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Council to review appeal of Safeway plans

Original post made on Jan 29, 2010

A routine administrative permit allowing for outdoor seating at the Safeway complex on El Camino Real has been appealed all the way to Menlo Park's City Council. The council will review the appeal at its meeting Tuesday, Feb. 2.


Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, January 29, 2010, 10:51 AM

Comments (39)

 +   Like this comment
Posted by PeetNik
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jan 29, 2010 at 2:40 pm

For one that sits on the cold concrete outside Peet's, I now realize why the simple request for seating has been delayed so long. The Peet's staff have been very apologetic since they opened: I could just never guess what was taking Menlo Park so long to decide.

I recognize that this huge complex is closely surrounded by homes, and that some are hidden behind the huge wall (or back of the stores.) If it was me, I too might try to stop further growth. But please: this is only hurting the businesses that bring revenue to the city, from the huge "anchor" of Safeway, to the quiet calm of Peets.

I will continue to check in now and then, but unfortunately my Peets choice is more often Palo Alto: Town & Country. And the financial impact is even greater since Trader Joe's opened. I will shop there after my coffee, instead of Safeway/Menlo Park.

Carry on your protest, as you are free to do. I can only hope that the Council has the wisdom to see overall city gain (both for this complex and for others yet to be built.)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Observation Station
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 31, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Does anyone else notice that there is always a fire truck at Safeway? They are there all the time! At random times a day every day. Just an observation.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 31, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Firefighters typically work a 48 hour shift and must purchase and prepare their own food. Firefighters from both Palo Alto's Station 1 on Alma and Menlo Park Fire Protection District's Station 1 and 6 usually shop at Safeway. Since the firefighters and their equipment must always be available to respond to a call they remain together as a unit when doing their grocery shopping. You will always see at least one firefighter in the apparatus and the others will do the shopping but be in touch by radio in the event of a call. It is fascinating to see them drop everything while shopping and literally run out of the store if they need to respond to a call.


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Posted by Firefighting?
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jan 31, 2010 at 3:55 pm

They certainly DO work up an appetite playing volleyball all day long! Does Menlo Park really need 4 fire stations? Since I arrived in Menlo Park, about 5-6 years ago, I have witnessed two homes burned, Callas and the 7/11. I don't think that's enough work for 4 stations??? Why do tax payers never want to objectively look at THIS expense?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 31, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Most 'fire calls' are actually medical assistance.
Here is the activity for the MPFPD today:
1/31/2010 9:18:36 AM (13 min)
MNF100310004
Menlo Park Fire
Medical aid
WILLOW RD ,MNP
E1


1/31/2010 12:56:43 AM (29 min)
MNF100310001
Menlo Park Fire
Medical aid
GONZAGA ST ,EPA
E2


1/31/2010 3:09:50 AM (77 min)
MNF100310002
Menlo Park Fire
Medical aid
MONTEREY AV ,WMP
E4


1/31/2010 2:29:03 PM (19 min)
MNF100310009
Menlo Park Fire
Medical aid
BELLAIR WY ,WMP
E4


1/31/2010 12:29:48 PM Click to listen to dispatch audio. (18 min)
MNF100310007
Menlo Park Fire
Public assist
140 WATKINS AV ,ATN
E5


1/31/2010 10:00:02 AM (17 min)
MNF100310005
Menlo Park Fire
Medical aid
OAK GROVE AV ,MNP
E6


1/31/2010 10:48:38 AM (17 min)
MNF100310006
Menlo Park Fire
Medical aid
GLENWOOD AV ,MNP
E6


1/31/2010 1:59:05 PM (25 min)
MNF100310008
Menlo Park Fire
Medical aid
GLENWOOD AV ,MNP
E6


1/31/2010 12:34:08 AM (7 min)
FMA100310001
Fire Mutual Aid
Auto aid request
625 ECR, PA
E6


1/31/2010 8:06:19 AM (20 min)
MNF100310003
Menlo Park Fire
Medical aid
CRANE ST ,MNP
E6



