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Menlo Park may hire $150,000 consultant to study specific plan initiative

Original post made on Mar 18, 2014

The tab for Menlo Park's downtown/El Camino Real specific plan keeps rising, even though the $1.7 million plan was approved in 2012 after five years of study and community engagement.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 8:12 AM

Comments (12)

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Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 18, 2014 at 3:50 pm

Don't do it. Why waste $150,000? Let the voters, yes the ones who put the city council in office, have their say on the initiative and then live with the results. I will even save you the $150,000 by telling you that at least some, and possibly the majority of the voters in menlo Park, are not happy with what you are doing and want to have their voices heard.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 18, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Why not do it? Why not have someone impartial provide information to the voters so they can vote intelligently on this initiative should it make it to the ballot? We certainly aren't going to hear any impartial analysis from Save Menlo. If fact, as Peter has noted elsewhere, Save Menlo appears to be relying on the ignorance of voters on this issue. As of yesterday their own initiative still wasn't on their website.


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Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 18, 2014 at 8:00 pm

"Why not have someone impartial provide information to the voters so they can vote intelligently on this initiative...?"

Because any reasonably intelligent and interested voter can take the 10 minutes to read the initiative and know exactly what it seeks to change in the DSP? One could even read the summary, above, and be familiar with most of the salient points of the measure. Throwing $150,000 after this fool's errand of a study is almost as bright as spending tens of thousands of dollars on an aborted logo redesign, and smacks of a pre-emptive move by Council to cover their collective arse should the initiative garner the requisite signatures and land on a future Council agenda, awaiting (in)action. Lord A'Mighty, we deserve better than this.

Gern


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 19, 2014 at 12:51 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Clearly Garn and Brian prefer uneducated voters - why are you so scared of the facts?

Why is that until today the ONLY place that an interested voters could have read the initiative was in my Dropbox posting, weeks ago, of the initiative?

Finally Save Menlo has posted the document - one month after submitting it to the city:

Web Link

This also includes the Independent Summary of the Initiative - which states:

"Under the measure, the City Council cannot amend the definitions and development
standards set forth in the measure as these provisions can be amended
only with voter approval."

Not, in my opinion, a good way to run a city in the 21st century.


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Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 19, 2014 at 7:32 am

SteveC is a registered user.

spot on MV and Peter


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 19, 2014 at 8:23 am

Gern:

If voters couldn't be bothered to pay attention to the five year open process that brought us the DSP do you really think they'll be bothered to actually read the initiative? My money's on them not reading. It would be nice to have an impartial analysis out there, hopefully in the Almanac, that will boil it down so the average voter doesn't lose interest and stop paying attention as they did with the DSP.


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Posted by bait&switch
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 19, 2014 at 11:12 am

Oh, a lot of us paid attention during the public input process. We attended the meetings, and we were thrilled to see that the consultants put the retention of village character at the top of the list.

The actual plan was created, with minimal regard to that public input process, by Stanford's consultants, then rushed through the council and the planning commission process. Planning commissioners have told me that there was immense pressure to approve the plan despite the lack of opportunity to review the thick document in public.

As a result, the plan includes vague and misleading specifications. Balconies and rooftops can be deemed open space? Trying getting away with that if you want to add on to your home!

Putting this initiative on the ballot will finally give the plan the public airing it deserves. Yes, we want to get rid of those ugly car lots, but most of us thought we were going to get housing and retail on those properties, not massive office buildings. Residents are going to live with the results for decades to come. We need to get it right now.


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Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 19, 2014 at 12:57 pm

"If voters couldn't be bothered to pay attention to the five year open process that brought us the DSP ..."

Hold on, MV, I thought you agreed with Peter that the DSP is the result of unprecedented community involvement, the immutable will of the Menlo Park voting majority, and decidedly not the object of five years' public disinterest. So which is it? To address your question, the initiative is an easily-understood ten minute read; the DSP a week's study. If you don't trust voters with the former then why have any faith in our system at all?

