Town Square

Post a New Topic

Guest opinion: Can Menlo Park recover what it lost in specific plan?

Original post made on Apr 10, 2013

With the recent downtown Menlo Park project submitted by Stanford University, residents are waking up to the reality of a large development and the impacts brought about by buildings taller and larger than the city has seen for many years. No matter the number of public meetings, mailings and dreamy artistic renderings of parklets and streetscapes, there is nothing like an actual development plan to focus people's attention to the impacts associated with a 443,200-squre-foot project.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 12:00 AM

Comments (103)

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Perla Ni
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 10, 2013 at 12:07 am

Great article! Residents are relying on City Council members to fix the Specific Plan. Indeed, Rich Cline says that Stanford misled the city to gain larger development rights under the Specific Plan. See Web Link

There will be another hearing before June about the Specific Plan and the Stanford development - sign up at www.SaveMenlo.org to get details.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 10, 2013 at 7:23 am

The council can't do anything to fix this problem without doing irreperable harm to our city's ability to attract future development. As noted, the council gave up the farm when they allowed increased densities and ignored Ms. Fergusson. Ms. Fergusson was right, the rest of the council blew it. Now they want a do over. If the council revises the already granted zoning we can all plan on a long drawn out law suit which Stanford will win. In five years. Five more years of those blighted properties sitting vacant. And no future development in our sity given that no developer in their right mind will put money at risk knowing they can't count on a zoning decision in this town.

Enjoy the view.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 10, 2013 at 9:40 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Johnck makes a cogent argument for why the Specific Plan might be changed and Menlo Voter provides the strong counter argument as to why it should not be changed.

If the Specific Plan is changed it will not affect the Stanford project simply because there will no longer be a Stanford project now or in the future - which is exactly what the 'keep a village' people want. And not only will Stanford disappear but others will put their potential investments elsewhere.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Scare tactics
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 10, 2013 at 9:46 am

Stanford isn't going anywhere. They are going to develop their property in accordance with the zoning.

Menlo Park is a desirable location for developers because they can command maximum $$$. However, property values could plummet if the city started allowing all kinds of development. That's one reason to revise the specific plan: to protect all property owners as well as provide projects that meet the needs of residents. And it looks as though that is what is going to happen, despite the frenzied protests of Peter and Menlo Voter.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 10, 2013 at 10:02 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Scare tactics - you obviously do not understand that developers not only want but must have certainty with respect to the rules for development. If you remove that certainty by pulling the rug out from under the years long process that led to the Specific Plan then all developers, including Stanford, will retire to the sidelines and wait a very long time until they are certain of 1 - what the rules are and 2 - that those rules won't be changed the minute that they submit a new project to the city.

Would you buy a vacant house to build a home on if you knew that anyone can coerce the city into changing the zoning for your property as soon as you proposed a specific plan for your house?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 10, 2013 at 12:11 pm

I agree. Great article.

In my opinion, having to look at blighted properties for the near future is much more desirable than having to live with a bad development for the next 50 years.

Menlo Park is desirable so we should continue to uphold high standards on those who want to build here.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ted
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 10, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Yes. Stop develoment. Just double property taxes. Problem solved.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 10, 2013 at 12:44 pm

"Menlo Park is desirable so we should continue to uphold high standards on those who want to build here."

That is exactly what the Specific Plan was designed to do and it was unanimously approved by the council. Every new project will step on someone's toes or backyard and that cannot be the criteria for stopping a project.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 10, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Neighborhood buy-in and high-quality development are not incompatible.

Two recent examples in Menlo Park:
1. Safeway at Middle/El Camino
2. Artisan housing development at College/El Camino

It looks like Stanford has blinked:
Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 10, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Stanford has voluntarily responded to community feedback. Hopefully Save Menlo will applaud and endorse this new proposal.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 10, 2013 at 7:28 pm

Stanford has minimally reduced the square footage of their project. It will not change the major impacts. It's still in keeping with the approved zoning which they are entitled to abide by. Frankly, it's amazing they didn't tell us to "stuff it." Although, with the minimal change, one could argue they did.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by old timer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 11, 2013 at 8:22 am

One wonders if Peter Carpenter is anything but a "shill" for Stanford and the development community in general. He is a resident of Atherton, claims great credentials, and keeps making ridiculous statements.

Really! Standford won't develop their parcels if they can't get 5 story buildings, built right up to sidewalks to maximize their density.

This whole scene is a result of terrible planning from the City's planning department. There should be formed a "ad hoc" citizens committee to do a through investigation of why and if Stanford through "back room" deals with our staff got the specific plan they wanted. It certainly was not the specific plan that the citizens of Menlo Park voted for during the "visioning" process.

Giving any credit to Fergusson or any of the other council persons which approved this plan is ridiculous. A whole lot of words from her, but in the end she voted for the plan. This is what $1.5 million bought the City, all under the eyes of ex-City Manger Rojas.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Scare tactics
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 11, 2013 at 8:49 am

+1 to old timer.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 11, 2013 at 9:50 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I have NO connection to Stanford, have been elected twice with overwhelming majorities by the citizens of Menlo Park, Atherton and East Palo Alto as a Director of the Fire District and served for 4 1/2 years as a Planning Commissioner in Palo Alto during which time we redid the PA Comprehensive/General Plan.

Since many visitors to the Town Forum only read the latest comments it is useful to summarize this issue.

1 - Menlo park engaged in a multi-year effort to produce a Specific Plan for the Downtown area. This effort included substantial input by citizens as noted in the Specific Plan:

"…And the thousands of community members who did

the real work of the Specifi c Plan by providing direction

for their community for the next 20 to 30 years. Their

dedication to working in a constructive, collaborative way

to create a plan that will make our community the best it

can be is an admirable testament to our ability to achieve

the vision set forth in the Specific Plan."

2– A Draft EIR was produced regarding that proposed Specific Plan and public comments were solicited,

3 – A Final EIR was prepared which incorporated responses to the comments received on the Draft EIR,

4 – The Final EIR and the Specific Plan were unanimously approved by the City Council,

5 – Stanford then submitted a proposed development for the area designated in the Specific Plan as ECR-East which fully complied with the requirements of the Specific Plan,

6 – Stanford's proposal was vetted at a Planning Commission meeting in January and Stanford agreed to continue its discussions with some neighbors regarding their concerns and then to return to the Planning Commission with a revised proposal,

7 – A group of people (whose signatures and residence have not been verified as being either residents, adults, voters or taxpayer)s then submitted a petition demanding that Stanford change its proposal to conform to their wishes rather than to the requirements of the Specific Plan,

8 – The City Council then, in violation of the procedure established in the Specific Plan, inserted itself into the process by scheduling a council review of the project before the revised Stanford proposal was submitted to and considered by the Planning Commission.

9 - Stanford has listened to feedback from the community and modified its proposal. The new proposal fully complies with the Specific Plan.

10 - There is nothing that the council can require Stanford to do unless the city rezones the Stanford property - in which case it will remain vacant for years and other developers will invest elsewhere.


