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Sharon Heights rallies against housing site

Original post made on Sep 11, 2012

Clearly the key to community engagement in Menlo Park is to suggest building "affordable housing" in Sharon Heights, in a park. Whether residents will remain engaged now that city staff has recommended dropping the park from consideration remains to be seen.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, September 11, 2012, 8:28 AM

Comments (67)

Posted by Enough, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 11, 2012 at 9:45 am

Linfield Oaks does not want the housing either. Are you listening CIty Council?

"That doesn't get Sharon Heights off the hook, however. "No neighborhood is exempt from the shared burden of providing affordable housing..." Could someone please explain WHY we must cave to the "burden of providing affordable housing"???? Woodside and Portola Valley are doing it right - they just say NO to more housing. Palo Alto has caved royally and screwed up Palo forever by overdeveloping. Menlo Park should not follow Palo Alto's mistakes. Are you listening City Council?


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Sep 11, 2012 at 10:04 am

Absolutely disgusting. Rich people trying to keep a few middle class, educated workers out of their town. Only on the SF Peninsula could this kind of selfish nonsense happen.


Posted by Scholar, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Sep 11, 2012 at 12:14 pm

The first sentence of this article just about says it all.


Posted by Central Menlo, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 11, 2012 at 12:17 pm

"neighbor": your point is really, very unclear. This might not be about rich people at all. It might be about preserving a public park in a city that has less park space per capita than the majority of cities in the state. I bet poor people enjoy parks too.

If only Menlo Park had the opportunity to build attractive affordable housing near downtown and close to public transportation. This could even work if the city might consider asking the automobile dealers along the El Camino corridor to close shop and move elsewhere. That, or maybe we could enjoy empty lots for a few years.


Posted by Linda, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Sep 11, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Now I get it.

This is all a back door benefit for city and public employees, who already get wonderful health and retirement benefits.


Posted by Realist, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 11, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Public transportation? For all intents and purposes, we have no public transit in Menlo Park. We have buses that go to the East Bay twice a day, and take forever to traverse El Camino. A train that runs every hour during most of the day, and is worth taking only if you work close to a station or in downtown San Francisco because no city except San Francisco has public transit either!

Besides, if we are building housing for people who work in Menlo Park but don't live here, why does it need to be near transit lines?

And, although it may sound paranoid, my own observation is that city employees do occupy a disproportionate number of BMRs.

By the way, I must take issue with this comment:

"Housing Commissioner Carolyn Clarke, who sits on the steering commission and is running for City Council, said there's nothing to fear. "There is a misconception that what is called affordable housing is low income housing, and this is not the case."

She is wrong. It is affordable housing for people with low incomes. If you look at any materials on the city's site, the focus is on accommodating hundreds of people whose income falls well below the county average.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Sep 11, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Why not build on some open space, well planned, well laid out with street cars, bus routes and bike trails. Build high density low rise units that will have all sorts of housing types. Flats, row homes, apartments, large looking home but cut up into units. Open space, little plots to farm on, very few front yards, shared parking areas. Time to look at building homes above the shop or small office for the business owner or professional.


Posted by In the Hood, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 11, 2012 at 2:00 pm

For the record, Sharon Heights houses more high density housing than the rest of Menlo Park already. Why does El Camino make sense? People can walk to businesses and there is a train accessible. Not to mention, getting some vacant wastelands integrated back into the community. Although with overcrowded schools and lots of traffic - it is hard to make the case for growth.


Posted by Sir Topham Hatt, a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Sep 11, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Carolyn Clarke's response is both insulting and very revealing.

What is insulting is that she assumes our opposition is to having to live near "low income" people. My objection to destroying a park to build apartment towers has nothing to do with a fear of living near someone with a different income level. Heck, if you're going to have a boondoggle like this, maybe better to give it to someone really hurting instead of someone making $5-10K less than me who gets lucky in a drawing.

The revealing part is that as she says, and the current BMR population shows, this is not a program aimed to assist those with truly different incomes. It is just another handout to public employees and a few middle/upper-middle class folks who got a lottery ticket handed to them.

