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Letter: Was the Menlo Park council asleep at the wheel?

Original post made by Steve Schmidt on Jun 17, 2014

Menlo Park voters are facing an election this fall that will shape the future of our little city. Who is responsible for proposed excessive office development along El Camino Real?

Back in 2008, when the ECR/ downtown specific plan was being designed, the country was in the early stages of the Great Recession. Companies were holding on to their cash and the future was uncertain. Menlo Park's economic consultants recommended that generous incentives for office development would be needed to attract big developers in the planning area. The City Council took the consultant's advice and doubled the office density without requiring negotiation for public benefit.

Meanwhile, Stanford silently sat in on the city's Outreach and Oversight Committee without mentioning that they were designing a project that would instantly match the maximum amount of office development analyzed in the 30-year specific plan EIR. Now we have Stanford's proposal as well as another even bigger one from Greenheart, and with the economy improving, rents have reached $6.50 square feet per month, which for Stanford's allowed 200,000 square feet means $15.6 million a year rent. That's quite a profit and no under-crossing of the Caltrain tracks was offered.

Our elected officials relied on consultants (Perkins + Will) who were simultaneously working for Stanford and Menlo Park. Stanford concealed its project's design until after the specific plan was approved on June 5, 2012. The university's architect was designing the massive Arrillaga office complex and sending needed revisions to the specific plan long before the June 2012 approval by our council. Someone was asleep at the wheel, and in November all three incumbents have to go.

Steve Schmidt Former Menlo Park councilman

Comments (38)

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 17, 2014 at 6:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"no under-crossing of the Caltrain tracks was offered. "

Wrong - Thanks to the great work of the Carlton/Keith subcommittee Stanford offered to share the costs of the under-crossing.

Of course if the Lanza/Fry initiative were to pass then the current Stanford proposal would be history and Stanford would be free to develop each of its individual parcels without offering any public benefit. Carefully what you hope for and vote for because the poorly written Lanza/Fry initiative is only going to produce a lot of smaller projects without any public benefits.


Posted by Déjà vu, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 18, 2014 at 12:47 am

The last time Steve Schmidt ran a slate (with MPACT) was in 2002 with Toni Stein, Bill Halleck and David Speer. These three were rejected by the voters and have all since moved away from Menlo Park.


Posted by Get the facts, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jun 18, 2014 at 7:57 am

Dejavu. Looks like you were asleep at the wheel also. Steve Schmidt did NOT run in 2002 but ran in 1994 and 1998, winning both elections easily.
Do you have anything of substance to contribute to this article or are you merely venting old frustrations.?


Posted by old timer, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 18, 2014 at 8:29 am

DeJavu.

David Speer moved a couple of blocks from his previous residence; this took him out of the City of Menlo Park, and into the county area where he now lives. He is within a few hundred yards of the MP City line; I would hardly consider him to have "moved away from Menlo Park"


Posted by reboot, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 18, 2014 at 8:54 am

Mayor Schmidt did endorse all three of those candidates, but he was not running MPACT, that was his wife.

If any of these people still lived in the City of Menlo Park, Brielle could reboot MPACT, run those same candidates, and just reprint all the same campaign literature. from 2002.


Posted by Manlo Punk, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 18, 2014 at 9:47 am

Oh boy, here we go again!


Posted by Mike Keenly, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 18, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Stanford's proposal still has little public benefit. Our City Council has appeared largely unwilling to do much to improve the project. Now they'll need to deal with the threat of the Save Menlo initiative.


Posted by village character, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 18, 2014 at 12:46 pm

[Post removed. Please discuss the topic.]


Posted by Get the facts, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jun 18, 2014 at 2:30 pm

Thanks, Mike. Keeping the comments on topic is a difficult task. When posters do not have the facts to discuss the article, they turn to their faulty memories about people.

Let's talk about the advice Perkins & Will gave to the city about how the city needed to hold out a carrot in order to attract developers.

The council fell for this plan and increased the F.A.R. to such a generous level that the caps the Specific a Plan put on office was met with the very first proposal. That was from Stanford who attended all the outreach meetings. Stanford owned the land since the early 1900s and arrillaga offered to pay for the buildings. Did anyone really think Stanford needed a carrot dangling in front of them in order to develop their land?