Even villages have rules and the Menlo Park rules permit the Stanford project as submitted.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by old timer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 11, 2013 at 5:38 pm

@Peter Carpenter

Statements from you like:

"10 - There is nothing that the council can require Stanford to do unless the city rezones the Stanford property - in which case it will remain vacant for years and other developers will invest elsewhere."

are nothing but pure [Portion removed.].

This is a typical statement form a pro-development at any price advocate. The next statement you should then make is:

"It just doesn't pencil out" Absolutely baloney.

The ink on the specific plan is hardly dry. It should be revoked and re-done with what was the goals established in the visioning process, but the goals of the consultant and our planning staff.

Yes,even villages have rules.... the rules can be changed and in this case they certainly need major changes.




 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 11, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

As noted ad nauseum the rules can be changed but doing so has severe consequences.

And it is not at all clear that the views of 514 people can or should override the views of the majority of Menlo Park's citizens.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 11, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Stanford has listened to feedback from the community and modified its proposal. The new proposal fully complies with the Specific Plan. Cline states ""But I don't think we're done talking." I think he will be surprised to find that Stanford has no interest in any discussions which involve changes from what is clearly permitted by the Specific Plan.

This project will produce hundreds of thousands of dollars in permit fees and millions in property taxes and critically needed housing. Menlo Park's housing plan update is a part of a lawsuit settlement over the city's failure to comply with state housing law for the past 10 years. To catch up, Menlo Park has to find sites where zoning changes could allow construction of about 900 new housing units - the Stanford project provides 170 such units NOW.

Any sensible community would welcome it with open arms - as do the majority of residents of Menlo Park.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Scare tactics
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 11, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Repeat after me:

The plan can be changed at any time.
The plan can be changed at any time.
The plan can be changed at any time.

No project has been submitted so it doesn't matter what Stanford wants today. The plan can change.

Painful for some non-residents, but true!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 11, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Repeat after me:

The Specific Plan can be changed but to do so will have severe consequences.

What about this don't you understand?

You obviously do not understand that developers not only want but must have certainty with respect to the rules for development. If you remove that certainty by pulling the rug out from under the years long process that led to the Specific Plan then all developers, including Stanford, will retire to the sidelines and wait a very long time until they are certain of 1 - what the rules are and 2 - that those rules won't be changed the minute that they submit a new project to the city.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 11, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Scare tactics:

if they are forced to change the plan and the city rezones the property there isn't a developer in their right mind that will try to develop anything in this city. They won't put money at risk knowing the can't count on zoning and planning decisions. Meaning we'll be looking at the blight on ECR for years to come...

Repeat after me:

Enjoy the view.

Enjoy the view.

Enjoy the view......


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Scare tactics
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 11, 2013 at 8:25 pm

And why do you think I'm using this handle! Can I have some of whatever you're smoking?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 11, 2013 at 9:00 pm

Scare tactics:

I'm not smoking anything. I'm a realist and I am fully aware of what will happen if the city rezones this property. I'm a builder and I work with plenty of developers and I can tell you they are watching this carefully. I can also tell you if the city changes the zoning developers will go elsewhere to invest their money. No scare tactics - reality.

Enjoy the view.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 11, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is what the staff report says about removing ECR-East from the Specific Plan:
"With regard to the possibility of removing the subject parcels from the Specific Plan,
staff believes this scenario would likely be more complex than other major Plan
modification options. The subject parcels have been a key focus of the entire Vision
Plan and Specific Plan processes, and the concept of their redevelopment is embedded
within all sections of the Specific Plan and the Program EIR. A complete removal of
these parcels from the Plan would require significant technical revisions, and could even
result in new environmental impacts depending on the attributes of the replacement
zoning. For example, the C-4 (ECR) zoning that was preempted by the Specific Plan did
not require any front setback, in contrast to the ECR SE zoning that requires a 10- to
20-foot setback in order to provide a significantly expanded sidewalk. Similarly, without
the Specific Plan, the requirements for the Burgess Park Linkage/Open Space Plaza
and LEED Silver certification would no longer apply, which could result in new and
unanticipated impacts."

What is not said is that in the meantime Stanford and Arrillaga will be long gone.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 11, 2013 at 9:26 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

And here is the key statement in the staff report:
"Staff believes the current process is functioning as intended by the Specific Plan, with
the revisions being pursued by the applicant as evidence that key issues are being
identified from public input and Planning Commission direction, and are being
subsequently addressed. Although details on the environmental review (in particular,
regarding traffic) have not been provided to date, they are being worked on and are
required to be addressed in full prior to any potential project actions. As noted
throughout this report, the proposal is required to meet an extensive set of regulations
and guidelines contained in the Specific Plan, which were established through a
transparent and community-oriented process that looked at opportunities and
challenges on a comprehensive basis for El Camino Real and Downtown. The review
process for this individual development proposal is generally proceeding carefully and
deliberately, and is being informed by applicable analysis."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by baloney
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 12, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Under the SPecific Plan, most projects wouldn't see the light of day until there's a Planning Commission meeting to talk about ARchitectural Control. The city is LUCKY that a neighborhood got wind of this project and its impacts and that Stanford is modifying its plans.
The project still looks nothing like the village character, mixed use, public park, hotel, and connectivity to Burgess that was expected through the community workshops. This is not what the community intended.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 12, 2013 at 1:09 pm

"This is not what the community intended."

Then the community should have been paying more attention before the Specific Plan was approved and zoning granted instead of after.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 12, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"until there's a Planning Commission meeting to talk about ARchitectural Control."

Note:
"The Specific Plan and Zoning Ordinance establish the
Planning Commission as the acting body for Architectural Control actions, with appeal
rights to the City Council. Architectural Control requires the following five findings:
(1) That the general appearance of the structures is in keeping with character of
the neighborhood;
(2) That the development will not be detrimental to the harmonious and orderly
growth of the city;
(3) That the development will not impair the desirability of investment or occupation
in the neighborhood;
(4) That the development provides adequate parking as required in all applicable
city ordinances and has made adequate provisions for access to such parking.
(5) That the development is consistent with any applicable Specific Plan."

This Architectural Control does not permit the PC or the Council to in any way reduce the size or scope of the project as long as the size and scope confirm, as this proposal does, to the Specific Plan. This Architectural Control wil permit the PC to engage with the applicant regarding possible changes in the design elements of the proposal.

These distinctions are important so that individuals do not have unrealistic expectations about what either the PC or the council can do - as were created by the council engaging in a review of this project even before the Planning Commission had completed its dialogue, public comments and review.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by real resident of MP
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 12, 2013 at 10:25 pm

This developer-friendly stance at all cost from residents of other communities is shameful.

You lack credibility.

On the other hand:
How can factual residents of Menlo Park vote on something that has not been made transparent to them?
I am not a developer and architect, but would have to live whatever they (non-residents of MP) seem appropriate/opportune to "place" in my neighborhood.

How can city counsel leave developers incomprehensible smoke screens unexplained to the common resident not versed in zoning lingo?

Representation? Don't think so.

