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Original post made
on Sep 21, 2012
Our neighborhood might be more willing to engage with the city if it hadn't wasted out time so often over the decades by organizing community meetings and focus groups after which every single thing we said was disregarded and city council did whatever it wanted anyway. Our neighborhood might be more willing to engage with the city if our successful efforts to block a planned unsafe housing development off Terminal had not been constantly opposed for decades. Given that history, I doubt that the city government will ever convince many us to waste our precious free time engaging with it no matter how much it spends on consultants.
$90,000 for a "community engagement process." Some young college lad comes out and talks to people and writes a lot of words. Unless you use a certified genius and one-of-a-kind, the result will be carefully chosen words and talk and not much else.
Perhaps it is time for the MP Council to be elected by district so that Belle Haven would at least have a seat at the council table.
I thought Cherise Brandell was hired as community engagement manager. Isn't she doing her job? Why do we need a consultant for this?
The purpose of this is so she has something to do.
I think we gave her a big raise a couple years ago, she now has if I remember right, two titles.
and yes, this is so she has something to do with her time.
also, I think we cut her budget for running useless surveys, so this is where the money will go now.
just think of all the time she now needs to create an RFP, review proposals, meet with consultants, rank them, and then choose one. She will be busy!!!
What Belle Haven needs first and foremost is the police substation built. 12 years have passed since the City purchased the land and it sits there on Willow, a blighted mess. Council Members Fergusson and Cline have had 8 years to get this project started. Belle Haven needs representation on the council and Carolyn Clarke is a candidate who knows what her community needs.
Belle Haven needs to be in the Menlo Park School District.
The city needs 7 council members and district elections.
What am I missing? Menlo Park cuts programs that the Belle Haven community wants and needs no matter how few or many speak out against the cuts. Their excurse RDF dried up which cause a budget shortfall BUT they have $90,000.00+ to spend on consultants to come up with a community engagement process for that same community. Just do your job, keep Belle Haven residents in the loop when decisions are to be made about the area. This includes the ever so silent second round of negotiations with Facebook. Will Belle Haven be left by the side of the road once again? It sure was in the first round!
Where are the community activists in Belle Haven? Are the neighborhoods banding together to demand their rightful seat at the table? Sure, Ms. Clarke might well represent the residents, but the residents can't wait for that. If there's one thing I've learned living in EPA all of these years, it's that residents MUST organize together to deal w/community issues. I've done it very small scale, eg, w/residents on just my block, & I've done it larger scale, too - city-wide.
When the community in question does NOT reflect the socioeconomic and/or ethnic makeup of their larger community, they must work together first in order to then deal successfully w/the larger community and/or whatever entities have more $$, knowledge and/or influence. Please do not wait for someone to be the community savior.
There is not one cohesive community anymore in Belle Haven. The black and hispanic communities are not tight. This money is being wasted on external consultant.
District elections for a town with 32,000 residents.....you are kidding right?
SF a city with 20 times our population has had a terrible time with it, and no improvement from doing it.
"District elections for a town with 32,000 residents.....you are kidding right?"
No - how else would you insure that the citizens of East Menlo Park start getting their fair share of city resources? Do you have a better idea?
Taxpayer, you hit the nail square on the head, "The black and hispanic communities are not tight". BTW, It's Menlo Park NOT "East Menlo Park"
I wonder which side of Menlo Park pulls in more business tax revenue?
"which side of Menlo Park pulls in more business tax revenue"
Yes, the city DOES have sides and the eastern one, generally referred to as East Menlo Park, gets far less than its fair share of public services.
peter: please define "fair share"
or maybe the 90K consultant can figure that out for 90K.
"peter: please define "fair share""
In my opinion fair share means that the citizens in each area of the city receive approximately the same amount of public city services (police, roads, parks, public buildings, etc.) per capita as do citizens in other areas. I challenge anyone to show that the eastern portion of Menlo Park gets anywhere near the per capita amount of public city services as does the western portion.
Peter, Agree 100 percent with your "fair share" position.
Disagree with another point: Not only is the area east of the 101 NOT generally known as East Menlo Park, all the Belle Haven residents I've ever talked to object to its being called that. The argument as I understand it is that it sounds too much like East Palo Alto, which is a city unto itself, with no connection with Palo Alto. But Menlo Park east of the 101 is part of Menlo Park, and tacking on "East" emphasizes separateness, not unity.
The issues between the black & Latino communities have been around for awhile now. I don't have an answer to that overarching issues. But, at the risk of overstating the obvious again:
Community organizing is a MUST if you want a seat at the table. If a seat hasn't been offered at this point, it must be demanded. Or, you can keep waiting.
One of the downsides to Belle Haven's demographic make up is that it's mostly folded in w/EPA as far as services from nonprofits & community engagement & activism issues that are local, county & state wide. When it comes to specific *city* issues, that part of Menlo is often left out, hence the community engagement person.