Every one of those jobs on that list could afford a nice place in Redwood City within walking distance to the train, where they could commute to work. Instead you're proposing destroying the only public park west of the Alameda so that they can drive cars down Santa Cruz Avenue each morning? Perhaps the Green Wrath of those wringing their hands over shopping bags can be refocused on Mrs. Cline and her fellow travelers.


Posted by Marie Klein, a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Sep 11, 2012 at 3:22 pm

I think my petition speaks volumes! The community wasn't made aware of this proposal in a proper manner, the park (and all our parks) should never be considered as building material, and yes, we do need more affordable housing somewhere in the city, but not in a park. Keep signing! Every single signature and comment counts!

Web Link


Posted by Sir Toppam Hatt, a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Sep 11, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Whoops! Last line of my opus above should be Mrs. Clarke, the Housing Minister or whatever title she has.


Posted by Ipaytaxes2, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 11, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Clearly and again, money talks and it is the only thing that matters to our public officials. So lets see, if we get a neighborhood petition going, gripe about a first kiss, send a few hundred emails to the city, oh and have some financial status and say things like, keep poor people out of our neighborhood, we can get ours off the list! Great!

I'll bet a lot of those Sharon Heights residence are those kind church going people too, aren't you? Save your Sunday's, what they are preaching is not working!


Posted by Realist, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 11, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Why does Menlo Park need more affordable housing, who is going to pay for it, and who is going to manage it? Read Ohtaki's interesting comments in the article. The money is not there!

Some of you may have taken the bus tour of neighboring high density sites in Mountain View and Palo Alto, presented as a model of what we can expect in Menlo Park. These are not BMRs, which are supposed to have the same construction as neighboring homes (and do house a lot of city employees). These are exclusively low income projects. As long as your income stays below, say, $50k/year you can stay. If your income rises, you must sell and move.

A woman spoke to the tour group at one of the projects, talking about what a nice place it was, and how glad she was that she didn't have to look for a job because of subsidized housing. Is that really the kind of entitled, dependent culture we want to encourage in our cities?

No, no one is entitled to live here, any more than I am entitled to get a 10-acre estate in Atherton for a 90% discount just because my income is somewhat south of $1mm a year. And it's likely that my kids are not going to be able to afford to live here. But it's beginning to look like the Menlo Park where I live -- and I work hard to pay for my home -- is going to be a very different and far less pleasant place in a few years. Sort of like Manhattan, except without decent transit, good restaurants, Central Park, or any of the other amenities.

Thanks, Sacramento, for trying to ruin what used to be a nice place to raise a family. And thank you, city staff, for being way too willing to throw us under the bus


Posted by John Ryan, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Sep 11, 2012 at 4:54 pm

To the author and those commenters who see this as just another case of NIMBYism or elitism, here are two relevant facts. First, the 1,000+ people who signed the petition are from all over the city, the surrounding communities, and farther afield who are united in objecting to development in public open space. Second, the neighborhood residents who first raised the alarm at the proposal to develop in a public park are actively working with the city to find other sites within Sharon Heights for the affordable housing units. The NIMBYism and elitism suggested in the article and decried in comments are not what motivated the authors or signers of the petition and not what moved the city staff to recommend against the site.


Posted by WeRallInThis, a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Sep 11, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Clearly Mr. Ryan, you did not read the headline.
"Sharon Heights rallies against housing site."

If you are looking or alternative sites in Sharon Heights, let me suggest the golf course. Plenty of land there.

And I have to ask, who at the City of Menlo Park is to blame for not being compliant for these many years? Who is holding the City responsible?


Posted by Fellow Menlo Parker, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Sep 11, 2012 at 5:54 pm

What about those who live and work in Menlo Park making more than $50,000/year but less than $300,000? Those how can't afford to buy, and choose to rent and live close to their place of work for quality of life. Our rents are continually rising -- $2300 to $2650 in 2 years?? We are being priced out of this area but get no "help" or special treatment from the city. How about some rent control? Their truely is an issue of affordability for ALL income levels.


