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Steep increase in MP planning fees

Original post made on Dec 4, 2008

Menlo Park residents looking to take out a development permit or appeal a planning department decision will see steep increases in fees for such services.


Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, December 4, 2008, 12:42 AM

Comments (13)

Posted by Miss Minus, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 4, 2008 at 12:03 pm

Isn't there anyone in the city who can do basic math?


Posted by Mike, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 4, 2008 at 12:44 pm

I'm in favor of recovering costs through higher fees if necessary, but I can't help but wonder why it costs so much in staff time and overhead to perform these tasks. For property research, the fee goes from $100 to $200 an hour? How much of these higher costs are reflective of perhaps overgenerous salaries and benefits?


Posted by Miss Minus, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 4, 2008 at 2:59 pm

Yes, why can't all city staff functions be performed by temp workers being paid the minimum wage?

If a licensed civil engineer wants to make more than $8 an hour, let her go get a private sector job! I think this is a totally reasonable suggestion!


Posted by i can add and subtract, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Dec 4, 2008 at 9:40 pm

Miss Minus, are you among those slopping at the trough? No one is asking our public "servants" to work for minimum wage. Heaven forfend! We merely expect that they be able to perform their well-paid jobs adequately. Instead, they are constantly complaining that they are unable to handle their workload and need assistance from expensive consultants. The extra expense of hiring so much outside help is what blows the costs out of proportion.


Posted by tom, a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2008 at 8:25 am

I agree that the added expense of hiring so many outside consultants is a major factor affecting the high costs, but I'm not inclined to attribute the need to use so much consultant time to our hard working City staff not being as productive as they can be. In my view, most cities, and MP is no exception, "overdo" study requirements when proposing/planning projects. Some of this is necessary and appropriate and some of it is required by law, but a significant amount of money could be saved if studies had to go through some sort of cost-benefit analysis just as other investments do. And, no, I do not work in the public sector.


Posted by simple math, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 5, 2008 at 9:39 am

The real problem is the benefit structure, now totally out of whack with the private sector. To be competitive for talent, Menlo Park has agreed to unsustainable long-term benefit costs. This is a problem that must be addressed statewide, or at least regionally. I question whether Menlo Park has to pay top dollar though; it is a nice town without many of the complex problems larger cities have. By paying top dollar, the city may just be contributing to the endless spiral of escalating benefits. The unions need to understand that outsourcing is a viable alternative to providing services at a lower cost.
I am glad the city will do a better job recovering costs of major development. The project owners reap the financial benefits so why shouldn't they pay?


Posted by Phil Giurlani, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Dec 5, 2008 at 2:08 pm

Simple Math, the higher costs are not only passed on to the owners but eventually to the tenants. These are the small busines owners, such as Cheeky Monkey, Keplers etc., that already have a difficult time "making it" in our town. There seems to be a constant complaint that our retail consists of too many jewelers, rug stores and other high-ticket item stores which do not attract high foot traffic, and thus do not enhance other stores and restuarants within walking distance, leading to more vehicular traffic and increased parking demand.


Posted by Phil Giurlani, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Dec 5, 2008 at 2:12 pm

To complete the thought, high ticket retail stores are the only ones that will be able afford the increasing rents on any new developments. Thanks.


Posted by truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Dec 5, 2008 at 4:27 pm

Phil, to be honest, Menlo Park landlords are not exactly motivated to charge a reasonable rent. Most are trust funders or past residents who had parents pass on the wealth and they moved out of town. They charge more than they should in a town like ours and that feeds to Atherton mommies who can afford the rents to start a new hobby.

I think trying to tie an increase in fees to that is just reaching a bit. Your point is valid that supply and demand need to be in balance, but there is a lot more behind those high rents than planning fees.


Posted by simple math, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 5, 2008 at 4:42 pm

I agree with "truth". The small businesses mentioned are not in new developments. They have to pay high rents because that is what the landlords charge. Some landlords seem to not care about empty buldings; generally supply and demand would suggest they lower the rent when it's hard to get a tenant but they'd rather keep things empty than do that. Same with the buildings on El Camino. The planning fees have little to do with the rents charged.


Posted by Phil, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Dec 6, 2008 at 9:49 am

Truth & Math, my comment were more to the future. Any plan for the downtown/ECR has to look past the immediate situation and consider the impact(s) on future improvements. I don't disagree with your comments about the current situation but those buildings are getting older and will need to be replaced/renovated in the near future and the owners will pass along the fees to the business owners.


Posted by simple math, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 6, 2008 at 2:28 pm

So who should pay for these costs if the people who benefit from the development do not? There is no free lunch.


Posted by Truth is an idiot, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 12, 2008 at 6:45 pm

There he goes again, lashing out at people that have a better situation than he has. How can anyone take this guy serious, when you hear comments like "Atherton mommies" or "start a new hobby" or "trustfunders"? "Truth", your prejudices stand out, we get where you're coming from, but once again, please submit some actual data. This is all just your prejudicial opinion, you must write for the National Enquirer!


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