medical offices that they evicted from their campus to be built in Menlo Park Really?


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 3, 2012 at 6:44 pm

PA:

you are absolutely correct. The problem is our council, in its ultimate "wisdom," saw fit to allow Stanford to do this to us us YET AGAIN. Nothing we can do about it now. That horse has left the barn. We can only hope the council won't let it happen again and that we as citizens will pay more attention to have our voices heard to prevent something similar from happening.

To all of you that think this development is just "jim dandy," enjoy your trips on El Camino. Especially during commute hours which are already 5 mph nightmares.

Thanks for nothing Stanford.


Posted by registered user, Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 3, 2012 at 6:48 pm

"The problem is our council, in its ultimate "wisdom," saw fit to allow Stanford to do this to us us YET AGAIN. Nothing we can do about it now."

Remember this next time you ignore a posted council agenda or decide to watch TV instead of going to a council meeting. The CITIZENS let this happen.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 3, 2012 at 7:59 pm

No Peter, the citizens did not let this happen. This happened after a long, arduous "visioning process." The citizens made their wants known repeatedly. The council just chose to ignore it or didn't truly understand what they were doing when they gave up the farm on the El Camino properties. I can't totally blame them though. I think they were suffering from "visioning process fatigue" and just said "screw it, let's get this done."


Posted by registered user, Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 3, 2012 at 8:53 pm

I would love to have some Menlo Park resident post the public comments made in opposition to the final adoption of the current zoning ordinance. I doubt that there were very many.