I am not an architect, nor a developer.
I contribute to society/community in a more meaningful/different way.

Is asking the city counsel to make zoning decisions transparent to ALL residents too much to ask?

Seems so.

FAIL.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Conscience
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 12, 2013 at 11:13 pm

Since when did Ms. Jonck subscribe to former Councilwoman Ferguson's views. Last I recall, she and her husband (former councilman Steve Schmidt) actively worked to defeat Councilwoman Ferguson's failed re-election campaign. Menlo Park certainly creates strange bed fellows.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by back-at-you
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 13, 2013 at 3:40 am

Conscience suggests that Johnck and Schmidt worked to defeat Ferguson's re-election campaign. Yes, Schmidt endorsed Carlton and Clarke, but I don't believe Johnck and Schmidt never made any public statements about Ferguson.

Johnck did actively campaign against Mueller. On Sept 18, 2012, the Post published a letter from Johnck called, "Where Mueller stands". She questions his positions and integrity. Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 13, 2013 at 8:31 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Real resident asks "Is asking the city counsel to make zoning decisions transparent to ALL residents too much to ask?"

Helen Keller was once asked what was worse than being blind, she replied having sight and not being able to see.


Real resident can start with these public documents:

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

Now that you have read theses document what unanswered questions do you have?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Real Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 13, 2013 at 10:54 pm

I am sure you have had the time to read through all of that long winded meeting hours and meaningless (to the general public) specifics regarding "footage and volume feet".

I don't.
I got property taxes to earn and pay.

The only one document which shows the dismal extend of what is possible is the one that is disputed NOW (your web-link with developers renderings).
Clear renderings of what is possible and has been pushed to the possible limits by the developer should have made available to the public BEFORE allowing developers to put in their interpretation of the plan.

So:
No,
all the other documents do not satisfy my need for condensed, clear information.

Is asking the City to render what would be possible under their decisions too much to ask?
IMO, that would be my money well spent.
But I guess they can't afford hiring some consultant (architect) for some simple artists renderings.

Transparency is absent.
Questions about why and how developers and city want to slide this by actual residents remain.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 14, 2013 at 8:15 am

Real:

no one is trying to "slide something through." The developer is following the process and has submitted a plan for review. Our council is not following the process. They are jumping in before the process calls for their involvement.

The problem is that other folks like you that "didn't have time" to be involved in the process that produced the current zoning are now complaining that they weren't involved. They need to take responsibility for their lack of involvement and quit calling for special consideration because the were "too busy."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 14, 2013 at 8:54 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"my need for condensed, clear information."

The problem here is that there is more transparency then you are either willing or capable of utilizing.

Have you actually read the documents for which I provided links (so that you want not have to go find them yourself)?

What particular details of the Stanford proposal do not conform with the Specific Plan?

Citizenship requires work - you want to be spoon feed. The 15 pages of drawing and 147 pages of the staff report need to be read and understood before anyone can render a responsible judgement - but then perhaps you prefer to make irresponsible judgements.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Scare tactics
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 14, 2013 at 9:10 am

Real Resident is correct.

There has never been transparency. There were many participants in the public input phases. No one is complaining that they were not involved. Nope, even the staff report acknowledges that the level of public involvement was great.

The problem was that Stanford's consultants wrote the specific plan and the council was pressured by these same consultants to adopt the plan before they had time to absorb it, resident concerns notwithstanding. Of course Stanford's project conforms to the plan. The wrote it!

But anyway, that's history. The fact is that the council can take the Stanford properties out of the specific plan. They have stated that the impact of those properties is so great that any project built on them requires extra scrutiny.

I still can't understand why the prospect of democracy gets a few out-of-towners so hot and bothered.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 14, 2013 at 9:23 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The fact is that the council can take the Stanford properties out of the specific plan."

What about this paragraph do you not understand?:
"With regard to the possibility of removing the subject parcels from the Specific Plan,
staff believes this scenario would likely be more complex than other major Plan
modification options. The subject parcels have been a key focus of the entire Vision
Plan and Specific Plan processes, and the concept of their redevelopment is embedded
within all sections of the Specific Plan and the Program EIR. A complete removal of
these parcels from the Plan would require significant technical revisions, and could even
result in new environmental impacts depending on the attributes of the replacement
zoning. For example, the C-4 (ECR) zoning that was preempted by the Specific Plan did
not require any front setback, in contrast to the ECR SE zoning that requires a 10- to
20-foot setback in order to provide a significantly expanded sidewalk. Similarly, without
the Specific Plan, the requirements for the Burgess Park Linkage/Open Space Plaza
and LEED Silver certification would no longer apply, which could result in new and
unanticipated impacts."

Do you really think that Stanford and Arrillaga will spend any more time or effort once the city decides to downzone ECR-East? Do you think other developers will spend any time or effort on proposals using the Specific Plan at their guide once the city shows that it has not respect for established zoning?

The city council has backed itself into a totally inescapable corner. Next Tuesday the council will have only two alternatives - either sit quietly and allow the proper process to proceed via the planning commission (thereby causing Keith and Kline to lose face because of the dashed hopes that their actions have created for the opponents) or to exercise the nuclear option and begin to revise the Specific Plan (in which case the issue becomes moot because there will no longer be an applicant or a project.)

It will be very interesting to see how the council decides - if Mueller is recused then they may be saved by tie votes that will preclude doing anything.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by baloney
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 14, 2013 at 9:57 am

Stanford will develop its land regardless of whether the Specific Plan gets modified. This is a large property. It's scare tactics to say otherwise.

For those who think development would stop, consider that several projects are under construction now, all approved under the pre-Specific Plan rules that supposedly wouldn't "pencil"

Downtown is another matter. Zoning can't fix everything. In the case of Downtown, the real problem is that there are absentee landlords whose property tax base is very low, and they can afford to leave their property vacant until they get the rent they want.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 14, 2013 at 10:10 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Stanford will develop its land regardless of whether the Specific Plan gets modified."

Would you proceed with a plan to build a new home in Menlo Park if a noisy neighbor successfully convinced the city to remove just your lot from the neighborhood zoning and then reduced your permitted square footage by 40% ?

How long has that property remained vacant and underdeveloped by Stanford under the previous zoning? And why - because the previous zoning did not provide any incentive to making a hundred million dollar investment. And reverting to the previous zoning will have the same effect. Stupidity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

How much property tax does the current vacant and underdeveloped property generate vs what the proposed development would provide?

How many of the court required 900 new Menlo Park homes does the current property provide vs the 170 that the proposed development wil provide?

Have you ever heard the expression "cutting of your nose to spite your face"?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Wilfred
a resident of another community
on Apr 14, 2013 at 12:04 pm

There is a "traffic, traffic, aaaaagh traffic!" hue and cry in both Menlo Park and Palo Alto every time new development is proposed. Of course there will be increased traffic. Accommodating that in an efficient and beneficial way is part of sound urban planning. It is time to get real folks. Due to an skyrocketing population, there is far more traffic nearly all regions of the Bay Area than in times past. To expect any town in the region to remain unchanged is not realistic. Change will come whether we like it or not. Taking a "go away, not in my back yard" stance will only end in disaster.

