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Menlo Park: The price of doing business

Original post made on Jun 6, 2014

"Business has quadrupled," said Karla Oliveira, the proprietor of the Build It Again Lego store she opened briefly in Menlo Park last fall before packing up shop for a new location in Los Altos within months.

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Comments (15)

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Posted by Shelly
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 6, 2014 at 10:28 am

Downtown Menlo Park definitely needs some refreshing. It is a lovely exclusive little town, but needs some shops and restaurants to draw more people. With the number of school children that walk downtown after school throughout the week, it would be nice if there were a few more places that catered to them. The children may not spend the same amounts of money as their parents, but they do spend money. They would enjoy having a place to spend money and hang out on the weekends. Downtown Menlo is a bit stuffy and shabby compared to Los Altos. Change is good.

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Posted by Mary
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 6, 2014 at 12:26 pm

There's definitely a new verve and excitement that's emerged in downtown Los Altos. There's something for everyone! It would be great if Menlo Park gets its mojo.

I agree that the parking issue continues to be a problem. 1 hour parking is too brief. Make it 2 and 3 hours free parking to make it more user friendly - it encourages more money being spent in restaurants, good and services!

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Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 6, 2014 at 3:34 pm

I still think a parking structure behind Flegel's would be a boon for downtown and for the residents of the city. It would allow free parking for 3-4 hours and parking wouldn't be an issue at all. Palo Alto's four parking garages adjacent to University Ave. seem to have paid off for that city. Business is booming to the point that they're having to consider more parking. Menlo Park has yet to construct even one parking structure. What is the downside here that I'm missing?

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Posted by shoppers?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 6, 2014 at 5:25 pm

We need more shoppers to support stores and restaurants. The downtown plan was supposed to bring more transit oriented housing. Now it looks like big offices are going to be built instead. They don't do much for evening and weekend vibrancy, or to bring the kinds of stores residents want so we don't have to go elsewhere.

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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 6, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.


a parking structure has been brought up multiple times in the past. A couple problems with it as far as the objectors are concerned.

1. it wasn't consistent with our "village character" (sound familiar?)
2. It costs a lot of money and no one wants to pay for it. Yes, it could end up paying for itself, but there is an initial investment that no one wants to come up with.

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Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 6, 2014 at 10:18 pm

I don't have any difficulty finding parking for shopping in downtown Menlo Park, so a parking structure would do nothing to encourage more people to shop in Menlo Park since there is plenty of parking available for this purpose already.

If we're instead talking about employees who work in downtown, a parking structure could be built in a parking assessment district similar to what is done in downtown Palo Alto. Employees could then purchase daily, weekly, or monthly passes to park all day.

In that way, the parking could actually "pay for itself" without having to unnecessarily burden the City or its taxpaying residents.

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Posted by Long Time Menlo Man
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 7, 2014 at 7:37 am

To Mary: Downtown business owners are the ones who requested the current parking plan. Two years ago, at the request of downtown business owners, the city council directed the city staff to change the downtown parking times, rates, and asked for more vigorous enforcement. City staff recommended against the current plan, for all the reasons people are complaining about today. If downtown business owners are not happy, simply ask to have it changed again.
To Steve: Even though money is the main reason there is no parking structure today, Flegel was the main obstructionist AGAINST the parking structure. I believe his quote was "Listen to those of us who are important." There is more than enough money in the city reserve account to pay for the structure and STILL have twice the state recommended reserve amount in the account. City staff recommended the parking structure partly to address the complaints heard today AND the bottom level of the structure was to be used for a farmer's market and other community activities to draw people to downtown.

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Posted by shoppers?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 7, 2014 at 8:10 am

Wasn't Flegel's concern more about the location of the parking lot? I thought the downtown merchants supported a different, more central location.

LTM - pls point to where it was discussed to put the farmers market in a parking garage. I don't remember that at all. That would take away the fun of the market, not to mention its ambience! And how would cars needing to park on higher levels get to them? The current location for the market is great.

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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 7, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Why has the city agreed to give 100OCT exclusive Santa Cruz Avenue use for the entire morning one saturday a month for its car related marketing. This commercial endeavor blocks traffic to local business and prevents residents and consumers from accessing them. Not only does this consume all Santa Cruz, but those putting on the show, park adjacent to Santa cruz prohibiting normal business customers. The Drug Store, Hardware store, stationary store, bakery, shops, and dry cleaners and laundrys all seem badly hurt by this obstruction. 100OCT advertises( it is sponsored by Maserati Silicon valley who will display cars and 100OCT hopes attendees will consider them for their next car purchase.

100Oct says they will be using santa cruz one Saturday a month for the next 8 months, through December 2014. Its bad enough for Stanford to keep its car lots vacant while it pursues construction of office space and residents, but why turn Santa Cruz into a Car Lot. I value our local business and would like to visit them without this unwelcome intrusion on saturday mornings.

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Posted by shoppers?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 7, 2014 at 3:01 pm

Will Maserati contribute some revenue to the city for this?

There should be an analysis of the impacts on local businesses that need all the support they can get.

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Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 8, 2014 at 9:26 pm

I'm all in favor of doing a variety of different things to get people to come to downtown Menlo Park, including the food trucks on Wednesday evening, and this event on Saturday mornings once a month. I'm glad that 100|OCT chose Menlo Park for it's Peninsula event. They could have chosen another city, but they didn't.

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Posted by shoppers?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 9, 2014 at 10:03 am

Let's be sure someone is measuring the impact on local businesses. If it's good, let's continue. If not, let's not.

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Posted by Bill
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jun 9, 2014 at 2:14 pm

As I suggested to the City Counsel when it started the new master plan process four (5?) years ago - copy what Palo Alto did with University Avenue over the past 30 years: parking structures, and three and four story mixed use buildings. Los Altos sounds like it understands.

Menlo Park will continue to have a "cute", expensive, fading downtown as long as it thinks of itself as a village, instead of a suburb competing with other suburbs. As it is, we rarely eat in Menlo, and are more likely to go to Redwood City or Palo Alto. Other than TJs, Peet's, or the Guild, we spend little in Menlo Park.

It didn't have to be this way.

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Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 9, 2014 at 3:21 pm

Los Altos' triangular downtown geography is quite a bit bigger than ours and doesn't have El Camino Real or train tracks cutting through it. It's therefore less accessible to transients and doesn't have PA's looming office buildings. Sunday mornings in LA are less congested & more leisurely as there is no downtown church with attendees competing for parking. Los Altos hasn't been "transit friendly" for 50 years.

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Posted by Old MP
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 11, 2014 at 6:38 pm

Back in the day... The Pacific Electric street car line ran up and down the (now) Foothill Expressway right of way. As a HS student (circa 1918), my grandfather would catch a street car in Los Altos, ride north, take the Page Mill spur and end up at Palo Alto HS.

Too bad they eliminated the street car line instead of keeping it and building the expressway around it.

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