Posted by concerned citizen, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Sep 11, 2012 at 6:15 pm

Agree with "Fellow Menlo Parker"

Many years ago (in a different city & state) my Father was in law enforcement, and neighbors were glad to have his cruiser parked in the neighborhood. Those who serve our city should be able to live here, if they so choose.

And to a few of the other comments, people in this "community" going to church is certainly laughable. People obviously can care less about their "fellow man/woman". Money has everything to do with this, if people of a perceived lower status are not wanted, money will keep them out. And to Ms. Clark, the cat is out of the bag if you have not noticed, this is "affordable housing". Your comments to suggest otherwise are insulting.

Be good people, and pay attention to the sermon this Sunday.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 11, 2012 at 8:16 pm

concerned citizen:

the problem with your premise that "affordable Housing" is for our first responders is that they MAKE TOO MUCH MONEY!!!! To qualify for this affordable housing you have to make less than $50k a year. FIRST YEAR COPS MAKE MORE THAN THAT. Do you get it? It's not about providng housing for our police and fire fighters. It's about LOW INCOME HOUSING. That is socialism pure and simple. Do you want to cough up some money so I can live in Atherton? I'd really like to live there but I can't afford to. NO? What a surprise. This isn't "elitism" or any other "ism." It's pure objection to socialist nonsense. If someone wants to live somewhere they need to make sufficient income to do so. If they don't, there are places where they can afford to live. It's called a FREE MARKET. We don't owe anyone anything but a roof over their heads. Nothing says it has to be in Menlo Park or Atherton or anywhere else they can't afford. Get over your self righteous, bleeding heart self.

In my years in law enforement I have seen what becomes of "low income housing." It becomes a sewer. If you don't believe me I suggest you go to a city that has it and go on a ride-along with the police. You will get a quick education in regards to what low income housing becomes. Trust me, there aren't any cops living there.


Posted by Dharma, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 11, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Fortunately Council and the City Attorney determined last night that re-zoning even the fraction of dedicated park land for housing was not consistent w the general plan - the Sharon Park option was announced dead at 6 pm last night.

That hasen't stopped the automated email barrage however, which is still going 26 hours after the issue was gone. Too bad this "community outpouring" is resembling something less.


Posted by Happier Place, a resident of another community
on Sep 11, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Reading this - I am -SO- happy I moved out of Menlo Park. I realize how much happier I am now and living in a more beautiful place. All at a 77% lower cost of living.

Fascinating to see how that City and its residents will forever argue for their limitations. Don't fight it folks. Move! Best of luck.


Posted by Realist, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 11, 2012 at 9:26 pm

It's really hard to understand anyone supporting the construction of a ghetto. And yet, that's what we're talking about here. The same high-minded thinking that led to highrise housing projects (many of which have been demolished) is now bringing you the 21st century version of social engineering in the guise of transit-friendly "the millennials will love it!" dense housing.

If you were really trying to help people who needed affordable housing, you'd think about how to offer more rental housing. How can you have a housing element that completely overlooks this huge segment of the market?


Posted by MP, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 12, 2012 at 10:59 am

MP and other towns have a MORAL obligation to increase 'affordable' housing, and given the silicon valley craziness, I think most of us would agree the definition needs changed to encompass middle class incomes/assets would should include families making 50-150k or something.

Right now MP is home to the biggest dichotomy... seniors that bought here 30 years ago easily, middle class renters that can't afford to buy, and people with stock/investment windfalls that all them to gobble up the tiny bit of real estate that comes on the market every year for way more than it's worth.

Strange place we live. Nice. But strange too.

I'm all for open space, but we have a real problem when every square foot is protected and there is no space for people. Look at a google maps of the peninsula hills and see how much is completely undeveloped. Something has to give.


