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Mayor Trying to Avoid Public Debate on Green Ribbon Citizens' Committee Recommendations

Original post made by Menlo Park News, Menlo Park: Downtown, on Nov 14, 2007

Following the prolonged public debate and ultimate defeat of her scheme to have the city purchase the Park Theater and then turn it over to a private dance studio, the Mayor is maneuvering to minimize public debate on the recommendations of her Green Ribbon Citizen's Committee (GRCC). Rather than go through the normal process involving city staff, the city's commissions, and city council study sessions; the Mayor intends to bring the GRCC recommendations directly to the council for action during a special meeting to be held during the Thanksgiving holiday.

The GRCC is reportedly considering up to 130 policy recommendations, that could effect most aspects of our community from residential zoning and building regulations, to transportation, bike tunnels, playing fields, open space, city purchasing policies, new taxes and fees, products that can be sold in Menlo Park, new staff positions, subsidies for green businesses, and policies to reduce the number of car trips to our schools and town center.

Because the GRCC was intentionally structured to avoid having to comply with California's open government laws, only Ms Fergusson, Mr Robinson, and members of the Mayor's task force have had access to GRCC documents. Other council members, the city staff, and the city commissions were excluded from the entire process and have not seen the draft recommendations. A recent e-mail to GRCC members warns them not to leak policy recommendations to the public before they are issued in final form.

Although the Mayor originally promised to bring the GRCC recommendations back to a full city council study session, she recently informed the city manager that she wanted the GRCC recommendations placed before the city council as a regular business item next week, enabling the council to take action within days of the report's projected release and avoiding having the general public, staff, or city commissions weigh in on the specifics of the plan prior to the councils approval of the core recommendations.

Unlike the Park Theater plan that had almost no support from Menlo Park residents, dozens of Menlo Park residents have participated on the GRCC and most if not all of the city council members have indicated support for some kind of green initiative.

Let's hope that the Mayor can control her urge to steamroller this plan through the council before allowing the city staff, the general public, and the city commissions the opportunity to analyze the recommendations in detail.

Comments (13)

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Not optimistic
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 14, 2007 at 2:52 pm

This is Kelly's pet initiative and she is running out of time as mayor.

The last thing that she wants is a prolonged debate about the task force recommendations.

At least Rich will vote with her and Heyward and she will declare victory.

Others will be left to deal with the details.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by SomethingFishyInTheAir
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 14, 2007 at 4:59 pm

There is a website/blog for GRCC at:
Web Link

However, there's not much of substance there.

There is apparently nothing on the city's website itself, save for general meeting notices.

This all seems rather fishy and Jellins-esque in nature.

Perhaps Cline, Cohen and Boyle will stand up and just say "no" if this is, as Menlo Park News claims, something that Kelly is going to try to quickly and quietly "backdoor" next week.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by more of the same
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 14, 2007 at 10:24 pm

Can you possibly stop selling lies on the forum. So obvious and so transparent that this is the same bitter little people who lost the election last year by 2000 votes.

Little bitter losers.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by same old
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 14, 2007 at 11:41 pm

You know, more of the same, you keep posting similar comments on threads around here. A lot of people in Menlo Park are not happy with some of the mayor's more offensive behaviors. It doesn't mean we voted for the opposition. On the contrary, it's extra disappointing BECAUSE we campaigned for her, walked the precincts for her, voted for her, and for Cline and Robinson, hoping and believing that we were going to get a real change. But unfortunately, it's been...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by JD
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 14, 2007 at 11:41 pm

I don't understand how an entity that was chartered by the city council to address one of its top priority goals, has two council members as its ceremonial leaders, makes announcements on the city website, meets in city facilities, is financially supported by the city, has a dedicated staff liaison, uses the city logo on its letterhead, and seems to have a standing role in formulating environmental policy for the city is not subject to the Brown Act.

In contrast, when residents in the Willows wanted to hold a few informal meetings to discuss traffic concerns in their neighborhood, the city attorney determined that they were subject to the Brown Act.

Ralph Brown must be turning over in his grave to see how the spirit of California's sunshine laws are being openly subverted in Menlo park.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by No More Of The Same Please
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 15, 2007 at 10:00 am

More of the Same:

Your "name" is quite ironic, because what some of us are concerned about is exactly that - that Kelly, along with her faithful sidekick Heyward, are offering "more of the same" that we saw with the last council majority.

Luckily, Cline seems to be more of an independent type and - especially in wake of the Park Theater fiasco - he won't be as willing to go along with any possible "backdooring" on this one.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by No More Of The Same Please
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 15, 2007 at 10:11 am

One other thing, More of the Same: Is there anything in Menlo Park News' post that you'd like to (and can) refute, or is your childish comment the only thing you'd like to "contribute"?

