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Editorial: Downtown Menlo withstands retail turnover

Original post made on Jun 11, 2014

With rents running to $5 a square foot and possibly more, it is no wonder that small retail businesses are cautious about settling into storefronts on Santa Cruz Avenue, in the heart of Menlo Park's downtown.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 12:00 AM

Comments (55)

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 11, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

This editorial makes it very clear that the proposed initiative is already having a deleterious effect on downtown Menlo Park:

"A petition drive for an initiative to change the city's downtown specific plan that could go on the November ballot already has spooked investors who may pass up the commercial property market until after the election."

"Until the issues raised by the initiative process are resolved, it could be a year or more before additional development can take off in downtown Menlo Park."


Posted by George C. Fisher, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 11, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Balderdash! The voter initiative proposing to reasonably limit office space development has no impact on downtown retail. The current Office intensive specific plan proposals significantly reduces Menlo Park Retail on El Camino Real, when Menlo Park needs Sales tax revenue, to exploit selfish developer benefit for high office rents.

Sure, if someone can find cheaper retail rent in los Altos, as apparently the Lego store did, they move. Menlo Park is slow in building new parking, which harms retail. Furthermore, closing Santa Cruz Avenue one Saturday a month so that performance and exotic car aficionados can meet with each, and which causes reduced retail customer traffic and customer parking for established business customers only hurts downtown retail further.

In any event the retail comparison found in Menlo Park's recent economic study states the Downtown Retail Mix comparison February, 2014:

Menlo Park # % Los Altos # %

Eating and dining 45 25.9% 29 31.2%
Apparel 16 9.2% 17 18.3%
Furniture/Home 18 10.3% 9 9.7%
Food 3 1.7% 2 2.2%
Services 54 31% 16 17.2%
Finance 7 4.0% 5 5.4%
Misc 31 17.8% 15 16.1%

Total 174 100.0% 93 100.0%



Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 11, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The voter initiative proposing to reasonably limit office space development has no impact on downtown retail"

Balderdash! What downtown retail needs is MORE CUSTOMERS not more competition. The ECR office and housing projects will dramatically increase the number of customers for downtown retail.The Lanza/Fry initiative would kill those projects and forever harm downtown retail.


Posted by balder dash, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 11, 2014 at 5:03 pm

George is correct. The initiative supports the exact same amount of office as was projected during the specific planning process. A good mix of housing and office is in the plan and supported by the initiative.

Offices are dead in evenings and weekends, so they don't add to the vibrancy expressed as desirable during the community workshops.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 11, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Walk down University Ave in Palo Alto during the day and what do you see - lots of people.

Walk down Santa Cruz Ave in Menlo Park and what do you see - very few people.

People = CUSTOMERS.

What does downtown Palo Alto have that downtown Menlo Park does not have - lots of people in OFFICES.

The Save Menlo people should start talking to our local merchants before proposing to take away their desperately needed new customers.


Posted by George C. Fisher , a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 11, 2014 at 5:44 pm

No. Palo Alto has lots of vibrancy, a diverse mix of housing, retail, diversity, and electricity. Any vibrancy is not based upon superfluous office space workers. It is based upon demand for retail, restaurants, etc, not supply of office space customers.

Competition is essential to success. The Vision for the Specific Plan called for vibrancy, housing, and retail. It did not call for office space, In fact, Office Space is only mentioned one time in the Specific Plan Vision. Unfortunately, the Specific plan lost this vision, and opened the door for office space exploitation. Unless the city Council fixes, the voters can decide.

In any event, I rarely go to downtown Palo Alto because so difficult to get there. Menlo park will have an even greater access and circulation problem for retail and restaurants, because Stanford contemplates huge office buildings at the same location the Menlo Park El Camino corridor traffic study, not due until next year by the way, calls a congested joinder of Alma, Sand Hill, and El Camino traffic from the south creating a congestion problem that isn't working. Why the city ignored this plain truth earlier is puzzling. Extra office workers commuting at prime time will only add to the problem.

Moreover, office workers trapped in the landlocked office parking lots can't get to downtown anyway. El Camino will be congested, there are no bike routes, or safe crossings. Maybe they could walk to Palo Alto train station and take the train to Menlo Park.