The article states:

"Progress is necessary. Blight is bad. Transparency is imperative. Keeping the city's power to negotiate with developers is crucial. Providing safe east/west mobility is important. Protecting neighborhoods is essential. Let's see what our council can do to fix this problem."

I think that should be a mantra for Menlo Park, with the realization that protecting neighborhoods does mean keeping them unchanged. What town or city in the region is unchanged from 50 years ago, or even 20 years ago? We can't stop change, but we can make it work to our benefit. Let us hope that the Menlo Park city council does this in cooperation with Stanford and the surrounding communities, and not in opposition.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Scare tactics
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 14, 2013 at 1:52 pm

"How long has that property remained vacant and underdeveloped by Stanford under the previous zoning? And why - because the previous zoning did not provide any incentive to making a hundred million dollar investment."

Wrong. The property was vacant because Stanford was still collecting rent. They had no incentive to break the leases. Not when there was the possibility of their rewriting the zoning. It was a smart, calculated move. Their representatives repeatedly acknowledged that they were planning to develop the land in accordance with zoning after the leases expired. And that is what they will do. It is up to Menlo Park to dictate that zoning.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 14, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" It is up to Menlo Park to dictate that zoning."

And that is exactly what the council adopted (after years of effort and thousands of hours of citizen input) Specific Plan does!

"The property was vacant because Stanford was still collecting rent."
Wrong. All of those leases had expired and Stanford simply waited until the Specific Plan was adopted to move forward.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Scare tactics
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 14, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Nope. The plan does not incorporate the resident input. It was a bait & switch choreographed by Stanford's consultants.

The leases are just expiring this year. Get your facts straight.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 14, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The leases are just expiring this year"

Wrong. The Fire District has had the 'lease' on one of these properties for years after the auto dealer's lease expired. The Fire District was hoping to use it as a temporary station while it rebuilt Station 6 - but good old Menlo Park said NO - it was not zoned for that use. So the Fire District has put its resources into building a beautiful new station in EPA. And it will be a long time before Station 6 is rebuilt and when it is the downtown area may well be without a station during the rebuilding process - really smart move Menlo Park.

"The plan does not incorporate the resident input. "
Just because some people slept though the process does not mean that other people did not actively participate.
From the Specific Plan's acknowledgments:
"…And the thousands of community members who did
the real work of the Specifi c Plan by providing direction
for their community for the next 20 to 30 years. Their
dedication to working in a constructive, collaborative way
to create a plan that will make our community the best it
can be is an admirable testament to our ability to achieve
the vision set forth in the Specific Plan."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Blame Game
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 14, 2013 at 2:30 pm

It sickens me to watch Cline, Keith, and Ohtaki play the blame game.
Stanford Consultants pressured Council into passing the Specifc Plan before they read it? That's totally absurd. Right or wrong, the Specific Plan was driven by Council. It is the legacy of Cline, Robinson, Boyle, Fergusson, Cohen, Keith and Ohtaki., Council knew about the size of the Stanford project because as discussed above, Fergusson raised the issue and the Council discussed it immediately before they all, including Fergusson, approved the plan.

Fergusson was just doing her political waffle then, trying to be on both sides ,just like Keith, Cline and Ohtaki are doing now.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 14, 2013 at 3:17 pm

baloney:

what you and couple of others seem to ignore, although you state it, is that those projects on ECR that are moving forward were approved BEFORE the specific plan was approved. Operative word being before. They also didn't have the rug pulled out from under them by the city after they submitted plans. The city allowed them to develop their plans to the approved zoning. This is exactly what Stanford is doing.

The people to be upset with is the previous council which approved the zoning that will allow the Stanford project. The problem is that if the council pulls the Stanford property out of the Specific Plan and downgrades the zoning, they will be looking at a lawsuit and a guarantee that no developer will be interested in doing anything in this town. That may be fine for some of you, but I personally am tired of the blight and old tired buildings along ECR (Many of which only have a five foot setback from the street, by the way). You can count on looking at those for a long time if the council doesn't allow the Stanford project to move forward.

That's not scare tactics. It's common sense and it's also an informed opinion. I know developers and they are watching this thing carefully. There is no way they will put money at risk knowing they can't count on planning and zoning decisions in this town.

Enjoy the view.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 14, 2013 at 7:52 pm

Someone made the following straightforward claim about the Stanford properties located at 300-500 El Camino Real: "The leases are just expiring this year."

Peter Carpenter, ever the stickler for "facts," countered with the unequivocal "Wrong," followed by a lengthy non sequitur about fire stations beautiful and otherwise in our community.

But then there is the following statement found in a Palo Alto Online article from October, 2012 (Web Link):

"The lots stretch from 300 to 500 El Camino Real. Stanford confirmed that existing tenants -- including Tesla -- would move out as their leases expire on March 31, 2013."

Failure to do your homework, Peter, or just another descent into falsehood and FUD?

Gern


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 14, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

""The lots stretch from 300 to 500 El Camino Real. Stanford confirmed that existing tenants -- including Tesla -- would move out as their leases expire on March 31, 2013.""

The PA Online is wrong. The fire District took over one of the auto dealership properties over 4 years ago when that lease expired. Don't believe everything that you read in the newspapers.

Here is the public record of the Fire Board's approval of that lease:
"Approve the Lease with Stanford University for 444 El Camino Real
MOTION: Director Carpenter moved, seconded by Director Ianson, to approve the lease with Stanford University for the property at 444 El Camino Real."
SPECIAL BOARD MEETING
MINUTES
Tuesday, March 17 2009


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 14, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Gern - you have still, after at least 13 requests, refused to provide any documentation of

"the plan Stanford fronted during the visioning process". Repeating the Big Lie does
not make it true - except perhaps in your own mind.

You challenge me on facts and I consitently prove them from the public record - where are your facts?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 14, 2013 at 8:08 pm

Peter:

Gern has no facts.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 14, 2013 at 9:10 pm

"The PA Online is wrong. The fire District took over one of the auto dealership properties over 4 years ago when that lease expired. Don't believe everything that you read in the newspapers."

I'll play along: when did or does that specific fire district lease expire, Peter? More bluntly, in which semantic universe does the vague notion "the fire District took over one of the auto dealership properties over 4 years ago when that lease expired" counter or refute the PA Online statement, "Stanford confirmed that existing tenants -- including Tesla -- would move out as their leases expire on March 31, 2013"? What bearing does a fire district lease being signed four years ago have on existing leases expiring end of last month?

Gern


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 14, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Garn - You are really not paying attention. The Fire District could sign a lease in March 2009 for 444 ElCamino ONLY because the auto dealership lease had EXPIRED thereby proving that the leases on the Stanford properties have not just now expired. According to the Fire District's lease Stanford could cancel it at any time so it was not an obstacle to Stanford doing something else with the property.

What else don't you understand?

And for the 14th time - please provide any documentation of

"the plan Stanford fronted during the visioning process".