 +   Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Citizen
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 31, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Hopefully all of the other folks in Menlo Oaks are more "educated" than Fire Fighting ! First of all, they do not play Volley Ball as it is too cold outside. Where did you come from 6 years ago ? I agree with you, Menlo Fire does not need 4 stations,it NEEDS 7 Stations, like we have. Dude, get your facts straight !! You mentioned 3 fires, but about all of the other fires you haven't listed, what about all of the other fires in RWC & PA that we go to on mutual aid request. What about all of EMS calls that make up about 60% of our call volume. What about all of those building inspections they make to keep patrons safe. What about all of those HAZ MAT inspections they make to keep employees & patrons safe, yourself included !! How much more in insurance premiums will you be paying for no Fire Service, ask you agent..Get the picture !!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by James
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 31, 2010 at 7:41 pm

It seems as if we have deviated from the original question of ourdoor seating to criticizing firefighters.

First, I support the seating areas; they afford a community atmosphere.

Second, I agree with Mr. Carpenter and Concerned Citizen. Maybe "Firefighteing" should do his/her homework before criticizing and understand what our firefighters actually do. Firefighter is just a portion of their job -- try medical assistance, elevator rescues, cutting babies out of locked bank vaults (remember that a few years ago in RWC), helping out during floods, teaching kids about "stop, drop and roll", hazmat, and much more.

But I digress; let's return to the original question of outdoor seating, shall we?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 31, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I agree with James, let's return to the topic of this thread.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Just Wondering
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 31, 2010 at 8:34 pm

So Pete, you can't stand the heat, so you try to turn off the thread??


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 31, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Just Wondering - not at all. James and I agree with the Town Forum principle of staying on topic.

So please feel free to start a new thread on the topic of your choice - and you know that I CAN stand the heat - try me.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by move on already
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 31, 2010 at 8:45 pm

This appeal sounds like an utter waste of the council's time. I'd like to know what specifically Ms. Houck is challenging. Unfortunately, she neglected to specifify in her letter of appeal.

The council's got better things to deal with than a neighbor's crankiness.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Interested
a resident of another community
on Feb 1, 2010 at 11:20 am

"They certainly DO work up an appetite playing volleyball all day long!"

Shame on you...The FACT is that the MPFD has some of the finest trained and capable firefighters in this nation. There is a reason why MFPD is one of the first agencies called upon when a disaster occurs not just in the United States, but all over the world.

You should hang your head in shame for that comment. I am sorry that Peter Carpenter chose to respond to you. Despite my disagreements with him, it is in no small part due to his efforts that the MPFD is respected nationwide.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Interested
a resident of another community
on Feb 1, 2010 at 11:27 am

But in the interests of staying on topic, Mrs. Houck needs a new hobby. Ever considered knitting?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Firefighting?
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Feb 1, 2010 at 11:32 am

I actually think this IS a good topic for this thread. We seem to have a few resident experts in firefighting. First of all I am not a "Dude", second, the list Mr. Carpenter sent does not have ONE "firefighting duty" attached to it, not one. My point is when you have very expensive equipment aka fire trucks, being purchased, maintained and driven about, I would think this is overkill for ANY jurisdiction? Why not purchase or maintain a vehicle that truly assists people in medical need. There is NO need for a fire truck and loads of personnel to show up at a location because someone "felt faint". Again, overkill. I find it absolutely ridiculous that you cannot even discuss this topic because the fire employees are our "heros" and how dare we question this expense?! I honestly believe that if one day we woke up with a smaller station on the east side, and a smaller station on the west side, which would include the vehicle that assists people in medical need, we would realize the same level of service. This should NOT be a "do not touch" expense, we are paying for this overkill! Concerned Citizen, before you start passing judgement, how 'bout YOU allowing for a respectful and educated debate. Again, 60% (according to your made up number) of these calls are for EMS, then THAT is the number that needs to be discussed and made some sense of, you cannot convince me that we need a firetruck on every one of these calls.(oh, of course except for all of those bank vaults and elevators that we have in this huge metropolis of ours) That's ridiculous, and again, an OVERKILL.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 1, 2010 at 11:39 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Posted by Firefighting "I actually think this IS a good topic for this thread."