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Sep 12, 2012 at 11:09 am

I am curious to know more if Dharma's previous post is correct that the City COuncil and City Attorney determined last night that this parcel should be removed from the list. According to the published agenda for City Council yesterday, there was a closed session at 5:15 on "potential litigation", and then at 6:00 a public study session on Bidwell Bayfront Park. There was no mention of this issue on the Council meeting agenda that started at 7:00. Further, the subcommittee working the list of potential sites for housing has not made its formal recommendation yet (in other words this issue is still in committee). Where, when and how could this issue have been discussed and decided by Council without violating the public meeting requirements?


Posted by Sandy Brundage, Almanac Staff Writer, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 12, 2012 at 11:56 am

The announcement last night said the housing steering committee will consider the staff recommendation to remove Sharon Park from the list of potential sites. The decision is up to the committee, so technically has not yet been made.

Sandy


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Sep 12, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Yes, thank you Sandy, I've since found out the details. Comforting to see the process working as it should.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 12, 2012 at 3:32 pm

MP:

Menlo Park has no moral obligation to provide "affordable" housing. That is socialist nonsense. The market determines where affordable housing is located. There's actually a fair amount of it right up the road in Redwood City. The market forces there determine what housing costs. We have no moral obligation to make it so that anyone who wants to live here can any more than Atherton has a moral obligation to make it so I can live there.


Posted by Norman, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 12, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Let us not do 'backdoor' philanthropy by making the people that are buying the non-affordable housing in that project pay the price by their costs being higher. Let us vote to tax our whole population for this benefit. Then if we really want it it'll be by a democratic majority not by a small group of activists that like being in city government making up our minds for us. Remember, they did that with the 'traffic calming' fiasco on Santa Cruz Ave. Up front, I say.


Posted by Realist, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 12, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Moral obligation. Hmmm. Can we agree to leave religion and values out of this discussion? Because otherwise I might be inclined to argue that we have a moral obligation to encourage people to become self-sufficient rather than dependent on handouts.

We have plenty of social service programs around here. No one need starve or sleep in the park. Public education is free. Our libraries are free. Health care is free for the indigent. But building new houses for people who can't otherwise afford to live here?


Posted by prospective home buyer, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Sep 12, 2012 at 5:34 pm

My hubbie and I have been trying unscuccessfully to buy a single family home despite an over $1 million budget. (I remember when 1 million used to mean something). Hmmm wonder if we can get in on this program? We feel like we could use some low income housing since apparently 1 million is small change here.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 12, 2012 at 6:04 pm

Yes, prospective homebuyer, a million may be small potatoes here. But that's the market. Years ago I couldn't buy my first house in this town, hell, I had a hard time doing it in San Jose. Eventually I got here, but that's because I worked hard and saved. I was a cop when I bought my first house and didn't expect anyone to provide me with BMR housing at the time either, by the way.


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2012 at 8:13 am

MV you are making the point that MP doesn't need affordable housing if the citizens don't want such development in their town. However, you are missing a few very important points.
• The requirement for towns to have affordable housing within the Housing Element of its GP is a State-mandated requirement Morality has nothing to do with this, it is currently State law. Is it socialistic, yes I would agree with you that it is, but to defy State law is anarchistic--which is worse?
• Towns such as Atherton and Woodside must comply with the same State law. The difference is the amount of affordable housing required is formula driven by the balance (or lack thereof) between jobs and housing. Those towns do no actively recruit the Facebooks of the world to locate within their boundries-I doubt if they even have a business development position on their payroll and they use other means than sales tax to pay for their town services.
By the way Realist, public schools and libraries are certainly not free; they are supported by tax dollars.
My point is, if you want change made to current law, you need to look to Sacramento, not to the MP City Council.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2012 at 9:59 am

WhoR says the same thing I do - complaining online doesn't change the law.

It was ridiculous to suggest taking over a park for housing that the city has been avoiding their legal responsibility, for years. It smacks of taking out their shirking on the residents. When I mentioned this issue to a family member, they asked me if it was real, or from The Onion.


Posted by whatever, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 13, 2012 at 10:04 am

If the city hadn't sold the almost 2 acres to Beechwood School, in April this year for a paltry $1.25 million, they could have used that land for there high density housing.


