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Menlo Park council holds special meeting on how to write initiative ballot argument

Original post made on Aug 6, 2014

With the Aug. 15 deadline fast approaching, the Menlo Park City Council will meet tonight (Aug. 6) to clarify who will write and sign the ballot argument against the downtown/El Camino Real specific plan initiative.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, August 6, 2014, 9:40 AM

Comments (32)

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 6, 2014 at 11:48 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.


My concerns regarding the Lanza/Fry Initiative:

A - Process
1 - The Initiative was created in secret
2 - Without any opportunity for public review
3 - And hence without the opportunity to improve/clarify the initiative to reflect the concerns of those outside the small group that wrote it
4 - Once the first signature was gathered the language could not be changed without starting the entire filing process again
5 - No effort has been or seems to be planned to ensure that voters understand the Initiative
6 - And fundamentally the Initiatve is an attack on the good governance and transparent process that lead to the creation and adoption of the DSP

B - Substance
1 - The initiative is lengthy and covers a number of different issues
2 - Therefore the opportunity for mistakes and conflict are significant
3 - The initiative is a 'forever' document which will, as intended, preclude some changes to the Specific Plan without another vote and will also, as an untended consequence, make it difficult to make any changes to the Specific Plan, particularly given the Priority Clause:
"PRIORITY.
5.1. After this measure becomes effective, its provision shall prevail over and
supersede all provisions of the municipal code, ordinances, resolutions,
and administrative policies of the City of Menlo Park which are inferior to
the Planning Policy Documents and in conflict with any provisions of this
measure."
4 - Some of the language, as noted, does not and cannot accommodate changes in commerce such as banking and medical offices
5- The initiative would force individuals with adjacent parcels to develop them separately thereby precluding integrated design and shared amenities

C - Impact
1 - The initiative, even if not passed, has signaled to any interested party that Menlo Park's planning process and established rules cannot be relied upon and they will make their investments elsewhere.
2 - The initiative, even if not passed, has delayed moving forward with the Specific Plan.
3 - The initiative, even if not passed, has sent a chilling message to the Planning Commissioners, the City Council and the planning staff that their efforts to have an open and inclusive process can be thwarted by a small group of disgruntled citizens.

Peter Carpenter


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Posted by frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 6, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Peter Carpenter writes: "The initiative is lengthy........"

Talk about lengthy ..... 1,923 characters Peter


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Posted by kw
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Aug 6, 2014 at 12:33 pm

I will not vote on this, for obvious reasons. But Peter's post was thoughtful, focused and covered his concerns well. Counting his characters in the post adds exactly ZERO to an informed debate, frugal.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 6, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Actually the Initiative contains 3649 words and 22,411 characters.

That's lenghty!!


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Posted by joe public
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 6, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Initiatives usually are written by a qualified attorney. Isn't that the case here?
Initiatives then get vetted during the signature gathering process and the months leading up to an election. That's happening, right?
The Specific Plan has loopholes and flaws that the council has refused to address. An initiative and council election are the only ways left to fix it. That's a protected process that even critics of this initiative have used (pension reform).

The specific plan was supposed to endure for 20-30 years. Having to vote in a couple decades from now seems ok to me.

Changes in commerce can be addressed through a process defined within the Specific Plan.
Projects are still coming forward under the Plan (one just last week). The city's consultant says to expect a "rush" of applications.

Sounds pretty good to me.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 6, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Initiatives then get vetted during the signature gathering process and the months leading up to an election. That's happening, right?"

Vetting means finding errors and correcting them. The way this initiative was prepared no one has had the opportunity to vet it - it is a 'take it or leave it' proposal. Given all of the now obvious errors and shortcomings I would recommend a NO vote since any one of those defects would be very harmful to Menlo Park.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 6, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Changes in commerce can be addressed through a process defined within the Specific Plan."

Unfortunately no, the definitions in the initiative including what constitutes office use can ONLY be changed by an expensive city wide vote:

"4.1.
NO AMENDMENTS OR REPEAL WITHOUT VOTER APPROVAL.
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 voter- adopted 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 definition 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. "


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Posted by joe public
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 8, 2014 at 11:53 am

I looked up on the city website. Changes in commerce CAN be accommodated. See page H3 in the Specific Plan and read the sections A-C under Classification of Uses, which includes descriptions about how the city staff is to resolve uncertainties. This is a process that would be implemented with or without the initiative, right?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 8, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Joe - Under the existing Specific Plan changes can and will be made based on public input, staff recommendations, Planning Commission review and City Council approval - all done in the open with complete transparency.