What they lack in contributing business tax revenue shouldn't make a difference in services because that's not how cities claim to work. There are some small businesses there, a business district, taxpayers & homeowners. That can be a nice sized community group w/various points of interests that all intersect at quality of life. A squeaky wheel has to first be wheel, then squeak, in order to get greased.
Yes, there IS a West Menlo Park and an East Menlo Park - not that there should be!
Peter, The video was a good effort by two M-A High students to address a question, but really, are you claiming that it proves anything?
In the city of Menlo Park, there is an unfortunate socioeconomic divide between the eastern and western sections, but neither section has a formal name. The residential part (and small commercial area) of eastern Menlo is known as Belle Haven.
You are correct that there is a West Menlo Park, but look at a map. West Menlo Park is the official name of small unincorporated areas, some of which are islands of land surrounded by incorporated Menlo, mostly in the area off Sand Hill Road and the Alameda. But the land is county not city.
The political reality is that most residents think, talk and act as if there are two parts to Menlo Park - the eastern part and the western part. We can argue semantics but that is the reality - which is also reflected in the city's budget and the cumulative age
the cumulative agenda of the City Council.
I've used the terms west Menlo & east Menlo my whole life, w/no judgement included. I use them to describe geographical area & neighborhoods: "The business park in east Menlo is sort of hidden, but it's near Mid-Pen High School. That taqueria in east Menlo is reputedly super clean. My friend moved to west Menlo Park from SF & loves it."
West Menlo refers to a specific area located in west Menlo Park - I only learned that here, on Almanac forum. People use Belle Haven & east Menlo interchangeably. I also use north & south Menlo as descriptors, too, because it's not always clear to where the city borders are.
No matter what you call it, it gets the shaft, & it shouldn't.
[Portion removed; don't attack other posters.]
The very thought of district elections in MP is stupid; it is as stupid as the idea of expanding council to 7 or 9 members. Look at the current slate of candidates.
A disgraced incumbent, Kelly Fergusson. Three other new candidates. That's all that seek these 2 council positions.
Well oldtimer, what is your way of removing the disparities between western and eastern Menlo Park?
Since you live in Menlo Park and are an oldtimer to boot you both helped create the current inequities and, apparently, have some unique qualifications to solve this problem.
I am going to have to disagree with you in the District Election issue. Menlo Park is too small and quite frankly not diverse enough to require district elections. There are MANY voters in all the precincts of Menlo Park, and to win you have to get them all (or a majority within the city). San Francisco is 15 times our side and their district election process has FAILED.
Carolyn Clarke's candidacy is vibrant shows that Belle Haven has candidates that care and can make a difference.
A disproportionate amount of Menlo Park's budget already is spent in Belle Haven. Many of us think that is ok, as the needs for certain services are greater there.
Engaging the community is a good goal, which IMO Ms. Brandell has failed to do in any meaningful way. That has been her job, so why do we have to pay a lot more money to hire a consultant, and just to focus on Belle Haven? Even if Brandell's job were not to engage the community, the city could HIRE a temporary person for a year to do this work. The price tage is insane.
"A disproportionate amount of Menlo Park's budget already is spent in Belle Haven"
Facts please - this is a claim without verification.
Is it wholly un-PC to state the obvious? Many Belle Haven residents are undocumented and they can't vote. So dividing the city into districts for the purpose of electing a "fair" council would not help that neighborhood. And, like it or not, most Belle Haven residents feel more closely aligned with EPA than with those of us who live west of 101.
There are plenty of nonprofit organizations already addressing the issues. Instead of hiring a consulting to produce a report that everyone will ignore, donate that $90k to a few of them. At least then our tax dollars won't be totally wasted, and the money might actually do some good.
Where are your facts to back your statement-
"And, like it or not, most Belle Haven residents feel more closely aligned with EPA than with those of us who live west of 101"
I guess I miss that survey!
pragmatic, you really don't have a clue do you?
Personal attacks are against the TOS.
To give one example from my extensive experience: as a Menlo Park commissioner, I was meeting with Onetta Harris employees. The city subsidizes Onetta Harris operations, but it was not clear how many recipients of those services were MP residents vs non-residents. The staff was rather indignant, insisting that they considered EPA and BH to be a single community and that they were not interested in tracking who was and who wasn't a resident of the city. My anecdotal observation is that residents of Belle Haven will self-identify as EPA residents "because no one has heard of Belle Haven."
It is a fact that Belle Haven has a majority Latino population. If anything, the Latino population is underreported because so many residents have undocumented status.
We most certainly do not self identify with EPA because no one has heard of Belle Haven. I live in Menlo Park - just like most of the posters on this forum. Belle Haven is in fact a very diverse community. Perhaps some of the 90,000 can be spent educating the rest of our fine city about just who lives there and whether in reality a disproportionate amount of business tax revenue is spent on the east side of town. I've seen folks make claims one way or another - but no fact based answer to the question. I'm sure all the people who live west of 101 aren't pompous NIMBYs either.
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