Hopefully, City Council will stop the office space exploitation and return to the reasonable balance of retail, housing and office contemplated by the Vision.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 11, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Mr. Fisher:

these building won't be "landlocked." There will be and are sidewalks all the way to Santa Cruz Ave. Where do you think these office workers are going to eat lunch, have a drink after work, maybe grab dinner before heading home or do some shopping before heading home? The mix of housing and retail envisioned by Lanza/Fry will INCREASE traffic congestion NOT reduce it.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 11, 2014 at 6:06 pm

Mr. Fisher:

here's a perfect example of how office space generates sales for downtown merchants, from another thread: Web Link

"Looking forward to the BBC re-opening. Any idea of what the timeline is? I have lots of fellow co-workers in the area who really want a new place to go after work but we haven't seen any renovation activity at the site. Any news on this front? "


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 12, 2014 at 6:00 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.


"In fact, Office Space is only mentioned one time in the Specific Plan Vision."

Wrong. Claims like this simply show that the Lanza/Fry initiative supporters simply do not do their homework.

The word 'office' appears SEVENTEEN times in the Vision Plan.

The word 'office' appears more then ONE HUNDRED times in the Downtown ECR Specific Plan.



Posted by balder dash, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 12, 2014 at 8:52 am

The initiative has the SAME amount of office and non-residential development that was forecast in the plan. If you don't like that, then you don't like the plan. The initiative doesn't cause anything more than what was in the plan. The initiative SUPPORTS a lot of office, including at the Stanford and Greenheart sites.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 12, 2014 at 10:52 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Balderdash -I have two concerns with your statement that the initiative does not limit office space.
My first concern is that you actually believe that falsehood.
My second concern is that you may be intentionally misleading others.

In fact the sole objective of the Lanza/Fry initiative is to limit office space by blocking the Stanford and Greehheart projects. Specifically the initiative limits individual projects to 100,000 sq ft even when those projects are comprised of a number of parcels. This limit alone reduced the available sq ft by almost 50% for these projects:


3.3.5. After this measure becomes effective, the maximum amount of Office Space that any individual development project proposal within the ECR Specific Plan area may contain is 100,000 square
feet. No City elected or appointed official or body, agency, staff member or officer may take, or permit to be taken, any action to permit any individual development project proposal located within the ECR Specific Plan area that would exceed the foregoing limit.

The initiative also places a hard limit on all new net office space that is about 50% of what is permitted by the Specific Plan:

3.4.2. The Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the ECR Specific Plan, as certified by the City on June 5, 2012, at page 3- 11, states that it conceptually analyzes net, new development of 240,820 square feet of Commercial Space. After this measure becomes effective, the maximum square footage of all net, new Office Space that may be approved, entitled, permitted or otherwise authorized by the City in the aggregate within the ECR Specific Plan Area after the ECR Specific Plan's adoption on July 12, 2012 shall not exceed the 240,820 square feet of Commercial Space disclosed and analyzed in the ECR Specific Plan EIR.

The Specific Plan divides the maximum allowable development between residential and non-residential uses as follows:

Residential uses: maximum of 680 units
Non-residential uses, including retail, office, and hotel: maximum of 474,000 square feet

Telling lies is a disservice to an informed dialogue.


Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiņa, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 12, 2014 at 11:17 am

Roy Thiele-Sardiņa is a registered user.

Downtown Palo Alto's vibrancy is tightly aligned to the number of office workers there during the daytime.

In fact when Facebook occupied 12 buildings in downtown Palo Alto it became virtually impossible to find seating in ANY cafe there.

Menlo Park's LACK of office space makes coming here hard. I have TWICE in my career had office space in downtown Menlo Park, and loved it. I could NOT find an office for my current firm in downtown MPK. I had multiple choices in PAO.......My office is currently on Middlefield Rd. so I am equidistant from PAO and MPK. I eat in PAO more often (you can thank Coupa for that)

We need more office space in MPK to give us a reason to be here, to improve the foot traffic (increasing number of meals served) The DTSP did that, and now we will be delayed due to the impending lawsuits, and/or the delay due to the uncertainty of approval. This is REALLY a shame for MPK.

Roy Thiele-Sardina


Posted by balder dash, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 12, 2014 at 11:19 am

Excuse me - what lies?
The initiative limits office to the same amount as was forecast in the Specific Plan process. It does not limit it to a lower amount, as some imply.