Newcomers to this topic should realize that almost all the opponents to this project have only their opinions ( I don't like this project, This project violates the rules, etc) but not a single fact to support their opinions. They refuse to read the Specific Plan or the staff reports and therefore do not know the details of the proposed project or the drawings which have been submitted.
None of them appear to understand the laws on zoning or the processes which are detailed in the Specific Plan for the review of a project. It is therefore very difficult to have an intelligent conversation with these opponents.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 14, 2013 at 9:49 pm

You know Peter is deflecting when he spells your name incorrectly. Let's add a numbered list to better focus our attention:

1. On which specific property did/could the fire district sign a lease four years ago?
2. If signed, when did/does that lease expire?
3. How many other leases expired or will expire in the 300-500 block of El Camino Real this year?
4. And again, what bearing does a fire district lease being signed four years ago have on *existing* leases expiring end of last month?

Falsehoods, FUD, and deflections, Peter -- your bread and butter.

Gern


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Scare tactics
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 14, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Plenty of facts have been put forth. Our favorite non-resident oppositionalist just doesn't like them, and counters by copying and pasting huge chunks of irrelevant text that no one reads!

I knew the leases expired this spring, but did not know the exact date. However, it was clear all along that Stanford needed a plan that favored their interests in place by the time the leases expired.

Stanford repeatedly misrepresented their intentions, by the way, which is one reason the council is so unhappy. I suspect our out-of-town friends did not talk directly to council members and planning commissioners last year. I did. I guess they were kind of naive to take Stanford at their word, but I can't fault our volunteer council members for getting outplayed by professional hustlers. Especially since they are ready to tackle the problem now.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Governing Law
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 14, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Just Google. Specific Plan conformance with General Plan and click on Office of Planning and Research reference work from our Stae Government

Pay attention to the fact that a Specific Plan can be changed by Council, and it must be in conformance with the adopted General Plan. MP adopted its plan in 1994 without analysis f a Sand Hill connection to ECR, the current 2 lane sand hill from Arboretum with no Alma connection dumping Stanford traffic on MP
One of the adopted policies is to reserve and encourage retail on the ECR corridor, limiting office space, and limiting negative impacts on adjoining neighborhood

Most importantly , A Specific Plan does not vest development rights to a landowner , even the almighty and omnipotent Stanford Real Estate Empire, so Herr Carpenter needs to brush up on the governing State Law rather than myopically referencing legally unenforceable interim zoning and specious arguments supporting our prejudiced planning staff and tainted consultant Perkin Will
The first community meeting hosted by Robinson and Rojas was a travesty and the consultant team showed their agenda and gross incompetence
Stanford reps were in attendance and licking their chops at the well managed con job by those in power at that time
Rojas and Robinson are history, but we are left with Tom Rogers, Cline and now Ohtaki, So we need to show up Tuesday to stop the Dtanford Juggernaut


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Go Bears
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 14, 2013 at 10:38 pm

Try Google. Specific Plan compliance with General Plan
Click on Ceres links to Office of Planning and Research
Read the Planners Guide to Te Specific Plan
Quite informative and revealing of how slipshod our half baked Downtown ECR Plan became by compromised MP planning staff and former city cuncil, and how it was a gross manipulation by Stanford


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 15, 2013 at 6:54 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

These folks simply do not want to know the facts:
1 - Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, 10 hours ago

Here is the public record of the Fire Board's approval of that lease:

"Approve the Lease with Stanford University for 444 El Camino Real

2 -Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, 9 hours ago
Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online

Garn - You are really not paying attention. The Fire District could sign a lease in March 2009 for 444 ElCamino ONLY because the auto dealership lease had EXPIRED thereby proving that the leases on the Stanford properties have not just now expired

and THEN Garn asks "1. On which specific property did/could the fire district sign a lease four years ago?"

And Scare tactics states "I knew the leases expired this spring, but did not know the exact date."


These people just can't be bothered with facts, particularly those facts that interfere with their village view,


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 15, 2013 at 6:59 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Garn -And for the 15th time - please provide any documentation of

"the plan Stanford fronted during the visioning process".


 +   Like this comment
Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2013 at 8:56 am

While my better judgement tells me that I am about to ask a couple of questions that also won't be answered by those opposed to this project, because I am not 100% sure of the answers I'll go ahead and ask them. I keep reading repeated claims that the DSP was created by consultants hired by Stanford and that those consultants didn't incorporate the input they got from 4+ years of public participation & input. ALso, that then staff didn't give Council ample time to "digest and understand" what was finally in front of them for a decision/vote. My two questions:
1. Wasn't the consulting engagement contract between the consulting firm and the CIty of Menlo Park and didn't MP follow normal process in awarding that contract (competiitive bid, council approval, etc.?
2. If, indeed, the City Council felt they did not have ample time to digest the final plan, who's fault, other than each member of council, is it that it was unanimously approved?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 15, 2013 at 9:02 am

Peter Carpenter (aka "Run-P.F.C" of the ICP) appears to be claiming the following:

"Because the Fire District approved a lease for a *single* property (444 El Camino Real) four years ago it necessarily follows that the lease for no other Stanford property with an address of 300-500 El Camino Real will expire this year."

Peter, do you believe it to be the case that not a single lease for the Stanford properties located between 300-500 El Camino Real, inclusive, will expire or has expired this year? You have already asserted this to be true, so please identify your sources.

Gern


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 15, 2013 at 9:07 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Garn - YOU, not me, stated that all the automobile leases expired this year. I provide a public record documented example that proved you were wrong in that at least the auto dealer lease for 444 El Camino expired in 2009 or earlier.

And for the 16th time - please provide any documentation of

"the plan Stanford fronted during the visioning process".

***********************
Newcomers to this topic should realize that almost all the opponents to this project have only their opinions ( I don't like this project, This project violates the rules, etc) but not a single fact to support their opinions. They refuse to read the Specific Plan or the staff reports and therefore do not know the details of the proposed project or the drawings which have been submitted.

None of them appear to understand the laws on zoning or the processes which are detailed in the Specific Plan for the review of a project. It is therefore very difficult to have an intelligent conversation with these opponents.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 15, 2013 at 9:25 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"staff didn't give Council ample time to "digest and understand" what was finally in front of them for a decision/vote. "

The DSP arrived at the council for its final review and approval on 5 June 2012 2012 at 7.20 PM. The Staff report stated: "The completed visioning process (Phase I: 2007-2008) had led into the preparation of a Specific Plan and associated Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and Fiscal Impact Analysis (FIA) (Phase II: 2009-2012). The culmination of the first phase of work was the City Council's unanimous acceptance of the Vision Plan, which serves as the foundation for the Specific Plan."
"Both the Vision and Specific Plan processes have benefited from extensive community outreach and participation."
"Key milestones of Task 4 were the release of the Draft Specific Plan on April 7, 2010, and the release of the Draft EIR on April 29, 2011, both to strong community interest. The Planning Commission and City Council were originally scheduled to hold one meeting each to provide direction on the Draft Specific Plan, but both bodies expressed an interest and willingness to hold additional meetings in order to more fully explore and address comments, questions, and potential concerns, both from the Commission/Council and the public. The aim of this detailed review was to provide clear and specific direction on improvements and refinements to the plan, resulting in a Final Specific Plan that could be acted on without additional extensive review.
The Planning Commission held five meetings in July through August 2011, and the City Council followed with four meetings in August through October 2011."
"The City Council concluded its review on October 4, 2011 with clear direction for substantive improvements to the Draft Specific Plan. The City Council direction is included as Attachment I, and key aspects of it are discussed in more detail in the Changes from Draft Specific Plan section of this report. Concurrent with the revisions to the Specific Plan, staff and the consultant team have prepared responses to comments on the Draft EIR and associated changes to the EIR and the Specific Plan, which are discussed in the Environmental Review section. Both the Final Specific Plan and Final EIR were released for public review on April 19, 2012."