Because if Menlo Park News' post is accurate, I'd dare say you're going to see a BIG public outcry, along with a long Alamanac story, plus likley a strong editorial rebuking the Mayor and her "process" on this one!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rory Brown
Almanac staff writer
on Nov 15, 2007 at 4:57 pm

Rory Brown is a registered user.

According to the staff report for the Nov. 20 meeting, city staff is recommending the City Council receive the GRCC report, direct staff to evaluate the proposals in the report, and have staff come back with an assessment of the report, and recommendations for council.

According to the staff report, the council is not expected to act on any of the GRCC recommendations.

Here's a link to the report: Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Reporter
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Nov 16, 2007 at 10:38 am

Here's a link to Mayor Kelly Fergusson's press release on this topic: Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by grcc member
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 19, 2007 at 5:38 pm

The full GRCC report can be found online on the city's homepage: Web Link

If anyone posting here cares to read the report, rather than just invent conspiracy theories, they will see that the group highly recommends additional and ongoing community engagement on this issue.

Please consider putting your energy to positive use fighting global warming.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by grateful
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 19, 2007 at 9:41 pm

Thanks for this link. And thanks to the GRCC members for all your efforts. This is awesome -- take a bow.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by more of the same
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 19, 2007 at 11:47 pm

Rory just proved my point that there is nothing to the false claim that council will do this or that Tuesday night. You see, this is the problem and it is blatant disinformation and mispresentation of the facts.

More of the same. Proceed with your false support claims and keep spreading the lies. Oh, and don't forget to insult me too. That would at least keep it consistent.

If you are going to lie, I will follow your post with a disclaimer to be sure new readers know it.

This entire blog forum is dying with your spin.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rabula
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 20, 2007 at 9:29 am

You decide, read the conclusions of CRCC to MP Council:

Menlo Park Green Ribbon Citizens' Committee
Climate Action Report & Recommendations
November 14, 2007

High Priority Recommendations

There is a certain degree of overlap or duplication in many of the recommendations, as
the sphere addressed by each subcommittee has some overlap with at least one other.
These overlaps can be addressed in the context of a climate action plan.

Energy & Waste Reduction

• Establish goal of climate neutrality for Menlo Park community by 2030 and require a Climate
Action Plan to address both GHG reduction and GHG offsets
• Adopt a resolution to require commercial recycling participation for companies with high levels
of waste
• Adopt a resolution to increase waste diversion target to 75% or more.
• Identify large municipal & commercial sites suitable for solar generation, inform property
owner of available incentives
• Increase Participation of MP Commercial and Business Sector in more sustainable activities
including PG&E Energy Efficiency Programs
• City develops a sustainable purchasing policy to decrease adverse impacts and set good
example

Transportation & Transit

• Work with schools to encourage walking and biking and safe routes program
• Support Electrification of Caltrain, (Reduction of carbon emissions by 2/3)
MPGRCC Climate Action Report & Recommendations
SECTION ONE Page 7
• Establish policies that encourage accessible sidewalks and bike lanes
• Support High Speed Rail to reduce reliance on air and auto modes from Bay area &
Sacramento to Los Angeles
• City continues bid processes to select service providers that use green practices.
• Add Provision for Transit Oriented Development zoning into General Plan
• Implement City's existing Master Bicycle Plan for facilities and improvements

Land Use & Building
Communications, Outreach & Public Education

Green Business
– Promote sustainable building practices by instituting checklists such as LEED and BIG, and by
providing over-achievement incentive of expedited building permit approval
– Encourage multi-story & higher density housing projects in the downtown area including senior
housing
– Protect and maintain healthy trees on MP city lands by employing sustainable Best

Management Practices

– Establish turf limitations and water efficient landscape requirements
– Include new residential and major renovation projects in water efficient Ord. #840
– Encourage multi-story, mixed use housing and retail/office projects in the downtown area and
in all other areas where housing and other uses now co-exist
– Revise MP's Heritage Tree Ordinance to protect our old healthy trees more effectively
– Remove one dead tree and replace with two live trees on MP City lands to rebuild our Urban
Forest