It does limit office to 100K square feet for each of these 2 projects,less than they had proposed but still within the Specific Plan's forecast, leaving some office for smaller property owners.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 12, 2014 at 11:25 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Balder - Your lies!

3.4.2. The Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the ECR Specific Plan, as certified by the City on June 5, 2012, at page 3- 11, states that it conceptually analyzes net, new development of 240,820 square feet of Commercial Space. After this measure becomes effective, the maximum square footage of all net, new Office Space that may be approved, entitled, permitted or otherwise authorized by the City in the aggregate within the ECR Specific Plan Area after the ECR Specific Plan's adoption on July 12, 2012 shall not exceed the 240,820 square feet of Commercial Space disclosed and analyzed in the ECR Specific Plan EIR.

The Specific Plan divides the maximum allowable development between residential and non-residential uses as follows:

Residential uses: maximum of 680 units
Non-residential uses, including retail, office, and hotel: maximum of 474,000 square feet

Now isn't 240,820 LESS than 474,000?????

Isn't it a lie to say 240,820 is the same as 474,000???


Posted by balder dash, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 12, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Peter - the 474,000 square ft is supposed to include all non-residential development, not just office. It's supposed to include hotel, retail, restaurants. The Specific Plan process forecast 240,820 square ft of office, 91,800 sq ft of retail, and 380 hotel rooms (141,380 sq ft).

Using the term "lies" is extreme, inaccurate, and frankly offensive.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 12, 2014 at 12:46 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The proposed measure's desired cap on total square feet of all new office space (240,820) appears to be based on the Specific Plan's "Illustrative Plan" description (page C20), which describes only one potential development concept as an example, illustrated by that amount of square footage. Providing such an example – as an illustration only - is typical of a long-range planning document. To be clear, the Illustrative Plan description is not intended to put forth a fixed limit on square footage; rather it describes "how the plan area could potentially build out." This section of the Specific Plan states clearly and repeatedly that the actual build-out will likely vary from the initial projection over 20 to 30 years. "


Either balder does not understand this or he is lying. - his choice.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 12, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"It does limit office to 100K square feet for each of these 2 projects,less than they had proposed but still within the Specific Plan's forecast, leaving some office for smaller property owners."

Vs the truth:

"The two largest currently proposed developments (at 500 and 1300 El Camino Real) include approximately 429,611 square feet of non-residential uses (mostly office; some retail/restaurant/personal service areas), and 389 apartment units.

It's important to recognize that the 429,611 square foot number is not the "net impact" for purposes of calculating maximum allowable non-residential use. In keeping with standard practices of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), to determine a project's net impact, the square footage of uses that were active on the site as of the start of the application, as well as the square footage of previous project approvals that were environmentally cleared, are deducted from the new project's proposed square footage.

After making such calculations, the net impact of non-residential uses for the two proposed projects is 291,614 square feet.
The two projects' total of 291,614 square feet of non-residential use represents 61.5% of the overall 474,000 square foot non-residential cap.
The 389 apartment units represent 57% of the overall 680-unit residential cap.
While the two proposed projects account for a substantial percentage of the Specific Plan's development caps (61.5% of non-residential; 57% of residential), it is understandable and reasonable, given that these two locations are the largest and most vacant opportunity sites within the Specific Plan area. A significant percentage of development capacity would remain for smaller sites within the area. "

The Lanza/Fry supporters live in a fact free/truth free zone.


Posted by balder dash, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 12, 2014 at 1:25 pm

The truth is that the plan forecast far far less office than is proposed by just 2 projects. The community took seriously the forecast in the Specific Plan that there would be balanced development, not mostly large office buildings. In fact, offices were specifically pointed out to be "infeasible" for the near and intermediate future of the 30 year plan.
To state what the community was led to believe is not a lie.

The difference between such a forecast and reality within less than 2 years should be called bait and switch.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 12, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The plan did NOT forecast far less office - please read the plan.

""The proposed measure's desired cap on total square feet of all new office space (240,820) appears to be based on the Specific Plan's "Illustrative Plan" description (page C20), which describes only one potential development concept as an example, illustrated by that amount of square footage. Providing such an example – as an illustration only - is typical of a long-range planning document. To be clear, the Illustrative Plan description is not intended to put forth a fixed limit on square footage; rather it describes "how the plan area could potentially build out." This section of the Specific Plan states clearly and repeatedly that the actual build-out will likely vary from the initial projection over 20 to 30 years. "

If you are satisfied with what is both stated and permitted in the plan then why try to change the plan?