Posted by lk, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Sep 13, 2012 at 10:37 am

Sounds like Housing Commissioner Carolyn Clarke doesn't understand the need to preserve Sharon Park as open space. She apparently doesn't feel that preserving park space for children and for adults who enjoy nature is important. She doesn't understand that Sharon Park is too far from public transportation and from downtown shopping to be suitable for seniors or for individuals without their own transportation. She doesn't understand the traffic gridlock that adding more than 1000 individuals to the Sharon Park area would create. It makes me wonder what qualifications she presented for her present position. Certainly she is not qualified to be a City Council member.


Posted by CAP, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 13, 2012 at 11:05 am

As a long time resident of Menlo Park, I am appalled by some of the comments made by our residents. The person who wrote the letter to the city anonymously saying "Keep low income trash out of Sharon Heights. Put them in East Menlo Park where they belong. People who don't have the ability or work ethic to live in a nice neighborhood shouldn't be given handouts." Whomever wrote this should have the guts to sign his/her name. Last night I attended the meeting. A man yelled out, "Didn't you guys learn that forced integration didn't work in the 60's?" Again, I am appalled by these comments.

We all need to deal with the fact that Menlo Park has not filed a Housing Element since 1992. And that one wasn't certified by the state. Who's fault is that? I don't know. What I do know is let's stop playing the blame game and get on with it. Let's build housing for our people of all income ranges and races.


Posted by new guy, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 13, 2012 at 11:17 am

Hey CAP.

"Let's build housing..." YOU pay for it, right next to your house, and I will be all for it.

How about another idea, zone a highrise space next to the train tracks, then once HSR comes through, the state will have to buy it and demo it. Problem sovled!!!


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 13, 2012 at 11:24 am

Who:

I was responding to MP's claim that there was a moral imperative to provide affordable housing. I understand it is mandated by state law. That makes it no less socialist.


Posted by ted, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 13, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Cap You really think that was a real post. It is probably written by someone looking for a reaction. That is the good news and the bad news about internet postings. You can say whatever you want.


Posted by Social justice , a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 13, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Menlo Voter, you say: "That makes it no less socialist." You say that as if it's a bad thing.


Posted by CAP, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 13, 2012 at 12:23 pm

First of all, the housing element is being studied. Just that. The city is not going to BUILD the housing. That will be market driven. So why is everyone in such an uproar? Being zoned one way doesn't necessarily mean developers will build it. This town has very few people thinking toward the future. We need housing for our seniors and for our young people.


Posted by Central Menlo, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 13, 2012 at 12:24 pm

...and there is Flood Park. Large enough to subdivide into BMR Houseing, market-rate housing (to help pay for everything else), and room remaining for plenty of park space...or did the city pass on the opportunity to purchase FP from the county?


Posted by Carolyn Clarke, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Sep 13, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Wow! I am amazed at comments on my behalf. Two quotes come to mind on the affordable housing issue.

"There is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order."

-- Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince and The Discourses, Italian Historian, Diplomat and Philosopher.

"Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom."

-- Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa



Posted by Carolyn Clarke, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Sep 13, 2012 at 1:17 pm

As Housing Commissioner and a member of the Sierra Club, I do understand why Sharon Heights residents are opposing Sharon Park as a potential affordable housing site, and stood up for maintaining it as a park.

I am a strong supporter of preserving open space including not only our parks, but the rain forest and much more. As co-founder of CAFE, a Foundation for Eco-preservation, I am in support of retaining Sharon Park as is, and voted to remove the park as a site for housing from the Housing Element list.

My response is to this comment specifically-

Posted by lk, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, 2 hours ago

"Sounds like Housing Commissioner Carolyn Clarke doesn't understand the need to preserve Sharon Park as open space. She apparently doesn't feel that preserving park space for children and for adults who enjoy nature is important. She doesn't understand that Sharon Park is too far from public transportation and from downtown shopping to be suitable for seniors or for individuals without their own transportation. She doesn't understand the traffic gridlock that adding more than 1000 individuals to the Sharon Park area would create. It makes me wonder what qualifications she presented for her present position. Certainly she is not qualified to be a City Council member."






