• Stanford/El Camino Real: A City Council subcommittee is working with neighborhood residents to analyze cut-through traffic from the proposed Stanford/Arrillaga office and residential project that will replace empty car lots on El Camino Real. Earlier this year, the council approved two traffic improvement projects to provide much-needed relief along the El Camino. Once the projects are completed, traffic flow should improve with a dedicated right-turn lane northbound onto Ravenswood Avenue.
• Downtown: We've begun a major (half-million-dollar) beautification project to replace the irrigation, landscaping, trash cans and seating on Santa Cruz Avenue. New retail businesses include the restaurant Refuge (the Bay Area's best pastrami), furniture store Home, an expanded ACE Hardware, and an expansion of Cafe Borrone. Finally, a well-known restaurateur is renovating the BBC (British Bankers Club).
• Revitalization: The economic recovery in Silicon Valley is encouraging development of underutilized lots around the city, including the much anticipated Frank Gehry-designed Facebook West project, the SRI campus modernization, and mixed-used projects proposed along El Camino Real. Our goal is to balance new jobs and economic vibrancy from these developments while maintaining our village character and residential quality of life.
• Belle Haven: The city continues to invest in the safety and well-being of our Belle Haven neighborhood. Partnering with Facebook, the city recently signed a lease for a new Neighborhood Services Center including a police substation at the corner of Willow Road and Hamilton Drive. This summer, the City Council looks forward to hearing the results of the Belle Haven visioning process, designed to engage the neighborhood and prioritize its future needs.
• Balanced Budget: The city's financial condition continues to stabilize. For the first time in recent history, the City Council adopted a $76 million budget with an operating surplus, in this case over $200,000. Menlo Park once again received a triple-A credit rating, validating our prudent fiscal management. In 2012, we implemented a two-tier pension system and cost-sharing across all of our employee labor groups. Nevertheless, we are concerned about future rate increases from CalPERS and are considering applying future surpluses toward unfunded liabilities.
The city continues to reduce costs by sharing services with nearby communities, and we approved contracting fleet maintenance and disaster preparedness services with neighboring agencies. Later this summer, we will look at contracting services for landscaping.
• Housing: We recently completed updating our housing element to comply with state law. I've asked our state representatives to change state law to provide more flexibility for cities like Menlo Park, and I'd welcome your support with our state representatives.
I welcome your questions, ideas and suggestions via email@example.com. For more city news and updates, please visit the city's website at www.menlopark.org. Thank you for the honor of serving our wonderful community as your mayor.