WRONG - the topic of this thread is "Council to review appeal of Safeway plans". This has NOTHING to do with the issues that you have raised in your post. There are lots of good answers to the questions raised in your post but I will not go off topic in this thread to respond to those questions.

IF you want to start a new topic, then please do so but don't abuse the Forum by using this topic for some other issue.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Interested
a resident of another community
on Feb 1, 2010 at 11:44 am

Firefighter...What Topic?

You made a dumbass assertion that firefighters spend all day playing volleyball and are surprised other people think you are an idiot?

Oh, and yes, personally I do consider firefighters to be hero's. I was not alive on December 7, 1941. But I was for September 11. I will NEVER forget seeing so many people trying so hard to get out of the Twin Towers, AND SO MANY FIREFIGHTERS TRYING SO HARD TO GET IN.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by nitpicked
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 1, 2010 at 11:44 am

interested, in the interest of staying on topic, how about setting aside the misogyny? If she didn't have valid concerns, this wouldn't still be an issue.

Firefighting? I agree with you. You don't need expensive, heavy, difficult-to-maneuver trucks zipping around town to handle the EMT calls that constitute 99% of their work. Sure, it's more fun to drive the big red truck than to cruise to emergencies in a tricked-up Ford, but it's way past time to opt for practicality over flair.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by nitpicked
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 1, 2010 at 11:47 am

Peter, you're the one who took up most of the space in this thread enumerating firefighter adventures. You have no business chewing out someone else for talking about firefighters!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Interested
a resident of another community
on Feb 1, 2010 at 11:48 am

Nitpicked....Good idea...Tell us what exactly are Mrs. Houcks concerns?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Interested
a resident of another community
on Feb 1, 2010 at 11:53 am

Oh and Nitpicked referring to Elizabeth Houck as Mrs. Houck is not misogyny..ITS CALLED MANNERS. You might give it a try


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 1, 2010 at 11:59 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Dear Nitpicked - I responded in good faith to Observation Station query re firefighters at Safeway and explained why they were ofetn there.

Firefighting? then took the thread off topic and, yes, I responded with some factual information. I should have instead asked Firefighting? at that point to start a new thread - which both James and I did in later posts.

So perhaps either Nitpicked or Firefighting? would like to start a new thread.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by nitpicked
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 1, 2010 at 12:36 pm

interested, suggesting that she take up knitting is insulting and misogynistic, and the fact that you don't get it just underscores your inability to perceive how you come across to others. Would you be so snarky to a male petitioner? I think not.

By the way, no knocks on knitting. It's a productive hobby, unlike posting on these boards.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Interested
a resident of another community
on Feb 1, 2010 at 1:59 pm

"interested, suggesting that she take up knitting is insulting and misogynistic."

Well actually I am male and I can knit a Aran Sweater in about a week..

I find knitting to be a great way of relaxing.

So much for your silly attempts at sexism.......

But as others have said, lets get back to the topic.

Can you please Tell us exactly Mrs. Houcks concerns?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Interested
a resident of another community
on Feb 1, 2010 at 2:06 pm

[Post removed; posters should stick to issues and avoid personal attacks]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Firefighting?
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Feb 1, 2010 at 3:44 pm

I had no idea "Interested" that the topic of wasting the tax payer's money would get you so aroused! Good God, give us all a break. We all understand the hero thing, yes during 9/11 there were some major heros. However, I do not believe we should be over paying for anything with our tax dollars, let alone fire personnel that sit in suburban Menlo Park playing volleyball, shopping at Safeway and driving around in their expensive, shiney, new toys.
There you go, now I'm getting snarky! And all I wanted was a decent forum to talk about the expensive fire budget. I guess we'll still sit on this budget item as a "do not touch" item. I think that if any of us did expose ourselves to trying to cut back this expense, and/or the police budget, we may be in jeopardy of not having a fire put out in our home, or being cited for a ridiculous traffic violation, etc. Yes, I said it, gotta love unions!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 1, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Firefighting?? states:"And all I wanted was a decent forum to talk about the expensive fire budget."