Posted by Realist, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 13, 2012 at 1:34 pm

From what I could tell at last night's meeting, many Sharon Heights residents are seniors. So I'm a little mystified by the comments about Sharon Heights not being a suitable neighborhood for older people.

As for using a quote from Machiavelli (interesting choice) I think we could all find a few dozen quotes along the lines of "if it aint broke, don't fix it." We are looking at a plan that puts 1000 new housing units east of El Camino. That's in addition to the 800+ units already approved for El Camino. Hard to argue that this will benefit anyone unless there's a complete overhaul of our roads, transit, schools, water/sewage system, and recreational facilities.

To reiterate: if the state really cared about helping people at the lower end of the economic spectrum, they'd support building rental units. The state housing department and large developers are closely aligned. This is all about profit for people at the other end of the spectrum.

To those who claim that the housing element is 20 years out of date, no, it is not. It should have been updated around 1999, so it is 13 years out of date. Other elements are far more out of date! If it's this painful to come up with 1000 new sites now, what is it going to be like in seven years? If we stay on this path, we'll have a town that is almost 100% zoned housing, no retail, no services. How vibrant and village-y is that?


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2012 at 2:20 pm

MV - Sorry, I missed the reference back to the "moral imperative" claim; didn't see where that was stated by the City. Do agree (without judgement) it is a socialist program.
CAP - Enjoyed and totally agree with your posts on this subject. In my opinion, you not only "get it", you express the issues simply and concisely.
Ms. Clarke - Rain Forests? Machiavelli? Your running for city council in a small town of about 30K people. Bring it down a notch.


Posted by Carolyn Clarke, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Sep 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Dear Sir Topham Hatt,

I hope that you can understand that my response was not meant to be insulting, although perhaps revealing. My statement is only clarifying that affordable housing includes more than just low income people, and that a fair number of the affordable housing sites are slotted for hard working people who are currently working in Menlo Park, and are already active members in our community.

Are you saying that we should be sending the people who need affordable housing to Redwood City, to keep affordable housing out of Menlo Park?

Why should Menlo Park workers live in Redwood City, who has been very proactive in providing affordable housing for its residents and workers and meeting their state requirements?

STATEMENT:
Posted by Sir Topham Hatt, a resident of the Menlo Park: University Heights neighborhood, on Sep 11, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Carolyn Clarke's response is both insulting and very revealing.

What is insulting is that she assumes our opposition is to having to live near "low income" people. My objection to destroying a park to build apartment towers has nothing to do with a fear of living near someone with a different income level. Heck, if you're going to have a boondoggle like this, maybe better to give it to someone really hurting instead of someone making $5-10K less than me who gets lucky in a drawing.

The revealing part is that as she says, and the current BMR population shows, this is not a program aimed to assist those with truly different incomes. It is just another handout to public employees and a few middle/upper-middle class folks who got a lottery ticket handed to them.

Every one of those jobs on that list could afford a nice place in Redwood City within walking distance to the train, where they could commute to work. Instead you're proposing destroying the only public park west of the Alameda so that they can drive cars down Santa Cruz Avenue each morning? Perhaps the Green Wrath of those wringing their hands over shopping bags can be refocused on Mrs. Cline and her fellow travelers.


Posted by Carolyn Clarke, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Sep 13, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Dear Whatever,

Are you saying that Belle Haven do not deserved 1 decent private school in our community. We have already been excluded from Menlo Park School districts! Beechwood School as I understand, has been a pillar for educating our students, with a 99% success rate for college bound students. Is education a right or a privilege?

Response is direct to the statement below -

Posted by whatever, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, 4 hours ago

If the city hadn't sold the almost 2 acres to Beechwood School, in April this year for a paltry $1.25 million, they could have used that land for there high density housing.


Posted by Realist, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 13, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Carolyn, with utmost appreciate for your service to our city, all of us -- well, all of us who live/work east of El Camino -- are being asked to sacrifice for the benefit of the housing element. A building doesn't make a school. A school excels because it has outstanding leadership, gifted teachers, and enthusiastic students. Beechwood could move to another site, allowing the existing acreage to be used for housing. In fact, it would make ideal senior housing since it would be just across the parking lot from Onetta Harris.