The council was warned by many residents to pull the F.A.R. back but, as usual the majority of Ohtaki, Keith and Cline refused to listen.

Now MP has two proposals totaling 800,000 sq. ft on ECR. Much too big for an already congested street.

Come on, posters wake up and admit, this problem can be fixed. Call the initiative what you want, but it has wide appeal. The opposition wants this issue to be political but it is a problem that will take the entire community to solve.


Posted by Pat, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 18, 2014 at 2:31 pm

My concern is that our town is being ruined! The traffic on el Camino has become so congested during the day and when is enough, enough? Our town can not handle this much growth and the quality of life is diminishing. When does the council finally say no? Sometimes development isn't always good. What happens if stanford builds on the car sites? How can Menlo handle the congestion when it is already bad? As for those awful block parking structures, they look horrible, ruin the views and destroy the town. Sometimes, preserving our way of life is more important that running after more money.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 18, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"the caps the Specific a Plan put on office was met with the very first proposal."

Wrong - The true facts are important. Please do your homework before reporting incorrect statements.

"What the Specific Plan currently says about maximum allowable development and office space area designations:
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
The proposed measure's cap on total square feet of non-residential uses (474,000 square feet) already exists in the Specific Plan. For reference, that square footage is equivalent to about one-third of the overall Facebook campus project, or about one-half of the Menlo Gateway project.

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. "


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 18, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Mike states "Stanford's proposal still has little public benefit. Our City Council has appeared largely unwilling to do much to improve the project. Now they'll need to deal with the threat of the Save Menlo initiative."

IF the Lanza/Fry initiative were to pass and Stanford decided that it could not economically develop its 8+ acres given the crazy limitation in the initiative then perhaps Stanford could decide to simply make a generous contribution to Menlo Park by constructing ALL residential units.

The base density for these parcels is 40 units/acre or 320+ residential units.

Or Stanford could be really civic minded and do all low income housing where the Public Benefit Bonus Density is 60 dwelling units per acre for a total of 480+ residential units.

And since the Lanza/Fry initiative explicitly states:
"Voter approval shall not be required to amend the Specific Plan to increase the number of net, new residential units allowed beyond the limit stated in this measure." maybe the number of units could go even higher.

Think about the peak hour traffic and school impacts of such a generous gift to the community.

Careful what you hope and vote for - this initiative is fatally flawed.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 18, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Oh, I almost forgot. If Stanford did build all low income housing they could probably structure it as a non-profit so there would be no property taxes. No income for the city, or for the schools, or for the fire district, ect.......

In the end the taxpayers would be begging for Stanford's original proposal.

It is really useful to think in advance of the unintended consequences of this ill conceived initiative.


Posted by Gern, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 19, 2014 at 2:20 pm

"IF the Lanza/Fry initiative were to pass and Stanford decided that it could not economically develop its 8+ acres given the crazy limitation in the initiative …"

The only crazy thing here are the absurd prognostications emanating from a certain Atherton neighborhood. If you have any credible evidence to suggest that Stanford could not or would not build at 500 ECR East were the initiative to pass please share that with us — your noisome FUD you may kindly keep to yourself.

"Oh, I almost forgot. If Stanford did build all low income housing they could probably structure it as a non-profit so there would be no property taxes…."

Stanford is about as likely to build nothing save low income housing on the property as they are to build six 100,000 square foot hotdog stands. Unlike Peter Carpenter, Stanford understands, grudgingly or otherwise, that they are part of a larger community, a community which has some say in the university's off-campus development interests, both within and outside the scope of the DSP, much as that pains Mr. Carpenter. The university likely understands opportunity cost far better than Mr. Carpenter, as well, and given the choice between building a ~300,000 square foot project or doing nothing with the property would surely opt for the former.

"It is really useful to think in advance of the unintended consequences of this ill conceived initiative."

Ironic, truly, that the initiative's chief aim is simply to address the one true unintended consequence of the entire DSP saga thus far: the fact that 800,000 square feet of new development is proposed to bookend Menlo Park in the first two years of the plan's life, something no one anticipated. Peter's pot- and pan-beating about new fire stations, banks of the future, medical marijuana dispensaries and robotics design firms is little more than the bluster of a man on "a mission from God" to see Menlo Park overdeveloped at all costs.

