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MP medical office complex approved

Original post made on Jan 11, 2008

Although Menlo Park City Council members don't like plans to build a medical office complex at the site of the closed Acorn restaurant, they still decided to approve the oft-delayed project at their Jan. 8 meeting.
  • Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that a woman died after a July 14 car accident near the project site. The Almanac was given incorrect information. The woman survived the accident.



    Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, January 10, 2008, 5:35 PM
  • Comments (17)

     +   Like this comment
    Posted by Martin Engel
    a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
    on Jan 11, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    So, here is one de facto decision -- a done deal -- for the El Camino Grand Boulevard Vision even before that process has actually begun. Other such de facto decisions are in the pipe-line. As the old Abbott and Costello comedy routine had it: "Step by step, closer and closer. . . ."

    Is this like, "when an irresistable force meets an immovable object?"

    On the other hand, most vision statements usually have the same practical force as advocacy for Yoko Ono's "imagine peace."


     +   Like this comment
    Posted by Joanna
    a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
    on Jan 11, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    The "Grand Vision" is an illusion.

    The council will slip things through when no one is looking. That is what they hoped to do with the Park Theater. I guess it is just a matter of people getting excited about something and preventing the council from playing in the sandbox by their own rules.


     +   Like this comment
    Posted by Martin Engel
    a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
    on Jan 12, 2008 at 11:19 am

    1706 ECR is next. Same developers. Same building. Same parking-space finageling. Same traffic issues. Same lack of revenues for the city.

    Fortunately, by the time the Council OKs this project, the ECR Vision plan will be in effect and thereby control all developments on El Camino.

    Oh, wait; maybe it won't be. Anyhow, the current criterion is that anything that is a "perpetual blight" along El Camino should be replaced by something different, even if it is a new and improved "blight."


     +   Like this comment
    Posted by morris brown
    a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
    on Jan 15, 2008 at 8:17 am

    January 15, 2008


    Menlo Park City Council:

    Last Tuesday's decision to approve the 1906 (Acorn ) project only exhibits again an action that many of us have come to expect and which again leaves us disappointed and disgusted one more time.

    Here is a project that every councilperson has serious reservations about. A project that should have been rejected at the very beginning and in point of fact at the original PC meeting this project was not accepted. Yet this project gets final approval. Surely you would have thought that the project must have undergone profound changes since the original refusal to approve at the PC and again when the original Council refusal to deny the appeal was not accepted.

    The cold hard facts are the developer hardly changed the project at all and yet last Tuesday the Council give its approval.

    What's wrong with the project.

    o Size -- the project is 15 % larger than what should have been allowed on the site using correct counting rules for FAR
    o Parking -- the project is under parked by at least 10 spaces – the use of administrative parking guidelines for this project is in no way justified. Parking should have been under ground.
    o Use -- Medical office -- a non tax generator replacing a project that did generate sales tax revenue. A use that generates more traffic than other office uses and certainly will generate more traffic than the type of restaurant it replaced.
    o Aesthetics – the building is just plain ugly.
    o The project is going to make the intersection, which is already a level F intersection only worse
    o The condition of approval, really the worst option available, an option that pushes our traffic onto the streets of Atherton, an option adopted because it is the one the developer wants and it is the only option that would not need Atherton approval to allow the project to be built.

    All of these items were discussed, yet even with the combination of all these liabilities and the developer not doing really anything to change them, the process still leads to a now approved project.

    What is the net result? Think about it. Project passed on a 4-1. Only Councilman John Boyle, who favors the project, but could not accept the approval conditions, voted against the approval. Good for Mr. Boyle.

    Why are the other 4 Council members voting to approve a project with so many negatives? How many times is this council going to approve projects with so many negatives?

    The public process on this approval was severely compromised by inadequate access to needed materials for the public. The staff report was not available on Thursday, the City was closed on Friday and the public could only get a hard copy by waiting until Monday.