Peter artlessly side-stepped my question in a related thread about the size of the Stanford and Greenheart projects versus the office space cap specified in the DSP/DSP EIR, so I'll pose it again here for initiative opponents: If the DSP/DSP EIR specifies a cap on office space development of 240,820 square feet over the coming 30 years, how does one justify allowing Stanford and Greenheart to move forward with ~400,000 square feet of new office space in the plan area in year 1.5 of that plan? It's a direct question deserving a direct answer, if one may be found.

Secondly, Peter and MV, why do or would you oppose limiting Stanford and Greenheart to 100,000 square feet apiece, figures much more in line with the DSP and its 30-year Vision and the main thrust of the initiative?

Gern


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 19, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Gern - There was a lot of community involvement in the Downtown Specific Plan but some people slept through the process and now those few want a redo.

This is what the 2013 Staff Report stated:
"The potential for large projects to account for a significant percentage of the Maximum Allowable Development thresholds was discussed by the City Council prior to adoption of the Specific Plan. As noted at the time by staff, because the thresholds are based on net new development, it should not be surprising if a project on a large and primarily vacant site would represent a large proportion of the Maximum Allowable Development."

What is not clear about that statement?


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Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 19, 2014 at 1:40 pm

"What is not clear about that statement?"

So which will it be, Peter, Stanford or Greenheart? If we're honoring the plan's Maximum Allowable Development we clearly cannot have both. And please correct me if I'm wrong but this staff report was delivered long after the Council voted to approve the DSP, was it not? Was this information shared with the public so many years ago as they tried to make sense of Stanford's shiny renderings during the Visioning process? Of course not, just as clearly as yours was not a direct answer to my question.

Limiting both projects to 100,000 square feet is the sensible and fair thing to do, I'm sure you'll agree.

Gern


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 19, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Gern:

I do trust voters. What I was referring to were the Save Menlo voters who clearly lost interest and weren't paying attention during the ENTIRE process.

I would not go along with holding these projects to 100,000 feet. The DSP and zoning as approved allows for larger projects. If we don't stick to the rules we put in place, developers will not do anything in this town. The costs are too large to develop plans and put them through the approval process only to have a project that complies with approved zoning get the rug pulled out from under it at the last minute. No developer in his right mind is going to put a large amount of money at risk under those circumstances.

The other thing that Save Menlo keeps conveniently ignoring is that ANY development of that property is going to bring traffic. Residential or commercial. In fact, one could make the argument that more traffic would be generated by mixed use residential/retail & restaurant than office buildings. Offices have little to no night time traffic and virtually no weekend traffic. Mixed use has traffic at all hours every day of the week. What SM's ignoring of this fact tells me is that they are just throwing up road blocks to ANY development of that site.

Enjoy the view.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 19, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Specific Plan states:
"The Specific Plan establishes the maximum allowable net
new development as follows:
Residential uses: 680 units; and
Non-residential uses, including retail, office and
hotel: 474,000 Square Feet."

Thus both Stanford and Greenheart fall within this limit.

"Limiting both projects to 100,000 square feet is the sensible and fair thing to do, I'm sure you'll agree."

No it is neither fair or wise. And the Stanford properties on ECR actually are comprised of SIX parcels, which total 8.43 acres in size:
 300 El Camino Real (APN: 071-440-060)
 350 El Camino Real (APN: 071-440-050)
 444 El Camino Real (APN: 071-440-030)
 550 El Camino Real (APN: 071-440-040)
 Unaddressed (APN: 071-440-120)
 Unaddressed (APN: 071-440-130)

so each parcel could be 100,000 sq. ft.

""The potential for large projects to account for a significant percentage of the Maximum Allowable Development thresholds was discussed by the City Council PRIOR to adoption of the Specific Plan."

What is not clear about PRIOR?


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