Posted by balder dash, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 12, 2014 at 2:11 pm

PC - you refuse to acknowledge that the financial projections and the environmental impact studies for the specific plan were based on projections of the exact amount of office that is in the initiative. The results of those studies were accepted by the community and support balanced development.

That scenario should be somewhat close to what happens. What is happening is not at all similar. The council didn't act last fall to fix the plan. The initiative is a result.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 12, 2014 at 2:15 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

So balder finally acknowledges that the limits set in the plan are higher than those set by the initiative - case closed.


Posted by balder dash, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 12, 2014 at 2:39 pm

not so fast.
The initiative sets the exact same limit for non-residential buildout as the Plan's Maximum Buildout. It also limits office, part of that total, to the exact same amount as was forecast as "most reasonably foreseeable" for the next 30 years by the consultants and that formed the basis for the plan's financial impact analysis and environmental impact analysis. Those assumed hotel rooms, new retail, new restaurants, new housing in addition to new offices. The initiative's office limit ensures that the Maximum Buildout won't be all-office.


Posted by George C. Fisher, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 12, 2014 at 3:10 pm

The Specific Plan Final Environmental Impact Report ("EIR") found 240,820 square feet of new office space development was "most reasonably foreseeable" based upon the studies, guiding principles, etc. mentioned in the EIR. The 240,820 square feet of office space was also expressly stated to be the amount of net new office space "development analyzed" in the EIR:

"This EIR analyzes the maximum development resulting from Plan adoption and has reviewed the development that is most reasonably foreseeable, as envisioned in the Illustrative Plan, based on studies of market demand, the location of opportunity sites, and assessment of the development potential of each property given the Guiding Principles, Urban Design Framework, land uses, development regulations, and design guidelines. The net new development analyzed includes: Residences – 680 dwelling units, Retail space- 91,800 square feet, Commercial [Office] Space 240,820 square feet, Hotel-380 rooms, Parking spaces 3,670 spaces (public and private", resident population 1,537 and Employment 1, 357 jobs." (EIR P. 3-11).

These EIR findings of the 240,820 square feet of office space most reasonably foreseeable and the 240,820 square feet of office space the EIR expressly analyzed simply cannot be ignored. How can these findings not even be mentioned in the city's purported factual description of the Initiative, nor any of anti voter initiative arguments? Any other office space amounts, or amounts in excess of 240,820 square feet were not the developments that were most reasonably foreseeable by the EIR, nor stated to be expressly analyzed by the EIR.


Posted by George C. Fisher, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 12, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Office space predominant projects are contrary to the Vision, and inconsistent with the Vision's 12 goals. Office space is mentioned in the Vision only one time.

The word office is rarely used in the Vision and not as a desired goal or sought after use. When the word office, as opposed to office space, does appear it is (a) used descriptively to identify previously used or approved projects in the illustrative plan (such as on ECR near Buckhorn, near Watkins, or with grocery or housing on 1300 ECR or the then proposal on the Derry site, (b) mentioned as a use to be controlled or watched to (1) maintain the "Village character unique to Menlo Park" such as upper floors of retail, housing etc., (2) so that it remains "sensitive to the adjacent residential context", (3) so as to remain consistent with the "Goal: ensure that El Camino Real development is sensitive to and compatible with adjacent neighborhoods" (4) as a use "more appropriate in the Northern Portion of El Camino", or (5) to "minimize office uses downtown, " (c) included in uses of residential, retail, office and hotel on east side of ECR south of Ravenswood, , and (d) in connection with downtown vibrancy only as a "upper floor use along with residential and potentially retail". Office space is simply not a desired goal of the Vision.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 12, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The EIR is not the limiting condition - the Specific Plan is the limiting condition.


"There have been suggestions that the City is not enforcing the "EIR impact limits" for the Specific Plan, based on the misinterpretation of the "Illustrative Plan" square footage example. Since that number is in fact an example and not a limit, this suggestion is inaccurate. When mentioning the Illustrative Plan for reference, the EIR clearly notes (page 3-11) that "the precise location of development and the precise types of non-residential development that will result from the Specific Plan are necessarily uncertain."