    The minutes of the PC meeting were not available, even to council, until Tuesday.(even those minutes were being adjusted by hard copy hand outs to Council and the public at the meeting). The audio/visual ( in this case only audio), never was available to the public. The hearing should have been continued, but it was not.

    I grade the Council on this action the same grade as the intersection at Watkins and El Camino -- a great big F.

    The Council has essentially said," Park Forest we don't give a damn about you, your are at the end of town, we just don't care".

    At tonight's Council meeting any member who voted for approval can and should ask for re-consideration. Please vote to re-consider this approval.

    Morris Brown
    Stone Pine Lane





     +   Like this comment
    Posted by MoreInfoPlease
    a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
    on Jan 15, 2008 at 8:55 am

    Martin:
    "new and improved "blight" "

    Great phrase - you should trademark it. Coming to your town soon,
    "new and improved blight".

    Morris/Others:
    Please hazard a guess as to why our esteemed city council members DID vote for this - lazy, don't care, want to make it seem like they are actually doing something instead of just talking, are really developer-friendly (as long as it's not residential homes) - what is really going on?

    Finally, perhaps Mr. Cline would like to respond here?


     +   Like this comment
    Posted by not impressed
    a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
    on Jan 15, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    I have the same questions as MIP. I watched the meeting online, until I could stay awake no longer. At the point I turned it off, it seemed as though most council members understood that this was the wrong project for the site and would not approve it as is. I was stunned to learn about the approval and the 4-1 vote.

    I don't understand the black-and-white mindset that says "if we don't approve this project, that corner of El Camino will be blighted." Ridiculous. If the council had the guts to turn down a few of these projects on the grounds that they did not conform to the general plan/zoning regulations, the owners/developers would modify their plans so that they did conform. After a while, owners/developers would get the message and would stop trying to slip in these inappropriate projects. As it is, the council is giving owners/developers every incentive to push the envelope.

    Why is the council so afraid to take a firm stance?


     +   Like this comment
    Posted by observer
    a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
    on Jan 18, 2008 at 10:07 am

    The City Council's not being willing to reject any project has been a constant theme. In point of fact for Councilperson Fergusson it has been her stance since being elected almost four years ago. She often voices objections, as she did when Derry was approved and as she did on 1906 El Camino, but in the end she always votes in favor of the projects. With the Bohannon project coming along with all its baggage and problems, I am sure Mr. Bohannon can count on her support on whatever he finally wants approved.

    It should be interesting to see how much support she will get from her former supporters in her re-election bid this fall, since she has certainly abandoned them on these issues. The Winkler, DuBoc, Jellins crowd with their all but announced support for the candidacy of Henry Riggs are very confident on winning both seats up for grabs, and thus regaining the Council majority.


     +   Like this comment
    Posted by OhBoy!
    a resident of Menlo Park: other
    on Jan 18, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    Observer:
    "The Winkler, DuBoc, Jellins crowd with their all but announced support for the candidacy of Henry Riggs are very confident on winning both seats up for grabs, and thus regaining the Council majority."

    Wait, we're finally getting rid of "W" and this pops up? Lord have mercy!


     +   Like this comment
    Posted by a rigged council
    a resident of Menlo Park: other
    on Jan 18, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    If you liked Mickie, you'll love Henry. Tune in to the Planning Commission meeting some Monday night (they meet twice a month, and meetings are broadcast online and on cable) to get a preview of the pontificating and self-absorbed grandstanding that we can expect if the general populace pops for Henry at the polls.

    May be time to move.


     +   Like this comment
    Posted by Joanna
    a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
    on Jan 19, 2008 at 9:38 am

    When a bunch of concerned citizens got together to stand up to the triumvirate when they were clearly wrong about the Park Theater handout, things happened.

    Is it too late to let the city know that this sneaky decision was slipped through the door already? Once they figure it out and wake up, I think the council will face some pressure and maybe public embarrassment. Thoughts?