Communications, Outreach & Public Education

• Teach sustainable building - Conduct educational session(s) on sustainable building for
architects,, builders, developers, & homeowners. Work with Green Building Exchange & consider
cooperating with other peninsula cities to avoid duplication of efforts.
• Encourage recycling at city functions, parties, shows, Santa Cruz Avenue events (including
Connoisseur's market) – there should be 100% recycling, including re-usable or recyclable
plates/napkins/eating utensils. Encourage restaurants to use compostable containers, plates,
cups…
• Promote tap water use - Promote Menlo Park tap water vs. bottled water. Provide information
about what to do if you have lead pipes.
• Promote green practices at schools - Promote green practices at schools, scouting and other
kids clubs. Suggestions include contests at schools: successful energy conservation, who
walks/bikes most often, essay contests, posters, artwork, and a Green Science Fair
• Encourage schools to promote alternative transportation - Encourage public and private schools
to publicize walking, biking, and carpooling as safe and healthy ways to get kids to school.
• In Home Energy Audits: Green@Home (with a focus on the lower income neighborhoods first
and spreading to all neighborhoods).

Green Business

• Develop a carefully articulated, feasible and streamlined permit process for commercial and
residential landlords to upgrade their properties with green technologies and practices that
reduce green house gas emissions. This includes replacement of high energy consumption
appliances. (refrigerators, washers, dryers, etc.)
• Streamline the commercial permit and planning process for green upgrades within the city.
• Eliminate all solar permit fees for both residential and commercial properties.

MPGRCC Climate Action Report & Recommendations

Our recommendations, if implemented, will establish Menlo Park as a leader in
promoting progressive and sustainable land use and building policies that mitigate
climate change caused by CO2 emissions and will improve the environmental, social
and economic quality of life for our residents.

Next Steps

The changes underway in the climate must be treated as a crisis, not simply as just
another single problem among a voluminous agenda of nagging civic concerns. The
climate crisis requires a strong prompt response and high priority action.

Council Action

The GRCC calls on City Council to respond to the climate change challenge by:
• Authorizing an appropriate and expeditious review of our high priority proposals by
City staff for prompt presentation to the Council to ensure that these measures are
included in the 2008-2009 budgeting cycle.
• Launching a process to develop, as quickly as possible, a climate action plan to
ensure that these and future measures are adopted in a synchronized fashion, and
in the most effective manner possible. The full body of GRCC proposals is intended
to speed the development of such a plan by the City and broader community and
should be regarded as our initial input into this plan. Additionally, the plan would
consider the just-received consultant's report of Menlo Park's 2005 baseline
greenhouse gas emissions.
• Budgeting for initial and ongoing implementation of the climate action plan, including
support for continuing community involvement (e.g., the GRCC).

Green Ribbon Citizens' Committee Action

Upon delivery of this Report to City Council on November 20, 2007, the GRCC will
compile lessons learned from this process to incorporate in our Phase Two and to share
with other communities, some of which have already contacted us.
We will then determine the appropriate focus and form of organization for the next set of
efforts. Under consideration are:
• Projects - to build alliances with community organizations (e.g., Chamber of
Commerce, Cool Cities Project, Acterra, school districts, religious groups) to
implement many of the proposals from this Report.
• Public education - to address the risks and local solutions
• Advocacy role - to ensure that municipal recommendations are expeditiously
considered and implemented.
• Resource support - for City staff and commissions in climate change related
activities, including implementation of our recommendations.
• Exploration - of additional climate change related issues, such as adaptation,
methane gas mitigation in Bayfront Park, and mitigation of air travel.

MPGRCC Climate Action Report & Recommendations

Conclusion
Local communities such as Menlo Park can experience great benefit and avoid
substantial long-term costs by organizing comprehensive efforts to address climate
change right now as a risk management strategy. With its unique confluence of venture
capital funds, high technology firms, and world class educational institutions, Silicon
Valley and Menlo Park can also reap great financial rewards from the development of
clean technologies and enterprises that will be well-positioned to meet growing
worldwide demand for needed solutions.
Menlo Park as a community has the opportunity to become a role model for what is
possible when a small city with a forward-thinking and determined population, commits
to long-term action toward a serious and far-reaching crisis. By taking rapid and
comprehensive steps toward energy conservation and adoption of clean technologies in
our commercial, municipal, and residential sectors, Menlo Park can demonstrate a
strong commitment to the future and become an attractive home for many of these
vibrant efforts.
The Menlo Park Green Ribbon Citizen's Committee members believe that nothing short
of a comprehensive effort on global, national, state, and local levels will be sufficient for
addressing the climate crisis. The proposals submitted within this report are intended to
point the way toward a comprehensive local approach that will leave a proud legacy for
Menlo Park's leaders and citizens.
On behalf of all GRCC participants, we express our appreciation for the opportunity to
serve our community in meeting this, the defining moral challenge of our generation.


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