The council's deliberations that night on the DSP began at 7.20 pm and concluded at about 12.30 AM the next day. 36 members of the public spoke during public comments on the DSP.

There is NO doubt that there was both a lot of citizen input AND a lot of time for the council to review this material before its adoption at the 5 June 2012 meeting.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 15, 2013 at 9:33 am

Peter Carpenter: "YOU, not me, stated that all the automobile leases expired this year."

No one made any such claim anywhere in this thread.

Peter Carpenter: "Wrong. All of those leases had expired and Stanford simply waited until the Specific Plan was adopted to move forward."

Which is it, Peter: Do some of the leases expire this year or had they all expired before the Specific Plan was adopted? Your silly little gambit has you backed in a corner, it would seem.

Gern


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 15, 2013 at 9:44 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"No one made any such claim anywhere in this thread."

Wrong - Garn - PLEASE read the postings, including your own, before making more erroneous statements.

Posted by Scare tactics, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, 19 hours ago

"How long has that property remained vacant and underdeveloped by Stanford under the previous zoning? And why - because the previous zoning did not provide any incentive to making a hundred million dollar investment."

Wrong. The property was vacant because Stanford was still collecting rent.

Posted by Gern, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, 13 hours ago

Someone made the following straightforward claim about the Stanford properties located at 300-500 El Camino Real: "The leases are just expiring this year."

And Garn - for the 17th time - please provide any documentation of

"the plan Stanford fronted during the visioning process".


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Scare tactics
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 15, 2013 at 9:44 am

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza playing the roles of PC and MV.

Or, to cop another metaphor, this whole thread is beginning to feel like pig wrestling. You know what they say: you'll only get dirty.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 15, 2013 at 9:47 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Scare tactics - just give us some facts to support your opinions. Even one would be a start.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by baloney
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 15, 2013 at 9:54 am

If Stanford wanted to develop the properties earlier, they could have by buying out the leases but Stanford had every incentive to wait for the final Specific Plan, to which they requested significant favorable amendments along the way.
Here are the facts about leases in Stanford's own words. The Fire District's site appears to have been one that was reacquired early by Stanford, not because the lease expired.

The following is from a 7/15/08 letter from Stanford University to Thomas Rogers, City of Menlo Park:
"Stanford University currently owns six separate parcels of land along El Camino in Menlo Park. The first parcel is leased and occupied by the Stanford Park Hotel on a long- term ground lease. The second is a long narrow strip of land adjacent to the railroad tracks that Stanford purchased a couple of years ago in order to enhance our ability to eventually redevelop the entire site in a comprehensive manner. The final four parcels were formerly occupied by auto dealerships. All of these auto parcels have been subject to long-term ground leases that expire at various dates between 2012 and 2013. Stanford successfully reacquired two separated parcels earlier than their previous expiration dates. By working closely with the city, Stanford was able to successfully lease the property at 300 El Camino to Tesla Motors. Stanford is also working now with the city to lease the second property it reacquired early.

The other two vacant auto dealership parcels are still subject to long-term ground leases which expire in 2012 and 2013, and which currently prevent Stanford from comprehensively redeveloping all of these sites prior to their lease expiration dates."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 15, 2013 at 9:58 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Baloney - Thanks for digging out and providing these facts. Doing homework is not easy but when you find facts like these it is very helpful to this "thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion".


 +   Like this comment
Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2013 at 11:33 am

Peter, as you probably guessed, my questions were a bit sarcastic in intent, but thanks for the detailed summary. So another claim of the fearsome 514 debunked-Council had ample time to consider their vote before casting it. I can also assure everyone that the consulting firm was hired by the City following established procedures and with approval of Council as is required for contracts in excess of $50K. The firm may have done work for Stanford in the past as well, but that doesn't make them "Stanford consultants". I for one will be watching Tuesdays discussion at Council with great interest to hear if/how any Council member frames their comments with regard to these trumped up claims


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Long Timer
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 15, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Johnck's article is outstanding. Kudos!

The Council needs to reconsider and modify the Plan. There is plenty of authority for doign so, and good reasons too.

The Unintended consequences of the way it was framed are clear now. Even those who might have had other reasons to oppose Fergusson's 3rd term re-election bid can now see the validity of her basic point on the Specific Plan now.

It's a **long range** plan - important to fix those problems before building, rather than after. We obviously need more focus on housing (especially Senior Housing), which is still too limited in even Stanford's revised proposal. Perhaps having some way to "meter" how and where the office buildings and housing happen would be good, as it seemed Stanford was going to use up most of the office space available, and at the sites the furthest from the Train station.

This Council should be very very careful - this is the type of major issue that can end up either on the ballot, or cause councilmembers to be realled or at least defeated in future elections.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 15, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"We obviously need more focus on housing (especially Senior Housing), which is still too limited in even Stanford's revised proposal."

Stanford is going to provide, at NO cost to the city, 170 of the court ordered 900 new housing units and you still want more? The Specific Plan calls for 680 units in ALL of the SP areas and this one zone will provide 25% of that 680 units.

"Perhaps having some way to "meter" how and where the office buildings and housing happen would be good, as it seemed Stanford was going to use up most of the office space available, and at the sites the furthest from the Train station."

Metering is exactly what the Specific Plan was designed to do and the ECR-SE area was DESIGNATED to be a high density area - just as is proposed. This proposal will use less than 45% of the development cap for the DSP.

There are NO surprises in this proposal - unless you have been asleep for the last 4 years of intense public comment and discussion.