     +   Like this comment
    Posted by LOL
    a resident of Menlo Park: other
    on Jan 19, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    Rigged Council (BTW: Great "handle"):
    "If you liked Mickie, you'll love Henry. Tune in to the Planning Commission meeting some Monday night to get a preview of the pontificating and self-absorbed grandstanding that we can expect if the general populace pops for Henry at the polls."

    Sounds more like our former real estate lawyer mayor.
    BTW: What IS the self-proclaimed "great one" doing nowadays, does anyone know?


     +   Like this comment
    Posted by truth will set you free
    a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
    on Jan 21, 2008 at 9:04 am

    The mere fact that some of you respected residents align with the infamous "Joanna", a proven and unapologetic distributor of fallacies and misinformation just erodes your own standing. Ugh.


     +   Like this comment
    Posted by takes more than truth
    a resident of Menlo Park: other
    on Jan 21, 2008 at 10:11 am

    How about adding a little logic to that dose of truth? If person A says something you don't like, and then person A says the earth is round, and person B agrees that the earth is round, does that mean that all person B's comments are suspect?

    Kind of laughable anyway to suggest that any of us anonymouses have "standing" to erode, least of all you.

    But back to that logic thing. When the council sits on the dais and spends a few hours detailing the problems with a proposed project, fails to see any relative merit in the project (only stating that it's better than nothing), then votes in favor of the project, it's no surprise that council observers point out the illogic. And that IS the truth.


     +   Like this comment
    Posted by Applicant
    a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
    on Jan 21, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    I found Commissioner Riggs pompous and condescending to the public during the planning commission meeting I attended.


     +   Like this comment
    Posted by truth will set you free
    a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
    on Jan 22, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    difference of opinion is more to your point. your opinion of the project is your right and it is one shared by a small group of hard headed no growthers who continue to deride every person who sits on the dais including those you so proudly support. talk is cheap and you are all talk. you will continue this same downward spiral in the next post and at the next meeting and against the next development and so on...and so on...(the reality is if the original derry project went to a vote, you all would have lost, and you know it).


     +   Like this comment
    Posted by observer
    a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
    on Jan 22, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    "truth will set you free"

    Its is amazing that your statement:

    "the reality is if the original derry project went to a vote, you all would have lost, and you know it"

    is so blatantly false, how would anyone be expected to believe you.

    1. Do you really believe the developer had that view? If so, why did they not push for a ballot vote? They certainly had that opportunity.

    2. Do you really believe that the election was won by the previous council majority, which ran hard on how great a project the original Derry was? My My...

    Really --- just plain amazing. Very interesting that a "small group" can win 2 of the 3 council seats and come within 100 votes of winning all three.

    Frankly the truth should set you free, you just don't want to admit to the truth.

    observer


     +   Like this comment
    Posted by a pro=growther
    a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
    on Jan 22, 2008 at 8:10 pm

    When you don't have a cogent argument, why not resort to name-calling and the ever-popular labels such as NIMBY, no-growther, CAVE person, and the like?

    I have yet to meet anyone in Menlo Park who thinks that it's a good idea for El Camino to remain in its current decrepit condition. But does that mean that we should jump at any project that comes along? During the petition-signing effort last year I spoke to many person-on-the-street residents--people who probably don't ever read this board, people who don't care about local politics, lucky them. With almost no exception, residents were opposed to the idea of putting dense housing near a heavily trafficked street like El Camino.

    El Camino is already a traffic tangle during peak periods. Next year, dozens of school children will be traveling from the west side of El Camino to the east side to attend Encinal School, further exacerbating the morning congestion. Soon we will have hundreds of new commuters living in the Derry units. It would be irresponsible for any council member not to consider the cumulative impact of these changes. Adding a medical building to the mix, especially at a dangerous intersection, is a travesty. The council should be ashamed that they voted to inflict it on us.


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