Firefighting?? PLEASE start a NEW topic on that subject - it is VERY easy to do, just go to the top of this page and click on

POST A NEW TOPIC


 +   Like this comment
Posted by move on already
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 1, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Firefighting?, There might be lots of people willing to talk about the expensive fire budget. So WHY DON'T YOU START A THREAD ABOUT THE EXPENSIVE FIRE BUDGET? It's easy. Hit the link that at the top of this thread that says POST A NEW TOPIC. It could be an interesting discussion. But when I visit this thread, I want to read a discussion about the appeal of a resident of Safeway's plans. Is that so difficult to accept?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Firefighting?
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Feb 1, 2010 at 4:21 pm

[This and a series of subsequent posts removed; please stay on topic and avoid personal attacks]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Renee Batti
news editor of The Almanac
on Feb 2, 2010 at 11:39 am

Renee Batti is a registered user.

Several posters have wanted more details about why Ms. Houck is appealing the decision. Here's a letter she sent to the City Council today, detailing her concerns:

In 2000 the Menlo Park City Council tasked Safeway and the local neighborhood to work together to come up with a plan for a new store at Middle Ave and El Camino Real. The Safeway Working Group was formed and Safeway hired a mediator to facilitate the process. I have been an active member of the working group since its inception and leveraged my project and team management skills to enable "new ways of working together" in an effort to create a resolution acceptable to all participants.

Eight core Working Group Members, several alternates, and dozens of concerned residents, spent countless hours over the last 10 years in many Working Group, Sub-group, Neighborhood, and City meetings, and came up with a successful project plan and Conditions of Development (CoD) as endorsed to the City Council in 2005. Hundreds, if not thousands of more hours were spent in addressing many issues including demolition, construction, and operations including, trash, pedestrian access, aggressive panhandling, and security. The culmination of all the meetings and discussion resulted in a Conditions of Development document, which I firmly believe is not being adhered to by either Safeway or the City.

I appealed the new use permit for Safeway (that would effectively increase the square footage of the retail space by hundreds of square feet,) on grounds that they have not complied with their own Conditions of Development (CoD) in the following areas:

* Safeway Van Parking. The ONLY five spaces in the entire development that are directly adjacent to the store (not having to cross busy driveways) Safeway took to park their .com vans. City Planner negated the CoD by allowing Safeway to park in prime customer parking. The CoD states limited hours. No changes should be made regarding parking until all the retail space is fully occupied for a holiday period, to understand potential impacts before changing CoD.
* On-site Banking: CoD calls for on-site banking. Wells Fargo was going to be in-store until Wachovia was going to open a branch in the retail space, but that fell through. Currently there is a high-fee, non-bank ATM inside the store.
* Safeway is two years in arrears on Transportation Demand Management Program reporting, and the current plan they submitted (Dec. '09) has no checks and balances or employee surveys attached.
* CEQA Exemption. California Environmental Quality Act. Sometime after 2005 Safeway slipped CEQA exemption into the project without Working Group knowledge. Why did Safeway pay for sound/noise, light, and traffic studies to insure compliance before the EIR, only request exemption after the fact? This is simply unacceptable, should be revoked, and not allowed in El Camino Real corridor development.
* In addition I would like to see the addition of a "smoking area" and have all the store fronts be non-smoking.

I am not anti-development, I support outdoor seating for both Peet's and Rubio's. And, while the above has little to do with outdoor seating, I simply want Safeway to keep the promises they made.