Our community has enjoyed the luxury of many standalone facilities. With these requirements staring us in the face, we need to think along the lines of multi-use as well as mixed use. Schools are a good place to start. Right now, the buildings are used maybe at most 40 hours a week. Why not allow schools to be used as affordable housing between the hours of, say, 4 pm and 7 am plus weekends? Almost half of Menlo Park is under water, literally. How about developing a houseboat community? Time for this city of overachievers toget creative!


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 13, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Social justice:

socialism is a bad thing. you need look know further than Europe to figure out why.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Clarke's point re Belle Haven schools is very important. Why has that happened? That's its own can of horrifying worms. Another nasty can of worms is the city REFUSING to following the law, which they clearly haven't done when it comes to the mandated Housing Element.

Who's the moron who thought taking over the park was a good idea?

I don't agree it's a bad place for seniors - indeed, it's been a haven for monied seniors for DECADES. But the traffic issue is very real - & the traffic it would bring isn't the fault of the "lower income" people who'd qualify. The traffic is from people commuting to the area, & from the area. We all contribute to that, unless we're retired or unemployed & even then of course we get into our cars, or someone else's, for the most part.

We don't have the public transpo infrastructure for the population we currently have. We're a peninsula & these growth issues are very common in peninsular regions. With the population at an all time high, we're also not the only area wrestling w/these difficult issues.

While stuck in traffic today, I was looking at some attractive high density housing. I have no idea how much they sold or leased for, but I understand the argument for it. And no, they weren't on a former area park!


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 13, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Ms Clarke:

what we are saying is that city workers should live where they can afford to live. If that's not in Menlo Park, that's tough. How many city workers in Atherton and Woodside actually live in those towns? Safe bet - none.


Posted by supporting social justice, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 13, 2012 at 9:07 pm

Menlo Voter,

capitalism is a bad thing. you need look no further than the united states (and the destruction its rapaciousness has done to the rest of the world) to figure out why.


Posted by TPL, a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Sep 13, 2012 at 9:31 pm

Why people should be able to live in Menlo Park because they work here? People live where they can afford and they commute or change job. I have worked in Redwood City for 11 years, and I lived in Fremont or South San Jose until last year.


Posted by Miklos, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 13, 2012 at 11:34 pm

Of course. Only the rich can live in Sharon Park area. They have the only right to it. That's why we are equal. We have the same right. Or we don't!?


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 14, 2012 at 7:13 am

Miklos:

you have a right to live in Sharon Heights. No one says you don't. You just have to be able to AFFORD it. It's called a free market. We're all responsible for putting a roof over our own heads. I've managed to work hard and get to a place where I make an income that allows me to live in Menlo Park. If I didn't, I wouldn't be able to live here because I couldn't afford it and I would have NO expectation that someone provide me with housing here that I could afford. What is so hard to understand about that?


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Sep 14, 2012 at 7:52 am

Just sending your private and public sector workers to anpther city will just send the housing issue upon them. We seem to push the issue further and further.


Posted by Realist, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 14, 2012 at 10:12 am

Whoa! So to take some of these arguments to their logical conclusion, our system won't be "fair" until houses cost the same everywhere, and everyone can afford to live in whatever city they want. Sounds like a kind of idealized communism to me. It's a fantasy because there are always people who have skills and want to work hard and be rewarded for their efforts, and others who care a whole lot less or don't have the same earning capacity.

As for city employees in Menlo Park living in other cities: I have yet to see a city job advertised. Where does the city post its openings? Those jobs pay pretty well, and I know people who already live in Menlo Park who would be qualified. If residents were offered the opportunity to apply, we'd eliminate that problem. Second, I have lived in Menlo Park for a while, during which time I've worked in San Francisco, San Mateo, Palo Alto, Santa Clara, and Milpitas. People who buy houses don't move every time they switch jobs. Renters might, but this element doesn't include rentals.