Gern


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 19, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Stanford understands, grudgingly or otherwise, that they are part of a larger community,"

When Stanford is treated as a good neighbor they have always worked to create a good solution with the community in question. However, the Lanza/Fry initiative treats Stanford as the enemy and they should not expect Stanford to behave like their friend.

Gern - welcome back - you still have a LOT of unanswered questions. When might we expect the answers?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 19, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The university likely understands opportunity cost far better than Mr. Carpenter, as well, and given the choice between building a ~300,000 square foot project or doing nothing with the property would surely opt for the former."

TRUE but the initiative PREVENTS Stanford from " building a ~300,000 square foot project"

These people don't even understand the impact of their own initiative - scary!!!


Posted by Gern, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 19, 2014 at 3:05 pm

"TRUE but the initiative PREVENTS Stanford from 'building a ~300,000 square foot project'"

How does the initiative prevent Stanford from building, say, 100,000 square feet of office space and ~200,000 square feet of residential, with a little retail thrown in? That is, take Stanford's existing proposal, limit it to 100,000 square feet of office space yet keep the proposed residential and retail square footage intact?

Gern


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 19, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Gern is finally beginning to realize that one of the unintended consequences of the Lanza/Fry initiative is UNLIMITED amounts of new housing.

And they don't seem to realize that housing creates more peak hour traffic than offices and has an infinitely greater impact on schools than does office space.

Gern -you still have a LOT of unanswered questions. When might we expect the answers?


Posted by Gern, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 19, 2014 at 3:43 pm

"Gern is finally beginning to realize that one of the unintended consequences of the Lanza/Fry initiative is UNLIMITED amounts of new housing."

Your skullduggery in this forum never ends, does it, Peter? I've no idea how you hope to be taken seriously when you make such statements -- they might be humorous were you and Roy not convinced you are on "a mission from God."

So the above is your admission that the initiative in no way blocks a 300,000 square foot mixed-use project on 500 ECR East, with an office cap of 100,000 square feet. Good. Your statements about housing impacts, true or otherwise, are irrelevant to the square footage question, but since you raised the subject I'll once again take the opportunity to point out what you, John Boyle, and the rest of the MPDB gang refuse to acknowledge: choosing office over housing will only beget more demands for housing, given our jobs-housing imbalance will be further exacerbated. I'm no fan of high-density housing but if it must be built better do so on the Stanford and Greenheart properties, near Caltrain and other transit options and within walking distance to the Menlo Park and Palo Alto downtown areas.

"UNLIMITED amounts of new housing," indeed!

Gern


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 19, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"So the above is your admission that the initiative in no way blocks a 300,000 square foot mixed-use project on 500 ECR East, with an office cap of 100,000 square feet. "

Gern - I never said that; you continue to LIE about what other people say. PLEASE STOP.

Gern states - " I'm no fan of high-density housing but if it must be built better do so on the Stanford and Greenheart properties, near Caltrain and other transit options and within walking distance to the Menlo Park and Palo Alto downtown areas."

Do you have ANY idea of the impact of all of this space being developed as housing? Housing creates more peak hour traffic than offices and has an infinitely greater impact on schools than does office space.

Gern -you still have a LOT of unanswered questions. When might we expect the answers?

1 – They say it is wrong to use up most of the office capacity allowed by the Specifc Plan in the first two years and that instead it should be spread out over a 30-year period. If you owned a parcel and wanted to build a totally conforming ten-room home should you be forced to build it one room each year for the next ten years ?

2 – Save Menlo got everything they asked for in its original petition and Stanford agreed to almost all of their demands. So why are you now asking for even more and how much will be enough to satisfy you?

3 – Would Save Menlo Park members be willing to say who they really are? How many members they actually have?

4 – Do you really believe that definitions written today:

""Financial institutions providing retail banking services.This classification includes only those institutions engaged in the on site circulation of money,including credit unions."The foregoing Commercial Use Classification is hereby adopted by the voters"

""Offices of firms or organizations providing professional,executive,management,or administrative services,such as accounting,advertising,architectural,computer software design,engineering,graphic design, insurance, interior design,investment,and legal offices. This classification excludes hospitals, banks,and savings and loan associations."The foregoing Commercial Use Classification is hereby adopted by the voters.

will still be appropriate even five years from now and if they are not that there should be an election to change even one word of such definitions? What about digital age banks that do not engage in the on site circulation of money? What about a firm that wants to design robots?