Great discussion though because it makes clear that the Lanza/Fry supporters are going to have to deal in facts and not try to suggest that the initiative isn't going to change anything. And as the editorial points out the initiative has already had a chilling impact on the downtown.


Posted by bored, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 12, 2014 at 5:36 pm

What a pissing match. Keep Building ! Menlo has been run by the real estate moguls for years. Check out the obscene Menlo Towers.


Posted by George C. Fisher, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 12, 2014 at 5:54 pm

The editorial does not say the Initiative has "had a chilling impact" on the Downtown. It mentions that Build it again Lego store moved to Los Alto to save $2,000 a month but that Cheeky Monkey and Flegel's Home Furnishings continue to thrive. It says that high property values, such as the recent listing of Applewood Pizza create a hesitancy to invest down town, and mentions the parking burden downtown. It mentions Jim Cogan's statement that high property values work against Menlo Park. Owners and developers like high property values, and they do impair retail downtown. Downtown property owners could reduce retail rents to make rents competitive with places like Los Altos, and if they don't, they should not be complaining or whining about the Voter Initiative.

The editorial does mention Jim Cogan's unsupported statement that a factor working against Menlo Park is the uncertainty caused by challenges by two major development projects proposed by Stanford and Greenheart on large "downtown" parcels. However those parcels are not downtown and any such uncertainty does not work against downtown. The challenges are only to the exploitation of office space On El Camino Real contrary to the Specific Plan Vision, contrary to the reasonably foreseeable development over 30 years found by EIR after analysis of many factors, and in excess of the 240,820 square feet of commercial space expressly analyzed by the EIR. Retail space is separate from Commercial Space, and the markets are different.

Downtown would benefit more from keeping Santa Cruz open to Retail customers on Saturdays rather than closing Santa Cruz avenue for performance and exotic car aficionados one Saturday a month for a whole year, and by reducing El Camino Real traffic congestion, than any harm by impact from the Voter initiative. As Menlo Park admits in its El Camino Corridor study: "In short, El Camino Real as it currently exists does not adequately serve the Menlo Park community's need for safe and efficient multi modal transportation and access to local destinations." More office space on El Camino Real and Closing Santa Cruz one Saturday a month for exotic and performance car buffs to meet makes traffic congestion only worse, and harms downtown retail sales.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 12, 2014 at 6:06 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

This is what the editorial itself states, not quoting anybody but speak as the Editor:

"A petition drive for an initiative to change the city's downtown specific plan that could go on the November ballot already has spooked investors who may pass up the commercial property market until after the election."

"Until the issues raised by the initiative process are resolved, it could be a year or more before additional development can take off in downtown Menlo Park."


Posted by balder dash, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 12, 2014 at 6:50 pm

The scenario in the EIR matters. Smaller property owners won't have to do expensive environmental reviews for exceeding what was projected in the plan's EIR. But they will if the initiative isn't passed.
The scenario in the fiscal analysis matters. Taxpayers will be holding the bag when office crowds out the hotel.

Development in the downtown area is not constrained by the initiative! There should be no uncertainty about the plan's rules for those property owners. The editor got it wrong.


Posted by Manlo Punk, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 13, 2014 at 7:34 am

I would just like to point out (the obvious) to everyone. The result of the "back and forth" is, nothing happens. Everyone loses!

I know this concept is foriegn to everyone, but try compromising for once and drop the ridiculous "what's in it for me" attitudes.

Would you run your businesses this way?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 13, 2014 at 8:01 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The initiative is unfortunately a 'take it all or nothing' approach.

Now that it has been submitted not a single word can be changed. So even if Lanza/Fry no longer wanted to change the wording so that their initiative would not prevent the construction of a new fire station serving the downtown they cannot do so.

As a consequence the initiative must be judged on all of its aspects and when so judged it is poorly written, faulty and no substitute for the years long public process that yielded the Specific Plan.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 13, 2014 at 8:21 am

Manlo:

not everyone loses. Nothing happening is exactly what Lanza/Fry and Savemenlo want. They would rather see empty lots than a project that conforms with a years long public process.


Posted by balder dash, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 13, 2014 at 9:24 am

What about the Greenheart project? It was not part of the public process at all. The Specific Plan assumed the previously approved projects would be built. Not a new, office-intensive, much larger project.


Posted by Manlo Punk, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 13, 2014 at 9:25 am

Yes Menlo Voter, and everyone loses.