"The El Camino Real/Downtown Specific Plan is the product of a transparent, multi-year process designed to develop community judgment. The project has benefitted from unprecedented levels of public outreach and participation, and has been informed by appropriate environmental and fiscal analyses. The Planning Commission and City Council both conducted a detailed review of the Draft Specific Plan and provided clear direction that has been comprehensively addressed. The Specific Plan will provide a firm foundation for the development of the heart of Menlo Park, and will enhance public space, generate vibrancy, sustain Menlo Park's village character, enhance connectivity, and promote healthy living and sustainability."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2013 at 2:10 pm

I think I finally figured this all out. For 5+ years, the fearsome 514's strategy was to promote the need to study, study, study, without regard to cost, in order to insure nothing will change in the village. Now, that time has caught up with that delaying stragegy, their next strategy is to cry foul, make claims of misunderstanding and lack of good faith, etc. etc. to deter any projects from being built under the new rules laid down in the DSP--great plan, that should buy another 5-10 years of no change in the village. Add on top of that the last piece in the strategy, litigation, and you probably have a total of 20 perhaps 25 years of no change in the village. Plenty of time to have raised the kids, had the career, enjoyed the appreciation, cashed out on the house and moved on to a new village. Kudos, Fearsome 514, but you could have just built a moat.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 15, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Sadly Mueller will be recused from discussions on the Stanford project which means that while Keith and Cline will have their theatre any action will probably be blocked by a 2-2 vote. Thus the project review will go back to the Planning commission where it properly belongs.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by You Never Know
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 15, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Ohtaki voted against Sam Sinnott's project and he used to live on Middle. Might he be persuaded by his former neighbors? Of course he did sell his home on Middle prior to this development coming forward....

Carlton voted for Sinnott's project even in the face of a large petition.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 15, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

In my opinion Ohtaki and Carlton are smart enough to know that messing around with the Specific Plan would be very unwise. On the other hand Keith and Cline want the face time and don't seem to care very much if they tear up the rules no matter how much it might hurt the city. So 2-2 ties and this goes back to the Planning commission where it properly belongs to be reviewed in accordance with the process codified in the Specific Plan:

"The Architectural Control procedures as codified in Zoning
Ordinance Section 16.68.020 would apply to all new
construction and additions of more than 100 square feet, as
well as exterior modifications (regardless of whether square
footage is affected) that would not be in conformance with
a previous design approval. The four existing Architectural
Control findings would be supplemented by an additional
finding:
(5) That the development is consistent with any
applicable Specific Plan.
The Planning Commission would continue to make
Architectural Control actions, which would be effective
unless appealed to the City Council under the procedures
outlined in Zoning Ordinance Chapter 16.86.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Recusal Perusal?
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 15, 2013 at 8:52 pm

PA Weekly real estate transactions showed Vice Mayor Mueller sold his 21 Wiilow rd condo a few months ago
Is there some other reason he is recusing himself since he no longer owns property near the Stanford project?
Please explain?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Muellers stripes?
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 15, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Time to show up Ray. You can speak as a homeowner and taxpayer, former Transportation commissioner , who steadfastly went toe to toe with Stanford on the Med center expansion . Which got some big concessions from Stanford .
No excuses based on some technicality
All of us who voted for you expect you to not pull some disappearing act like Carlton


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 15, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Is there some other reason he is recusing himself since he no longer owns property near the Stanford project?"

Conflict due to an economic interest extends for 12 months after the property is sold.It most case the official must leave the room and may not speak even as a private citizen.

The Fair Political Practices Act the Act prohibits public officials from making, participating in
making or influencing governmental decisions in which the official has a material financial
interest. Specifically, Section 87100 of the Act states: "No public official al any level of state or
local government shall make, participate in making, or in any way attempt to use his official
position to influence a governmental decision in which he knows or has reason to know he has a financial interest."

"Specifically, a public official who holds an office specified in Section 87200 of the Act, including a city council member, who has a financial interest in a decision within the meaning of Section 87100 of the Act shall, upon identifying a contlict of interest or a potential contlict of interest and immediately prior to the consideration of the matter, do all of the following: (I) publicly identify the financial interest that gives rise to the contlict of interest or potential contlict of interest in detail sufficient to be understood by the public, except that disclosure of the exact street address of a residence is not required; (2) recuse himself or herself from discussing and voting on the matter, or otherwise acting in violation of Section 87100; and (3) leave the room until after the discussion, vote and any other disposition of the matter is concluded, unless the matter has been placed on the portion of the agenda reserved for uncontested matters. "


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Build Something Nice
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Apr 15, 2013 at 11:21 pm

Peter, in response to a comment by old timer, you said "I have NO connection to Stanford"
Did you mean no current connection? This is from your CV as it appears on paloaltoonline.com:

1991-2002 Stanford University
• National Advisory Board, Haas Center for Public Service (1991-2001), Chairman (1994-1999)
• Ethics Committee, Stanford University Hospital (2001-2002)
• Visiting Scholar, Center for Biomedical Ethics (1991-1994)
• Stanford University Hospital, Committee on External Review (1992-1994)
• Advisory Board, Stanford in Government (1998-2002)

1973-1976: Assistant Vice President for Medical Affairs, Stanford University, Stanford, California


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Scare tactics
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 16, 2013 at 12:19 am

"Conflict due to an economic interest extends for 12 months after the property is sold.It most case the official must leave the room and may not speak even as a private citizen."

Quoting sections of the FPPC in conjunction with the above line suggests a connection that does not exist. If someone can show me where the FPPC specifies that a post-sale conflict continues for a year, I'd love to see it. Otherwise, I can only assume that McClure concocted the line to serve Stanford's interests.

I had not realized that Mueller's property was located in Linfield Oaks. That makes this ban even more ludicrous. There's a substantial barrier -- the train tracks! -- between Willow and El Camino. The neighborhoods are completely separate.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 7:40 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Peter, in response to a comment by old timer, you said "I have NO connection to Stanford"

Did you mean no current connection?"

That is correct. The last time I was employed by Stanford was 1976.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mueller's Recusal
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 16, 2013 at 8:14 am

Mueller doesn't have a choice.

He is not even addressed or copied on the correspondence Stanford sends to the City on the project. Look at page 147 at this link:

Web Link

Does anyone want to pay his legal fees if a FPPC complaint is made?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Scare tactics
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 16, 2013 at 8:36 am

And what would the basis be for an FPPC complaint? The FPPC speaks only to current ownership of a business or property. As far as I can see, there are no clauses that apply to formerly owned property -- or to property that might be acquired in the future. If we really want to give the FPPC some Big Brotherish power, then why not decree that an elected or appointed official, even after leaving public office,can never invest in or be employed by any organization or enterprise that came before her/him during his/her term? What's to stop Stanford from privately offering each council member a future high-paying job if the member gives this project the green light?

Not suggesting this, just showing the absurdity of the recusal situation.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 10:02 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

On conflicts of interest and recusal - welcome to the challenges of public service. The Brown Act and the FPPC regulations were both created to protect the public's interest. Neither the Brown Act or the FPPC regulations are perfect but they both err on the side of caution. It is a foolish elected official who does not do the same.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 10:36 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The law is very clear:
87103. A public official has a financial interest in a decision
within the meaning of Section 87100 if it is reasonably foreseeable
that the decision will have a material financial effect,
distinguishable from its effect on the public generally, on the
official, a member of his or her immediate family, or on any of the
following:

(c) Any source of income, except gifts or loans by a commercial
lending institution made in the regular course of business on terms
available to the public without regard to official status,
aggregating five hundred dollars ($500) or more in value provided or
promised to, received by, the public official within 12 months prior
to the time when the decision is made.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 10:43 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"I can only assume that McClure concocted the line to serve Stanford's interests."

