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Church seeks expanded use of meeting hall

Original post made on Feb 7, 2009

Menlo Park Presbyterian Church is looking to expand its use of a space in the back of the building that houses the ACE hardware store at 700 Santa Cruz Ave.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, February 4, 2009, 8:09 PM

Comments (11)

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Posted by no
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 7, 2009 at 9:43 am

NO !

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Posted by observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 7, 2009 at 9:48 am

A lousy decision in the beginning. This should not be allowed to happen.

However, our planning commission won't say no. This should have been killed at the staff level.

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Posted by Why Shouldn't it Happen?
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 8, 2009 at 9:27 pm

Are the above two bloggers more concerned that it's religion, or it's a commercial site? I think it's an absolute joke if these individuals are THAT concerned about a commercial site. There are at least 10-15 vacant locations in the city that any serious retailer can lease. The way this current council is promoting business around here, I'm sure that number will double within a year. Let 'em rent, do something with the space.

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Posted by shopper
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 8, 2009 at 10:21 pm

It has nothing to do with religion and a lot to do with ensuring that downtown retailers and businesses have adequate parking for their customers and clients and a reasonably peaceful work environment. Kids' parties with loud music -- terrific! -- but not in the middle of downtown.

The neighbors have valid concerns that staff seemed to have overlooked (I read the staff report). I doubt the PC will be so quick to dismiss those issues.

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Posted by No Shopper
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 8, 2009 at 11:19 pm

Yea, why would you EVER want to have kids parties in a downtown area??!! Wow, that's crazy stuff! The "neighbors" don't care, only you do. It's ridiculous. Until we have those empty store fronts filled, this is a NON-issue. Give me a break. You're probably the same type that don't want additional parking built. Your colors show too bright.

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Posted by shopper
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 8, 2009 at 11:33 pm

No, I don't care personally. I read the staff report, which includes many copies of letters from neighbors of the space. Obviously, No Shopper hasn't. I don't see a lot of empty storefronts on Santa Cruz, so I'm not sure which ones are waiting to be flled. But I would guess that prospective tenants might be dissuaded from renting by excessive noise and unavailability of parking space.

What "type" doesn't (not "don't") want more parking?

If we're looking out for the interests of our city -- and some of us are -- then we need to respect our current retailers and business people. We want to ensure that Menlo Park remains a good place for them to conduct their business. One of the worst things our city could do would be to say to these business owners: "we don't care if your clients can't find a space to park -- move your business to another city!"

Instead of being selfish or favoring one entity over others, we should focus on the best possible outcome overall. The current proposal is clearly not acceptable.

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Posted by No Shopper
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 9, 2009 at 11:13 am

I'm still trying to figure out what is "clearly not acceptable"?? The church is filling vacant space, that is not being used by anyone else, and we have many properties available on Santa Cruz, and El Camino Real. It's very easy to find space, for those merchants that need it. Again, I think it's the church that is your issue, and that isn't right. They have every right to fill a vacant space, as anyone else. Unless of course you think we need another nail salon? Now THAT is where you'd find an argument from me. If you want to "be fair to these business owners", build more parking spaces, and stop putting time restrictions on them. None of these business owners care about "excessive noise??" What exactly IS that? A 2-story parking garage should be, but we know it won't be, considered. You can hide it, make it look great, and even possibly install solar panels. I know I'm dreaming, a parking garage is a huge problem for this council, or for anyone that wants to stay with that "residentalist" label. Very frustrating.

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Posted by shopper
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Feb 9, 2009 at 2:50 pm

"Filling vacant space" is not the objective. If it were, we could just turn all the empty buildings in Menlo Park into homeless shelters! In any csse, we don't want to fill vacancies with tenants who will drive away existing tenants or discourage new retailers from signing leases. That is why the current proposal is not acceptable. The current proposal is NOT fair to business owners, and they DO care about the noise. Read the staff report!

I am not sure what "residentialist" means but it sounds like an insult. Like most people in Menlo Park, I would prefer to see our city maintain its current scale -- no high-density or highrise development -- while upgrading our downtown and El Camino so that they are more attractive with more retail. Parking is an issue, and we should have more spaces downtown. A parking structure, similar to the ones you see in neighboring communities, makes a lot of sense.

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Posted by observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 9, 2009 at 5:23 pm

Religion certainly not an issue here. What is an issue is why this type of use is allowed in the center of the business area.

No Shopper sounds like a shill for the church -- obviously knows knows nothing about why use permits are or are not issued.

As I said above -- this usage should not be permitted. But you just wait -- the PC will not object.

Look at the staff report and the very strong endorsement for granting this permit. Of course, one should realize the very powerful members of the church who influence and in some cases are on staff.

This brings back memories of the study done a couple of years ago to determine where a parking garage should be built. Amazing how it came to be the lot that the church wanted.

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Posted by Shops Downtown
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 12, 2009 at 11:34 am

One point that has not been mentioned is the amount of extra business bringing this many people to downtown might generate. I can speak for myself: before or after attending events in this space or dropping off/picking up my kids, I have added visits to businesses to make purchases that I might not have made or made elsewhere.

Also, I have NEVER been in the parking lot behind and not been able to find parking. Maybe I had to park 5 or 6 spaces farther away than at times when there was not a meeting in that space, but there are other lots that are way more crowded that have kept me from shopping downtown.

Let's keep this discussion real. Its about customers making purchases at businesses, not the businesses, and I think the use brings more customers, not fewer.

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Posted by Got it right!
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Feb 12, 2009 at 2:21 pm

Shops Downtown has it right. If we believed in the philosophy that having people come downtown, to use a facility will not create any business at all.......then why do we have festivals? We are attracting people to come downtown, shop at the little booths, and go home? I don't think that's what happens. I think that even though these booths are competition for the stand alone businesses, I think they attract people to buy at the stand alones.

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