Those who want to see positive change never see it, and those who don't are stuck with what they've always had.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 13, 2014 at 9:41 am

balder:

I don't think the DSP "assumed" anything. I can't put up chapter and verse as Peter can, but my recollection is that the DSP recognized that they couldn't predict exactly what would get built. They were simply providing zoning guidelines.


Posted by Bob, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 13, 2014 at 10:03 am

Not sure why there is a debate on this issue. All one has to do is a visual assessment of our two neighbor's downtown area (RWC and PA). Both have much more vibrancy. Both these cities have executed and deployed plans to accomplish this; all the while MP is debating and debating and debating the issues.

Keep debating MP -- the longer you do this the more difficult it becomes to change. Just remember, while MP keeps up the debate people are going elsewhere. I know because I live downtown. There are some long time places, like Ann's, but overall it seems as if there has been a decline in vibrancy.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 13, 2014 at 10:31 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Menlo Voter is correct - zoning ordinances like the Specific Plan define the parameters for development but do not assume any particular design or development. In order to help people conceptualize what kinds of things MIGHT be built the Specific Plan included illustrations and conceptual drawings but stressed that these were just that -illustrations. Unfortunately some people looked at the pictures and did not bother to read the text.

The other red herring is that some of the things that were discussed in the Visioning process did not make it into the Specific Plan. That is what the very public planning process was all about - making choices.

However the converse is not true - I can find nothing in the Specific Plan that was not discussed in the Visioning process.

Life is about making choices and the entire Planning Commission and the entire City Council approved the choices represented by the Specific Plan.

The Lanza/Fry initiative currently represents the poorly worded and confused choices of just two people - Fry and Lanza.


Posted by Really?, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 13, 2014 at 1:07 pm

OF COURSE the misrepresentations of SaveMenlo have a negative impact -- they know (and hope for it) this impact and so should too. The message to ANY new retailer is that this is not a business friendly town. The zero development group of 10 has misled the public and hopes for continued stagnation. Aside from an occasional errand to Walgreens or 1-2 restaurant visits every few months Santa Cruz is the street we all drive down to go somewhere else to spend our money, sadly. Few ambitious new business owner would chose our downtown when there are more viable alternatives elsewhere. It may happen over time, but very slowly.


Posted by Whew!!!, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 13, 2014 at 1:09 pm

That was exhausting...quite a workout reading all the posts!

Yup - been here for over 35 years - and yet we still go to Palo Alto and Redwood City and Los Altos -

-To Shop
-To Dine
=To Entertain

And yet- still hopeful City of Menlo Park will figure it out and still... they have not.



Posted by balder dash, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 13, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Retail businesses in Menlo Park are renters. Look at their landlords if you are concerned about empty storefronts. Talk to the city business develpment guy and the chamber of commerce if you don't like the types of businesses that rent downtown.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 13, 2014 at 2:30 pm

balder:

apparently the point completely sailed over your head. More businesses don't come to Santa Cruz Ave. because it is dead. It's dead because people go elsewhere to spend their money. It has nothing to do with landlords. The appearance of the buildings has to do with the landlords not the occupants. As others have pointed out, PA and RC have vibrant downtowns because they have allowed the development of office space and residential space. What Lanza/Fry wants is NO development.


Posted by balder dash, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 13, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Town & county shopping center is vibrant. NO offices there. It's at least as close to Stanford shopping center as downtown Menlo Park. It is mostly 1 story. Downtown Menlo Park can be 3 stories. Explain?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 13, 2014 at 4:04 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Town and Country both has offices in it (almost all in the often unnoticed second story spaces) and it is adjacent to lots of offices, many of them (shockingly) MEDICAL. It is as close to the Palo Alto Alma and Univ Ave areas as is the MP Stanford site is to Santa Cruz. It also has a critical mass of both customers and different shops. And it is on Stanford land.

Offices = people = customers


Posted by balder dash, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 13, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Downtown Menlo Park already has more offices than Town & country, on upper levels on santa cruz and side streets. If the amount at T&C is plenty to support all that retail and restaurants, then Menlo Park should be fine as is.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 13, 2014 at 4:20 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Balder - please, you are not paying attention. Read my comments re all the office areas near T&C.

And note that Menlo Park retail is not fine as it is, just ask the merchants. They need more customers.