But under the Lanza/Fry Initiative any changes would have to be submitted to the voters in a costly city wide election:
4.1.
NO AMENDMENTS OR REPEAL WITHOUT VOTER APPROVAL.
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 voter- adopted 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 definition 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.
Consistent with the Planning and Zoning Law and applicable case law, the City shall not adopt any other new provisions or amendments to the Policy Planning Documents that would be inconsistent with or frustrate the implementation of the voter-adopted development standards and definitions set forth in Section 3, above, absent voter approval of a conforming amendment to those voter-adopted provisions.


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Posted by joe public
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 8, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Peter C - we will agree to disagree. My reading of the Specific Plan is that there is ZERO problem posed by the initiative and definitions. The city has a defined process for accommodating uses not strictly defined already.
Besides, the definitions related to "office" are not definitive. They include the word "including" rather than "only".
This is a red herring


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 8, 2014 at 1:53 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Joe:

what part of "Consistent with the Planning and Zoning Law and applicable case law, the City shall not adopt any other new provisions or amendments to the Policy Planning Documents that would be inconsistent with or frustrate the implementation of the voter-adopted development standards and definitions set forth in Section 3, above, absent voter approval of a conforming amendment to those voter-adopted provisions. " Don't you understand.

The DSP allows for these things to be done WITHOUT putting it on the ballot. As you can see above the Lanza/Fry initiative requires it to be put to a vote. What's so difficult to understand about that?


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Posted by interested
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 8, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Paul Bendix has it right.

Web Link

If the same non growth MPers want to put their collective heads in the sand and delay, obfuscate or disrupt any and all developments near transit, they are just passing the buck to other cities, to the county to the state. Classic case of gated community mentality.

Vote against the Initiative and vote against the slate behind it.


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Posted by joe public
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 8, 2014 at 3:06 pm

MV - an interpretation by staff according to procedures in the specific plan is all that is needed to accommodate changing commerce, and the language in the specific plan definitions that says "including" should be all that is needed. EVER.
The initiative does not preclude using that procedure.
You are just making a mountain out of a molehill. Give it a rest.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 8, 2014 at 3:09 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Joe:

that's not what the initiative says. Please post where in the initiative it does. Peter has repeatedly posted the language of both the DSP and the initiative and it's pretty clear you're wrong.


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Posted by joe public
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 8, 2014 at 3:31 pm

MV (molehill voter) - for interpretation of definitions, the controlling document is the specific plan.
There is no place in the initiative about needing to modify office definitions to accommodate new kinds of commerce.

There is a process in the plan itself.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 8, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Joe - IF adopted the Initiative SUPERSEDES what is in the Specific Plan.

Section 4.1 of the initiative states:
"the voter- adopted 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."

I am appalled by how uniformed are you and other supporters of the poorly drafted and unvetted initiative. Clearly you have chosen ignorance as your ally.


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Posted by joe public
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 8, 2014 at 5:32 pm

PC - you refuse to acknowledge that definitions would not need to be changed in order to allow uses that might come along. I am appalled at how you keep repeating the same old story. Not only do you provide no proof of poor drafting, you ignore any alternative to your view of the world. There IS A PROCESS IN THE PLAN to manage such a possibility.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 8, 2014 at 6:05 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

joe:

there's also a process in the initiative, it's called a vote. Zoning by ballot is stupid. Again, please show us the language in the initiative that says it can be done without a vote. The initiative supersedes everything in the DSP. Have you actually read it?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by joe public
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 8, 2014 at 7:26 pm

MV - I have read the specific plan and the initiative. The initiative doesn't have anything to do with the myriad zoning details in the Specific Plan such as height, size, setbacks, amount of open space required, setbacks, parking, variances, exemptions(like for a fire station), triggers for public benefit, tools for funding infrastructure, etc. If you think otherwise, you either do not understand zoning or the initiative, or are willfully trying to mislead people.

The initiative sets caps on non-residential (same cap as the specific plan) and office, and doesn't allow counting as project open space balconies and upper decks. For a plan that's supposed to last 30 years, a vote shouldn't have to happen very often, right?