The free market actually works rather well. What we're doing with this housing element is creating an ineffective and burdensome monster.


Posted by Invest in Education, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 14, 2012 at 1:36 pm

It's a travesty that towns that have space for affordable housing are generally full of low scoring schools, creating a huge quandry for parents. It's the schools that are driving the congestion and density in MP/PA, as anyone that cares about education can't "afford" to live in the less expensive towns. We are increasing the stratification of America.

The middle class we are talking about here are highly educated, work hard at places like Standford, and yet could never afford to buy anywhere near here where there are decent schools. That is a major long term problem.

I just want to know how other towns get out of providing new housing?


Posted by new guy, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 14, 2012 at 4:15 pm

"invest in edu." so the bar is someone who "works hard" now?

tell you what. I worked hard for 12 years to afford my down payment. I sacrificed cars, starting a family, vacations, nice clothes, and countless hours of schooling followed by countless hours working to get here.

this is what I am teaching my children. or do wish that I teach them that what they should do is only work kind of hard, only get an ok education, take a job that does not pay too much, and then get on the list of live in MP, or better.

honestly, MP will be a different town with 1000 more units, no matter who lives in them.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2012 at 8:14 am

Free Markets tells me this. We need to build more homes, the demand is greater then supply. Attend a 4 year college, get a degree or some kind of training and then get a job. Sounds good? Just make sure you don't get work that will get you.on a low income, affordable, below market housing list, stay away from those jobs.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 15, 2012 at 10:05 am

Garrett:

where would you propose putting more homes? The problem in this area is a lack of available land. The biggest piece of the cost of a single family home is typically not the cost of construction, it's the land it sits on. The ususal way to solve this problem is to increase density. The problem with that is we don't have the infrastructure to support increased density without seriously degrading quality of life. It requires forward thinking planning that should have occurred many years ago and for which it is now too late.


Posted by william, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Sep 15, 2012 at 11:05 am

A number of years ago, my firm proposed attached housing for the Hamilton Steet project. Unfortunately, a selection was made to build single family detached and "green".

Well, what happened to the project and how many homes were built?

Will the balance of the vacant land be sold by the City?

Single family was chosen to enhance the values of the existing homes in the neighborhood----most likely.

[Portion deleted.] Some can afford the housing.

Very happy our beautiful park is preserved.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Use of smart design instead of zoning by units per acre. We need to thing bus, rail and bus.


Posted by Realist, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 15, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Forget the bus, rail (and BART, lightrail, etc). Public transit around here is a joke. Try using a mapping application and comparing how long it takes to get somewhere by car vs public transit. Would you rather spend 20 minutes driving to work or two hours on a combination of bus, train, and light rail?

People use the freeway to commute. Any new housing should have easy freeway access. And by "easy," I mean within 100 yards or so, as right now the streets that lead to/from both 280 and 101 are gridlocked during rush hour.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2012 at 4:20 pm

I meant think bus, rail and bus. Solve the short car drives. Also smaller footprint schools, think K to 2, 3 to 5 and 6 to 8, think larger as school years past. You also have the little ones close to home away from traffic. Smart design will in able different blends of housing in small area up to street with parking on the side. You will a little bit at a time, get other cities to follow.


Posted by Realist, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 15, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Garrett, I don't know what other community you call home, but sounds as though you have never been to Menlo Park and nothing about our schools or geography.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Sep 16, 2012 at 6:43 am

I was born at Stanford, my parents lived in Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Palo Alto until they settled in Mtn View. When they moved away, I stayed in the area until I moved away, first to take a job,in the city then overseas. Lived outside the states for 10 years and traveled to wonderful places on my weekends. Remember when people ask me where I was from which was the Palo Alto, people would always have some sort of dealings. When I got back from overseas, decided to move back, been priced out ever since. I don't want see our area like L.A., Willow Freeway, houses up the hills, 6 lane streets, shopping centers and office parks void of people, just cars. I was just thinking small, you don't need to build such large building in such a wonderful atea to be always called home


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