Posted by balder dash, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 14, 2014 at 7:45 am

So why isn't 200,000 square ft of office on 2 largest sites, of 240,820 square ft projected in the plan for 30 years, enough?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 14, 2014 at 7:54 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Because the many years of effort and public input that resulted in the Specific Plan carefully determined that the maximum
buildout for the very large area covered by the Downtown ECR is 470,000 sq ft.

The Lanza/fry initiative limits are designed primarily to stop the Stanford and Greeheart projects and have no interest in what is best for the community..

"The two projects' total of 291,614 square feet of non-residential use represents 61.5% of the overall 474,000 square foot non-residential cap.
The 389 apartment units represent 57% of the overall 680-unit residential cap.
While the two proposed projects account for a substantial percentage of the Specific Plan's development caps (61.5% of non-residential; 57% of residential), it is understandable and reasonable, given that these two locations are the largest and most vacant opportunity sites within the Specific Plan area. A significant percentage of development capacity would remain for smaller sites within the area. "


Posted by balder dash, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 14, 2014 at 10:39 am

But the 474k sq ft was supposed to include hotel rooms, restaurants, and retail, too. So you're saying that the community should be happy that the buildout will be office and not a balance of all these nonresidential spaces?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 14, 2014 at 11:34 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Under the Specific Plan there will still be about 160,000 sq ft available for other non-residential uses AFTER the Stanford and Greenheart projects are built.

Under the Lanza\Fry initiative Stanford and Greenheart could use their multiple parcels to build 6-9 disconnected, projects totaling the entire 240,000 sq ft for nothing but offices and with NO public benefit - leaving NOTHING left for any other non residential use. This potential outcome shows how poorly thought through this initiative is.


Posted by balder dash, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 15, 2014 at 10:40 am

Actually, the problem lies with the zoning code in the plan itself because it does allow the scenario PC admits is possible, meaning to build on only two sites the entire 240,820 sq ft of office that was forecast for the next 30 years. More than that, actually.

In PC's scenario, there would be buildable FAR left for other non-residential or residential uses even at the Base level, but the Plan doesn't provide any leverage to require anything else. That is a problem of the plan.

The initiative doesn't solve every problem in the plan but it constrains office so that downtown isn't dominated by office complexes.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 15, 2014 at 10:59 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The initiative doesn't solve every problem in the plan but it constrains office so that downtown isn't dominated by office complexes."

Wrong - under the initiative ALL of the 240,082 sq ft could be used by Stanford and Greenheart using their 6-9 existing separate parcels and nothing would be left over for any other non-residential use. And the Stanford parcels could all be used for property tax exempt educational purposes.


Posted by balder dash, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 15, 2014 at 11:16 am

PC - Office is limited to 50% of FAR. There is another 50% left at the base level for other non-residential or residential uses.

The potential for Stanford to pay zero property taxes is a problem regardless of the initiative. Thanks for pointing out that possibility. Stanford has refused to commit to paying property taxes in support of our community.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 15, 2014 at 11:26 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Stanford will be a good neighbor IF Stanford is treated fairly.

Under the initiative Stanford is targeted and treated very unfairly - why be a good neighbor when you are treated as the enemy?

Under the initiative Stanford over 200,000 sq ft as 4 separate projects with 50% being offices and even 30% as medical office and the other 50% as faculty /student/staff housing. All the office space could be property tax exempt.

This initiative is a recipe for disaster.


Posted by balder dash, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 15, 2014 at 12:44 pm

The council restricted medical office to no more than 33,333 sq ft per project last November 19th "ACTION: Motion and second (Cline/Keith) to limit medical and dental office uses to a maximum of 33,333 square feet for any individual development project passes 4-0-1 (Mueller recused)."

Stanford land management will do what Stanford land management wants. period. The Council gave away its negotiating power by giving away the highest allowable development on El Camino Real to them.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 15, 2014 at 12:53 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The council restricted medical office to no more than 33,333 sq ft per project last November 19th "ACTION: Motion and second (Cline/Keith) to limit medical and dental office uses to a maximum of 33,333 square feet for any individual development project passes 4-0-1 (Mueller recused)."

Yes and Stanford currently owns at least four large parcels , each of which could be 1/3 medical and still be below 33,333 sq ft of medical under the proposed initiative. Be careful what you hope and vote for.


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