5 – Who is the lawyer who helped draft this initiative and what other interests does he represent?

6 – Who is funding this effort?

7 – Do Menlo Park citizens realize that under the Mike Lanza/Patti Fry Initiative small property owners on ECR will be restricted to 70% of their current footprint for any new/replacement construction and that the currently permitted construction to their the side lot lines would not be permitted?

8 – Do MP citizens realize that the Mike Lanza/Patti Fry Initiative will prevent the construction of a new fire station serving the downtown area?

9 – Do MP citizens know that signatures are being obtained using paid solicitors?

10 – Do MP citizens know that claims of 6 story buildings being either permitted or proposed under the Specific Plan are simply untrue and that the tallest building proposed by Stanford is only FOUR feet taller than the existing building at the corner of ECR and Live Oak Drive?

11 – Do MP citizens know that a major new hotel project decided not to locate in Menlo Park because of the uncertainties created by the Mike Lanza/Patti Fry Initiative?

12 – What are the other unknown and unintended (or perhaps deliberately intended) consequences of the totally unvetted Mike Lanza/Patti Fry Initiative?

13 – Do MP citizens believe that Mike Lanza, Patti Fry and their anonymous lawyer, without any public comment, without multiple drafts, without a Draft and a Final EIR and without numerous public hearings, are really better able to define the future of your city than are your five elected city council members and your seven appointed planning commissioners and the superb city planning and transportation staff that have all worked diligently and totally in the open to produce the existing Specific Plan?

14 – Do MP citizens know that the traffic levels on ECR were significantly reduced from those permitted by the prior zoning when the Specific Plan was adopted?

15 – Do the MP citizens know that the original Stanford proposal would have produced less traffic than was was permitted by the Specific Plan?

16 – Do the MP citizens know that, as a consequence of the work of the Keith/Carlton subcommittee, that the traffic that would have been produced by the revised Stanford plan was even less than that of the original Stanford plan?

17 – What was the date and the time of the ECR traffic photo being used by Mike Lanza/Patti Fry Initiative campaign?

18- What authority does the Mike Lanza/Patti Fry Initiative campaign have to use the City of Menlo Park's copyrighted logo?

19 – The Planning Commission and the City Council did a review of the Specific Plan last Fall so this raises the question: Which of the 20+ changes to the Specific Plan that are included in the Mike Lanza/Patti Fry Initiative were presented to the Planning Commission and the City Council for their public consideration during the 2013 review of the Specific Plan?

20 - Is this initiative process simply being used to gather names, support and name recognition for Lanza and/or Fry to run for the City Council this year? If it is, will Lanza and Fry reimburse the City for the cost of putting this issue on the ballot.?

Why are you so unwilling to provide answers???



Posted by Gern, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 19, 2014 at 4:45 pm

"TRUE but the initiative PREVENTS Stanford from 'building a ~300,000 square foot project'"

You made a very direct statement, Peter, and utterly refuse to back it up only moments later. Worse, you pretend like you never made the statement in the first place. Fomenting nonsense and outright lies about the initiative does your cause disservice, whatever your true cause may be.

Gern


Posted by Old MP, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 19, 2014 at 8:16 pm

I could see Stanford building all (apartment) housing on the MP ECR sites: for Stanford staff and/or students only. They did the same thing along El Camino near Stanford Avenue in Palo Alto. And they are about to do the same thing again down the street by California Avenue and Hanover Street in Palo Alto.

This would make sense given the new/expanded medical center going up on Sand Hill Road. They could put up a bunch of apartments for Residents, Nurses, Staff, Professors, Med Students, etc. Very close to the new med center and they could run their own private shuttles to and from. Under that scenario, it would most likely be set up as non-profit as part of university operations = no property tax revenue for MP.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 19, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

This exchange is a perfect example of the duplicity of the Lanza/Fry supporters:

Gern posted - "The university likely understands opportunity cost far better than Mr. Carpenter, as well, and given the choice between building a ~300,000 square foot project or doing nothing with the property would surely opt for the former."