Elizabeth Houck


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Posted by Tom H
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 2, 2010 at 12:44 pm

I do not suport chains like petes, starbucks, safeway etc. If you want a thriving local community you will support locally owned businesses. Why send your hard earned $$$$ out of town to some corporate BS. BUY LOCAL!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tom H
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 2, 2010 at 12:45 pm

THANK GOD FOR FIREMEN.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Watcher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 2, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Elizabeth Houck is a long time supporter of council majority. With the exception of Boyle, they all have long histories of burdening property owners with over regulation.

This type of an appeal is an expensive waste of time and is an extreme example of the regulatory environment of our city. However, it does create union jobs.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 3, 2010 at 9:03 am

James and Peter, thanks for your comments. Peter, do a thread on the MPFPD. I have a lot of respect for the fire department.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by nitpicked
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 3, 2010 at 10:36 am

Renee, thank you for posting the letter.

There is an extremely important issue here, and to try to minimize it by categorizing Houck ("she's one of those people") is lazy and potentially dangerous.

The fact is that all over town, when people build or renovate projects, they are given parameters within which they can operate. If your next door neighbor, for example, was granted a permit to build a 200 square foot addition and then decided -- without asking the city -- to add a three-story wing that completely shadowed your property, you'd expect city staff to intervene, wouldn't you?

Same thing here. Safeway was given a lot of concessions after years of negotiations, and in return agreed to abide by certain constraints. Now they are blowing off that agreement.

In the past, the city has ignored such incidents. I appreciate that Houck is trying to hold Safeway's corporate feet to the fire. Maybe in the future, people and companies will be a little more respectful of the promises they make. What's the point of having a permit process if anyone can flout it without repercussions?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kathryn
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 3, 2010 at 12:16 pm

I support the City Council on the outdoor seating ruling and am happy they will be outdoor seating at Peets and Rubios. Yae!

But, this:

>Mrs. Houck needs a new hobby. Ever considered knitting?

is gratuitous and I regret the lack of civilization displayed.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by A citizen
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 3, 2010 at 3:47 pm

FireFighter: Where were you on 9/11 ? Were you safe & sound or were
you running out of a unsafe building ? Were you playing VolleyBall,
that seems to come up in your comments ! You must be from a warm weather climate !! Should you experience an emergency, please don't call the Fire Department, they may be in the middle of a VollyBall tournament & too bust to respond. Please try the Water Dept, Parks and Rec, Chamber of Commerce, but not the Fire Dept, who is trained to save lives, including yours !! Good luck !!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Loving Where I live
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 3, 2010 at 5:25 pm

This was NOT about the firefighters who MUST eat just as all of us and who keep YOU safe when in danger!!!! Did you NOT read the article?? This is about a woman who has nothing better to do with her time! I love the new Safeway complex and the "decoration" it has brought to our town. I LOVE to sit outside at Peets in the spring and summer and all the other times it is gorgeous outside, to drink my coffee, read a book, respond to articles such as this etc... I LOVE Rubios and it's easy access location and I would love nothing more than to sit outside and have a beer and a fish taco! They can do it on Santa Cruz Ave and serve Coronas, why can't Rubios? I have been wondering why there is STILL NO beer sold there!! Yup, I heard it was the City!! My gosh people, YOU too eat at these places and have coffee or a beer while sitting outside etc!! Jeffrey's even serves beer and wine and Safeway sales it, why can't Rubios??? Come on people...there are more bad things going on in our world than worring about this issue!!! God Bless...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by nitpicked
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 3, 2010 at 7:18 pm

How do you know what Elizabeth Houck does with her time? Most of the people who serve on city commissions and on the council and who are otherwise active in our community have full-time jobs in addition to their volunteer responsibilities. It's wonderful that Elizabeth and others are willing to devote energy to community service.

Moreover, Elizabeth Houck is articulate and clear, unlike most of you who have never done anything to make our city a better place to live. It's especially amusing to read diatribes from those of you who are sure you're right but are far from convincing with your poor grammar and illiterate spelling! (psst, Loving, the possessive form of "it" is not "it's.")


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Maria of West Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 4, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Firefighter, although this is not the original topic, I hoope you or a loved one don't lose anyone or anything because there are not enough fire stations.


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