I assume that the above citation answers your question. Now perhaps you will post an apology for your unfounded slur about Mr. McClure.


Always remember - do your homework before putting your foot in your mouth.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Scare tactics - I assume that the above citation answers your question. Now perhaps you will post an apology for your unfounded slur about Mr. McClure.


Why are you being silent?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 16, 2013 at 2:24 pm

"Always remember - do your homework before putting your foot in your mouth."

Peter is far better at doling out this advice than he is at following it, as we've seen. I suppose one could argue the "material financial effect" may be positive or negative, depending upon one's personal bias. Peter might claim the new offices will bring greater demand and higher prices for the condos at 21 Willow Road, which sit directly across Alma Street and the train tracks from the Stanford properties, while those of us who now live in Linfield Oaks would point out the sound wall effect the 5-story buildings will bring, greatly exacerbating the already onerous train noise we experience in our neighborhood, coupled with a doubling or tripling of the cut-through traffic which plagues our streets.

Those living at 21 Willow and to the north and south of that property on Alma will also bear the brunt of 2-3 years of construction noise and pollution, and perhaps the possibility of all of these impacts was enough to convince Mueller to quietly pull up stakes. He clearly didn't believe there would be a windfall were the offices built.

Gern


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Gern - Thanks for your opinions. All of these factors were well know and discussed when the Specific Plan was being developed, the Draft EIR circulated for comment and the Final EIR approved and then the EIR was certified as complete by the council and the Specific Plan was adopted. And you make it clear than you are acting in your own self interests and not those of the city at large - which is perfectly acceptable as long as you do not attempt to shroud yourself as a protector of the 'village' rather than as a protector of your own backyard.

As for why an elected official is recused it is to avoid even the possibility of a perception of conflict.

"the possibility of all of these impacts was enough to convince Mueller to quietly pull up stakes. " Which is sheer spectulaion but also clearly justifies the 12 month rule.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ryan
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 16, 2013 at 2:58 pm

[Post off topic.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 16, 2013 at 2:58 pm

You people should be ashamed of yourself. I know Ray, his wife and his kids. They moved into a house on Santa Cruz so they can have a yard for their kids and were trying to sell their condo off and on since that time. I don't understand why people on this board are beating him up for following the law. If we're really going to beat people up for following the law, we have a much bigger problem here.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 3:21 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Bill - Sadly casting innuendo and aspersions by anonymous posters happens all too frequently on this Forum. And when, like Scare tactics, they are called out on it they simply crawl back under their rock.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Scare tactics
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 16, 2013 at 5:09 pm

Sorry, Peter. Some of us are actually productive, with paying jobs. I run a company and my "rock" is an office. Now, will YOU apologize for your attempt to smear me?

Thank you for finding that "12 month" rule. I would still suggest that the impact of any El Camino project on Linfield Oaks is questionable. Even if properties are adjacent as the crow flies, in reality they are separated by about 1.5 miles. (Similar logic is motivating the city staff to propose a homeless shelter for Burgess Park because it's "less than .25 mile from the El Camino bus stop." Yes, that is true, but only if the homeless jump some fences and trespass on the train tracks.)

And, while I'm at it, our city deserves a better attorney than McClure. A decent negotiator who can work on behalf of our city instead of capitulating to everyone who walks in the door, no matter how solid their position.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 16, 2013 at 5:23 pm

I didn't get the impression anyone was casting aspersions on Mr. Mueller -- that certainly wasn't my intent -- but rather just trying to better understand why he is recused in the Stanford matter, is all.

Gern


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"why he is recused in the Stanford matter,"

PLEASE read the posting on this issue:
87103. A public official has a financial interest in a decision

within the meaning of Section 87100 if it is reasonably foreseeable

that the decision will have a material financial effect,

distinguishable from its effect on the public generally, on the

official, a member of his or her immediate family, or on any of the

following:

(c) Any source of income, except gifts or loans by a commercial

lending institution made in the regular course of business on terms

available to the public without regard to official status,

aggregating five hundred dollars ($500) or more in value provided or

promised to, received by, the public official within 12 months prior

to the time when the decision is made.

****
What don't you understand?

And your comment about Mueller was certainly an attempt to smear.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"As far as I can see, there are no clauses that apply to formerly owned property "

Did you even look? Go to FPPC regulations and search for '12 months' and there are 8 hits and the quoted section is one of them.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Scare tactics
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 16, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Thank you for making my point, Peter. It's really a stretch to say that the Stanford project has any material impact on Linfield Oaks -- no more so than on neighborhoods elsewhere in the city. I'd assumed Ray's home was in Allied Arts, which is obviously negatively impacted if the project is approved as currently proposed.

No one said anything negative about Ray. Why would they? He is a great guy. But I can't say the same about people who go out of their way to stir up trouble on this board. Still waiting for that apology.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"It's really a stretch to say that the Stanford project has any material impact on Linfield Oaks -"

So the law is what you want it to be? What is somebody else wants it to be something else?

That doesn't work very well which is why we are a government of laws not a government of men.

"As far as I can see, there are no clauses that apply to formerly owned property "

Did you even look?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" people who go out of their way to stir up trouble on this board"

If defending the laws and respecting local ordinances is stirring up trouble I gladly plead guilty and no apology is required. It is my, and your, duty as a citizen.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Scare tactics
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 16, 2013 at 6:29 pm

See you tonight, Peter! You do "walk the talk," I assume?

P.S. "Stirring up trouble" is trying to pit posters against one another. Lame tactics. Beneath you, really.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 6:30 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Scare tactics - how will we recognize you? Will you be wearing your customary mask?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 16, 2013 at 6:40 pm

"What don't you understand? And your comment about Mueller was certainly an attempt to smear."

Was this aimed at me or someone else? You're posting so frequently and so loosely it's difficult to know whom you are addressing, Peter (if that matters). I'll state again that I did not cast aspersions on Mr. Mueller, and I don't know that anyone else in this thread is guilty of same. If you believe I did please provide a direct quote.

Gern


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 6:43 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Yes Gern, it was you who cast aspersions on Ray Mueller.

" perhaps the possibility of all of these impacts was enough to convince Mueller to quietly pull up stakes. He clearly didn't believe there would be a windfall were the offices built.

Gern"


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 16, 2013 at 7:06 pm

"Yes Gern, it was you who cast aspersions on Ray Mueller."

Peter, you are posting so frantically that your focus and reading comprehension are suffering as a result. The statement you quoted is the furthest thing from an aspersion -- it was merely a guess as to why someone might wish to sell a condo in that location, no negative connotation implied or intended.

Gern


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Don't fund the rape culture at my alma mater
By Jessica T | 37 comments | 3,076 views

Palo Alto and Bay Area Election Facts and Thoughts on the Implications
By Steve Levy | 18 comments | 1,625 views

I am Grateful for Love
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,277 views

Why Hire a Doula?
By Cheryl Bac | 2 comments | 843 views