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 8, 2014 at 7:41 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Joe:

You are either a shill for the initiative or have been drinking the initiative koolaid. Again, please provide the specific language of the initiative that supports your position.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 8, 2014 at 8:45 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

JP states "MV - I have read the specific plan and the initiative"

Congratulations, now please explain with specific legal citations why Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the initiative do NOT supersede the DSP.

Note that Section 5 states:
5.1. After this measure becomes effective, its provision shall prevail over and
supersede all provisions of the municipal code, ordinances, resolutions,
and administrative policies of the City of Menlo Park which are inferior to
the Planning Policy Documents and in conflict with any provisions of this
measure.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 9, 2014 at 11:41 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Sally and Joe - where have you gone?

When asked to provide documented facts the Lanza/Fry supporters simply disappear.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 9, 2014 at 9:17 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Sally and Joe - where have you gone?

When asked to provide documented facts the Lanza/Fry supporters simply disappear.


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Posted by joe public
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 10, 2014 at 10:05 am

PC and MV you just don't get it. But you don't seem to want to, either.

The administrative processes about definitions in the specific plan are not "inferior to the Planning Policy Documents and in conflict with any provisions of this measure." Note the "and" as well as the "in conflict" language. Neither are all the other zoning regulations that are not addressed by the initiative.
You are simply making up problems that don't exist.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 10, 2014 at 10:08 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Joe - I give up; clearly you cannot read:


Section 4.1 of the initiative states:
"the voter- adopted 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."

"5.1. After this measure becomes effective, its provision shall prevail over and
supersede ALL provisions of the municipal code, ordinances, resolutions,
and administrative policies of the City of Menlo Park which are inferior to
the Planning Policy Documents and in conflict with any provisions of this
measure."

Joe has been unable to give a single legal citation supporting his position.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by joe public
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 10, 2014 at 5:14 pm

PC - you're the one who can't read.
The plan's definitions allow for uses that aren't specified precisely. And the plan has clear administrative processes for how staff is to handle unexpected uses WITHOUT need to amend the plan. Read those sections.

Then read my comment above. Glad you are giving up.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 10, 2014 at 5:43 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Joe - The law is clear - IF passed the initiative supersedes the Specific Plan. In that case the initiative definitions in Section 3 supersede any definitions in the Specific Plan and can only be changed by an expensive city wide vote.

Sally - here is the Stanford letter:

Web Link


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Posted by joe public
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 11, 2014 at 7:28 am

Peter - the specific plan's definitions are not totally inclusive of every possible use that might fit in a definition category. That's why there is a defined process in the plan for staff to use if there are questions about uses. THAT IS THE LAW adopted by the city. Sorry you don't like it.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 11, 2014 at 7:38 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

For those of you interested in the facts note that the definitions included in the initiative, Sec 3, supersede those in the Specific Plan per Sec 5 of the initiative and can only be changed by a city wide vote per Sec 4 of the initiative.

Section 4.1 of the initiative states:
"the voter- adopted 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."

"5.1. After this measure becomes effective, its provision shall prevail over and
supersede ALL provisions of the municipal code, ordinances, resolutions,
and administrative policies of the City of Menlo Park which are inferior to
the Planning Policy Documents and in conflict with any provisions of this
measure."

Anyone alleging the contrary must CITE the actual MP Ordinance which supports their interpretation.

This initiative would be a disaster and its supporters like Joe are simply choosing ignorance as their only ally. They do NOT want well informed voters.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by joe public
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 11, 2014 at 10:02 am

PC - your comments are a disservice to Menlo Park voters.

The provisions of the initiative apply if and only if the definitions/procedures are addressed by the initiative (the process for interpreting uses IS NOT) AND if there is a conflict (NO conflict).

it is a royal waste of time trying to educate someone who is willfully ignorant and intentionally trying to mislead others. signing off


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 11, 2014 at 10:09 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

This thread is a perfect example of the ignorance and duplicity of the initiative supporters.

Please read Joe's absolute contempt for the truth and his repeated inability to provide a single citation from the initiative that supports his position.

They believe that telling a lie over and over will convince someone, anyone that it is true.

They refuse to read, much less understand, the very ordinance which they support.

They simultaneously claim that the initiative will make a big difference while claiming at the same time that it will have no impact.

They have chosen ignorance as their ally and do not want informed voters.


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Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 11, 2014 at 3:24 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

Editor: Is anyone really interested in a person who argues just to argue and not provide specifics. The user needs to be removed. Name calling is certainly not appropriate.


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