I responded -"TRUE but the initiative PREVENTS Stanford from " building a ~300,000 square foot project"

These people don't even understand the impact of their own initiative - scary!!!"

Gern responded - "So the above is your admission that the initiative in no way blocks a 300,000 square foot mixed-use project on 500 ECR East, with an office cap of 100,000 square feet. "


I responded - "Gern - I never said that; you continue to LIE about what other people say. PLEASE STOP."

Gern responded - "You made a very direct statement, Peter, and utterly refuse to back it up only moments later. Worse, you pretend like you never made the statement in the first place. Fomenting nonsense and outright lies about the initiative does your cause disservice, whatever your true cause may be."

I leave it to the readers of this forum to decide who is lying.



Posted by MPACT_Member, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 20, 2014 at 9:29 am

MPACT ('Midpeninsula Action for Tomorrow) founders in the '90s included Dan Dippery, Yoriko Kishimoto and a few others from Menlo Park and Palo Alto. There's an Almanac cover piece on them from that era. I don't believe anyone involved with the current initiative was involved closely, though they may have been supporters.


Posted by TunnelHopeful, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 20, 2014 at 9:56 am

While I generally glaze over Peter Carpenter's excessive comments, I agree with his simple first point that the initiative threatens the tentative commitment from Stanford to design and support the bike tunnel at Middle. True, it's far from a real design and dollar contribution. But it's a huge benefit if it becomes real and the momentum has shifted. What has changed, in terms of perceptions by the city council and perhaps Stanford, is that the Middle Avenue bike/pedestrian tunnel will make an isolated peninsula of ECR land into the site of a unique residential and office complex with access to Burgess Park amenities and the east side. Stanford needs the tunnel and wants it, we need it and want it. As far as increased traffic goes, the congestion on Middle and the cut-through at Cambridge have to be addressed for any project in that area. A tunnel will help reconfigure the emphasis at Middle and ECR away from cars and toward pedestrians and bikes.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 20, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Gern -you still have a LOT of unanswered questions. When might we expect the answers?

Editor's note: Post your comments and ask your questions, but don't ask repeatedly for a response. That tends to lead to an abrasive exchange.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 20, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Gern can't answer the questions as the answers won't coincide with his distorted reality. Savemenlo and Lanza/Fry are lying. Their motivation is to stop ALL development. They don't say that, but that will be the outcome should it pass. They don't say it for one of two reasons; either they don't understand all the unintended consequences of their initiative or they are fully cognizant and hope to stop development. I suspect the latter. In either case it is a poorly written initiative that has already had bad impacts and will continue to have many negative impacts should it pass.


Posted by reality check, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 23, 2014 at 8:54 am

There is a cap of 680 residential units in the Specific Plan. How would office restrictions cause this cap to be exceeded?

Stanford's "substantial" support of an undercrossing has not been documented, codified, or valued. It's an assertion about an ostensible offer made in private. No one knows what was offered by council members Keith and Carlton in exchange.

A scenario of great concern to initiative supporters is that if the amount of office isn't regulated, office will dominate non-residential development and Menlo Park will lose restaurants, stores, hotel uses that support a vibrant and walkable residential community.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 23, 2014 at 9:26 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Reality unchecked states -"
Stanford's "substantial" support of an undercrossing has not been documented, codified, or valued."

Wrong - Here is the Council accepted recommendation 27 Aug 2013 from the Keith/Carlton Subcommittee:

"The 500 El Camino Real Subcommittee recommends that the City Council accept its
final report which establishes the following requirements for a revised proposed project
submittal from Stanford:
1. Stanford will eliminate all medical office. All office will be general office (this
follows Stanford's previous reduction for all office to199,500 square feet).
2. Stanford will make a substantial contribution to the cost of design and
construction of a pedestrian-bike undercrossing at Middle Avenue. The amount
will be negotiated/determined through the project approval process with the goal
of ensuring there will be sufficient funding to construct the undercrossing in timely
manner.
3. Stanford will participate in a City working group regarding the design of the
Middle Avenue plaza, undercrossing and vehicular access to the site.
4. Stanford will fund a neighborhood cut through traffic study as scoped by the City."


Posted by reality check, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 23, 2014 at 9:30 am

Could anyone take that report to the bank? I don't think so.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 23, 2014 at 9:34 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Why take anything to the bank as long as a small group of citizens are trying very hard to close the bank account?

IF you have billions of alternative investments just put up permanent fencing and wait until the city decides what it wants to be when it grows up/wakes up.

Sadly in the meantime Save Menlo gets exactly what they want - NOTHING.


Posted by reality check, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 23, 2014 at 11:45 am

SaveMenlo has stated every time I've heard them that they want redevelopment. Their initiative allows the Plan's buildout, restricting office so it's in balance.
It is extremely misleading (some would call it lying) to say they want nothing.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 23, 2014 at 11:59 am

reality check:

it's not lying to state Savemenlo and Lanza/Fry want nothing to be built. It is the logical conclusion deduced from the far reaching consequences of the initiative. If every zoning change has to be put to a vote how many people do you think will actually be willing to go through all that trouble to put it to a vote? And if they do, you can bet the Lanza/Fry folks will be out there beating the drum against it. They've already said as much in this forum.

They SAY one thing but there behavior and this initiative are completely contrary to what they say.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 23, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The effect of Save Menlo's actions is to freeze everything until November and some of their members have stated on this forum that even if the initiative passes they will still oppose whatever Stanford submits.

Save Menlo is a leaderless organization with anonymous members so no one can be held accountable for anything 'they' say nor can they enter into a 'binding deal' with anyone.
Save Menlo started with a petition to the Council and to Stanford demanding that Stanford change their original proposal and, guess what, Stanford did almost everything that Save Menlo asked for. Save Menlo's response was to remove their petition from their web site and to start the initiative process. The evidence shows that Save Menlo wants to Save Vacant Lots - primarily to serve their own narrow self interests.

What developer in their right mind would want to deal with such a non-organization ?


Posted by reality check, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 23, 2014 at 12:41 pm

"every zoning change has to be put to a vote"?? That is not at all in the initiative.

What does require a vote is the ability to exceed the Maximum Buildout of non-residential SF and the amount of office that was in EIR and FIA, to change the new limit of 100,000 SF of office per project.

The initiative doesn't change height, FAR, housing density, or myriad other standards in the inch-thick Plan.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 23, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

reality unchecked -NOTE what the initiative states:

"Section 4. NO AMENDMENTS OR REPEAL WITHOUT VOTER
APPROVAL
4.1. Except for as provided at Section 3.4.4 above regarding the City's ability
to approve without voter ratification an amendment to the Specific Plan to
accommodate development proposals that would call for an increase in the
allowable number of residential units under the Specific Plan, the voteradopted
development standards and definitions set forth in Section 3,
above, may be repealed or amended only by a majority vote of the
electorate of the City of Menlo Park voting "YES" on a ballot measure
proposing such repeal or amendment at a regular or special election. The
entire text of the proposed defmition or standard to be repealed, or the
amendment proposed to any such definition or standard, shall be included
in the sample ballot materials mailed to registered voters prior to any such
election."

That is a lot more than the two items that you claim are the only things that require voter approval.

A sad example is that the initiative would prevent the construction of a new fire station serving the downtown until there is a city wide vote to change the ECR SPECIFIC PLAN AREA DEFINED in section 3.1 of the initiative to include both of the fire district's parcels within the specific plan area - a delay of at least two years, if not longer. And who will have to pay for such an election? Not Save Menlo I can assure you.


Posted by reality check, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 23, 2014 at 9:26 pm

So why didn't the fire district and city resolve the boundary issue already? It came up before the Specific Plan was approved. It could have been resolved then. It could have been resolved last fall when the Council, with a former Fire Board member on it, reviewed the Plan?
Isn't Mr. Carpenter a fire board member? Why didn't he resolve it before the initiative signatures were submitted? What's the real story?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 24, 2014 at 7:04 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Fire District and the City are resolving the boundary issue - unfortunately, in the unlikely event that the initiative is passed, it is retroactive with respect to the Specific Plan's boundaries. This retroactivity is another example of defective drafting of the Lanza/Fry initiative (named after its authors as is all legislation prior to and sometimes after, like the Brown Act, its being voted on).


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